Five on Friday: Halloween Picture Books

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October is hands down my favorite month of year and it’s all because of my favorite holiday, Halloween. So for this month’s Five on Friday, I chose five of my favorite Halloween picture books (plus one board book) to share with you. Click on the book title to go to the catalog.

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Pick a Pumpkin – Patricia Toht

Going to a pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin and carve it into a jack o’lantern is one Halloween tradition I always look forward to. This delightful picture book has beautiful, vibrant art and rhythmic text perfect for reading aloud. It’s a fun celebration of every step in creating the perfect jack o’lantern on Halloween night.

 

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The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything – Linda Williams

little old lady who is not afraid of anything must deal with a pumpkin head, a tall black hat, and other spooky objects that follow her through the dark woods trying to scare her. This isn’t very Halloween specific except for the jack o’lantern head, but I like the interactive aspect of this book; kids can nod, wiggle, and clap along with all the creepy disembodied clothes following her through the woods.

 

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I Spy Spooky Night – Walter Wick

Rhyming verses instruct readers to find hidden objects on each page. I remember poring over the wonderfully detailed and spooky photographs in this fun Halloween addition to the classic picture book series.

 

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Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich is the funniest book about monsters you’ll ever find. Older kids will probably understand the references better, however, but these illustrated poems are still a delight to read out loud and even the pictures have funny little Easter eggs hidden…or whatever the Halloween version of an Easter egg is. I loved the running joke about the Phantom of the Opera having a song stuck in his head. The follow-up, Frankenstein Takes the Cake, is just as great.

 

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Mother Ghost – Rachel Kolar

As you might be able to guess from the title, this book adapts common nursery rhymes into spooky ones! I think “Twinkle, Twinkle, Lantern Jack” and “Mary, Mary, Tall and Scary” were my favorites.

 

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And as a bonus, I have to mention Dracula: A Counting Primer by Jennifer Adams. It’s not technically about Halloween and it’s a board book besides, but it’s adorably spooky and perfect for Halloween. She has an entire series of these primers with classic literature, so if Frankenstein is your literary monster of choice, she has that as well!

And that’s it for this month! I hope you check out some of these picture books the next time you’re looking for some spooky fun books. Be sure to check back in November, same bat time, same bat channel for the next Five on Friday.

Miss Jessica

 

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Review: Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker

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Summary: 

From the publisher:

The haunted season has arrived in the Antler Wood. No fox kit is safe.

When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow . . . and other things too scary to mention.

Featuring eight interconnected stories and sixteen hauntingly beautiful illustrations, Scary Stories for Young Foxes contains the kinds of adventures and thrills you love to listen to beside a campfire in the dark of night. Fans of Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Auxier, and R. L. Stine have found their next favorite book.

Review:

I admit, I was skeptical by the premise of this book. Scary stories…for animals? Young animals? But I like foxes, and I like scary stories, so I was willing to give it a shot. And I’m so glad I did, because this book was a hit for me. Scary stories for kids are tricky; most standard horror fare is not kid-friendly, but young readers will protest at anything that’s not scary enough. So I have to give kudos to Christian McKay Heidicker for coming up with the perfect solution by making all of the characters (save one surprisingly familiar human antagonist) animals. The threats to our adorable fox kit characters are both realistic and scary, including hunters’ traps, badgers, and in my personal favorite of the stories, rabies. I was almost immediately attached to our two main characters, Uly and Mia, and rooted for them to overcome the terrifying trials that threaten them. I also really liked the framing of the story, where seven fox kits are listening to these scary stories that build on one another. After each story, one kit is too frightened to continue and goes home, but the rest beg the elderly storyteller to know what happens next.

I will warn you that Heidicker doesn’t pull any punches and is realistic about the brutality of nature. Some animals do die. Some family members are cruel. Not everyone gets a happy ending. But, as the publisher recommends, if you/your child enjoys Coraline, Goosebumps, The Night Gardener, or The Graveyard Book, then they are sure to enjoy Scary Stories for Young Foxes. Ages 10 and up, highly recommended.

Check it out on the catalog here!

Miss Jessica

 

Fortnite Books

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With its combination of the excitement of shooters and the creativity and construction of sandbox games like Minecraft, Fortnite has taken the video game world by storm and it doesn’t seem like its popularity is letting up anytime soon. These books full of tips and tricks will help readers become the last one standing in the Battle Royale, plus an art book if they want to learn how to draw their favorite characters.

 

 

Fortnite Battle Royale Hacks : Advanced Strategies – Jason R. Rich

Fortnite Battle Royale Hacks : Secrets of the Island – Jason R. Rich

Fortnite Battle Royale Hacks : The Unofficial Gamer’s Guide – Jason R. Rich

Fortnite Battle Royale Hacks : Building Strategies – Jason R. Rich

The Fortnite Guide to Staying Alive: Tips and Tricks for Every Kind of Player – Damien Kuhn

Official Fortnite Battle Royale Survival Guide

Unofficial How to Draw Fortnite for Kids : Learn to Draw 40 of Your Favorite Fortnite Heroes by Andrew Howell

An Encyclopedia of Strategy for Fortniters : An Unofficial Guide for Battle Royale – Jason R. Rich

An Unofficial Encyclopedia of Strategy for Fortniters : ATK Driving Techniques, Challenges, and Stunts – Jason R. Rich

Miss Jessica

 

Spooky Series!

There’s something about summertime that always puts me in the mood for spooky stories. Maybe I’m just gearing up for autumn and Halloween early? Or maybe it’s the rolling thunder and cracks of lightning during summer storms that remind me of mad scientists and haunted houses. If you’re also looking for some beach reads that tend towards the spooky and spine-chilling, then any of these series are sure to satisfy your kiddo for awhile. These short, illustrated chapter books are perfect for those who are just branching out into chapter books on their own. All of the links go to the first book in the series.

 

Ghost Detectors – Dotti Enderle

Monster Hunters – Jan Fields

Graveyard Diaries – Baron Specter

Eerie Elementary – Jack Chabert

The Notebook of Doom – Troy Cummings

Lucky 8 – Lea Taddonio

A Deadly Fall – Rich Wallace

Scream Street – Tommy Donbavand

Ursula’s Funland – Johanna Gohmann

Miss Jessica

 

Review: Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks

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Summary: 

I usually add the publisher’s description here, but in my opinion it doesn’t do this book justice, so we’re doing things my way today! This graphic novel is the story of best friends Sanity and Tallulah, who live on the space station Wilnick. Sanity loves to do science experiments and creates an adorable – and huge – three-headed kitten named Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds. But when Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds gets loose on the station, Sanity and Tallulah have to track her down before security makes them give her up. Meanwhile, unexplained power outages all across the station have everyone in a panic, and if they don’t figure out what’s causing it soon, the whole station could blow up! Will Sanity and Tallulah be able to save Princess Sparkle and the day? 

Review: 

I just finished reading this book myself not too long ago and have been trying to convince everyone I know to read it since then. Sanity and Tallulah is a super fun scifi adventure with a diverse cast of characters. Between the hunt for Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds, and the mysterious power failures on the station there is plenty of action. The art is fun and eye-catching without falling into the boring, monochromatic silvery palate a lot of futuristic media does, and the writing is similarly breezy and enjoyable. The science itself is mostly of the made-up, “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow” variety, but I really liked that it shows women and girls with an interest in STEM. Sanity herself is a budding scientist smart enough to create Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds solo and Tallulah’s mom is the engineer in charge on Wilnick. 

With the sequel coming out this fall, now is a great time to read Sanity and Tallulah! Recommended for ages 8 – 12.

Check it out on the catalog here!

Miss Jessica

Five On Friday: June

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It’s June, and that means it’s time for Summer Reading! Our theme this year is It’s Showtime at Your Library, so I decided to borrow the showtime theme for this month’s Five on Friday. Here are five middle grade books all about the theater for the superstar in you.

 

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Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle

Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he’d settle for seeing a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There’s an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom.

 

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Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!

 

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The Marvels by Brian Selznick

The journey begins at sea in 1766, with a boy named Billy Marvel. After surviving a shipwreck, he finds work in a London theatre. There, his family flourishes for generations as brilliant actors until 1900, when young Leontes Marvel is banished from the stage. Nearly a century later, runaway Joseph Jervis seeks refuge with an uncle in London. Albert Nightingale’s strange, beautiful house, with its mysterious portraits and ghostly presences, captivates Joseph and leads him on a search for clues about the house, his family, and the past.

 

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Summerlost by Ally Condie

It’s the first summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar’s father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery.

 

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How to Stage a Catastrophe by Rebecca Donnelly

Sidney plans to be the director of the Juicebox Theater when he grows up. For now, he handles the props, his best friend Folly works the concession stand, and his sister May hangs out in the spotlight. But the theater is in danger of closing, and the kids know they need a plan to save it and fast. When they join a local commerce club to earn money, Sid and Folly uncover some immoral business practices, and it gives them a great idea for saving the theater. That is, if you can call extortion a great idea.

And that’s all for this month! Be sure to check back in July, same bat time, same bat channel for the next 5 on Friday.

Miss Jessica

 

Review: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

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Summary:

From the publisher: How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany’s locker? When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared. Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk. A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in his mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.

Review:

You ever read a book so good that once you finish it, you hug it and thank it for its existence like some kind of nerdy version of KonMari? That is exactly what I did after finishing Carlos Hernandez’s middle grade debut, Sal and Gabi Break the Universe. Sal is one of the most delightful and charming protagonists I’ve read in a long time, and even though the scifi part of the plot wasn’t as significant as I had expected, it never dragged because I loved Hernandez’s style so much. Filled with heart and humor, this is a story about love and grief and friendship without ever getting preachy. The publisher suggested ages are 8 to 12, but I think kids on the older end of that range and even into young adult readers would better appreciate it. Highly, highly recommended.

 

Check it out on the catalog here!

Miss Jessica