Friday, September 27, 2013

Black and Bittern Was Night, by Robert Heidbreder (illustrated by John Martz)

Black and Bittern Was Night
Author: Robert Heidbreder
Illustrator: John Martz
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Source: NetGalley and Edelweiss
View on Amazon

What an unusual book! It reminds me a little bit of the Dr. Seuss meets The Nightmare Before Christmas, with all the adorable spooky skeletons trying to take over the holidays. In this case it's "skel-a-mug-mugs" who are trying to scare everyone in town so that Halloween is cancelled. It almost works when the "tall-bigs" lock up their "doorholds" and "drapefolds" and won't let their "tyke tots" out to trick-or-treat. Luckily the kids know better and sneak out to out "splook" the skel-a-mug intruders. The nonsense rhyme with made up words and silly tongue twisters is hard to read but surprisingly easy to understand.

It would also make a good exercise for elementary school aged children to try to figure out the silly poem's meaning. Poetry can be a bit daunting and inscrutable for some, and what better way to take on the task of deciphering poetry than to practice on a silly rhyme about skeletons at Halloween?

My daughter Magda had fun picking out all of the children's Halloween costumes ("Look! A wolf! I wonder why he doesn't have any candy?") as well as the silly skeleton features (some were wearing glasses, others suspenders). She was so amused by the silly rhymes and charming pictures that she forgot to be scared by the spooky "splooks."

Magda's favourite part: When they were trying to go in the houses but they couldn't get in. The pictures were so funny.

My favourite part: Don't laugh, but I really liked it because it reminded me of Plants vs. Zombies.

NOTE: I borrowed the "Magda's favourite part/My favourite part" idea from a great children's book blog called Read It Daddy. It's written by a dad from the UK with his daughter Charlotte and features "Charlotte's best bit" and "Daddy's best bit" in each review. You should definitely check it out. It's all kinds of awesome.


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