The Taming of the Halloween Monsters:
The Saga of the Gallant Platoon
by Kaspee illustrated by Mary Toia McCarthy Trafford Publishing

"This is a saga of long long ago
When monsters ruled the world, above and below.
The Monsters were called the Halloween,
They ruled the mountains, the seas, and all in between."

The Taming of the Halloween Monsters is good fun, composed by a loving grandfather, Keith S. Pennington (i.e. Kaspee) for a "constant flow of grandchildren" in the home of this retired research scientist and his wife.

The story is short, which is only fitting for a book for small children whose attention will wander. It concerns something nearly all children above the age of three will understand: Halloween. Children know that behind the candy and the treats, there is a "tricky" side to Halloween, so without forcing these little ones to digest old myths and pagan fables, some of them too eerie and complex to handle, Kaspee has devised a simpler, more exciting tale. There are a group of huge monsters ("ten feet tall, they could uproot trees and knock down any stone wall") with green hair, two toes and three nostrils, called "the Halloween." They are out to do mischief, so one night in October, they kidnap a nice little girl named Resi Thom, and her friends, and lock them in Devil's Mountain Cave. But that is a "very grave error," because Resi is a friend to all the forest creatures, who call themselves The Gallant Platoon. They—Archie the Cat, Eyebright the Owl, Throgmorton the Raccoon and Sounder the Bat—devise a daring rescue, which not only sets Resi free, but also converts the Halloween monsters into happy allies. The rescue involves spider webs and pumpkins with candles inside, and a bombardment of candy, which the monsters, enjoy—who wouldn't?—and ever after, as you may have guessed, "children of all ages" celebrate the rescue of Resi Thom with pumpkins, scary costumes, and plenty of candy.

The rhyme scheme occasionally goes awry, but the author's positive sentiment is evident, and the illustrations, by Mary Toia McCarthy, are a constant delight—large, colorful, with a rather classic feel. They provide lots to look at, discover, point to and talk about, creating even more interactions between child and grown-up reader to accompany the story. Kaspee has written poems for adults and hopes to publish those as well. This effort, strictly for children, will be appreciated by the adult readers, too.

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