Backlist Reads for a Spoooooky October [Guest Post]By: Guest Post Photo By: @a.o.tales
October is my favourite month of the year. Cooler temperatures mean cozy nights reading with warm drinks and blankets. In Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving at the beginning of the month which means pumpkin pie, and of course, Halloween rounds out the month bringing candy and carved pumpkins! It’s the perfect month for reading mysteries and spooky stories, so here are some of my favourite backlist middle grade spooky recommendations and fun activities to enhance your October!
Snapdragon by Kat Leyh
Since starting this backlist feature I have been eagerly anticipating October’s article so I could finally recommend this amazing middle grade graphic novel to you all! It is one of my all time favourite middle grade stories and I can’t wait for you to read Snap’s story. It is rumoured that Jacks is the town witch, at least that is what everyone believes because she reassembles the bones of roadkill and sells them on the internet! When Snap needs a favour from Jacks, she begins to work with her —collecting and reassembling the bones of dead animals— and discovers there is so much more to Jacks than everyone assumes. Indeed, she just might have a connection to Snap’s own family history. Full of amazing friendships, diversity, and all around creepy vibes, this story will be one to read and then immediately read again!
Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe
Eva is a young witch who must earn the rank of Novice Witch before her thirteenth birthday. Her mother is an infamously powerful witch, but Eva has always struggled with her limited magic. When the opportunity arises to travel to the coastal town of Auteri to become the resident witch, Eva snatches upon it. Setting up a magical repair shop she helps the residents with “semi-magical fixes”, but when a powerful magical storm threatens the tiny town, will Eva’s pinch of magic be enough to save them? If cozy stories set in small towns, with delightful, spunky characters, adorable magical animal companions, and, of course, magic are your literary buzzwords you won’t want to miss this series opener! A perfect cozy story for those who want to avoid anything too scary this season.
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
When Ollie, an eleven-year-old brainy bookworm, sees a woman about to throw a book in the river she has to intervene! Snatching the book and escaping home on her bike she settles in to read this creepy old tale surrounding a farm 100 years ago, a girl, and two disappearing men who make a bad deal with “The Smiling Man”. When her class takes a trip to a nearby farm, she realizes the farm owner is the same woman who tried to destroy the book and this farm shares a lot of similarities to the farm in the book. Creepy things start happening when the bus breaks down on the way home and her digital wristwatch imparts an important message… RUN!
This book is shivers-down-your-spine spooky and just that *right* amount of scare. Read aloud together or put in the hands of any Goosebumps fan and get ready for a good ole fashioned ghost story!
Watch: Kiki’s Delivery Service
After reading Eva Evergreen gather the family around this studio Ghibli fan favourite. All ages can appreciate this calming, magical story that follows a young witch who ventures to the city to help residents with her magic. She lands a job with the local kind baker, delivering her baked goods. But Kiki lacks confidence and her magic is tested, and even lost, as her confidence continues to decline. A coming of age story about trusting yourself and holding on to confidence and true friendships.
Make: Mac n Cheese!
One of my favourite scenes in Snapdragon is where Lou comes over to Snap’s house to watch movies and do homework. Through the exchanging and trying on of clothes, Lou acknowledges a powerful part of their identity. I absolutely adore Snap’s mom’s reaction when she gets home from work! It’s a truly heartwarming scene. To celebrate, Snap makes everyone some mac n cheese for dinner! This is my personal favourite easy, no fuss homemade mac n cheese recipe that is so super simple to make, even the youngest chefs can help out. Even better it turns out just as delicious made dairy free with almond milk and lactose free cheese.
Make & Visit:
Of course scarecrows play a central part in the suuuuuper creeeeepy Small Spaces, so why not make your own scarecrow corner bookmark? Make it scary, make it happy, it’s up to you! I love this easy paper craft from Red Ted Art that uses simple scraps of paper and has an easy 5 minute video tutorial explaining each step. (Her awesome accent is a bonus plus!!) All ages and skills can enjoy this activity and if you’re looking for more scarecrow crafts she has also rounded up this great list.
And, of course, if you are feeling especially brave after reading Small Spaces, I encourage you to visit a corn maze … if you dare!! (Bonus: Corn mazes make an excellent spot for some amazing fall family photos.)