The strangest thing has been on my mind today. Sitting in church this morning, I noticed that the silhouette of one of my favorite sweet ladies sitting near the stained glass windows reminded me (oddly) of a children’s book I adored when I was little. I was little in the early 90s, and that book, published in 1970, was creepy in the way that all books and things from the 1970s are—even non-Halloween 70s things are in those Halloweeny shades of harvest gold, orange, black, brown. Everything looked the way that song Gypsies, Tramps and Theives sounds.Weirdly forlorn and colorful. As a child I inherently knew this book was meant to be friendly and good, but the colors and the illustration (and the musty old book smell) gave me the feeling of creepy places and times. Please know what I mean?
The book was called Old Witch and the Polka Dot Ribbon by Harry Devlin, in which (I think) Old Witch helps a good little boy named Nicky and his beautiful single mother win the town cake baking contest. I haven’t actually looked at this book in over a decade probably, but for some reason the visual memories of Old Witch’s likeness on the cover was triggered by something about the way that lady was sitting—and I mean that in the most loving way possible. I couldn’t get it off my mind, and I drove to mama’s house to find it this afternoon.
On the back of the book is the recipe for Old Witch’s (spoiler alert!) prize winning Magic Nut Cake, which I think sounds delicious and I will bake soon and very soon:
Thinking of these great old childhood Halloween books also triggered the vague memory of a book I loved about some bear kids who are home alone on Halloween and pop a ton of popcorn and it fills up the whole house and they have to eat it to clean it up before their parents come home. I looked everywhere at mama’s for this book, but couldn’t find it. I didn’t know the title, I only had some key words to Google: bears popcorn children’s book. Bingo! It is titled, creatively, Popcorn, by Frank Asch.
Have you ever heard of either of these books? Please say yes!
I can’t even begin to talk about the horrifying, creative childhood ramifications of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. THE BEST. And that mess is STILL scary to me, even at 29 years old.