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Children’s Halloween Picture Books Round-Up {Updated 2017}

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Halloween will be here soon!  To help get you in the holiday mood, we have rounded up a collection of Halloween picture books to share with you.   This collection includes recent releases as well as some oldies but goodies that we’ve read.  Stop by your local library or bookstore and pick some of these fun Halloween books!

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The 13 Nights of Halloween
Written and illustrated by Rebecca Dickinson

from amazon.com:
A rhyming Halloween story follows a shy goblin boy who gives his sweetheart a special present on each of the thirteen days of Halloween, and eagle-eyed readers must find the presents hidden in the illustrations. 

A witch brews up a special potion to help a shy goblin propose to his sweetheart on Halloween night. She gives him thirteen nights of Halloween.  This book tells the story of the gifts he gives to his sweetheart each night.  It is most enjoyable when sung to the tune of “The 12 Days of Christmas.”  We read this book several years ago, when my daughter and I took turns singing the lines aloud to our son.  I have to say, it got old for me around the fifth night but I was a trooper and finished the book with her.  The illustrations are really great and detailed.  Readers are challenged to find the presents that the goblin is giving and a tiny wizard mouse on each page.  As much as I wasn’t into this that much the kids really enjoyed this book.

*This book was borrowed from the library.  

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Boo!
Written and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli

from goodreads.com:
The inimitable Baby brings a humorous spin to the holidays in a cheerful board book fit for trick-or-treat bags.
It’s almost Halloween! How should Daddy carve the pumpkin? So many expressions to choose from! What should Baby be—a princess or pirate, ballerina or clown? When the jack-o’-lantern’s ready (looking suspiciously like Baby), it’s time for a little ghost to head out in the slightly scary night. But fear turns to excitement as the pumpkin fills up with treats. WOW!

Fans of Patricelli’s books will enjoy this Halloween board book.  Readers follow along as Baby gets ready for Halloween and picks out a pumpkin, chooses a Halloween costume and goes trick-or-treating.  The simple but colorful illustrations will appeal to the youngest readers.

*This book was read at a local bookstore.

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Boo Who?
Written and illustrated by Ben Clanton

from goodreads.com:
A shy little ghost who’s new to the group has trouble fitting in until his special talent comes to the fore. Boo is new. And even if the other kids are welcoming, it can be scary being new, especially for a shy ghost who can t play any of their games. (“You tagged me? Oh, sorry. I couldn’t feel it.”) Can Boo find a way to fit in and make friends with the rest of the group? From the creator of Rex Wrecks It! comes a funny story about feeling invisible and finding a way to be seen and appreciated for who you are.” 

This isn’t a Halloween book, but has a ghost as the main character, so it’s a seasonally appropriate read.  It’s a cute and simple story about making new friends and fitting in with others.

*this book was borrowed from the library.

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CinderHazel:  The Cinderella of Halloween
Written and illustrated by Deborah Nourse Lattimore

from goodreads.com:
Filled with wonderful details and funny mishaps, this spin on the classic Cinderella fairy tale is the perfect Halloween treat.  Cinderhazel is a blond witch who loves dirt more than anything. When her stepsisters and stepmother fly oiff to attend the annual Halloween witches’ ball, where the elusive Prince Alarming will make an appearance, they leave Cinderhazel behind. All her attempted spells turn to dust — until her witchy fairy godmother appears and sends Cinderhazel off to meet the equally messy prince. Could this be the beginning of filthily ever after?

This book is a Halloween take on the traditional Cinderella story.  In this book, Cinderhazel’s stepsisters are going to the Witches’ Halloween Ball in hopes of seeing Prince Alarming.  But with the help of her witchy godmother she makes it to the ball.  The story takes a detour from the traditional tale because when the clock strikes midnight Cinderhazel meets the Prince, and of course there’s a fairy tale ending.  I didn’t like that the title of the book is CinderHazel but the character’s name in the story is spelled Cinderhazel, with a lower case h.  This definitely wasn’t one of my favorite versions of the tale of Cinderella but the kids seemed to like it and it was fitting for Halloween.

* This book was borrowed from the library.

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City Witch, Country Switch
Written by Wendy Wax
Illustrated by Scott Gibala-Broxholm

from goodreads.com:

Mitzi is a city witch.  She likes pizza and plays, crowded subways and noisy streets. Muffletump is a country witch. She prefers hayrides and fresh air, pumpkin picking and her pet snake. When the cousins visit each other, their differences come between them. How can they solve their problem? With a spell, of course But finding the right one isn’t so easy. The rhyming text makes this a wonderful read-aloud, while the vibrant watercolor and colored-pencil artwork contains fantastically funny details for kids to pore over.

This book isn’t technically a “Halloween” themed book but because of the witches I thought it was seasonally appropriate.  Prior to reading this book I was more familiar with author Wendy Wax’s novels for adults.  This book, told in rhyme, is a take on the classic tale The City Mouse and the Country Mouse.   Witch cousins Mitzi and Muffletump visit each other’s homes and discover that they each prefer their own homes better.  This is of course after they perform spells to create a more enjoyable visit. The illustrations are eye-catching and colorful helping to make this a fun read.

* This book was borrowed from the library.

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Creepy Pair of Underwear!
Written by Aaron Reynolds
Illustrated by Peter Brown

from goodreads.com:
Jasper Rabbit is NOT a little bunny anymore. He’s not afraid of the dark, and he’s definitely not afraid of something as silly as underwear. But when the lights go out, suddenly his new big rabbit underwear glows in the dark. A ghoulish, greenish glow. If Jasper didn’t know any better he’d say his undies were a little, well, creepy. Jasper’s not scared obviously, he’s just done with creepy underwear. But after trying everything to get rid of them, they keep coming back!

This isn’t a Halloween-themed book but it’s a “spooky” tale that will entertain readers. What child does not find humor in underwear?  Fans of Aaron Reynolds books will need to check out this latest of his.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

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Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich
Written and illustrated by:  Adam Rex

from goodreads.com:
Being a monster isn’t all frightening villagers and sucking blood. Monsters have their trials, too. Poor Frankenstein’s cupboard is bare, Wolfman is in need of some household help, and it’s best not to get started on Dracula’s hygiene issues. What could be scarier?  Nineteen hilarious poems delve into the secret lives of the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Bigfoot, Godzilla, and others. In a range of styles that pay homage to everyone from Charles Schulz to John James Audubon, the monstrously talented Adam Rex uncovers horrific–and clever–truths you won’t want to miss.

This is not your typical Halloween book about trick or treating.  It does however feature all kinds of monsters, zombies, and mummies in poems.  Yes, this book is a book of poems about monsters and some of the poems also feature food.  The kids especially liked the Phantom of the Opera who keeps appearing and can’t get songs out of his head, which of course requires the reader to sing the words to that particular tune.  A lot of the humor is for older kids and adults but I think younger kids will still enjoy listening to the poems and looking at the detailed and funny pictures.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

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Fright Club
Written and illustrated by Ethan Long

from goodreads.com:
Each year, on Halloween eve, Fright Club meets to go over their plan: Operation Kiddie Scare. Only the scariest of monsters can join Fright Club-Vladimir the Vampire, Fran K. Stein, Sandy Witch, and Virginia Wolf have all made the cut. They’ve been practicing their ghoulish faces, their scary moves, and their chilling sounds. But when a band of cute little critters comes along asking to join in the fun, the members of Fright Club will find out who really is the scariest of all!  This clever, rollicking read aloud text and delightfully spooky illustrations will have young readers laughing, cheering, and begging to be the newest members of Fright Club.

This  Halloween picture was an okay, cute read.  The kids enjoyed me attempting to speak in a vampire voice.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

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Goodnight Goon
Written and illustrated by Michael Rex

from goodreads.com:
Goodnight monsters everywhere, in this parody romp with its own special twist!  Goodnight tomb. Goodnight goon. Goodnight Martians taking over the moon.   It’s bedtime in the cold gray tomb with a black lagoon, and two slimy claws, and a couple of jaws, and a skull and a shoe and a pot full of goo. But as a little werewolf settles down, in comes the Goon determined at all costs to run amok and not let any monster have his rest.  A beloved classic gets a kind-hearted send up in this utterly monsterized parody; energetic art and a hilarious text will have kids begging to read this again and again.

This book is also not a “Halloween” themed book, but since the main character is a goon, I thought it seasonally appropriate.  This picture book is a spooky  parody of the classic story Good Night Moon that the kids enjoyed.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

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The Halloween Queen Who Lost Her Scream
Written by Donna Davies
Illustrated by Rob Peters

from goodreads.com:
Halloween author, Donna Davies has created an exciting Halloween mystery that will have your kids sitting on the edge of theirs seats. An action-packed tale of a Halloween Queen named Calliope who lost her scream right before Halloween. Meet an amazing cast of Halloween monsters from witches to zombies as they go on an adventure to help their Queen and save Halloween. Filled will stunning colorful Halloween illustrations by the very talented Rob Peters. This delightfully fun book is sure to become a family tradition.

Calliope, the Halloween Queen kicks off the Halloween Bash every year with a scream.  But this year, someone has stolen her scream. Told in rhyme, the reader follows the black widow Mina as she searches for clues to who stole the Queen’s scream.  We are taken on an adventure as she helps to gather the special ingredients needed for Witchy Wanda’s special potion to help the Queen get her scream back.  After reading this book I discovered that the author is a local Hudson Valley resident and owns/runs the publishing company.  Overall, this was a cute Halloween read.

* This book was borrowed from the library.

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The Hallo-Wiener
Written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey

from goodreads.com:
Oscar is short, like all dachshunds and other dogs make fun of him. On Halloween he takes more ridicule than ever in his hot-dog costume, but one brave act makes him a hero. Color illustrations throughout. A “School Library Journal” Best of the Best of 1995.

Dav Pilkey is the author/illustrator of the famous Captain Underpants series, which my son loves.  In this story, Oscar, a dachshund is picked on by the other dogs.  For Halloween his mother gets him a hot-dog costume.  He doesn’t want to make her feel bad so he wears it, even though he gets made fun of.  He can’t walk fast in it and misses all of the treats.  The other dogs who have gotten all of the candy and who usually make fun of him have a change of heart after Oscar helps them out.  There is some hot dog humor in this book, that probably only older children and adults will get.  This was a cute story that the kids enjoyed.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

The Haunted Ghoul Bus

The Haunted Ghoul Bus
Written by Lisa Trumbauer
Illustrated by Jannie Ho

from goodreads.com:
Of course children know about the big yellow school bus…but have they ever heard about the haunted ghoul bus? It’s wilder and way cooler, with a Mutant Mummy driver and a menagerie of monster passengers. But one Halloween day someone else gets on board by mistake: a normal little boy. Soon he’s taking a ride with a furry werewolf, a skeleton whose rickety bones go clitter-clatter, a grinning pumpkin head, a swirl of bats, and a friendly witch named Dolores. Told in fun and appealing rhyme, and featuring holiday-bright illustrations of a cast of unforgettable characters, this playful picture book has sturdy cardstock pages and embossing throughout. It’s perfect for celebrating a (not too) scary Halloween. Kids will want the ghoul bus to come to their neighborhood, too!

This Halloween book, told in rhyme, tells the story of a little boy who mistakenly gets on the ghoul bus.  He meets lots of different creatures on his ride.  The pictures are bright and colorful but overall, the story was just okay.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

28635417

I Dare You!
Written and illustrated by Nicole Maubert

from goodreads.com:
This very scary, very silly book will have young children roaring with laughter as they dare each other to touch the hair of a spider, the belly of a monster, the sticky tongue of a snake, and many more icky parts of creepy creatures! But who will be brave enough to turn to the last page to see the spookiest monster of all? The truly courageous will be rewarded with a shockingly hilarious—yet eerily familiar—surprise!

This is a fun touch and feel board book for the youngest readers.  They can touch a spider, a witch’s wart, the teeth of a shark and more.  This is another seasonally appropriate but not Halloween-themed book.

*This book was read at the local bookstore. 

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It’s Halloween
Written by Jack Prelutsky
Pictures by Marylin Hafner

from goodreads.com:
Thirteen poems to spice up the holiday that ghouls and ghosts love most. “Prelutsky’s Nightmares tamed for beginning readers. They’re catchy at the most rudimentary level.”–Kirkus Reviews.

Wow!  This book was first published before I was born!  Definitely an oldie….but goodie!  This book caught my eye because Prelutsky is a well-known children’s poet.  We are a fan of his Scranimals and my daughter has read his  poetry collections A Pizza the Size of the Sun and The New Kid on the Block.  This book was a cute collection of Halloween-themed poetry.  He writes about everything from “Bobbing for Apples” to a “Haunted House” and a “Skeleton Parade.”  The illustrations have a classic, older look to them.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

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Little Blue Truck’s Halloween
Written by Alice Schertle
Illustrated by Jill McElmurry

from goodreads.com: 
Beep! Beep! It’s Halloween! Little Blue Truck is picking up his animal friends for a costume party. Lift the flaps in this large, sturdy board book to find out who’s dressed up in each costume! Will Blue wear a costume too? With the delightful rhymes and signature illustration style that made Little Blue Truck a household name, Blue’s new adventure is full of festive costumes, fall colors, and plenty of Halloween fun!

Many young readers are familiar with Little Blue Truck.  In this book readers follow along as he drives to a Halloween party.  On the way he stops to pick up his animal friends, all disguised in their Halloween costumes.  This is a fun lift-the-flap book told in rhyme.

*This book was read at a local bookstore. 

Pete the Cat: Trick or Pete
Written and Illustrated by Kimberly & James Dean

from goodreads.com:
Pete loves Halloween and candy but not so much scary surprises. Follow Pete as he goes trick-or-treating from house to house and discover what is waiting behind each door. With over ten flaps that open to reveal fun spooky surprises, this book is sure to be spooktacular! 

Fans of Pete the Cat will enjoy this Halloween-themed book.  Pete enjoys trick-or-treating but doesn’t want anything spooky to happen.  As children lift the flaps of this book they will meet Pete’s friends and follow them on their trick-or-treating adventure.

*This book was borrowed from the library. 

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Scary, Scary Halloween
Written by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by Jan Brett

from goodreads.com:
Four pairs of eyes stare from the blackness to watch fearsome creatures trick-or-treat.

This is another oldie but goodie Halloween book.  Award-winning author Eve Bunting has written over 250 books and illustrator Jan Brett (a family favorite)  is also an award-winning author and illustrator of many books.  Written in rhyme, this book is told from the perspective of something with two green eyes, shining in the night.  It watches as children go trick-or-treating dressed up as goblins, witches, and ghosts.  Only at the end of the book is the identity of the narrator revealed.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

397149

Tell Me a Scary Story…But Not Too Scary
Written by Carle Reiner
Illustrated by James Bennett

from goodreads.com:
A little boy has an adventure in the scary basement of his mysterious new neighbor, Mr. Neewollah. 

A father tells his son a scary story about a little boy who meets his neighbor Mr. Neewollah and has an adventure.  Our book came with a CD in which Reiner reads the story.  While I was unfamiliar with comedian Carl Reiner, my husband is a fan.  This was another okay Halloween story.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

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There’s a Monster In Your Book
Written by Tom Fletcher
Illustrated by Greg Abbott

from goodreads.com:
Bestselling author of The Christmasuarus, Tom Fletcher, has written a brand new picture book perfect for bedtime, where a mischievous monster has invaded the pages of your child’s book!  This read-aloud, interactive picture book treat invites children to make magic happen page by page, tilting, spinning and shaking the book, and then seeing the funny results when each page is turned. A fantastic celebration of all the fun that can be had with a book, with a wonderful wind-down bedtime ending!

Again, this is not a Halloween book, but with a monster as the main character, I thought it fitting for the holiday. This is a fun, interactive book that has children doing all sorts of things to try to set it free.

*This book was read at a local bookstore.  

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Trick Arr Treat: A Pirate Halloween
Written by Leslie Kimmelman
Illustrated by Jorge Monlongo

from goodreads.com:
Charlotte Blue-Tongue, Peg-Leg Pete, Glass-Eyed Gabby, and their friends swashbuckle through the streets demanding loot and treasure from their neighbors in this Halloween pirate tale. As their world transforms from neighborhood to pirate’s lagoon, they shout, “We be pirates. TRICK ARRR TREAT!” But what’s lurking in the shadows? Are the pirates brave enough to defend their treasure?

This Halloween picture book was published in 2015. The story, told in rhyme, is about a group of children dressed as pirates trick-or-treating on Halloween. Overall, it was just an okay read for us.

*This book was borrowed from the library.

Do you have a favorite Halloween book that you recommend we read?

Visit Philadelphia Through Children’s Books! {Family Armchair Travel}

Check out these children's books all about Philadelphia, the city of "Brotherly Love"

Philadelphia, nicknamed the “City of Brotherly Love” is the largest city in Pennsylvania.  This city should be on every family’s must-visit list!  Filled with historical sites as well as many museums and lots of great food, there is something for everyone in Philadelphia!  Whether you read some of these books before a trip or just armchair travel, visit Philadelphia through children’s books!

 Picture Books:

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Journey Around Philadelphia from A to Z by Martha Day Zschock
Published:  2006, Commonwealth Editions
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Source:  borrowed from the library

Learn all about the city of Philadelphia in this A to Z book.  This book is targeted towards older elementary students and is chock full of information and facts.  Each letter page includes a short, alliterative sentence and three different illustrations. This was our first time reading one of Zschock’s Journey books.  However, she has several other books in the Journey series including New York, Cape Cod and Washington D.C.

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Larry Gets Lots in Philadelphia by Michael Mullin and John Skewes
Illustrated by:  John Skewes
Published:  2013, Sasquatch Books
Price:  $16.99
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source:  borrowed from the library

Pete and his family take a trip to Philadelphia and bring along their dog, Larry.  Larry gets separated from Pete and the book follows the two as they go searching for each other.  On their search they visit many of Philadelphia’s famous landmarks, including the Liberty Bell, Independence Square, the Besty Ross House, Pat and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  The book is told in rhyme, but provides a small informational description for each landmark.  This book is a nice introduction to Philadelphia for young readers.

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Mrs. Millie Goes to Philly! by Judy Cox
Published:  2008 by Two Lions
Price:  $9.99 (paperback)
Rating:  3 out of 5 stars
Source:  borrowed from the library

Mrs. Millie is a very silly teacher!  She takes her kindergarten class to Philadelphia and uses animal words in place of other words, which her students have to decipher.  They wear name badgers (badges), ride the platypus (bus) and see the Liberty Bull (bell).  Each page is accompanied by a humorous illustration illustrating the silly sentence.  Readers will have fun trying to figure out Mrs. Millie’s “mistakes” and they will also learn about some of the sights of Philadelphia including the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the Betsy Ross House.

Chapter Books:

26109364

Philadelphia! (Recipe for Adventure #8) by Giada De Laurentiis
Published: 2016 by Grosset & Dunlap (imprint of Penguin Random House)
Price: $16.99 (hardcover)
Pages:  160
Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
Source: borrowed from the library

This is the eighth book in the Recipe for Adventure series.  The series is targeted towards readers ages 7-9 (2nd-4th grade).  In the series, siblings Emilia and Alfie are transported to different cities around the world.  They get to taste all kinds of new foods as they help someone in the city solve a problem.  In Philadelphia! the whole Bertolizzi family is transported to the city.  They sample all kinds of Philadelphia food staples like cheesesteaks, pretzels, Italian hoagies and more and visit historic sites like the Betsy Ross House, the Liberty Bell, the Italian Market, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and more.  They also work together to try to help their tour guide Emma and her family save their hotel.  Two recipe cards are included in each book of this series.  This book’s recipes are for Zia’s Steak Sandwiches and Emma’s Italian Pizzelles.  While we didn’t make these recipes, knowing that they are from Giada, I’m sure they are delicious!

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The Philly Fake (Ballpark Mysteries #9) by David A. Kelly
Published:  2014 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Price:  $4.99 (paperback)
Pages:  112
Rating:   3 out of 5 stars
Source:  borrowed from the library

This is the ninth book in the Ballpark mysteries series, a baseball-themed mystery series targeted towards readers on a 2.6 reading level (approximately 1st through 4th grade, depending on reading ability).  In this book Mike and Kate are spending the Fourth of July in Philadelphia.  Kate’s mom is a sportswriter and her friend had gotten them tickets to the three game Phillies v. Mets series.  During the first game the players’ bats keep breaking and the team loses.  The team mascot the Phillie Phanatic is blamed and could possibly lose his job.  Mike and Kate try to help find out who’s really at fault and save the Phanatic’s job. The end of the book includes some fun and interesting notes about the Phillie’s ballpark.   This book was interesting and gave the reader information about some of the other famous sites in Philadelphia, not just the stadium.  This was the first book in the Ballpark Mysteries series that we read but won’t be the last. We are interested in reading #2, The Pinstripe Ghost since we are familiar with and have been to Yankee Stadium!

Books set in Philadelphia that don’t really tell much about the city:

Chapter Books:

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Independence Hall (I, Q #1) by Roland Smith
Published: 2008 by Sleeping Bear
Price: $8.95
Pages: 312
Rating:  3 out 5 stars
Source: borrowed from the library

This is the first book in the I,Q series.  Quest, (Q for short) and his new stepsister Angela are traveling around the country in a luxury motor coach, while their newly married musician parents go on tour.  The book is told over a series of 6 days as the family travels to Philadelphia for the first stop.  While there, they discover that they are in a real-life spy adventure.  This spy/adventure series is aimed toward middle grade readers.

259750

When Freedom Comes (Hope’s Revolutionary War Diary #3) by Kristiana Gregory
Published:  2004 by Scholastic
Price: $12.95
Pages: 112
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source:  borrowed from the library

This is book number 3 in the Revolutionary War Diary series.  Told in diary format, the book details Hope’s experience with the Revolutionary War in full swing.  British soldiers are living in her house, she is cut off from her best friend, whose family are Loyalists and her family learns that her father is weak and sick in Valley Forge, fighting in the war.  Hope’s family lives in Philadelphia, however not much reference is made to the actual city.

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New Orleans! (Recipe for Adventure, #4) Review

 

New Orleans! (Recipe for Adventure #4) by Giada De Laurentiis
Illustrated by:  Francesca Gambatesa
Published: 2015 by Grosset & Dunlap (imprint of Penguin Random House)
Pages: 144
Price: $6.99 (paperback)
Source:  Borrowed from library
Rating:  4/5 stars

This is the fourth book in Giada De Laurentiis’ Recipe for Adventure series.  Most of us know De Laurentiis as a chef and judge on the Food Network and from her cookbooks.  With the Recipe for Adventure chapter book series she shows us new talents.  These books are not award-winning works of writing.  However, De Laurentiis presents engaging stories that introduce children to the world of food and travel.  The series is targeted for readers ages 7-10.   In the series, siblings Emilia and Alfie are transported to different cities around the world.  They get to taste all kinds of new foods and visit famous sights as they help a new friend solve a problem.

In New Orleans!, Alfie and Emilia are transported to the city via a bowl of their Zia Donatella’s gumbo.  There, they meet up with the La Salle kids, who play in a jazz band and run their family restaurant.  Alfie and Emilia help their new friends try to save their family’s restaurant.

While in New Orleans Alfie and Emilia get to try all kinds of food including blackened catfish, red beans and rice, collard greens, grits, beignets, Po’boys and more! Cooking terminology like the holy trinity (onion, celery and bell pepper) and roux is introduced as well.

Children also learn about the city of New Orleans as they read.  The Louisiana Purchase and the history of the city is mentioned, as well as Hurricane Katrina and the importance of jazz. While there, Emilia and Alfie visit many popular sights including the French Quarter, the Mississippi River, the Garden District and the bayou.

This book, like the others in the series, has an element of fantasy.  Emilia and Alfie magically appear in New Orleans and later are then transported back home.  Other parts of this book, like the La Salle children living on their own while their parents travel with their riverboat gigs seemed unbelievable.  Also, none of the children really questioning the absence of Alfie and Emilia’s “aunt” whom they mention they are staying with but is never seen, is a bit suspect.

Two recipe cards are included at the back of each book.  In New Orleans! recipe cards include Zia Donatella’s Gumbo and Bananas Foster.  My kids and I made both of these recipes.  Knowing that these are Giada De Laurentiis recipes, I knew they were going to be good!

Zia’s Gumbo:  Both kids helped me make this gumbo.  Adult assistance is a must with this recipe, as there is quite a lot of vegetable chopping involved.

The kids helped remove the andouille sausage from the casing.  My daughter cut the celery and pepper (as pictured above) and my son was in charge of stirring the ingredients in the pot. Andouille sausage is a bit spicy and I was surprised at how much heat this dish had.  It was very tasty and the kids ate it, but they did comment on the spice.  I want to point out that this gumbo takes close to an hour to make!  I did not realize this when we decided to make this on a weeknight.  I highly recommend saving these recipes for a weekend activity.

Also important to note, this dish does NOT reheat well, as seen in the first picture.  When reheated, this gumbo remains thick and chunky.  When we first made it, as seen in the picture above, it was nice and liquidy.

Zia’s Bananas Foster: A traditional Bananas Foster has dark rum and banana liqueur that gets ignited.  I think part of the enjoyment of this dessert is the table side flambe.  Obviously, Zia’s Bananas Foster is kid-friendly and alcohol-free!  Due to time constraints, I ended up making this dessert on my own for the kids.  This recipe was much easier to make in terms of ingredients and time.  As seen in the picture, I mistakenly bought mini kisses, thinking they were tiny.  They were indeed smaller than a typical Hershey’s Kiss, but a little larger than I had wanted for this dessert.  The family loved this Bananas Foster.  The kids often have ice cream for dessert, but this was an extra special treat!

Overall, New Orleans! is a fun book that introduces readers to both the food and sights of the city.  The recipe cards add a nice touch and are a great way to get kids cooking in the kitchen.  It’s also a great way to motivate them to try new foods.  I recommend this book as well as the others in the Recipe for Adventure series!

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Nowhere Girl {Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review}

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team is on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle,Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett AbourayaVeronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen BurkinshawDelores Connors, Maria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid ImaniGwen Jackson,  Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O’MalleyStacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda PaulAnnette PimentelGreg RansomSandra Richards, Elsa TakaokaGraciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation,Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

MCBD Links to remember:

MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/

Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use their official hashtag#ReadYourWorld.

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Nowhere Girl by A.J. Paquette
Published by:  Walker & Company (imprint of Bloomsbury), September 13, 2011
Genre:  Children’s Middle Grade Fiction, Asian culture
Pages: 256
Price:  $16.99
Source: Provided by the author/publisher for a review for Multicultural Children’s Book Day

From Bloomsbury:

Luchi Ann only knows a few things about herself: she was born in a prison in Thailand. Her American mother was an inmate there. And now that her mother has died, Luchi must leave the only place she’s ever known and set out into the world. Neither at home as a Thai, because of her fair skin and blond hair, nor as a foreigner, because of her knowledge of Thai life and traditions, Luchi feels as though she belongs nowhere. But as she embarks on an amazing adventure-a journey spanning continents and customs, harrowing danger and exhilarating experiences-she will find the family, and the home, she’s always dreamed of. Weaving intricate elements of traditional Thailand into a modern-day fairy tale unique unto itself, Nowhere Girl is a beautifully rendered story of courage, resilience, and finding the one place where you truly belong.

My Review:  13 year-old Luchi was born in a prison in northern Thailand, where her American mother was imprisoned.  This prison is the only life Luchi has known.  When her mother passes away, Luchi decides that she needs to leave the prison.  With her mother’s ashes sitting in a small canister  tied to her back and an old list of names of people in Bangkok, Luchi is escorted to the city by the Chief warden’s nephew.   Luchi with her blond hair and gray eyes looks American but has only known Thailand as her home.  She’s always, “felt like a monkey in the middle” but feels it even more so, as she discovers the world around her for the first time.  When she sees Thailand for the first time she is amazed by all the sights and sounds.  We as the reader, get to experience Thai culture along with Luchi as she tries new foods and sees the sights of Bangkok.

As Luchi’s journey unfolds, we learn secrets about her mother’s past and her family back in America.  Luchi realizes that she can reinvent herself and be anyone she wants.  We accompany her as she heads to America to find her grandmother, the only family that she has.  Will Luchi be successful in finding her mother’s family?

Having never been to Thailand before, (but hoping one day to visit!), I thought that Paquette captured the Thai culture well.  I also liked how Thai words are interspersed throughout the text but are understandable in context.

Luchi is such a likable character who shows such resilience and perseverance on her journey.  While I thoroughly enjoyed the story, I found it to be a little rushed at the end to tie up all the loose ends.  (**Possible spoiler alert ahead!)  And I’m still left wondering what happened to Helena when she went missing for four days.

This book is such a  great read and I highly recommend it.  It is unfortunate that this book has been published for over five years now and this is the first time that I have heard of it.  I really appreciate the efforts of Multicultural Children’s Book Day to bring awareness to diversity in children’s literature.  I am happy to be passing this book along to my ten-year-old daughter to read.

Overall Rating: Recommended Read.

The ABCs of Christmas {25 Books of Christmas Day 24}

The ABCs of Christmas by Jill Howarth
Pictures By: Jill Howarth
Published by: Running Press, September 27, 2016
Genre:  Board Book, Christmas
Pages: 26
Price:  $7.95
Source: read in-store

From Running Press:

LEARN the ALPHABET and DECK the HALLS!
Spread the joy of Christmas with this sparkly board book that features clever word associations and delightfully festive illustrations.

Review: I know I didn’t get to feature many board books and books for young readers in the 25 Books of Christmas.  But here’s another!  In the ABCs of Christmas each letter of the alphabet is featured on a page with rhyming text. The vintage illustrations give this book an old time, classic feel.  Glitter adorns each illustration and gives the pages texture.  This is a colorful holiday read perfect for the youngest of readers!

Overall Rating:  Optional Read

The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present {25 Books of Christmas Day 23}

The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present by Harriet Muncaster

The Biggest Smallest Christmas Present by Harriet Muncaster
Illustrated by: Harriet Muncaster
Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (an imprint of Penguin RandomHouse), October 18, 2016
Genre:  Children’s Picture Books, Christmas
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99
Source:  borrowed from the library

From Penguin RandomHouse:

The Night Before Christmas meets Thumbelina in a toy-filled tale that celebrates the excitement and magic of the holiday season.

Clementine is a teeny-tiny girl who lives with her average-sized family. It’s mostly fun being the smallest, but Christmas can be tricky. Santa brings beautiful toys, but they are too big for this little girl.

Every year, Clementine tries to tell Santa she’s small. But the cookies she ices with a message to Santa are eaten, and the words she stamps out on the roof are covered by fresh snow. It’ll take a whole lot of Christmas spirit for Clementine to find the right way to reach Santa—and when she does, she just might get the toy of her dreams!

Harriet Muncaster’s whimsical illustrations shine in this celebration of creativity, gratitude, and the magic of Christmas.

Review: Clementine is the smallest girl in the world.  She enjoys being tiny, but not at Christmas when Santa delivers toys that are way too big for her to enjoy.  Each Christmas, she tries to leave a message for Santa to  let him know about her size.  However, her attempts are unintentionally sabotaged and Santa never receives her notes.  This year, her family helps come up with a plan to get the message to Santa.  Will they be successful?

This book cover has glitter lettering and the story is accompanied with colorful illustrations that will appeal to readers.  Overall, this was a cute story.  Clementine doesn’t seem  to be concerned about being different, except that she can’t enjoy the presents, as intended, that Santa gives to her.  (She is pretty creative in having fun with them!) As an adult, the one question I have is how does Santa not know about Clementine’s size?!!  He “sees you when you’re sleeping…”  and he “knows if you’ve been good or bad….”  I read this to my eight year-old-son who didn’t pick up on this.  Besides that concern, this was an enjoyable holiday read.

Overall Rating: Optional Read

The Lost Gift: A Christmas Story {25 Books of Christmas Day 22}

The Lost Gift by Kallie George

The Lost Gift:  A Christmas Story by Kallie George
Illustrated by:  Stephanie Graegin
Published by: Schwartz & Wade (an imprint of Penguin RandomHouse), October 18, 2016
Genre:  Children’s Picture Books, Christmas
Pages: 40
Price: $17.99
Source:  borrowed from the library

From Penguin RandomHouse:

In this charming Christmas-themed picture book that feels like a classic, four animals deliver a lost package for Santa.
 
It’s Christmas Eve, and Bird, Rabbit, Deer, and Squirrel are eagerly waiting for Santa to fly overhead. When he does, a gift tumbles out of his sleigh, landing in the woods. The friends find the gift and read the tag: “For the new baby at the farm. Love, Santa.” And so, in spite of Squirrel’s grumbling—“It’s not our baby”—they set off on a long journey to deliver it. Sweet, poignant, and starring a cast of truly adorable characters, this is a story sure to be shared year after year at Christmastime.

Review: Four animal friends stand on a hill, looking up at the sky waiting to see Santa.  As they watch him fly by the see a present fall out of his sleigh.  They sit and wait for Santa to come back and get it, but after waiting for awhile, they realize that he won’t be back.  Rabbit convinces the other animals to help find the present and then deliver it to its intended recipient, “the New Baby at the Farm.”  The four friends work together to build a sleigh to help transport the present.  After finally delivering the present and returning home they discover that Santa has left them a special gift.

This was a cute holiday read!  Young children will enjoy the animal characters and colorful pictures.  Older children will hopefully appreciate the themes of friendship, cooperation and perseverance.

Overall Rating: Recommended Read

Young Scrooge {25 Books of Christmas Day 21}

Young Scrooge:  A Very Scary Christmas Story by R.L. Stine
Published by: Feiwel and Friends (an imprint of macmillan), September 13, 2016
Genre:  Children’s Middle Grade Fiction, Christmas
Pages: 192
Price:  $16.99
Source: borrowed from the library

From macmillan:

A funny, scary middle-grade send up of A Christmas Carol, about a boy who hates Christmas, from bestselling Goosebumps author R. L. Stine.

Rick Scroogeman hates Christmas. He can’t stand the carols and the pageants. He can’t stand the lights and the mistletoe. But what he hates the most is having to watch the old movie A Christmas Carol every year at school. Since his name is Scroogeman, all of his classmates start calling him Scrooge. And he hates being called Scrooge.

But everything starts to change when three ghosts visit him. At first, he thinks it’s a dream. But then he realizes that it might be a nightmare. A nightmare that could become real.

Young Scrooge: A Very Scary Christmas Story is a mashup of holiday and horror, a perfect novel for middle grade readers who like their Christmas stories with a side of spooky.

Review: Rick Scroogeman is a twelve year-old bully.  He picks on the other kids in his class and is just downright mean.  He hates Christmas because December 25th is also his birthday.  He is bitter that his birthday never gets celebrated.  After getting revenge on his classmates and ruining the Christmas play Rick is taught a lesson.  The one thing that he is afraid of is ghosts.  In a retelling of the classic A Christmas Carol, Rick is visited by ghosts and taken on a journey to learn from his bad behavior.

My daughter has read several R.L. Stine books and enjoys them. The books are targeted towards older elementary and middle school readers.  While this book wasn’t scary, it does feature ghosts, which may be scary to some readers.

Overall Review:  Optional Read

A Fairy’s Gift (Disney: The Never Girls) {25 Books of Christmas Day 19}

 

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A Fairy’s Gift (Disney:  The Never Girls) by Kiki Thorpe
Illustrated by:  Jana Christy
Published by: Random House, September 8, 2015
Genre:  Children’s Chapter Book (fiction), Christmas, Series, Media Tie-in
Pages: 224
Price:  $14.99
Source: borrowed from the library

From Penguin Random House:

Enjoy twice the fairies, twice the adventure, and twice the magic, just in time for the holidays. In a beautiful jacketed hardcover edition packed with illustrations, this special new Never Girls story by New York Times bestselling author Kiki Thorpe is the perfect gift for readers ages 6 to 9.

Review:  Kate, Mia, Lainey and Gabby are the Never Girls.  They believe in fairies because they can visit Never Land anytime they want and visit Tinker Bell, Fawn, Prilla and the other fairies.  On one of their recent visits  they learn that there’s a bad case of Disbelief.  Without children believing in them, the fairies are losing their magic.  They can’t fly or use any of their special abilities.  The girls convince Queen Clarion to let a couple of the fairies through the portal to try to get children to believe.  Mia and Gabby’s older cousin Angelica is visiting for Christmas and seems to be one of the biggest disbelievers.  Can the girls convince Angelica and others in time to save Pixie Hollow?

There are currently twelve books in Thorpe’s The Never Girls series, with A Fairy’s Gift being a holiday special.  This was the first book that I’ve read featuring the Never Girls and I think that it can be read as a stand-alone.  This isn’t much of a holiday read, as Christmas isn’t celebrated until the very end of the book. However, the overall theme of “believing” is relevant to the holiday.

This series is targeted to readers ages 6-9.  My 10 year-old daughter never got into this series, however, I think it’s a cute series for the targeted age group.  The cover is decorated with gold glitter and the book comes with an attached ribbon bookmark.  There are lots of illustrations and each page is outlined with a red snowflake and flower border.

Overall Rating:  Optional Read

What I Love About Christmas {25 Books of Christmas Day 18}

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What I Love About Christmas by Maryann Cocca-Leffler
Pictures By:
 Maryann Cocca-Leffler
Published by: Sterling Children’s Books, October 18, 2016
Genre:  Board Book, Christmas
Pages: 22
Price:  $12.95
Source: read in-store

From author’s website:

This irresistible board book—with a pop-up, pull-tabs, flaps to lift, and wheels to turn—captures both the excitement of Christmas and the joys of being with family for the holiday. There’s a festive flurry as a bear family makes presents, bakes cookies, decorates their tree, and visits Santa, but most important of all: “What I love about Christmas / is time with YOU!” Every spread has at least one interactive element, and a beautiful final pop-up shows the bear family snuggled together.

Review:  I had to get some new Christmas book releases in for the younger readers!  What I Love About Christmas is a cute holiday read.  It’s an interactive book and kids will enjoy pulling the tabs, lifting the flaps and more.  The text is short rhymes, describing all of the fun things to do at Christmas time with a sweet message at the end.  The illustrations are bright and colorful.  This is a great holiday read for toddlers.

Overall Rating:  Recommended Read