It’s that alter-ego time of year when we get to flaunt a part of our personality that is often hidden—or a part we’d like to grow into. My favorite costumes are the ones people make or pull together themselves. They express an individual’s hidden parts, dreams or sense of humor. (I wish I could find the picture of my adult dread-headed son as a watermelon, his nickname.) Prepackaged costumes seem so boring, but I guess they do give an indication of how the collective unconscious is going. Now that’s a scary thought.
The Original Duct Tape Halloween Book, written by Jim Berg and Tim Nyberg and published by Workman Publishing Co in 2003. This book features homemade costumes made with duct tape for YA to adult. Some of the costumes are suitable for preparation in the last fifteen minutes before you go to a party. The book comes with a frightening warning that some of the ideas are “incredibly stupid.” The authors and publisher therefore take no responsibility for pain or hair loss when removing the costume. The book never fails to make me laugh. Some of the ideas are really clever (which can be simultaneously stupid—so exercise common sense).
The rest of the books in today’s post are picture books, but, trust me, you don’t have to be young to enjoy them.
The Olivia books by Ian Falconer are a good source for costume ideas. My new favorite is Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, published by Athenum Books for Young People in 2012. Olivia, who likes to stand out, wails, “Why do they all want to be pink?” Hear, hear, Olivia! (Or is it “Here, here, Olivia?”) While not specifically a Halloween book, Olivia comes up with a bunch of variations on the princess theme. I love her character and Falconer’s illustrations.
Speaking of character, if you have a favorite character from a series, you will probably be able to find a related Halloween story—Fancy Nancy, Nate the Great, the Magic Treehouse kids, and so on.
Most of the books on the Halloween display table that stand out story-wise aren’t actually about Halloween. One current Halloween story I would read multiple times is Scaredy-cat, Splat!, written and illustrated by Rob Scotton and published by Harper Collins Children’s Books in 2010. If you are familiar with the Splat books, you’ll recognize the humorous drawings and clever twists. Splat knows he wants to be scary, but doesn’t know what to be for Halloween. The solution to this problem will make you laugh. But wait! There’s more—a solution to one issue doesn’t mean all goes according to plan.
There are older books that, for me, have held up over the years. Maria Molina and the Days of the Dead, written by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez, and published by Macmillen in 1994. While celebrating the Days of the Dead in Mexico and thinking of her relatives who have died, Maria thinks of what she would be doing if she were celebrating Halloween in the United States.
When I read this book years ago, I felt I finally understood the Days of the Dead and how they help grieving. The year after the death of my friend Betty on Halloween, two friends joined me in our church’s columbarium to remember Betty. We came with marigolds, candles, and a skeleton. When Betty was off work for a time, she passed the time by making about 50 gathered skirts. Rubber stamping was one of her later hobbies, and she was legendary for her collection. So I dressed the skeleton in a gathered skirt and with a tiny rubber stamp attached to it’s hand. It helped me to have her remembered.
Rattlebone Rock, written by Sylvia Andrews, illustrated by Jennifer Piecas, and published by Harper Trophy in 1997. Rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, onomatopoeia combine into a rollicking book that was a must-read with my first graders. If you read this to a group, pretty soon everyone will be joining in. Swisha! Swisha!
Don’t forget the contest!
Please tell me which of the posts so far is the most helpful. That will get your name thrown into my gardening hat. If you tell me what makes that post your favorite, I’ll throw your name in a second time. The contest will close at midnight on 11/8/12, when a name will be drawn. I’m trying to see what appeals to those of you who are reading this blog. I’m very grateful for your time and interest.
The prize? Unless you tell me you already have The Pig and the Dragon, I’ll send you a copy. If you do have it, let me know if you’d like a picture book, an early reader, a middle grade, or a young adult, and I’ll send you something from my stash. I’ll e-mail the winner to get your mailing address and will let you all know what I learned.