five to read by the light of a jack-o-lantern

from cheshirecat66Halloween was always a much-anticipated holiday for me and for my kids. Carving pumpkins, inventing costumes, collecting sacks full of candy from friendly neighbors, then settling in for The Great Candy Swap — “I’ll give you 10 Laffy Taffies for one giant Snickers!” — all made for a pretty great night.

Here are a few titles to help set the mood for your Halloween adventures:

it's raining bats and frogs cover imageIt’s Raining Bats & Frogs, by Rebecca Colby, illustrated by Steven Henry
published in 2015 by Feiwel and Friends

A little witch named Delia has been waiting all year for the annual Witch Parade, but when it begins to pour, everyone’s spirits are sadly dampened.

With a flick of her wand and a little hocus pocus, Delia makes it rain cats and dogs instead. This cheers her fellow witches up only a short while, though, so she resorts to hats and clogs, and bats and frogs. What is the ideal weather for a Witch Parade, anyhow?

it's raining bats and frogs interior colby and henry

Delia is a delight, the pandemonium at the parade is silly and imaginative, and Steven Henry’s friendly illustrations are not the least bit shivery. Good fun for kids ages 2 and up.

boo la la witch spa cover imageBoo-La-La Witch Spa, by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Isabel Roxas
published in 2015 by Dial Books for Young Readers

After all the commotion of Halloween, a witch needs some serious pampering. That’s why these gals are heading on down to the fab-BOO Witch Spa complete with toadstool-scented candles, bat-whisker tea, and a sauna heated by dragon breath air.

Trolls and gnomes, warlocks and werewolves, are all in attendance here, ready to cater to the needs of their harried clients. No wonder these witches come back year after year.

boo la la witch spa interior berger and roxas

Ridiculous and clever beauty treatments in an other-worldly spa are illustrated in vibrant colors that scream of jollity. Ages 4 and up.

leo a ghost story cover imageLeo: A Ghost Story, by Mac Barnett, pictures by Christian Robinson
published in 2015 by Chronicle Books

Leo is a small house-ghost who has been occupying himself quite nicely in a deserted house for many years. Now he’s looking forward to warmly welcoming the new residents.

Much to Leo’s chagrin, these folks don’t seem at all happy to have a ghost around. Off he goes to search for other spots to ghost about, whereupon he meets Jane. Will Jane accept Leo as a true friend? Or will she disdain his ghostliness like the others?

leo a ghost story interior barnett and robinson

It’s a friendly, sweet swirl of a ghost story. Christian Robinson’s dynamic artwork brings a contemporary, urban vibe and pluckiness to this little tale that you will love. Ages 2 and up.

the troll and the oliver cover imageTroll and the Oliver, written and illustrated by Adam Stower
published in 2015 by Templar Books

Troll is raucous and bulgy and blue. Oliver is puny and carefree and quick.

Every day at lunchtime, Troll valiantly attempts to eat Oliver! But every day, Oliver is too quick, too sneaky, too elusive for Troll.

Until!!! Egads!! One day Troll lunges out of the cupboard and GULP! Note: This is a Very Scary Moment in the story. If you can brave your way past it, however, you are in for a most delectable surprise!

the troll and the oliver interior adam stower

Lots of laughs, plenty of hair-raising moments and a bombastically-sweet ending in this zingy story for brave children ages 3 and up! Includes a recipe for Troll Cupcakes.

bow wow's nightmare neighbors cover imageBow-Wow’s Nightmare Neighbors
, a wordless book by Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash

published in 2014 by Roaring Brook Press

This sophisticated, wordless book has a  Buster-Keaton-meets-The-Twilight-Zone feel to it and will captivate older readers than the other titles on today’s list.

Bow Wow is a little terrier with some mighty odd neighbors — a creepy mansion-ful of ghost cats. At the outset of our story, several of these neighbors enter Bow Wow’s house and in one well-executed swoop, steal his teal doggy bed right from under him.

bow wow's nightmare neighbors interior2 newgarden and cash

After a terrific howl of despair, Bow Wow sets out to retrieve his cushion, but he’s entering the Fun House and his surreal expedition will be full of weird passages, bizarre sights, a robber, a wicked storm, and one Seriously Large Cat.

bow wow's nightmare neighbors interior newgarden and cash

Don’t let the clean, bold look of these illustrations fool you into thinking it’s a simple story for the preschool crowd. Loads of clever details and gags are tucked in which you’ll find in subsequent readings — the first time, you’ll be turning pages quickly to find out what on earth happens next! Ages 8 through adult.