Volumes of Treats

Get out those trick-or-treat (book) bags! This Halloween, youngest booklovers are rewarded with a pair of board books featuring favorite characters. In Maisy's Halloween by Lucy Cousins, the bewitching mouse in pointy hat leads her crew in festive regalia—from Eddie the elephant's crown and scepter to feathered Tallulah's fairy wings and magic wand. (Candlewick, $5.99 14p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-7636-2579-5; Sept.)

The popular pup helps his owner pick out only the best gourds in Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch by Alyssa Satin Capucilli, illus. by Pat Schories. Along the way, they run into friends from earlier Biscuit titles. In more holiday board book fun, Biscuit Gives a Gift finds the canine delivering Christmas presents. (HarperCollins, $4.99 each 14p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-06-009466-4; Aug.; Gift 0-06-009467-2; Oct.)

A pair of novelty board books by Salina Yoon features cuddly, plush covers befitting their subjects: Spooky Pumpkin and Black Cat. In the first, the titular jack-o'-lantern narrates: "Watch me glow in the dark of night./ Boys and girls shriek with delight." In the second, "Dancing bones and vampire bat/ come out to play with Black Cat." Exaggerated expressions help tone down the fright. (S&S/Little Simon, $5.99 each 10p ages 1-4 ISBN 0-689-85392-0; 0-689-85393-9; Sept.)

Spiders, bats and ghouls dance in windows and doors cut into the cover of Haunted Halloween Party by Matt Mitter, illus. by Viviana Garofoli. A bow-tie-wearing skeleton ushers readers around his spooky abode, introducing gap-toothed ghosts and other not-so-fearsome characters. (Reader's Digest, $5.99 10p ages 2-5 ISBN 0-7944-0418-9; Aug.)

Other favorite characters join the fun in further adventures. In Lola's Trick or Treat by Diane deGroat, Gilbert's younger sister puzzles over what to wear on Halloween night: "I want a costume no one else has!" she exclaims. Half-page flaps help build suspense and fold back to unveil Lola's actions. (HarperFestival, $6.99 paper 16p ages 3-6 ISBN 0-06-058389-4; Aug.)

The young pachyderm protagonists Isabelle, Pom, Flora and Alexander feel certain that a "huge, green, foot-dragging, chain-rattling monster" is responsible for the "thump-drag-rattle-clank" coming from the attic in the paper-over-board Babar and the Scary Day by Ellen Weiss, illus. by Jean-Claude Gibert, inspired by the artwork of Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff. Luckily, they come out of hiding long enough to discover the true culprit. (Abrams, $9.95 24p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-8109-5019-7; Oct.)

In The Teeny Tiny Ghost and the Monster, Kay Winters and Lynn Munsinger's third outing starring the diminutive hero, he resists drawing a picture for his school's Make a Monster contest. ("That would be much too scary,/ like a nightmare coming true," he thinks.) After two bullies ridicule his anxiety, the teeny tiny fellow sculpts a "friendly monster" out of junkyard parts and wins first prize. (HarperCollins, $14.99 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-06-028884-1; Aug.)

Puns and pranks abound in Happy Haunting, Amelia Bedelia by Herman Parish, illus. by Lynn Sweat. Here the heroine's comic misunderstandings take on a spooky bent as she helps prepare for a party (e.g., cracking a window). When Amelia says she doesn't have a disguise, Mr. Rogers wisecracks, "You wear a costume every day," commenting on her anachronistic apparel. But Amelia gets the last laugh. (HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.99 64p ages 5-up ISBN 0-06-051893-6; Aug.)

Barbara Park's latest, Junie B., First Grader: Boo... and I Mean It!, illus. by Denise Brunkus, finds the indefatigable star a bit apprehensive of trick-or-treating: "I'm going to see real, actual monsters and witches! Plus I'll probably be coming home with a bat in my hair." (Random, $11.95 100p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-375-82806-0; Aug.)

The Halloween Kittens by Maggie Kneen features flaps that hide glittery surprises à la her previous The Hanukkah Mice and The Christmas Surprise. As the Cat family preps for their bash, kittens Trick and Treat get underfoot: "Mother carries baskets/ with candy treats to share./ But Trick and Treat/ are missing./ Where is the/ mischievous pair?" Die-cuts in the flaps offer a glimpse of the sparkly textures beneath. (Chronicle, $15.95 20p ages 2-6 ISBN 0-8118-4228-2; Oct.)

"Beady" refers to more than just evil eyes in Skeleton Bones and Goblin Groans:Poems for Halloween by Amy Sklansky, illus. by Karen Dismukes. As in their From the Doghouse, the fabric and bead artwork brings to life a collection of poems on haunting topics. In "A Witch's Favorite Day," a green-complected hag laments, "I only come out at night/ because I'm such a fright./ This sadly is my plight—/ except on Halloween." (Holt, $16.95 32p ages 4-7 ISBN 0-8050-7046-X; Aug.)

The Story of Halloween by Carol Greene, illus. by Linda Bronson, explains the myriad traditions that helped shape the holiday as we know it, beginning with ancient Celtic and Roman harvest rites then moving on to the tricks, lanterns and disguises—first popular in the British Isles—that made their way to America. Bronson's windswept, undulating illustrations add a mystical air. (HarperCollins, $15.99 40p ages 7-10 ISBN 0-06-027946-X; Aug.)

Three spine-tingling paperbacks add up to An I Can Read Halloween Treat: Arthur's Halloween Costume by Lillian Hoban; In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz, illus. by Dirk Zimmer; and A Know-Nothing Halloween by Michele Sobel Spirn, illus. by R.W. Alley. (HarperTrophy, $11.99 ages 4-8 ISBN 0-06-054237-3; Sept.)

Wild Witches' Ball, Jack Prelutsky's refurbished rhyme from Witch Poems (1976), counts down a coven convention with new illustrations by Kelly Asbury. "Ten tall crones" precede "nine queer dears with pointed ears," and soon there are "witches squeezed in every nook/ whichever where you cared to look." Scrawly sorceresses in a thick, fuzzed black line appear against backgrounds of purple, orange and hot yellow. (HarperFestival, $8.99 paper 24p ages 4-6 ISBN 0-06-052972-5; Aug.)

Honoring the Dead

A trio of titles celebrates another tradition at the end of October. Clatter Bash! A Day of the Dead Celebration by Richard Keep honors both the memorial and festive aspects of this Mexican holiday. Cut-paper collages, accented with paints and markers show impeccably dressed skeletons feasting and chasing butterflies as night falls. "Swirl-twirl/ Cha-cha-cha/ Boom!/ Clatter Bash!" appears beneath a spread of fireworks exploding over bony dancers and sombrero-clad skeletons playing music. A more formal explanation of the holiday's traditions concludes the fiesta-bright volume. (Peachtree, $15.95 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 1-56145-322-6; Sept.)

Jeanette Winter (illustrator of Tony Johnston's Day of the Dead) offers another visual extravaganza set against the Mexican festival in Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book. The neon bordered artwork begins with Don Pedro, his sons and grandsons constructing the calaveras (skeletons) for the town's celebration. When they take them to market, the calaveras come alive, assuming such roles as "candelera" (candlemaker) and "vaquero" (cowboy). (Harcourt, $16 48p ages 3-7 ISBN 0-15-205110-4; Sept.)

In a more somber exploration of the holiday's roots, Felipa and the Day of the Dead by Birte Müller chronicles a girl's search for her grandmother's soul. The impressionistic spreads follow the heroine as she searches the mountains and asks the animals about her recently departed Abuelita's soul. In celebrating the Day of the Dead, however, she comes to terms with her loss. (North-South, $15.95 32p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-7358-1894-0; Sept.)

Sneaky, Spooky, Creepy Booky

An array of titles conjures scary scenes. In a picture-book sequel offering thrills and chills, the star of Attack of the 50-Foot Teacher returns as The Abominable Snow Teacher by Lisa Passen. When a blizzard causes a snow day, Miss Birmbaum skis to school, regardless. ("I must get to the school. My students need their textbooks and worksheets.") A freak accident transforms her into a hairy, math-quizzing beast until she learns how to have fun. (Holt, $15.95 32p ages 5-8 ISBN 0-8050-7379-5; Aug.)

Goblins and ghosts are not the only elusive phantoms this season. "Like whispered rumors of strange happenings," the eight tales in The Hidden Folk: Stories of Fairies, Gnomes, Selkies, and Other Secret Beings by Lise Lunge-Larsen, illus. by Beth Krommes, were "originally told as fact," according to the author's source note. The tales of mysterious Northern European creatures inspire enchanting scratchboard illustrations in a folk-art tradition, featuring ruddy, rotund humans while brightly clad fairies lurk among leaf fronds and selkies take refuge in the sea. (Houghton, $18 80p ages 4-8 ISBN 0-618-17495-8; Aug.)

Third in the Edgar and Ellen series by Charles Ogden, illus. by Rick Carton, Under Town finds the siblings facing a mysterious "The Mason" who seems to have stolen the duo's plans to save Nod's Limbs' Gadget Graveyard from greedy developers. They pursue this usurper through the cavernous sewers of their town, before coming to realize that they may have similar goals in mind. The adventure prepares the way for the next title, Pet's Revenge, due spring 2005. (Tricycle, $12.95 160p ages 9-up ISBN 1-58246-126-0; Sept.)

In the paper-over-board Heir of Mystery: The Second Unlikely Exploit by Philip Ardagh, illus. by David Roberts, the McNally siblings hunt down the stolen brain of their dearly departed brother, who took a tumble in The Fall of Fergal. They must fend off a teddy-bear-wielding mad genius à la Dr. Frankenstein who has plans for Fergal's noggin. (Holt, $9.95 144p ages 9-up ISBN 0-8050-7477-5; Sept.)

As he did with Skeleton Man, Joseph Bruchac once again blends haunting elements of traditional Native American folklore with a modern setting and characters in The Dark Pond, illus. by Sally Wern Comport. Armin, the teenage son of a Shawnee woman and a student at North Mountains School, is plagued by visions he experiences after visiting a mysterious pond one winter afternoon. (HarperCollins, $15.99 160p ages 10-up ISBN 0-06-052995-4; Aug.) Gris Grimly applies his wicked pen to four of Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Madness: "The Black Cat," "The Masque of the Red Death," "Hop-Frog" and "The Fall of the House of Usher." The morbid and fearsome text makes an ideal match for Grimly's gothic aesthetic. His artwork runs the gamut from a comic book—like progression of the search for the black cat to a medical textbook—style visual analysis of Roderick Usher. (S&S/Atheneum, $17.95 144p ages 11-up ISBN 0-689-84837-4; Sept.)

Bram Stoker's Dracula, edited by Jan Needle, illus. by Gary Blythe, appears in an abridged edition with haunting pencil illustrations in gray and red that seem to mysteriously dissolve into the darkness. Glossy pages bordered in red, make the book look as if it has been dipped in blood, offering delectably spinetingling trappings to the classic tale. (Candlewick, $18.99 336p ages 12-up ISBN 0-7636-2508-6; Sept.)

Maria Shaw's Tarot Kit for Teens by Maria Shaw comes packaged with a Lo Scarabeo Universal Tarot deck. Beginning with a brief history of the tarot, Shaw depicts different card layouts for readings, provides the meanings of the 78 cards, and explains how to hone one's psychic skills. Final artwork and deck not seen by PW. (Llewellyn [800-843-6666], $19.95 paper 192p ISBN 1-7387-0523-3; Aug.)