Is it Halloween yet? by Susannah Chambers
Illus. by Tamsin Ainslie. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN:
(Age: 4+) Recommended. Themes: Halloween, Family. The instructions for making an origami bat at the end of the book was the first thing I looked at in this book about Halloween after seeing the sticker on the back cover. And once there, a piece of squared paper was found to try it out, and yes it works and will be easy to do with a group of kids obsessed with this old English and American observance now being seen more often in Australia. And the whole ritual is engaging, from making masks and dressing up, to sheets being used as ghosts, lots of spiders, things that go bump in the night, a host of bats, Halloween is a time for fun and lots of laughs.
And this is very much promoted in the book, Is it Halloween yet? Emily asks continual questions from her frazzled Mum, trying to keep up with the newest arrival in the family. Emily asks about ghosts, and vampire bats, pumpkins, Jack o' lanterns, witches' cats and eyeballs, leading the readers to ask their own questions about the customs of that day and why they are followed.
While some say that Halloween is not Australian and has no place in our calendar, many children and families are observing the day, joining in the family fun and togetherness that is promoted. Many families will make their own costumes, have a Halloween party, encourage 'trick or treat' in their own neighbourhood, hang bats from the clothesline and try carving a pumpkin (not as easy as it looks).
Dressing up is always great fun and this book encourages families to get involved.
And most people will not care that Halloween predates Christianity as a night of bonfires for ancient Celts to ward off evil spirits, becoming part of the Christian tradition on October 31 to rid evil spirits before All Hallow's Day on November 1, a time of feasting to honour those saints who did not have a specific day devoted to them.
Whatever its history, it can be a fun time for communities to work together, make costumes, and have a feast of all things ghoulish, and read Is it Halloween yet? with lots of fun.