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In the stacks: the Halloween edition

Posted: October 5, 2011 - 11:04pm

The Ghost of Nicholas Greebe, by Tony Johnston, illustrated by S.D. Schindler.

This is an oldie but goodie – it’s a cold winter night when Nicholas Greebe dies at precisely midnight. He’s buried with an angel to watch over him on his gravestone, but the angel is little protection when a year later, a little dog digs up one of his bones. Now Nicholas Greebe is unable to relax and begins to haunt his former home in search of the missing bone. But the bone has gone on a trip – accidentally left on a ship, it’s lost, found, carved, drowned, netted, traded, sold… until, 100 years to the day, it returns to Nicholas Greebe’s home in a curious way and is found and reburied by a little dog.

Skeleton Woman, by Alberto Villoldo, illustrated by Yoshi.

Set in the Aleutians, this is a legend told by the Inuit of a tsunami that swept a village apart, but killed only one young woman, Annuk. Her friends and family mourned her, set her sled dogs free, and then rebuilt the village far away in a safer spot. Years later, a fisherman tangles his line in Annuk’s skeleton and is terrified when it follows him all the way home and into his house. Realizing that the lonely life it has led under the sea was probably much like his own, he feels sorry for it and begins untangling it from his line, and because of his compassion, Annuk is brought back to life that night. Not quite a ghost story, but certainly creepy, this has a happy resolution for all (even the sled dogs). The beautifully-drawn pictures are at first ambiguous about Annuk’s skeleton – is it really alive? – but at second viewings, the non-supernatural nature of things is evident.

Scary Godmother, by Jill Thompson.

With a mix of comic book art, word bubbles, text and picture book illustrations, Thompson weaves five Halloween stories together involving a little girl named Hannah, her Scary Godmother, and her new friends who live on the Fright Side. In the first story, she is finally old enough to go trick or treating with the big kids, but her cousin Jimmy convinces them to ditch her in a haunted house. With the help of Scary Godmother, Hannah gets over her fears, turns the tables on Jimmy and the big kids and has the best (and most candy-filled) Halloween ever. Other stories show Hannah learning to cross to the Fright Side, searching out Scary Godmother’s secret admirer and helping out when the Boo Flu strikes.

Hubknuckles, by Emily Herman, illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray.

Every Halloween, Hubknuckles taps on the window and Lee and her sisters and brother watch the ghost dance across their yard, feeling deliciously scared, but safe. But this Halloween, Lee decides that Hubknuckles is just Mom or Dad with a sheet and a flashlight and announces that to prove she’s not afraid, she’ll go dance on the lawn with it. Sure enough, Dad slips out the door just before Hubknuckles appears and Lee bravely goes out to dance while her sisters watch from the window. When Hubknuckles bows her back inside the house, Lee finds her mom and dad both there. Was Lee wrong about Hubknuckles? Pencil sketches lighten the scariness, but readers will find the story plenty atmospheric and eerie.

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, written and illustrated by Adam Rex.

This collection of short and silly monster stories will have readers and listeners giggling. From Frankenstein’s lack of groceries (handily solved by a trip to the neighbors), to King Tut’s wish for some cookies and milk, a zombie samba and the songs that are stuck in the Hunchback’s head, these are just the thing for kids who want monsters, but not scary ones. Colorful and boisterous pictures add to the fun. (For more ridiculous monsters and really bad jokes, try one of my favorites, Velcome! by Kevin O’Malley.)

•••

On Saturday, Oct. 29, the downtown library will be showing “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” complete with live (loud! spine-tingling!) music. Costumes welcome; doors open at 6:30 p.m., movie starts at 7 p.m.

Join library staff for this year’s pizza and shelf-reading party from 6:30- 8 p.m today Oct. 6. Call to register. High schoolers – this counts towards your community service hours.

Take a look at the video game shelves – we’ve added a nice big chunk of new titles for the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii at all branches.

For information about upcoming programs, or to place a hold, visit www.juneau.org/library or call 586-5249.

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