Ahem *clears throat*…
In the spirit of all things spooky, we have a few books here that we’ve been enjoying over the past few weeks. The first three are great reads specifically for Halloween, but the final one is good for this time of year in general and has provided us with much fun recently. Otherwise, in true ‘Strictly’ style, they are listed in no particular order 😉
We chose this book on the basis of our long-lasting love for one of Simon Bartram’s other books, ‘Dougal’s Deep-Sea Diary‘. I was initially worried that some of the pictures in this book would be a little too scary for the boys (some of the pumpkin faces seem a little creepy to me) but as I am somewhat of a softie, I gave it to M to vet and he pronounced it suitable. He was absolutely spot on and this book has been brought out regularly and will be providing some of the inspiration for our Hallowe’en pumpkin carving later.
The story itself is told predominantly through the illustrations (the entire text is comprised of less than forty words) and, to summarise, gives us an idea of what might happen under a ‘pumpkin moon’, which basically seems to be that all the pumpkins (and their other Hallowe’en-y chums) get together and have a mahoosive party!
The story starts with children carving pumpkins, designing costumes and trying to scare each other before going out trick-or-treating.
However, the rest of the story takes place in the darker hours of the night. Despite my initial (unnecessary) misgivings about the fear factor, I actually loved how this book was a tale about what might happen when we aren’t looking. I love the magic of those stories, whether it be about pumpkins, toys, animals or even Father Christmas. Pretty much anything that hints at a magical world existing right under our noses, but which we never notice, just enchants me and presses my Awesome Book Button.
As always with Bartram’s work, there is so much to discuss in each picture and you could spend hours poring over this book – we highly recommend that you do.
I’m not quite sure what led me to stumble across this book, but I’m so glad that I did. I am a sucker for this style of illustration, which has a vintage (though I fully appreciate how widely used and therefore potentially unhelpful that term is) look and reminds of the books I used to read with my great-aunt, Aunty Molly (who also introduced me to the ‘Flower Fairies’ books by Cicely Mary Barker, which gave me many happy childhood reading hours).
This story, first published in 1938, is a gentle one, describing Sylvie Ann’s visit to her grandparents in Connecticut and her desire to make a Pumpkin Moonshine (a term for a carved pumpkin that I hadn’t heard before, so I’m not sure if it’s old-fashioned, an American phrase, or both). She goes in search of the best pumpkin for the job…
… but then gets into a pickle when the pumpkin rolls away from her and causes havoc on its subsequent travels around the farm. Finally, the errant pumpkin is brought under control and is used to make a
not VERY scary pumpkin to TERRIFY passers by.
Having read ‘Pumpkin Moon’ first, we found this story to be rather less than terrifying, but that is absolutely not a criticism. This book would be perfect for little ones who want to get involved with the Hallowe’en festivities but aren’t quite ready to be frightened out of their wits. Gorgeous!
This is another book, in Jane Hissey’s ever popular ‘Old Bear’ series, that would be great to read to little ones. Just like Shirley Hughes’ story of Alfie going camping with his dad and being hassled by a pig in Jim Gatting’s field (we’re reading that a LOT at the moment), this book contains beautifully crafted moments of pre-school appropriate peril.
The toys are awoken by a ‘Whooooooooo’ing noise, causing them much worry (is it a ghost?!?!?!) until they realise that is coming from a scrumptious little owl named Hoot. Jane Hissey has often talked about how her characters are based on ‘real life’ toys and I can just imagine the faux-sheepskin-type-stuff used to make Hoot, as I can clearly remember having toys (and, slightly worryingly, clothes) made out of similar material.
Anyway, Hoot is sad because her nest has fallen down and she is struggling to rebuild it. The toys give her something more suitable to use (odd socks hadn’t been working out so well, it seems) and as a thank you, Little Bear gets a flight around the room and a midnight feast, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
The ‘Old Bear’ stories have justifiably become classics for a generation of children and ‘Hoot’ definitely deserves its place among them.
N.B. Did you like how I managed to get through that whole review without ONCE mentioning the fact that we LOVE owls? Did you? *beams proudly* 😉
This book is hard to define, in that it has a fictional storyline but this is only loosely used to tie together a brilliant description of the life cycle of a maple tree. The narrator explains how the maple seeds fall and gradually settle themselves into the earth…
… after which they wait for warmer weather and begin to grow into trees. It’s great that the book details how the saplings are taken from their original ‘home’ to a nursery where they can be bought and replanted again, so that children realise that humans can artificially influence their environment.
The images on each page are built up using a collage of natural and found materials, so that we see a real ‘tag’ on the sapling as it leaves the nursery, as well as real seeds in the bird treats hung on its branches as it grows.
Our favourite spread is the final one, showing the glorious reds, oranges and yellows of the leaves. We have been having great fun stomping through scrunchy, crunchy leaves and we’re constantly looking up to spot different colours of leaves, so this spread sparks lots of questions and smiles of recognition.
All Lois Ehlert’s books are special (we are big fans of ‘Planting a Rainbow‘ too, and ‘Snowballs‘ is on our wish list) and I’ve found them to be a super way to explain some of the trickier concepts within nature that featured regularly in C and H’s questions. (If she’d only make a book about rain then we’d be sorted!) On a seasonal note, she has also created ‘Leaf Man‘, which I think we’ll have to get hold of this time next year…)
If you’re looking for any more ideas, check out our Hallowe’en post from last year. H is still LOVING the ‘Meg and Mog’ books and if you visit our Pinterest board to see what we’ve read this month you’ll quickly spot a ‘Meg and Mog’ theme 😉 I’d also like to give a shout out to ‘Pumpkin Soup‘, which is gloriously illustrated and beautifully written and frankly would knock your socks off at any time of year, but the autumnal colours and pumpkin-based content are especially perfect for today.
Disclaimer: I received my copy of ‘Hoot’, from the publisher. I was not asked to write this post, nor was I given any money for doing so, and the review represents my own honest opinion.