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Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The…

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

by Edna Barth

Other authors: Ursula Arndt (Illustrator)

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I love the illustrations in Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts -- you can tell they were drawn in the 70s, in a charming way -- but the writing style is too choppy and random for me to enjoy.

I like that a children's book includes info about actual witches, Druids, celebrations of the dead, etc., and I liked the background provided for jack o'lanterns, bobbing for apples . . . all those classic games and symbols associated with Halloween. I haven't gone through the book chapter-by-chapter to fact-check, but I suspect some facts might be a little jumbled; some bits just SOUND wrong, but I can't back that up.

Most of my problem, though, stems from Barth's writing style; the book reads like a grade-school essay, with info just dropped into each chapter randomly, with no smooth transitions between time periods or subjects. It's hard to read, or maybe just hard to focus on. It's not a book I'd recommend unless you really dig the art. ( )
  karinnekarinne | Apr 3, 2013 |
In this delightful book, Edna Barth describes in detail about how Halloween originated from a centuries old tradition beginning in Irland with the Celts that survived through the centuries with trick-or-treating, parties, pumpkins and how the Irish started a tradition of their ancient customs in America that became a celebration loved by children and adults alike throughout America. Wonderfully illustrated and full descriptions and stories about Halloween and the meaning of the symbols behind this Holiday. ( )
  TheGoldenPen | Sep 26, 2009 |
I thought this would be a really cool book about the history of Halloween, etc. that I could put in my classroom library, but I eventually decided that it would be unfit. It did have a lot of history, even some stuff that was interesting or that I didn't know, but it was so loaded with exaggerations, misinterpretations, and untruths that I got really annoyed. I would definitely recommend going elsewhere for your history, because I found this book somewhat offensive. ( )
  t1bnotown | Mar 10, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edna Barthprimary authorall editionscalculated
Arndt, UrsulaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0899190405, Paperback)

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)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:31 -0400)

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

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