Children's Corner: New Halloween titles are treats treats for little goblins

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Treat your young readers to some of these great new Halloween books:

■ Author/illustrator Salina Yoon offers a fun -- but not scary -- look at Halloween for the littlest readers in "Where's Boo?" (Random House, $6.99, ages 6 months-3 years). The simple text of this sturdy board book invites babies and toddlers to try to find a friendly looking black cat named Boo. Instead of having readers lift flaps to search for Boo, Ms. Yoon uses the page turns to allow young readers to "look behind" several objects, such as a jack-o'-lantern and a cookie jar.

■ The rowdy animal crew from the best-selling "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type" are back in a new adventure, and this time the animals of Farmer Brown's farm are hosting a Halloween bash. Farmer Brown himself finds Halloween too scary, so he goes to bed early, hoping to sleep through it.

But, as author Doreen Cronin and illustrator Betsy Lewin show in "Click, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat" (Atheneum, $16.99, ages 4-7), Farmer Brown just can't bear to miss out on the Halloween fun in his barn. As always, Ms. Cronin's story is lighthearted and well-paced, while Ms. Lewin's watercolor illustrations dramatically highlight the hilarity. Young readers will particularly enjoy Duck's Dracula costume, plus the plot twist at the end of the book.

■ Cordelia, a young witch, just loves to spell and decides she's finally old enough to compete in the annual Witches Spelling Bee. But an evil older witch named Beulah Divine, who has won 13 spelling bees, vows to ensure that Cordelia doesn't win this one, even if it means casting some nasty spells on her.

In "A Very Witchy Spelling Bee" (Harcourt/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99, ages 5-8), author George Shannon tells a clever and comical tale that doubles as an unforgettable spelling lesson. Young readers who enjoy wordplay will be captivated by this book, particularly by the way Cordelia bests Beulah in the spelling bee.

The illustrations by Mark Fearing, done with pencil and then altered digitally, add to the fun, especially as they underline the humor in scenes such as when Beulah turns Cordelia's ears into pears or her hair into a chair.

■ Author/illustrator Stephen Savage uses his considerable graphic design talents to create a unique Halloween counting book in "Ten Orange Pumpkins" (Dial, $16.99, ages 3-5). With a rhyming text, Mr. Savage invites young readers to count down with him as he shows the variety of fates awaiting a patch of 10 pumpkins.

Mr. Savage's bold, dark colors and simple shapes for his backgrounds allow the bright orange pumpkins to take the spotlight in each two-page spread, and this makes it easy for children to see just how many pumpkins are left as they turn the pages. Young readers also will enjoy looking for a black cat that scampers through each illustration in the book.

■ In "Trick-or-Treat: A Happy Haunter's Halloween" (Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, $16.99, ages 4-8), author Debbie Leppanen presents a series of 15 brief and amusing poems, each of them highlighting an element of Halloween.

In "Cold Bones," for example, she wonders how skeletons stay warm:

"Can anybody tell me

(if anybody knows)

why skeletons aren't freezing

when they don't wear any clothes?"

The jaunty tone of Ms. Leppanen's rhymes is amplified by Tad Carpenters's vibrant digital artwork. Overall, this book is a great pairing of poetry and Halloween.

■ The grandmother and granddaughter from "Hubble, Bubble, Granny Trouble" are back with a fun new tale in "Whizz! Pop! Granny, Stop!" (Nosy Crow/Candlewick Press, $14.99, ages 4-7).

This time, the spells cast by Granny, a witch, spell more trouble than help for her granddaughter. After several disastrous episodes, in which Granny turns her granddaughter's hair pink and makes her pet rabbit disappear, the granddaughter has had enough.

For her birthday, she begs Granny to leave magic behind and instead help her make a cake and party dress in the ordinary way. While the results are far from perfect, the birthday is a success. Still, when it comes to cleaning up, it turns out that magic can be helpful sometimes.

Author Tracey Corderoy's rhyming text works well in this cheerful story, while the pen, brush-pen and digital illustrations by Joe Berger burst with energy and color. Although this isn't necessarily a Halloween story, the witch theme makes it appropriate for the holiday, especially for those who prefer some less-scary fun.

■ In "Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters" (Candlewick Press, $14.99, ages 3-5), author Jane Yolen and illustrator Kelly Murphy team up to offer a decidedly non-scary look at young monsters as they spend a day at the park.

Ms. Yolen's text is brief but full of fun and vivid verbs such as "tumble," "twirl" and "totter," while Ms. Murphy's illustrations, done in oil, acrylic and "gel medium," portray these monsters as fuzzy and lovable.

There's no Halloween motif, other than the fact that all of the characters are monsters, but this book still makes a great nonthreatening introduction to the holiday for young readers who aren't sure about the scary stuff.

■ Readers who enjoy a bit of a shiver in their Halloween stories will find much to like in "Ol' Clip-Clop: A Ghost Story" (Holiday House, $16.95, ages 5-8). Author Patricia C. McKissack provides plenty of spine-tingling twists and turns in her story, while the mixed-media and oil illustrations by Eric Velasquez are downright spooky.

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