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Reviewed by:
  • Just Say Boo!
  • Hope Morrison
Hood, Susan . Just Say Boo!; illus. by Jed Henry. Harper/HarperCollins, 2012. 32p. ISBN 978-0-06-201029-2 $12.99 R 4-7 yrs.

When three siblings, dressed as a bat, a witch, and a shark, venture out on Halloween night, they deal with all manner of slightly spooky situations by collectively and gleefully shouting "BOO!" in the face of adversity ("If the ghosts in the trees/ wibble-wobble your knees,/ what do you say?// BOO!"; "If a yip and a yowl make you shiver and scowl, what do you say? BOO!"). The rhyming story ends with the three siblings returning to their home and comforting their frightened baby brother ("If the little one cries,/ please help dry his eyes/ and teach him to just say// BOO!"), thus ensuring that this useful tool is available to future ranks of trick-or-treaters. Hood's seasonal tale is particularly successful at balancing the scariness and the festivity of Halloween; there is just the right amount of potential spookiness to satisfy young listeners while keeping the emphasis squarely on kid-centered fun. [End Page 88] Henry's watercolor illustrations have a somewhat nostalgic feel, with toothy kids grinning out from fields of browns, golds, and yellows. The deft employment of creepy shadows adds to the fear factor, and the alternately quailing and bouncing kids keep the compositions lively. There is obvious potential here for group involvement, and the rich language and enjoyable visuals make it an ideal readaloud for the Halloween season.