#1,739 Children’s Halloween Books.

The strangest thing has been on my mind today. Sitting in church this morning, I noticed that the silhouette of one of my favorite sweet ladies sitting near the stained glass windows reminded me (oddly) of a children’s book I adored when I was little. I was little in the early 90s, and that book, published in 1970, was creepy in the way that all books and things from the 1970s are—even non-Halloween 70s things are in those Halloweeny shades of harvest gold, orange, black, brown. Everything looked the way that song Gypsies, Tramps and Theives sounds.Weirdly forlorn and colorful. As a child I inherently knew this book was meant to be friendly and good, but the colors and the illustration (and the musty old book smell) gave me the feeling of creepy places and times. Please know what I mean?

The book was called Old Witch and the Polka Dot Ribbon by Harry Devlin, in which (I think) Old Witch helps a good little boy named Nicky and his beautiful single mother win the town cake baking contest. I haven’t actually looked at this book in over a decade probably, but for some reason the visual memories of Old Witch’s likeness on the cover was triggered by something about the way that lady was sitting—and I mean that in the most loving way possible. I couldn’t get it off my mind, and I drove to mama’s house to find it this afternoon.

On the back of the book is the recipe for Old Witch’s (spoiler alert!) prize winning Magic Nut Cake, which I think sounds delicious and I will bake soon and very soon:

Thinking of these great old childhood Halloween books also triggered the vague memory of a book I loved about some bear kids who are home alone on Halloween and pop a ton of popcorn and it fills up the whole house and they have to eat it to clean it up before their parents come home. I looked everywhere at mama’s for this book, but couldn’t find it. I didn’t know the title, I only had some key words to Google: bears popcorn children’s book. Bingo! It is titled, creatively, Popcorn, by Frank Asch.

Have you ever heard of either of these books? Please say yes!

I can’t even begin to talk about the horrifying, creative childhood ramifications of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. THE BEST. And that mess is STILL scary to me, even at 29 years old.


Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Daily Journal

10 thoughts on “#1,739 Children’s Halloween Books.

  1. OMGoodness! Yes, I know Popcorn! Not only did I read it as a kid, but it was one of the books I used when teaching my younger sister to read. My Mom subscribed to a children's book club for me (isn't she just the best?!) as I loved (and still do) to read!

    What a fun trip down memory lane!!

    – Talia 🙂

  2. Oh my gosh! My Halloween books from childhood are some of my fondest memories! I have two that I can distinctly envision the covers in my head, but can't think of the titles. Now that my parents have moved back to Oklahoma, I think I may need to start rummaging through my old things to find them. 🙂
    And those Scary Stories books were so freaky! I am pretty sure I had one of those and a whole collection of Goosebumps that I would bought at our school Book Fair

    • BOOK FAIR!!!!! AHHHH!! I loved it SO hard, Ashlee! My favorite book from book fair was in 4th grade, called The Man Who Loves Clowns. Depressing as all get out, but it was great. Google it!

    • I remember that book!!!!! Literally had not thought about it in so long until I looked it up! It's so wonderful and so weird to have flashbacks. It's like certain songs take you back to a specific time and place, these books feel the same way!

  3. I love that frank asch book! Such a great story! Brings me back, there was another one by him with the bear about a moon or something I also remember… 🙂

  4. Just seeing the covers of those scary stories spooks me. I couldn’t even read those now if you made me. Our Halloween tradition growing up, was watching this beat up VHS tape of Disney Halloween cartoons like Sleepy Hollow and Donald’s Trick or Treat. I still love the opening song by The Mellowmen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skdVouumMk4

    I always liked Robert Munsch books growing up (did you guys have those in the US?), but there is one that I couldn’t stand to even have in the house, so I donated it to the library when I was 6 years old, ha! The librarian still remembers that. It’s called “A Promise Is A Promise” and it’s about this Inuit legend where these troll like creatures who wear these grotesque parkas and live under the ice on the lake (and I grew up on a lake, so I thought they were there). The creatures grab children who come too near the shore or stand too close to cracks in the sea ice. I get the moral behind the story but seriously it was traumatizing.

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