Halloween isn't just kids stuff. In fact, some of the season's spookiest, cleverest and most well-imagined tales are those written for older audiences. These four books may be new titles, but they preserve the essence of the Halloween book: imagination, mystery, and the un-dead!
The Mystery of the Fool and the Vanisher by David and Ruth Ellwand (Candlewick Press, 2008) $18.99
Photographer David Ellwand takes readers on a dark journey to the English Downs, which are said to be haunted by fairy creatures. A flint stone with a hole in it, found in a forgotten nineteenth-century archaeological dig, transports Ellwand to a mythical netherworld which will change his life forever. Once you look through the vanisher, it's never the same. Beautiful photography and a powerful mix of ancient folklore, mystery and imagination make this unique book something to cherish on All Hallows' Eve.
The Robe of Skills by Vivian French, illustrated by Ross Collins (Candlewick Press, 2007) $14.99
High above the village of Fracture lives the Sorceress Lady Lamorna. Like any sorceress, she wants a new dress--skull-studded made with black velvet and a blood red petticoat. The only problem is that she has no gold to pay for it, and devises an evil plan to get what she wants. Can the heroic Gracie Gillypot save all the neighboring princes and princesses from Lamorna's evil plan? This light-hearted fairy tale, with freaky characters akin to Roald Dahl, will keep your tween's funny bone and imagination engaged this Halloween.
Dracula's Heir by Sam Stall (Quirk Books, 2008) $24.95
Sure, your kid has heard of Dracula, but does he know that the story became popularized in one of the best examples of gothic literature ever written? Bram Stoker might be little tough for your middle schooler, which is why Sam Stall's rendition is a perfect introduction. For reason's still debated by critics, the first chapter of Dracula was cut from the book just week before publication. Here, it becomes the central clue in a chilling "who-dunnit?" story. This interactive mystery features stunning illustrations and eight removable clues, including a newpaper, a daeth certificate, a Victorian calling card and more. Can your child solve the mystery? Read freely and of your own will!
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean (HarperCollins, 2008) $17.99
This best-selling author knows scary. This gothic rif on Kipling's The Jungle Book makes for a perfect Halloween spook-fest. Bod (short for Nobody because he's like nobody else) is an orphan boy who has been raised by ghosts in his graveyard home. Though he is well cared for and loved, he wonders what life would be like outside the cemetary. The problem is the man who murdered his family is still at large and out to finish the job. This book is part suspense, part adventure, and part mystery. A feast for the imagination.