Black and Bittern Was Night

illus. by John Martz. 32p. Kids Can. 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 978-1-55453-302-2.
K-Gr 2—In this celebration in nonsensical verse, SKUL-A-MUG-MUGS have gathered on a Halloween night of "skellety fright" to shut down the trick-or-treating fun of all young "Noras and Nicks." The rattling skeletons (including a dog), march down streets of a small town with the intention of challenging the "tall-bigs" (parents) with their own "scree-scrackle scroans and fog-footed wheeze" to intimidate and shut down the children's fun. In response, the youngsters take back the night with bravery absent in their elders-"the quikstant they tot-took/and crish-crilled to beds,/fling-up again springsprung/ghost-civvered tyke heads." This verse is a delight to readers, an aural and visual exercise for fluency and comprehension with a catchy rhythm occasionally reminiscent of "The Night Before Christmas." Paired with a cast of geometrically inspired cartoon images, the text introduces an army of costumed tykes out to terrify the skeletons, from a caped superhero and antennaed bumblebee to a princess and a mummy-all joining to out-"splook" their opponents and end in a triumphant, "yak-yawling" sweet-treat gathering.—Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX

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