Apologies for last week – apparently it’s that time of year that my sinuses decide to rule over every other part of my life. So, that was fun.
On to the books!
This week’s nostalgic Halloween title is one that I’m pretty sure my mother randomly grabbed at the library when I was a kid. It was one that I was deeply attached to growing up, but then couldn’t remember the title for the life of me – it took a lot of enquiries, mass googling, and finally people with better recall than me to find this thing again. I reread it for the first time in decades last year and fell in love all over again. Today we look at Hob Goblin and the Skeleton by Alice Schertle
Hob Goblin lives with his friend Bones Jones the skeleton – who insists that he was the King of England and therefore shouldn’t have to help clean or do chores or any of that nonsense (ed. – I feel ya, Jonesy. Unfortunately the ‘my skeleton is nobility’ excuse has never worked for me, either). After a fight, Bones Jones leaves and Hob Goblin decides to kidnap a human slave to do his work for him.
Okay, obviously there might be some people who would rather that aspect not be in a children’s book, and admittedly I kind of blinked because I didn’t remember that bit at all as a kid. However, I mean, it seems in character for a goblin, so there’s that.
Thus begins the adventure of Hob trying to find someone to kidnap…except it’s Halloween and everyone mistakes him for a trick or treater, right down to his big sack he intended to stuff his victim in. Things come to a head when Hob is mistakenly entered into a costume contest, and he eventually meets back up with Bones, and they share his Halloween candy, though they’re not quite sure what it is (and give it all sorts of slightly gross, fun names).
That last scene is what I really remembered, but suffice it to say, the whole book really held up well to my memory. The story moves along nicely, and there’s a lot of detail, from Bones using furniture polish to polish himself to the branch Hob uses to fly with his frog to the human world.
The art is also exquisite – down to the borders on each page. There’s so much movement and expression in the illustrations, I could just sit and stare at them for a good long time – and have memories of doing just that as a kid.
While it’s a little harsher than some kids’ Halloween fair, really it’s a perfect blend of spooky and funny with a decent lesson. As an adult I enjoyed it on story alone, and the illustrations just really took me to a place where I wondered (once again) what it would be like to live in that world.
The downside is this is not an easy book to find anymore. Seriously – the lack of cover is only because I’m not even finding a legit image of it. There’s one listing on Amazon, but given the cover shown doesn’t match the book, I’m a little skeptical of the listing. I want to say this title is circa late 70s early 80s, and it’s definitely one keeping an eye out for (if one thing my search has found, it’s that so many fondly remembered- and good- titles from my childhood are now out of print). My local library does have it, however, so definitely check yours.