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Los gatos black on Halloween

by Marisa Montes


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Halloween and the Day of the Dead overlap in this atmospheric, bilingual romp. Montes (Juan Bobo Goes to Work) composes serviceable stanzas, using English and Spanish words as synonyms: "Los gatos black with eyes of green,/ Cats slink and creep on Halloween." This dual-language approach can be redundant ("At medianoche midnight strikes..."), yet Morales (Harvesting Hope) holds readers' attention with surreal, faintly macabre spreads in dim turquoise and clay-brown hues, illuminated by fuschia and flame orange. Witches fly broomsticks like skateboard whizzes, a headstone references Mexican comic Cantinflas and sallow-faced muertos dance until children arrive: "The thing that monsters most abhor/ Are human ninos at the door!" Ages 4-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

K-Gr. 2. A cat's green eyes stare out from the book's cover. Inside, there are more of los gatos--as well as las brujas (witches), los fantasmas (ghosts), and los esqueletos (skeletons looking like they have come from a Dia de los Muertos celebration. The pithy, rhyming text tells a frightening, if familiar, story. The ghosts and ghoulies are off to a Monsters' Ball at Haunted Hall, and though there's plenty of scary stuff around, the guests are most frightened by the children who come knocking at the door for trick-or-treat. Montes' evocative poem deserves exceptional artwork, and Morales obliges. Her soft-edged paintings glow with the luminosity of jewels, and her witches, werewolves, and corpses are frighteningly executed. Therein lies what may be a problem for preschoolers. These fiends aren't particularly kid-friendly; they are dead-eyed, Day of the Dead folk who scare. For slightly older children, however, this spookiness is what Halloween is all about. The Spanish is neatly integrated into the text, but for those who need clarification, a glossary is appended. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2006 Booklist

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 1-4-Montes smoothly incorporates Spanish terms into a rhythmic poem describing a moonlit Halloween night. Los esqueletos rattle bones and clatter in a dance, los fantasmas "drag their chains" and "shriek their pains," and los muertos emerge from their graves to join other creatures at a haunted casa for music and dancing. However, the party stops dead with the arrival of trick-or-treaters, which causes the frightened spooks to hide, for "The thing that monsters most abhor/Are human ni-os at the door!" The full-bleed paintings create a creepy mood with curving lines, fluid textures, and dusky hues. Rounded figures dance across the atmospheric spreads, which depict blank-faced skeletons, a toothy werewolf, and a child zombie with glowing eyes. The pictures are eerie enough to tingle spines, but the effect is leavened with bits of humor (witches perform skateboard tricks on their brooms, a vampire admires himself in a mirror that reflects only his clothing). The poem's cadenced rhymes and descriptive language build suspense until the satisfying ending. Spanish words are easy to understand in context, but are also defined in a glossary with pronunciation guides. This book is just right for children who are beginning to find typical Halloween fare a bit too tame.-Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



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