Three books just-right for spooky season on review today! Thanks to generous friends at Raincoast Books, I have the pleasure of talking about the following three books: the middle-grade graphic novel ParaNorthern and the Choas Bunny A-Hop-Calypse by Stephanie Cooke, art by Mari Costa; the Halloween picture book Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat by Tracy C. Gold, illustrated by Nancy Leschnikoff; and the board book Tiny T. Rex and the Tricks of Treating by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Jay Fleck. Happy reading!
If you are on the lookout for a fantastically cozy graphic novel with a perfect dash of pumpkins and the supernatural, then ParaNorthern and the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calypse is the perfect read. Written by Canadian author Stephanie Cooke, with art by Mari Costa, ParaNorthern follows a young witch named Abby Morgan (the story’s lead), and her close friends in the magical town of North Haven and the unbelievable adventures that await over fall break. The graphic novel opens on a coffee shop owned and operated by Abby’s mom aptly named Witch’s Brew. When Abby- who works at the coffee shop- goes to get more milk, she spots her little sister Ella being bullied out in the back ally. A mysterious burst of energy flies out from Abby as she tries to help her sister…somehow leading to the opening of a portal and an infestation of sweet-looking yet destructive demon bunnies. On her increasingly frantic journey to solve the mystery behind the portal, Abby is joined by her three unforgettable friends: Gita (a fiercely loyal and protective wolf girl), Silas (an introspective pumpkinhead who is angered by folks ordering pumpkin-y food and drink), and Hannah (an optimistic, smiling ghost from another dimension). ParaNorthern and the Chaos Bunny A-Hop-Calyse sets down an excellent foundation for possible future graphic novels (and I sincerely hope there will be more graphic novels featuring these characters!). A magical town cultivated by fantastically realized characters, an intriguing and ancient family history with potentially devastating powers, a friendship-turned-something-more between two main characters, as well as side stories featuring Abby’s little sister and the Morgan family dynamic, all add up to one highly readable and deliciously fun graphic novel (with just a bit of spook!). Readers who have enjoyed Sophie Escabasse’s Witches of Brooklyn, Reimena Yee’s Séance Tea Party, or Emma Steinkellner’s The Okay Witch graphic novels might especially savour this marvellously fun read.
Some folks may be familiar with variations of the Halloween chant/song which begins with ”Trick or treat, smell my feet…”. But have you ever heard or read a rhyming version featuring sweet, smiling bats? In their picture book Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat, author Tracy C. Gold and illustrator Nancy Leschnikoff, bring readers a bat-tastically adorable rhyming version. Opening on a shadowy yet homey cave of darling (I mean, ridiculously adorable!) bats, we follow one endearing little bat from a flock as they take readers on a busy, bug-filled nighttime journey. As our little bat fills up on crickets, flies with round, red eyes, and crunchy beetles- and even potentially stingy wasps!- we are not only treated to Leschnikoff’s exuberant, enchanting art and Gold’s energetic, jaunty rhymes but also to introductory information about bats, echolocation, and their eating habits. For readers who enjoy stories featuring bats and/or for readers looking for a pleasingly bouncy, rhyming story (one that would make for a fun read aloud!) for Halloween, Trick or Treat, Bugs to Eat is a great pick. Back matter includes facts about bats (including illustrations and descriptions of bats found in the United States); a concise look at echolocation; as well as reminders of what to do (and what not to do!) should you spot a bat while out on Halloween.
The adorable dinosaur Tiny (from Jonathan Stutzman and Jay Fleck’s The Impossible Hug and The Very Dark Dark) is back for another seasonal adventure in the board book Tiny T. Rex and the Tricks of Treating. In preparation for Halloween, Tiny and his best dinosaur friend Pointy, have ”six tricks of treating” they would like to share readers to help them become the best “Treat-masters” possible. In clearly numbered, cheerful, sweet and brightly illustrated spreads, Tiny and Pointy run down each of the six steps that should lead to an amazing Halloween night. From the how’s of dressing up and ways to prepare for a chill in the air, to the importance of the buddy system and saying thank you, Tiny and Pointy take readers through the steps. While the two friends clearly have candy on their mind (and acknowledge the seriousness of trying all the ”tasty sweets” to ”know which are good, and which are not”), Tricks of Treating is, as Tiny T. Rex stories are, centred around the importance of friendship and how to be a considerate, good friend. A kind end to the story (I will leave this for readers to discover!) warms the heart and makes Tiny T. Rex and the Tricks of Treating a comforting, snuggly read- just right for young ones getting introduced to Halloween and trick-or-treating, or for those who might be feeling a little bit nervous about the holiday!
I received copies of these titles courtesy of Raincoast Books in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Titles have been published and are currently available.