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Hubble Bubble: The Super-Spooky Fright Night!

Tracey Corderoy, illus. by Joe Berger. Nosy Crow, $6.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-0-7636-8653-6

In this entertaining series opener, Corderoy introduces a girl named Pandora who lives with her two grandmothers: Granny Podmore, a neatnik, and Granny Crow, a witch with the tendency to “get excited and go too far” where magic and spells are concerned. The first of three four-chapter stories focuses on a wild Halloween party that features out-of-control pumpkin soda and a “super-sucky” octopus-esque vacuum cleaner. In the latter tales, teddy bears at a build-your-own-bear store are brought to fluffy life and a school trip to a swimming pool takes some wild twists and turns. Accented with bright orange, Berger’s two-color cartoons add to the atmosphere of benevolently chaotic magic. Pandora is a sweet-natured, slightly nervous heroine, and although Granny Podmore doesn’t show up again after the first story, Granny Crow steals the show in each tale with her well-meaning—if not entirely effective—use of magic. Ages 6–9. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Yo Ho Ho, Halloween!

Pam Muñoz Ryan, illus. by Edwin Fotheringham. Scholastic Press, $6.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-90885-6

With the school Halloween parade approaching, macaroni penguin Tony Baloney opts to purchase a pirate costume from a store, rather than make a homemade one with his family. Over four brisk chapters, Tony’s enthusiasm gets the best of him, and the components of his costume are soon tattered, in pieces, or missing. “The trash truck ran over the hook because it was left in the street by someone completely irresponsible, or maybe me,” a dejected Tony explains to his stuffed buddy, Dandelion. Luckily, Tony’s family responds to his predicament with crafty ideas instead of reprimands. Like Tony’s previous early readers, this one nimbly bridges picture book and chapter book territory, as Fotheringham’s vivid digital artwork and Ryan’s knowing dialogue gently illustrate Tony’s realization that a pirate’s life is far better with a trustworthy crew at your side. Ages 5–7. Author’s agent: Kendra Marcus, Bookstop Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Pat Hackett, Pat Hackett Artist Representatives. (June)

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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I Dare You!

Illus. by Nicole Maubert. Twirl, $14.99 (18p) ISBN 978-2-7459-7895-0

In a series of dares, children are invited to engage with monsters outfitted with touch-and-feel elements. The opening spread features a large spider with thick black fur: “Look at that hairy, scary spider! I dare you to touch it!” Maubert’s illustrations are more cute than scary, but the hyperbolic text does its part to create a shiver of danger; in the book’s best scene, a pop-up snout lets readers put their hands “into the jaws of this .” It’s engaging fun for Halloween or anytime some light chills are called for. Ages 3–5.

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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If You’re Spooky and You Know It

Aly Fronis, illus. by Jannie Ho. Little Bee, $5.99 (16p) ISBN 978-1-4998-0165-1

Fronis brings a Halloween twist to the familiar children’s song “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” in rhymes complemented by Ho’s lightly mischievous cartoons. Childlike (and none-too-scary) skeletons, vampires, witches, and other creatures act out the actions described in each verse (“If you’re wicked and you know it, stomp your feet!”) in mildly chaotic vignettes—rolls of toilet paper are strewn across a scene featuring finger-snapping mummies, and a bat and cat try to keep up with some shedding werewolves who are hairy (and know it). It’s just the thing to enliven Halloween parties at libraries and preschools. Ages 2–5.

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Seeking a Witch

Angela DiTerlizzi, illus. by Allie Smith. Little Simon, $7.99 (30p) ISBN 978-1-4814-6959-3

“I’m seeking a witch/ and everyone knows/ Your skin must be green/ With a wart on your nose.” So begins this poetic Halloween contemplation from DiTerlizzi. It isn’t entirely clear who’s speaking, and most of the creatures pictured aren’t witches at all (the aforementioned green skin belongs to a Frankenstein’s-monster type, the warty nose to a purple imp). And yet it works: as readers flip the pages, they meet a friendly cast of mummies, vampires, wizards, and ghouls, all captured in Smith’s eye-catching, fluorescent-hued cartoons. The underlying implication is that any one of them—or us—has the potential to be a witch. Ages 1–4.

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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You Are My Pumpkin

Joyce Wan. Cartwheel, $6.99 (14p) ISBN 978-0-545-88092-3

Wan follows and other playful riffs on parental terms of endearment with a Halloween-themed offering. “You are my happy, smiley pumpkin,” she begins. “My sugary, sweet candy corn.” Wan’s chunky-cute graphics are as appealing as ever—there’s a “wild, messy monster” splashing around in a mud puddle, as well as a “purr-fect, cuddly kitty” dressed up like a witch. Cozy and sweet as candy, this brisk, feel-good book is sure to delight Wan’s fans, as well as adults simply looking for something nonedible to sneak into their kids’ trick-or-treat bags. Up to age 3.

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Little Blue Truck’s Halloween

Alice Schertle, illus. by Jill McElmurry. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $12.99 (16p) ISBN 978-0-544-77253-3

As Little Blue Truck drives to a Halloween party, readers can lift flaps to find out who is hiding beneath the costumed figures he encounters: “Who’s this queen/ with a golden crown/ and sparkling jewels/ and a velvet gown?/ Under the mask who do you see? ‘Moo!’ says the cow./ ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” McElmurry’s richly rendered scenes and the animals’ elegant costumes conjure up a sense of nostalgia that befits Little Blue Truck’s own vintage looks. And after delivering all of the animals to the party, Little Blue Truck gets a chance to dress up himself, using a large white sheet to turn into a ghost. Up to age 3.

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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Trick or Treat, Pout-Pout Fish

Deborah Diesen, illus. by Dan Hanna. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $5.99 (12p) ISBN 978-0-374-30191-0

It’s Halloween, and an unseen narrator wonders if Diesen and Hanna’s characteristically glum-looking Mr. Fish might be among the trick-or-treaters dropping by a leviathan-shaped submarine: “Who’s that ghost?/ Is it you, Mr. Fish?/ Maybe you’re the goblin/ With tails that swish!” None of them are Mr. Fish (he’s dressed as a pirate captain inside the sub), and in the story’s funniest moment, readers encounter a sea dweller dressed as the pout-pout fish himself (“Is it you in the mask?/ What a funny frowny face!”). While Mr. Fish’s existing fans will best appreciate this story, Diesen’s lively rhymes and Hannah’s wittily detailed art make this an entertaining outing for newcomers, too. Up to age 3.

Reviewed on 07/29/2016 | Details & Permalink

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