"I LOVE YOU MORE THAN THE SMELL OF SWAMP GAS," by Kevan Atteberry, HarperCollins, 40 pages (f)
In the spirit of Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram's classic "Guess How Much I Love You," "I Love You More Than the Smell of Swamp Gas" is a tale of love that is a little, uh, smellier. A bulbous green swamp monster and his little pink offspring romp through a haunted woods, proclaiming love along the way. How much does the swamp monster love his little monster? As much as "bubbling slime that covers our feet in a thick gooey grime" and "more than moonstruck raccoons." Atteberry's cheery graphic illustrations are never scary and kids will love his ooey gooey words of love.
"FINGERS FOR HALLOWEEN," by Brandt Lewis and Cori Doerrfeld, Little, Brown and Company, 6 pages (f)
"Fingers for Halloween" is one of those books that young children will delight in and grown-ups will enjoy acting out for their child's benefit. This board book starts with holes for five fingers and each consecutive page finds another finger chomped up by a ghoulish beastie. The illustrations are bright and silly and kids will love the rhyming narration as they watch their — or their parents' — fingers get eaten up one by one.
"NIGHT ANIMALS," by Gianna Marino, Penguin, 15 pages (f)
Who are the scary animals that come out at night? In Gianna Marino's clever new book, her possum, skunk, bear and wolf aren't entirely sure, but they know enough to hide from them, whoever they are. It takes a bat — in stark silhouette against a full moon — to remind the frightened creatures that they are the night animals. Marino's illustrations of the wide-eyed animals against a black background are eye-catching, and the book's thick board book pages are perfect for little fingers learning to turn pages.
"PEANUT BUTTER ALIENS: A Zombie Culinary Tale," by Joe McGee and Charles Santoso, Abrams, 32 pages (f)
What do you do when your town is attacked by grape-jelly-spurting alien invaders? That is the dilemma the quiet town of Quirkville — where "people and the zombies live in peace and shared their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches" — must face in this clever picture book. Charles Santoso's illustrations blend perfectly with Joe McGee's punny language ("A sticky situation!"), and the story clips along at a pace that will keep short attention spans entertained through to the end.
"CREEPY PAIR OF UNDERWEAR," by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown, Simon & Schuster, 48 pages (f)
This is the second time writer Aaron Reynolds and Caldecott Honor winning illustrator Peter Brown have teamed up, and like their first book together, "Creepy Carrots," the duo have turned once more to bunnies and things that go bump in the night — in this case, a pair of Frankenstein-like underpants with a unibrow and a habit of turning up when least wanted. Our hero, Jasper Rabbit, begs his mom for the new underwear, little knowing that they glow green in the dark and seem determined to haunt him everywhere. Adults and children will love Brown's black-and-white illustrations, gorgeous with their film noir lighting illuminated by the neon green of the Frankenstein underwear. Children will especially love this tale of finding a friend in a pair of seemingly spooky undies.
"YOU MUST BRING A HAT!," by Simon Philip and Kate Hindley, Sterling Children's Books, 40 pages (f)
While not exactly a Halloween book, Simon Philip and illustrator Kate Hindley's charming "You Must Bring a Hat!" is a book about a dress-up party, which is just about as good. The story opens with the narrator receiving an invitation for the "Biggest, Bestest Hattiest Party of All Time" and follows him as he attempts to adhere to the increasingly silly party rules such as, "Under no circumstances is a tutu to be worn without the supervision of an accompanying penguin." The book has a little of the Dr. Seuss classic "And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street" in it, with wonderful goofiness building on more goofiness, but it's really Hindley's bright illustrations that make this delightful book sing. She has a gift for getting just the right expression on her characters' faces, and the final party scene is a thing of joy. It's enough to make anyone grab the nearest hat and invite over a crowd.