Halloween Forest

By Marion Dane Bauer

Illustrated by John Shelley

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The central figure in this ghostly tale ventures out with a sack and notices every unnatural sight and sound along the way. With the text written in second person, the child could be anyone. Past neighborhoods and the zoo, the child ventures into unfamiliar territory and imagines the trees to be made from bones. The child is tempted to be frightened, but discovers a toughness within that guards against the specters. The inevitable conclusion comes when the child shouts “Trick or treat! Smell my feet!” from a house also ringed with bones, candy and other goodies pour into the sack.

This book is solidly at second grade reading level and would easily hold a child’s attention, but it would also be fun to read aloud in a classroom. The rhymes are not always noticeable and therefore track well. With words such as wiggle, squiggle, boo, pooh, and wahoo, the rhythm is very kid-friendly. This is a welcome addition to the Halloween library.

Elaborate illustrations complete the eerie feel of the book. In full skeleton costume, the child also looks like it could be a boy or a girl. The houses, shops and zoo look like any town. Winding tree branches with the occasional black cat, bat, or spider make this just spooky enough for a second grader. The tree bones are amazingly realistic. There’s even some fog and a faint moon to add to the mood.

  • Halloween ForestTitle: Halloween Forest
  • Author: Marion Dane Bauer
  • Illustrated by: John Shelley
  • Publisher: Holiday House, 2012
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-8234-2324-8
  • Genre: Halloween, rhyme.

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