Pumpkin Soup is fun for all ages. It's not specifically a Halloween story but of course it has the pumpkin theme, and there is just the right toddler-appropriate touch of scariness toward the end. The story starts out with the duck, the cat, and the squirrel, who live together and make pumpkin soup the same way every time, each doing their own specific job. When the duck decides one day that he'd rather stir than put in the salt, the other two are scandalized. Duck leaves in a huff, and then the other two figure out that having their friend around is probably more important than how they fix the soup. I love the way this book is written. There are lots of great descriptive words which makes it fun to read out loud. And I'm a fan of the subtle-but-there messages about friendship and trying new things.
The Widow's Broom was a new one for us this year and was definitely more appropriate for the Buddy, who is five. I tried reading it to the Nugget once but she didn't make it past the third page and was clearly not following the story. Of course Chris Van Allsburg's illustrations are amazing. The detail in the black and white pictures is absolutely incredible. This was a great semi-scary choice for my sensitive Buddy. It has just enough creepy factor to be fun, without giving her nightmares. The story begins with a witch's broom that is starting to lose its power, and drops its witch off without warning in a lonely widow's garden. The widow is clearly freaked out, but she invites the witch inside to heal up, and the witch rewards her by leaving behind her broom. The broom can sweep by itself, but then the widow figures out that she can teach it to do other things and pretty soon it's a big help around the house. All is fine until her narrow-minded neighbors get involved, and then the widow has to outsmart them to keep her broom. It's a great story with a little twist at the end. The Buddy loved it! Younger kids might need a little help understanding what is happening in the story, but five-year-olds and up will probably enjoy it.