________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 10 . . . . January 21, 2005



Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko.
Markham, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2004.
32 pp., pbk. & cl., $6.99 (pbk.), $19.99 (cl.).
ISBN 0-439-96126-2 (pbk.), ISBN 0-439-96124-6 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Halloween - Juvenile fiction.
Face painting - Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 3-8.

Review by Liz Greenaway.

***1/2 /4


On Hallowe'en, Lance went to his father and said, "This year, I am not going to wear a mask. I'm going to paint my face and make it very, very scary."

"That's nice, Lance," said his father. "It's a lot less work for me. You go and paint your face."

So Lance went to the bathroom and painted:

worms coming out of his hair,
ants crawling on his cheeks,
and snakes coming out of his mouth.

Then he went downstairs, walked up behind his father, and said, "Boo!"

His father turned around and yelled,


"Not scary enough!" said Lance. "I wanted him to fall over."
So Lance went back upstairs and painted:

green brains coming out the side of his head,
one eye falling down over his face,
and orange goop coming out of his nose.

Then he went downstairs, walked up behind his father, and said, "Boo!"

His father yelled,


and fell right over.

"Scary enough!" said Lance.


     Lance is determined to make his face really really scary this year for Hallowe'en. When his father falls over when he sees it, Lance knows that he has succeeded. When he goes trick-or-treating, the adults fall over, and Lance takes all the candy in the house. When a cop dares him to show his face, Lance does, and the cop runs away.

internal art

     Finally, Lance meets his match: a teenager has painted a scary face and has an even scarier face than Lance's. But Lance's is still scarier, and the teenager runs away, leaving Lance with enough candy to last until next Hallowe'en.

     Boo! is classic Robert Munsch. Here we have the build up, the repetition, the hyperbole and most of all, the besting of adults by kids, in this case, even cops and teenagers, in the subversion of roles that kids love and expect from Robert Munsch. Here, Robert Munsch seems to tap in on a big part of the appeal of Hallowe'en. It's not only the candy that makes it such a fun holiday, but it's also a time to be outrageous and scary in a very safe way.

     Michael Martchenko's familiar watercolours play up the fun, especially in the double spread when readers finally get to see Lance's hideous face. Kids will also delight in familiar characters in the pictures as well for the Paper Bag Princess joins Lance in triumphantly taking his haul of candy home.

     With 40 books behind him, it is no surprise that Robert Munsch is Canada's best-selling author. Time will tell if Boo! will remain a Munsch classic. What is certain is that Boo! is a very fun book that kids will delight in. A good choice for any home or school library.

Highly Recommended.

Liz Greenaway has worked in bookselling and publishing and currently lives in Edmonton, AB, with two small children who delighted in meeting Robert Munsch last year.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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