If ever one needed to make a case for nostalgia, these three books are hard to beat.
1. There’s a Nightmare in My Closet
I remember reading this book as a child, and after searching (and searching AND SEARCHING) for something to calm fearful little Pax, I came across this old favorite again. From the desperately brave stance of a boy making a stand (in his army helmet, no less, with a barricade of pillows and toy cannon)…to the sweet tears of the monster, I LOVE this book. (And if you have boys, you’ll totally appreciate that YES – he does fire the pop-gun at the monster because to a little boy, there is no such thing as surrender.) We’ve read There’s a Nightmare in My Closet approximately one million times, and no other book hits quite the right cord, or reassures better.
(Although, I Need My Monster is a pretty close second.)
2. Dorrie and the Halloween Plot
Do you know the Dorrie books? These were my absolute favorites as a little girl. They are a fully illustrated series, but each book is long, bridging the gap between picture books and chapter books beautifully. All books start with, “Dorrie is a witch. A little witch. Her hat is always on crooked and her socks never match.” And so her adventures begin. Dorrie is spirited, tough, and about as anti-princess as you can get. My boys – both Raines and Pax – are obsessed with these books. I love the strong, female characters, and the fact that Dorrie isn’t some perfect kid – she drops bags of onions, gets muddy, “borrows” her mother’s broom to try and learn how to fly, etc. Also? The adults are far from perfect, too. There’s a fair bit of yelling, “DORRIE! Stay OUT of the way! Company is coming!!” Which….you know, happens. These books were out of print for a long time, but it looks like Amazon has brought them back – most of them, anyway. Dorrie and the Halloween Plot is a good place to start, but they are all pretty fantastic. (Sadly, my very fav, Dorrie and the Witch’s Imp is still out of print, but there are a few used copies on Amazon – or try the library.)
3. Dick and Jane and Vampires
I thought this was a joke. I mean seriously: It HAS to be a joke. The whole thing reads like a real Dick and Jane book:
“Look Jane, look! Look at the red ball. Oh, Jane! That is not the red ball!”
Nope. Not a ball. It is, of course, THE VAMPIRE. That cliffhanger leads to the next chapter, appropriately titled, “Run Away”.
“Run, Dick. Run, Jane. Run, Mother. Run away!”
But here’s the thing: no one gets hurt. In the end, the vampire becomes a friend, and they find him a nice lady vampire.
“Look, Vampire, look. Look and see. Look at our new friend! Happy, happy vampire.”
OMG. This shit just kills me. So…OK. We read it to the kids. It’s so crazy, though, getting through the story. There’s so many times you think Dick or Jane or – good lord – baby Sally is about to be vampire food and then…..nope. Vampire either runs away, or starts to play, or something. It’s CREEPY, there is no doubt, but Raines and Pax LOVED it. It’s amazing how a lurking vampire presence jazzes up a story they would otherwise NEVER sit through (or attempt to read).
ps. A few more favorite Halloween picture books.