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Originally published Monday, October 22, 2012 at 9:00 PM

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Halloween books that are a treat for children

Kids' Books: A round up of Halloween tales that tickle the funny bone instead of chilling the spine.

Scripps Howard News Service

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Celebrate Halloween with some of these great new kids' books:

• Mouse has seven pumpkins to decorate and he's up to the challenge with a little help from his friend Dog in "It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse!" (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, $6.99, ages 1-3). Author Laura Numeroff shares her popular character from the "If You Give a Mouse a ..." books with the youngest readers in this board book illustrated by Felicia Bond.

• Ghosts and humans get together for some Halloween fun in "Trick or Treat" (Houghton Mifflin, $12.99, ages 3-6), written and illustrated by Leo Landry. As the book opens, a little ghost named Oliver begins passing out invitations to his Halloween party to all of his friends: witches, skeletons and ghouls. One invitation goes astray, and two small humans, arrayed in their Halloween costumes, end up at the party. All's well, however, and there's even a neat twist at the end. Landry's book, with its humorous watercolor illustrations, is a gently comic — and non-scary — Halloween tale just right for little ones learning about the holiday.

• Author Susan Hood provides a poetic look at the fun and fantasy of Halloween in "Just Say Boo!" (HarperCollins, $12.99, ages 3-6). Showing a family involved in trick-or- treating activities, Hood invites readers to come along: "If the ghosts in the trees/Wibble-wobble your knees,/What do you say?/BOO!" This is a particularly good book for kids who might be scared by Halloween spookiness. Hood's gently rhyming text and Jed Henry's jaunty illustrations nicely counter the fright factor.

• Take a counting rhyme, add a Halloween theme and inject some humorous illustrations, and you've got "Ten Creepy Monsters" (Abrams, $14.95, ages 3-6). Author/artist Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis clearly had fun crafting this silly, lighthearted Halloween tale of monsters who disappear, one-by-one, until there's just one "monster" left: a boy who's asleep in his bed, his scary mask over the bedpost.

• Some fans of author/illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans' classic picture book "Madeline" may scream in horror, but most will find themselves laughing out loud at "Frankenstein" (Feiwel & Friends, $14.99, ages 4-8). Author/illustrator "Ludworst Bemonster" (really author Rick Walton and illustrator Nathan Hale) brilliantly parodies both the rhyming couplets and the vibrant illustration style of the original book. Readers unfamiliar with "Madeline" can still enjoy the inherent comedy of "Frankenstein," but those who know the original will have even more guffaws.

• Veteran children's book illustrator David Catrow knows how to use color and line to inspire giggles, as he demonstrates once again in "Monster Mash" (Scholastic, $16.99, ages 4-7). The lyrics to the 1960s hit song provide the book's text, but it's Catrow's illustrations — filled with many-eyed creatures, pink hairy skeletons and a send-up of Elvis — that steal the show. This book will have readers tapping their toes to the rhythm as they giggle at Catrow's zany artwork.

• Jasper Rabbit loves carrots, especially the ones that grow in Crackenhopper Field. Jasper had no qualms about taking carrots whenever he wanted, yanking and ripping them out of the ground to munch. In "Creepy Carrots!" (Simon & Schuster, $16.99. ages 4-7), author Aaron Reynolds and illustrator Peter Brown team up to show what happens when the carrots — tired of being eaten — fight back. It's a wacky premise, sure to elicit laughs from young readers. Brown's illustrations, meanwhile, are the perfect match, rendered mostly in black and white, and — naturally — bits of orange.

• Like mommies, mummies come in all shapes and sizes and do all kinds of jobs, as author Joan Horton details in "Working Mummies" (FSG, $12.99, ages 4-7). Artist Drazen Kozjan's comedic illustrations add to the whimsy of this book, which features mummies as librarians, waitresses, doctors and even beauticians.

• Yes, Maybelle is a cockroach, and yes, her friend Henry is a flea. But their adventures, as detailed by author Katie Speck, are both fascinating and funny. Readers already familiar with the "Maybelle" series will love the newest book, "Maybelle and the Haunted Cupcake" (Henry Holt, $16.99, ages 6-9), in which Maybelle and Henry are joined by a work-crazed picnic ant named Bernice. Meanwhile, readers who haven't yet met Maybelle and Henry are in for a treat, as the two friends try to save Bernice from Ramona the cat. Featuring illustrations by Paul Ratz de Tagyos, "Maybelle and the Haunted Cupcake" is another entertaining caper for readers just ready for easy chapter books.

• Ghost story fans will enjoy "The Whispering House" (HarperCollins, $16.99, ages 8-12). A sequel to "The Theft & the Miracle," author Rebecca Wade has made sure it stands on its own. In "The Whispering House," Hannah and her friend Sam decide to investigate the mysterious death of a girl named Maisie nearly 140 years ago in the house now inhabited by Hannah and her family. There's plenty of spooky happenings here for young readers, who also will enjoy getting to know Hannah.

Karen MacPherson, the children's/teen librarian at the Takoma Park, Md., Library, can be reached at

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