Reading Report for Northern, Central Texas: January and February 2018

Greetings!

January was a great reading month for me.  I was able to read my way through some of the large stack of books I received for Christmas.  I love getting books as gifts.  I bought Neil Gaiman’s book, Norse Mythology last year for Spring Break.  I finally got around to reading it in January.  It was wonderfully informative and entertaining.  I have blogged about Bridge of Birds, Frogkisser, and Finding the Constellations. These were all stellar books.  I am a Nora Roberts fan so I especially enjoyed reading her new book.  I am reading Finding Your Why for work.  It is an interesting read.  We have been working to find our personal whys.  February was a slower reading month as you can see by the size of the stack.

These days I find out what both girls are reading from their Facebook posts.  The three of us are participating in the 52 Book Challenge 2018.

All of us here at Haus Reimund love reading and we wish you “Happy Reading, Too!”

Robin’s list

  • Hughart, Barry, Bridge of Birds: A Novel of China That Never Was. New York: Del Rey, 1984
  • Nix, Garth. New York: Scholastic, 2017
  • Sarath, Patrice. The Unexpected Miss Bennett. New York: Berkley Books, 2011.
  • Thomas, Sherry. A Conspiracy in Belgravia. New York: Berkley Books, 2017.
  • Gaiman, Neil. Norse Mythology. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2017
  • Roberts, Nora. Year One. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017.
  • Hambly, Barbara. Bride of the Rat God. New York: Del Rey, 1994.
  • Rey, H.A. Finding the Constellations, 2nd New York: Sandpiper, 2008.
  • Hanks, Tom. Uncommon Type. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.
  • Sinek, Simon, David Mead, and Peter Docker. Finding Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team. New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2017.
  • Pilkey, Dav. The Adventures of Captain Underpants. New York: Scholastic, 1997.

Alexis’ list

  • Hughart, Barry, Bridge of Birds: A Novel of China That Never Was. New York: Del Rey, 1984
  • Sarath, Patrice. The Unexpected Miss Bennett. New York: Berkley Books, 2011.
  • Mertz, Barbara. Temples, Tombs, & Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt. New York: William Morrow, 1984, 2007
  • Lucas, Dale. The Fifth Ward: First Watch. New York: Orbit, 2017.
  • Maaren, Kari. Weave a Circle Round. New York: TOR Books, 2017.
  • Telfer, Tori. Lady Killers: Deadly Women throughout History. New York: Harper Perennial, 2017.
  • VanderMeer, James. Johanes Cabal the Necromancer. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2010.
  • VanderMeer, James. Annihilation: A Novel. New York: FSG Originals, 2014. (ebook)
  • Howard, Jonathan L. Johannes Cabal: The Feat Institute. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2014.

Jim’s list

  • Nye, Bill and Gregory Mone. Jack and the Geniuses at the Bottom of the World. New York: Scholastic, 2017.
  • Carver, Jeffrey A. The Chaos Chronicles, Books 1-3 (Neptune Crossing, Strange Attractor, & Infinite Sea). NP: Starstream Publications, 2010 (nook book).

Sarah’s list

  • Meyer, Scott. Off to Be the Wizard. Seattle, WA: 47North, 2014. (ebook)
  • Meyer, Scott. Spell or High Water. Seattle, WA: 47North, 2014. (ebook)
  • Cooper, Susan. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2006.
  • Holt, Tom. New York: Orbit, 2012 (ebook)
  • Howe, Deborah and James. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2010 (ebook). Originally published 1979.
  • Walker, Rysa. New York: Amazon Publishing, 2014.
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Things to Make and Do for Valentine’s Day

VDayDe Paola, Tomie.  Things to Make and Do for Valentine’s Day.  New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1967.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I was looking through my book collection for a book to share on this day and this one leaped off the shelf and into my hands.  This book wanted to be shared so I decided that I would.  Over the years, I have been a room mother for one or the other of my girls elementary classrooms, a preschool teacher, and a library story-time lady.  I expect I purchased this little book as a resource for activities for an evening at home or a party at school.  These were the kind of resources you needed “back in the day” as my stint in all those roles came after 1983 and before the age of Google, DIY, and Pinterest. Here is the perfect book for all your DIY needs from ancient times.

Do you need Valentine Cards?  How about making some?  This book has easy, but detailed instructions on how to make block print cards with Styrofoam and poster paint.  Messy work, but fun to do.  It also included instruction for making an envelope for your cards.

Does you child need a Valentine Mailbag for school? Do they still have Valentine Mailbags at school?  It has been a long time since I have attended a party at an elementary school.  Here are the instructions for making one using a brown paper grocery bag.  Brown paper shopping bags were terrific!  You could make so many  great things from one.  Alas this activity might need modifications as brown paper grocery bags are hard to come by these days.

Do you need to organize a Valentine’s Party?  This book has all you need from food to games. For food there is a recipe for fancy sandwiches and chocolate snowball valentines. I don’t have any food stains on the book so I never made these recipes. With supervision each of these recipes would be easy for a child to construct.

What else do you need for a party?  Why decorations of course!  This author provides some simple decorations that can be made in a snap.  Once your guests arrive, you need games to entertain them.  This is a one stop book, so it includes information on several different games.  I found some construction paper hearts tucked in the back of this book so I have organized the Valentine Relay Race at some point.  It is a rowdy game, sure to tire out some silly players. Here’s what you need and how you play.

You need:

  • Red construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Black crayon
  • A piece of string six times as long as your arm

How to do

  1. Before the part, cut out a heart for each player.
  2. Think of some things to do, such as jump, crawl, hop, skip, and walk backwards.
  3. Take two hearts. Write the same thing to do on each.
  4. Do this for all the hearts. Put the hearts into two piles.

How to play:

  1. Make two teams of players
  2. Put the string on the floor
  3. Line each team up behind it.
  4. Put a pile of hearts across the room from each team.
  5. On “Go”, the first player on each team runs up to a pile and takes a heart.
  6. The players then come back, doing what it says on the hearts.
  7. When the first players get back to their teams, the next players run to the hearts.
  8. The team finished first wins.

Do you need a gift for your Valentine?  The book had an excellent recipe for making “Baker’s Clay.”  You could craft a little something wonderful for your special person.

This little book has everything you need for a wonderful day of activity for young ones or those young at heart.  Interspersed throughout the books are bits of valentine humor.  They are groaners.  I will be kind and share only two.  I hope you have a terrific day with all of your loved ones!

A Valentine’s Joke

Knock knock
Who’s there?
Olive.
Olive who?
Olive you!

A Valentine Tongue Twister

Lila’s love laughs loudly!

National Short Story Day: The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories

MistletoeMurderJames, P.D. The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.

I offer this thin volume in celebration of National Short Story Day and of the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year.  It contains four delicious short stories by  PD James, one of the world’s greatest mystery writers.  I bought this little goodie some time earlier this year and saved it to read after Thanksgiving and before Christmas.  It is the newest addition to my Christmas book collection.

All four of these stories have unexpected turnings and endings, a hallmark of James’ work.  All are tales of murder.  Two of the stories feature one of my favorite fictional detectives, Adam Dalgliesh.

The first story is “The Mistletoe Murders”.  In this story a young woman is unexpectedly invited to her grandmother’s house for the Christmas holidays.  Her mother was estranged from the family and this young woman is interested in meeting her relatives. As happens in a novel of another great dame of English crime literature, there is a body in the library.   Finding out who did it and why will keep you on the edge of your seat.

“A Very Commonplace Murder” comes next.  This was the creepiest of the four stories.  A distasteful, seedy clerk with a taste for pornography witnesses a murder.   Why doesn’t he report what he has seen?  This one will send more that one shiver down your spine.  I had to read the ending twice to find all the twists the author leaves one.

I was so surprised to learn, who actually murdered the victim in “The Boxdale Inheritance”!  I wonder, if Chief Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh was as well? His godfather, the Canon Hubert Boxdale, is to received a legacy of 50,000 pounds from his step grandmother, Allie Boxdale.  Before he feels he can accept this boon, he wants to know, if Allie murdered his grandfather. He feels that in his position, he cannot accept a tainted inheritance. At the time of the murder Allie was young and Hubert’s grandfather was old.  The marriage itself was a small scandal, although at age 4, young Hubert wasn’t aware of this fact.  She was acquitted of the murder, but the Canon felt he had to be certain before he accepted his legacy.

Finally, we have “The Twelve Clues of Christmas”.  Here is an early investigation from a newly promoted Sergeant Adam Dalgliesh. On his way to have Christmas with his Aunt Alice, he is flagged down by a man frantic to report a suicide at Harkerville Hall.  He asks Adam for a ride to the nearest telephone box. Is it a suicide or a murder? Sergeant Dalgliesh has the opportunity to do a bit of sleuthing before the local constabulary arrives.  The local constable dismmisses it as a suicide, but he puts in a call to the local CID to be complete and orderly.  Adam continues on his way to Aunt Alice’s cabin. He has only time to settle in with a drink by her fire, when his help is requested by Inspector Peck from the local CID.  They return to the Harkerville House.  It appears that it may not be a simple suicide. When asked by the Inspector what struck him about the situation, here is Adam’s reply.

A number of oddities, Sir.  If this were a detective story, you could call it “The Twelve Clues of Christmas.” It’s taken a little mental agility to get the number to twelve, but I thought it appropriate.

Here’s where the story gets its title and yes, there are twelve clues or questions to be answered.  Who did it?  You will have to read the story, it was quite interesting.

This was a fine little volume of stories filled with murder and mystery.  Each story is carefully plotted and written with grace and elegance.  PD James has the knack for capturing the complex and sometime unsettling aspects of human nature.  If you can find a time in this holiday season to brew a cup of tea, grab a cookie, and find a cozy corner to enjoy these stories.  These short stories will keep you entertained on the shortest day or the longest night or any time.

Santa Calls

SantaCalls1Joyce, William.  Santa Calls. New York: Laura Geringer Book, 1993.

I found this book about 4 or 5 years ago.  It delighted me so much that I had to add it to my Christmas book collection.  This fall when Jim and I went to the Texas Book Festival, I was excited to see that William Joyce was a featured speaker.  In the children’s book tent, there was a display of his books.  I managed to reign in my desire and purchase only a copy of one of his other books for myself and two copies of this book to send to my two young nephews for Christmas. I am hoping that it is a new addition to both of their book libraries and not a repeat of what I sent last year.  I am going to have to start keeping a log of what I send.

Some of you may know that I started this blog as a review of the books we gave one of my nephews for his Mama’s baby shower.  I bought too many books to explain to my niece at her shower how special each and every book in the collection was to us.  I was so excited about all of them, I wrote her soon-to-be born son a book about all the books. That book about my nephew’s little library got me started on this blog.  I try to include updates to that book for each new book that I send.  Here is some of what I sent this year.

Santa Calls is a book written about a boy, who lives in Texas.  Your Grandma and Grandpa and your Uncle Jim and I live in Texas and I know you visit it often.  I love words, so I could not resist a book that opens with an alliteration (ask your Mom about this).  Here’s the first sentence: “Art Atchinson Aimesworth was a very singular boy.” It is a book about boy, who lives in Abilene, Texas and helps his Aunt and Uncle run a Wild West Show and Animal Phantasmagoria.  With these two sentences, I knew Santa Calls was a book that needed to be shared with you.  It is about Art’s Extraordinary Adventure of Christmas 1908.  In this exciting adventure, Art, Spaulding (his friend), and Esther (Art’s little sister) take a trip to the North Pole.  They go because, “Santa Calls.”

This Extraordinary Adventure of Christmas begins just before Christmas.  A mysterious box appears in front of Art’s laboratory.  Did I mention that Art has many talents/hobbies?  He is an inventor, adventurer, and crime fighter. Art and Spaulding systematically and scientifically attempt to open the box.  Their most scientific method?  Poking it with a stick.  A note pops up.  It reads: “Open the box. Assemble the contents. Come NORTH. Yours, S.C.” Art and Spaulding as directed, assemble and modify the contents.  By Christmas Eve, they are ready to head north.  Esther has been watching and helping with the preparations and she asks to go on their quest.  As we learn early in the book Art has one weakness and one flaw.  His weakness is his love of sweets and candy.  His flaw was being mean to Esther.  As you guessed, Art refuses to take her along after all she is too little to come.  She of course, threatens to tell if she doesn’t get to go.  Art’s reply, “You know an Aimesworth never tells.”  Esther knows the truth of this so she watches sadly as they rev the engine to go.  Art, however, is not heartless.  At the last-minute he lets her hop in. “You won’t be sorry,” Esther says.  They lift away on their northern adventure.

What an adventure it is!  They meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, Ali Aku (Captain of the Santarian Guard), Dark Elves (trouble), and their evil Queen (even more trouble).  There are battles, a kidnapping, and an amazing rescue all before Christmas Day!  This book reminds me of so many other wonderful adventure stories like Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, the movie Babes in Toyland, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Father Christmas Letters.  It is an exciting book to read.  Santa is in the book, but Art, Spaulding, and Esther have the starring roles.

I told my nephews that I loved words and language and this book is filled with wonderful little sayings mostly from Art.  They remind me of old science fiction movies.  I can’t call to mind which movie, but here are a couple of them for you to think about.

  • By the rings of Saturn!
  • To the Pole! (I wanted to add, “and beyond!” It reminded me of Buzz Light Year in Toy Story.)
  • By the moons of Jupiter, this is a swell place.
  • Why in the name of Neptune did you call for us?

The illustrations in the book are soft and warm, but rich with detail.  While they are illustrations, they remind me of sepia photographs.  They set the right mood and enhance the story at every turn of the page.

You are going to need to read the book to find out the answer to these questions.  I predict you will have fun making these discoveries.

  • How does Art’s one weakness and one flaw play into this story?
  • Why were they called? Art imagines it to solve an arctic crime wave. Is it?

Ride along with these young people and have a magic adventure. I hope you enjoy this rollicking Christmas adventure!

Happy Reading!

Counting to Christmas

Courting to Christmas Book CoverTafuri, Nancy. Counting to Christmas. Roxbury, CT: Duck Pond Press, 2005.

Yesterday, we brought out the Christmas decorations.  We put up the incredibly tacky, blow-up “Santa Sleigh” Rocket in the front yard. We put up the tree and trimmed it with lights and ornaments.  When the girls were little we might have stretched these maneuvers over several days as a count to Christmas.

One of my greatest pleasures at this time of year is to bring out my collection of Christmas books.  Yesterday, I brought them out.  How I love to look at each and every one.  It makes me remember when I bought some of them and how much fun we had reading them together.  At one time or another, they were a part of our count to Christmas.

This lovely book is a new pleasure for me and an excellent addition to my collection. It is a story of a little girl and her preparations for this holiday.  She is counting to Christmas. I read on the book jacket that the author shared her family’s favorite holiday crafts and activities. I bought this book, because it reminded me of our Advent calendar activities.  These were some of our favorite activities, too! We haven’t counted to Christmas in a number of years, but I still remember how much fund we had.  As we did, the girl in this story makes Christmas cards with paper, paint and glue.  She writes and sends letters to the people important in her life, including Santa.  She mails her cards. We mailed ours, too, but we had a special ritual for the letters to Santa.  We used to write letters and send them to Santa via smoke signals (we burned them in the fireplace).

What count to Christmas doesn’t include baking?  She makes elaborate gingerbread cookies and lovingly decorates them. The author included a recipe here, if you are keen to try your hand at them.  We liked making cookies, too.  Our favorites to bake were, and still are, cowboy cookies, Russian tea cakes, double chocolate bourbon cookies, and giant ginger cookies.  We used to bake cookies and give them to all of the girls’ teachers.  We had a great time in the kitchen together.

The girl in this story makes animal treats for the wild things that live near her home.  We did that too.  We used to string popcorn with cranberries and hang them on the tree in our backyard.  We made the pinecones with peanut butter and birdseed animal feeders.  It was a messy fun project. Her snowy backyard is filled with many animals large and small like mice and birds and deer and bear.  They all come to enjoy her treats.  Here in this part of Texas, we don’t have snow.  Even with no snow, we have enjoyed watching animals come to our backyard.  We have deer and fox and rabbits and roadrunners.

Here is a charming book to add to your Christmas book collection.  The illustrations are soft and warm.  The child is a delight.  It would be a comfy book to snuggle up and read. It might be a good addition to your count to Christmas.

Nancy Tafuri

Nancy Tafuri has the great fortune of doing what she loves, writing and illustrating books for children. Here are her words on this subject. “I feel honored to be creating literature for young children. The early years in a person’s life are so important, I can only hope that my books can contribute in some small way to that growth.”

Here are 8 facts about this author.

  1. She has always liked art. She convinced her Home Economics teacher to allow her to paint a mural instead of making a dress.
  2. She attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
  3. Her first job was as an assistant art director with Simon & Schuster. She went on to open a graphic design studio with her husband Tom.
  4. One of her favorite early books was The Little Engine That Could¹.  She has something in common with out family, we love that book, too!
  5. Her illustrations were not accepted at first. They were considered “too graphic” for children of 5, 6, and 7 in the early 1970’s. ¹
  6. She lives in Connecticut. She writes and illustrates in a converted chicken shed, which over looks a duck pond.
  7. Perhaps her studio over looks the duck pond represented in her Caldecott Honor Book, Have You Seen My Duckling?
  8. She loves nature.  She says that it is always auditioning for her.

For more information on Nancy Tafuri, check out these websites.

¹http://childliterature.blogspot.com/2012/02/interview-with-nancy-tafuri-and.html

A Turkey for Thanksgiving

Book cover with moose, rabbit and turkeyBunting, Eve.  A Turkey for Thanksgiving.  Illustrated by Diane de Groat. New York: Scholastic, 1991.

I was at home this week preparing for the upcoming holiday.  In the mornings, I listened to the newscasts.  I was completely amused by the two early morning news anchors on Monday. There was a filler article on the annual Presidential Turkey Pardon.  Did you know there was an annual Turkey Pardon?  I don’t know, why turkeys need a pardon.  What is their crime, not enough dark meat? At any rate, the male news anchor was pretty disgusted by the whole idea.  He thought that it was a significant waste of resources.  Evidently the two turkeys, in this case Beau and Tye, were put up for a few days at the Willard Hotel to await their pardon.  The other news anchor commented on the turkeys’ names.  The male anchor noted that better names for the turkeys would have been Lunch and Dinner.  At 6 am, I thought this was hysterical (housework and early hours can warp the mind). The pardoned turkeys live out the rest of their days at Gobbler’s Rest at Virginia Tech.   A most peaceful end for each of them.   Soon after this segment, I went to look for a Thanksgiving book for this blog.  I found this one and thought it would be a perfect book to share for the holiday.

In this story, Mr. & Mrs. Moose are preparing for Thanksgiving dinner.  Their friends, Sheep, Rabbit, Porcupine, and Mr. & Mrs. Goat are coming and they are making everything just so for their friends.  They were looking over their decorations and all looked good, especially the paper turkey.   Alas, Mrs. Moose was sad.

Mrs. Moose sighed. “Yes. But I wish we had a real turkey for Thanksgiving. Everyone always has a turkey for Thanksgiving. Everyone but us.”

Mr. Moose nuzzled Mrs. Moose’ head. “Well that won’t do. I will go this minute and find you a turkey for Thanksgiving.

Off he goes to find Mrs. Moose a turkey for Thanksgiving. As he wanders to find one, he enlists the help of all his friends.  They find the turkey in his nest.  The turkey runs away despite Mr. Moose sweetly telling him they want him for Thanksgiving dinner.  Is there a happy ending for Mr. Turkey? Why yes there is!  A chair at the table for Mr. Turkey right next to Mrs. Moose!  He surveys the table of all the good food Mrs. Moose has prepared.

“I hope you find something her to your liking, Mr. Turkey,” Mrs. Moose said.  “I wasn’t sure of your taste.

“You are so kind to worry about my taste,” Turkey said. “I thought you’d be worrying about how I’d taste.”

“Heavens, no!” Mr. Moose smiled his big-toothed smile…. “It’s so nice to have friends around the table at Thanksgiving.”

It was a Happy Thanksgiving for Mr. Turkey.  He was at the table and not on it.  He has new friends for Thanksgiving.

What an amusing take on the turkey and Thanksgiving! Perhaps, Beau and Tye, will meet new turkey friends at Gobbler’s Rest?   They will be at the table and not on it, too!

I liked this charming book.  Eve’s words along with Diane’s lovely watercolor pictures make it a pleasure to read.  I bought it to share with my preschool class.  They loved the story.

Whether a turkey is on your table or at your table (sometimes it can be both), I hope all of you have a lovely Thanksgiving Day.

The Halloween Tree: A Story of Friendship, Bravery, and Our Halloween Traditions

Halloween TreeBradbury, Ray. The Halloween Tree. Illustrated by Joseph Mugnaini. New York: Yearling Book, 1972.

Happy Halloween (a bit belated)! Here is a book that celebrates all the traditions of this season. Here is an education of the history of Halloween so carefully woven into a story of nine boys, you miss the education.  The book opens with these words:

It was a small town by a small river and a small lake in a small northern part of a Midwest state.  There wasn’t so much wilderness around you couldn’t see the town. But on the other hand there wasn’t so much town you couldn’t see and feel and touch and smell the wilderness.  The town was full of trees. And dry grass and deaf flower now that autumn was here.  And full of fences to walk on and sidewalks to skate on and a large ravine to tumble in and yell across.  And the town was full of …. Boys.

I love this ordinary setting in our United States for a launching pad for the adventures of eight boys and their special friend, Pipkin.  They are costumed for Halloween as a skeleton, witch, ape man, gargoyle, beggar, mummy, ghost, and death.  They leave their houses. They run and shriek and laugh and jump and frolic.  It’s Halloween! They stop to take count. Something is wrong.  There are eight where there should be nine.  Where is Pipkin? He would never miss Halloween!  Why is this boy so special? Here’s what Bradbury tells us about Pipkin.

Joe Pipkin was the greatest boy who ever lived. The grandest boy who ever fell out of a tree and laughed at the joke. The finest boy who ever raced around the track, winning, and then, seeing his friends a mile back somewhere, stumbled and fell, waited for them to catch up and joined, breast and breast, breaking the winner’s tape.

These and many more accolades are heaped upon Pipkin.  How could these boys have Halloween without him?  What is wrong? They scramble over to his house. Pipkin steps out.  He looks bad.  Will he trick or treat with them?  He asks them to head to the place of Haunts and he will meet them there. They go to the only house worth visiting on Halloween.  They round the side of the house and there it is, a tree, a hundred feet tall and hung with pumpkins of every shape and variety, the Halloween Tree! Each pumpkin was carved with an elaborate face.  As the boys watched, all the pumpkins light up! Each frightening, carved face is aglow. From this splendor comes Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud, a ghoulish person, who offers them a trick.

These boys are wary of Moundshroud.  They aren’t sure they like his trick. They are waiting for Pipkin.  They spy him at a distance, when something dark whisks him away.  These brave boys, must rescue their friend.  The boys enlist the aid of the skeletal Moundshroud.  He promises to help them find and rescue Pipkin.  Away the boys are whisked to the past, chasing Pipkin through the centuries.  Each time and place they visit teaches them something about the traditions of Halloween.  Each festival from ones in Ancient Egypt to Día de los Muertos in Mexico is an exciting adventure.  They see the Feast of Samhain, The Time of the Old Ones, All Soul’s Day, All Saint’s Day, The Day of the Dead, El Día De Muerte, All Hallows!  All are some variation of Halloween.  As Moundshround says: “Night and day. Summer and winter, boys. Seedtime and harvest. Life and death.  That’s what Halloween is, all rolled up in one.”

Finally, in Mexico in the celebration of the Day of the Dead, they find Pipkin.  He may or may not be dead. Can they rescue him? What is the price?  It is a year from each young life. Will each brave boy give up a year of his life to save their dear friend?  Would you?

Ray Bradbury’s story is rich with symbolism and imagery.  It is difficult to give you a sense of this story.  I chose this book because it is my daughter, Alexis’ favorite. I can see why. It is creepy, exciting, and lyric all at the same time.  Ray Bradbury’s prose is evocative and wonderful.

This story set in an ordinary Midwest city, and that makes me remember.  I was raised in an ordinary Midwest city.  On Halloween, it was cool and crisp.  The trees had lost their leaves.  We lived in a housing subdivision, referred to by my folks, as the “Heslop Hatchery” for its sheer number of young children living in the neighborhood.  We leapt and gamboled and wandered carefree through the neighborhood my sister and me.  We met our friends and trick or treated throughout the entire neighborhood. Our bags must have been so heavy!

This story makes me remember Halloween past in various places not only the ones in my Midwest city. We lived in Greece for a time on a job site out in the country side.  I remember the terrific parties devised by the moms to keep us entertained.

I remember my Mom and Dad, who have both passed away.  They enjoyed this holiday, too.  I wish I had a story of their youth to share with you.  I do remember a couple of Halloween parties, they had.  It was fun to see grown-ups dress up.  I have some old film of one of these parties and it looks like they were having a terrific time.

I remember celebrating Halloween with our girls.  We had one girl, who always dressed as something gruesome and one who always dressed as something pretty.  I remember a Halloween, we had the Grim Reaper and a Princess and one with Pocahontas and Peter Pan.

I was discussing this story with my husband.  He too, remembers Halloweens past.  He shared some of his remembrances with me.  Here they are for you.

Well, here I am at 60, thinking about Halloween.  This was one of my favorite times when growing up.  While the candy was great, designing costumes was even better.  In 3rd grade, out teacher taught us how to make papier- mâché masks for art.  The masks were finished before Halloween.  This mask, though simple, was very cool.  I got to use my imagination to make my own Halloween mask!  It was mine and totally unique.  No one else would be wearing my same mask!

The papier- mâché mask led to other more elaborate costumes.  It turns out that boxes, hose and paint can make cool costumes.  I was always a fan of Jules Verne stories and it occurred to me that I could be Captain Nemo.  I don’t remember all the details (too long ago) but I do remember using these boxes and hose to make a diving helmet, air tank and hose that joined them.  The following year I went all fantasy and created a dragon outfit.  Again, boxes were used to create the head and mouth of the dragon.  Cardboard and strap was used to create the wings.  One house I went to that year loved the originality and DIY nature of the outfit and doubled my candy!

The last year I trick or treated I recalled the papier-mâché mask of long ago.  I decided to make something totally different.  The mask was in two parts, a round nose portion and a large mask to cover the head.  To this I added some simple electronics to my late 1960’s costume.  I fitted a colored light on the top of the head portion of the mask and one on the nose.  These were wired to a battery and switch that went through my jacket sleeve and into my hand.  As I walked down the street I blinked the nose and head lights.  It was gratifying when, the next day, I heard someone in school talking about a costume they had seen in my neighborhood with blinking lights!

These are our thoughts and the great Ray Bradbury’s thoughts and reflections.  Pick up a copy of The Halloween Tree and savor it.  Do you give Halloween gifts?  This would be a great one!  Read and remember.