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October 19, 2007 Edition

Skeleton Hiccups, by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by S.D. Schindler

What do YOU do when you have the hiccups? Skeleton’s got them big time, and he tries all the tried and true remedies. Eating a spoonful of sugar doesn’t help, nor does drinking water upside down, or even having his friend Ghost yell “Boo!” Those hiccups keep rattling Skeleton’s bones and making it hard to carve his pumpkin. Then Ghost has an idea – and it works!

Behind the Mask, written and illustrated by Yangsook Choi

Korean-American Kimin’s mother says he will find a Halloween costume in the trunk full of masks and robes in his bedroom. The trunk belonged to Kimin’s grandfather, who was a Korean mask dancer, and when Kimin opens the box marked “Tal,” he sees the face that scared him so badly when he was younger. Now that he understands that it was just a mask, though, he decides to dress as his grandfather for Halloween. His friends laugh when he tells them, but the reality of Kimin’s costume surprises them all in this wonderful non-supernatural Halloween tale. This story is unusual in that it manages to blend fun and candy with a deeper story of remembrance. The autumn palette of the illustrations and the haunting masks make this atmospheric and cozy at the same time.

When a Monster is Born, by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Nick Sharrat

This silly story may satisfy the little ones who want monsters, but not really scary ones. It follows a monster from birth, offering two choices for each twist of the tale: if the monster is a faraway-in-the-forests monster, then that’s that, BUT if it is an under–the-bed monster, then it will either eat you (and that’s that), or you’ll become friends, and so on. Kids will enjoy the refrain, adults will enjoy the preposterous options, and everyone will love the goofy green monster hero.

Andy Shane and the Pumpkin Trick, by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, illustrated by Abby Carter

It’s two days before Halloween and someone has smashed Dolores’ pumpkin. Andy and his grandmother give her a pumpkin they grew, and Andy and Dolores hide out to scare off the pumpkin smashers, only to witness the new pumpkin’s destruction. But Andy has a great idea, and when he arrives at Dolores’ house for her Halloween birthday party, he gives her another pumpkin with a big surprise in it for the pumpkin smashers!

Darkness Creeping, by Neal Shusterman

If you owned a device that could end the world, would you push the button? If your grandfather took you fishing and rowed the boat right into the storm, would you be afraid? What would it mean if your violin playing caused rain to fall and lights to dim? Can a child’s quilt become evil? The real world is turned upside down in this collection of Shusterman’s short, shivery stories.

Spirits Dark and Light, by Tim Tingle

If you’re looking for supernatural tales from Native American traditions, you will love this collection of stories from the Five Civilized Tribes. Tingle divides the stories into their tribal affiliations, Creek, Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, and Seminole, and spins them out in his powerful yet comfortable voice. Some stories have morals, like “Eagle Slayer” and “Rabbit Death,” which show the consequences of thoughtless hunting, while others have supernatural monsters and spirits flexing their powers. This would be an excellent read-aloud for a mixed group of older elementary grade and middle school kids.

The Restless Dead, edited by Deborah Noyes

With contributions from such dark luminaries as Holly Black and Annette Curtis Klause, this collection of stories is all about the undead: vampires, ghosts, and the living dead. Some are out for revenge, others try to teach, still others simply want to scare the living daylights out of the live humans they encounter. Pick this up when you’re in the mood to have your stomach turn over with dread and the hairs on the back of your neck rise.

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