WHAT WE READ IN FEBRUARY (a list of one million Halloween books)

The Bug is obsessed with all things “spooky” and once he figured out that all the Halloween books at the library have a pumpkin sticker on the spine, it was ON. It’s been Halloween in February over here and, given the unusually rainy winter we’ve had, we’ve celebrated in full — cozying up under blankets and drinking hot cocoa while reading about ghosts and haunted houses.

Here is a list of what we read this past month…or at least what I can remember…

HALLOWEEN PICTURE BOOKS:

Hoodwinked by Arthur Howard – The kids really enjoyed this story about a witch on a mission to find the perfect “creepy” pet. It has created a slight problem for me, however, as they cannot accept that our grocery store doesn’t carry a cereal called Rice Creepies.

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler – This was a favorite. I enjoyed the rhythm of the verse and kids loved shouting out the witch’s dialogue as it repeated through the story.

The Halloween Party written and illustrated by Linda Shute – This might have been my favorite (and was also a hit with the kids) for the rich language. Both kids really enjoyed “reading” this one independently as well.

Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody written and illustrated by Michael Rex – We all adored this parody of Goodnight Moon. I worried that it might be a bit too scary, but the kids couldn’t get enough of it.

Luther’s Halloween by Cari Meister with illustrations by Valeria Petrone

Vera’s Halloween written and by Vera Rosenberry

Bedtime for Boo by Mickie Matheis with illustrations by Bonnie Leick – This story about a little ghost named Boo listening to the sounds around him at bedtime was the standout favorite from our first batch of Halloween books.

Moonlight the Halloween Cat by Cynthia Rylant with illustrations by Melissa Sweet

Sheep Trick or Treat by Nancy E. Shaw with illustrations by Margot Apple

Skelly the Skeleton Girl written and illustrated by Jimmy Pickering – The kids loved Skelly and reacted with the same surprise and delight every time at the end of the book.

The Creepy Countdown by Charlotte Huck and illustrated by Jos. A. Smith – Unfazed by what I found to be pretty frightening illustrations, the kids LOVED this book. When it’s time for lights out and the Bug begs to continue reading, we often snuggle in the dark and recite the words to this book.

Annie was Warned by Jarrett K. Krosoczka – I was initially put off by the title of this book when the Bug handed it to me at the library (worried that it would be a Peter Rabbit-esque morality tale where Annie didn’t listen to her parents and had horrible things happen to her) but I’m glad I gave it a chance because the kids loved this story about a surprise birthday party on Halloween.

Scaredy-Cat, Splat! written and illustrated by Rob Scotton – The kids have another book from this series that was a hand-me-down from a neighbor and were thrilled to discover this one at the library.

Seeking a Witch by Angela DiTerrlizi and illustrated by Allie Smith – Babygirl discovered this adorable board book at the library and we’ve all enjoyed it.

The Magic Pumpkin by Bill Martin and illustrated by Robert J. Lee

The Teeny Tiny Ghost and the Monster by Kay Wilson and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger – I think the illustrations were the Bug’s favorite part of this one, but I appreciated the story of a cautious ghost who, when his class was given the assignment to draw monsters that had never before been seen, overcame his fear and built a friendly monster with scraps from the junkyard, winning first prize.


THE FEW NON-HALLOWEEN PICTURE BOOKS:

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault and illustrated by Lois Ehlert – I was delighted when Babygirl found this book at the library. A classic from my childhood that I had completely forgotten, this has quickly become a favorite over here.

What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night by Refe Tuma and Susan Tuma – We don’t bother reading the microscopic captions (which are mostly written for adults anyway), but the kids LOVE this book of photography which Babygirl refers to as “Dinosaurs Make SO MANY MESSES!”

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – Another classic that has finally made it into our rotation. We always keep a few books in the stroller for long walks, time spent waiting at a restaurant, or any other time we get the itch to read.  This one made it into the stroller stash while we had it from the library and was always the first one the kids requested. We were delighted that, just before its due date approached, a copy found its way into the little free library in front of our house.

The Spider by Elise Gravel – A while back, when the Bug walked up to the librarian’s desk and asked her for some information about worms, we left with three of the books from The Disgusting Critters Series (The Worm, The Slug, and The Fly). They were favorites while we had them and, this time, The Spider did not disappoint either. Babygirl, in particular, would “read” this one to herself over and over.

Ice is Nice!: All About the North and South Poles written by Bonnie Ruth and illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu – Two of the best loved books that we own are others from The Cat in the Hat Learning Library (Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body and Oh Say Can You Say Di-no-saur?: All About Dinosaurs), so I had high hopes for this one, which I thought might help answer some the questions that had arisen as the Bug tried to reconcile what he’s heard about Santa and what he’s seen in his atlases. It was informative, but not nearly as special as the Inside Your Outside or Oh Say Can You Say Di-no-saur?

Out of Sight ‘Till Tonight: All About Nocturnal Animals by Tish Rabe – Another one from The Hat Learning Library that we enjoyed but that didn’t live up to our favorites from the collection.

Space Boy and His Dog by Dian Curtis Regan and illustrated by Robert Neubecker – While I don’t care for books that paint siblings a nuisance to one another, I am always a sucker for a space ship built from a cardboard box.

Pete the Cat and the Bedtime Blues by James Dean and Kimberly Dean – This was another one that someone dropped in our little free library. It wasn’t life changing, but I sympathized with poor Pete, trying to get some sleep while his slumber party guests wanted to play all night.


CHAPTER BOOKS:

We also started accidentally reaching chapter books this month. I asked a handful of people for recommendations similar to The Magic School Bus and they all suggested The Magic Treehouse series. When we found the books at the library, I quickly dismissed them as being for “older kids,” but the Bug insisted that we get a few and loved them, so he and I have started reading longer, chapter books at bedtime once Babygirl is tucked in. We have started and abandoned a multitude, but here are the ones we made it through:

Magic Treehouse: Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne – It’s not a surprise that my kids love the curious, book-loving big brother and the wild, adventurous little sister that this series follows. In fact, entire days go by that they will only answer to Jack and Annie. Mummies in the Morning is the only one we have truly made it through, but A Good Night for Ghosts, Dinosaurs Before Dark, Pirates Past Noon, Summer of the Sea Serpent, and Ghost Town at Sundown were all favorites until they got too scary and, in spite of not wanting to finish them, the kids frequently revisited all of those books on their own.

Magic School Bus: The Search for the Missing Bones by Eva Moore – We have read (and re-read) the entire Magic School Bus series and had NO idea that there are also chapter books! This was such an exciting discovery. We checked out a few more of these, but so far, the Bug just wants to read this one over and over. I was particularly happy that there wasn’t a trace of the negative attitude toward Ms. Frizzle (weird) and to school (boring) that is so prevalent among the students in the original books.

It’s Halloween, You ‘Fraidy Mouse by Geronimo Stilton – This series was recommended to me by a bunch of different moms. The Bug loved the book and the illustrations, but there was quite a bit of adult humor that I found myself having to omit or reword.

Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye by Geronimo Stilton – The Bug was disappointed (spoiler alert!) that the treasure map didn’t actually lead to treasure but enjoyed this book otherwise.

Boxcar Children: The Return of the Graveyard Ghost created by Gertrude Chandler Warner – Like the Magic Treehouse series, we started quite a few other Boxcar Children books, getting about 50 – 60 pages in before the Bug lost interest, but this was the only one we made it through. I was partial to Nancy Drew growing up and read any of this series, but these are books I will definitely return to with the kids. I particularly enjoyed how kind four siblings are to each other and how courteous they are with the characters they encounter.


WHAT MOM IS READING:

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson – I have been looking forward to this book for a long time and, so far, it has not disappointed. My husband doesn’t have time for much leisure reading, so he usually just gets the recap of what I read, but this is one that I will strongly encourage him to read for himself. The lessons in this book are vital for parents of boys and I am thankful to be reading it now while mine is so young.

The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease – I’m not sure how I missed this must-read but thank heaven for the neighbor who mentioned it to me at the farmer’s market! By the end of our conversation, I had ordered it on Amazon and have been thoroughly enjoying it. Reading is such a significant part of the life of our family and it is fascinating to dig deeper into the role it plays in development.

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare – Last fall, I fell into this wonderful Shakespeare reading group that a retired English teacher from my high school leads at her home. I am the youngest person in the group by a good thirty years (and younger by sixty than the oldest member!) and find it fascinating to talk about these plays with people whose life experiences are so different than my own. This month, we discussed The Merchant of Venice.

The Merchant of Venice: A Selection of Critical Essays edited by John Wilders – This is a book that I picked up at the Goodwill or the Salvation Army ages ago and never got around to reading. It was exactly what I needed to get my mom-brain working as I revisited this play for the first time in seven or eight years. Really, really fascinating stuff.

Shakespeare’s Division of Experience by Marilyn French – This book is another treasured thrift store find. I have yet to make it through the whole book, but re-read the chapter on The Merchant of Venice as part of my reading group prep.

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