Thursday, October 02, 2008

Ghoulies and Ghosties and Marshmallow Toasties!

I dunno what that title means exactly, but this post is all about PICTURE BOOKS so something had to rhyme!!! When I found out the news that I'll be teaching the Children's Lit survey at the university in the Spring I got really excited about picture books all of a sudden. I always like picture books, but I had some extra motivation to go a-hunting for cool illustrations and wonky texts that I can use in my class. While I didn't find too much wonk (nothing controversial) I did find some excellent illustrations.

Queen of Halloween, written and illustrated by Mary Engelbreit, is part of the Anne Estelle series. Little miss Anne Estelle is sort of Engelbreit's alter ego, and she's just freakin' adorable. This book is finds Anne Estelle and her brother out trick-or-treating with their dad when they decide to hit up just one more house before they go home. It's a scary house--big, old--and it takes all Anne Estelle has to approach the door and prove to her brother that she's not scared. But was it worth all the worry? Nah, never is.

A cute little book with cute little illustrations. If you're an Engelbreit fan with kids, this is a must-have.

Jane Manning is a new-to-me author and illustrator, and my first stab at her work, Cat Nights, was delightful!

Felicity the witch is turning 263, the age at which a witch grows her first wart, her shoes begin to curl, and she can cast her first love spell. But more importantly, it's the age at which the witch can finally turn into a cat! There are rules, though. A witch can only turn into a cat eight times, because on the ninth, she won't be able to change back. Felicity longs to be a cat and loves the twitch of her tail, the spring in her step, and roaming the night. In the end, Cat Nights, is about making decisions that will allow an individual to live a comfortable life and be true to the self. It could be a fantastic book for teaching about personal choice and even alternative lifestyles! Super cute book, and the illustrations are stunning.

Finally, my very favorite book of the picture books I sampled, is Halloween Night, by Marjorie Dennis Murray with illustrations by Brandon Dorman. While the story here is a lot of fun--a Halloween poem modeled after "The Night Before Christmas"--the illustrations steal the show.

Brandon Dorman's work is highly unusual for it's odd and thrilling perspective! The reader experiences the book's action from the slope of a witch's nose, over the top of a green wormy stew, or through the eyes of the bats in the belfry. Besides the weird and delightful perspective, the colors and lines are flowing and magical. It's like looking at pages filled with candy and sweets! In fact, I thought of a more childlike version of James Jean and his Fables illustrations (Carl! Are you reading this?!) Here's one of my favorite spreads (click to see a larger's sooo worth it):

To see more of Brandon Dorman's work visit his website HERE.

Thanks so much to the folks at HarperCollins for passing these books along to me. Stay tuned for one more very special picture book review coming up soon!


  1. Awesome. I'm collecting links for a scary book post later this month. Thanks! ;-)

  2. That is awesome! I wish I could get Harper Collins to send me stuff like that!

    I'll be keeping an eye out for these at the 'brary. Ellie is totally into Halloween books at the mo'.

  3. Sassy, always glad to be of interest! :D Looking forward to that post of yours.

    Heatheroo, sending you an e-mail!

  4. Congrats on the position, and what a great book list.

  5. These are absolutely delightful! I'm going to have to hunt them down for my girls... I love the Brandon Dorman one, especially. :)

  6. These are great. I love pictures books, too. I was kind of bummed when my boys grew out of wanting me to read to them. And I love anything to do with Halloween!


Thanks for taking the time to comment! Blogger has been a beast lately, so I hope you do not have any troubles leaving your thoughts.

Images by Freepik