10 Spooky Pumpkins
by Grimly, Gris

Putting a spooky twist on a favorite preschool rhyme, this Halloween read-aloud picture book follows one little girl as she travels through the countryside, encountering many Halloween creatures along the way! Simultaneous eBook. Illustrations.

Gris Grimly is a celebrated painter, sculptor, and filmmaker who has created a rich collection of spooky picture books, including the Wicked Nursery Rhymes trilogy and his own retellings of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Frankenstein, and Old MacDonald Had a Farm. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and a young son, whose love of Old MacDonald inspired Gris to reimagine the childhood classic.

It's a countdown with a cast of creepy characters ushering in Halloween night. A little girl in a Pierrot-clown-inspired costume exits a farmhouse and sets off on Halloween at dusk. As she makes her way along the fields and fences, she meets the titular 10 spooky pumpkins, nine black cats, eight "screeching bats," and so on until all of the creatures come together to dance in the cornfield. When the full moon rises, the wind sends everyone scattering into the night and the girl heads calmly to bed. While the countdown structure is a classic in picture books, Grimly uses it to maximum effect, drawing readers into each page turn. The "Five Little Pumpkins"-inspired verse works, rhythmic and full of alliteration like "greedy goblins" and "skinny scarecrows." It's a harmonious pairing with Grimly's gently cadaverous illustrations. The patchwork endpapers set the palette and theme for the haunting art. There are little quilted touches throughout, on the bats' wings and in the buttons and stitching on the scarecrows, for example. The full moon is drawn with enormous presence and personality: imposing, fierce, powerful. Grimly's tale and illustrations provide readers with a fully imagined world, a complete mood and atmosphere. It evokes all of the eerie, unsettling elements of Halloween with the safety of a child tucked into bed at the end. An engrossing read with stirring, memorable illustrations. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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