Monday, October 16, 2017
Herbert's First Halloween, written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Steven Henry. Chronicle, Raincoast. 2017. $21.99 ages 3 and up
Herbert from head to toe.
He measured him for ears.
He measured him for a tail.
He measured him for paws
Herbert asked, "Can I roar?"
The answer was yes!
Herbert would roar on
My kids, when they were quite small, thought they would love Halloween. We decided on a costume, I got it done,and we were ready! As a mom who didn't much like Halloween (well OK, I thought the candy part was great!) and absolutely did not like dressing up ever, I should have known. Genes do run deep! They thought that the costumes were wonderful until it was time to put them on, and head out for the candy collection. Then, it was no thanks! Off we went in warm coats and a little face paint to gather the goodies being offered by friends, family and neighbors. It was mostly like that until they decided they had had enough of the whole thing.
Herbert is not sure about Halloween and how it works. His father, an aficionado, encourages his son to share the holiday with him. Herbert wonders if he might be a tiger. Of course! The delighted dad gets right to work while encouraging his son to help with the costume, the decorations and practicing his tiger persona. It is a warm and winning tale of togetherness.
When the big night arrives Dad dresses as a cowboy, emulating the little boy he was in a picture shown to Herbert. They walk from one place to another in their neighborhood, note all the other costumes being worn, collect candy, and call it a success. We leave the two as Herbert considers next year's costume.
I love the tone created by Ms. Rylant's carefully chosen text. The storytelling is thoughtful and reassuring for our youngest readers who share Herbert's uneasiness about the unknown. The father patiently encourages Herbert and listens carefully to his concerns. Steven Henry does a fine job with digital illustrations to keep to the calm tone of the words, using soft lines, muted colors and inviting scenes.