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*Haunted Party* by Iza Trapani

Also by Iza Trapani:

Rufus and Friends: School Days

Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush
Haunted Party
by Iza Trapani
Ages 3-5 28 pages Charlesbridge July 2009 Hardcover    

Ghost is throwing a party at his house on Halloween night. He doesn’t have to decorate too much because his house already looks haunted, but he enhances the Halloween ambience by providing Halloween-themed snacks, games, and music - bobbing for apples for the werewolves and vampires, pumpkin-carving for the ghouls ,and pin-the-tail-on-the-rat for the mummies.

Ghost keeps busy during the party by sweeping up loose werewolf fur, serving coffee for the late arrival, and monitoring the pumpkin-smashing that starts when the monsters arrive. Ghost’s house is getting messy and crowded, but he doesn’t stop the party. It only comes to a halt when ten trick-or-treaters knock on the door!

Children can interact with this holiday book by counting the various Halloween guests that arrive at Ghost’s house. The numbers one to ten appear twice in bold text. Little readers can count from one to ten during the first half of the book as the guests arrive, then from ten to one in the second half as the guests quickly leave. Children can also get involved with the story by repeating the line “at the haunted house of the ghost” that appears at the end of every page during the first half of the book.

In Ghost’s haunted house, the curtains are ragged, the windows have holes, the shutters are hanging, and some of the floorboards are curling up. Spiders live in the corners, something with white eyeballs lives under the floor, and a gray rat and a black cat wander wherever they like.

As for Ghost, he has no feet - he floats. A thoughtful spook, he wears a black bowtie to his party and lines his dark entranceway with two lit jack-o’-lanterns the night of the party. Children will see an unexpected side of Ghost at the end of the story though - and, depending on who is reading the story, they may jump in surprise!

The illustrations Haunted Party are rendered in watercolor, colored pencil and ink. Darker colors are used throughout but light from the full moon brightens up the page so readers can easily see the text and focus on the characters in the story. In addition, the Halloween colors red, orange and yellow brighten up the pages, coloring small details such as a blindfold, witches’ socks, balloons and noisemakers.

The characters in this story are not too frightening in appearance. The goblins walk around with too-small t-shirts and untied shoelaces. The skeletons have huge smiles (and all their teeth), and the werewolves are more tricksters than scary beasts. One of the werewolves can be seen sneaking a clove of garlic into a vampire’s pocket.

Born in Poland, Iza Trapani has written and illustrated over fifteen books for children, including Baa Baa Black Sheep, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Shoo Fly!, and Mary Had a Little Lamb. Her new book, Haunted Party, makes an excellent addition to a Halloween story time.

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  Tanya Boudreau/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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