Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Halloween Spirit

Ever since I stopped making my annual candy-collecting rounds, I've become a bit out of touch with the Halloween Spirit. Working at Curious George at this time of year has, of course, reawakened the proper sentiments. I now find myself wishing for pumpkins and flickering lights to appear in my neighborhood and planning what to wear to work on the 31st (LadyBug Girl complete with spotted galoshes and an antenna headband). If you find yourself a bit lackluster at this time of year, or want to increase the enjoyment you already expect from the upcoming holiday, these are a few books and toys you might find useful. I know they helped me:

Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara

This creative, quirky picture book might just make it into my top 20 books of all time - any age of fiction included. I love the orange monochromatic color scheme, go weak in the knees over the illustrations, and if I ever recover my wits enough to comprehend the plot, I vow to take it as an example for my every action. Instead of succumbing to the normal reaction of seeing several ghosts in one's home, the little witch in Kazuno Kohara's story decides to re-envision the problem. The ghosts look scary and rather unhappy at first, but they also remind everyone, including the little girl, of fabric. And what does one do with dirty, unhappy clothes? Pop them in the washing machine, of course. Thus the surly ghosts become cheery, smiling curtains, a table cloth and two bedspreads. A unique solution to an age-old problem. this would also be a fantastic book for children who are scared of ghosts, for the little witch shows the perfect way to deal with one.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

I readily admit that The Graveyard Book would be excellent enjoyed at any time of year, but reading it during the Halloween season is akin to enjoying a hot cup of tea on a cold winter's day, that is to say, it fits just perfectly. Without ever mentioning the holiday specifically, it entices the imagination to dwell upon benign ghosts, ghouls, witches, and, of course, a wise and almost friendly vampire. What sets this book apart from many other holiday novels is the quality of story telling. Neil Gaiman shows the reader the life of the main character, Bod, in a sequence of short, well crafted stories. By the time he has to face the society that murdered his parents - he is ready, and the reader knows exactly why. This is a must-read for fans of J.K Rowling, Nancy Farmer, or Rick Riordan.

Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills

This sweet board book is a fantastic introduction to the fall, and Halloween, season for younger readers. Toddlers will love watching cute duck and goose interact and enjoy trying to point them in the right direction. This board book is particularly nice in that it doesn't focus on the more frightening aspects of the holiday, it instead leads readers to look at the step even before carving a jac-o'-lantern: finding a pumpkin.

Colorable Halloween Treat Sack by Two's Company

This product is a much more sophisticated take on the old practice of simply coloring a cheap pillow case with markers. Coloring in the haunted house and ghosts could be a great pre-Trick-or-Treat activity; one I would have loved to indulge in as a kid.

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