Archive for September 10, 2009


Haunted Party

Haunted Party by Iza Trapani

I read a lot of counting books, but they rarely make it to my review pile.  It’s even more rare for a rhyming, counting book to make it!  But this book beat those odds.

This book is about a ghost who is having a Halloween party.  To the party come a whole series of monsters: skeletons, goblins, werewolves, vampires, witches, mummies, and more.  Each monster is counted and joins the chaos of the party where they merrily cavort until 10 children knock on the door to trick-or-treat.  Frightened, the monsters flee the house in reverse order, until just the ghost is left.  The book ends with a little jump, perfect for goosebumps on Halloween.

Trapani has done a counting book right.  The counting is part of the book, but not the only reason for it.  There is a strong storyline here that keeps the book on track and interesting.  The rhyming is done well, creating a book that is easy to read aloud and has a bouncy, friendly quality.  There is a refrain that groups of children will love to chant along with: “at the haunted house of the ghost.”  Trapani’s illustrations are filled with deep colors that evoke the autumn.  There are also many small touches that bring the haunted feeling to life: spiders, eyes peeking from under the floorboard, worms and rats. 

Halloween fun for those who enjoy the thrill of monsters and the chill of a bit of creepiness.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Cool Cat by Nonny Hogrogian

This wordless picture book is a strong voice for creativity and change.  Cat is in a desolate landscape, filled with dead grass, broken glass, and rusting cans.  It is a brown, barren place.  But Cat has brought his paints!  He starts in a corner with some green leaves, then moves to the sky and turns it from brown to blue.  Mouse and Rabbit join him, adding touches of bright red berries.  A cardinal sweeps in to finish the sky, while trees, rocks and even a pond are added.  Soon the birds are perching on the tree branches, a duck is paddling in the pond, and the painting becomes real.

Hogrogian’s paintings have a softness that really works for this blurring of reality and art.  The muddy brown of the original landscape speaks volumes all in itself.  Then with juxtaposed with the brightness of green, red and yellow it becomes a dreadful ugliness.  Children will enjoy the different animals that help out with the art.  This is a testament to shared art and murals.  But at a deeper level, it is a book about how art transforms and how each of us can make change in our own worlds.

A great art book for very small children, this book can be shared at different levels.  Toddlers will enjoy the animals and the colors while older children will see the change and wonder.  Appropriate for ages 2-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

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