”Cat Nights,” by Jane Manning, Scholastic Inc., 2008, paperback

On Felicity’s 263rd birthday, she knew this day was special. For a witch, the 263-year was when she grew her first wart. Also her toes curled up and she was able to cast her first spell. Best of all, tonight she would be able to change herself into a cat.

Felicity’s older cousins, Wanda, Woo and Willa thought broomstick flying and brewing potions were better talents for witches. As soon as darkness fell, Felicity quoted the cat-changing words. One hard and fast rule: she could perform the cat-changing spell only eight times. The ninth time was permanent; she couldn’t change back to her old witchy self. Her cat role would be permanent.

Felicity had such fun being a cat, but on the ninth night, the cousins suggested they all stay in and roast newts and drink toadstool tea. Can Felicity keep herself from doing her cat-changing spell? Does a witch? Or a cat? Really have nine lives?

•••

”The Berenstain Bears Go On a Ghost Walk,” by Stan & Jan Berenstain, HarperCollins Publishers, 2005, paperback

Papa Bear’s favorite holiday was Halloween. This year he was in charge of the school’s Ghost Walk. He took Brother and Sister Bear to the party store to help him. They bought ghosts, skeletons, bats, black cats, scary masks and a gigantic spray can of cobwebs.

Farmer Ben donated some weird misshapened pumpkins to make the spookiest jack-o’-lanterns. He made them so frightening that it scared the cubs. Mama Bear reminded him that “One person’s fun is another person’s nightmare.”

Papa used masks and old clothes to create literary monsters like Frankenbear, the Bear Vampire, even a bear mummy. Thinking that a good Halloween should be especially scary, Papa dressed as Blackbeard, the meanest, scariest, bloodthirstiest pirate ever to sail the sea.

Papa even had a sword dripping blood stuck through his chest. Brother and Sister were terrified and Baby Honey began to cry. That night Papa had nightmares and he was the most frightened one of all.

This is a perfect book to share on Halloween. It finishes up with an activity page including a crossword puzzle and a word hunt.

JoAn Watson Martin is an educator.

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