‘Fingers for Halloween’

By Brandt Lewis

Crack them up with “Fingers for Halloween,” by Brandt Lewis. Though this board book is supposed to be for kiddos birth to age 3, it’s a finger-puppet goodie guaranteed to have older children rollicking with laughter.

The premise is initially a bit shocking to stomach. With a hole for each finger, readers insert their pinkies, pointers and thumbs, and wiggle away, to the singsong rhyming text:

“Hello there! How are you this Halloween evening?

“I hope that you’re ready to go trick-or-treating!

“But I am not looking for candy or gum.

“What I want to eat is a fat little thumb.

“It will taste oh-so-sweet on this spooky, dark evening.

“So please do not wash it before I start eating! CHOMP!”

With each page turn, the holes for readers’ fingers are reduced, until all have been ingested by a bevy of Halloween characters. Bright and busy illustrations by Cori Doerrfeld depict ghouls and goblins and all manner of Halloween stuff. This fun title gets a resounding thumbs-up!

‘Creepy Pair of Underwear’

By Aaron Reynolds

Unique undies in eerie green terrorize Jasper the bunny in “Creepy Pair of Underwear!” by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated with zany pictures by Peter Brown.

The trouble begins when Jasper’s mom takes him to the store for some “plain white” undies. As luck would have it, the bunny spots another pair, horrific originals, “so creepy” and “so comfy,” with a monster’s mug on the front.

Jasper just has to have them, even though his wise mother warns they might be a tad too terrifying. “I’m a big rabbit now!” Jasper counters.

As soon as Jasper gets home he slips on the underwear. When his dad comes to kiss him goodnight he asks his son if he wants the hallway light left on. “I’m a big rabbit now!” Jasper repeats.

But not big or brave enough to fight off his fears when Jasper’s underwear starts glowing under the covers! What’s a bunny to do but stuff them in the bottom of the laundry hamper? Alas, when Jasper awakes in the morning, his bum is clad in the underwear again.

Horrified, Jasper exits the house determined to rid himself of the creepy undergarment, that glows green in the trash can, and materializes no matter how hard he tries to send them packing.

This clever story is sure to delight children in preschool-third grade. It’s a marvelous collabration by the team who wrote and illustrated “Creepy Carrots.” After veggies and underwear, one wonders what caper Reynolds and Brown will come up with next.

‘The Wonderling: Songcatcher’

By Mira Bartók

Adventures abound for the wonderling — the gullible and unlikely hero of “The Wonderling: Songcatcher,” by Mira Bartók. This fantasy series for young readers 8-12 is long on creativity and features an admirable, vulnerable creature that “looked like a young fox but stood upright like a child and had no tail to speak of.”

The wonderling is an orphan among other “groundlings” enslaved by the sinister Miss Carbunkle at her Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures. To Miss Carbunkle and her henchman, the wonderling is simply a number, unlucky “Number 13.”

For those incarcerated at Miss Carbunkle’s, every day is drudgery, cruel treatment, and meager rations that leave the inhabitants weak and hopeless. Miss Carbunkle detests music and stresses the “Golden Rule of Silence.” Her pet is the churlish Mardox, a cane that possesses ancient, evil magic.

The wonderling longs to learn the secrets of his past, and discover the whereabouts of his parents. When a friendship develops between the wonderling and a brave bird, a plan to escape presents itself, and the two act, putting their lives in danger.

Soon after, they part ways, the wonderling off to find his parents and his little friend heading in the opposite direction to be reunited with his. But the wandering wonderling, too trusting for his own good, finds himself knee-deep in trouble again, yet he meets this challenge and others, growing in confidence and courage as he meets danger head-on.

There’s much to relish about “The Wonderling,” a rousing, Dickins-like tale, well written, and peppered with “steampunk.” Action abounds and there are twists and turns aplenty. Spot illustrations by Bartók add to the book’s appeal.

Books suggested in Book Sprouts can be purchased at Neighborhood Reads in Downtown Washington.