Tag Archive | Halloween

Go to Sleep, Groundhog, by Judy Cox

Go to Sleep, Groundhog by Judy Cox

“Groundhog went to bed on Columbus Day, just like he always did…”

Unfortunately, he’s not headed for a good night’s sleep. In Go to Sleep, Groundhog, the pointy-nosed groundhog puts on his jammies and sets his alarm clock, but after curling into his cozy bed, he just tosses and turns all night. He checks his clock – which says “half-past October” –  then goes for a stroll under the full moon outside his burrow. And to his surprise, all the houses are decorated with pumpkins!

“He saw things he’d never seen before! Raggedy scarecrows and grinning jack-o’-lanterns. Children dressed up like pirates, cowboys, and princesses…”

It’s a funny story that lets children enjoy a new perspective on other holidays throughout the year. Eventually the groundhog returns to bed, but he tries another stroll at half-past November, and discovers – again – “things he’d never seen before!  Tall yellow corn shocks and round orange pumpkins. Turkeys gobbling in the barnyard…” He returns to bed to try to sleeping again, but just ends up seeing even stranger sights in December.

Author Judy Cox adds an especially warm touch to the story, since the wayward groundhog is always coaxed back to his bed by someone appropriate for the holiday. In October, it’s a smiling Halloween Witch, who flies him home on her broomstick, gives him a glass of cider, tucks him in and even reads him a story. For Thanksgiving it’s a grand flying turkey, who also tucks in the groundhog, reads him a story (about pilgrims), and gives him a slice of pumpkin pie. And you’ll never guess who his escort is at Christmas time. It’s Santa Claus himself, who flies down in his sleigh, and asks – like everybody else – “What are YOU doing up?”

Paul Meisel really seemed to enjoy illustrating this book, filling the pages with simple colorful acrylic pictures for each of the festive holidays. And there’s a secret second story lurking this book’s illustrations, since the groundhog’s tree burrow is shared by a friendly mouse! He watches silently each time the groundhog wakes up early, and curls up next to him on the pillow when the groundhog returns to bed. When it’s finally February 2nd – Groundhog Day – the little mouse follows him up the burrow’s sunny stairs, where he shares in the book’s funniest moment. “What am I doing up?” the groundhog asks. “There are six more weeks of winter coming!

“I should be in bed!”

Georgie’s Halloween by Robert Bright

The cover of the children's picture book Georgie's Halloween

It was 1958, and President Eisenhower was presiding over the post-war boom. And illustrator Robert Bright decided to write a gentle children’s book about a charming little ghost named Georgie. Bright had already written stories where George meets a magician and some attic-pilfering robbers. But eventually, he’d end up writing a book about Georgie’s Halloween.

It’s a fun book for Halloween, because Bright uses two colors – orange and black – for each of his illustrations. The first picture shows seven children dressed in costumes – there’s a witch, a pirate, and a clown. A dark black patch signals night behind them, making the costumes seem even more cheerful. And the book opens with a warm moment of appreciation. “Wherever there are children there is Halloween, with pumpkins and funny faces, with tricks and with treats.”

First Bright recaps the basics of his character. (Georgie lives in the attic of Mr. and Mrs. Whitaker, and he’s friends with Herman the cat and an owl named Miss Oliver.) Georgie was shy and stayed hidden – like a ghost should – which gives the story a kind of hushed magic. And of course when Halloween comes around, he doesn’t have to wear a costume, since “he was so especially perfect for Halloween just as he was.”

His mouse friends in the attic urge him to enter the yearly costume contest – though that doesn’t seem proper to Georgie. Even his owl friend, and Herman the cat, urge him to enter, and there’s a smiling moon, and a grinning pumpkin in his window. But instead, Georgie spies on the town’s party on the green, peeking out from behind a tall tree. Yet in each illustration he creeps closer to the costumed paradeā€¦

Bright really outdoes himself with this book’s illustrations. The moonlit house and the nighttime party scene both lend themselves to exciting effects with light and shadows. The white spaces seems to be the gleam of moonlight, and the dark lines turn into stark shadowy highlights. And in a two-page drawing, the light spaces are complemented by the orange of the children’s costumes.

Georgie hides behind a corn stalk, but the cat and the owl urge him on. And when he finally arrives, the children shout “It’s Georgie! It’s GEORGIE!” The happy ghost runs home to tell his mouse friends about his triumph. When he gets home, the mice will present him with their own award for best costume of all.

“And all the way he could still hear the children cheering.”