Thank goodness for libraries! I discovered two fabulous Halloween books at our local library a few weeks ago. Both are written in rhyme and each involves a nighttime party that lasts until dawn. I know lots of little boys and girls are looking forward to Halloween parties in their neighborhoods, preschools, and elementary schools over the next couple of weeks, and these two books would be perfect for extending that party spirit into reading time at home.
Rattlebone Rock is a delightful book written by Sylvia Andrews and illustrated by Jennifer Plecas. My copy is due back to the library tomorrow, and when I tried to renew it, the library wouldn't let me because other people are waiting to check it out. It must be a popular book, and I can certainly see why...
Folks in the town
Still talk of the night
When the moon on the graveyard
Shone so bright
That the spirits there
Made the tombstones knock
And the beat began
For the Rattlebone Rock.
The party in this book takes place in a graveyard, which might normally be a scary place for young children. But the text of the book is so festive, and the illustrations so far from scary, that I doubt anyone would be afraid of it. At the beginning of the party, skeletons prance around the graveyard with a CLACKA-CLACK! Then ghosts sway to the beat of the drums. OOOOA-OOO! Witches, ghouls, and goblins galore join in until the graveyard party can be heard all over town.
Before long, the children of the town (many of them dressed in their Halloween costumes) and their families make their way to the graveyard, too. The playful illustrations show a girl dancing hand-in-hand with a skeleton, a ghost swinging in a tree, and a woman happily pulling a little boy and a goblin in a toy wagon. Even the town's mayor is boogying to the beat. It is definitely a night that the whole town will remember for a long time!
The second book I want to mention is Boogie Knights, written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Mark Siegel. I didn't find it in the holiday section of the library (where I found Rattlebone Rock), but I still think it's a great book for Halloween. It's the story of seven knights, standing guard in the upstairs of an old castle, who one by one venture downstairs and away from their post to join a midnight monster ball. The names of the knights are all puns, like Sir Cumference and Sir Vivor, which adds a nice layer of humor. And there are gremlins, ghostlings, vampires, and a ton of other characters appropriate for Halloween.
Monsters mashing! Bogeys bashing!
Jesters jive and jump.
Go-go gobblins--bouncin', bobbin'--
teach that knight to... Bump!
Mark Siegel uses a lot of grays and browns in the illustrations, giving an illusion of spookiness. But it really is just an illusion because, like Rattlebone Rock, this book is not very scary. The vampires look a little goofy, a hunchback is swinging from a chandelier on one of the pages, and many of the monsters are smiling and laughing as they dance.
I have to admit I had a little trouble catching the rhythm of the text sometimes, because it changes a few times throughout the book, and there is a lot going on in both the text and the illustrations. However, once you get used to it all, the book is really a lot of fun.
I think Lisa Wheeler and Mark Siegel also had a ton of fun making the book, which is evident in the following video from YouTube. The video also provides more insight into the book's subtle humor and into a couple of characters that were added into the story through the illustrations alone. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
If you are in the mood for some more rhythm or rhyme, head on over to Fomagrams, where Poetry Friday is being hosted today. It's a great day for reading and writing poetry, don't you think?
This post is also part of Book Talk Tuesday, which is held each week at the Lemme Library to share reviews of good books for school-age kids.