Halloween Books for Kids

Halloween Book Reviews by Susan Fry

Here are three Halloween treats your kids won’t have to trick you into reading.


Spooky Hour, by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees. Younger children will relish this counting book, which gives just enough Halloween flavor without being too scary. The watercolor illustrations are darkly colored, with deep purple night skies and black shadows. But the skeletons, witches, and other “midnight spooks” look downright friendly. They’re drawn dancing and waving, with fuzzy fur and gleeful grins. Kids can help count down from eleven witches stirring their spells, to six tromping trolls, then all the way to “One Gigantic Pumpkin Pie!” The story ends with all the creatures eating the pie with “some scary party fun!”


The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, by Linda D. Williams, illustrated by Megan Lloyd. This folktale-ish and empowering story never mentions the word “Halloween.” But dark colors, spooky apparitions, and a giant pumpkin make it perfect for the season. A feisty old lady walking through the woods meets shoes, pants, a shirt, gloves, a hat, and, finally, a “very huge, very orange, very scary pumpkin head.” Each time, she says, bravely, “Get out of my way . . . . I’m not afraid of you!” Readers may notice, however, that she walks a little faster each time, until she finally races home. Part of the book’s magic lies in the repetition of sounds: kids can shout, clap, and wiggle as the “Two shoes go CLOMP, CLOMP,/One pair of pants go WIGGLE, WIGGLE,/One shirt go SHAKE, SHAKE,/Two gloves go CLAP, CLAP,/One hat go NOD, NOD,/And one scary pumpkin head go BOO, BOO!” As with most bullies, the pumpkin doesn’t know what to do with himself when the old lady isn’t frightened. So she finds a use for him . . . as a scarecrow!


Ghoul School, illustrations by David Roberts, paper-engineering by Corina Fletcher. This pop-up book will have older children shivering and laughing at the same time, though ghoulish graveyards and grisly ghosts could scare younger kids.

Readers can pull tabs, lift flaps, and turn wheels to discover just how Ms. Vampira teaches her students “a full range of haunting techniques, from basic wailing and groaning to walking through walls.” No child will complain about dinner after seeing Mrs. Snotte’s “classic school lunches,” and grown-ups will enjoy jokes such as Shake, Rattle, and Moan as a library book title. The watercolor-and-ink drawings are in muted browns and grays, with quavering lines and a grotesque, Edwardian sensibility that recalls the work of Edward Gorey. The final triumph? A pull-out report card that praises students for skills such as “an unhealthy obsession with reptiles.”

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

You can check out the Sweet Peas & Stilettos’ children’s books page for quick access to all of Susan’s wonderful children’s book reviews.

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