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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Last-minute Halloween books and movies take the focus off all-sweets

Halloween tends to direct all eyes to costumes and candy, at least among the children.

Families still can find last-minute holiday activities to weave in some other memories. For a list of favorite Halloween books and shows, The Spokesman-Review turned to librarians, bookworms and movie fans.

Kelly Kiki, North Central High School teacher, said his first thought for Halloween movies means creeping around with certain characters brought to life by filmmaker Tim Burton. He said his love for Burton’s work sometimes is referenced while teaching his freshman English classes.

“Yes, movies that I grew up with are the ones that keep playing not only in my head but also in my home,” Kiki said.

“From VCR to DVD to streaming video, ‘Beetlejuice’ keeps us checking under the beds and around the closet doors. And yes, we repeat the words ‘Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice.’ Burton’s cinematic techniques and willingness to address his own childhood fears helped me fall in love with his films, ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas,’ ‘Corpse Bride,’ ‘Edward Scissorhands’ and many more.”

He also suggests “Hotel Transylvania” of 2012, and that “All reworkings of ‘The Addams Family’ make Halloween fun. My love started with the simple story and music of the original TV series and continued with the 1991 big-screen adaptation. Then, in 2019 the Addams Family came to us in animation. One can’t help falling in love with each character from ‘The Addams Family.’”

“The Addams Family” of 1991 has a PG-13 rating for ages 12 and older. Common Sense Media rates “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Hotel Transylvania,” and the animated “The Addams Family” for ages 7 and older.

The nonprofit suggests that “Corpse Bride” is appropriate beginning near the age of 10 and above for “scares most 10-year-olds can handle,” and “Beetlejuice” and “Edward Scissorhands,” as appropriate for ages 13 and up.

The scariest one on Kiki’s list is just for parents, though, after children are slumbering. “At home, when the kids go to bed, I sink into my couch for Burton’s adaptation of a classic: ‘Sleepy Hollow.’ “

Other classic Halloween movies to consider include some PG-rated ones: “Casper” and Disney’s “Monsters, Inc.”

For reading time, the Spokane County Library District has suggested ideas in a holiday-themed list of books.

Among those reads are “The Crayons Trick or Treat” by Drew Daywalt, “The Stars Did Wander Darkling” by Colin Meloy and “The Clackity” by Spokane author Lora Senf. “The Midnight Children” by Dan Gemeinhart, of Cashmere, Washington, tells the story of a family of runaways who take up residence in a small town, and the outcast boy who finds his voice and his people.

For a Halloween family movie, the library’s youth collection development librarian Sheri Boggs said choices might include the nostalgia that adults loved as a child: “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” “Scooby-Doo” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

If your crew is extra-wiggly, consider throwing a Family Halloween Dance Party with the Kidz Bop Halloween Party CD, or a craft night that celebrates “the cozier autumnal vibe of the season,” Boggs said.

“I absolutely love ‘A Fall Treasury of Recipes, Crafts, and Wisdom,’ by Angela Ferraro-Fanning, which is part of the ‘Little Homesteaders’ series,” she said. “Some of the best Halloween memories can be had by spending time together and enjoying spooky-not-scary fun.”

Spokane Public Library also offered a list of holiday-themed book favorites, if some are still available for checkout or to inspire a peak through your collections.

Among that library’s team suggestions are “My Magical Witch” by Yujin Shin, which offers a rhyming tale with pull tabs and flaps, along with the picture book, “A Spoonful of Frogs” by Casey Lyall and illustrated by Vera Brosgol.

If families have time to visit downtown before the evening’s activities, staff members at Auntie’s Bookstore also compiled a list of holiday book offerings:

Picture Books: “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything” by Linda Williams; “The Little Ghost Who Was a Quilt” by Riel Nason; “There’s a Ghost in this House” by Oliver Jeffers; “Gustavo the Shy Ghost” by Flavia Z. Drago;

Middle Grade: “The Clackity” by Lora Senf; “Goosebumps” by R.L. Stine; “Garlic & the Vampire” by Bree Paulsen (graphic novel); “Garlic & the Witch” by Bree Paulsen (graphic novel);

Young Adult: “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman; “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs.

Adult: “Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs” by Caitlin Doughty (technically an adult science book); “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson; “Dracula” by Bram Stoker; “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova; “It Came from the Closet” by Joe Vallese; “Dark Archives” by Megan Rosenbloom; and “Jawbone” by Monica Ojeda.

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