Under October’s luna, full and bright, the monsters are throwing a ball in the Haunted Hall. Las brujas come on their broomsticks. Los muertos rise from their coffins to join in the fun. Los esqueletos rattle their bones as they dance through the door. And the scariest creatures of all aren’t even there yet!
- Title: Los Gatos Black on Halloween
- Author: Marisa Montes
- Illustrator: Yuyi Morales
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
- ISBN: 0805074295
- Publication Date: August 22, 2006
- For Ages: 4-8
- Category: Picture Book
- Spooky-Scary or Spooky-Fun? ☠️ Scary.
Welcome to the first day of Blogoween! I wanted to kick off my month-long celebration with a picture book that I think is perfect for the holiday: Los Gatos Black on Halloween. It’s dark, moody, and even a little disturbing, which I find very refreshing in a children’s book. With sophisticated rhymes and rich, eerie illustrations, it’s a beautiful story that will leave children in wide-eyed, spooky wonder.
This book is perfectly balanced between art and verse — Yuyi Morales’s paintings and Marisa Montes’s words share a depth and chilly somberness that evoke the spirit world that bleeds into our own at Halloween. You’d be hard-pressed to find a straight line in any of these illustrations…everything bends and curves in such a way that it feels like even the laws of physics are being affected by the Veil opening between the worlds of the living and the dead. Morales keeps you gently off balance throughout the book; the astonishing depth of her paintings draws you in, but the constant whoosh of movement never gives you a chance to find solid ground, perfectly conveying the unease of having one foot in our world and one foot in the world of the spirits.
Morales’s art is exceptional, but Marisa Montes’s gorgeous, sophisticated verse is just as ominous and eerie. She weaves spooky Spanish vocabulary words into her Halloween rhymes seamlessly. (There’s a glossary at the back with a pronunciation guide, which is perfect for kids learning Spanish and for librarians or teachers leading storytime who may need help with their pronunciation.) The ominous feeling Morales imbues into her words and the bilingual verse give the reader the sense that they are performing a spell or incantation, bringing the words to life as they read.
Los Gatos Black on Halloween has everything you could want in a picture book. The verse is both educational and eerie, with a hypnotic poetry that will have children spellbound. The rich, atmospheric artwork is darkly humorous and dynamic, setting a mood that is just ominous enough for the holiday but not too intense for young readers. This spooky, sophisticated picture book will provide the perfect level of frights and remain a favorite for years to come.
This is a Halloween masterpiece. I give this book 5 out of 5 coffins.