This post: some fabulously fun and clever books to celebrate the season of spooky!
I have pulled together a collection of some of my favorite read alouds for this time of year:
Cinderella Skeleton by Robert D. San Souci
Illustrated by David Catrow
Scholastic Press, 2001
Recommended for grades 2+
Older listeners or readers will be able to appreciate the language more. I love the illustrations! Catrow is one of my favorite illustrators, and his whimsical and style brings the creep factor to this book. Kids really love when Cinderella doesn't losse a shoe, but rather has a her foot snapped off in the grip of her darling prince.
Ignoring the thump of her footless stump,
Reached her coach and cried, 'Away!
I must be home by the break of day!'
They raced pell-mell past the palace gate;
The prince kept pleading, 'Lady, wait!'
In his hand, a foot-in his throat, a lump."
Come on, you had fun reading that!
Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs by J. Patrick Lewis & Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins
Recommended for grades 4+
I ordered this book over the summer. After showing it to my sister she looked up at me and said, "You're not going to read this to your kids, are you?" And I tentatively replied with, "Um, noooo...?" Ok, so maybe I should not read it to them this year. Thankfully I have these kiddos for 4th grade too, when I can pull out all the questionable titles because they can handle them then ;) The illustrations are what gets you with this book. Right off the bat you can't help but think, ewww. There is a little continuing storyline with the illustrations that happens in the background throughout the pages. I don't find the book offensive, but I don't offend easily, so be careful who you send this one home with!
It's not the epitaphs themselves that are gruesome, as below you will see. But these pictures play up the deadly messages.
Blue Whale Blues
She sang a melody,
two continents apart,
so long and sad, the echo
broke her heart.
In my Laugh Out Loud Picture Book Top Ten I shared the book Sipping Spiders Through a Straw: Campfire Songs for Monsters by Kelly DiPucchio, ill. by Gris Grimly. I see Last Laughs sitting nicely on the shelf next to that silly collection of songs.
For the kid that thinks poetry is love and flowers, hand them this!
Tell Me a Scary Story...But Not TOO Scary! By Carl Reiner
Illustrated by James Bennett
Little, Brown and Company, 2003
Recommended for grades 2-4
This book came with a CD of the author reading the story. There are great sound effects and music to bring the story to life. I love sharing a well read audio book, and this one has been a hit with all groups.
The Widow's Broom by Chris Van Allsburg
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992
Recommended for grades 3+
I can't share a line up of favorite read alouds without including Van Allsburg, the master of storytelling and illustrating. Van Allsburg respects young readers by not giving too much away, by letting young readers work with him to give life to his stories. I don't think anyone could read a Van Allsburg story to a group of students without hearing gasps of realization or without seeing hands shoot up into the air because a listener is bursting to tell you what they just connected.
I always point out how 3 full length films have been made from three of Van Allsburg's picture books, giving credit to how powerfully immaginative his stories are.
Kids love the kicker at the end of this book.
Happy Halloween Boys & Ghouls!