Welcome to the Children's Hour where reading to children and reading by children is considered a high priority to their success in life. Literacy begins by reading to children, but is developed over the years when great literature is available for their listening and reading enjoyment.

Fall is in the air, and what better way to enjoy it than with great Halloween stories. We hope that you enjoy our selections.

The greatest bargain in America today is located in the public libraries. Usually the only cost involved is time. Unlike toys, books are difficult to break and are ready-made with no assembly or batteries needed. Portable, they can be enjoyed anywhere, any time, and they take up less space than most toys. They never go out of style and are the best source of entertainment for children.

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Current Notables: Preschool

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written/illus. by Tad Hills, (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2009 Board), 22p, Ages 2-6

Duck and Goose admire their friend Thistle’s pumpkin, and decide to find another one. They search in a hollow log, a pile of autumn leaves, an apple tree, a pond, and a tree stump, but to no avail, until Thistle recommends the pumpkin patch. As they carry their perfect pumpkin home Goose comments, “We sure know how to find a pumpkin, Duck.” Little ones will enjoy the expressions.
   Themes: Animals, Friendship, Holidays, Series

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written by Alice Schertle, illus. by Jill McElmurry, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), 16p, Ages 3-6

It’s Halloween and Little Blue Truck and his friend Toad are on their way to a costume party. Along the way, they are joined by several costumed friends. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes?” Little ones lift the flap and discover a ballerina duck. Sheep is a clown, cow is a queen, pig is a witch, hen and her chick are pirates, and horse is a dragon. Little Blue Truck is in costume, too. “Off comes the sheet / It’s you-know-who! / Little Blue Truck says, / ‘Beep! Beep! BOO!’” With apple bobbing, jack-o-lanterns, and a lively band, Little Blue Truck’s safe Halloween is filled with fun.
   Themes: Holidays, Rhythm & Rhyme, Trains Planes Cars & Boats

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written/illus. by Olivier Dunrea, (Houghton Mifflin Books, HC 2010, Board 2013), 32p, Ages 2-5

“It’s Halloween night / A night to beware./ A night to scare./ Goslings are on the prowl!” As the sky darkens and the leaves swirl, Ollie the mummy, Gossie the wizard, Gertie the chicken, Peedie the dragon, and BooBoo the bunny, creep through the bogs, hoot like owls, howl like wolves, bob for apples, and poke through the pumpkins. The adventures abruptly end as lightning streaks across the sky and they run for the barn, where the last of the Halloween treats are devoured. With a hint of spookiness, the watercolors are a delight for young ones.
   Themes: Adventure, Animals, Holidays, Friendship, Series

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written/illus. by Salina Yoon, (Walker Books, 2014), 40p, Ages 3-5

“It was fall, and very white on the ice, as always—which made Penguin curious.” Wondering what warmer climates are like in the fall, Penguin, Bootsy, and friends travel across the ocean on their slowly melting ice flow to a pumpkin farm, and finish the trip by swimming to shore. At the pumpkin patch, everyone finds their perfect pumpkin, except Penguin, who is fascinated with the multicolor leaves falling everywhere. They sail for home in a gigantic hollowed out pumpkin, towing another filled with pumpkins, leaves, books, blankets, and treasures. Back home, Penguin gives his little brother a pumpkin, and a special surprise. Little ones will enjoy the penguins’ traveling attire, their solution to the problem of a dwindling ice flow, and the special treat for a little brother.
   Themes: Adventure, Animals, Friendship, Holidays, Series

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written/illus. by Karel Hayes, (Down East Books, 2015), 32p, Ages 3-7

One fall New Hampshire weekend, a family drives to their cottage in the mountains where they ride bikes to the county fair, play boardwalk games, pet barnyard animals, ride the Ferris wheel, and enjoy cotton candy. Unbeknownst to them, a bear family follows and sneaks into the closed midway at night to enjoy hot dogs, free pumpkins, and ride the Ferris wheel. “It’s only a weekend and too soon time to leave, but the cottage by the water will not be empty for long.” The bears move in with their pumpkins, make costumes, and enjoy trick-or-treating. At Thanksgiving they catch turkeys and cook dinner for everyone to enjoy (turkeys included). Kids will love the humorous illustrations of two families enjoying a special New England autumn.
   Themes: Adventure, Families, Holiday, Humor, Series

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written by Judith Ross Enderle/Stephanie Gordon Tessler, illus. by John O’Brien, (Boyds Mills Press, 1992), 24p, Ages 3-6

In this sweet and simple counting book, six sheep dressed as ghosts meet trick-or-treaters disguised as pirates, goblins and witches, and one by one are frightened. All ends well when they are reunited at a Halloween party.
   Themes: Animals, Holidays, Series

Current Notables: Ages 4-8

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written/illus. by Lucy Ruth Cummins, (Antheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018), 56p, Ages 4-7

What’s a pumpkin to do when he’s a beautiful color of orange and perfectly round as a basketball, but no one will choose him for their Halloween jack o’lantern? Due to his missing stem buyers overlook him, so Stumpkin sits expectantly on the shopkeeper’s shelf as other pumpkins are purchased and displayed in windows across the street. As Halloween draws near, the shopkeeper’s black cat tries to help by squatting on top of Stumpkin to hide the missing stem, but is frightened away by a dog. Even the gourd goes home with someone. Find out how Stumpkin’s home might just be under his yet-to-be carved out nose in this delightful, charming book about differences and acceptance.
   Themes: Holidays

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CLICK, CLACK, BOO!: A Tricky Treat

written by Doreen Cronin, illus. by Betsy Lewin, (Antheneum Books, 2013), 40p, Ages 4-7

On Halloween night, Farmer Brown, who dislikes Halloween, places a bowl of candy on his porch, locks up his house, puts up a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on his front door, and goes to bed. When a mysterious caped someone crunches through his yard, creaks up the porch, swipes the candy, and hammers a poster on the front door, Farmer Brown knows just where to find the culprit. Incensed, he marches to the barn in his footy pajamas, only to discover that he has won the “Best Costume” award at the barnyard Halloween party.
   Themes: Animals, Holidays, Humor, Series

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written by Stephen Wunderli, illus. by Tim Zeltner, (Henry Holt & Co., 2014), 32p, Ages 4-7

When the wind blows and the leaves begin to fall, a little pumpkin seed wishes to grow up quickly and yearns for the day when his “boo” will frighten everyone. “The little plant kept growing and sometimes tried to scare the bucket and the bees and a grasshopper…But none of them were even the least bit afraid.” The wind encourages him to be patient, and through the seasons he grows into a flower, a pumpkin, and finally is picked to become a mighty jack-o-lantern, who loves to say “Boo!”
   Themes: Holidays

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written by Linda Williams, illus. by Megan Lloyd, (HarperCollins Publishers, 1986), 32p, Ages 3-7

A fearless little old lady hears noises behind her while walking home through the wood one day. Confronted by a pair of clomping shoes, wiggly pants, shaky shirt, two white gloves, a tall black hat, and a pumpkin head, the little old lady hurries to reach the safety of her home. She arrives at last and comes up with the perfect solution of what to do with the lively items that are chasing her.
   Themes: Holidays

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written by Kevin Lewis, illus. by S. D. Schindler, (Orchard Books, 2003), 32p, Ages 4-8

On Halloween Buck and Billy Baxter ignore sister Lil’s advice and cut a huge pumpkin loose. They watch in horror as it zooms down the hill toward the Baxter farm, crashes through the fence and comes to rest in a ditch. Granny saves the day by cooking up a bunch of pumpkin holiday treats in this tongue-twisting story.
   Themes: Holidays

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written/illus. by Dave Horowitz, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2005), 40p, Ages 4-6

A lonely, funny-looking pumpkin feels rejected that no one chose him for Halloween. Searching for a place to fit in, he leaves the pumpkin patch. By Thanksgiving, lo and behold, he discovers that he is not a pumpkin at all, but a squash in this cute twist on The Ugly Duckling.
   Themes: Holidays, Humor

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written by Rick Walton, illus. by Delana Bettoli, (HarperCollins, 2004), 32p, Ages 4-8

Four days before Halloween Mrs. McMurphy finds a pumpkin by her front door. When the pumpkin threatens to eat her, Mrs. McMurphy quietly places it outside. Day by day, the pumpkin returns with the warning, and the woman responds by placing it farther away. By Halloween Mrs. McMurphy decides to make a lovely pie for trick-or-treaters.
   Themes: Holidays

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written by Margaret Wise Brown, illus. by David Diaz, (HarperCollins, 2005), 40p, Ages 3-7

A little boy, on the brink of growing up, tries to be the fiercest scarecrow in all the fields, just like his dad. He uses one ferocious face after another, but nothing frightens the crows. Suddenly they fly off, and he is so pleased. Little does he realize that dad is standing behind him.
   Themes: Holidays, Families

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written/illus. by John Bemelmans Marciano, (Viking, 2013), 48p, Ages 4-8

The feisty little orphan from John Bemelmans’ original classic, Madeline, decides to help a ghost. Madeline, the other orphans, and Miss Clavel are unaware that a ghost resides in their Parisian home attic. When Lord Cucuface removes the ghost’s telescope, Madeline and neighbor Pepito devise a plan to return the ghost’s property. With the help of costuming and drama, they give Lord Cucuface a fright, grab the telescope, and return it to the ghost in time to watch a rare comet pass by.
   Themes: Adventure, Holidays, Rhythm & Rhyme, Series

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written/illus. by Loren Long, (Philomel Books, 2014), 40p, Ages 4-7

Otis is overjoyed to meet a new arrival to the farm, but the scarecrow, with its sour-looking face, stares at the cornfield and is far from friendly. As the seasons change, Otis helps with the harvest, pulls wagonloads of kids seeking pumpkins, and plays games with his farm friends. Happy to be around family and friends, Otis is always mindful of the silent and stern scarecrow up on the hill. How Otis brings friendship to the lonely scarecrow, and maybe receives a smile in return, is a great lesson to children on friendship and compassion.
   Themes: Animals, Holidays, Rhythm & Rhyme, Series

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written by Denise Doyen, illus. by Barry Moser, (Random House, 2009), 32p, Ages 4-7

“Once upon a twice, / In the middle of the nice, / The moon was on the rice / And the Mice were scoutaprowl …” On their nightly forage, elders warn young mice about the dangerous creatures in the woods and ponds. Young Jam Boy disregards the warnings and wanders off to watch a beetle and smell the flowers. He doesn’t hear a silent water snake approach, hiss, and strike. Years later, an older, whiskered Jam speaks to a new generation of mice, and lectures them against wandering off. This cautionary tale of youthful arrogance and overconfidence will have many youngsters on the edge of their seats. With its glorious, nonsensical words (riskarascal, goofiddles, whispercroon) and wonderful illustrations of rice paddies, a huge yellow moon, and wide-eyed mouslings, this tale is too good to wait for Halloween to enjoy.

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written/illus. by Helen Cooper, (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005), 32p, Ages 4-8

While making pumpkin soup, Duck, Cat and Squirrel discover they are missing the key ingredient — salt. On their shopping trip to the big city, Duck becomes lost when he stops at the Pepper Shop. All ends well with the help of six Police Dogs, four Fire Dogs, and two Foxes.
   Themes: Food, Humor, Holidays

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written by Eve Bunting, illus. by Eileen Christelow, (Clarion Books, 1997, 2001), 32p, Ages 4-8

A little girl and her family attend a pumpkin fair, where she watches a pumpkin parade, pumpkin bowling, pumpkin basketball, tug-a-war games, a young man juggling pumpkins, the pumpkin spitting seed contest, and all the pumpkin treats one could eat. Protective of her small pumpkin and saving it for the big best-loved pumpkin contest, she is thrilled when her ordinary and bumpy pumpkin wins an award. “‘The best-loved pumpkin at the fair. / The best-loved pumpkin anywhere!’ / I get a ribbon, red and blue. / My pumpkin gets a ribbon, too. / How did they know? / How did they see / The way I felt inside of me?”
   Themes: Holidays, Families, Rhythm & Rhyme

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PUMPKIN TOWN!: Or Nothing is Better and Worse Than Pumpkins

written by Katie McKy, illus. by Pablo Bernasconi, (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), 32p, Ages 4-8

José and his family grow pumpkins of every size imaginable. There are Jack-B-Littles (small enough for pockets), sturdier Happy Jacks (just right for carrying), and Big Moons (only for rolling). After the harvest, José and his brothers toss the leftover seeds into a field. However, they are blown into town, settling on houses, streets, and every nook and cranny. When spring comes, the town has a decidedly orange color from the explosion of pumpkins. Feeling responsible, the brothers work through the night to remove the pumpkins and vines and are rewarded with delicious watermelons (the ones with seeds.
   Themes: Families, Holidays

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written by Mark Kimball Moulton, illus. by Karen Hillard Good, (Simon & Schuster, 2010), 32p, Ages 4-8

One summer a young boy discovers a pumpkin growing far beyond the fields and carefully nurtures it. He clears weeds, loosens soil, gives it plenty of water, and the little pumpkin soon becomes his favorite one. When a shy, book-loving girl moves in next door, she watches Peter care for her favorite pumpkin. As the days grow shorter and autumn arrives, the farm becomes a busy place filled with customers. As Meg searches for her pumpkin, Peter shares his special one and gains a friend.
   Themes: Friendship, Holidays

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written by Robert D. San Souci, illus. by Daniel San Souci, (Doubleday Books, 1992), 32p, Ages 7-10

This adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorn’s original tale tells of a scarecrow that was created out of sticks, tree limbs, and a pumpkin by an 18-century New England witch. Thinking to play a joke on the unfriendly Judge Gookin, Mother Rigby transforms her creation into a handsome man and sends Feathertop to woo the Judge’s daughter, Polly. The joke backfires when the two fall in love, and Feathertop discovers that he is not human. “Feathertop chanced to look in the full-length mirror on the landing. To his horror, he didn’t see his human form reflected; instead, he saw Mother Rigby’s patchwork of sticks and witchcraft.” Returned to his original form, Feathertop longs for his lost love and Polly for her handsome stranger. With a change of heart, Mother Rigby decides to correct the situation, the two are reunited, and a lesson is learned about dabbling in magic.
   Themes: Folk Literature, Holidays

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written by Angela Shelf Medearis, illus. by Jacqueline Rogers, (Scholastic Press, 1997), 40p, Ages 4-8

“Deep down in the East Texas woods, there stands a beautiful old house that folks in those parts say is haunted by the ghost of Sifty Sifty Sam.” When a realtor, unsuccessful in selling the house, offers a $5,000 reward to anyone who can spend one night in the house, a chef named Dan decides to try. Armed with pots, pans, and food, he encounters a very hungry spirit. Scared witless, Dan soon realizes that delicious food is the way to Sifty’s heart, and prepares a banquet for the ghost who hasn’t eaten in 20 years. Dan wins the reward, opens a café, and Sifty agrees to wash the dishes exchange for food and board.
   Themes: Food, Holidays

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written by Jane Yolen, illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline,(Simon & Schuster, 2009), 32p, Ages 4-8

On a spooky, windy autumn evening, a lonely scarecrow blows off his perch in a cornfield. He leaps and dances happily across the fields, past the tractor, barn, silent cows, and sleeping pigs, until he reaches the farmhouse where a window light catches his attention. Peeking in the window, he watches a young boy pray beside his bed, “And bless tonight / Our old scarecrow / Who guards the fields / And each corn row / So that tomorrow, / When we reap, / There will be lots / Of corn to keep.” Reflecting on the child’s prayer, the scarecrow realizes he alone has the responsibility of guarding the crops and keeping the fields from danger. Children will enjoy the delightful language and beautiful artwork, while parents will approve of the duty and responsibility message.

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writtenwritten by Jacqueline K. Ogburn, illus. by Brian Ajhar, (Dial Books, 1994), 32p, Ages 4-8

When the only daughter of wealthy parents is kidnapped by the family chauffeur, who demands a large ransom, money isn’t the problem. “ ‘We must have her home before dark. She—she—she has to take her medicine before then—that’s it, her medicine’ stammered the distraught Mr. Wolverton-Manning.” Agreeing to meet at the Sweet Rest Graveyard, Ralph realizes his mistake when the full moon begins to rise and the family turns into werewolves.
   Themes: Holidays, Families

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written by Mary Howitt, illus. by Tony DiTerlizzi, (Simon & Schuster, 2002), 40p, Ages 4-8

“‘Will you walk into my parlor?’ / said the Spider to the Fly, / ‘Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy; / The Way into my parlor is up a winding stair, / And I have many curious things to show you when you are there.’“ Based on Mary Howitt’s 1829 cautionary poem, a well-dressed spider uses food and flattery to entice his guest, a petite dragonfly, into staying for an untimely demise. An endnote from the spider cautions children about those with “not-so-sweet intentions.” Marvelous illustrations await those who venture into this clever tale.
   Themes: Classics, Holidays

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written by Katherine Egen, illus. by Brandon Dorman, (HarperCollins, 2010),32p, Ages 5-8

One Halloween night, a nasty, greedy, and hungry man named Jack meets a strange being, rumored to be the devil, who offers him a free dinner in exchange for repayment upon his death. Starving for a good meal, Jack agrees without worrying about the debt. Years later on another Halloween night, as Jack carves a stolen pumpkin, the devil comes to collect on the debt. As a hot flaming coal streaks toward Jack, he avoids death by catching in it the pumpkin, where it “glowed with the beginnings of a smile.” Having cheated the devil of his payment, Jack is condemned to wander the earth eternally in search of a home. “It is said that you can still see him searching for a place to rest. He is called ‘Jack of the lantern’ because he carries a pumpkin that glows to light his way.” The Afterword explains the origin of the Irish folktale, in which a stingy man tricks the devil.
   Themes: Holidays, Folk Literature

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written by Megan McDonald, Illus. by Ted Lewin, (Orchard Books, 1992), 32p, Ages 4-8

A grandfather relates the time when, as a boy, he and his friend accidentally smash the pumpkin that his sister Rosie was growing. Feeding the remains to Mrs. Hadley’s pig next door, they buy a substitute pumpkin from Mr. Angelos’ wagon and tie it to the same vine. They have second thoughts about their cleverness, when Rosie sees her precious pumpkin. “She let out a scream I’m sure they could have heard all the way down the river in Aliquippa, and went running into the house.” As always, Ted Lewin’s illustrations are marvelous.
   Themes: Adventure, Families, Holidays

Current Notables: Ages 8-11

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written by Clete Barrett Smith, (Disney-Hyperion, 2014), 288p, Ages 9-12

“It had all started when Nick learned that Tania Hillington’s parents promised her a reward of sixty dollars for earning the highest grade in any class on any test. (Sixty dollars!) So he offered to botch a few of his test answers to help her out. In exchange for a fifty-fifty split of the reward, of course.” Part businessman, part con artist, Nick earns money by supplying test answers and hacking computers to help his single mom pay the bills. When Nick and his buddy, Burger, accidentally cause a delivery truck (driven by a bear) to crash, they discover Halloween costumes with strange abilities. After rescuing the driver, Nick helps with the bizarre deliveries, rescues stolen costumes, saves a Halloween party gone amok, deals with one difficult witch, and solves his family’s financial problems. Zaniness and hilarity abound in this holiday treat surrounding a good-hearted hustler, his crazy sidekick, wormholes, witches, and magical costumes.
   Themes: Adventure, Holidays

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written/illus. by Jill Murphy, (Candlewick Press,. 2015), 280p, Ages 8-12

The seventh and last adventure in the Worst Witch series finds Mildred Hubble returning to Miss Cackle's Academy, taking more responsibility (lighting the lantern and candelabras in the East Wing), rescuing a lovable stray dog, and participating in a talent contest to win a swimming pool for the school. Trouble is never far away, especially when Ethel Hallow is around.
   Themes: Adventure, Holidays

Current Notables: Ages 10-13

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THE SQUAMPKIN PATCH: A Nasselrogt Adventure

written by J. T. Petty, illus. by David Michael Friend, (Simon & Schuster, 2006), 256p, Ages 11+

When 11-year old Milton and 8-year-old Chloe Nasselrogt (pronounced “Nasal Rod”) lose their parents in a department store, they are turned over to Y. K. K. Porifera, the wicked headmaster of an orphan-powered zipper factory. After escaping from the Urchin House Orphanage, the children take refuge in an abandoned house of a candy maker who vanished the last Halloween. They soon suspect that the pumpkin patch in the front yard may be linked to several disappearances. With Halloween approaching, find out why Milton and Chloe feel that the Squampkin Patch may be evil. This comic thriller is for those with sturdier constitutions. Endpapers include a recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.
   Themes: Adventure, Holidays, Mysteries

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GOLDEN & GREY: The Nightmares That Ghosts Have

written by Louise Arnold, (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2006), 192p, Ages 10-13

Tom Golden would have been a normal eleven-year-old, except that his best friend is a ghost. Grey Arthur’s job, as an invisible friend, is to supply Tom with forgotten lunches and pens for class, and to keep bullies away. In this sequel to Golden & Grey: An Unremarkable Boy and a Rather Remarkable Ghost, Grey starts a school for ghosts who are looking to begin new careers as companions to human children. Along with an assorted group of endearing and quirky ghosts, Tom and Grey must solve the mystery of why ghosts all over the world are disappearing at the hand of the Collector.
   Themes: Friendship, Holidays, Mysteries, Series

Current Notables: Ages 12-15

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written by Sheila Turnage, (Kathy Dawson Books, 2014), 368p, Ages 11+

This charming Southern-flavored sequel to Three Times Lucky (2012) finds Mo LoBeau’s foster mother, Miss Lana, accidentally bidding on the old historic Tupelo Inn and winning not only the inn, but its resident ghost. Six graders Mo and her partner in the Desperado Detective Agency, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, determine to interview the young ghost for a class project. In the process, they discover buried treasure, a moonshine still, strange happenings in the inn and surrounding woods, and discover that others in town also have haunted pasts. Intrepid, plucky, and persistent, Mo finds the answers she seeks as the story confronts issues of abusive and absent parents, illegal activities, guilt, and greed. Humor, colorful characters, family dynamics, Miss Lana’s pithy sayings (“All the world’s a stage, sugar, so hop on up there.”), and Mo’s letters to her missing upstream mother, work together to make this holiday mystery worth uncovering.
   Themes: Families, Holidays, Mysteries, Series


The Children's Hour was created to promote and encourage reading to children and by children. We believe that reading aloud not only creates a special bond between parents and children, but it is important to the development of their imagination and curiosity.

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