Getting "In Character" for Halloween

Alison Morris - October 28, 2008

Still haven’t figured out what costume to put together for all those parties (or trick-or-treat outings) you’ll be attending this weekend? I thought not. I have therefore put together a motley assortment of book-related costumes from which you might take some inspiration. While a lot of my examples feature children clothed as characters, I see no reason why you couldn’t make adult-sized adaptations of these costumes!

First, a costume of sky-scraping proportions. Last year a blog called Children’s Literature Book Club recounted the fact that William Joyce takes off the entire month of October to decorate for Halloween. He then throws a huge Halloween party to which guests have been known to come dressed like this, as characters from his book Meet the Robinsons. Love it.

Two years ago Librarian Avenger dug up some (ahem) VERY accurate librarian costumes that I’m sure you’ll all be wishing you could get your hands on by this Friday. Be sure to check out both example one and example two. Both feature skirts that are… shorter, it would seem, than Mrs. Robinson’s skirt above.

I turned to Etsy in search of inspiration and found a few things there worth sharing. First, there’s this fabulous Little Red Riding Hood Cape made by ILikeYouWorld.

Also in the same color scheme, there’s the Ladybug costume by BoutiqueSophia (pictured below). Frankly, anyone putting on a ladybug costume nowadays can’t help but resemble the lead character in Ladybug Girl. Unless that person is a man, I suppose.

Katesy is selling a (oh how I love this!) Max costume inspired by Where the Wild Things Are! If only this came in adult sizes…

A parent at explains how she made her own Max costume for her child. The results look like this:

Katesy on Etsy also has a Little Gnome costume which makes me think of all those hours I spent as a kid pouring over the pages of Gnomes by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet.

Nursery rhymes can be a good source of inspiration, as Bumbleebaby has discovered. This shop is selling a Hickory Dickory Dock costume, which wins points for originality.

Heidi was a childhood favorite of mine, but it never occurred to me to pattern a Heidi costume after it. Luckily MasqueradeMercantile saw its potential for me.

Okay, maybe he’s not from any one book, specifically, but I LOVE, LOVE this Jack Frost costume which appears on Also featured on this website are Asterix and Obelix costumes and several versions of Mary Poppins.

Gun-shy parents might want to edit out some details of this costume, but what a great idea to dress your child as Peter of Peter and the Wolf!

Lots of schools now host days in which kids go to school dressed as book characters, making their websites good sources for inspiration. Take some ideas from the students at Perse Prep in Cambridge, U.K., for example, who wore great costumes for World Book Day last March.

I thoroughly enjoyed stumbling across a wonderful family blog called The Derringdos: Ideas for Everyday Family Adventures, in which Nettie (the Drringdo daughter) models her Egyptologist costume, complete with copy of what book? Egyptology, of course. (I recommend that Nettie also read Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. Lafevers to round out her studies.)

And then there’s Gareth and me, who were pretty much out of inspiration last Saturday as we wandered the aisles of CVS looking for fake mustaches to wear to a party that evening. (I figured wearing a fake mustache was better and funnier than showing up completely unembellished and feeling 100% lame.) When there were no fake mustaches to be found we came up with a new last-minute idea: balloon hats. Yep, for $3.99 and we were able to buy a pack of long balloons and a little air pump, with which we constructed some pretty impressive balloon hats, if I do say so myself. We introduced ourselves as "air heads," which generally got a laugh. More importantly, though, I felt like I was getting still MORE good mileage out of the event our store hosted EIGHT years ago with Addi Somekh of Balloon Hat and the Inflatable Crown Balloon Hat Kit! (And publishers wonder if touring authors is worth it… ha!)

(Note that I’m crouching above because I had no idea what the self-timer shot was going to capture AND that I don’t usually make bug-eyes at the camera… Not one of my finer moments, for sure, but that’s what we got.)

Last year several of you came forward with suggestions for book-related costumes. Anyone else have ideas for this year?

5 thoughts on “Getting "In Character" for Halloween

  1. Cassie

    My ex-boyfriend is going to be Max for Halloween this year. He found adult-sized footie pajamas online somewhere. I’ll definitely be sending pictures around if I get them!

  2. EM

    My best Halloween costume was in 2006, when I was seven months pregnant. I wore all black, with a white bonnet-y thing on my head. I cut out a big cardboard A, painted it red, and hung it around my neck. I was Hester Prynne. 🙂

  3. Tabatha

    You’re so cool! Anyone who obviously loves Etsy as much as I do, and also dresses up as an airhead…wow! The Jack Frost outfit is also killer. I find costumes irresistible. I pick up random stuff like purple hair spray because you just don’t know when you’ll need purple hair. Re: book characters… one time my daughter dressed up like Laura Ingalls Wilder — not too hard. Would pirate costume stuff work for Bloody Jack?


    For a school pep rally, parents were asked to come as their child’s favorite storybook character. I dressed as a nun to be Ms. Clavel from the Madeline storybooks and carried a Madeline doll. Afterall, my oldest daughter named her little sister Madeleine after all those Madeline storybooks. My costume was such a hit, my photo as Ms. Clavel made last years high school album. Tiara wearing and Book sharing, Kathy L. Patrick Founder of the Pulpwood Queens Book Clubs


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