That One Spooky Night
This collection of graphic short stories written by Dan Bar-el contains three separate tales of strange and surprising events that all happen one Halloween night. In “Broom with a View,” a girl's broom for her witch costume mistakenly gets switched with a broom belonging to a real witch. Featured in “10 000 Tentacles under the Tub” are two rambunctious boys who fight sea monsters while trick-or-treating as aqua-heroes, only to discover that their biggest challenge still awaits --- in the bathtub. In “The Fang Gang,” everything gets turned around for four wannabe vampire girls when they meet up with the real thing. Naturally, all the parents are clueless about what's going on (though in one, the pet dog is in on things!). The stories are just spooky enough and tempered with a touch of silly humor. They're an easy read with minimal text; some panels are even completely wordless or contain only sound effects along with the art. The engaging comic illustrations by David Huyck are darkly toned with lots of softly focused scenes, adding to the mysterious allure. Sharp-eyed readers will notice characters from one story making an appearance in the artwork of another. This book is a perfect classroom choice around Halloween, either as a fun read-aloud or as a great reference for discussing why we celebrate this holiday and the cultural origins of legends about witches, vampires and the like. But it would also be enjoyed year-round by children who like scary plots with not-quite-human characters.