Book Reviews - Halloween Came Belatedly

I am adding a disclaimer to the review of these two books.  I was asked to review them and I had hoped that they would arrive prior to Halloween but unfortunately they did not.  Fortunately, they can still be read and enjoyed after the holiday.

Author: Jason Mayo
Illustrator: Justin Wolfson
Publisher: Author House (August 23, 2010)
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8
Source: Copy for Review
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Description from GoodReads:
"Do Witches Make Fishes?" is the moral tale of a young boy who favors candy over his mother's outlandish but healthy dishes. When faced with an ultimatum from his mother, the boy has to make a difficult choice. What ensues is a series of extraordinary and fantastical events that will take the reader on a magical journey through the imagination of a child. In the end, you will find yourself asking, Do Witches Make Fishes?

Jason Mayo's self-published first picture book, Do Witches Make Fishes?, reminds me a little of Allard's Miss Nelson Is Missing.   A young boy would much prefer to eat candy than things like carrots or fish.  So what is a mother to do?  While mother gives him the "mothers know best" stare, the child closes his eyes and makes a wish.  He wished her gone and in her place was a witch (this is where I make the Allard connection - the sub was Miss Nelson in disguise.  Is the mom the witch in disguise?).  A witch who tells him he better eat healthy foods or she will cast a spell on him.  With a sticky, sweet mess, the boy combats the witch and wishes for his mother again.  Maybe those carrots and fish aren't so bad after all.

Mayo's story is told in rhyming poetry.  It is silly and has a strong feeling of a parent making up a tale to get their own child to eat his/her veggies.  Justin Wolfson's illustration are colorful and silly.  Children will get a kick out of the book.  And proceeds are being donated to charity.

Author: Laura Marchesani
Illustrator: Tommy Hunt
Publisher: Grossett & Dunlap ( August 26, 2010)
Reading Level: Ages 4 to 8
Source: Copy for Review
Rating: Undecided

Description from GoodReads:
When innocent Dick and Jane meet a creepy, cape-wearing vampire, the unexpected happens: he becomes their friend! Dick and Jane and Vampires borrows from the classic stories and art we all know and love, but adds an of-the-moment twist: a vampire, illustrated in the classic Dick and Jane style. 

Marchesani's Dick and Jane and Vampires is written and illustrated in classic Dick & Jane style.  Short chapters, controlled vocabulary and repetitive language that increases by one word per line are used to tell this strange twist on the well known basal reader.  

At first, a bat begins to show fleetingly on the pages, and then the children begin to see things that or do they? At first there is the glimpse of a head in the bushes, and a shoe under the bed.  Eventually, the vampire begins to be bolder and show up more consistently until he is practically a regular at the household.  So much so that the milkman delivers a bottle of "blood" along with the milk.  The children play hide and seek and dress up with their new friend.  And eventually, they introduce their vampire friend to a goth looking female.  

Adults who are familiar with the original Dick & Jane readers will get a kick out of this book.  Beginning readers will quickly find success with the controlled language of the book.  However, in some ways this is really for an older audience who will get the humor of the story.  

I feel like I have been saying this a lot lately in reviews but I have some mixed feelings.  I couldn't help being a little creeped out by the stalker feeling of this book where an adult male vampire is hiding/hanging around 3 small children.  I don't think that was the intent of the author but it crossed my mind more than once when I was reading this book so I felt I needed to add it to my review.

Who would I recommend it to: Primarily a teen or an adult audience who enjoys twists on a classic and will fully get the humor of the story.