The Witch of Blackbird Pond

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NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER – 1959

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare

Age: 10+

Interests: history, American history, politics, religion, intolerance, adventure, romance, strong girls, orphans, witches, superstition More

Tales from Silver Lands

Tales_from_Silver_Lands
NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER – 1925

Tales from Silver Lands

by Charles J. Finger

illustrated by Paul Honoré

Age: 7+

Interests: folk tales, fairy tales, South America, animals, magic

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Rapunzel

CALDECOTT MEDAL WINNER – 1998

Rapunzel

by Paul O. Zelinsky

Dutton Children’s Books, 1997

32 pp.

Age: 4+

Interests: fairy tales, princesses, witches, magic, romance

Also by this author/illustrator: Rumplestiltskin, The Wheels on the Bus

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Bedknob and Broomstick

Bed-knob and Broomstick

by Mary Norton

Harcourt Brace, 1943

(the two original books – The Magic Bed-Knob and Bonfires and Broomsticks – are now commonly combined into this one volume)

189 pp., 20 chapters

Age: 6+

Interests: magic, witches, medieval history, adventure, siblings, travel

Next: the Disney movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks has a totally different plot than the book

Also by this author: The Borrowers series

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The Kingdom Under the Sea

GREENAWAY MEDAL WINNER – 1971

The Kingdom Under the Sea

written by Joan Aiken

illustrated by Jan Pienkowski

Jonathan Cape, 1971

104 pp. – 11 stories

Age: 5 +

Interests: fairy tales, folktales, Eastern European folklore, magic, princesses, princes, mermaids

Also by this illustrator: Haunted House, Meg and Mog series

Also by this author: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase series

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Top 5: Picks for Hallowe’en

Here are a few of my picks for the season. For the young and timid, there are many picture books about children trick or treating, which might be a safer way to start than with books about ghouls. Also good are books with adorable, loveable witches, ghosts, etc. Also, books are never as scary as movies, so you might want to veer away from Hallowe’en videos if your child is particularly skittish.

Some of these choices are Hallowe’eny in spirit, if not in specifics…

BOOKS

1. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak – Ages 3+

This one is good because the boy Max is the scariest monster of all, and rules the beasts as king… until he gets tired of it. (This title on amazon.)

2. Ramona the Pest (Hallowe’en chapter), by Beverly Cleary – Ages 5+

A chapter book, but you can read just the Hallowe’en chapter if you like. Ramona is determined to be the scariest witch in the kindergarten parade. (This title on amazon.)

3. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum – Ages 5+

Not strictly a Hallowe’en book, but full of witches and sundry scary beasts. (This title on amazon.)

4. The Witches, by Roald Dahl – Ages 6+

Getting a little older and a little braver here… a young boy and his grandma foil an entire witch convention. Pretty creepy – be sure to read the review. (This title on amazon.)

5. The Canterville Ghost, by Oscar Wilde – Ages 7+ (mostly for comprehension)

You can ‘class up’ Christmas by turning to Dickens, why not do the same with Oscar Wilde at Hallowe’en? A very funny story about a hapless ghost who finds the new family in his ancestral home is scarier than he is. (This title on amazon.)

MOVIES

1. Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie (2005) – Ages 3+ (according to Commonsense Media)

It ain’t great movie-making, being another Disney blot besmirching the true Pooh (a topic for another day!), but this is a fairly benign cartoon for very young viewers. Be aware though, that there is a pretty scary ‘Tree of Terror’. Roo and Lumpy, the youngest characters, overcome their fears to face the tree, which of course isn’t haunted after all.  For the very timid however, the tree may still be too scary… it might be best to wait until they’re older before you hit the Hallowe’en flicks! (This title on amazon.)

2. Meet Me in St. Louis (1945) – Hallowe’en scene – Ages 4+

The Hallowe’en sequence in this old musical is terrific. Be sure to read my review for the full description. A little girl screws up her courage to do something daring on Hallowe’en night and impresses all the big kids. (This title on amazon.)

3. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) – Ages 5+

A classic that we all love, and it isn’t at all scary, but be aware that it may fall flat for younger kids. My four-year-old didn’t like it at all because a) Lucy is mean, b) Sally misses trick or treating and c) yells a lot at Linus, and most of all, d) Charlie Brown gets rocks instead of candy!! (At what age does this injustice suddenly become funny? It probably varies from viewer to viewer.) In addition there’s a lot of bewildering sarcasm, insults, name-calling, etc. The Snoopy stuff she did like, but again, WWI references aren’t all that engaging for preschoolers. Moral dilemmas and the retention of optimism in an uncaring universe plays better to older viewers I guess. (This title via Instant Video on amazon.)

4. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) – Ages 5+

The 2nd half of this movie is perfect for Hallowe’en, retelling the classic story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Great buildup and suspense, and the slapstick action mitigates the terror of the chase somewhat. (This title on amazon.)

5. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) – Ages 7+

For the older viewers… It’s a Christmas movie, kind of, but really more of a Hallowe’en spooker. Visually stunning and chock-full of creepy but loveable characters. The main villain is pretty terrifying and gross, though, so be sure your audience really likes their ghouls and ghosties. (This title on amazon.)

The Witches

The Witches

by Roald Dahl

illustrated by Quentin Blake

London: Jonathan Cape, 1983

208 pp. – 22 chapters

Age: 6 +

Interests: witches, magic, mice, adventure

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz  (aka The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)

by L. Frank Baum

original illustrator W. W. Denslow

first published 1900

158 pp.  (in New York: Sterling, 1999) –  24 chapters

Age: 5 +

Interests: magic, witches, adventure, travel, tornadoes

Also by this author: 14 Oz sequels, of varying quality

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Sleeping Beauty (1959)


Rated: G

Length: 75 min.

Age: 4 and up.                      Commonsense Media sez: iffy for ages 4/5

Scary Factor: no real danger until the climax, when Maleficent turns into a dragon to battle the prince (scene is relatively brief)

Intense Scenes: far more suspense and chills than outright scares – Maleficent is wonderfully threatening; scene in which Aurora pricks her finger on the spindle is eerie and enthralling.

Bad Behaviour: Boozing – the two kings drink endless toasts to each other and a minstrel gets quietly sloshed under the table.

Language:  “fools! idiots! imbeciles!” barked by Maleficent at her underlings; she also mentions the powers of “hell”

Interests: fairy tales, princesses, knights, castles, dragons, magic, fairies

Next: Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Thumbelina

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.