Three not-so-monstrous picture books for Halloween

2012-10-28T06:00:00Z 2012-10-28T10:36:22Z Three not-so-monstrous picture books for HalloweenBy Sarah Bryan Miller

A child’s Halloween shouldn’t be entirely about dressing up, shaking down the neighbors and consuming boatloads of sweets; it should also, ideally, be about books. Here are new picture books that ought to please the little monsters of your acquaintance.

The pick of Dr. Frankenstein’s litter is Caldecott Honor illustrator Patrick McDonnell’s “The Monsters’ Monster” (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 40 pages, $16.99; ages 3 and up), a charming take on the entire Frankenstein’s Monster oeuvre.

“Grouch, Grump, and little Gloom ’n’ Doom thought they were monsters,” the story begins. “They lived in a dark monster castle, high atop a dark monster mountain, overlooking a monster-fearing village.”

Tired of arguing over “who was the biggest, baddest monster,” they decide to make “a MONSTER monster, the biggest, baddest monster EVER!” Their familiar-looking green-skinned bolt-necked creation surprises them: his first words are “Dank you!” He’s just thankful to be alive.

“Monster” is delightful in its story, illustrations and understated moral, and because it’s not October-specific, it should be a fun book to share all year long.

Are you ever too young to enjoy parody? “Frankenstein: A Monstrous Parody,” by one Ludworst Bemonster (Feiwel & Friends, 48 pages, by Rick Walton and Nathan Hale; $14.99; ages 4 and up), should bring on the giggles from children who know a book that begins, “In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.”

In this version, the duodecad, composed of juvenile versions of well-known movie monsters, lives in a scary old castle:

“In two crooked lines, they bonked their heads, pulled out their teeth, and wet their beds.”

Madeleine- and horror-movie-aware kids will find lots to enjoy here.

Ed Vere’s “Bedtime for Monsters” (Henry Holt, 32 pages, $14.99; ages 3 and up) is a natural bedtime book for parents who enjoy reading in booga-booga voices: “Do you ever wonder if somewhere, not too far away, there might be MONSTERS? Because supposing there are monsters, do you think that this monster might be licking his lips and thinking about YOU… in an EATING-YOU-UP kind of way? I hope not — because he’s coming to find you RIGHT NOW!”

The monster (large, green, befanged, behorned) is indeed heading for the child’s bedroom, but not to eat anyone up — “although you could leave out a little bedtime snack, just in case.”

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