Halloween Forest
Halloween Forest
Holiday House, 2012
Illustrated by
John Shelley
Find it at your local bookseller or order online from:
Barnes & Noble
If you take your trick-or-treat sack and venture into the dark woods on Halloween night, you'll find cat bones, rat bones, and bat bones — and all are looking at YOU!

“Take care! Beware! Despair!” the bone creatures cry. “You can bet you've just met your worst nightmare!” What will you do? Cry? Sigh? NO! Because you're too tough / to worry about stuff / like the rattle / and prattle / of bones!

Told in unmetered rhymed verse, this Halloween adventure is a real treat.

Veteran Bauer sends an intrepid trick-or-treater into a deliciously creepy forest full of fantastical frights and rattling menaces.
Any child with a sense of adventure, keen eye and touch of courage will eagerly follow the unmetered rhyming text that takes this black-caped child deep into a forest of bones on Halloween. The verse propels both the character and readers forward through each taunting spread. “Bat bones, / cat bones, / rat bones and all are / looking at / YOU.” “Take care! / Beware! / Despair! / You can bet / you’ve just met / your worst nightmare!” But the observant explorer carefully sidesteps such scariness and instead shouts “ ‘BOO!’ / or ‘POOH!’ / or even ‘WAHOO!’ ” and then dramatically reveals a skeleton costume underneath the cloak. Now the skeletal creatures turn from frightening to welcoming as the child raises a bright orange sack declaring, “Trick or treat! / Smell my feet! / Give me something / good to eat!” Shelley’s superbly detailed illustrations in pen, India ink and watercolor help build suspense as the child goes from the city into the intricately twining bony landscape. A dusky palette dominated by grays and muted pastels turns brighter when the child’s spunky confidence is revealed.
Elegantly designed, this collaboration shows a great respect for children’s sensibilities regarding the fine lines between fear, fun and bravery. This title should be at the top of the book pile come autumn.
Perfect for trick–or–treaters who can take some honest–to–gosh spooking, Bauer’s simple story involves a boy who exits his safe neighborhood to seek treats in the woods. There he finds a forest made of bones—a breathtaking, intricate creation by Shelley, featuring trunks of fibulas and scapulas and branches of grasping fingers. Scurrying around are gleeful animal skeletons, too: “bat bones, / cat bones, / rat bones, /and all are / looking at / you.” Bauer’s rhymes are bumpy, sometimes purposefully so, but this is just the sort of thing that sears itself into young brains. Is that good or bad? Depends entirely on the kid.

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