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Kids' Halloween books short on scares, long on laughs

Halloween books offer a parent plenty of opportunities for using funny voices and creating sound effects while you read to your kids. You can mimic Dracula's Transylvania accent, moan like a mummy awakened or make the cre-e-e-eak of an opening door — but remember to keep it funny or you may run the risk of nightmares. For parents looking to work some Halloween fun into a class party or their kids' bedtime reading this week, here are some choices:

Arthur's Halloween by Marc Brown ($6.99, Little, Brown Young Readers): Everything about Halloween scares Arthur — until his annoying little sister goes into the house everyone says is really haunted, and he has to rescue her. A cute story with a good message, and a touch of graveyard humor at the end.

Halloween Night by Marjorie Dennis Murray ($16.99, Greenwillow): A take-off of The Night Before Christmas, this rhyme shows real monsters getting ready for a Halloween party and accidentally scaring some pretend monsters. Although the tone is light, gauge for yourself whether your kids are ready for some of the highly detailed images (such as a grinning cyclops swinging a skeleton's legbone to smash a pinata-like pumpkin).

This Book is Haunted by Joanne Rocklin ($3.99, HarperTrophy): A clever collection of slightly creepy tales, including a recipe for witches' stew, a story about a big brother who claims he's not scared and a haunted library book — a story that brings the whole thing full-circle.

The Robots are Coming by Andy Rash (check your library): By far the funniest and wittiest book on this list, with giggle-inducing stories about kids blaming the Loch Ness Monster for messing up Mom's floor, a werewolf who apologizes for attacking people, defective androids in a Westworld setting, clones who swipe their original's allowance and giant ants that attack the narrator. This is the book my kids ask for year after year.

Cat Nights by Jane Manning ($16.99, Greenwillow): A whimsical yet somewhat odd book about a witch who enjoys turning herself into a cat, over and over again. The rules of witching say she can do it only eight times and still change back — on the ninth, she stays a cat. Her cousins try to stop her with a spell, then reconsider. My 6 year old keeps asking me to reread this book, but finally explained he likes the snarky comments I put into the mouths of the cousins about how lame their spellmaking is.

The Big Halloween Scare by Steven Banks ($3.99, Simon Spotlight/Nickelodeon). A book version of the SpongeBob SquarePants Halloween episode, with the Flying Dutchman invading the Krusty Krab to complain about SpongeBob's poor costume imitation of his look. If your kids love SpongeBob, they'll enjoy this (although at the end, when you see SpongeBob's brain, it sure looks a lot bigger than you'd think, given his usual antics).

Craig Pittman can be reached at craig@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8305.

Kids' Halloween books short on scares, long on laughs 10/28/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 9:49pm]

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