cover image Harold & Chester in Scared Silly: A Halloween Treat

Harold & Chester in Scared Silly: A Halloween Treat

James Howe. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-688-07666-5

This story, narrated in first person by Harold the dog (of Bunnicula fame), concerns a cat, a dachshund, a rabbit--and, of course, a scary Halloween night. The animals know all day a storm is coming that night, when they'll be alone in the house. Anything might happen. Once the Monroe family heads out for the evening's festivities, goblins wander the streets, and in the storm, the lights go out. Then a witch arrives. She starts up a brew in the kitchen, then says, ``Now where are those animals?'' Chester's remark: ``My mother didn't raise me to be an ingredient.'' After the witch takes Bunnicula into the kitchen, the others try to escape, but they're stopped at every door by monsters. It's the invasion of the . . . Monroes, who've all come home--and the witch turns out to be Grandma, early for a visit. Morrill's diverting illustrations are an integral part of the fun in this light-hearted, corny caper. The pictures show the atmosphere growing visibly scarier once Harold, Chester et al. are alone at home; they cower at shadows, peek round doors with their ears back and stare in the dark living room at Bunnicula's red eyes. Then Morrill echoes the animals' (and the reader's) relief, when the intruders turn out to be family, by showing all participants full length, from farther away. This effective blend of words and art could summon a shiver any time of the year. Ages 5-up. (Aug.)