The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow

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!

Alas, there are no great illustrations of the Headless Horseman in the Rackham version.  The only one is on the cover.  The very shiny cover that I cannot photograph without a glare.  Grrrr...  If you want better pictures, just click here.)

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.


  1. Replies
    1. I need to get another copy or hunt mine down. Or maybe I never had it, and only thought I did. I have a lot of the BN classics hiding around the house...

  2. Of course the Disney version is a favorite of mine. I read the real thing three years ago this time of year and really enjoyed it. (found it in the short stories book) My sister lives about 40 minutes away from 'Sleepy Hollow' and when I went to NY about 4 years ago to visit her in the fall it was just the way Irving described! I loved it!

    Side note- when I was a little kid (3, 4, 5) there was a man who would dress up as the headless horseman and ride his horse down the streets (cackling holding a pumpkin) on Halloween night- I have such vivid memories of this. SO FRIGHTENING, but cool.

    1. Awesome!!! We go to Old Cowtown, a living history museum, on the last Saturday before Halloween every year. They always have a Headless Horseman and an Ichabod Crane, and at certain times of the day, the Horseman chases Ichabod down the dirt streets of the "town." It's so much fun!

      I found that even while reading these to the girls, I would burst into Disney songs as I turned the pages. "Ichabod, what a name/Kind of odd, but nice just the same." Or "You'll never forget/that little coquette Katrina..."

  3. I think that would be a lovely tradition!!! And one I think I'll poach myself! Oh the Rackham. I NEED to own that. I'm gonna go look for the other one you described with the simpler text.

    You're so awesome, D! How I wish we could hang out and drink hot chocolate and watch old movies and geek out about books! Although I guess that's what we do on each other's blogs, hee.....

    1. I have quite a few friends in the Pacific Northwest (Washington and Oregon). Money and children permitting, it would be wonderful to take a trip that way! The only western states I've visited are of the southwestern variety: Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

      I do wish the Rackham had more pictures, but color printing was VERY expensive in the 1920s. Sigh.

  4. I am starting this tradition too. Illustrated ghost stories are the best when fall rolls around


Comments are welcome! I'm a shy blog commenter, too, but I do love to read what people have to say. All I ask is, please be kind, to me and to each other.

Popular Posts