To answer these questions, I would like to share a story from one of my books.
Halloween for Ernestine is one of six rhyming stories from Rhyme Stones. Read, Print, and Enjoy! (Compliments Orca Book Publishers.) Don’t miss the Interview with Ernestine and cool Halloween facts at the end.
HALLOWEEN FOR ERNESTINE by Pat Skene
It happened every Halloween –
a little witch called Ernestine
was so afraid of being seen
because she couldn’t fly.
She tried to fly.
Could she be shy?
She sneaked about her witch’s lair,
pretending that she wasn’t there.
She hid behind her orange chair.
But all the witches knew.
She knew they knew.
What could she do?
“Fly Ernestine!” they would exclaim.
But every time it was the same.
She toppled off her broom in shame.
Her head was full of lumps.
All lumps and bumps
She heard them talk behind her back.
“That witch flies like a maniac!”
“She’d fall out of a Pontiac!”
“She couldn’t ride a sled!”
Not Santa’s sled!
Her face was red.
Still, Ernestine dreamed of the day
when she could fly her broom away.
And every Halloween they’d say,
“Let’s ride with Ernestine.”
The flying queen.
So Ernestine had never been,
out on her broom on Halloween.
But witches everywhere were keen
to fly out on this night.
Tonight’s the night.
A fright delight.
Her witchy friends said their good-byes,
as flying broomsticks filled the skies.
But Ernestine made spider pies,
and stayed home with her cat.
A cat named Splaaat!
“I wish that I could go,” she said.
“But I keep falling on my head.
A klutz like me should stay in bed,
‘til after Halloween.”
But then she made a witches’ brew,
and stirred the pot and thought it through.
“A sled!” she said. “That’s what I’ll do!
I’ll make myself a seat!”
A flying seat.
To trick or treat.
She took two broomsticks as a pair,
and tied them underneath her chair.
She said, “I’ve got no time to spare,”
and sat down for her ride.
A chair to ride.
So soft and wide.
So Ernestine had quite a night.
Her broomstick-chair kept her upright.
She gave her witchy friends a fright.
They whispered, “Where’s her broom?”
No bumpy broom?
It made them fume!
The witches’ council met at dawn.
They’d heard how Ernestine had gone.
“Oh, how she flew and carried on!”
“With brooms strapped to her chair!”
Was that so rare?
“This simply can’t be done,” they cried.
“She must obey The Witches Guide.”
“We broomstick riders have our pride.”
“This nonsense just won’t do!”
What could they do?
Try something new?
Then Ernestine came in the room.
They said, “You’re sorry, we presume.”
“You know a witch should ride a broom.”
“How dare you ride a chair!”
Her chair was there.
It wasn’t fair!
The witches’ council then decreed
to punish this unwitchly deed.
“Who knows where this new ride will lead?”
“What’s next – a flying couch?”
Why not a couch?
Gee – what a grouch!
But Ernestine smiled at them all
and stood up straight and rather tall.
She said, “I really had a ball.
I loved my Halloween!”
“I rode all night and knocked on doors
and buzzed some tricksters soaping stores.
While all of you got saddle sores,
I had a cushy ride!”
No broom to ride.
No sore backside.
Then Ernestine, the flying queen,
said, “At the risk of sounding mean –
you’re in a rut! Change your routine!
Relax and fly like me!”
Oh, mercy me!
Did they agree?
She saw the council elders swoon.
Some witches joined her chair platoon.
Their shadows crossed the harvest moon
to test-drive a new ride.
They tried the ride.
Did they decide?
When next All Hallows’ Eve came by,
their chairs and couches filled the sky.
The witches cheered, “It’s time to fly!”
“Let’s ride with Ernestine!”
A Halloween Interview with Ernestine
How did Halloween get started?
Ernestine: Halloween used to be known as ‘All Hallows’ Eve.’ It started in Ireland over 2000 years ago. It was a holiday to honour the dead. Halloween was all so serious back then. But now it’s all about having fun. You get to celebrate with scary costumes and candy. I get to buzz you in my nifty flying broomstick-chair!
Did they trick or treat back then too?
Ernestine: They sure did. People would go from house to house, demanding food for the town feast. In England they asked for little cakes – and they had to ask for them in rhyme. Of course pranks and mischief were part of the celebrations back then too. We witches have always liked to play tricks. But those spooky ghosts are the worst.
Is Halloween still a big holiday?
Ernestine: Next to Christmas, Halloween is the biggest holiday all year. It’s a really big deal with all the costumes, decorations, parties and pumpkins. And of course it’s the sweetest holiday of all. There’s tons of wickedly delicious candy. I think orange is such an important color, don’t you?
Why do we wear costumes on Halloween?
Ernestine: A long time ago, people wore animal heads and skins on Halloween. They did this to ward off evil spirits on this night of the dead. So over the years, everyone kept up the tradition by wearing costumes and masks. Play it safe. Make sure you can see clearly through your masks. Always carry a flashlight to keep those creepy zombies away too.
What were you stirring in your witches’ brew?
Ernestine: We witches love to make big bubbling cauldrons of stew. Some witches use really weird stuff, like eye of newt and tongue of dog. But I was making my own yummy brew. My secret recipe calls for pumpkin-slime, gourds and grime, and one very seasoned scarecrow. Splaaat likes it when I add a can of spicy cackle-juice! Try it. You might like it too.
What kind of name is Splaaat for a cat?
Ernestine: Poor thing, he was a stray. He liked to jump on my broom when I was trying to fly. When I’d tumble off, he’d fall too and we’d both go Splaaat on the ground. So that’s why I called him Splaaat. When he got older, he didn’t like to fall so much. So he stayed home and ate spider pies and got fat. Now he rides with me in my broomstick-chair.
What’s your favourite thing about Halloween?
Ernestine: I love all the ghoulishly grinning jack-o’-lanterns. Way back in the olden days, pumpkins weren’t used to make jack-o’-lanterns. Jack-o-lanterns were carved out of turnips, gourds and potatoes. Today, some people grow pumpkins as big as Volkswagens. And they win big prizes too.
Do you have any last minute Halloween suggestions?
Ernestine: Just dress up and have a howling good time. But remember: never ever go into strange houses. And don’t eat your treats before your parents have looked at them. Do like me – travel in groups with your friends.
P.S. The scuttlebutt around the cauldron is that those snobby vampires think Halloween is tacky. So they’re not going out this year. But I’ll be there – in my chair!
Excerpt from Rhyme Stones by Pat Skene (Orca Book Publishers)
See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene