I think the best story books are those with really evocative, eye-catching illustrations that grip children as much as the words, and one of my recent favourites is The Haunted House by Kazuno Kohara.
The story is very simple – a witch catches some ghosts, puts them in the washing machine and then uses them as curtains, table cloths and bed linen!
The words are almost incidental as the bold, linocut illustrations tell the story on their own. What is most notable about the pictures is that there are only 3 colours – orange, black and white – throughout the whole book.
Kazuno moved from Japan to the UK as an art student, to study MA printmaking at Anglia Ruskin University. The Haunted House was her first book, published soon after her graduation, and was voted one of the Best Illustrated Children’s Books by the New York Times in 2008.
Kohara’s bold colours and simple imagery were the starting point for our own Halloween pictures, which were made using only 2 sheets of paper (black and orange), black and white pencils, scissors and glue! To get everyone in a spooky frame of mind, I read the story at the beginning of the class. Then the children used white pencils to draw their own tumble-down, haunted houses on a sheet of black paper.
The next task was to carefully cut out their houses, and I used a craft knife to help them cut the flaps for the windows and doors to open properly. The children then glued their haunted houses onto orange paper and used black pencils to fill them with spooky things – bats, cats, mice, spiders, cobwebs, pumpkins and witches, even vampire knights in armour!
Click through the gallery to see what else lurks inside the children’s haunted houses, if you dare…