Halloween for the three- to five-year-old set is obviously an exciting time, but not without a few pitfalls. One of them is finding appropriate books to share. The stories need to be savvy enough to respect their intelligence but not so spooky that you will find a trembling child in your bed at two in the morning. The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything (don't be scared by the long title) is the perfect example of a slightly spooky book with an upbeat happy ending, and as an added bonus it features some call-and-response listener participation.
The main character is a little old lady who spends all day collecting herbs and seeds deep in the woods. She walks home by moonlight and along the way encounters an entire ghostly wardrobe that attempts to block her path. But since, as the title clearly states, she is not afraid of anything, she just keeps on trucking. By the end when she encounters a huge floating jack-o-lantern head, the lady is a bit less brave, but she makes it home, collects herself and comes up with a solution for dealing with her pursuers that makes everyone happy in the end.
Th artwork is timeless, depicting a rustic landscape that could be from the 1800s or maybe a quiet corner of rural present day America. The little old lady's determination comes through on every page, and when the pumpkin head finally makes its appearance it is more interesting than menacing.
And while the premise of the story is humorous, it is the call-and-response parts that keep me coming back for more. Each article of clothing makes a distinctive sound, from the 'Clomp, Clomp' of the shoes to the 'Nod, Nod' of the hat. These sounds get repeated throughout the book, so by the end the listener has plenty of time to pick up on each one and yell them out at the appropriate time. Even my two-year-old gets in on the action.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything is not a new book by any means, but it is a good one that deserves a second look, or a first look to the uninitiated.
Title: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything
Author: Linda Williams
Illustrator: Megan Lloyd
Publisher: Harper Collins (2002)
Age group: Two and up
Best for kids who: are into Halloween, pumpkins, and brave women
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid Of Anything by Linda Williams, illustrated by Megan Lloyd