The best new Halloween movies and books for kids: NPR

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Gonzo in Haunted mansion of the Muppets.

Mitch Haaseth / Disney


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Gonzo in Haunted mansion of the Muppets.

Mitch Haaseth / Disney

Kids are very stressed out these days, soaking up the various real-world anxieties of adults, not to mention wearing masks long before choosing their Halloween costumes. If you’re looking for age-appropriate distractions that won’t give them nightmares, we’ve got you covered.

youth author and illustrator Jorge Lacera and Senior TV Editor of Common Sense Media Polly conway offer a selection of their favorite new books and TV shows, with varying degrees of dread. Repeat, New – not the beloved classics that should be on any Halloween kid’s food list. You look, Big pumpkin.

“It’s fun to be a little scared,” says Conway, “but it’s also nice to feel safe and have your family with you and know that nothing bad is really going to happen to you.”

For Lacera, what makes the Halloween season special is that “we play with feelings and emotions that we normally can’t put next to each other.” Emotions like joy, fear, and even a little sadness fill the stories below.

What to Watch, by Polly Conway, TV Editor-in-Chief for Common Sense Media

Haunted Mansion of the Muppets, 2021, 9+, Disney +

Haunted Mansion of the Muppets is a really fun musical special featuring a group of super cool guests. … it’s kind of a comeback for The Muppets. The Muppets have tried a bunch of different things over the past few years, and everything hasn’t worked out. But I think there is something about the special that is really reminiscent of the classic Muppets show atmosphere.”

Taraji P. Henson and Pepe the King Shrimp in Haunted mansion of the Muppets.

Mitch Haaseth / Disney


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Taraji P. Henson and Pepe the King Shrimp in Haunted mansion of the Muppets.

Mitch Haaseth / Disney

A dark and grimm tale, 2021, 11+, Netflix

Based on the Adam Gidwitz book series of the same name, A dark and grimm tale is an irreverent, dark-humor retelling of classic Grimm Brothers stories starring comedians such as Ron Funches, Nicole Byer and Scott Adsit. Conway says, “It’s pretty scary.… Kids who don’t want to watch something for babies will be thrilled with this one.… There are tons of great comedians doing vocals.” Plus, “Anytime you can hear Ron Funches laughing, it’s a good time.”

The Ghost and Molly McGee, 7+, Disney Channel

Conway calls this new series “something for the younger kids who want to be a little scared, but maybe not quite ready for the big stuff.” Eternally optimistic, Molly is a teenage girl whose family has finally moved into her home forever. She is happy. The grumpy Scratch ghost that lives in the attic, not so much. “It’s really about the relationship between her and this ghost and how they figure out how to live together. It’s really cute… pretty to look at… It’s not necessarily a Halloween choice, but there is has a Halloween vibe. “

Just beyond, 2021, 9+, Disney +

“It’s like a X-Files for the kids, ”says Conway. From the graphic novels of RL Stine (Goose bumps), “It tells all kinds of spooky stories different from a kind of science fiction bent.” Despite the odd trailer, “It’s hilarious and interesting for adults, and the kids are going to really enjoy the stories.” Conway promises, “There is fear, but there is no gore.”

What to read, from author / illustrator Jorge Lacera

Madame M’s house by Clotilde Perrin, 5-9

Madame M’s house is “a really fun and unusual book,” says Lacera. “It’s very light on the plot because you’re literally interacting with Madame M’s House.” And, yes, it’s haunted. If they dare, readers roll the shutters to find out what’s there. “You’re like, ‘Oh, please come in and check this place out, you know, come from the cold. But if you want to check this place out, make sure you don’t touch anything.’ And, of course, it’s a pop-up book with a bunch of interactive panels. ” Lacera says he and his wife and creative partner Megan love this book for “the beauty of the illustrations, but also the intelligence of the contextual elements.”

There is a ghost in this house by Oliver Jeffers, 4-8

Another visit to the haunted house, at There is a ghost in this house “the narrator is convinced that their house is haunted. But only the reader knows the truth as there is a clever use of sheets of light vellum so that turning the page reveals that there are all these ghosts lying around. in fact all over it the little girl’s house, “says Lacera,” how they hide in different nooks and crannies and do fun and silly things. ” There is more information on the creation of the book in this recent NPR interview with the author.

Pony by RJ Palacio, 10+

RJ Palacio “is a big problem in our house because of Wonder, says Lacera. Pony, set in the 1700s, is an “immediately gripping tale that includes ghosts and courage.” It is about a boy whose father is missing and it is his quest to get his father back. … He has this relationship with a ghost that’s very present in the story and kind of has that cool, scary side to it. But it is also this wonderful story of courage. … it has that feeling of a modern classic. “

A macabre little night music, do you like it?

If you need to get up and move around after all this reading and watching, Elizabeth Blair recommends the new vinyl version of Andrew Gold’s 1996 album. Halloween Howls: Fun and scary music. Like a zombie that won’t die, the trail “Scary creepy skeletons” has risen several times from the dead: A YouTuber paired The original version of Gold with a 1929 Disney cartoon, and the Undead Tombstone Remix Spawned A Billion TIC Tac videos including one by Will smith. The new vinyl reissue features artwork by Jess rotter. She tells NPR,The world needs to feel silly and get lost in the fun of Halloween. It was the perfect record for boogie as the soundtrack. I had this in mind when I created the work: to feel free and lose yourself in a vacation where you can briefly escape yourself and get away from everyday life. “

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