The hubby and I were thinking...
Wouldn't it be nice to start a family Halloween tradition of reading "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" together? You know, the way families often read A Christmas Carol together at Christmas. After all, it's the quintessential American ghost story.
You know the story. Schoolmaster Ichabod Crane moves to the tiny New Amsterdam town of Sleepy Hollow to teach. There, he falls in love with town flirt Katrina Van Tassel (and her father's rich farm), makes an enemy of Katrina's suitor Brom Bones, and falls prey to town folklore and superstition, until one night, he meets the infamous Headless Horseman and disappears from town forever.
I'm sure I have a Barnes & Noble paperback of Washington Irving's short stories somewhere, but for fun, I decided to check the Books Of Wonder edition of the story out from the library. It's a facsimile of the 1928 edition, illustrated by the great Arthur Rackham! Some of you may remember this post. I really hoped for more Rackham Sleepy Hollow goodness!
The original version of the story is a bit much for a modern 5- and 7-year-old, too. I did think to check out a couple of picture book adaptations.
The simplest of the books, as far as text goes, is The Headless Horseman, illustrated by Emma Harding. The illustrations are dark and moody. The text was concise, and easy for the kids to understand.
Of the three editions I checked out, my favorite illustrations were found in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, retold and illustrated by Will Moses, great-grandson of Grandma Moses. The beautiful folk art paintings perfectly capture the time period in which the story is set. Moses's adaptation of the text is a step up from the Harding version, keeping more of the flavor of Washington's original. Although it is longer, this version was preferred by my daughters.
There are multiple two-page spreads like the last one pictured above. They are truly beautiful.
How about I leave you with some old animation? First, "The Headless Horseman" (1934), courtesy of Ub Iwerks and his ComiColor cartoons.
And I can't seem to leave the classic Disneyana alone this season. Here's the famous Bing Crosby-narrated "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" sequence from 1949's The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.