The Children’s Book Review | October 29, 2016
Ghost Stories, Zombie Books, and Wizard and Witch Tales
Here’s a list of 13 (or more—mwa-ha-ha) frightfully good books perfect for the spooky season of Halloween and beyond. There are tales for mystery buffs, paranormal aficionados, wizard and witch fans, and those that dabble in chasing zombies. Many of the books are part of a series, so this is also a list that goes beyond the titles just mentioned here. Which of these halloween books or spooky tales will you dare to get your hands on?
Illustrated by Billy Kelly
Publisher’s Synopsis: Facing fears has never been so much fun! Join best friends Bitterly, Abyssma and Belladonna as they start a new year at Fright School.
As young “Frights”, they will learn how to chase away the fears of little human girls by entering their dreams and teaching them how to overcome their nightmares. But Bitterly, the most promising “Fright”, must face the school bully and some nightmares of her own. Creators Laura and Jake Gosselin offer an empowering book series for girls and young readers that presents the challenges of childhood through the thrilling and magical world of The Pinkaboos.
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1449478315
Written by Ruben Bolling
Publisher’s Synopsis: My name is Stuart Tennemeier, and I’m the President of the EMU Club (Exploration-Mystery-Unbelievable Club). This is my report of our second mission.
Once you’ve solved one great mystery involving alien cats and a robotic dog, how do you find a second one that is just as awesome to solve? Not huge crimes or weird stuff, but everyday mysteries that happen to everyone, like why does time seem to pass more slowly right before school ends? And at other times, like when you’re watching your favorite TV show it seems to pass really quickly?
There are tons of little mysteries all around us. Sometimes if you look really, really, closely at them, you find out some amazing, incredible things. And you just might save the world.
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-1449457105
Written by Mo O’Hara
Publisher’s Synopsis: Frankie was a completely normal pet goldfish . . . until Tom’s evil-scientist big brother tried to murder him with toxic gunge! Luckily Tom and his best friend shocked Frankie back to life with a battery, and ever since he’s been a BIG FAT ZOMBIE GOLDFISH.
A normal trip to the aquarium for Tom, Pradeep, and Sami suddenly turns into a death-defying race to stop save Frankie from being eaten by a hungry psychic octopus during their big brothers’ latest evil plan.
Then, when the TV show My Pet’s Got Talent comes to town all the paranormal pets suddenly start losing their talents. Can Frankie save the day without his dangerous hypnotic powers?
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1250063557
Written by Sibéal Pounder
Illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson
Publisher’s Synopsis: When Fran the Fabulous Fairy turns up in Tiga Whicabim’s shed to tell her she’s a witch, Tiga doesn’t believe her. Or at least not until Fran points out that TIGA WHICABIM is actually an anagram of I AM A BIG WITCH . . . and takes Tiga through the drainpipes to compete in a challenge to crown the next Top Witch of Ritzy City. No one expects a witch from ‘above the pipes’ to be a serious contender, but soon Tiga and her new best friend, Peggy Pigwiggle, are at the head of the pack! Does one of them have what it takes to win?
There will be spells. There will be shrunken heads. But most of all, there will be serious shoe envy. Perfect for fans of Sarah Mlynowski’s Whatever After series and filled with hilarious black-and-white illustrations, delectable dresses, and ridiculous riddles, Witch Wars is whimsical, magical fun!
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1619639256
Written by Angie Sage
Publisher’s Synopsis: Araminta and her best friend Wanda are going on a school trip to Skeleton Island, a place rumored to be the site of a scary ghost shipwreck. And when the pair is stranded overnight, they discover that there might be more truth to the island’s name than they would have preferred.
Now some terrifying pirate skeletons are on the loose, and they want to take the girls down to Davy Jones’s locker with them! Will Araminta, Wanda, and an unexpected friend be able to thwart the ghostly crew, avoid a watery fate, and maybe find some lost treasure to boot?
Told with her trademark wit and a dash of scary fun, along with black and white illustrations throughout, Angie Sage’s latest tale is perfect for fans of Pseudonymous Bosch and Jacqueline West.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1619639454
Written by John Kloepfer
Illustrated by David DeGrand
Publisher’s Synopsis: In the final book in the beloved Zombie Chasers series, Zack Clarke and his zombie-fighting team travel across the world in search of an antidote that will stop the brain-gobbling outbreak once and for all. With all the middle school shenanigans, fast-paced adventure, and hilarious black-and-white drawings that have made this series a favorite of reluctant readers everywhere, The Zombie Chasers #7: World Zombination is an uproarious, gore-streaked finale that readers will love!
From taming zombie jungle animals in Madagascar to unearthing zombie mummies—zummies—in Egypt to battling black-belt super zombies in China, it’s the zombie chasers’ slimiest adventure yet. Will the kids be able to get the antidote and unzombify the undead masses once and for all? Or will the putrid planet fall to the zombie scourge?
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0062290274
Written by Delia Sherman
Publisher’s Synopsis: In a hilarious tale reminiscent of T. H. White, a lost boy finds himself an unlikely apprentice to the very old, vaguely evil, mostly just grumpy Wizard Smallbone.
When twelve-year-old Nick runs away from his uncle’s in the middle of a blizzard, he stumbles onto a very opinionated bookstore. He also meets its guardian, the self-proclaimed Evil Wizard Smallbone, who calls Nick his apprentice and won’t let him leave, but won’t teach him magic, either. It’s a good thing the bookstore takes Nick’s magical education in hand, because Smallbone’s nemesis—the Evil Wizard Fidelou—and his pack of shape-shifting bikers are howling at the borders. Smallbone might call himself evil, but compared to Fidelou, he’s practically a puppy. And he can’t handle Fidelou alone.
Wildly funny and cozily heartfelt, Delia Sherman’s latest is an eccentric fantasy adventure featuring dueling wizards, enchanted animals, and one stray boy.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Candlewick | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0763688059
Publisher’s Synopsis: The third book in the hilariously scary Nightmares! series by New York Times bestselling authors Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller is here! You thought the nightmares were over? You better keep the lights on!
Charlie Laird has a very bad feeling.
1. There’s a NEW GIRL at school, and Charlie and his friends have DEFINITELY seen her before.
2. He’s been hearing strange noises after dark, which is NEVER a good sign.
3. The nightmares are back, and they’re WEIRDER THAN EVER.
Not since he faced his fears has Charlie had so many bad dreams. Whenever he falls asleep, he finds himself in a Netherworld field, surrounded by a flock of CREEPY BLACK SHEEP. They’re not counting sheep. They refuse to jump. In fact, they don’t do much at all. EVEN EERIER, THOUGH, is that it’s not Charlie’s nightmare. Somehow he’s trapped in someone else’s bad dream. And he’s pretty sure the twins ICK and INK are responsible. Charlie and his friends thought they’d put the twins out of business, but it seems they didn’t quite finish the job. Now the WOOLLY NIGHTMARES are closing in, and INK has shown up at Cypress Creek Elementary! Charlie’s convinced that INK is up to NO GOOD. And if he’s right, it could be a very long time before anyone’s dreams are sweet again.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0385744294
Written by Laurel Gale
Illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
Publisher’s Synopsis: Fans of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book will embrace this darkly funny debut novel about Crow, a dead boy, who has a chance at friendship—and a chance at getting his life back.
Crow Darlingson may be dead, but he still loves air hockey, bowling, and drawing. Like other kids, his mother makes sure he finishes his homework, and he always looks forward to Halloween.
But Crow Darlingson isn’t like other kids. He stinks. He’s got maggots. His body parts fall off at inopportune moments. And he hasn’t been able to sleep in years. Not since waking up from death.
Despite the maggots, Crow is lonely. When Melody Plympton moves in next door, Crow finally has a chance at friendship and a shot at getting his life back from the mysterious wish-granting creature living in the park. But first there are tests to pass. And it means risking the only friend he’s had in years.
Debut author Laurel Gale’s story about friendship fulfilled may be the most moving—and most macabre—yet.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-0553510089
Written by Sarah S. Reida
Beware what lurks beneath your bed. . . . It could lead to a monstrous adventure.
Thirteen-year-old Lissa Black is miserable when her parents force her to move from New York City (the perfect home for an aspiring writer/director/actress) to Freeburg, Pennsylvania, nowhere capital of the world. There’s nothing to do there, except play her little sister Haylie’s favorite new game, Monsterville, and hang out with her new neighbor Adam.
But when a walk in the woods lands her face-to-face with a swamp monster hungry for brains and then a Sasquatch that moos, even Lissa can t call her new home totally boring. With Adam’s help, she catches the culprit behind the drama: a shape-shifting goblin who’s fled from the monster world of Down Below.
And what do you do with a creature that can be literally anything? Make monster movies, of course! Lissa is convinced that Blue will be the secret to her big break.
But when Haylie goes missing on Halloween, Lissa, Adam, and the monster must venture Down Below to stage a rescueand face the real Monsterville, which is anything but a game.
Monsterville is a fusion of The Boxtrolls, Jumanji, and Candyland, weaving together friendship, family, and monsters into a funny fantasy-horror brimming with heart from a great new middle grade voice.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Sky Pony Press | 2016 | ISBN-13:978-1510707337
Written by Erin Petti
Illustrated by Kris Aro McLeod
Publisher’s Synopsis: Ghost-story lover and debut author Erin Petti has written a quirky story for fans of The Goonies, Goosebumps, and Coraline.
Eleven-year-old budding scientist Thelma Bee has adventure in her blood. But she gets more than she bargained for when a ghost kidnaps her father. Now her only clues are a strange jewelry box and the word “Return,” whispered to her by the ghost. It’s up to Thelma to get her dad back, and it might be more dangerous than she thought–there’s someone wielding dark magic, and they’re coming after her next.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Mighty Media Junior Readers | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1938063725
Publisher’s Synopsis: Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake — and her own.
Raina Telgemeier has masterfully created a moving and insightful story about the power of family and friendship, and how it gives us the courage to do what we never thought possible.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: GRAPHIX | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0545540629
Written by Caleb Krisp
Publisher’s Synopsis: Are you ready for Ivy Pocket? The wickedly funny, completely unreliable maid of no importance returns—this time as a coffin maker’s daughter—in this action-packed sequel to Anyone but Ivy Pocket. School Library Journal says, “Fans of . . . Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events will love Ivy Pocket’s zany adventures.” Featuring extensive black-and-white interior art by Barbara Cantini throughout.
Everyone seems to want a piece of Ivy Pocket. Her adoptive parents keep trying to get her to clean the funeral home, even though Ivy’s certain she’s already the picture of a perfect daughter. A beautiful heiress named Estelle wants Ivy to uncover the dark truth behind her brother’s death. Her new friend, Miss Carnage, keeps asking Ivy the most curious questions (the poor, clueless dear). To top it all off, Ivy must protect the Clock Diamond from the evil Miss Always, who seems to be lurking around every corner! A fast-paced and hilarious follow-up to Anyone but Ivy Pocket, which Booklist praised as “a droll chapter book with a Victorian setting and a one-of-a-kind protagonist.” This is the second of three books about Ivy Pocket!
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Greenwillow Books | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0062364371
Written by D.J. MacHale
Publisher’s Synopsis: Leave the lights on for this spooky story that’s perfect for Halloween! The author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Pendragon invites you to enter The Library, where no one knows how the stories end . . . and finding out will be terrifying.
There’s a place beyond this world, beyond the land of the living, where ghosts go to write their unfinished stories—stories that ended too soon. It’s a place for unexplained phenomena: mysteries that have never been solved, spirits that have never been laid to rest. And there’s only one way in or out.
It’s called the Library, and you can get there with a special key. But beware! Don’t start a story you can’t finish. Because in this library, the stories you can’t finish just might finish you.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1101932537
Written by Jonathan Stroud
Publisher’s Synopsis: After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them–and only them–to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick. But, in a shocking cliffhanger ending, the team learns that someone has been manipulating them all along. . . .
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1484709672
Publisher’s Synopsis: J. A. White’s The Thickety: Well of Witches is an epic quest into an enchanted kingdom with new kinds of magic, an old enemy, and only one way out. Fans of Neil Gaiman will love this third novel in the spectacular and twisty fantasy series that has readers and reviewers raving.
Kara and Taff know that only Grace Stone has the power to reverse her Last Spell on their father, and that in order to save him, they have to rescue their foe from the Well of Witches first. Forgiving Grace should be the hardest part of their journey . . . but soon the children are confronted by creatures called the Faceless, mysteries as old as magic, and an ancient secret that threatens their very lives. Back in the World, a war against magic is brewing that endangers everyone they care about. Can Kara and Taff find Grace and make it back to their father in time?
Ages 10+ | Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0062257321
Written by Tone Almhjell
Publisher’s Synopsis: Fans of Gregor the Overlander and Five Kingdoms will love this alternate-realm fantasy full of heart-racing action.
Strange things are happening around Niklas Summerhill’s home. A green-eyed beast is killing animals in the woods, and the nightmares that have haunted Niklas since his mother died grow more terrifying with every night. When the beast turns out to be a troll brought to life from his own games, Niklas knows he has to stop it. With the help of his lynx companion, Secret, he finds the source of the magic: a portal to another world. But this realm, once the home of peaceful animals, is also in danger. The evil Sparrow King is hunting down the few survivors from a devastating war, and a dark, blood-thirsty plant is infecting the valley. Niklas must try to save both worlds. But first he has to uncover the truth about his mother’s last words: “I’m a Thornghost.”
From the author of The Twistrose Key comes a fantasy brimming with intriguing mystery, fast-paced action, and a cast of unforgettable human and animal characters.
Ages 10-12 | Publisher: Dial Books | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0803738973
The book list 13 Frighteningly Good Kids Books for Halloween and Beyond was curated by Bianca Schulze. Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with Ghosts, Halloween Books, Spooky and Zombies.
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