Spooky, Kooky but not Scary Books for Halloween

Here is a selection of recommended reads for children who want to get in the Halloween Spirit but not be scared witless.

They range from the highly illustrated early reader up to teen to suit different personalities and styles for a great Halloween read.

For a full colour early reader experience with an Addams Family feel

Ghoulia and the Mysterious Visitor by Barbara Cantini. Translated from Italian by Anna Golding. (Amulet/Abrams)

When I picked this up in Blackwells I just knew this would delight both my and Littlefae’s inner Wednesday Addams’! Ghoulia is a child zombie who is confused when her snooty cousin Dilbert arrives for a visit, not simply because she didn’t invite him but that she didn’t even knew he existed!

As each of her friends turn up one after another with the same invitations and start to go missing the children must search the Manor to solve the mystery!!

For children who like BOTH pink sparkly and gothic black:

Isadora Moon Puts On A Show & series by Harriet Muncaster (OUP)

You may be aware that we are huge fans of Isadora Moon, a character that resonates deeply with both Littlefae and myself and sparked the fire to want to read for Littlefae.

Tales of the small and big adventures of a half fairy, half vampire girl Isadora have a wonderful warmth and friendliness about them as if Isadora has invited the reader over to play and is telling you the story herself.

Pure of heart and gentle of soul Isadora is a gorgeous character and perfect for children who like both Princess Aurora and Maleficent!!

For those who love friendly vampires & giggle at silly and slightly rude jokes

Amelia Fang and the Half Moon Holiday & series by Laura Ellen Anderson (Egmont)

Another deeply special series for us, Amelia Fang has cemented itself in our hearts with its joyful silliness and gorgeously twisted world of Nocturnia with mini grim reapers, mums whose eyeballs fall out and pumpkin pets alongside a kind-hearted and slightly anxious protagonist who is a wonderful role model to help children work through the kinds of friends and family troubles that they may experience.

Plus the wonderful Florence who is most certainly ‘NOT A BEAST I’M A RARE BREED OF YETI!!!’

For future #TeamWerewolf fans who love stories about strong but kind girls

Lottie Luna by Vivian French illustrated by Nathan Reed (Harper Collins)

Lottie Luna is a gorgeous addition to the highly illustrated early chapter collection with a Princess werewolf who just wants to be a regular werewolf at school but her kind heart and community values means she cannot just sit back when the school garden is trashed.

With Vivian French’s experience as a wonderful storyteller meeting Nathan Reed’s bold graphic style this is a series I want to see more of.

For those who don’t like scary stories but like unicorns and want to get into the spirit of Halloween

Unicorn Academy: Freya and Honey by Julie Sykes illustrated by Lucy Truman (Nosy Crow)

This is a super cute series but has a lot more punch and peril than more famous early chapter books in this vein and deals with friendship issues along with magical adventure.

This series is ideal for children who want to feel the seasonal excitement of Halloween parties but don’t want anything too spooky- the scariest thing to happen is the villain tries to scare the girls away from holding their party in the barn with a bit of mischievous magic rather than anything chilling but is full of both autumn and unicorn magic

For those who want a magical story about a good witch who happens to be like them

Grace Ella: Spells for Beginners by Sharon Marie Jones illustrated by Adriana J Puglisi (Firefly Press)

This is such a sweet book set in contemporary Wales about a girl coming to terms with becoming a witch. Grace-Ella has always been a bit different but finds out she is descended from witches and whilst her mum does not have the gift she certainly has the power to do magic.

Negotiating the competition of all girl schools, snobby mums and mean bullies Grace-Ella finds she is thriving as a witch and as the Halloween Ball approaches she wants to share this with her friends, even if it’s not technically allowed!

A gorgeous book full of warmth and magic, I’m thoroughly looking forward to getting my hands on the follow up Grace Ella: Witch Camp.

For those who like their stories a little silly a little twisted but warm hearted all the same

Skeleton Keys: The Unimaginary Friend by Guy Bass & Pete Williamson (Stripes)

This is the beginning of an excellent new series from the duo behind Stitch-head. This book takes the concept of bringing forth imaginary friends (IF) into the real world and whether they pose a danger to reality being policed by a former IF Skeleton Keys who has keys to different portals in each of his fingers. When lonely Ben brings the Gorblimey to life he sets off a series of events that shows the power of imagination and how even the imagined don’t want to be forgotten.

It has a few spooky ideas/illustrations including Mr Keys himself but these are presented in a playful and positive manner rather than scary and I know my 6 year old who can be rather sensitive about scary images adores this book!

For mystery fans who like gentle scares and the day to be saved!

Max the Detective Cat- The Phantom Portrait by Sarah Todd-Taylor illustrated by Nicola Kinnear (Nosy Crow)

We are big fans of Max the Detective Cat and this book is ideal to read at Halloween when an invitation for the Theatre company to perform at a Halloween birthday party seems cursed with spooky antics at a supposedly haunted theatre, but of course Max and Oscar are on the case to get to the truth of the scary goings-on.

With gorgeous illustrations by Nicola Kinnear this is a heartwarming and mind tickling mystery adventure that is perfect for children who love illustrated young reader books but want something with a little extra drama and challenge

For those who want an earthy and terribly naughty witchy comedy and songs about badgers bums

Picklewitch & Jack & series by Claire Barker (Faber+Faber)

You have to read the original Picklewitch and Jack to understand how they are friends before moving into The Cuckoo Cousin but I have to say how much I LOVE this little witch and so do my girls!

Picklewitch is frankly bonkers in a wonderfully whimsical way, she’s grubby, she gets her words in a tangle and thinks outside the logical box and is so incredibly special you cannot help but love her even if she is so terribly naughty! Perfectly windswept and earthy for autumn reading and the witchy magic is a perfect fit for Halloween. LOVE them!!!

For those who love historical fiction with a twist and don’t mind the idea of brave ghosts

The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery-Allison Rushby (Walker Books)

Whilst yes, this has actual ghosts in it, The Turnkey of Highgate Cemetery is more of a historical fantasy adventure quest where the character is a ghost more than scary tale of ghosts and Ghouls. There is peril and a Raiders of the Lost Ark style clash against a Nazi ghost, but there is much more warmth than chills in this book as we see a young girl learning to care for the cemetery and dead she is responsible for as well as saving both the worlds of living and dead.

For those who want a sweeter less scary ghost story and fabulous costumes

Midnight at Moonstone by Lara Flecker & Trisha Krauss (OUP)

This has a wonderful feel of Tom’s Midnight Garden meets Night at the Museum as all the mannequins of the neglected museum within Moonstone Manor come alive in their various forms of historical dress after midnight til dawn, but our protagonist Kit is the only one to realise it because her grandfather the caretaker sleeps so heavily!

Can Kit unite the exhibits and save the dilapidated Manor from property developers without revealing its secrets?

For teenagers who don’t want to be scared, but want to be empowered

What Magic is this? Holly Bourne (Barrington Stoke)

This is a wonderful story for teenagers where a group of friends seek to find magical solutions to their problems ranging from grief to self harm and a broken self worth as well as heart. Ideal for girls at that stage of hoping that magic is real, with Holly Bourne’s deep understanding of the female teen psyche, full of heart, hope, light and love and a wonderfully witchy way to spend a Halloween read.

Have you read any of these?

Which to would you pick?

Thanks to Nosy Crow for sending me a copy of the Unicorn Academy earlier this year.

4 thoughts on “Spooky, Kooky but not Scary Books for Halloween

    1. They are all wonderful!! Great for indulging in a gothy alternative feel but also wonderful at this time of year for getting into the spirit of Halloween without scaring yourself silly!!

      Liked by 1 person

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