Pratima Sarkar’s colorful illustrations enhance this familiar story’s lively, seasonal vibe, showing a smiling, wide-eyed Constantine doing fun things like playing in piles of orange leaves and dancing next to a table filled with caramel apples before he ventures into a haunted landscape rife with skeletons, spider webs, and witches. (An awkwardly anthropomorphic letter O with human arms accompanies him but seems out of place in a determinedly real-world story where the fantastical is what kids imagine and wear as costumes.)
Most of this autumnal lark doesn’t cover new ground regarding All Hallows’ Eve, so the inclusion of “shocking, creepy cuisine” is a pleasant surprise. One of Constantine’s favorite treats is soul cakes, described as “Celtic breads decorated with crosses made of currants.” Kelley includes welcome historical reference: “‘Souling’ was a house-to-house ritual inspiring the modern trick-or-treater, a Halloween custom that sparked today’s neighborhood, costumed candy-corn eater.” Kelley includes an easy-to-follow recipe, so families can work together to make soul cakes of their own. This book is a celebration of all things spooky, and elementary school kids who love to prowl the neighborhood on the scariest night of the year will find this a welcome addition to their library.
Takeaway: A picture-book celebration of Halloween, the start of fall, and the pleasures of soul bread.
Great for fans of: Lucy Ruth Cummins’s Stumpkin, Patricia Toht’s Pick a Pumpkin.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: B