Okay, I know Halloween is still three weeks away, but I can't help myself. As soon as the Autumnal Equinox rolls around, I start to stuff my jacket pockets full of leaves, I cook lots of butternut squash recipes, and when it comes to bedtime picture books, I gravitate towards ones with owls, or monsters, or a bit of mystery. Here are five excellent new "creature feature" releases we've had in our reading rotation lately. Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynold; Peter Brown (Illustrator)
The story of a rabbit who is being stalked by his favorite root vegetables. Peter Brown's impeccable black and white (and orange) artwork is top-notch, depicting a Twilight Zone-inspired atmosphere, full of suspense, drama and menacing, yet goofy carrots.
Frankenstein by Rick Walton; Nathan Hale (Illustrator)
A spot on Halloween-ish spin on Ludwig Bemelmans's Madeline. If you're a fan of the original, you're going to love this. Mirroring perfectly the familiar rhymes, and style of artwork from the classic - only with Miss Devel presiding over 12 little monsters in two crooked lines.
The Insomniacs by Karina Wolf; Brothers Hilts (Illustrator)
Although there's nothing particularly spooky about The Insomniacs--the story of a family who moves 12 time zones away and adapts to an after-dark lifestyle--the beautiful and shadowy illustrations strike a wonderfully strange and mysterious mood (reminiscent of Edward Gorey, or Tim Burton), with eerie, moon-lit settings, hordes of bats, prowling wolves, and other nocturnal activities.
The Monster's Monster by Patrick McDonnell
In a dark castle, three little monsters, Grouch, Grump, and Gloom 'n' Doom, decide to build the biggest, baddest monster EVER, but end up learning a lesson about gratitude and kindness from a creature who turns out to be the sort of guy that likes jelly donuts, sunrises, and is thankful for just being alive.
The Spider and the Fly (10th Anniversary Edition) by Mary Howitt; Tony DiTerlizzi (Illustrator)
A special 10th Anniversary release of the retelling of Mary Howitt's classic nineteenth century poem about a sinister spider's efforts to capture a fly, intricately illustrated by the talented Tony DiTerlizzi's, who drew inspiration from classic Hollywood horror movies of the 1920s and 1930s. Warning: as gorgeous as this book is, it most certainly falls in the creepy category.