Young ones and shy ones will benefit from a gentle dose of Halloween before the big day. These funny, nonscary books will introduce young kids to a sweet dress-up holiday that will soon be their favorite.

The Haunted Mansion

With music by Buddy Baker and lyrics by Xavier Atencio; illustrations by James Gilleard; Disney Press; 32 pages; $17.99

The popular Disneyland attraction comes to life in The Haunted Mansion, a true-to-the-ride picture book — complete with a CD of the “Grim Grinning Ghosts” song.

The classic lyrics and melody, created by Disney legends Buddy Baker and Xavier Atencio, are still fabulously entertaining and fun. And James Gilleard’s hilarious illustrations are a colorful ode to vintage Disney animation.

The book story flows in the same order as the ride. The journey starts with those magic growing pictures in the elevator, and then takes readers down the glowing red corridor, at which point “the crypt doors creak and the tombstones quake, spooks come out for a swinging wake!”

Many of Gilleard’s drawings look real, or at least as real as they do in the ride. Glowing, spooky purples, golden browns and moonlight blues add realism to the experience.

Fans of the ride will be thrilled to see the ballroom dancers and hitchhiking ghosts up close and personal. This book is seriously a close second to riding the ride — and without the 40-minute wait in line.

Bad Kitty Scaredy-Cat

By Nick Bruel; A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press; 32 pages; $16.99

Bad Kitty Scaredy-Cat, a very clever Bad Kitty tale, reminds readers that she wasn’t always a scaredy-cat; she was an angry kitty, a brave kitty, a clumsy kitty, a zesty kitty — all kinds of kitty from A to Z.

Each phrase is showcased by Bad Kitty interacting with her dog, who just does his own thing, even when the doorbell rings and the children say “Trick or Treat!” and she sees “An Awful Alien, A Bizarre Bigfoot, A Creepy Clown and A Dreadful Dragon.”

This is how Bad Kitty became a scaredy-cat. She soon recovers, however, when she spies a candy basket with “Apples, bubblegum, candy corn, dried fruit, English toffee” and more.

All these goodies inspire her to stop being a scaredy-cat and become a bad kitty. She proceeds to attack the alien, batter the bigfoot, clobber the clown and, well, you get it now.

What does it take to scare Bad Kitty once again? You got it: A dog that barks when he spies her with his candy.

This is Nick Bruel’s 17th “Bad Kitty” tale, and all are hilarious guffaw fests.

Little Boo

By Stephen Wunderli; illustrated by Tim Zeltner; Henry Holt & Co.; 28 pages; $7.99

Little Boo, the pumpkin seed, can’t scare anybody — not a leaf, not a grub and not even the wind, which reminds him to be patient, for he’ll be scary soon.

When he becomes a tender little sprout, he tries to scare a boot, a shovel and a watering can with a “Boo!” but they don’t reply. When he’s a little plant, the bees and grasshopper still aren’t afraid, and the wind says, “Not today. But soon ... sooooooon.”

Once he’s a large pumpkin, he thinks that at last he’ll be scary to the hands that pick him up, but they aren’t. Finally, when he’s brought to a house, darkness falls. And when he says “Boo,” the cat says “​Yeow!” and the goblins scream “​AAAHHHHHH!”

Stephen Wunderli’s​ book, Little Boo, is an adorable tale about one little seed that can’t wait to grow up and be scary. It’s a lively board book that’s just right for toddlers who feel the same way.

Tim Zeltner’s elfin illustrations include faces on a pail, a house, the sun and snowflakes, bringing a friendly, whimsical feel to the fantastical pages.

Grimelda the Very Messy Witch

By Diana Murray; illustrated by Heather Ross; HarperCollins; 32 pages; $16.99

Red-haired Grimelda, the child witch, is very messy, but that’s how she likes it.

She chants: “Messed is best, I always say. That’s the proper witch’s way.” The problem is, she can’t find the pickle root when she wants to make pickle pie. She tries the general store, but only gets confused, saying, “They had one wormy apple core and countless cans of prickle shoot, but not a single pickle root?”

This prompts Grimelda to grab her broom and clean. She finds her scare spray, her witch watch, the silver buckle from her hat, Wizzlewarts, her fat black cat and finally her pickle root.

With a tongue-in-cheek feel and funny, busy pages, Diana Murray’s lighthearted Halloween tale, Grimelda the Very Messy Witch, ends with Grimelda casting a spell and returning to her home to mess it up again.

Face it: No witch can live in cleanliness without “a jar of slime, eight lumps of coal, a pinch of toe jam from a troll, four fleas and one big slice of moldy cheese” at the ready.

Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick-or-Treating

By Laura Gehl; pictures by Joyce Wan; Farrar Straus Giroux; 32 pages; $16.99

The “Peep and Egg” series returns for Halloween, in Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick-or-Treating, and Peep is excited to go trick-or-treating. The problem is, Egg is too scared.

When Peep talks him into donning his costume and heading to the duck pond, they arrive to find all the little duckies dressed as vampires.

When they visit the barn, they see the cows wearing mummy costumes. Egg is having none of it until Peep loosens him up with some jokes.

Finally, Peep’s constant pleading and joke-telling give Egg the confidence to join in; and the pair head off “Trick or Tweeting.”

Gentle, muted colors, rounded characters and adorable little faces will calm little ones, and they’ll long for more readings from the “Peep and Egg” books. These books take the “not” out of “I’m not.”

— Lee Littlewood writes the Kids’ Home Library column for Creators. The San Diego wife and mom’s pure love of children’s literature helps her stay interested in words and pictures meant for tots to teens. Click here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.