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Herbert's First Halloween by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Steven Henry

I am pretty sure that I started every review of a Halloween picture book talking about how good Halloween books are few and far between and I should know since I spent every October for almost 20 years reading them at story time when I was a bookseller. And, while I might sound like a broken record, it is worth noting that Herbert's First Halloween is the first Halloween book I have reviewed in two years. What makes Herbert's Halloween stand out from the crowd of Halloween books that come out each year? Cynthia Rylant's talent as a story teller ,combined with her gentle way with the concerns and fears that children, definitely make this a stand out book. Add to this the slightly retro, charming illustrations by  Steven Henry (formerly Steven D'Amico of Ella the Elephant fame) and you have the perfect book for little listeners who are just getting the hang of Halloween.
Rylan't begins Herbert's First Halloween, "Herbert was not sure about Halloween." Respecting his son's hesitancy, Herbert's father eases him into the holiday, showing him pictures of himself as a child in costume. Once a costume is agreed upon (a tiger), Herbert's father beings making a pattern and sewing it, while Herbert practices roaring in the closet.

Of course his father also tells Herbert about the candy and how he will need a bucket to hold it all. When the big night comes, Herbert is ready. Holding his father's hand, the two head out into the neighborhood. When the night is over, father and son talk about next year's Halloween.
I try not to use the overused, innocuous word "sweet," when describing a picture book, but, in the truest sense of the word, Herbert's First Halloween is a sweet story - charming, endearing and a lovely example of subtly great parenting that you don't often see in picture books. 

Source: Review Copy


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