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PUBLISHED: 5:02 PM on Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Picture books showcase Halloween without putting fright into little ones
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Parents searching for picture books that showcase elements of the Halloween scene but don't cross the line into super scary territory can treat children to a read-aloud session of "Beware, Take Care" by Lillian Moore (Henry Holt, $16.95; ages 5 to 9).

Creepy looking creatures, ghosts and dragons play major parts in the collection of rhymes, but they're more friendly than ferocious.

The five-line poem "Said the Monster" epitomizes the tone of the book.

"Said the Monster, 'You all think that I love to lunch on the folks who go by. If only you knew I'd much rather chew on a peppery cheese pizza pie!'"

Besides the monster with the common craving, readers meet a ghost who doesn't so much haunt people in an apartment building as he does annoy them.

"He gets into the elevator, closes the gate, presses all the buttons from one to eight...while all the people wait."

If the readers at your house want something a little more spine-tingling or a little more mysterious than "Beware, Take Care," consider these two books.

For the realist: Halloween decorations and festivities have a high "ick" factor (protruding eyeballs, warts on witches, decomposed skeletons).

For those who can't get enough of the yucky stuff, try "Oh, Yikes! History's Grossest, Wackiest Moments" by Joy Masoff (Workman, $14.95; ages 9 and older).

Discover the stomach-turning answers to questions such as why did ancient sailors like to eat in the dark?

Did-you-know tidbits from the well-researched, 300-plus page book cover everything from how Attila and the Huns cooked their meat to how Vikings are involved with the origin of the word berserk.

"Regional Fare: The Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural" by Patricia McKissack (Schwartz & Wade; $18.95; ages 11 and older).

In an author's note, McKissack sets the mood and explains the context of this compiliation: "When I was growing up in the South, we kids called the half hour just before nightfall the dark-thirty. We had exactly a half hour to get home before the monsters came out... on cold winter nights when the dark-thirty came early, our family sat in the living room and talked ...'Tales of the Supernatural' is a collection of original stories rooted in African-American history and the oral storytelling tradition."

All the artwork created by Brian Pinkney is done on scratchboard, a method in which black ink saturates a white board.

The artist uses sharp objects to scrape the ink, designing images revealed on the white board.

The stark contrast in the illustrations complements the spooky tone of "Tales."


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