Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Read Scary: Read, Read, Read said the Baby: Seven Orange Pumpkins by Stephen Savage

I realized after I looked at this that I had never read the original picture book. I usually try to get the original book to compare how it works as a picture book and as a board book, but Stephen Savage's illustration style seems so clearly suited to a board book setting that I didn't bother this time around.

The story begins with seven pumpkins on a spooky night. One by one they disappear, turning into various Halloween icons or being carried off. An owl swoops off with a large black outline clutched in his claws, pirate skeletons carry off their pumpkin loot in a bag, a witch tosses one into a pot. The last gets turned into a glowing jack-o-lantern to wish readers a happy Halloween.

Savage's clear, modern design makes this a fun I spy exercise as readers look for the glowing eyes and large black shape of the pumpkins camouflaged amongst the silhouettes. Bright bursts of color, purple, orange, green, fill the backgrounds making the bold black illustrations stand out. The book is a sturdy, 7x7 square.

But is it too scary? Scary is....awfully subjective. In the space of less than an hour I had a parent ask for scary stories for their five year old, who had watched Poltergeist, and another parent reject the exact same stories for their nine year old as "too scary." Which one was right? Well, both. Every kid has a different threshold for scary and the caregiver is generally the best person to know what's right for their child. So, if your toddler will be scared by some classic Halloween iconography, or Halloween isn't a big deal for your family, this isn't the book for you. If you go all out for Halloween and your toddler loves dancing skeletons, swooping owls, and a glowing jack-o-lantern popping out at the end, this is perfect for you.

Verdict: A great addition to your Halloween collection, but I'd break my rule for once and not put this in with the general board books as parents will want to know they're getting a very definite Halloween counting book.

ISBN: 9780803741386; Board book edition published 2015 by Dial/Penguin; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

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