Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies, by Melanie Watt, 64 pages.
Scaredy Squirrel, the neurotic rodent of Canadian picture book fame, returns in this “nutty” safety guide for Halloween.
The spookiest day of the year is fast approaching and Scaredy, who always fears danger and unpredictability, is preparing for the ghoulish festivities. As usual, there’s much to consider and think through. (Can a squirrel ever be too prepared?)
How should he carve a pumpkin safely so that it looks friendly, not frightening? How can his home in the nut tree be decorated for Halloween so that it looks inviting, not scary? What Halloween costume can Scaredy choose that’s safe to wear - and not too spooky? Should he wear a mask or use makeup on his face?
What is the safest trick-or-treating route for Scaredy, and what will he do if he meets Frankenstein, a mummy, a spider, or a giant chicken en route? 
If he is given some hard candy (always delicious but it could break a tooth), should he eat it?  
With so much to consider, it’s almost overwhelming for poor Scaredy. (But of course, he can always resort to his favourite ploy, playing dead!)
Readers will enjoy the absolutely wacky humour that accompanies Scaredy’s tips for safe and happy Halloween trick-or-treating.

** Recommended for ages 4 to 8 years.

Chasing the White Witch, by Marina Cohen, 157 pages.
Twelve-year-old Claire Murphy is certain that things couldn’t be much worse in her life. At home her older brother, Jordan, is always teasing her. At school, she’s perpetually teased by a group of girls. Claire and her parents seem to disagree on everything these days … and she’s just discovered a huge red pimple on her face.
When a mysterious little book somehow lands at her feet in the grocery store, Claire glances at the contents and thinks that the answer to all her problems has arrived. The book’s title is Remedies, Rituals, and Incantations.
With the disapproval of her best friend, Paula-Jean, Claire puts avenging spells on Jordan, on the leader of the girls’ group at school, and on her pimple.
When her face clears overnight, Claire is elated. When Jordan wakes up feeling unwell, Claire becomes uncomfortable … and when Hollis (the leader of the girls’ group) suddenly becomes quite sick, Claire is overcome with remorse.
There are no instructions on reversing the spells so Claire sets off on a madcap search for the book’s author, known only as the “White Witch”. Her search takes her on a long, wild chase through the streets of Toronto, with some very surprising results – and some lessons for Claire (and Hollis) about accountability, appreciation and acceptance.
The author of this well-crafted story, Marina Cohen, has also written Ghost Ride and Mind Gap.

** Recommended for ages 9 to 12 years.  

This review appeared in The Stratford Gazette on October 24, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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