Gina’s Favorite Halloween Reads

posted by Gina

It just doesn’t seem right to love books and to love Halloween and not post about Halloween books on Halloween. I realize nothing can top Beret’s Ghost Cake with Flaming Eyes, but as I spent much of today thinking lovingly of the picture books I proudly displayed in my classroom library each October, I thought, why not share? All contain little to no nightmare-inducing possibilities and are just as delightful for adults as for kiddos.  

SpaceCase, by Edward and James Marshall

This is a favorite from my own childhood. Mrs. Kaiser, my diminutive, beehive-hairdoed elementary school librarian, read this to our class and there was a check-out wait-list for months. You may be familiar the Mr. Marshalls’ other works–the Miss Nelson, Fox, and George and Martha series, to name a few. “It came from Outer Space, to have a look around,” is the first line of this fabulous tale. What better time to arrive than on Halloween, when an alien robot can roam incognito as just another trick-or-treater?

The Candy Witch, by Steven Kroll

Sadly, this is long out of print (and Amazon has none of those handy $1 used copies), but I’ve found copies in most local libraries. My own paperback is shredded from many and many and many classroom readings. Maggie the Witch likes to fill pockets with candy and fridges with food – but her family doesn’t notice her. Will magicking away all the kids’ Halloween candy get her some attention? I don’t fully understand why this book is so charming, but it is nothing but.

Shall we continue with some lovely out-of-print-witch-stories?

Tilly Witch, by Don Freeman

Don Freeman, of course, is the author of the beloved Corduroy, and Tilly Witch is just as delightful. Tilly, the Queen of Halloween, decides to try being happy for a day, since so many children spend Halloween trying to be evil witches. But once she starts being happy – she can’t stop! How can she cure this terrible malady?

You’ll finish Tilly Witch (she has a flying surfboard!) and want more – and luckily for you, there’s a sequel!

Space Witch, by Don Freeman

Tilly, after visiting the planetarium, decides to try spooking amongst the stars. She builds herself a spaceship – the Zoom Broom – and heads off to look for scare possibilities on other planets. Does something unexpected happen? Of course it does. Is it fully gratifying? Of course it is.

Froggy’s Halloweenby Jonathan London

Chances are you know Froggy. I mean, he’s just great. All the books in this series are on the goofy side, but in a good way. He’s lovable without being annoying.

In this book, Froggy can’t decide what to be for Halloween. There’s not much else, plot wise, but – again – he’s so winning (I love this illustrator) that he warms my cranky, middle-aged heart.

Speaking of the best illustrations ever …

The Halloween Performance, by Felicia Bond

A simple and sweet book, this is the story of Roger’s school Halloween performance.  What makes it magnificent are the illustrations, especially the big reveal of Roger’s costume. The best illustration ever? Perhaps.

(A note – this has been republished as The Halloween Play. And re-illustrated. No. No. No. Find the original.)

And finally,

CinderHazel, by Deborah Nourse Lattimore

This was wildly popular in my classroom. Who doesn’t love a wacky fairy tale retelling? And who doesn’t love a heroine who wants nothing but to be filthy? Silliness all around.

What – you wanted something scary to read tonight?  You’ll have to wait for next year.

Author: Gina L. Grandi

Moderately well-read. Fairly socially awkward. According to Greg, 'a sentimental cynic with artistic sensibilities.' Somewhat nifty.

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