Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Los Gatos Black on Halloween - creepy, delicious fun! (ages 6-9)

My kids have been talking about Halloween costumes non-stop for the past few weeks, so it's about now that I start bringing in a range of Halloween books to help them get excited. OK, they don't really need any help getting excited about Halloween, but it's great to build on that excitement and lure them into reading some great books! Los Gatos Black on Halloween is a wonderful picture book for a slightly older crowd, kids all the way through 4th or 5th grade enjoy the humor, details and creepy illustrations in this blend of Mexican and American traditions.

Los Gatos Black on Halloween
by Marisa Montes
illustrated by Yuyi Morales
NY: Henry Holt, 2006
ages 6 - 9
available on Amazon and at your local library
Creepy creatures from both Halloween and Dia de los Muertos traditions gather together in this bilingual poem blending Mexican and North American cultures. Both Montes and Morales live in Northern California, drawing on their deep cultural roots in Puerto Rico and Mexico.

Under the full moon, los gatos slink, creep, yowl and hiss. Las brujas fly high on their brooms. Los esqueletos rattle their bones, with creaks and groans. Ghosts and ghouls, witches, vampires and mummies dance until the scariest monsters come to the door: children trick-or-treating! Marisa Montes combines English and Spanish seamlessly, defining Spanish words in context, with smooth flowing, atmospheric rhymes.

Morales’s dark, creepy pictures provide the ideal compliment, richly layering cultural references to Mexican traditions and modern life – look for the witches doing skateboard trips on their broomsticks! You can find more of the illustrations on Yuyi Morales's website for the book: Los Gatos Black on Halloween. I'm especially excited to share the coloring pages with students who come to the library to color and relax.

This is a perfect treat for kids ready for something creepier than the typical Halloween picture book. Winner of the 2008 Pura Belpré Author Honor Book and the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award. I'd also highly recommend Yuyi Morales's picture books for younger readers with Halloween themes: Just In Case: a Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book; and Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book.

The review copies came from the wonderful Berkeley Public Library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this page, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

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