The Princess in Black

I mentioned previously that I like to dress up as characters from children’s books for Halloween. This year I was Princess Magnolia, or better known as The Princess in Black.

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The only thing I had to do was cut a piece of black felt to an appropriate cape size (I don’t recommend felt though, it was very heavy. But it was all I had on hand) and draw a flower, cut it out and pin it to my shirt. Easy Peasy.

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Bookish Halloween

Since becoming a librarian I’ve rediscovered a love of Halloween. I love dressing SELRES_f3d44d3f-4bd0-4388-8a7e-2ba8fd04891bup like some of mySELRES_f3d44d3f-4bd0-4388-8a7e-2ba8fd04891b favorite books and book characters. Of course, they’re pretty much all kids books since I work with children. But, really, they’re more fun anyway!

So without further ado, I present the last couple of years worth of bookish Halloween. I linked patterns and printables where I could, but some of these are quite old. This year, the plan is to dress up as Princess Magnolia from The Princess in Black series by Shannon and Dean Hale.

Luna Lovegood

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

As you can tell, I majorly copied the look from the movies as there is not a lot to go off in the books. I found a printable for the specterspecs online and a cover for the Quibbler. I also found a pattern for making radish earrings out of beads and made my own design for the wand and butterbeer cork necklace. For the Ravenclaw crest I printed the copy I liked best, “laminated” it with packing tape and then used a safety pin to pin it on my sweater.
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circa 2010

Alice

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by C.S. Lewis

This was probably the easiest costume. I already had the blue dress and black bow headband and black shoes. The only thing to make was the apron and all I did was cut up an old white tshirt in a half-circle shape and tie it around my waist. I did write in puffy paint “we’re all made here” on the pocket I made out of the tshirt’s sleeve. I hot glued the pocket onto the apron.
Bookish Halloween

circa 2013

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

A bit of advice, should you want to recreate this costume- don’t use a stretchy knit tunic. The letters would not stay on and I spent most of the day trying to tape, staple, and sew them on my sweater. To make the letters I typed the alphabet into word using a simple font and then cut them all out to use as a pattern. Full disclosure, my mom made the leaf collar. I have no idea how she did that- it’s far beyond my talents.
Bookish Halloween

circa 2014

Astrid

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

If I remember correctly, Astrid is not in the books, just the movie. But it counts because the movie is based off a book. And obviously I based my costume and my husband’s off the movie (he’s Toothless if you can’t tell). I found a bat costume intended for kids using a black zip up sweatshirt and modified it for Toothless. The ears were the hardest part (although you can’t really see the ears in this pic). You can’t tell, but I had skirt made out of brown felt strips (worn over shorts of course). I then drew with skull like shapes on with Sharpie to emulate Astrid’s skirt in the movie. The Viking helmet is left over from a previous costume, and since we live in MN the snow boots were no problem.

Bookish Halloween

circa 2015

Olivia the Pig

Olivia series by Ian Falconer

All the books are checked out at the moment, but I’m not 100% sure the version of the outfit I wore is ever seen in Falconer’s Olivia, or if it’s only seen in the TV show and the books based off the show. The only thing I had to make were the ears, which were a lot harder than I expected! I attached pipe cleaners to a stretchy workout style headband then tried to hot glue felt along the shape of the pipe cleaner, to give the ears the distinctly Olivia shape. That didn’t work so well, The felt ears kept detaching themselves from the pipe cleaner, and the pipe cleaner on the headband was really scratchy.
Bookish Halloween

circa 2016

A Royal Spyness Rundown

For the last month I’ve been living in the aristocratic world of England between the wars.

Once I finished On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service I realized I couldn’t really remember how Darcy and Georgie began. So I started listening to the first book again, and next thing I know, I’ve listened to the whole series (On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service twice) from September 1st through September 26. It helps that my husband was out of town one weekend and I spent the whole weekend working on his awesome custom (not biased at all here) cornhole and kubb set. Now when I talk to myself in my head I sound British (I know you probably all think I’m nuts now) and I really wish we could use phrases like “you’re a brick” and “old bean” today.

royal spynes

Listening to all the books again, I have a few, not very well formed thoughts, that I’m mostly going to copy and paste from my Goodreads “reviews.”

  1. Katherine Kellgren is an amazing audio narrator. Reading the books without Darcy’s Irish accent in my ears or the aristocratic drawl of the supporting characters when they say things like “Old bean” and “what ho, (insert name)” is not nearly as much fun.
  2. I love Georgie. She does some really stupid things, but overall I think she’s a very realistic character.
  3. The attention to detail, whether it’s fashion, description of the architecture, or manners of the day is wonderful.
  4. Darcy vacillates between being overly bossy, not involved, and too perfect. Yet, I still love him. He is definitely one of my favorite book heroes.
  5. The consistent interactions with Wallis Simpson are great. She is a fascinating, if unlikable, person.
  6. Queenie’s character, who is introduced to us in Royal Blood is both a welcome inclusion in the world (she’s brave and funny and comic relief sometimes) but in some installments the character falls flat and the comedy can seem mean spirited.
  7. Bowen flirts with the supernatural a bit in a few of the installments. Heirs and Graces and Malice at the Palace mostly. I don’t necessarily mind ghosts etc, but it can seem like an odd inclusion at times.
  8. Until the last three books Belinda’s character is very flat and underdeveloped. Still a delightful character, but seeing her growth in later installments is nice.
  9. Overall, Georgie becomes more confident and her character does grow. However, her continual distrust of Darcy and his intentions with other women gets old by the 11th book. Some installments play up that insecurity, while it’s ignored in others, depending on the story. While I get it, Darcy was a bit of a player and she’s constantly hearing that he’ll never settle down, but trust has got to be in the relationship too.
  10. Despite all the flaws (I tend to nitpick more when I like something), I still love the series and will continue to listen. I just hope it has an ending in sight(ish) and isn’t one of those never ending series that needs to die. Although, I will be sad when that happens.

If you’ve made it this far, I’m impressed. My last comments deal with favorites. I’m biased since I listen to The Twelve Clues of Christmas every Christmas since I started the series, but it’s still my favorite. Otherwise, Her Royal Spyness, Royal Pain and Royal Flush are tied for next best with Crowned and Dangerous. At first listen I did not like Crowned and Dangerous, but now I appreciate it for the conflict and growth it gives Darcy and Georgie. Meeting his family and seeing him in his natural space is also important for both Georgie and the readers. On the flip side, Heirs and Graces is the worst, followed closely by Queen of Hearts. For me, neither felt true to the series, either in mystery or in character development/actions.

Vacation Reading

I know when I go on vacation I want something light and entertaining. That can be YA, middle grade, mystery, graphic novel, or fiction. Pretty much anything but nonfiction (unless it’s by Karen Abbott, because she writes about the opposite of dry history). I assumed my fellow Minnesotans acted similarly. But, according to the Star Tribune, who cited a study, Minnesotans like to read nonfiction while they vacation.

No. 1 for Minneapolis travelers, though, is this: nonfiction. We are the only ones.

According to the Smithsonian study, about 26 percent of travelers out of Minneapolis (and possibly St. Paul) carry along a nonfiction book to while away the time.

Unfortunately most of my family (aside from my parents) don’t read, so I can’t peek at what my cousins are reading while relaxing this Labor Day weekend. But I can tell you, I will be bringing Appleblossom the Possum (one of this years Maude Hart Lovelace contenders) and When Dimple Met Rishi (a book I’ve been eyeing for a while now, but just can’t get into).