Saturday, October 10, 2009

Two funny Halloween stories for young readers

We've been enjoying two fun Halloween stories for new readers, one in the Mercy Watson series and the other in the Horrid Henry series.  These are both stories that will get your kids laughing, which I think is a great motivator when kids are moving from reading a few sentences at a time, to reading short chapters.
Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise
by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
MA: Candlewick Press, 2007. 70 pages.
ages 4 - 7
Mercy Watson is a pig with a mind of her own; she is, as Mr. and Mrs. Watson often say, a porcine wonder.  Mercy loves hot buttered toast, and will do practically anything to get this yummy treat.  As Halloween approaches, Mrs. Watson decides that Mercy needs a costume, and a princess costume will be the perfect thing. Mercy is not so sure, but when she hears that treats are involved, she squeezes into her fluffy, pink princess costume.  When she goes over to the Lincoln sisters' house, Mercy ends up spilling the candy everywhere and chasing their cat out the door.  A mad-cap chase ensues, ending with the cat up a tree and the fire department coming.

This Mercy Watson book had my five-year old in giggles.  It's the perfect book for hamming up (OK, bad pun) as you read it aloud. The illustrations are bright, colorful and silly - full of action and expression.  There are about six sentence on each page - it's a good series as a read aloud for preschoolers listening to longer books, or as a book for first and second graders to read by themselves.  The audiobook is available as a CD from Books on Tape or for download from
Horrid Henry and the Scary Sitter
by Francesca Simon
illustrated by Tony Ross
IL: Sourcebooks, 2009. 83 pages
ages 6 - 9
Horrid Henry is up to his tricks again, trying to boss his little brother around, terrify babysitters and plan sneak attacks on neighborhood girls.  My daughters and I had great fun reading this book aloud.  In the first chapter, Horrid Henry is excited to go out on Halloween.  "Every year, Horrid Henry could not believe it: an entire day devoted to stuffing your face with candy and playing horrid tricks."  He has the perfect scary costume, but then he realizes he's expected to take his little brother, Perfect Peter, with him and this year Perfect Peter has a cute polka-dot bunny costume.  It's more than Horrid Henry can bear.  We laughed so much as we watched Henry trick Peter into a scary haircut, then get punished.

Horrid Henry is a great series for kids who want action, laughs and quick stories.  Each book has four short chapters, and is written at about a 2nd or 3rd grade level.  Kids will like how they see some of themselves in the stories, but can laugh at how Horrid Henry takes everything one step too far.  Adults will laugh and cringe at the stories, for Henry is truly a horrid little child.  But he has a little of all of us in him.

Would you like a free copy of this Horrid Henry book?  Check out these two giveaways:
Lori Calbrase Writes, contest ends Sunday, October 11th
SMS Book Reviews, contest ends Thursday, October 15th

The review copy of Mercy Watson came from my local library.  The review copy of Horrid Henry came from the publisher.  You can find these at your local bookstores - they have great Halloween books in now.  You can also find Mercy Watson and Horrid Henry at your local public libararies.

Both of these books are available online at Amazon.  If you make a purchase by clicking through to Amazon, Great Kid Books receives a small percentage, which will be used to buy more books to review.  One book I'm buying with my Amazon credits is Ghosts, a new Magic Treehouse research book - looks like fun!

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