Halloween's almost here and so are some fantasy, and somewhat scary,
> fiction books along with some terrific picture books for younger readers.
> "The Anybodies," by N.E. Bode, is a fantasy book filled with adventure,
> mystery, humor and, of course, fantasy.  The author interjects her
> thoughts about writing and the storyline throughout the book, which gives
> the reader some insight to the story and also makes for some witty
> writing.  N.E. Bode is a pseudonym, which adds to the humor of the title
> and preludes the fun and wit along the way.  Fern has just found out that
> she was switched at birth with another baby and has been living a very
> boring life with the Drudgers.  When her real father, "the Bone", brings
> the Drudgers the son he had been raising, Fern knew instantly that this
> truly was her father.  "The Bone" was anything but boring.  He had the
> ability to change into anybody or anything.  However, as of late, this was
> becoming more and more difficult.  He was hoping that perhaps Fern might
> have some magical powers passed on to her through her mother, who died at
> childbirth.  If so, then he could use Fern's help in trying to find his
> wife's book, "The Art of Being Anybody", before his archrival, the Miser,
> finds it and uses it to do evil destruction.
> The book takes you on a ride that you're not quite sure where it's going
> to end up.  But when you meet Fern's grandmother, there is an immediate
> bond with the reader, Fern and her grandmother.  This part of the story is
> reminiscent of Inkheart because of grandmother's great love of books.
> Fern and her father find that grandmother's house is completely
> overflowing with books.  There are books stacked up in the closets,
> cupboards, even in the utensil drawers.  It's obvious that grandmother
> values and loves books and tests Fern to see if she is a "true reader".
> Let's see if you know some of these questions posed to Fern - Grandmother
> offered Fern some Turkish Delights.  Would you take them?  Which story are
> these candies from?  Grandmother offers a dish with different types of
> bubble gum making each piece a full course,  which story does this idea
> come from?   When Fern passes with flying colors, grandmother is quite
> pleased and happy that Fern is staying at her boarding house.  But Fern
> and her father are on a quest to find that special book and are have great
> difficulties because the house is so full of them.  Plus, they have just
> discovered that the Miser is staying there as well - and searching for the
> same book.  Fern discovers that she has magical abilities that just might
> help her find that book.  But she will also meet some very unique and
> enchanted characters as her magic becomes more apparent.
> The illustrations, by Peter Ferguson, are outstanding and full, and only
> add to the rich characters described in the book.  This would be a
> wonderful read aloud for families, teachers and kids ages 8 to 13.  Also,
> there's a sequel coming next year.  Oh, and the answers to the Turkish
> Delights book is The Witch, The Lion and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.  And
> the book the bubble gum question refers to is Charlie and the Chocolate
> Factory by Roald Dahl.

> If you have never read James Howe's series of books starting with
> Bunnicula, you are truly missing some outstandingly funny, yet
> suspenseful, books.  These books are built on the premise of solving
> crimes with animals as the main characters.  Bunnicula is Howe's first
> book and was first written back in 1979, but has been reissued several
> times since due to the huge popularity of the book.  Written from the
> perspective of the family dog, Harold, there is some speculation on his
> part about the new bunny the family just adopted.  He thinks it's a
> vampire rabbit.  The whole premise is hilarious, making Bunnicula a
> classic and a terrific read aloud for all ages.  There are also great
> illustrations, by Alan Daniel, sprinkled throughout the entire series.
> The other adventures of this same family and their hilarious pets are:
> Bunnicula Strikes Again, Howliday Inn, The Celery Stalks at Midnight,
> Nighty Nightmare and Return to Howliday Inn.  The last book listed has
> recently been reissued and should be easy to find at bookstores.

> Another outstanding series that has just been reissued are two books by
> award winning author, Susan Cooper.  The Boggart is a wonderful blend of
> storytelling and humor.  Ms. Cooper has a gift for writing beautifully,
> with strokes of genius throughout the book.  She's able to bring in old
> Scottish folklore into a modern setting, making the storyline believable,
> yet comical.  When Emily and her family discover that they've just
> inherited a Scottish castle, they are anxious to visit this new dwelling.
> However, the boggart, a mischievous and invisible sprite, ends up going
> back to America with Emily and her family.  This is the setting for an
> outstanding read aloud for all family members!  Her next addition to this
> series, The Boggart and the Monster, takes the reader back to Scotland
> where this impish boggart meets up with the Loch Ness Monster and tries to
> help save him, along with Emily and her brother, who are visiting the
> castle for a short time.  Again, Cooper brings the reader completely into
> a land of cliffs and castles where the adventures of these characters are
> sure to engage the reader from start to finish!

> Wizard at Work, by Vivian Vande Velde, is a new book recently published by
> Harcourt that had a wizard helping many different characters throughout
> the book.  The chapters include:  rescuing a princess, corralling unicorns
> that have become unruly, helping out a lonesome ghost and helping to
> promote an unmarried princess.  The adventures of this funny young wizard
> will bring a smile to your 7 to 12 year old!

> Now for some outstanding Halloween picture books:  
> Skeleton Bones & Goblin Groans:  Poems For Halloween, by Amy E. Sklansky,
> is full of delightful poems just right for this spooky night!  The
> illustrations, by Karen Dismukes, flow perfectly with the words.  Ms.
> Dismukes has surrounded the poems with her clever beads and fabric making
> this poetry book great for all ages.
> Creature Carnival, by Marilyn Singer, is another poetry book filled with
> the most unusual animals you'd never see at a carnival.  Gris Grimly has
> the ability to illustrate with the macabre, making this quest a quencher
> for imagination!  
> One Dark and Dreadful Night, by Randy Cecil, will surely tickle your funny
> bone.  The head of the theater company wants to dare to scare you with his
> three tales of fright.  But the Wayward Orphans actors have different
> ideas.  
> Spooky Hour, by Tony Mitton, is a wonderful rhyming text counting down
> from Midnight.  But, its Guy Parker-Rees's bright and neon colors that
> will strike you first!  
> My Creature Teacher, by Laura Leuck, will have you laughing as the
> students are monsters and the school is filled with monster antics.  The
> illustrations, by Scott Nash, make the school seem almost not surreal.  
> And last, but not least, Boris and Bella, by Carolyn Crimi, and
> illustrated by Gris Grimly, have a monstrous couple that are at  opposite
> ends of personality, yet will they, could they, might they come together
> and on Halloween eve?  
> All picture books would be fun for ages 5 through adult!  So happy
> Halloween Reading!