Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Still Here

I'm still around.

Haven't been neglecting this blog on purpose. I should have a post up tomorrow. Not sure what book I'm doing yet.

Periodically, I search Google for other Halloween books collectors. My search usually comes up empty. I find it hard to believe that there are not others with the same hobby out there.

So, anyway, I should have a post up tomorrow.

In the mean time, here are some links to Halloween book related sites and information.

Halloween Bibliography

Recommended Halloween Reading from the NY Public Library

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Holloween Goblin (Pixie Tricks #4) by Tracey West

The 13 Words!: Pixie Tricks indeed, this book tricked me into believing it was about Halloween.

The Creature from the Back Cover!: "Fourteen fairies have escaped from their world. Now they're causing trouble in out world! It's up to a girl named Violet and a fairy named Sprite to trick them all and send them back home. Who will they trick next? A spooky goblin is haunting Violet's town, and the pixie Buttercup is giving everyone a case of the hiccups. Can Violet and Sprite stop the pranksters, or are they in for double trouble?"

The Facts that Attacked Mars!: The Halloween Goblin is book four in the Pixie Tricks series by Tracey West, published in 2000. The entire series ran from 2000-2001 and consisted of eight books. The series was published in the US by Scholastic.
Tracey West is also the author of numerous Scholastic series including Scream Shop.

The Monster Speaks!: So, I've never liked fairies, sprites, pixies, brownies, whatever you want to call them. I'm almost positive this stems from my mothers supreme hatred towards Peter Pan and especially Tinkerbelle.
Anyway, I thought this might be ok since it says Halloween right on the cover. I was wrong. The book takes place weeks before Halloween. There is no trick-or-treating, no costumes (well there is a guy in a creepy bunny suit), no candy.
The Halloween in the title is a reference to Bogey Bill, the cute little guy sitting on the pumpkin in the cover scan. (He kind of reminds me of a low-rent Nosferatu)
You see, Bogey Bill loves to scare people and wishes everyday was Halloween. I'm not sure why the author chose to not have the book take place on Halloween, or at least the day before while the characters were preparing for the holiday. Bogey Bill's pranks could have had a heightened effect on children already a little creeped out by the holiday.
And then there is a thing about hiccups and Buttercup another fairy thing, and then some tricking and all is well until the next book.
All in all, the entire thing felt like a fluffy Artemis Fowl mixed with an even fluffier Spiderwick.

What Lurks Between These Covers?

The Marvels!:

Each book comes with stickers.

The Horror!:
  • it's not about Halloween
  • enough said

Monday, July 23, 2007

My First Halloween Book by Colleen L. Reece

The 13 Words!: Jack Prelutsky she certainly isn't. But, overall, an enjoyable stab at Holiday poetry.

The Creature from the Back Cover!: Back cover is blank !

The Facts that Attacked Mars!: My First Halloween Book is a collection of Halloween poems with accompanying illustrations, published in 1984 by Childrens Press. The author, Colleen L. Reece seems to also be a Christian romance author.

The Monster Speaks!: Cute poems, nothing scary. The illustrations are all of chubby cheeked children (plus witches and a few adults), that kind of remind me of Huggabunch dolls.

What Lurks Between These Covers?

The Marvels!:

Nice to find a history without any trace of condemnation

The Horror!:

Squirrels??? What the hell?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Horse Magic (Saddle Club #47) by Bonnie Bryant

The 13 Words!: Three girls lead lives so boring that even Halloween and poltergeists can't help.

The Creature from the Back Cover!: "It's Halloween, and Pine Hollow Stables is getting some special visitors -- a group of city kids. The Saddle Club girls are planning a treasure hunt and trick-or-treating for the children. Best of all, Stevie Lake's old school chum, Dinah, has come to help. Stevie can't wait to pull some pranks on her friend!

Things go awry when it becomes clear that Dinah and Saddle Club member Lisa Atwood don't like each other. Lisa suspects Dinah of flirting with Stevie's boyfriend. Even worse, Stevie's beginning to think the stable is haunted. Who's playing tricks at Pine Hollow?"

The Facts that Attacked Mars!:

The Saddle Club is a series of intermediate children's books published by Bantam Books between 1986 and 2001. The books were created by Bonnie Bryant, although many were written by ghostwriters. Spin-offs include two other book series, Pine Hollow and Pony Tails, a TV show also called The Saddle Club, a club with a monthly newsletter, and a line of model horses manufactured by Breyer.

The books follow the adventures of best friends Carole Hanson, Stephanie "Stevie Lake," and Lisa Atwood, who live in the town of Willow Creek, Virginia and ride at Pine Hollow Stables.
-From Wikipedia

The Monster Speaks!: I never read The Saddle Club as a kid. I was never interested in horses, and never knew anyone that was as obsessed with horses as these girls (or Mallory and Jesse from the BSC, but that's another story). I guess it may have something to do with the fact that I grew up in the city with very little contact with nature. I've never even been on horseback (pony rides at low-rent carnivals don't count). Now, however, I attend a college that is pretty well known for its equestrian program, and am surrounded by hundreds of girls who probably worshiped the Saddle Club girls at one time.

I don't really have much to say about this gem from 1995. The plot was sorta ho-hum: a group of inner city kids are coming to Pine Hollow stables as part of a fictional Fresh Air fund event. For some reason, this is happening on Halloween and the girls at the stables are in charge of setting up the party. The sub plot is slightly more intriguing: Stevie's best friend from Vermont, Dinah, is coming to visit. Lisa and Dinah don't get along. Blah blah blah. And in a sub-sub plot, pranks abound and the word poltergeist is thrown around more times than necessary. Eh.

What Lurks Between These Covers?
The Marvels!:
  • my copy (from paperbackswap.com) had a note stuck in the pages. It said: Lunch in refreg. Drink in freezer.
  • the crazy military father (Carole's dad) has some kinda popcorn obsession. Every time the girls enter the house he starts popping popcorn. I sorta love him.
The Horror!:
  • the Saddle Club girls (plus the bitchy Dinah) dress in the most boring costumes ever: Betsy Ross, a cowgirl, a jockey, and Paul Revere
  • there is a barbecue dinner for the city kids. next to the horse stalls. I can't think of a place I'd want to eat at less than next to a horse stall.
  • Dinah is a huge bitch.
  • Trick-or-treating on horseback. I don't know, I don't think I want horses all over my lawn. Where there are horses, there is horse shit.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sweetblood by Pete Hautman (Bibliomancy)

I've been neglecting to do any bibliomancy entries these past few weeks. Quite possibly due to the fact that I lost the little Moleskine notebook that I keep all my reading notes etc. in.

So this week's book is Sweetbood by Pete Hautman. It's a slim young adult novel filled with a troubled diabetic, internet vampires, teenaged theories, and a dorky best friend turned love interest.

3.5 granola bars out of 5


Should I drop out of school and join a cult?

A: "Over dinner, I find out that Fish is just as bad as the rest of them. My parents tell me that he wants me to see a psychologist. Some guy named Carlson, a specialist in adolescent behavior."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Celluloid (Booking Through Thursday)

Booking Through Thursday:
1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie?
2. The worst?
3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference? (Personally, all other things being equal, I usually prefer whichever I was introduced to first.)

And, by all means, expand this to as long a list as you like. I’m notoriously awful myself at narrowing down to one favorite ANYTHING. So, feel free to list as many “good” or “bad” movie-from-books as you like. (Heaven knows that’s what I’ll be doing….)

This is a hard one for me. I'm usually not too thrilled with movies based on books if I have read the book. I'm hard pressed to even remember a movie I've seen in the past few years that has been based on a book (except for the dozen or so films based on the works of Shakespeare). To make matters worse, I watch very few movies.
I guess I'd have to choose "To Kill a Mockingbird" as my favorite film based on a book. Which, is saying a lot because I utterly despise Gregory Peck's voice. Given a choice though, I'd re-read the book before I watched the movie again.

The worst? Well this one is easier. The live action version of Animal Farm. I could not even make it through the entire movie. I don't have the time to list all the faults I had with that film. It made me angrier than any film has a right to.

It makes a great difference If I have read the book prior to seeing the movie. In all cases I have enjoyed the book much more than the film version. More often than not, the film just cannot compare to the images already etched into my brain due to my reading of the book.

A list of not-so-bad movies based on books:
A Clockwork Orange
Frankenstein (the original one, even though it bears no resemblance to Shelley's novel)
Dracula (Bela Lugosi)
Little Women (all)
(Reluctantly) A series of Unfortunate Events
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

And the bad:
I'm going to try to stay positive.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Mommy, Why Don't We Celebrate Halloween? by Linda Hacon Winwood

The 13 Words!: Spreading "Christianity" through fear and hate, one trick-or-treater at a time.

The Creature from the Back Cover!: "Mommy, Why Don't We Celebrate Halloween? helps children understand why Christians shouldn't celebrate Halloween. It reveals, in story form, the truth behind the activities that have become such an accepted part of Halloween traditions. Children who read this book and talk about it with their parents will learn how the "fun" of Halloween harms them. They will also learn what to say to others who do not understand the true meaning of Halloween."

The Facts that Attacked Mars!: Mommy Why Don't We Celebrate Halloween is written by Linda Hacon Winwood and illustrated by Al Berg and published in 2004 by Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. There is a whole series of Mommy Why books written by different authors such as : Mommy, Was Santa Claus Born on Christmas Too?, and Mommy Why Can't I Watch That T.V. Show.

The Monster Speaks!:Well, to say that this book angered me would be an understatement. As a bit of a preface, I am tolerant of any and all religion. I don't care what people choose to believe or not believe. But, and this is important, I do not want to be preached to, especially if your religious beliefs are tied up in hate and a refusal to understand those that are different.
Ok, that's out of the way. This book is preachy, misguided, misinformed, and barely hides the hate that the author appears to have for anyone not of the same religious persuasion as she (the author was raised in the Catholic church, and seems to have some issues with the church).

The story is simple enough, a little boy and girl ask their mom why they doesn't celebrate Halloween. As an answer, the mother resorts to scare tactics masquerading as religious reasoning: trick-or-treating harms your relationship with Jesus, the Catholic Church(known as Roman rulers in the book) is responsible for the evils of Halloween, etc etc etc. In my opinion it's not a good idea to create such an atmosphere of fear with such a small child. How much fun could it possibly be to be 5 years old and afraid that everything you do is going to send you to hell?

It's fine if people wish to not celebrate Halloween,I respect their decision, but why must the same lies, misinformation, and scare tactics be used again and again? There has to be a better way to go about it. But, to each their own I guess. I suppose their is a market for this book. According to the author on her website, Anthony LaVay (son of Anton LaVay who wrote the Satanic Bible). called her publishing company to say,
"Thank You for producing this book and please thank Mrs. Winwood for writing it. It's about time someone wrote a book for children. If parents knew what still happens on that night, they would never let their children out of the house. This book will really make an impact."
Mrs. Winwood appears to be an advocate for literacy, from information that I have gotten from her website. I cannot say too many bad things about a woman who wants to ensure that every child(and adult) can read. However, I do wish that one day the author's eyes and mind will be opened and she will realize that Christianity in its purest form should not be about fear or hate.

What Lurks Between These Covers?
The Marvels!:

"My daughter, Sarah, was born with six fingers on both hands and six toes on her left foot. When our children did artwork or sent homemade cards,we put a six-toed foot on the back of the cards like Hallmark puts a logo on theirs.That was the beginning of the Winwood logo."

The Horror!:
The Evil, evil Celts.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Creepy Crawly Critters (An I Can Read Book) by Nola Buck. Pictures by Sue Truesdale

The 13 Words!: Cute and sweet collection of simple rhymes combined with kid friendly color illustrations.

The Creature from the Back Cover!
"Itchy witches, groaning ghosts, and plump pumpkins are just a few of the characters in this collection of giggle-producing Halloween tongue twisters. It's so much fun, it's like trick-or-treating for your tongue!"

The Facts that Attacked Mars!: Creepy Crawly Critters is a hardcover collection of Halloween tongue twisters published in 1996 by HarperTrophy, as part of the I Can Read series of books. As a level 1 book, it's a guaranteed easy read.

The Monster Speaks!: Cute. That's about all I can really say about this one. It's hard to take all of it at one sitting, even though I'm a moderate fan of alliteration. If I was 3 or 4 years old though, I am sure this would be a favorite of mine. The illustrations are quite nice though.

What Lurks Between These Covers?
The Marvels!:

From the dedication page
"A Humongous Hug for Henry
On Halloween !!
lots of love from xo
Auntie J---- (and Nola Buck too!)

I'm not sure why Auntie J-something includes Nola Buck(the author), but I like her attempt at a Halloween tongue twister.

Though not technically a monster get-together, these two illustrations depict a sort of get-together, and that's fine with me

The Horror!:
Nothing really. Overall, not much bad can really be said about a book for very early readers with colorful illustrations and rhyming alliteration.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Zoey 101: Lights Out

The 13 Words!: I'd rather shave my legs with a weed-wacker than read this book again.

The Creature from the Back Cover!
:"It's Halloween and following PCA tradition, the upperclassmen are creating a haunted house for the younger kids. Logan is determined that it's going to be the scariest, spookiest, creepiest night of the little kids' lives. But when two of them vanish, including Zoey's little brother, the night takes a turn that no one imagined!"

The Facts that Attacked Mars!: Lights Out is book #7 in the Zoey 101 series, which is based off of the television show of the same name that airs on nickelodeon and stars Jamie Lynn Spears, sister to Britney. This book was adapted by Jane Mason and Sara Hines Stephens based on "Haunted House" written by Steve Holland. (There is a second half to this book which I am choosing to ignore, it is not Halloween related at all)

The Monster Speaks!: This is a pretty weak attempt at a Halloween story coupled with an annoying font and a nice heaping pile of misogyny to start things off. Includes a time-honored Halloween book theme (though on a small scale): kids afraid of Halloween. But, these scared kids turn things around. It's all very lame, not at all spooky, and was pretty torturous to get through. I couldn't even bring myself to scan the cover, and instead used a stock photo. Up until now, I haven't really posted a book I hated, nor have I really negatively described a book. This book deserves worse than I can spew out.
This book lead me to think about the onslaught of books based on tv shows and movies that are produced for kids. It isn't hard to see how quickly and poorly these books are usually put together. However, I'm glad the publishers put out this Halloween themed atrocity so I could have it in my collection and marvel at its terribleness.

What Lurks Between These Covers?
The Marvels!:

The Horror!:
  • The cover. It doesn't even hint at being Halloween related, though the boy is kind of creepy with that little smirk and the frizzy hair.
  • Every sentence uttered by a male, young or old, is ended by "man" and started with "dude". I'm all for realistic teen dialogue, but come on!
  • The last paragraph:
"Well, c'mon" Chase turned the music up and the lights down. "It's Halloween! Let's party it up!" And the motley crew boogied down in the haunted house without fear.

Read an excerpt (if you dare) here.

Some Sites About Halloween Books; Or, I Hate Books About Pumpkins

This site has a nice collection of Halloween book reviews. But, there are too many books about pumpkins! I HATE books about pumpkins. Now, I like pumpkins on their own, in pies, in breads, and even in ice cream, but not in books. I find books that center around a pumpkin patch, or worse yet, have talking pumpkins, or even worse, a precocious little boy or girl that grows pumpkins, absolutely, dreadfully boring.
Fortunately there is an abundance of Halloween books without pumpkin characters or pumpkin plots. The multitude of books with costume drama, terrified trick or treaters, and of course, monster-get-togethers that can be found makes up for the cursed pumpkin books.

The Monster Librarian, has a nice list of scary books for kids under 12. No pumpkins to be found there, thankfully