Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols

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9780395288474: Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols

Explains the origins of and relates stories associated with familiar Halloween symbols.

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Review:

Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols remains one of the clearest, most accessible explanations of the history of Halloween around. Edna Barth--author of many nonfiction holiday books for children--sets her story 2,000 years in the past, when October 31 marked a joyous harvest festival for the Celts and, more frighteningly, when potentially evil spirits were unleashed from the Celtic underworld. Her fascinating account of the events that led up to modern-day Halloween explore the cringe-worthy history of witches; where the word jack-o'-lantern comes from (the story involves someone named Stingy Jack, diabolical deals, turnips, and glowing coals); the lore of bats, toads, and owls; why orange and black are the traditional Halloween colors; and how and where people celebrate Halloween today.

Barth's approach is straightforward and simple, and she doesn't gloss over (or dramatize) the darker aspects of Halloween's antecedents, such as the Celts' animal sacrifices and the Salem witch hunts. This rich study of a once-dreaded and now-lighthearted holiday--laden with lively, whimsical illustrations by Ursula Arndt--is sure to prompt children to ask questions about the history of holiday traditions in general. Perhaps Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts will make them take a second look at grinning jack-o'-lanterns, trick-or-treating witches, and other Halloween symbols and customs. A great book for kids who want to dig a little deeper into our mysterious, spooky past! (Ages 9 to 12)

About the Author:

Ursula Arndt has illustrated a number of popular children's books, including the six holiday titles written by Edna Barth for Clarion. She is now retired and lives in Germany.

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Edna Barth, Ursula Arndt (Illustrator)
Published by Clarion Books (1979)
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