The Story of Halloween
by Carole Greene

The Story of Halloween
By Carol Greene
Illustrated by Linda Bronson
Harper Collins Publishers, 2004

Children's book review by P.J. Rooks

Ages 5+

Did you know that the original carved jack-o-lanterns were made of turnips, rutabagas or potatoes instead of pumpkins? And...

Jack of the Lantern earned his ignoble title by living a life of such small-minded avarice and mischief that when he died, he wasn't welcome in either heaven or hell.

In an odd act of sympathy, Satan gave the earth-wandering spirit a glowing coal to light his way at night. The coal, of course, came to reside inside a carved turnip -- giving Jack his famous nickname. That's the story anyway.

Pumpkins replaced turnips when the Halloween tradition was brought to the United States largely by English and Irish immigrants.

This fun fact and much more fill the well-researched pages of Carol Greene's The Story of Halloween. An actual history, we begin our world tour with the Celtic end-of-summer holiday, Samhain, which was a night of malicious spirits and protective bonfires. Review continues.

back cover image, background color altered

When the Romans conquered the Celts, they threw their own ideas into the holiday, which were then joined (about 650 years later) by those of the Roman Catholics.

As the Halloween tradition trickles through time, we see input from many cultures and watch as what began as a somewhat mean holiday evolves into the fun and frolic we know today.

In The Story of Halloween, author Carol Greene has done a good job of keeping it simple. Each page has a paragraph or two of information surrounded by bright, swoopy illustrations that seem to lead us in a cheery dance as we tour the history of Halloween. Kudos to Carol Greene and Linda Bronson for taking a vastly under-exposed topic, bringing it to life, and making it fun!

More books about Halloween.

Read more of P.J.'s reviews.

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