Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween: Hubknuckles

HubknucklesHubknuckles by Emily Herman, Deborah Kogan Ray. Crown, 2010

This is a special anniversary edition of the book, originally published in 1985.  Herman's story feels like it dates from an even earlier time of children's picture books. Her writing has a kind of timeless innocence.

This gentle story of Halloween traditions and a child's belief provokes a yearning in me for a time when elementary schools held costume parades and there were cupcakes instead of the current state of affairs where the day is so controversial that some schools practically shrink from any utterance of the "H' word.  

Maybe it is my own nostalgia but I do yearn for the Halloweens of yore when the night was a celebration of all childish things, candy greed, costumes and make-believe and freedom to roam the streets of the neighborhood in the mysterious dark.

Every Halloween a ghost named Hubknuckles visits Lee's family and dances outside their window.  Is the ghost real?  Lee thinks she wants to know and decides this year she will investigate to discover the truth.  Deborah Kogan Ray's softly rendered illustrations in powdered graphite and pencil lend exactly the right tone of mystery to the story. Hubknuckles, the moon and the leaves outside the window glow in the moonlight.  The story and illustrations balance each other beautifully.

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