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KIDS' BOOKS

Age group: ages 6–10

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The Ghouls’ Night Out

Annalise the witch, Ernie the ghost, and Milton the skeleton live happily together in a haunted house where they keep up appearances by smearing dirt on the windows, peeling the paint from the boards, and making sure the hinges squeak. They love Halloween. Each year, they have only to stand in their yard and say hello to strange-looking short creatures who then yell, drop sacks of candy, and rush away. One year, Annalise, Ernie, and Milton decide to get involved with Halloween, but their costumes make them look just like ordinary uncostumed kids. The response of candy-giving householders is disappointing, but luckily, when they take their costumes off, those kind-hearted strange-looking creatures once again drop their candy, yell, and run away.

In a market flooded with formulaic series books, there’s always a need for well-written thoughtful chapter books that help kids make the transition from picture book to novel. The Ghouls’ Night Out fills this niche admirably. The story is told in seven short chapters, with plentiful black-and-white illustrations. Janice MacDonald’s writing is straightforward and her gentle, tongue-in-cheek humour carries the story effortlessly. Newly independent readers will be pleased to realize that they understand more about what’s happening than the main characters do. Halloween is the main theme of the story, but there’s nothing even faintly Goosebumpy here. This is a wonderful book to encourage developing readers to explore on their own. It’s easy for a slight book from a small publisher to get lost in the shuffle. I hope The Ghouls’ Night Out gets the attention it deserves.
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