You know…we’re not biased. We love scary books for any and all holidays. If there’s a spooky Easter story out there, you can bet you’ll be hearing about it next spring. If horror reigns anywhere for Mother’s Day, we’ll find it. If Valentines Day gets scary, or Thanksgiving yields a tale of turkey terror, we will have front row seats. Count on it.
Where were we going with this?
Oh yeah – it’s Hanukkah right now, which makes it the perfect time to break out this charming picture book!
Hershel, a traveller, walks into a village on the first night of Hanukkah expecting to find a celebration, but the village is dark and quiet. Goblins haunt the old synagogue and stop all attempts to celebrate the holiday, making the villagers’ lives miserable in the process. Hershel decides he must help. Even when he’s told that to stop the goblins he must stay in the old haunted synagogue for eight nights, he’s undaunted. He must manage to light the Hanukkah candles each night despite the goblins, and on the eighth night the king of the goblins must light them himself. Nobody expects him to make it back out, but off he goes anyway. Using his quick wits and cleverness, he manages to outsmart the goblins in a variety of creative ways and get the candles lit each of the first seven nights. But how will he survive when the powerful goblin king appears on the eighth night, and how could he possibly manage to get the Hanukkah-hating creature to light the candles himself? Grab a copy and find out how Hershel saves the holiday.
We love a tale where the hero uses his brain to defeat the bad guys (not that there’s anything wrong with plain old butt-kicking), and this book is a great example. Fun and even a little educational with a supernatural threat to overcome, this Caldecott Honor book is worth a read. The illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman (A several-time Caldecott winner herself) are atmospheric and generally superb. We love it.
Santa Claws tells the story of Mack and Zack, two monster brothers who are getting ready for Christmas. This clever rhyming tale takes you on a hilarious voyage, revealing the toys Mack and Zack are looking forward to (including potion kits and vampire bats), describing Santa Claws in all his gruesome glory, and walking you through the grisly monster versions of all your favourite Christmas traditions. From decorating to caroling to baking, these monsters do it all as they prepare for Santa Claws’ visit. The story is fantastic and creative, and combined with Gris Grimly’s dark yet somehow adorable illustrations, it’s a real winner.
If anything could push this even higher in our good books, it’s the little details in the book design. The inner covers are made up like old catalogue pages, featuring products like ‘Green Goo Fangpaste’ and companies such as “Marge’s Vampire Bats’. The back of our hardcover copy sports a full-page ad for ‘Vampbell’s Garbage Soup’. The gruesome cuteness adds a whole new layer of awesome to an already great read.
To put it ever so professionally, Santa Claws rocks our socks. Buy this book. Buy it now. It’s rare to find great horror-themed Christmas stuff for kids, and this stunning book is definitely an essential volume for your personal library. Little monster lovers will be clamoring to hear this every December for years to come!
When one thinks of Clive Barker, a million different things may come to mind. He defined fantasy with Imajica and The Great and Secret Show. He seduced us with Galilee, and horrified us with his Books of Blood and The Hellbound Heart. His movies have shown us scores of things we never would have otherwise seen. If you’re a fan, you’re no doubt already aware of The Thief of Always, a truly classic work of fantasy and horror for children.
Harvey Swick is bored. Fearing that the ‘cruel, slumbering beast February’ will swallow him whole, Harvey must look into himself to find out what it really is that he wants. All of his questions are answered with the arrival of a stranger named Rictus, who offers to take him away from all the boredom. Their destination is The Holiday House, where Harvey soon finds that every day spans all seasons and whatever he wishes for will come true. With Spring every morning, Summer every afternoon, Autumn and Halloween every evening, and Winter and Christmas every night, what more could any child want? Upon entering The Holiday House, Harvey finds two friends – Lulu and Wendell – to spend his days with in happiness. That is, until he finds that things aren’t entirely what they seem…and there may be no escape from The Holiday House.
A fantastic story, this young adult novel is essential reading for a burgeoning horror fan and anyone with a thirst for something truly unique. Come on back Wednesdays this month for more holiday horror for kids!