Friday, October 30, 2009

Children's Poetry Books for Halloween

You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You
Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together
Written by Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrated by Michael Emberley
Little Brown, 2007

This is the fourth book in the popular You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You series. Hoberman describes this as a “read together/read-aloud book.” The “very short scary tales” in this book, written in rhythmic, rhyming verse, would be perfect for a choral reading activity in an elementary classroom. They’d also be wonderful stories for a parent and child to read together—especially at this time of year. Children are sure to delight in reading the book’s thirteen tales about zombies, a ghoul, a witch and her broomstick, trick or treating, a ghost and a mouse, and goblins, gremlins, demons, and devils.

Here’s an excerpt from Goblins, Gremlins, Demons, and Devils

There are goblins in the garden.
There are gremlins in the glen.
There are demons in the cellar.
There are devils in the den.
They are crawling in the windows.
They are creeping in the doors.
They are sliding down the chimney.
They are slipping through the floors.

Oh, we wish we knew some magic
That would get us out of here,
Or a secret spell to corner them
And make them disappear!

All of the scary stories for two voices close in the same fashion—with the characters reading to each other.

The ending from The Ogre and the Giant

Since the day is
Warm and breezy,
Why don’t we just
Take it easy?

Stretch out on
The sandy beach.

Take a sunbath.
Eat a peach.

Find a storybook
Or two.
You read to me.
I’ll read to you.

The poems for reading together aren’t really terribly scary tales—but they would be lots of fun to read aloud with someone…at any time of the year. Michael Emberley adds just the right touches of ghoulish humor with his mixed-media illustrations.

Halloween Hoots and Howls
Written by
Joan Horton
Illustrated by Joann Adinolfi
Henry Holt, 1999

The rhyming verses and illustrations included in this poetry collection are more silly and light-hearted in nature than they are dark and scary. The poems’ topics include a child talking about the costume he’ll wear when he goes trick-or-treating; a ghost and goblin ball; a dancing ghost; a Halloween quiz; a recipe for goblin punch; the rather gross dishes on a witch’s dinner menu; a mummy who drives a school bus; and Doctor Frankenstein going food shopping at the market.
Halloween Hoots and Howls would be a fun collection to share with young children in the classroom—or at home.

Here’s one of my favorite poems from the book:

Witch Hazel’s Dinner Menu

Electric eels,
thinly sliced.

Baby bat wings,
hotly spiced.

Worms in brine
(cup or bowl)

Dragon entrails casserole

Sumac salad, green and chivey,
tossed with lots of poison ivy

Spider bundt cake

Witches’ brew
(regular and decaf, too)

Los Gatos Black on Halloween
Written by
Marisa Montes
Illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Henry Holt, 2006

Los Gatos Black on Halloween is one of those picture poetry books in which the art provides a perfect backdrop for the verses. The textured paintings with soft blurry edges and mostly muted colors contain plenty of macabre images of skeletons (los esqueletos), witches (las brujas), phantoms (los fantasmas), the dead (los muertos) and monsters (los monstruos) to set kids shivering with delight.

Los Gatos Black on Halloween is a book-length poem written in English and Spanish about black cats and ghosts and skeletons and other spooky beings making their way to a haunted casa on the last night of October. There they all crowd into the Haunted Hall where they play music and dance and have a grand time…until they hear loud RAPS on the door. Then…

La puerta creaks…it opens wide.
The things are coming. Run and hide!
They hold up bags, yell “TRICK OR TREAT!”
Los monstruos beat a quick retreat.

The thing that monsters most abhor
Are human ninos at the door!
Of all the horrors they have seen,
The WORST are kids on Halloween!

This is an excellent story in verse that would be a wonderful book to read aloud. Montes proves herself to be adept at writing rhythmic verse. Her lines scan well. She uses a rich vocabulary of English words—and includes some interesting rhyming pairs: gleam/scream, stalks/mocks, parade/invade, waltz/somersaults, gasps/unclasps, abhor/door.

The book could serve as an excellent introduction to the Spanish language for young children. Even kids who don’t know any Spanish will be able to easily figure out the non-English words interwoven in the text because of the context clues and illustrations.

Los Gatos Black on Halloween was the Pura Belpre Award Winner for Illustration and an Honor Book for Narrative in 2008. The book includes a glossary with a pronunciation key.


At Blue Rose Girls, I have Shakespeare’s Song of the Witches.

My poetry post this week at Political Verses is a Paean to a Bovine Beauty.

Jennie has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Biblio File.


Mary Lee said...

Great collection!

laurasalas said...

Thank you, Elaine! I just went and put all three of these on reserve at the library. I'd heard of 2 before, but never actually read them. So happy for the nudge! I love that Witch Hazel poem!

Elaine Magliaro said...

Mary Lee & Laura Salas--

Of course, Mary Ann Hoberman's poetry is always such a pleasure to read aloud. The meter in her poems is near flawless.

I think both the art and text in LOS GATOS BLACK ON HALLOWEEN were excellent. I'm sure young kids would really like the book.

Jennie said...

I love love love Los Gatos Black on Halloween! Thanks for highlighting such fun books.

jama said...

Oh, thanks for featuring these today, Elaine. They've put me in the proper Halloweeny mood. Perhaps I should join Witch Hazel for dinner? :D

Emily Wilkes said...

These are all great Halloween children's books. I recommend The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury, although it would be for older kids because it is more of a short novel.

Marinela said...

Nice collection.thanks for highlighting :)

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