September/October 2020


Stories from the Past to Read,
Share, and Treasure


Humor and laughter are essential to life. They keep things in balance, refresh the mind, and add another dimension to the pleasure found in children’s books. Life is sometimes so serious that the value of humor and nonsense is forgotten and not shared nearly enough with children.


written & illus. by Ruth Brown, (Mulberry Books, 1997, Andersen Press, 2011), 28p, Ages 3-6

“One hot afternoon, a farmer and his animals were dozing in the barn. The only sound was the buzz-buzz of a lazy fly.” When the fly lands on the farmer’s nose, the resulting SNEEZEEEEE catapults the fly into a spider’s web. This alerts a sparrow, who chases the spider, but awakens the cat, which leaps for the bird, but is chased by the dog, which scatters the chickens, and terrifies the donkey. The hilarious chain-reaction finds the egg-splattered, harness-draped farmer innocently explaining to his wife and child that, “I only sneezed!” Kids will love the humorous expressions, resulting mayhem, and wonderful illustrations.
Themes: Animals, Humor, Insects


Ages 4 - 8

written by Robert Munsch, illus. by Sami Suomalainen, (Annick Press, 1979), 32p, Ages 4-7

Contrary to popular belief, mud has a mind of its own, which Jule Ann discovers when a very pesky mud puddle jumps on her every time she steps outside. With cheerful imagination and two bars of soap, Jule Ann devises a way to outsmart the unsuspecting mud puddle. Don’t be surprised children begin looking for mud puddles in trees.
Themes: Humor Nonsense


written by Susan Seligson, illus. by Howie Schneider, (Little, Brown, 1987), 32p,Ages 4-7

An old Irish Setter, tired of his family leaving him alone, discovers that the family couch drives like a car, and off he goes following his family on shopping trips all over town. One day Amos doesn’t count on rush–hour traffic and is delayed returning home before the family. When they discover Amos and his motorized couch, they have great adventures going everywhere together.
Themes: Adventure, Classics, Humor, Pets


written by Margaret Mahy, illus. by Steven Kellogg, (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013), 40p, Ages 4-8

A neighbor’s dad brings home a speedboat from the flea market, but Sammy’s dad returns with a green, claw-footed bathtub. Sammy realizes that this is no ordinary tub when he hears a laughing gurgle and watches a claw foot move.

Donning his swimsuit, snorkel and water wings, Sammy settles in for a fun time in the soapy tub, not realizing that a wild adventure is about to begin. Suddenly the tub breaks free of the bathroom, runs down the stairs, out the door, across the lawn, and heads for the ocean. Out at sea, they meet mermaids, and a passing sea serpent helps Sammy battle buccaneers. “The buccaneers had swords, but Sammy bewildered them with bubbles and baffled them with soapsuds.” Returning home, the tub settles back in the bathroom along with Sammy and his treasure chest. Don’t be surprised when kids emulate the late Margaret Mahy’s swashbuckling adventure at bath time.
Themes: Adventure, Humor


written/illus. by Bill Peet, (Houghton Mifflin, 1967), 48p, Ages 5-8

A young, innocent mountain goat learns to adapt to a serious handicap—overgrown horns. Unable to keep up with the other rams and forced to leave his mountain home, Buford takes refuge with cattle to avoid roving hunters. Discover how Buford escapes danger to become a great skier and “the star attraction at the Little Big Pine winter resort.”
Themes: Animals, Humor


written by Josh Funk, illus. by Brendan Kearney, (Sterling Children’s Books, 2015), 40p, Ages 5+

“Deep in the fridge and behind the green peas, / way past the tofu and left of the cheese, / up in the corner, and back by a roast, / sat Lady Pancake beside Sir French Toast.” Their friendship is legendary, until their neighbor, Miss Brie, mentions that there is only one drop of syrup left, and the race is on to reach the last drop. The competition is fierce as they race past Broccoli Forests, the Orange Juice Fountain, and the Potato Mash Mountain, over beets, behind the dressings, and a bean avalanche.

When Sir French Toast falls into the jam and Lady Pancake is sucked into the Chili Lagoon, the race becomes a sticky obstacle course. The silliness is just plain fun, and readers will be surprised at who takes the last drop. “Trudging back home beneath layers of grime, / Toast said, ‘Perhaps we should not fight next time.’” The fold out page at the end shows the inside of the refrigerator with a shopping list featuring syrup on the freezer door.
Themes: Adventure, Friendship, Food, Humor, Rhythm & Rhyme


written by Bob Shea, illus. by Lane Smith, (Roaring Brook Press, 2014), 32p, Ages 4-8

Mayor McMuffin of Drywater Gulch has a toad problem. Not the four-legged kind, but the three lawless Toad brothers, who “would steal your gold, kiss your cattle, and insult your chili. Hootin', hollarin’, and cussin’ all the while.”

When a young dinosaur expert rides into town slowly on his tortoise, he claims to be qualified as sheriff, has an unusual knowledge of paleontology, and attributes the robberies to Velociraptors and Triceratops. Annoyed at not getting credit for the robberies, the three criminals stomp into the jail. “HA! You can blow them dinersores out your nose, Sheriff, this here jail is full up of real bonafide criminals!” With the crime wave solved and the robbers locked up, Sheriff Ryan rides out of town, over the next three days, on his trusty tortoise. The Wild West may never be the same again!
Themes: Dinosaurs, Heroes, Humor, Wild West


written by Leslie Helaioski, illus. by Henry Cole, (Dutton Children’s Books, 2008), 32p, Ages 4-8

Feeling cooped up, four hapless chickens decide to find the farmhouse. Unfortunately, they look in all the wrong places. The Doghouse proves to be too scary, the tractor is too dirty, and the barn has wild ponies. Finally, they locate the farmhouse and realize that their coop is next door. The only explanation, of course, is that someone moved the coop. This silly, flapping, squawking farmyard adventure is sure to tickle every child’s funny bone.
Themes: Adventure, Animals, Humor


The First Misadventure

written by Doreen Cronin, illus. by Kevin Cornell, (Antheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014), 112p, Ages 7-10

Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie, The Chicken Squad, spend their days solving mysteries and fighting crime. They take on a new case, when a frightened squirrel, Tail, barges into the chicken coop claiming that something big, scary, enormous, frightening, huge, and terrifying is in the yard. Thinking that a UFO may have landed, the chicks use grass clippings as a camouflage and pelt a new barbecue grill. Retired search-and-rescue dog, J. J. Tully, races in to save the day. This great chapter book for young readers will tickle their funny bones with laugh-out-loud silliness.
Themes: Adventure, Animals, Chapter Book, Families, Humor, Mysteries, Series

Ages 8 - 11

written by Ann M. Martin & Annie Parnell, illus. by Ben Hatke, (Feiwell & Friends, 2016), 256p, Ages 8-11

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, from the delightful series that began 70 years ago by Annie Parnell’s great-grandmother Betty MacDonald, has taken leave of her beloved Upside Down House and animals to search for her missing pirate husband. Called to take care of the house and pets while her great aunt is away, Missy Piggle-Wiggle begins to change the town’s problematic children in a most unusual way. Having spent time with her aunt as a child, Missy is well versed in magic and inventive cures as well as her aunt’s approach to child psychology.

The families of Little Spring Valley, the Goodenoughs, Freeforalls, Pepperpots, and Earwigs soon realize that Missy’s cures for greediness, tardiness, procrastination, shyness, rudeness, lying, selfishness and whatever change their children’s misbehavior with wacky solutions (magic gumdrops, apology bubbles, noisy watches). The cures (Just-a-Minute cure, Whatever cure, Bubble of Apology cure, How–Are-You-Doing pill, etc.) also teach parents lessons on making time for their children and the importance of sharing.

Missy’s house, with a mind of its own and talking pets, is now filled with happy children. “Missy was the best friend they had ever had. Who else carried around a magic bagful of art supplies and had a pig who drank coffee and a goose named Evelyn and a house with its feet in the air? Who else told them stories and taught them to cook and kept them so busy that they didn’t need to fight anymore?” Hopefully the charming Missy Piggle-Wiggle will continue delighting children with wonder, wackiness, and whatever for generations to come.
Themes: Families, Fantasy, Humor


written by Sam Hay, illus. by Marek Jagucki, (Feiwel and Friends, 2018), 240p, Ages 8-11

Two adventure-loving, gadget-obsessed penguins, Jackson and Quigley from the town of Rookeryville, long to join the FBI (Frosty Bureau of Investigation). Dismissed as too young to join up, they are determined to prove their detective abilities. When one of Quigley’s inventions misfires, Secret Agent OOZero Jackson is dropped into an FBI stakeout. There they discover that rare and exotic fish are vanishing from the local aquarium.

To solve the crime, they must evade Jackson’s mother’s detective skills, avoid Frost-Wasp Bots, and outmaneuver Coldfinger, owner of the Shark’s Pit Restaurant.

Kids will love this middle grade chapter book with its fast-paced action, penguin humor, and quirky inventions (wall-climbing poo-glue, the voice-activated flipper-print quadruple locking system, and sardine invisibility suits).
Themes: Adventure, Animals, Chapter Book, Heroes, Humor, Mysteries, Series

Ages 10-13

written/illus. by Thacher Hurd, (Henry Holt & Co., 2011), 240p, Ages 10+

James Jameson’s ordinary life takes an exciting turn when he encounters Sam, a friendly blue alien mechanic from the Pleiades, who travels to earth in a lime green 1960 Dodge Dart spaceship and crashes in James’ neighborhood. Familiar with American culture from previous visits, Sam, loves American glazed donuts and listens to Count Basie on the interstellar radio.

After helping Sam repair the Dart with ketchup, James is introduced to space travel, Bongo Fishing in the South Pleiades, and Sam’s Elvis-loving wife, Edna. Subsequent visits become new adventures of manufacturing fuel (a concoction of broccoli, bubblegum, baking soda, and vinegar) in James’ kitchen, finding a cure for Sputnik (James’ cat), which has the Bleagles (Pleiades blue measles), learning to fly a rocket cycle, and rescuing Sam and Edna from a mysterious and deranged Zimborian therapist in Area 51’s restricted area. Short on science fiction, but full of humor and zaniness, James, Sam, and Edna are permanent fixtures in fiction.
Themes: Adventure, Humor, Science Fiction



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Welcome to The Storytellers, a monthly newsletter of outstanding children’s literature to read and read aloud from preschoolers to teens.

Fall is here, the leaves are turning, the pumpkins are ripe, and it’s a great time for storytelling. The books featured represent some of the best of imagination and fun in children's literature and are presented for the reading and listening enjoyment of all.

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written by Karl Newson, illus. by Migy Blanco, (Noisy Crow, $9.99, September 2020, ISBN 978-153614468), 24p, Ages 3-5

“In a treetop way up high / Little Owl blinks and rubs an eye. Mouse is snoozing. Squirrel is too. / But Little Owl has work to do.” On a magical night filled with twinkling stars, Little Owl decides to blow out the stars to make way for the arrival of the sun in the morning. Flying off past a sleeping giraffe, elephant, tiger, bear, whale, and penguin, she begins to puff out each star making sure to say good night to each one. When she encounters the last star—a shooting star, will she catch up to this one and make it home before the sun rises? Find out in this sweet bedtime story of an industrious little owl and her adventure with the stars. Little ones will love the beautiful illustrations.
        Themes: Adventure, Animals, Bedtime, Rhythm & Rhyme


written/illus by Bethany Christou, (Templar, $16.99, September 2020, ISBN 978-1536215472), 40p, Ages 3-6

It’s a well-known fact that sloths are slow. Samson is no exception, but he is friendly, kind, a peacemaker, and a hero to his friends. When invited to parties, being slow is a problem, but more so when he stops to help friends mediate arguments and rescue those in need. His thoughtfulness results in missing all the fun, especially the cake.

Determining next time not to miss a party, he ignores his friends and rushes as fast as he can, but he’s still late. “Without Samson stopping to help, everything had gone wrong. The tortoise had spent the whole day stuck on his back. The tree frog had no one to talk to. And the monkeys’ arguing had annoyed the whole rain forest.” Find out how his friends hatch a clever plan for Samson to attend a party in plenty of time, help friends along the way, and share the cake. Kids will enjoy this clever tale of friendship, teamwork, and especially the artwork.
        Themes: Animals, Friendship, Heroes, Values


written/illus. by Tony Cliff, (Imprint, $17.99, August 2020, ISBN 978-1-250-30784-2), 32p, Ages 3-6

Kids will enjoy this seek-and-find adventure as a family of little cats tries to catch their resident mouse, Sleepy. When mom innocently asks, “Look who’s up early. Good morning, hello. But what happened to Sleepy? Where did he go?” The cats dress quickly, and with their friends begin the search for the “Prince of the Night, The Master of Dreams, and the King of Moonlight.”

This takes them on a page by page Where’s Waldo search from downtown with its parade, to the beach, the snowy mountains, a tropical swamp with dinosaurs, caves, and even to outer space. The end of the day finds the cats exhausted and ready for bed, but full of wonderful memories, even though they missed finding Sleepy. Mom sums up their day with, “Let’s put our heads down / and pull up the sheets, / and let’s ... get ... Sleepy.” Maybe, the reader and listener will find the cute little mouse on each page?
        Themes: Animals, Bedtime, Humor, Rhythm & Rhyme


written by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illus. by AG Ford, (Chronicle Books, $17.99, September 2020, ISBN 978-1-451-8257-5), 40p, Ages 3-6

This is demolition day for the Construction Site crew as they work together to smash, crush, sort, and haul away debris from an old building. With teamwork and perseverance, Crane Truck swings the wrecking ball (“He bashes through a concrete wall. . . / and leaves a hole, fifty feet tall!”), then sorts the debris into piles to be recycled. Meanwhile Excavator bashes in the walls and sifts through the reusable material. Skid Steer breaks the rocks apart, while Dump Truck and Flatbed haul rubble away. Each has a job to do and work together in time for the ground to be leveled for Cement Mixer to pour concrete for a new building. Tired, they bed down for the night and dream of the jobs that they will do tomorrow. Kids will love the sounds of KA-BOOM!, SMASH!, THUD!, and CRUMBLE! CRASH when read aloud and accentuated.
        Themes: Adventure, Bedtime, Rhythm & Rhyme, Machines, Series

Ages 4-8

written by Deborah Underwood, illus. by Joy Hwang Ruiz, (Dial Books for Young Readers, $17.99, August 2020, ISBN 978-0-525-55402-8), 40p, Ages 4-7

There once was a city of 26 letters, where high walls separated each of the letters to protect them from the others, or so they thought.

All the “H’s”, big and small, lived together within their walls and were fairly happy, except for one small “h” who wondered about the other letters. Upon discovering a hole in the wall, little “h” reaches through and finds little “i” and together they make a new word, “hi”. After big “H” seals up the hole, little “h” sends his new friend a series of letters via paper plane messages. When one goes astray and lands in the “o” territory, of course, “oh” results. As they play games together, they discover that friendship and love tear down walls of fear and loneliness. Kids will love the “y’s” who finally get some answers — “b e c a u s e.”
Themes: Friendship, Humor, Values


written by Greg Gormley, illus. by David Barrow, (Noisy Crow, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-5362-0823-8), 32p, ages 4-7

“Bear was a bear—a very sweet little bear. But he didn’t know what kind of bear he was.” After meeting a little girl in the library, he decides to take a journey to find out. He meets many kinds of bears—a grizzly bear, a brown bear, a polar bear, a spectacled bear, and a black bear—but they don’t wear a bow tie, have stitches on their tummies or washing labels on their bottoms, and are not soft and bouncy. Returning to the library sad and dejected, the little girl not only tells him, “:You’re my kind of bear, and you can be my bear, if you’d like to.” She writes on his label “NELLY’S BEAR.” Adorable and heartwarming, little ones should listen this share this wonderful tale with their own teddy.
        Themes: Adventure, Animals, Bears, Families, Toys


written/illus. by Jessie Sima, (Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, $17.99, August 2019, ISBN 978-1-5344-1877-6), 56p, ages 4-7

In this clever almost wordless adventure, a young boy takes his new pet on walks, teaches it tricks, reads to it, takes it to the vet, and is always careful of sharp objects. Why? Because Spencer’s new pet is a balloon, a very magical one. Pointy dangers abound for the cute little pet, but with a surprise twist, kids will be amazed at who gets poked with a pin and blown up again. It’s a happy ending where everything returns to normal—magical normal. Told like an old silent movie in three parts, kids will want to view it over and over.
        Themes: Adventure, Friendship, Humor, Pets, Wordless


written/illus. by Ben Hatke, (First Second, $18.99, September 2020, ISBN 978-1-2501-9137-3), 40p, Ages 4-8

Julia, from Julia’s House for Lost Creatures (2014) realizes that her host of creatures are becoming restless and their house needs to move on. In searching for a new place to live, Julia has a plan for every possible problem that crops up. When she runs out of solutions and all seems lost, Julia discovers that sometimes help and kindness come from unexpected friends and magical creatures. The illustrations are delightful, and kids will yearn for the next adventure.
        Themes: Animals, Fantasy, Friendship, Heroes, Humor

Ages 8-11

THE VERY, VERY FAR NORTH: A Story for Gentle Readers and Listeners
written by Dana Bar-el, illus. by Kelly Pousette, (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 16.99, September 2020, ISBN 978-1-5344-3341-0), 272p, Ages 8-11

“If someday you wander north—truly north, to the northern part of north—and you come across the Cold, Cold Ocean, follow its shoreline to a beach that’s just right for napping. There you will find Duane the polar bear and his friends.” Duane is an inquisitive, good-natured polar bear, who loves making friends and giving each one a special name. It doesn’t matter whether they are bossy (Major Puff the military marching puffin), or vain (Handsome the musk ox), or shy (Boo the caribou), or scholarly (C.C. the snowy owl), or quivery (Twitch, the Artic Hare), or bouncy (Magic the Artic Fox), or a human child (Sun Girl and her pack of dogs), or Squint (the Painter). Duane befriends them all, accepting and respecting them for who they are.

Their adventures, mishaps, and discoveries fill each chapter with friendship, tolerance, comfort, fun, and Duane’s philosophical sayings.—“All good stories begin on Thursday,” but “All good stories involving unexpected situations begin on Tuesday,” and “When you accomplish something for the benefit of others, it’s a good day,” but especially, “You can have hopes and you can have goals, but a day will take you where a day wants to go." Kids will love discovering who the narrator is. Reminiscent of Winnie-the-Pooh and Wind in the Willows, this lovely tale makes an excellent read-aloud and is certainly a classic in the making.
         Themes: Adventure, Animals, Fantasy, Friendship, Heroes, Humor, Nature, Values

Ages 10-13

written by Fleur Bradley, illus. by Xavier Bonet, (Viking Children’s Books, $17.99, August 2020, ISBN 978-0-593-20290-6), 320p, Ages 10+

“The invitations went out on Tuesday afternoon, because statistically speaking, that’s the best time to offer someone a weekend getaway.” When JJ Jacobson’s busy CEO mother receives her invitation to an all-expense paid weekend at the historically haunted Barclay Hotel in Colorado, JJ can hardly wait to use his paranormal equipment to hunt for ghosts.

What he doesn’t expect is a murder mystery, a resident ghost, new friends, and secrets. The butler reveals that the adults (a cowboy, a librarian, a CEO, an actor, and a detective) were gathered to solve the murder of the owner, Mr. Barclay. JJ and two new friends jump into action to determine the motives, means, and opportunities of each guest, discovering that most have secret reasons for revenge toward the owner. Kids will have fun figuring out which one is the resident ghost. This clever whodunit with its twists and turns is a mystery that will entertain all without being scary, gory, or creepy, just delightful fun. Oh yes, kids, take note: It always pays to read the fine print on invitations.
        Themes: Adventure, Families, Friendships, Heroes, Mysteries

Ages 16+

written by David Barton, (WallBuilder Press, $6.95, 2020, 5th Printing, ISBN 978-1-932225-00-6), 78p, Ages 16+

This thrilling account of God‘s miraculous care over George Washington during the French and Indian War once appeared in many history textbooks, but sadly has since disappeared. George Washington was a surveyor, soldier, and leader, who was creative, intelligent, driven, disciplined, and Divinely protected. Passed down from many original and first-hand accounts of his involvement in the French and Indian War, these incredible stories of a young George Washington should be retold to the next generation and never forgotten.

From George Washington: "But by the miraculous care of Providence I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me." From an Indian Chief speaking years later to George Washington: "a power mightier far than we shielded you. Seeing you were under the special guardianship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you." From an Indian Warrior: "Washington was never born to be killed by a bullet! I had seventeen fair fires at him with my rifle, and after all could not bring him to the ground!"

Numerous maps and illustrations can be found in this updated edition a well as a Time Line of Events and Bibliography. In our culture today Americans have lost the belief that Divine Providence was in our country’s DNA. In this short history of the Battle of Monongahela, George Washington knew he quite miraculously avoided death many times by God protection and was always grateful for God’s intervention on his behalf.
        Themes: Adventure, Famous People, Nonfiction


Stories from the Past to Read, Share, and Treasure



written/illus. by Karel Hayes, (Down East Books, 2015), 32p, Ages 4-7

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, Holidays, Humor, Series


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, Humor


written by Beth Ferry, illus by The Fan Brothers, (HarperCollins, 2019), 40p, Ages 4-7

A lonely, old scarecrow is the feared guardian of the fields. ”Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / and mice and crows. / It’s all he does. / It’s all he knows.” No one dares to come near, until one day a baby crow drops from a tree nearby and lies helplessly on the ground. Moved by kindness, the old scarecrow breaks his pole, bends down and keeps him warm in the bib of his overalls, singing a lullaby.

Over the seasons they become inseparable, until the fledgling learns to fly and Scarecrow realizes that someday he will leave. Watching his friend fly off, Scarecrow now lacks both his pole and his friend to keep him upright. All through fall, winter, and spring, Scarecrow wallows in loneliness, until a familiar face returns to make another nest for babies in Scarecrow’s bib. “And he will love them from the start, / and they will grow up in his heart. / And they will peep and perch and play / and make him happy every day. And as the seasons come and go, / they will love their dear Scarecrow.” Readers and listeners will love this simple tale of love, kindness, friendship, and generosity.
        Themes: Animals, Friendship, Heroes, Holidays, Rhythm & Rhyme


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, Seasons


written by John Kelly, illus. by Cathy Tincknell, (Candlewick Press, 2004), 32p, Ages 5-8

A gluttonous pig and goose are invited for a weekend of free food at the newly owned Eatum Hall by a mysterious host, Dr. A. Hunter. Upon arrival at the gloomy manor, they find a note from the absent host: “I am delighted to offer you the chance to play a part in the finest dining experience in culinary history, and I will meat you personally in the bandstand on Sunday morning for a final, mouthwatering surprise.” In a humorous ode to gluttony, find out how the two overindulgent animals enjoy the food and avoid their destiny.
        Themes: Adventure, Animals, Food, Humor, Mysteries


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, Insects, Rhythm & Rhyme


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. On another Halloween night years later, 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: Folk Literature, Holidays


written by Kate DiCamillo, illus. by Chris Van Dusen, (Candlewick Press, 2007), 80p, Ages 6-9

It’s Halloween on Deckaroo Drive, and Mercy Watson returns in a hilarious holiday adventure. Not sure about the princess costume that Mrs. Watson wants her to wear for Halloween, Mercy has a change of heart when she hears “trick or treating”, which might mean buttered toast.
Who knew that trick or treating could lead to such an adventurous night, including chasing their neighbors’ cat up a tree, calling the local fire department, (who seems to respond to emergencies on Deckawood Drive fairly regularly), sniffing for buttered candy, and back home safe and sound, celebrating with a stack of buttered toast. Kids will enjoy the hijinks in this chapter book, while adults will laugh at the reference to an old movie, A Streetcar Named Desire ----“Stelllllllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”
        Themes: Adventure, Animals, Chapter Books, Families, Holidays, Humor, Series


written by Robert D. San Souci, illus. by Daniel San Souci, (Doubleday Books, 1992), 32p, Ages 8-11

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 18th 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


written by Clete Barrett Smith, (Disney-Hyperion, 2014), 288p, Ages 10+

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, Humor


GOLDEN & GREY: The Nightmares That Ghosts Have
written by Louise Arnold, (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2006), 192p, Ages 9-12

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” (2005), 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


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 mystery worth uncovering.
        Themes: Families, Mysteries, Series

Over the years, we have researched thousands of children's books, and can recommend some of the best in outstanding children's literature for parents to read aloud and children to read.

Our recommendations must meet certain criteria: fun, creative and imaginative stories, delightful illustrations, and excellent for age appropriate listening and reading. We hope that you enjoyed our recommendations. If you desire further information some of the best in children's literature, please visit our website,

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