Tag Archives: witch

Our top 5 spooky stories for Halloween

After the post I wrote on Zouk, the feisty little French witch, I thought it would be nice to rummage through our collection of books with subjects loosely related to Halloween.

My list will not be as long as this elaborate one where you will find great suggestions by age range. But our top 5 contains five tried and tested books that you can trust will please young readers in search of a not too frightful reading session.Room-on-the-Broom

First, I thought we should start with one of our favourite witches in the classic Room on the Broom by Axel Scheffler and Julia Donaldson. Do I really need to introduce Julia Donaldson considering the Gruffalo has sold over 6.5 million copies? I’m really not sure. My son’s currently obsessed with Superworm that he read at school, and I have read with him and his sister the Gruffalo, Zog, Stick Man and the Smartest Giant in Town countless times.

In this book, the witch loses her hat, her bow, and a wand, but luckily finds three animals: a dog, a frog and a green bird willing to help her find her possessions. For each loss she gains a new friend and each time she makes room on her broomstick and whoosh flies away. That is until the broomstick snaps in two, and they all tumble in a bog. Suddenly alone and face to face with a hungry dragon who’s eager to have witch and chips, she manages to escape thanks to her new group of friends. The care with which the story is written, its rhythm and its rhymes are a delight. No review can do justice to a reading, so here is a link to one that I like:

Now the fact that I have a child who’s allergic to cats does not mean that we don’t love feline creatures, quite the contrary actually. At the moment, we all have a bit of a crush for Wilburn, Winnie’s companion in the series of books Winnie the witch by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul. In Winnie Flies Again, my two kids love seeing Winnie both puzzled and scared when she turns her broomstick into a bicycle and later a skateboard in order to avoid the dangerous flying machines that she keeps facing in the sky. I’m not giving away the end as it is hilarious and unexpected, but trust me, this is a good one!

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A more recent discovery for us is Mouse’s First Night at Moonlight School by Simon Puttock and Ali Pye. It is a mouse’s first night at school and it’s going to take all the patience of her teacher and the kindness of the other pupils bat, cat and owl to make her feel less shy. This album is full of exquisite details that my children love: the jars and books of spells on the shelves of the classroom, the tables and chairs that are just right for each of the creatures, and the shiny bits on the cover. You can see how welcoming the classroom is on the illustration I chose for the whole post.  This book would also be a great choice for kids starting school, one to read with their parents during a peaceful summer at home.

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Finally the last two titles we chose are quite different. If your children like books like Where’s Wally? and challenges, they will love The Best Halloween Hunt by John Speirs. Fear not and enjoy the mazes! All the answers are at the back if your little ones get too frustrated. This one is great to keep them busy on the train, or when you’re waiting for a meal at the restaurant.

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And last but not least, here is another book by Rebecca Cobb titled Spooky Sums and Counting Horrors.  I know I have already reviewed another book by Rebecca Cobb, but this is such a hit with my son who loves counting that I could not keep it off this list.

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Slightly older readers will delight in the gruesome details of the feast’s preparation. Look at these cocktails, aren’t they delightful?

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My son adores the ten dancing monsters all in pairs. the yeti, the mummy, the dragon and dracula are clearly having the time of their life. I like the fact that at the end of the party, the little ghosts, exhausted yet happy, and needing their beauty sleep go to bed like everyone else.

If your kids are into numbers, you should try some of these Halloween maths games. I like the idea of spooky sums almost as much as that of Frankenstein puddings (although in the case of the later, I would probably change the recipe for a pistachio flavoured custard and homemade double chocolate cookies).

For more Halloween ideas, see my thematic board on Pinterest and have fun this Halloween!

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Zouk, notre sorcière préférée

Je sais bien qu’Halloween n’est pas une fête traditionnelle pour les Français (de France) et que nous en sommes encore loin côté calendrier, mais l’école de mes enfants organise une ‘spooky night’ la veille des vacances et nous nous sommes donc replongés en famille dans des lectures saisonnières. Ce plongeon m’apporte une belle surprise à savoir que mon petit de 4 ans se révèle non seulement un fan de BD, mais aussi un amateur de  sorcières.

Zouk, la petite sorcière qui a du caractère, est le fruit d’une collaboration entre Serge Bloch et Nicolas Hubesch, et ses aventures sont aussi publiées dans la revue Les Belles Histoires. Si la patte de ses deux créateurs vous dit quelque chose, c’est que vous êtes peut être familier avec d’autres albums du prolifique Serge Bloch qui n’est autre que le ‘père’ de SamSam, Toto et Max&Lili.  Je ne peux donc pas m’empêcher de vous donner à voir, l’épique épisode de SamSam intitulé l’attaque des Pipiolis, un classique de chez classique pour les petits de 3-4 ans, à savourer si vous êtes en pleine phase de transition entre les couches et les culottes.

Mais revenons à nos moutons, Zouk est une petite sorcière pleine de peps qui ne se laisse pas marcher sur les pieds et qui fait aussi pas mal de bêtises! Dans le volume intitulé Danger Public par exemple, elle transforme une boule de neige en montagne géante, manque de faire manger ses amis par une bande de crocodiles, piranhas et araignées géantes et fonce à travers la ville au volant de la voiture de ses parents avant de s’écraser lamentablement dans un immeuble.

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Heureusement sa maman Salsepareille, la sorcière la plus forte du monde, veille au grain et n’est jamais très loin en balai magique! Et toujours et encore, après s’être fait gronder, Zouk promet de ne plus recommencer…jusqu’à la prochaine fois. Je ne sais pas ce que ma grande aimait le plus chez Zouk, peut être était-ce le fait qu’elle ne se laisse pas faire ou commander par qui que ce soit, mais clairement mon plus jeune se délecte des bêtises de Zouk. Il aime imaginer qu’il a des super pouvoirs comme elle. Parfois il me menace de sa baguette magique et semble vouloir me faire disparaître, à d’autre moments il me dit avec un grand sourire qu’il aimerait lui aussi savoir transformer les gens en gateau ou en tonneau.

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Dans tous les cas, si vous êtes en manque de tours de magie cocasses ou de lectures ou les sorcières sont bien plus sympas et moins effrayantes que d’ordinaire, je vous conseille d’essayer un de ces albums.

Et puis tant que vous y êtes faites-vous une baguette magique, ou inventez des formules rigolotes. Un petit tuto pour vous aider ici, même si en improvisant avec un pistolet à colle chaude, un bâton choisi avec soin, de la laine, et du papier coloré, on peut se faire quelque chose de très convaincant, croyez-moi!

 

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I know it is a bit early to celebrate Halloween, but my kids’ school has a spooky night coming up and this always gets them excited, so we’ve been following their hearts and reading seasonal books with Halloween and spooky themes.

The Zouk series is what I would call a cartoon for young readers, with usually 6 stories in each book. My daughter took to them when she was 6 years old, and it seems that my younger son (who’s now 4) loves them just as much.

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Zouk lives in a city that looks very much like New York with her mum and dad, and she is opiniated and full of mischief. Her faithful companions are a talking pumpkin Monsieur Potiron and her black cat Noyau. Like most children, she is spontaneous and outspoken which sometimes gets her in trouble. At the playground, when two  boys she plays with forbid her to climb on the equipment and threaten to turn her in girl’s juice, she retaliates by transforming the little bridge in a fragile structure suspended over scary crocodiles, piranhas and rats.

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In another of her adventures, Zouk sees joggers in the park, and decides that she wants to do the same. But she soon realises how tiring this is and decides to hop on her magic broom instead. But flying in this park is forbidden and a policeman close by immediately tells her so. If only the poor little witch could remember how to stop, maybe she would not end up crashing in a tree.

Zouk is a stubborn and fun character, who often needs her mum’s help to sort out the havoc she’s created and this is partly why, I suspect,  my son loves her so much. She is adventurous and disobedient but more often than not she means well. So how could you possibly remain cross with her?

In short, if you have a little mischievous wizard or witch in your house, you should definitely check Zouk’s books, or watch her happily fly on your screen.