A young boy faces a scary social situation in this tale of donning Halloween costumes and facing down bullies.
In this debut picture book, a boy is eager for Halloween and trick-or-treating, including all the sugar that comes with it. He’s also excited to dress up for the Halloween party; everyone in his circle will be there. But while all the other kids are interested in superhero and princess costumes, there’s just one that grabs his attention: a bunch of grapes costume built from big purple balloons. It’s love on first wear, and the boy serenades his costume in joy. But when he walks into the Halloween party, one of the superhero kids immediately mocks him: “That’s a really stupid costume, dude!” The boy hides in a corner and cries at the kid’s mean words, until his mother asks him to look around the room. It’s full of children (in diverse skin tones beneath their costumes) who look the same: princesses and superheroes, all wearing identical outfits. “If everyone were the same, how boring would that be?” asks Mom. The boy puts on a brave face and joins the party, and to his surprise, he enjoys the festivities, just by ignoring those nasty words. Fitzkoff delivers an unusual tale; many Halloween stories are more about ghosts and witches than the experiences real kids have at holiday parties. The rhyming text flows well, though the meter is not always perfect and initially presents a challenge to an adult reading the story aloud. Linehan’s entertaining, pastel-colored illustrations, reminiscent of Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts characters or Mo Willems’ Sesame Street creation Suzie Kabloozie, make the child characters easy to empathize with. The grape costume proves especially charming. And while facing bullies can often be far more complicated than simply ignoring cruel words and having fun anyway, the advice to not let a cohort’s criticism ruin a party—and to embrace the things one loves no matter what others think—is a solid start toward building self-confidence.
A comforting Halloween story about children being themselves, even (or especially) when dressed as costumed characters.