What's weirder than Halloween and all the sights, sounds and smells that go with it? These new children's books (and one DVD set) follow the quirky strangeness that is the Halloween season, but are fun enough for all-year enjoyment.
"Day of the Dead Activity Book" by Karl Jones; illustrated by Steve Simpson; from Price Stern Sloan; 34 pages; $9.99.
Day of the Dead, Nov. 1, or Dia de Los Muertos as it's known in Latin America, is a popular holiday celebrated to honor the dead. A colorful, fun way to remember those who've come before, Day of the Dead is popular with children in many parts of the world.
This zesty paperback activity book clearly describes the holiday and its alters, and includes a maze, word find and crossword puzzles, plus easy recipes for sugar skulls and graveyard cake. Instructions on how to concoct paper planes, a papel picado (a flag hanging) and paper marigolds are also inside, plus a press-out ofrenda (shrine), paper dolls and wearable masks.
Sturdy, colorful and whimsical, this activity book is cool!
Also Day of the Dead themed, Cinco Puntos Press' "Mi Familia Calaca: My Skeleton Family" (by Cynthia Weill and Jesus Canseco Zarate; 32 pages/$14.95), is a funny, lively introduction to a little girl's skeleton family, with simple text in both English and Spanish. Zarate's Oaxacan folk art is vibrant, and Weill's lively text is brief but heartwarming.
"Play-Doh Halloween Craft Fun" from Silver Dolphin Publishing; 32 pages; $14.95.
With a fun spiral-bound activity book, four 1-ounce cans of Halloween-colored Play-Doh, a plastic knife and a plastic roller, this craft kit easily shows kids how to roll spider webs, scarecrows and ghosts.
Each page spread only has three steps in rolling out, cutting and shaping the Play-Doh, making the set perfect for very young children ages three and up. 15 cool projects are in here, plenty for repeated seasonal fun.
"The Super Smelly Alien" and "My Monster Smells Gross!" by Nicky Lander; Price Stern Sloan/Penguin Publishing; 28 pages and $10.99 each.
With padded covers and secret scratch-and-sniff patches throughout each book, this pair of otherworldly picture books is great fun for goofy kids.
In "The Super Smelly Alien," alien Alvin and his flea friends set off for fun and come across some rank new friends, from cow pie-covered one-eyed woggles to perfumed pufflings. They also chow down sweet treats and galactic pop, and eventually make it back to Planet Stink. Throughout the neon-colored, busy pages, kids can scratch and sniff a bevy of wacky aromas.
"My Monster Smells Gross!" is the chronicle of one child's pet monster, who "likes revolting stuff, like furry moths and slugs. He also loves to suck the goo from different sorts of bugs!"
Innocuous and friendly, this purple creature is gentle and cute, but smells in all sorts of ways, as readers will discover as they scratch and sniff.
"Smelly Ghost" by Isabel Atherton; illustrated by Bethany Straker; Sky Pony Press; 32 pages; $14.95.
About a smelly ghost, but this time without the scratch-and-sniff faction, Atherton's whimsical tale blames bad eating habits on Smelly Ghost's odors. The reason the cute but noxious ghosts smells is due to all the bone chips, chocolate toes and eyeball pizza he eats, which makes his tummy growl and yell.
When a mummy cleaner suggests healthier eating to Smelly Ghost, he eagerly begins to munch on ghoul carrots and slime bananas, feels more energetic, smells much better and gets his friends back.
Purple and green colors and an action-packed cartoon look, plus funny text, make "Smelly Ghost" an encouraging tale for promoting healthier eating choices.
"The Halloween Stories" from Scholastic Storybook Treasures; $24.95.
These not-so-scary stories on three DVD discs come from the award-winning Scholastic Storybook Treasures, which brings revered children's books alive with animation. The tales in this set include "The Day of the Dead ... and More Halloween Tales," (which includes stories such as "Kitten's Full Moon" and "Fletcher and the Falling Leaves"), "Dem Bones ... and More Sing-Along Stories," (with "Dinosaur Bones," "Hush Little Baby" and more), and "Teeny-Tiny and The Witch-Woman ... And More Spooky Stories," ("The Boy With Two Shadows" and "What's Under My Bed?" to name a few).
With a read-along function, author interviews and two hours and 13 minutes and 14 stories long, this new Scholastic DVD set is creative and exciting.
To find out more about Lee Littlewood and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.