One day closer to Halloween and this costume thing is almost there. The eight-year-old is going to be a genie, using a dance outfit from a thrift store. Just minutes ago I dug through the dress-up box and was able to pull together a little box hat and veil. I’d love a little fake genie lamp, but it’s more likely that she’ll be carrying around an recycled bottle of Little Penguin. (Some proceeds from the sale of the wine go to help penguins in need. Yeah, Little Penguin!) The eleven-year-old wants to be a gypsy girl after buying the perfect deadhead skirt at a “special” shop in Virginia Beach. I wanted the skirt for myself, but apparently there aren’t a lot of women of girth following the Dead (or whoever the hippies are following these days), so I let my daughter buy it.
I read to the third-grade class today, and we had a lot of fun with the books I’d brought. I shared some poems from Halloween Stories and Poems. This book is a little more kid-friendly than some I’ve seen, with a less gruesome version of Jigsaw Puzzle and some silly poems along with the spooky ones. Generally, it can be hard to read in the school for Halloween. You don’t want to go too scary. I also tend to avoid books about school costume parties. I don’t want to rub it in that they’re not getting a party because most of the time, they’re not these days. Once you take out the books that are really too young for them, and the books featuring some commercial character, it can be tricky to find the right titles. But I picked two winners today.
The Scariest Monster in the Whole Wide World, by Pamela Mayer, is not a monster story, despite the title. Instead, it’s about finding the right costume when kid and parents disagree. Thea Dewlicky had won second prize last year at her costume parade with her fairy costume. This year, her parents are planning the costume that is sure to win, but Thea has other ideas. She wants to be the scariest monster in the whole wide world, with scales and claws and an ax in her head. Her parents are horrified, and take her shopping to find a suitable outfit, but Thea cannot be swayed. Along comes Grandma, who lets the kid be a kid, but finds a way to make the parents happy too. Along with being a fun Halloween story, it’s a good message for over-involved parents. Who will probably totally miss the point.
Boris and Bella, by Carolyn Crimi, takes us into the land of vampires, mummies, and monsters. But just because they’re spooky or undead doesn’t mean that they don’t have problems too. Bella Lagrossi is very messy, and Boris Kleanitoff is too neat. They are neighbors, but don’t get along. When they both try to have competing parties for Halloween, everyone goes to the house of a more congenial host instead. As Bella and Boris go to yell at Henry Beastie, they find all the flaws in the party like maggot muffins with too much muffin and not enough maggot and refuse to have fun. When the dancing starts, they do come together and have a good time. Of course, they learn to accept each other, and also each to make little changes for the other. It’s a funny story with great wordplay, phrasing, and puns. Kids love all the gross-out references in the text and illustrations. Great fun.
Tomorrow I’ll be profiling Mo and his monster snowflake. No, it’s not a big snowflake. It’s a monster snowflake. You’ll see tomorrow.