Witch Girl by Jan Eldredge
Evangeline Clement is almost thirteen and there is no sign of her familiar. She’s afraid it will never come and she will turn out to be a middling with no magical powers. Magic has been handed through her family for generations and she spends her days learning from her grandmother.
When the pair are called to an old mansion, they are confronted with a terrifying case and Evangeline finds out secrets about her family’s past.
This has serious Princess And The Frog Vibes. Set in Louisianna, the landscape is all swamps and cypress-trees and rivers. The language, too, reminds me off The Princess And The Frog – Evangeline wears gator skin boots and lives for her Grandmama’s pecan pie.
I liked this version of witch-craft – it was less about waving wands and more about talismans and forcing dark spirits along on their journey. The magic has been handed down for generations and I always like stories where the character learns about their family history through the adventure.
The Trouble With Perfect by Helena Duggan
There are two types of people in Town – the ones who believe only perfect people should be allowed, and the ones who believe there is no one ‘right’. Since Perfect was liberated from the Perfectionists and renamed Town, the two groups have lived alongside each other.
Now strange things are happening in Town.
First objects go missing, then children. Violet’s friend Boy is blamed, and old questions are raised about whether certain people should be locked away for the good of others.
This was the perfect book to read ahead of Halloween – it has vibes of Dianna Wynne Jones. Town is often painfully ordinary – with committees, schools and day-to-day activities – that the stranger things, like the eye-plants which are used as a security-system – stand out.
I love how the theme of diversity and acceptance was handled. It encourages the reader to think for themselves, to empathise with others and never to follow others blindly.
Vlad The World’s Worst Vampire by Anna Wilson and Kathryn Durst
Vlad is the world’s least-scary vampire. He’s afraid of spiders, he’s afraid of the dark and he’s especially afraid of looking like a failure next to cousin Lupus.
Lupus upholds all the Vampire traditions, like drinking blood. He keeps a raven near him at all times and he has mastered all the flying skills. Nobody seems to notice that he is rude and horrible. Nobody except Vlad.
Is Lupus really as perfect as he seems? Is there any chance he could be friends with Vlad?
This is a lovely series, perfect for newly-readers, and would make a lovely bedtime story. The events of the story are much like any book about friendship and family, except the family happens to have fangs. And ravens. This would be a great Halloween read for children who don’t like scares but love a touch of the gothic world.
Night Of The Living Ted by Barry Hutchinson and Lee Cosgrove
Zombie Bears! Ghost Bears! Witch Bears! Alien Bears!
Lisa-Marie is adjusting to having a step-parent and living with her new step-brother Veron. Vernon can be nice but he won’t stand up for his new step-sister.
When Lisa-Marie makes a witch bear at Create-A-Ted, she gets more than she bargained for. Henrietta is alive and she is dangerous. In fact, there is a whole army of Halloween-bears on the loose, led by the terrifying Grizz.
If Lisa-Marie is going to stop them from destroying humankind, she’ll need help from her new step-brother Vernon.
The premise of this story is hilarious. A shop where children pick a bear-skin, add stuffing then provide the bear with a heart. What’s creepy about that?! Someone has clearly spent an hour too long in Create-A-Ted.
This story shows that ideas come from observation. I reckon children will love this spooky twist on their favourite shop.
I love that the humour is accessible to adults as well as children. Books of this length are often read aloud and it makes a difference to the child’s experience when the adults are laughing along too.
Dirty Bertie – Frights And Bites by David Roberts or Alan MacDonald
Fangs! Scream! Zombie!
Experience three whole volumes of Dirty Bertie in one book. Know someone who loves Dennis the Menace and Horrid Henry? You need to introduce them to Bertie. He’s silly, he’s full of terrible ideas and best of all, he embraces all things disgusting.
The three books in this compilation are divided into stories which are about forty pages long. There are nine stories between the three books, which means plenty of silliness and troublesome events.
I love how the stories have recurring features. They quite often end with Bertie in some kind of bother – whether his head is stuck in the railings or he is running away, you can be sure the story will end on a memorable note.
These are perfect for newly confident readers. Finishing the short stories offers a high level of reward and there are plenty of hilarious illustrations.
Thanks to Scholastic UK, Stripes Books and Usborne Publishing for the books featured in this round-up. Opinions my own.
What are you reading this Halloween? Let me know in the comments below.