It's offically October, which means one thing... Halloween!
Halloween is one of my favourite times of the year, and that's not just because of the pumpkin picking, autumn leaves and Hocus Pocus, but of all the amazing Halloween-y children's books out there!
I've put together a bookish calendar highlighting a Halloween-ey book for every day over October, and over the month I'm going to be sharing with you some must reads for the season, along with reviews and exclusive author interviews, starting with...
We know and love Isadora Moon, Amelia Fang and the Bad Mermaids, but there's a new superhero in town, and Kitty and her cat crew have never been more ready for some enchanting adventures by the light of the moon.
Girl by day and cat by night, together Paula Harrison and illustrator Jenny Løvlie have created an utterly charming chapter-book series perfect for newly independent readers. With fun and fluorescent black and orange spreads illuminating a magical nighttime ambience and cute cats for days, Kitty and the Moonlight Rescue is a story of friendship, bravery and facing your fears.
In Kitty and the Tiger Treasure, Kitty takes to the rooftops for a new adventure to discover who has stolen the precious Golden Tiger Statue. With Kitty's super catlike powers and her feline friends by her side, can Kitty return the magical statue to the musuem before sunrise?
As equally wonderful and warm as Moonlight Rescue, in Tiger Treasure, Kitty's character really blossoms as we see her voice the importance of kindness and compassion. This, along with Løvlie's enchanting illustrations makes for another delightful tale that will entertain both young and newly independent readers.
Isadora Moon - making for fabulously fun bedtime stories since 2019!
Isadora Moon Puts on a Show by Harriet Muncaster
This is Isadora Moon at her best - sparkly hardback edition with stunning silver sprayed edges - I'd already fallen in love with the book before reading it!
This is the 10th book in the self-illustrated and much loved series, and Harriet Muncaster's continues to create fabulously fun tales about one seriously unique heroine.
In Isadora Moon Puts on a Show, Isadora finds herself competing in a talent show at a special blood moon vampire ball. But as part-vampire and part-fairy, Isadora begins to worry that her ballet routine isn't very vampire-y compared to the other vampire children's. But the show must go one... and a blossoming friendship just might make it a showstopper!
Beautiful and charming, with a suitable underlying message of believing in yourself and accepting your differences, Isadora Moon makes for a perfect choice for newly independent readers who want their magic and sparkle with a bit of bite!
I was lucky to get the chance to interview with wonderful Harriet Muncaster about all things Isadora Moon, writing spaces and dinner guests! Read the full interview here.
Strange But True: 10 of the world's greatest mysteries explained by Kathryn Hulick
Haunted houses and lost cities, sea monsters and aliens... Ten of the world's greatest mysteries await in the pages of this brilliant book which will have children utterly fascinated, if not a little spooked!
Kathryn Hulick bravely discovers the truth behind the unexplainable using the power of science and sharp, critical thinking to expose aliens and sea monsters, haunted houses and lost cities for what they really are. I've personally always been a fan of the strange and the unknown, and found the legends of the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot and other tales thrillingly fascinating, but to see these mysteries scientifically exposed pierced at my childhood imagination a little. Nevertheless, I can't help but praise Hulick for this easy-to-read and entertaining book. Accompanied with hauntingly, beautiful illustrations by Gordy Wright, Strange but True is perfect for those curiously, inquisitive middle-grade readers.
The Peculiar Peggs of Riddling Woods by Samuel J. Halpin
When Poppy is sent to stay with her grandmother after the unexpected death of her mum, the sleepy town of Suds couldn’t be more normal. But just beyond Poppy’s dusty windowsill, chilling rumours of children turning grey and disappearing creep out of the dark and dangerous woods, and a set of very peculiar rules that must not be broken suggests that not everything is as it seems. And so begins a web of mysterious events, curious characters and a chilling secret that must be unravelled.
Poppy and Erasmus are brilliant protagonists both born to stand out – Poppy is incredibly fierce and kind, and Erasmus’ intelligence and righteousness doesn’t fall short of that of Sherlock Holmes. What particularly stood out to me was Poppy’s acknowledgment of her anxiety. Children’s books addressing emotional and mental health and wellbeing are currently a significant and necessary theme right across children's publishers at the moment and to see a young protagonist learning about and dealing with her anxiety was refreshingly real, and makes for a great conversational approach for parents and their children.
The development of Poppy and Erasmus’ friendship, and also Poppy’s relationship with her Gran is full of both heart-wrenching and heart-warming moments. But there’s no shortage of spine-tingling moments either, as Halpin masterfully blends this reality with a thrillingly gothic fairytale and ghoulish figures lurking in the shadows.
Deliciously dark in tone but glistening with imagination and heart, Halpin has crafted an original and clever page-turner, full of twists and turns in all the right places. An impressive debut with fantastic illustrations by Hannah Peck. Perfect for fans of Helena Duggan’s A Place Called Perfect.
Starfell: Wilow Moss and the Lost Day by Dominique Valente
Willow Moss and the Lost Day is a stunningly spellbinding tale of magic, adventure and friendship with a remarkable heroine at its heart (not to mention the witches and wizards, trolls and the dragons!) But weaved between the magic is a beautifully raw story about finding love and acceptance in yourself and the magic and strength that comes with it.
Dominique Valente has skillfully created a enchanting new world crackling with warmth and wit, and with it a wonderfully quirky cast of characters who had me in stitches one minute and tears the next!
Accompanied with beautiful black-and-white illustrations by the extremely talented Sarah Warburton this accessible adventure with short chapters and a fast-paced narration is perfect for 8+ readers and fans of Nevermoor!
Read my full review of the dazzling debut here.
A World Full of Spooky Stories by Angela McAllister
Illustrated by Madalina Andronic
Devilishly delightful! Together the brilliant Angela McAllister, and illustrator Madalina Andronic have resurrected 50 spine-tingling, spooky stories from around the world.
Boldly descriptive and perfect in length, McAllister knows just the trick in capturing the vivid imaginations of her readers as she introduces us to the fearsome Baba Yaga, the chilling waterdwelling Bunyip and the spirit of Yara in this thoroughly entertaining anthology, perfect for children 8+.
'Bewitchingly beautiful and eerily enchanting'
Each story is accompanied with bewitchingly beautiful and eerily enchanting illustrations, along with a short introduction into the origin of the story, A World Full of Spooky Stories, is a must read this Halloween but also all year round.
Bluebird's Halloween Highlight of 2019
I've been waiting especially until Halloween to share my review of the fantastically spooky The Ghouls of Howlfair by Nick Tomlinson with you as I've made this my Halloween Highlight of 2019, and when better than Halloween to share it with you!
Undead fiends, werewolves and monsters, ghouls and ghosts… The Ghouls of Howlfair is a spooktacular children’s book like no other, and one that isn’t just for Halloween! Tomlinson’s way with words is as distinctly profound as it is refreshingly hilarious! With monstrously gripping descriptions, witty dialogue and deliciously rewarding cliff-hangers, Tomlinson has cleverly crafted a full on page-turning frenzy! Pitching the perfect amount of twists and turns, with equal laugh out loud moments, I ate up Ghouls in all its ghostly gloriousness.
Molly, a young budding Sherlock Holmes, or better yet, a Buffy Summers (!) is as feisty and brave, as she is openly vulnerable and awkward. Her obsessive thirst for history and mystery so brilliantly consumes her character that there’s literally nothing she wouldn’t do to solve a creepy legend; or, as Lowry so brilliantly puts it, ‘she’s Molly flipping Thompson – she investigates everything!’ There are so many truly great and iconic girls of literature – Matilda and Pippi Longstocking, Jo March and Lyra Belacqua to name just a few. For me, the daringly, determined Molly Thompson lives amongst these legends now, with no doubt that she’ll become a timeless character of children’s fiction.
It would be here in my review that I’d write of my desperation to know that a sequel will be quick to follow the footsteps of this eerily, gripping book, but I was lucky enough to get the chance to interview the brilliant Nick Tomlinson and I got the answer I was hoping for…
Read my interview with Nick where we talk all things scary legends, monsters and dinner guests here!