Book review: Tricks, treats and warm adventures for Halloween

Halloween doesn’t have to be scary with a sparkling selection of new children’s books to light up the autumn nights.
Tricks, treats and warm adventures for HalloweenTricks, treats and warm adventures for Halloween
Tricks, treats and warm adventures for Halloween

Dynamic independent publisher Little Tiger Press, which has four imprints under one roof including Caterpillar Books and Stripes, has some super, spooky surprises for young readers, an alien outing for the ever-popular Dirty Bertie and a seasonal look at the fascinating beauty of trees.

Meanwhile, CBeebies’ presenter Cerrie Burnell takes off with a captivating new adventure series about a magical umbrella, and an old and favourite teddy bear rolls out some cosy and comforting bedtime stories.

Age 3-5:

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Ten Spooky Skeletons by Patricia Hegarty, Annette Rusling and Garry Parsons

Ready, steady, glow! Young eyes will light up as ten spooky skeletons produce an exciting bedtime surprise.

Join the crazy skeletons as they go on a madcap, learn-to-count adventure and search for their friends in a peek-through, rhyming picture book which begins and ends with glow-in-the-dark pages.

There are holes on each page as the ‘skelly’ pals skate, skip, eat, dance and sing their way through a fun-packed countdown to a magical finale. The ‘glowing’ book cover and fantastic finale guarantee that children will be reading this story long after the lights are out and the witching hour has passed.

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Patricia Hegarty and Annette Rusling provide the wickedly good words and multi-talented illustrator Garry Parsons brings all the action to glorious, gruesome life.

Hauntingly, hilariously good!

(Caterpillar Books, hardback, £10.99)

Age 3-5:

Tree: Seasons Come, Seasons Go by Patricia Hegarty and Britta Teckentrup

The timeless beauty of the changing seasons comes alive in an enchanting book bursting with colour and rhyme.

Little ones can peep through holes to explore the fascinating life-cycle of a tree in spring, summer, autumn and winter as the leaves grow, change their hues and fall in a carpet of red, gold and green.

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The amazing and inventive artwork for Patricia Hegarty’s lyrical and inspirational journey through the year comes from the pen of award-winning illustrator Britta Teckentrup.

The holes in the tree on each page allow youngsters to watch the busy world of nature at work through rain and shine, wind and snow. Each season of the year springs to life and the clever holes on every page create a stunning layered effect.

Children will enjoy learning to recognise the signs of the changing seasons and what it means to both wildlife and nature with this simple yet striking picture book.

And to add to the journey of discovery, there is the fun of looking out for the little owl who wisely sits out the year in his cosy tree hollow!

The magic of turning over a new leaf…

(Little Tiger, hardback, £10.99)

Age 3 plus:

Old Bear’s Bedtime Stories by Jane Hissey

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Toy stories don’t come with more ‘aah’ factor than Jane Hissey’s Old Bear’s Bedtime Stories.

Beautifully produced by Scribblers, a small publisher whose mission is to create books designed to develop key learning skills in babies, toddlers and young children, Hissey’s gorgeous book has a traditional feel which will appeal to everyone from three to 93.

Popular author and illustrator Hissey features the beloved characters from the Old Bear series and a host of other soft toy friends who have been winning the hearts of children all over the world for 30 years.

These include the toys and everyday objects that belong to either Hissey or her family. Old Bear himself was given to Hissey by her grandmother when she was born and he has travelled the world with her, visiting schools, libraries and literary events, becoming increasingly worn and threadbare but still recognisable to millions of adoring readers.

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The charming and gentle adventures, including a winter picnic and surprise party, putting on a play and losing a snowman, are the perfect bedtime wind-down for tired youngsters.

From its first page with a nameplate to make the book your own to the irresistible illustrations and warm, reassuring stories, this treasury is the perfect gift for a loved one and to hand down through the generations.

No home should be without the Old Bear and his friends!

(Scribblers, hardback, £16.99)

Age 0-3:

Boo! A Book of Spooky Surprises by Jonathan Litton and Fhiona Galloway

Eye, eye, here’s a ‘hole’ new way of celebrating Halloween!

The animals, pumpkins and humans have their sights set on Halloween in a gorgeous, peep-through, rhyming adventure just made for the youngest members of the family.

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All eyes are on the cunning trickster in this clever, colourful and sturdy board book which will have little ones squealing with joy as they turn the pages to find the spooky surprise at the end.

The latest book in the exciting My Little World series features Pumpkin and his friends who are enjoying a spooky game of peekaboo but have to find out who is playing Halloween tricks.

With Fhiona Galloway’s stunning artwork, Jonathan Litton’s fun rhymes, a cast of colourful characters and ingenious finger holes for little hands to make their own discoveries, Boo! is definitely more treat than trick this Halloween.

(Little Tiger, board book, £5.99)

Age 5 plus:

Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella by Cerrie Burnell and Laura Ella Anderson

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Prepare to be blown away by the adorable adventures of a little girl with a magical, flyaway umbrella!

Harper, the musically gifted child who hears songs on the wind and rhythms on the rain, is the sparkling star of a beautiful, heartwarming series from CBeebies’ presenter and now successful author Cerrie Burnell.

The stories are based on Burnell’s script for her fantastic stage show, Harper and the Midnight Orchestra, which was performed last year and accompanied by the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

Harper lives in the City of Clouds with her Great Aunt Sassy and her beloved cat Midnight. When Midnight goes missing – together with all the precious cats of the neighbourhood – Harper realises that only her magical scarlet umbrella can help her find him on her rescue mission. Because when Harper steps out with the umbrella in her hand, she is carried up into the sky on a series of amazing adventures. And Midnight isn’t all she finds when she stumbles upon the Midnight Orchestra and its wild conductor... will they manage to bring all the cats home?

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Burnell’s lyrical and lovely story is perfectly matched by the dynamic illustrations of Laura Ellen Anderson making this an adventure of soaring imagination and winsome warmth.

A brolly good start to a brilliant new series…

(Scholastic, hardback, £8.99)

Age 6-8:

Dirty Bertie: Aliens! by Alan MacDonald and David Roberts

And now for a bit of ‘boy’s own’ fun… meet Dirty Bertie (if you haven’t already made his hair-raising, foul-smelling acquaintance!)

Dirty Bertie, the cringe-making creation of writer Alan MacDonald and illustrator David Roberts, is the boy with nose-pickingly disgusting habits who just can’t help getting involved in comic chaos.

An expert in all things yukky, there’s nothing Bertie likes more than to be surrounded by worms, fleas, bogeys, burps and suspicious smells... and with ever-increasing madcap schemes and crazy capers, Bertie is a disgusting delight for his legions of (mainly male) fans who revel in his revolting ways.

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In his latest horrid adventures, we join bad, bold Bertie as he encounters aliens in the school playground, takes to the skies at a balloon festival and becomes a modern day Robin Hood.

With each action-packed, fun-filled story approximately 30 pages long and split into chapters with hilarious illustrations on nearly every spread, Dirty Bertie is ideal for confident young readers to enjoy by themselves, or to share with (secretly amused) mums and dads.

Bertie, a boy with big ideas but a poor record for carrying them out, is the perfect anti-hero for any youngster who attracts trouble like a magnet and isn’t afraid to make the most of it!

Naughty but very, very nice…

(Stripes, paperback, £4.99)