Black and Bittern Was Night
Robert Heidbreder, John Martz
Kids Can Press—2013
Ages 4 to 8, Grades P to 3
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’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Do you remember this famous poem (very likely to have had you pulling out your hair back in 10th grade)? Jabberwocky by Lewis Carol is probably the most famous nonsense poem in the English canon (by the way, have you seen the Baby Lit version? Adorable.), but the picture book Black and Bittern Was Night by Robert Heidbreder and John Martz is—by far—my favorite.
The epic action all happens on Halloween night. The kids (tyke-tots) are all dressed up in their costumes, but an army of skeletons (or SKUL-A-MUG-MUGS) invades the town, hypnotizes the adults (tall-bigs), and cancels trick-or-treat. The kids fight back, however, and a fierce scaring battle ensues. In the end (spoiler alert!), the kid army returns victorious and shares their tale of battle fought and won.
All you tall-bigs don’t need to worry: the funny illustrations and nonsensical verse keep the book on the silly side of scary and make it fun to read over and over. I haven’t been able to stop chanting the tyke-tots' victory cry:
“Thrickle! And thrackle!
We’ll splook you sway!”