Black and Bittern Was Night

Robert Heidbreder, Author, John Martz, Illustrator
Robert Heidbreder, illus. by John Martz. Kids Can, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55453-302-2
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Written in alliterative nonsense verse in the vein of Carroll’s “Jabberwocky,” Heidbreder’s Halloween tale tells of “skul-a-mug-mugs” (rattle-boned skeletons) that commandeer Halloween night, chasing “tall-bigs” (adults) inside and pre-empting plans for trick-or-treating. But skul-a-mug-mugs are no match for candy-craving, costumed kids. In Martz’s crisp, none-too-scary digital cartoons with highlights of orange, gold, and dark blue, an all-out “scare-fest” ensues between the rival gangs: “Strong-sure tyke-tots/ out-movvered skul thunder./ Nip-swift child-tide/ skit-skuttled their foes:/ The skul-a-mugs jellied/ from top-tip to toes.” Author and illustrator match wits in this cheeky and sophisticated readaloud that imagines the ultimate in Halloween skullduggery. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
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