Thursday, October 23, 2014

Halloween on YouTube

It's a dreary, rainy day here in Doo-Dah.  A perfect day to bake some pumpkin muffins and watch creepy things on the telly or computer. May I suggest this recipe from Cookie & Kate?  I only had a quarter cup of maple syrup and NO honey, so I used a quarter cup of molasses.  Oh, and I added chocolate chips, because pumpkin and chocolate taste heavenly together.  And if you overbake your muffins, like I did, it doesn't matter - they are still the moistest, most delicious pumpkin muffins I ever made.  Seriously.  So, bake yourself some muffins and watch some fun stuff!  I'll get you started:

How about some old Muppet Show episodes...

Some old Disney cartoons...

Some Mighty Mouse, followed by a little Casper the Friendly Ghost...

  • For a few music-related videos, click here.
  • For some more cartoons, music, and silent films, click here.
  • For some '90s Nickelodeon nostalgia, click here.
  • In the mood for the kitschiest Halloween special the '70s ever produced?  Click here.
  • If your Halloween experience must include some Tim Curry, click here.
  • More Disney?  Click here.
  • Disney made-for-TV fun?  Click here.
  • I'm working on a new Pediophobia post. For last year's post, and some cool videos, click here.

We haven't watched a lot of new stuff this year.  I did get a VHS copy of Hocus Pocus for the girls from the library.  I was in high school when the movie came out, and honestly, it just didn't appeal to me then.  It still isn't a favorite, but both daughters liked it, especially Big Sis.

I'll have my usual Friday book round-up tomorrow!  Stay tuned!

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Proud Pumpkin

Proud Pumpkin by Nora S. Unwin. E.P. Dutton & Co, 1953.
(See eBay for listings of the book with its jacket.)

Here is a delightful, old-fashioned treat.  They don't make 'em like this anymore.  From the basement storage area from our city's main public library, I present Proud Pumpkin, written and illustrated by Nora S. Unwin.

This is the story of a big, beautiful pumpkin.  He is quite proud of his appearance, telling all the brother pumpkins he will never, ever be eaten.  He swells with pride, growing plumper and tougher each day.  Then one day, the farmer cuts him off the vine and takes him to the vegetable cellar.

"Not to be eaten!" he shouts to the other pumpkins, as they watch him go. He watches as other pumpkins disappear upstairs to the kitchen.

Then one day, a boy named Billy knocks on the farmer's door.  Billy is looking for a nice big pumpkin.  He is hosting a Halloween party the following night.

The other pumpkins snicker as they watch Proud Pumpkin leave.  "But not to eaten, not to be eaten," he calls out behind him.

It feels weird to have his insides scooped out, and strange having his flesh cut.  But Billy declares him a handsome fellow, the best jack o'lantern he ever made.  The pumpkin's pride returns.  The next evening, he is quite the star of the party.

Then the party ends.  Billy blows out the candle and leaves the pumpkin outside, alone in the dark.

And there the pumpkin remains.

His pride sags with his rotting face.  Mice scurry about, making a meal of what's left inside.  One day, his lid collapses.  "This so frightened the mice nibbling inside, that they thought the end of the world had come."

The mice only leave when the cat chases them away.

Finally, one cold, cold day, a little chipmunk approaches the once-proud pumpkin.  The chipmunk is looking for a home for the winter.  He asks the pumpkin if he might move in.

"Residence!" grunted Proud Pumpkin. "I've never been called that before."
"I'll promise not to eat you," urged the chipmunk, "if you'll only let me come inside and make a nest."

The chipmunk builds his nest, then collects acorns "for his spring breakfast."  Once he's ready, he crawls inside the pumpkin, curls into a ball, and goes to sleep.

His warm little presence began to send a small glow of pleasure all through the old pumpkin.  But it wasn't the glow of pride this time.
"It's nice to be useful after all," the pumpkin sighed to himself. "It makes you feel good."

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

At The Old Haunted House

At the Old Haunted House by Helen Ketteman, illustrated by Nate Wragg.
Two Lions, 2014.

Another Halloween book for you today!  Our library added some very fine treats this year, and we've enjoyed getting to know these new books.  This one is particularly great for younger kids.  It's cute and silly, rather than scary, and it's a counting book!  It's a take-off of that old standard "Over in the Meadow."

"At the old haunted house / in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch / and her wee witchy one. 'Spell!' cried the witch. 'Poof!' cried the one. / And they practiced spells / in the room with no sun."

And so on and so on...

The illustrations are pretty awesome, right?  Nate Wragg has worked for Pixar, and you know how great those movies look.  This would make a worthy addition to a Halloween book collection.  There's a marvelous activity kit on the book's Amazon page - Two Lions is an imprint of Amazon Publishing - complete with craft ideas and printable game and coloring pages.  I especially like the rhyming activity (see page 3).

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Walters Pumpkin Patch

Last week, I turned it the money and permission slip for Little Sis's pumpkin patch field trip.  The next day, I received a check and a letter, explaining the trip was cancelled due to "lack of interest." Only a few of us had bothered to return the slips and money. Little Sis was very disappointed. I think they are done with Halloween at school: no "fall parties," no costume parade. Too many parental complaints, too many kids and parents ignoring the "no scary costumes" rule. It's disappointing. I tend to be very PC myself, but I have fond memories of Halloween at school, and I always loved the costume parade at the girls' school.

So I decided we could fit in a pumpkin patch trip of our own this weekend. Big Sis had dance class Saturday morning, and I dragged her along to a friend's book signing after that. We ran home to eat and pick up Little Sis.  Then guess what?  Little Sis no longer wanted to go.  After all that, she just wanted to stay home with Daddy. This made Big Sis sad. So we decided, what the hey? We'd make it a Mom and Big Sis afternoon at the pumpkin patch.

And what a pumpkin patch!

There are several pumpkin patches in our area. Our city is surrounded by Kansas farmland. The pumpkin patch where this year's field trip was to take place was one I'd never been to.  When that trip fell through, I knew we had to check out Walters Pumpkin Patch in Burns, KS, just outside El Dorado. I had never been to Walters, but it has an almost mythic place among fall-loving folk in south-central Kansas. Everyone always told me it was the best. Little Sis went there on her kindergarten field trip - the one I missed, due to my own stupid mix-up - and even though it was cold and drizzly, she said it was pretty awesome. Now Big Sis and I got to see it for ourselves!

The decor is beautiful. There's a big playground, mud pie station, tricycles, a barrel train, jumping pillows, "punkin chunkin, a cannon, a zipline, a corn maze, mining, duck races, whew...  I didn't even name it all.

Without Little Sis or another kid, Big Sis was less apt to try things. The jumping pillow looked like fun, for example, but not without a buddy.  She did try her hand at punkin chunkin: for a dollar, she got three mini pumpkins to sling at a target. The first two landed in the water, but her third sailed between the metal pumpkin and the bar!

We took a tractor-pulled wagon out to the main pumpkin patch. The weather was gorgeous this weekend. We bought three large pumpkins from the field.

There are two gift shops at Walters. One is full of baked goods and other food items. They were rather low on pumpkin stuff during our visit, unfortunately. The other gift shop is full of adorable decor. If money were no object, I would have bought so much stuff! Unfortunately, our budget is tight, so we only bought some candy corn and a nice little pie pumpkin for baking.

So I'm already planning next year's trip. We will find a time when my sister, brother-in-law and nieces are free to join me, the girls, and Mr. B at Walter's Pumpkin Patch. We could definitely spend the whole day there. It's a pretty magical place. At least now, I can say I've actually been there!

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Friday, October 17, 2014

More Halloween Reads

Happy Friday, my dear readers!  It's reading round-up time here on Silver Shoes & Rabbit Holes, which means more seasonal reads.  We like Halloween around here, what can I say?  Little frights can be fun.

What Little Sis Read

In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories (1984) and Ghosts!: Ghostly Tales from Folklore (1991) by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Victoria Chess.  I Can Read! series, Level 2, Harpercollins.

Little Sis has been reading chapter books to me. Sometimes we alternate pages.  We've read a Junie B. Jones book, half of the first Nancy Clancy book, and we just finished a Magic Tree House title.  The catch is that I make her read them out loud, because otherwise, she starts skimming, skipping pages, etc.  I'm convinced she needs more practice, using smaller books, but she wants to read big books like her sister!  If I can find a beginning reader, though, that piques her interest, I feel like I've struck gold.  Being able to read an entire book on her own, and quickly, makes her feel more confident.  She loved reading Thank YouAmelia Bedelia, and she enjoyed both of these spooky titles by Alvin Schwartz.  Schwartz is best known for his Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, but these are not so chilling.  Like the Scary Stories, the tales and poems in the I Can Read! books are gathered from various sources, mostly folklore and urban legends, but they are more funny-scary than scary-scary.  And instead of the nightmarish illustrations by Stephen Gammel, you get cute cartoony illustrations by Victoria Chess.  Little Sis read each book in about 20 to 30 minutes.  No nightmares, no fear, just the occasional giggle or shrug of the shoulders:  "Eh, not really scary."

What I Read

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.  Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2014.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown isn't a Halloween book, but it definitely fits into the horror genre.  It's another teen vampire novel, but well-written, suspenseful, and quite entertaining.  It's set in an alternate universe, much like the very adult Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton, if you're familiar with those.  [I gave up on them, but yeah, I used to read them.  Don't judge.] In Coldtown, vampirism exists as an infection.  If you are bitten, or if you're a vampire, you are sent to a Coldtown, a rotting city behind high walls, and it is there you will remain forever.  The inhabitants of Coldtowns use the web to communicate with the outside world, often becoming TV or internet celebrities.  When Tana, our protagonist, wakes up one morning in a farmhouse bathtub after a crazy teen party, she doesn't expect to discover the other guests lying in pools of blood, murdered by vampires. Entering a back bedroom, she finds her ex-boyfriend chained to a bed, a vampire infection beginning to creep through his veins - and a vampire chained beside the bed.  It's a pretty wild ride, and made for some great late-night reading.

By the way, Big Sis is reading a Holly Black book, too: Doll Bones, which I blogged about last summer.  We bought it last week at the Scholastic Book Fair, which I helped work at the school. She started it a couple days ago, and last I heard, she was on chapter three.  We love our scary doll books - be expecting another doll post soon!

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday. Egmont USA, 2014.

Of Monsters and Madness is the first book in a new series, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, with a twist of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  (Check out the author's website.  LOVE her main page right now!)  The main character, Annabel Lee (tee hee) travels from Siam to Philadelphia. Her mother, a gifted healer, has died, and Annabel is off to live with the father she never knew. Philadelphia is as different from Siam as you can get, and Annabel doesn't know how to fit in. She hates the dresses and lessons in decorum, and when she tells her father that her dream is to become a surgeon, he becomes colder than ever. Her grandfather is kind to her, however, and she becomes friends with her young lady's maid. There is also Allan Poe, her father's research assistant, an aspiring writer and dashing presence.  But her father has another assistant, Allan's look-alike cousin, Edgar, who Annabel is warned to avoid. There is also a murderer loose in Philadelphia, and the murders seem to getting closer to home.  The last chapter of the book seemed to come out of nowhere, an obvious cliffhanger launch for the sequel, and it made the book feel very rushed.  That is my main complaint.  For the most part, however, I thought it made for another fun, late-night read, and the references to Poe's stories and poems made me smile.  As a teenager, I adored all things Edgar Allan Poe, and if today's teenagers are anything like my 1990s self, I'm sure a few of them would enjoy this book.

And now, I'll leave you with some Poe-ish things to watch:

There are quite a few musical versions of the poem "Annabel Lee." 
The one by Sarah Jarosz a favorite. 

Here is "The Raven," as read by James Earl Jones.

UPA adapted "The Tell-Tale Heart" into an animated short film in 1953.

And finally, here is something a bit longer: Vincent Price's starring turn in 

[By the way, I have a whole Pinterest board called Poe Love, devoted to all things Edgar Allan Poe. I have several Halloween boards, too, devoted to vintage Halloween, Halloween crafts, kid stuff, and decor and entertaining.  I also have a board called Holiday Books for Children, which is where my Halloween kids' books get pinned.]

Little Sis's pumpkin patch field trip was canceled yesterday. In fact, I think Halloween has been canceled, as far as the school is concerned.  Even fall parties.  (I feel an Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder post coming on...)  Tomorrow is dance class and a book signing for a friend of mine at Watermark, then I do believe a trip to the pumpkin patch is in order.  We may go see a silent movie in the evening.  I'm playing it by ear.  So much Halloween, so little time?

Merry Weekend, Friends!  Happy Reading!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ladybug Girl and the Dress-up Dilemma

Look who has a Halloween book now!  It's Lulu, aka Ladybug Girl!  

We've loved the Ladybug Girl books since 2008, when the first book was published.  Back then, Big Sis was 2 1/2, and had her own pair of well-loved ladybug rainboots.  Now, Little Sis is nearly 7, and she read this book out loud to us herself!  Lulu is a great little heroine, the stories are so sweet, and the illustrations are always beautiful.  I would love to live in her world for a bit.

Ladybug Girl and the Dress-up Dilemma by David Soman and Jacky Davis.
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014.

It's Halloween.  Lulu's big brother asks what she's dressing up as for trick-or-treating that night. "Ladybug Girl, of course!" she replies.  "Again?" he scoffs.  Lulu begins to panic.  Maybe he's right.  Maybe she should dress up as something different this Halloween.

We see Lulu scramble to put several costumes together.  My favorite is the "silent movie star."  I must convince Big Sis to be Charlie Chaplin for Halloween sometime.  It's just too cute!

By the way, if you head to the Ladybug Girl website, you can find a sweet dress-up game.  I do love Lulu's creativity!

The family is going apple-picking, so Lulu sets aside her costume pieces.  I must say it again: I want to live in Ladybug Girl's world.  It looks so lovely there.

On a hayride to the corn maze, Lulu chats with a younger little girl, who tells her she's going to be a princess for Halloween. She suggests Lulu do the same, but although Lulu is polite, she knows she doesn't want to be a princess.

In the corn maze, Lulu concentrates on what her costume should be.  Then she hears a noise behind her.  Someone needs help.

Someone needs Ladybug Girl!

Big brothers don't know everything.  Maybe they're wrong.  Maybe it's okay to just be yourself!

Especially if being yourself means dressing in cool boots, a tutu, wings, and antennae.

So, fellow Halloweenie friends, have there been any dress-up dilemmas in your house lately?  My daughters were set for over a month, then last week, there was a change.  Big Sis still plans on being a vengeful Little Red Riding Hood, but Little Sis switched from Albert Einstein (oh, how I was looking forward to that!) to her hero, Amelia Earhart.  I suppose we should get started soon.

Seventeen more days til Halloween!

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