Monday, October 29, 2012

10. Just Say Boo

By Susan Hood
Pictures by Jed Henry
$12.99, ages 4 and up, 32 pages

Three trick-or-treaters learn to scare away their fears by yelling "Boo!" at every spooky thing they see, in this empowering, rhyming read-aloud.

A girl and two boys see everyday things become dark and gloomy on Halloween night, then take charge of their fears and recognize what's really there.

Each time something shifts or rattles along the sidewalk, the girl, in witch apparel, and the boys, dressed as bat and a shark, wither and tremble.

But only for a page, as author Susan Hood reminds them what to say to chase their fright away.

"If a yip and a yowl / make you shiver and scowl / what do you say?" she asks, as the children cower before a giant wolf-like shadow. Hood's question nudges the children to look again at what they see and try to scare it away.

They need only look behind them to see that the shadow belongs to a small hound dog, who is howling on the roof of his dog house, as the moon rises from behind.

Every time the children see something scary, they yell out "Boo" to break the silence, and see that the scary things are harmless and familiar. The darkness of night has just distorted what they see.

In one scene, the children think they see ghosts diving to and fro in the branches of a tree. The girl grits her teeth, and the boys hold their treat bags to their chests like shields.

But when they yell, "Boo," all of a sudden the ghosts turn into cloth decorations and shrink to the size of lollipops. Instead of coming at them, they're jerked about in a breeze.

This is sweet story about laughing away one's fears and enjoying the spirit of the season.

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