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Books that go Bump in the Night
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Hex Libris' LiveJournal:

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Saturday, September 5th, 2009
4:52 pm
by Arthur Yorkins
Ill. Maurice Sendak
Paper Engineering Matthew Reinhart

This is definitely THE BEST pop-up spooky storybook on the planet. I can say this not just because Maurice Sendak has a place in my heart but because I spent a long time trying to figure out how each piece of pop-up art managed to unfold and re-fold itself like a great big paper machine - the paper art is stunning and shockingly complex. Simply stunning. Story? adorable, but really it's the mechanics of the pop-up art that will win you over ... so i took some photos which can only whet your appetite but will in no way convey the delight that you will experience when you open this book for the first time.

two more here Read more...Collapse )
Friday, September 4th, 2009
7:54 pm
Magic Trixie Sleeps Over
"Magic Trixie Sleeps Over"
by Jill Thompson
Ill. Jill Thompson

This is a new series from Jill Thompson of "Scary Godmother" fame. Same style, but written for a slightly younger audience. Jill spends some time introducing Trixie, her family and her friends; wee versions of Frankenstein's monster (Dr. Frankenstein is a wonderful mom by the way), a mummy girl, a werewolf and twin vampire children. The storyline revolves around Trixie and her lack of enthusiasm with her bedtime routine. She spends several nights trying out the routines of each of her friends and finds them (especially the vampires) not half as nice as her own. The storyline celebrates diversity with a good sense of humor and reinforces that parents do - really - have a reason for making you brush your teeth and take baths ;p

This would be a GREAT series for a child that is growing up in a Goth family ... any kid that might look around the house and wonder why THEIR family has green hair and tattoos and doesn't dress like everybody else's family (sans magic and werewolves of course ... unless you are and you do ;p). The family itself is not the focus but it's a familiar backdrop that those of us in the scene will recognize - it is, shall we say, Freak Friendly. The usual good life-lessons are at the core here so it's a win-win situation for all. Recommended!
Sunday, August 30th, 2009
4:44 pm
Where's my Mummy?
"Where's my Mummy?"
by Carolyn Crimi
Ill. John Manders

This one is definately for the younger set. Little baby mummy off in the woods playing Hide and Shriek with his mom before bedtime gets separated and ... meets a few other denizens of the deep dark forest getting ready for bed: a skeleton brushing his teeth, a goopy moster washing it's face, and dracula (absolutely delightful in a red plaid nightrobe that wooshes out behind him like bat wings) scrubbing his long pointy ears. He doesn't even get scared until ... read it and see! But no worries, Mommy Mummy is there to save the day ;p

short, sweet, and fairly cute with plenty of monsters and spiderwebs to qualify as spooky bedtime fare for little ones.

Current Mood: creative
1:39 pm
Boris and Bella
"Boris and Bella"
by Carolyn Crimini
Ill. Gris Grimly

Bella Legrossi and Boris Kleanitoff are the oddest version of "The Odd Couple" imaginable. Both mosters of course, one is a messy slimy slob and the other is a compulsive neat-freak (emphasis on FREAK of course ... heh). These neighbors are perfectly horrible in their own way and of course they get on each other's nerves, until they both throw a Halloween party. Well, I won't spoil it for you.

BUT I do want to say that this is one of THE most charming books that I have seen in a while, very clever and just a little bit creepy. Illustrations are beautifully detailed and colored in shades of olive greens, browns, purples and greys - a little too dark and spooky for very young kids, but with a great rolling narrative that's fun to read. Do your kids know who Boris Karloff and Bella Lugosi are? If so, all the better. Though I do beleive the original duo never fell in love ;p

Fans of Cinderella Skeleton and Scary Godmother will love this <3

Current Mood: busy
Sunday, October 12th, 2008
12:40 pm
Pumpkin Town!
"Pumpkin Town! (Or, Nothing Is Better and Worse Than Pumpkins)"
by Katie McKy
Ill. Pablo Bernasconi

To be perfectly honest Pumpkin Town is not, strictly speaking, a halloween book. However, it's about pumpkins and it's a fairly adorable story that will be perfectly fun to read during this time of year. It's about 5 brothers that are a little less than careful about scattering their left-over seeds from the pumpkin harvest and how that affects the townspeople that live in the village below them. "soon the townspeople were stepping over pumpkins/ and around pumpkins and under prumpkins/ it was hard to even walk a block" the 5 brothers help the villagers harvest and sell their unwanted pumpkins but ... did they really learn their lesson? I won't spoil the ending for you.

The illustrations are really interesting. Actual photos were used as clip-art collage to make up the different scenes. So real pumpkin photos were used to cut/paste together for the images of pumpkin fields for example.

This is a great buy for younger children who can't handle anything too "spooky", kids interested in gardening, or just a refreshing change of pace for the Halloween season.

Current Mood: calm
Sunday, October 5th, 2008
9:35 pm
Los Gatos Black on Halloween
"Los Gatos Black on Halloween"
by Marisa Montes
Ill. Yuyi Morales

This is a Halloween book with an ulterior motive ... teaching you a bit of spanish. Each page has a new word in spanish incorporated into the storyline in such a way that even if you don't peek at the glossary in the back you will be able to figure out what it means due to context.

"las calabazas fat and round/ carved pumpkins guard a hallowed ground/ their eerie faces burning bright/ form spooky beacon in the night"

It's actually quite well done and doesn't come off the least bit "educational" (in a negative, boring way, if you know what i mean). The illustrations are surprisingly dark and spooky. The colors are not saturated, rather all the characters are transparent and ghostly and they almost blend in to the shadows around them. It's a bit dark if you prefer intensely colored books, but it sets a wonderful tone.

I'm going to be lazy and link to it so you can check out the artwork.

Current Mood: calm
Sunday, September 28th, 2008
1:12 pm
Halloween Night
"Halloween Night"
by Marjorie Dennis Murray
ill. Brandon Dorman

"Halloween Night" has simple concept, but it's executed beautifuly and in full appreciation of the spirit of the season. Assorted ghouls and monsters prepare for a Halloween party and welcome a group of Trick-or-Treaters into their midst. Here is a sample of the cadence: "the walls were aflutter with little brown bats/ while hordes of black spiders crept out of cracks/ by the fire in the kitchen the witch stirred her brew/ to make it more smelly she threw in a shoe"

The real reason to buy this book, however, is the illustrations. Brandon Dorman gives the viewer a perspective from below or above the scene, showing both panoramic views and up-close details. The colors are very lush and there is a lot too see on every page. Most pages show the characters lit from below which gives everything a spooky aura. I'd give this book my highest recommendation - if you buy only one Children's Halloween book this year, make it this one.

Current Mood: content
Monday, September 22nd, 2008
8:05 am
"Carbonel, the King of the Cats"
This is one of my favorite childhood books, written by Barbara Sleigh, about a little girl in London who finds a talking black cat. The cat (Carbonel, who is the King of the cats), has accidentally become the minion of a witch and the book is about the adventures the cat and little girl have un-doing the spell that binds Carbonel to the witch and regaining his kingdom from a dangerous imposter. This is a book for older children (and young-at-heart adults) who love a good story and is out-of-print and difficult to find, but very fun and quirky. It has a couple of sequels, but the first one is the best. While not specifically a Halloween book, there is magic and traditional witch lore, with brooms, cauldrons, and a peaked witch's hat.
Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007
8:34 pm
"The Perfect Pumpkin Pie"
by Denys Cazet.

"Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkin pie!
I must have one before i die.
It must be round and brown as toast,
or I'll haunt this house a hungry ghost"

... is the refrain from this ghoulishly demanding gourmand, tragically struck down before he could taste his beloved wife's perfect pumpkin pie. But can the new owners of the haunted cottage (Grandma and young Jack) make a pie perfect enough to satisfy this picky ghoul?

"A pumpkin pie without whipped cream?
It's enough to make a dead man scream.
This pie is bland, it's underdone
Next time please, more cinnamon!"

Aimed towards the younger end of the age-scale, it's nonetheless a bit gorey with the ghost/ghoul's rotten and falling-off flesh and removable eyeballs. Still, it's not terribly scary and a rather fun read, if a bit short on storyline.
Saturday, August 18th, 2007
6:39 pm
"The Haunted Castle"
Written by Stephanie Laslett
Ill. by Nigel McMullen

Finding a new house is never easy, and the Steins are particularly picky it seems. After having exhausted all other avenues with their long-suffering real estate agent he shows them the house that *nobody* wants to buy; the Castle. Luckily the Steins (Wolfensteins maybe?) seem charmed by the slugs, skeletons in the bathtubs and other unmentionable creatures scattered throughout the unsightly piece of real estate. Turns out, it's the home of the nightmares ;p

By the way, the 8 creatures infesting the castle are holograms in the book, kind of a fun touch, though if you read this to your kid, do so in strong light since the holographs don't *pop* otherwise.
Sunday, September 4th, 2005
1:10 pm
"Miss Fiona's Stupendous Pumpkin Pies"
"Miss Fiona's Stupendous Pumpkin Pies"
by Mark K. Moulton
ill. Karen H. Crouch

Nice Halloween flavor in this one, not scary at all so perfect for the little ones as well. Fiona is the local witch by the cemetary that grows a patch-full of pumpkins every year to make into pies for the local trick-or-treaters. Nicely told, though it doesn't always scan perfectly:

"The old woman Miss Fiona,
lives here with all her cats.
A horse and cow live in the barn
along with several bats

She walks a bit stooped over
and wears a long black dress
and underneath
her pointed hat
her heair's a stringy mess!"


ps. hey guys, get cracking on new children' Halloween book reviews! it's getting to be that time of year again :)
Tuesday, August 24th, 2004
9:04 pm
"Ghoul School"
by David Roberts

Ok, this is officially the best pop-up book EVER. besides the usual 3-D pop-up stuff and the tabs the reveal chilling ghouls and ghosts, this book is exceptionally interactive. Wheels to spin, actual mini-books (books within books!) to open, disembodied hands that write on chalkboards ... there is just so much stuff to pull, open, wiggle and play with it's a total treat. And the illustrations are so incredibly appealing. Definite Gorey influence in the art so that's not shabby ;p

So far as the story is concerned ... there really isn't any as such. It's basically a day in the life of your average school-age ghoul. Having your stitch-covered ghostly father take you to school, learning a full range of haunting techniques, eating a school lunch consisting of gristle delight, and playing some ghostly games are all apparently part of going to Ghoul School.


Current Mood: cranky
Saturday, August 14th, 2004
9:44 am
"The Vanishing Pumpkin"
by Tony Johnson
ill. Tomie dePaola

The rather odd story of a 700 year old woman and an 800 year old man who have their pumpkin sniched on Halloween. The strangely fearless pair go on a Suess-like quest over the hills and dales (after looking in the coffee pot, the bed, and a purse of course ... where else would their missing pumpkin be?) for that vanishing pumpkin. They meet and terrorize a goblin, a "rapscallion picking mushrooms", and a varmint. The 700 year old man knows some magic (i guess you pick up that sort of thing if you live long enough) and he hexes each of them until he's satisfied that they were not the ones that stole his pumpkin. after all this excitement they all trot off to find the real culprit, who turns out to be a Wizard. Turns out he "borrowed" the pumpking to turn into a jack-o-lantern. the couple is a bit sad that they never got to make pumpkin pie as they planned ... but when the contrite wizard magics up some pumpkin pie, they all share it with the goblin, rapscallion and varmint. And guess what? everyone has a very Happy Halloween.

Current Mood: complacent
Wednesday, August 11th, 2004
8:35 pm
after a long absence ....
I return with a new review! Sorry guys, i've been offline for about 2 weeks. But the Halloween season won't catch us napping ... so without further ado:

"Witch Bazooza" by Dennis Nolan

If you have ever read Mad magazine you'll recognize the drawing style here. Vastly appealing is the witch Bazooza, who with her cat Ajax goes about the witchy business of decorating her house for the annual Halloween competition. Spooky cobwebs, squeeky floors, broken windows, and the odd skeleton rattling his bones around are all a good start, but when it comes to producing a big orange jack-o-lantern ... poor Bazooza just can't manage it. Gamely she tries and tries again, magicking up spooky carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, beets, corn, watermelon, and a whole garden full of grinning gap-toothed veggies. But no pumpkin. Resigned to her pumpkinless fate, she goes home. But when night comes and her garden is alight with eerily grinning veggies, the witch counil gives her the highest honors due to her originality :)


Current Mood: cranky
Monday, July 19th, 2004
8:16 pm
"Hogula; Dread Pig of Night"
by Jean Gralley

I had to buy this book. Look at the title. How can you not NEED a book titled "Hogula, dread pig of night" I ask you? This book has plenty going for it besides the title too. It's fun and colorful, and kind of reminiscent of the classic "Duckula" (like the immortal Duckula he also has two "faithful servants", Chad the monster and Igoretta). Hogula, in his castle atop Grimy Pork Chop Hill, is lonely. On halloween night he visits a mall and tries to make friends. Although he makes quite a stir, he doesn't make one friend. On his way out, he drops a shoe (glove? does a shoe or a glove go on a hoof?) and a girl named Elvis Ann picks it up and goes searching from house to house until she finds HOGULA (dread pig of night).

... this is where the fun/silly part comes in. Turns out Hogula doesn't drink blood ... he "piggy snorts" a victims neck. But he's met his match in Elvis Ann who is master of the "kissy face" ;p needless to say they become fast friends.

Extra bonus points for reading this book to a child because you can make snorty and kissy noises and ick them out ;D


Current Mood: content
Sunday, July 18th, 2004
12:01 pm
by Colin & Jacqui Hawkins

Totally fun Vampire book filled with cartoon pictures and chock full of fun text (silly "facts" mix with superstition and sprinkled liberally with eye-rolling jokes). Besides tall tales of vampires around the world and the odd customs surrounding them, we have a series of vignettes concerning a nice little vampire family. A trip to visit Grandpa Mad Von Bluot is truly a trip to the family plot, and grandma has a lovely collection of fanged spiders, cats and ravens. At night, a mother vampire reads "Goldifangs and the 3 bears", "Little Red Riding Fangs" (with teeth far longer than the wolf's), "Vampirella and the glass fangs", and "Coal Black and the 7 ghouls". Reading level is at pre-teen/early teens. Lots of fun ;p


Current Mood: content
Friday, July 16th, 2004
11:05 am
scary scary halloween!
whee... been lurking here for a bit, reading the reviews and loving every minute of it ^_^

I adore all books, but especially children's books, in fact I sell childrens books for a living! it;'s fun to be able to do a job and be surrounded by beautifull books at the same time.

halloween, my favorite holiday in my favorite season, everything about it, the smells, sounds and colours, the way the windows and street lights glow in the early darkness, woodsmoke and chilly evenings... magical.

since reading this I've bought two of the reviewed books, "pumpkin moonshine" so sweet! I love tasha tudor, her illustrations are so delicate...

the other was "the witches supermarket" I read this in the carpark at borders as soon as I bought it, made me laugh out loud!

halloween books currently in my collection include....

"scary scary halloween" (by Eve Bunting/illustrated by Jan Brett)

this book rocks, the colours glow, they're so vibrant, my niece adores this books, me too, it's a yearly treat...
the text rhymes, and is from the pov of a cat family.

"will they find us here below? shhh my love, I cannot know...."

another halloween favorite is "pumpkin soup" (by Helen Cooper)

so it's not strictly speaking a "halloween" book, but there are pumpkins, black cat, autumun themes... I include it on my halloween bookshelf ^_^

Current Mood: content
Wednesday, July 14th, 2004
7:19 pm
This is kinda a longshot because I don't remember much about this book, but its worth a shot. There's this Halloween book that I remember loving as a kid (I'm 18 now so I read it about 10 or more years ago). I either found it at the public library or I got it through a book order from school. I think it was the book order. And its not at the library anyway so if it ever was then its not anymore, and I would love to know what it's called and find it. All I remember is that it was a picture book about a haunted house, and there were spiderwebs with glitter, and I think there was a character named either Nora or Eleanor. It went through the different parts of the house. And I think the pages were thick, like cardboard. I know that this is a super vague description, but I loved this book and if any of you recognize it or know what its called that would be amazing! Thanks!
Sunday, July 11th, 2004
2:46 pm
"Excuse Me ... Are You A Witch?"
"Excuse Me ... Are You A Witch?"
by Emily Horn. ill Pawel Pawlak.

At the risk of boring you guys with yet ANOTHER book about witches ...

This book is actually about a little black cat that doesn't have a home or any friends. He hangs around the Library (awwwww!) where it's warm and he reads books. One day he reads a book about witches and finds out that they love black cats. So he sets out to find a witch. He finds a girl in stripy socks who isn't a witch, a person w/ a broom who isn't a witch (he's a street cleaner), and a woman stirring a cauldron who isn't a witch (she's a cook). He gives up and goes back to the library where he finds a whole bunch of witch schoolgirls on a trip to the Library with their teacher. They love him and all want to take him home, so the teacher decides to take him to their witch school :)

So this is a cute little book for children that might be a little scared of spookier fare. Who can resist a little black kitten i ask you? not I.


Current Mood: content
Saturday, July 10th, 2004
4:12 pm
"Spooky Spells" and "Witches Spell Trouble" pop-up books
"Spooky Spells; a Scary Pop-up Book"
pub. Grandreams.

Wow, easily one of the worst Halloween books ever. It really has nothing going for it. On one hand the illustrations are way too scary for the age group that would be reading a simple pop-up book like this, and on the other hand the story is nonexistant and would bore a todler. Here's the "story": a witch leaves her mansion to get an ingredient for her brew and all of the spooks and spells and creepy things somehow escape from her books and then she comes back and chases them back. Ok, besides the fact that there is no plot whatsoever, the grammer is also terrible which bothers *me*. Some of the ghosts are too cutesy (one is even pink!), but the spiders and random fuzzy fanged things (i'm not sure what they are supposed to be) are too scary. On the final page of the book the witch throws in her last ingredient .. a "jelly baby" which looks pretty much like a little pink baby and is frowning ... WTF? I could just imaging trying to explain to a child that it's not a REAL baby but a JELLY baby and having that whole morass to wade through. Why would you do that? It's just nasty and unnecessary, besides being boring, poorly written, poorly illustrated and thoroughly devoid of charm.

"Witch Spell Trouble; petrifying pop-ups"
written & ill. John Patience.

And on the flip-side, we have a great example of a Halloween pop-up book. Here we have the story of two witch sisters (Esmerelda and Grizelda - two perfectly respectable witch names by the way) who are extremely vain and get into an argument about who is the most beautiful (though they are booth magnificently horrid of course!). One tricks the other into going on a wild goose chase for ingredients for a potion that will get rid of a wart on her nose. Secretly though, she plans to have the potion turn her sister into a hideous cyclopean squid monster. Unfortunately the potion is knocked onto their food by their cat and BOTH get turned into monsters.

The illustrations are just lovely, and the story works well with the pop-up concept. As the warty witch goes flying through the night she swoops past 3-d bats and trees, and hunts for jumping frogs in a swamp. The book is filled with delightful details both spooky and funny. The monsters the witches become are shriekingly silly and there is even a bit of a moral here about vanity. All-around an excellent book.

Current Mood: content
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