Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Book Shelf Seminar: Scary Tales

Halloweeny or a Hallowinner—
Which witch are you?

October 1st used to give me shivers. Halloween was fast approaching and I was the ghoul who was supposed to make it thrilling. As a mom it was my least favorite holiday. As a kid it was my favorite.

My mother created award-winning costumes. I just wanted vampire teeth. Mom hand-beaded my Indian Princess ensemble, and trimmed it with real suede fringe. Long grass from the field was sewn into my Hawaiian skirt and coconut shells attached to a tan leotard. Dangling Gypsy earrings were made from the rims of canning jars, which Mom painted and glittered. My off-the-shoulder white peasant blouse had golden spangles, and the skirt was flounced with a variety of colorful fabrics. Mom was a Hallowinner.

I was a Halloweeny. My costumes were witty and the kids didn't get the joke. Coming up with seven clever costumes was a yearly horror more terrifying that any goblin I might see. One year I made Gabi go as a table. I cut a hole in the middle of a big box, cut the bottom flaps off, and covered it with a tablecloth. Plastic dishes and silverware were glued on. My mortified daughter stood in the middle of the table and carried it waist high, dressed as a vase. Her neck and arms were green and she had flowers on her head. It was avant-gard, daring, and un-cool for a fourth grader. She just wanted vampire teeth.

But I had a few tricks under my pointy hat. Ghost stories. With the lights out, and a few candles burning, I told the one about a couple parked in lover's lane. "As they cuddled, they heard on the radio that a boy and girl were bludgeoned to death by a man with a hook instead of a hand. 'I'm afraid,' the girl whispered to her date. He held her closer. Suddenly there was a scratching sound on the window. Assuming it was a branch, they snuggled up. Scratch. It scared them, but the wind was howling and they felt safe in each other's arms. SCRATCH. This time it was chilling, and they quickly left for home. When the boy went around to open the car door for his girlfriend, hanging from the handle was a bloody hook."

My all time favorite Halloween story starts out, "Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay . . ."

The Gobble-uns'll Git You Ef You Don't Watch Out!

and ends with the chilling verse, "'er the gobble-uns'll git you ef you don't watch out!"

I read these stories to my little grandkids around the campfire this summer and it was perfect for the 4-6-year-old crowd. I wish I had I the old Boy Scout handbook with spook stories built right it. It's sad when a memory surfaces and you can't pin-point where you stashed it. Back in the day we had a Disney cartoon movie featuring the story of Icabod Crane, which we loved to watch as a family. I wish I could find a copy of that.

The perfect finale to an evening of scary tales is a ghostly cake with glowing eyes:

Ghost Cake
Bake a cake in an oblong pan.
When cool, dump out of the pan carefully onto a tray.

Now cut off two pieces to create a rounded ghost shape.
The two extra pieces will become arms.

Use white meringue type frosting from a box to glue the arms on the sides of the cake.
Frost the cake.
Use black licorice for the mouth.

Now the spooky part:
Break an egg, dump out the insides, and place each 1/2 eggshell (open side up) for eyes.
Soak two sugar cubes in lemon extract.
Place sugar cubes in egg shells, and light them with a match.
The eyes will glow.

Serve with some oozing body parts:

Bloody Fingers
Put some red food coloring in 2 cups of water.
Pour the water into a rubber kitchen glove and freeze.
Cut the glove off,
and float the frozen, bloody hand in a punch bowl
filled with apple cider.

Now that I'm an Oma, I love Halloween again. No costumes, no trick-or-treating in freezing temps with miserable toddlers, no sugar tantrums. Grandmas can do whatever we want to do! It's a fun stage to be in. I would love a book of Halloween party ideas, ghost stories for pre-teens, and spook alley suggestions that would make their eyes pop.

I want to take off my Halloweeny costume,
and be a Hallowinner!

Homework: Do any or all or be inspired.

~List 10 ideas for a spook alley, or a Halloween party.

~Tell a ghost story you remember from your youth.

~Suggest a favorite book of scary tales. What age is it appropriate for?

*If you do any part of this assignment on your blog, please link it back to TravelinOma and provide proper attribution. Leave a comment here (with a link to your homework if you want to share it) and/or a link to your blog (so we can get to know you.) School Days has open enrollment so join anytime. No make-up work required! If you're new, click here for an orientation.


Jake said...

Jello with plastic spiders. Ice cubes with plastic worms. Dinner in a hollow pumpkin. Ghost cake for dessert. Eat by the light of jack-o-lantern grins.

That is our recipe for a Halloween feast.

Christie said...

I actually loathe Halloween and do nothing but make spiderweb cookies a few days before. I kind of think that taking them trick or treating is a good enough contribution.

They would tell you differently.

Deborah said...

I don't make any special trick or treat goodies for my kids! They just think about the candy! I love to put out pictures on the mantle of past halloweens with them in their costumes! In fact I need to do that! I'm not very good with the decorations now that they are teens! Now is the time they'll remember them! Love your posts... you are so creative!

the wrath of khandrea said...

i need to get with christie. i am a halloween scrooge. it just ends up feeling like more stuff for me to do in my already hectic and pressed-for-time life. i want to love it and be creative and fun and clever, but i lack the momentum. this spawns the guilt that i am robbing my children of valuable childhood memories.

points drawn from the post:
1. i shouldn't feel guilty at all, because i never made my kid be a table.
2. if i find my son's scout book, all my halloween woes will be solved.

wow. thanks for reversing an entire negative thought process for me!

The Grandmother Here said...

My kids loved Halloween. On Nov.1st they would start talking about what they wanted to be the next year. It's a great time for young mothers to practise their sewing skills so they'll be ready when prom-time rolls around.

dalene said...

oh this was fun! done.

Heffalump said...

Disney recently release a DVD called Ichabod and Mr. Toad, that includes The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I have seen it at my local I am sure they have it many places!
Our Halloween Tradition usually involves staying home and watching a "scary" show like Scooby Doo. Last year was my 6 year old's first time Trick or Treating. Of course he loved it so now we have to do it every year. We just go to a few houses though and call it good. We eat fun finger foods and call them by scary names, like Ogre's teeth for pizza rolls, Mummy fingers for Hot Dogs wrapped up in dough and baked, etc. We also dress our house up every year as The Monster House.

~Kristina said...

Absolutely count me into this convo.

Diane said...

I'm definitely a Halloweenie. I wish I'd heard that word before - I would have been using it to describe myself for years.
I never made my kids be a table (which by the way, I thought was incredibly clever), but my daughters were a pair of dice one year (their idea - inside big boxes with large dots)I could never have come up with that idea on my own.
week 7 day 3

diane said...

We used to live on Golden Eye Lane. We would gather around the firepit and our neighbor told the kids a freaky story that was about a guy who said, "Who stole my golden eye."

My teens like to have Halloween parties and do all the old favorites, carve pumpkins, dunk for apples and our favorite, eat the donut off the string race.

KJ said...

a fun halloween book for kids under 6, it has lots of instinctive and repetetive actions that make it fun, even if the story itself isn't stellar, find it here:

and the rest of my assignment here:

KJ said...

Ooh! The Ichabod crane movie is narrated by Bing Crosby. We have a copy of it--it's animated and there are a couple of snappy tunes. The DVD also include the Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. is where my husband found it.

Miranda said...

I LOVE Halloween, probably because it means caramel apples and gigantic sugar cookies. My mom always does a fantastic job decorating for Halloween and I'm working on my own collection. I'm also having so much fun dressing my little girl up..I'm finding there are many costumes that can come from a tutu. ;)

audrey said...


~j. said...

the post matches my attitude towards halloween.