That One Spooky Night – Dan Bar-el, ill. David Huyck

That One Spooky Night – Dan Bar-el, ill. David Huyck

Grades 1-4 (Kids Can Press, 2012)

That One Spooky Night is a collection of tales about a Halloween evening filled with haunted happenings and creepy characters. These linked stories are vibrant in their comic book style of illustration and scary in the way that thrills and delights young readers.

Dan Bar-el is known for playing with traditional rhymes and stories as in his recent picture book Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been? and his earlier middle grade books such as Things are Looking Grimm, Jill. He continues to cleverly twist classic tropes to create something witty and unexpected in That One Spooky Night.

Broom with a View introduces a witch who, with her distasteful-sounding potions, ministers to the aches and complaints of all the land’s ghouls. The Fang Gang features a cabal of vampires that invites four friends into its creepy mansion, as long as they have permission for a play date. And, when the trick-or-treating is done, the “Aqua-Hero” twins meet the monster behind the 10 000 Tentacles Under the Tub.

First time children’s book illustrator, David Huyck, matches the mood of these spooky stories with a palette of blacks, oranges and murky greens. In true graphic style, the story is developed through the progression of the illustrated panels and much of the nuance is carried by the visual image, a true collaboration between author and illustrator to narrate the silences.

On any spooky night, 7-10 year old readers cuddled up under the covers with their flashlights, will find That One Spooky Night is the perfect book to devour.

Review originally published in Canadian Children’s Book News, Winter 2013

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