“John, I’ve been thinking….We should dress up and go out for Halloween.”
“I’m too old for Halloween, Happy. Halloween is just for kids.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Yes, it is.”
“No, it’s not. The lady outside just put a ghost on her house, and she’s old.”
“I don’t know Happy. I still think I’m too old.”
“John, are you too old to eat candy?”
“Are you too old to have fun?”
Happy, John’s pet mouse, learns that Halloween is about being scared for fun and collecting candy as treats. John explains to Happy that costumes are made out of old clothes or sometimes purchased. Masks are also made or bought or faces can be painted. After learning about Halloween, Happy convinces John to go out trick or treating on Halloween.
Happy uses black shoe polish to paint a scary face on John, and the two set off for trick or treating. People at the first few houses are confused by John. When they realize he is not a repairman or a lost person but is really trick or treating, he is rewarded with candy and some non-candy items, too, such as a toothbrush and a pencil.
When they return home, Happy, the mouse, does not take John’s advice to slow down and not eat too much, and, after gorging himself, he feels ill. When John is getting ready for bed and going to brush his teeth, Happy starts to laugh because John will see what his scary face is. It turns out to be the face of a cat, a very scary thing for a mouse.
Children will love this story. The full-page, full-colour illustrations in cartoon format depict the rich colours of fall. Jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, witches, bats, children in costume, all help to explain what Halloween is. The illustrations support the text which takes the form of a dialogue between John and Happy, the mouse. The text and the illustrations together develop the concept of Halloween.
Teachers/caregivers could use Halloween Mouse to introduce and/or discuss the custom of Halloween to young children, and it could also be used with older children too who are new to Canada.
Elizabeth Brown, a retired teacher-librarian, formerly worked for Winnipeg One School Division.