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

New (to me) Picture Books

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XO, OX: A Love Story written by Adam Rex, illustrated by Scott Campbell

I really wanted to like this one, but fell flat. Despite the wonderful illustrations. Ox loves Gazelle (who seems like a celebrity of some sort, and who we assume Ox has never actually met), and writes her love letters. At first Gazelle is annoyed and then Ox accidentally insults her, but they keep writing. By the end Gazelle has fallen for Ox. Maybe XO, OX is supposed satirical, but clearly many of us are not getting that intent. Instead, it reads like a creepy (stalkerish) story and is not sending a good message about consent and respect.

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The Giant Jumperee written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

I really liked the illustrations in this one, and the surprise at the end will sure to delight kids. I think The Giant Jumperee would work really well in a storytime setting. Although I always have to wonder where these stories take place. Do all these animals really coexist in areas around the globe? I guess this is what happens when you are married to a naturalist.

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Not Quite Narwhal written and illustrated by Jessie Sima

Kelp is a unicorn born to a family of narwhals. This is super cute, but definitely playing into current trends/pop culture. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t know how much of the praise is due to the story and how much is due to the unicorn love at the moment.

Overall, it’s a very sweet story about making family and being true to yourself.

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A Greyhound, A Groundhog written by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Appelhans

This is so sweet. I love the watercolor illustrations and the repetition. It’s very reminiscent of Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett. I also think this one would work well in a storytime setting. Maybe around Groundhog Day?

Appleblossom the Possum

Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan is one of this years Maud Hart Lovelace nominees. I’m going to try and read them all this year. I totally failed last year. It helps that many of them fulfill my other reading challenge categories.

The Goodreads blurb reads “Mama has trained up her baby possums in the ways of their breed, and now it’s time for all of them—even little Appleblossom—to make their way in the world. Appleblossom knows the rules: she must never be seen during the day, and she must avoid cars, humans, and the dreaded hairies (sometimes known as dogs). Even so, Appleblossom decides to spy on a human family—and accidentally falls down their chimney! The curious Appleblossom, her faithful brothers—who launch a hilarious rescue mission—and even the little girl in the house have no idea how fascinating the big world can be. But they’re about to find out!”

I should find this little book cute. But I didn’t. I may have mentioned a couple years ago that I lived in an old house and squirrels and one chipmunk managed to find their way inside. Finding chipmunk poop on your sofa is not cute. Ever since then these kinds of stories gross me out. I’m fine reading about the Possums outside, but once Appleblossom falls into the “people house” I was in yuck mode. Despite my aversions, the illustrations are adorable, and I can see kids really enjoying this book.

Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book from a nonhuman perspective

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Storywalk

Last week I accomplished one of my professional goals. Since starting in public libraries I wanted to run a We’re Going on a Bear Hunt storywalk, through nature that somewhat resembles the scenes in the book. My current library is working on a partnership with a local nature center (we want more outreach, they want more visitors, so win-win!) and another librarian and I jumped at the chance to start this journey. I brought up my Bear Hunt idea and they loved it, and the site just happened to have a master naturalist volunteer who had already created a bear game, a bear den, and a box of bear paraphernalia (plaster prints, bear skin, etc). The nature center even has bears living on their property and have trail-cam photos of the bears.

Bear Hunt

I got to nature center at noon on a Wednesday and helped set up the non-trail portion of the event. We had a corner set up for kids to read to stuffed bears and a basket of other fabulous bear books. We also had a binocular making station, coloring sheets, and a “map” with early literacy tips for parents on the back.

Not only was I impressed by the turnout, but by how long some of our Bear Hunters took on their walk. Some were on the trail for an hour! They then stayed and made binoculars or colored or read for another hour or two.

I’m super excited to continue this partnership and hope that the upcoming nature storywalks are just as successful. And I was so excited to see something I’d thought about for years come to life.

Audacity Jones

I have to admit, the only reason I read this particular Kirby Larson book is because it has a cat on the cover. Which is a Popsugar Reading challenge category, and I don’t want to read a cozy mystery (which almost all seem to feature a cat of some kind.

I’m apparently on a spunky, spirited orphan kick recently. Audacity Jones has a very Anne Shirley personality, which showed most with her vocabulary and when talking about the books she’d read.

Audacity is the only orphan at Miss Maisie’s School for Wayward Girls, and as such is snapped up for help on a mission by the Commodore. At first Audacity is excited for her adventure, but soon she begins to suspect something, or someone, in the mission is amiss.

I can’t say I loved the book, which is surprising because I normally love historical fiction. And I remember enjoying other Kirby Larson books. This one felt like it was trying too hard. Again, I can’t say what it was trying too hard to do. There was just something “meh” about the whole thing.

PopSugar Reading Challenge: A book with a cat on the cover

The War that Saved My Life

Oh my goodness. Why did I read this book so late? Seriously, it was so good! I already had my eye on it to fill a few spots in my reading challenges, but it also fit in perfectly with the class I took a few weeks ago. So, I downloaded the ebook off Cloud Library. At first it took me by surprise, since the narrator also narrated I’ve Got Your Number, which is a very different style of book.

The War that Saved My Life is about Ada, a young girl in 1940s London who was born with a club foot. Ada shares an apartment with her younger brother and her Mam, and while Jamie (her brother) and her mother can leave the apartment, Ada is confined to the one room at all times, because of her foot. Her foot is so bad she cannot walk and she crawls around the apartment. When Jamie comes home one day saying his school friends are going to be evacuated to the country because of World War II and the inevitable bombing of London, Ada decides it her opportunity to escape. She steals her mother’s shoes and she and Jamie slowly make their way to the train station. Once in the country, the two siblings are taken under the wing of Susan Smith and Ada learns not only how to read, write, and walk, but also about the power of love and family.

Ada’s story is absolutely heartbreaking. From being convinced her foot is her fault, to the beatings from her mother, to learning what grass is and how trees lose their leaves in winter. My only complaint is that the ending of the book wrapped up really quickly. I think it did a disservice to the lovely relationship building and introduction to the story.

PopSugar: A book by or about someone with a disability

Book Riot: A book about war