If you’re looking for a suitably spooky Halloween read, take a peek at one of these. If you dare….
Vlad The World’s Worst Vampire: Midnight Fright by Anna Wilson, illustrated by Kathryn Durst (Stripes Books)
Vlad’s back in another adventure and this time his very annoying cousin Lupus is visiting. Poor old Vlad has never really been the best of vampires; he doesn’t like drinking blood, isn’t brilliant at flying and is even a little bit scared of the dark! Cousin Lupus seems fantastic at everything and is super-popular at school. Is there anything that Vlad can do better than Lupus? P.S. Watch out for the raven, Claw. Genius! 7+
Bee Boy: Attack of the Zombees by Tony De Saulles (OUP)
‘Half bee. Half boy. Melvin Meadly is… BEE BOY.’ When the arrival of the heir to the Crump fortune, Berty, coincides with the arrival of a bizarre sickness bug which sweeps the school, Mel starts to become suspicious. These suspicions grow when Mel and his bees discover a factory hidden deep in the woods with giant flowers, drones and ferocious glowing zombees! Highly-illustrated and highly humorous. 6+
Dirty Bertie: Frights and Bites by Alan MacDonald, illustrated by David Roberts (Stripes Books)
This is the 3-in-1 book for serious fans of all things Dirty Bertie. This ghoulish book contains NINE stories about the boy with the most disgusting habits you can imagine (originally published as three separate volumes: ‘Fangs!,’ ‘Scream!,’ and ‘Zombie!’) Bertie’s up to his usual tricks: thinking the school caretaker, Mr Grouch, is a vampire, terrifying people with his monster mask at Halloween, and discovering that his teacher did not sleep in school as he’d imagined, but actually had a hobby which involved leaving the building – Zumba! 5+
The Littlest Witch by Bianca Pitzorno, illustrated by Mark Beech (Catnip Publishing) Translated by Laura Watkinson.
If Alfonso wants to inherit his great uncle’s millions, he must marry a witch. But they’re pretty hard to find nowadays and it’s clear from the outset that Alfonso is an unpleasant piece of work – grubby, grasping and disbelieving. After he recovers from the initial shock, he sets off to catch himself a witch. A chance encounter with a pair of sisters in the library over a copy of Macbeth seems to point Alfonso in the direction of a witch. However, he doesn’t know this witch is actually a baby, or which sister is which. Will the sisters be able to stop his dastardly plan? A brilliant story in translation from one of Italy’s most popular children’s authors. 6+
Star Friends: Night Shade by Linda Chapman, illustrated by Lucy Fleming (Stripes Publishing)
A spooky addition to the Star Friends series. Maia and her friends are lucky enough to have been befriended by a group of magical Star Animals with special powers. When the Star Friends notice that the spring buds have withered away, they start to suspect that somebody might be using dark magic to summon shades (evil spirits.) However the Star Animals think differently. Someone’s in a long dark cloak has been coming to the magic clearing and making potions. Can the Star Friends discover who’s behind it before it’s too late? 6+
Night of the Living Ted by Barry Hutchison, illustrated by Lee Cosgrove (Stripes Publishing)
This is the first in a hilarious new series from award-winning author and horror aficionado Barry Hutchison. Lisa-Marie and big brother Vernon are out shopping for a birthday present dad when they notice a sign in the window of the Create-a-Ted shop offering free Halloween bears – perfect! However, things inside seem…different and Vernon notices the hairs on the back of his neck start to prickle as he looks at the selection of bear skins hanging glassy-eyed on hooks. On Halloween night, the shop owner brings the bears to life! Vernon’s bear, Grizz, goes rogue and tampers with the Stuff-U-Lator so that it turns living matter into stuffed bears. Can he be stopped?! 7+
Graverobbers and Gallows by John Townsend, illustrated by Isobel Lundie (Scribo)
Cephas Catchpole is a penniless orphan, ten-years-old and living in a workhouse, and he appears to have been buried in a coffin. This was somewhat of a shock as, so far as Cephas was aware, he hadn’t actually died yet. He gets quite a shock when two graverobbers unearth him (not as big a shock as they do!) and think he’s an angel!
The story then goes on to recount poor Cephas’s grim (but not uncommon) life as a chimney sweep. An unfortunately sooty incident and the discovery of a mysterious jar hidden up the chimney, put into motion a chain of events that might just change the course of Cephas’s life and provide some answers about his parents. Grimy, sooty intrigue. 9+
Ten Nasty Little Toads by Steve Cole, illustrated by Tim Archbold (Zephyr)
Are you a nasty little toad? Not sure? Madame Rana would invite you to read these 10 cautionary tales to find out. I think we all know some children with some fairly gruesome habits, but they’re nothing compared to the little darlings within these foul tales. There’s Jacques LaConk who collects all his bodily excretions and stores them in jars. Or on walls! Or Song Jinwoo who spent all his time glued to his gadgets. All who get their just desserts and hopefully learn a lifelong lesson.
Keep your eyes peeled for the special toad jokes, toad facts and magic spells scattered throughout this book. Really good fun and sure to capture children’s imaginatons! 7+
The Ultimate Spell-Caster by Mike Barfield (Laurence King Publishing)
A must-have book for any budding witch or wizard. Flip the flaps from top to bottom to cast up to 60,000,000 different bewitching spells. Conjure up the perfect charm to turn your teacher into a bat-faced biscuit sniffer or your best friend into a fungus-loving spud juggler. Hex your enemies and bewitch your friends.
Book Boy and I had lots of fun waving our wands and imagining we were enrolled at Hogwarts. We giggled and snorted our way through the pages, creating the most preposterous spells we could manage. Hours of entertainment! 4+
Winnie and Wilbur: The Monster Mystery by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul (OUP)
A brand new adventure from family-favourites Winnie and Wilbur. After living in their black house in the forest for years, things are getting a little gloomy. Winnie thinks they really should do something about it, but doesn’t ever quite get round to it. When she noticed some rather large footprints in the garden. What on Earth could have made them? The pair set out to investigate and discover a lot more than they had bargained for in the deep dark forest. 3+
* Many thanks to the all the publishers involved for sending me these fang-tastic titles to review*