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Tayleur, Karen (text) Heath McKenzie (illus.): Halloween in Christmas Hills The Legend of Stingy Jack.

** TAYLEUR, Karen (text) Heath McKenzie (illus.) Halloween in Christmas Hills The Legend of Stingy Jack Black Dog, 2009 unpaged $16.99 pbk ISBN 9781742030302 SCIS 1428630

The Johnson family live an idyllic life in suburban Australia. They celebrate all the big events with fervour; Christmas, Australia Day, St Patrick's Day, Easter and, of course, Halloween. Like all neighbourhoods, there is a house with the strange old guy who all the kids are afraid of. Balls are never recovered, strange stories are heard and he never smiles. So naturally the kids call him Stingy Jack. One Halloween the youngest Johnson is thrust onto the doorstep of Stingy Jack by his eldest siblings and ends up in a nightmare of his own making ... what happens next? Well, that would be telling.


Like Mr O'Connell at number five, this reviewer was a bit sceptical about a Halloween story set in Australia, but Karen Tayleur's text makes this work. She explores the Halloween traditions in different cultures, through the multinational neighbourhood with a real Aussie sense of humour. It is hard not to laugh along with the kids and their encounters. The ending is satisfying and makes one wonder how Australians will colonise Halloween, as we have done with all the other big traditions.

Heath McKenzie's illustrations are horrific and scary ... but in a good way. His use of classic horror movie colour combine well with his comedic characterisations. The story is suitable for anyone who likes a good chuckle, great pictures and stories with zombies. Age 5+.

** Book by an Australian author or illustrator

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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Murphy, David
Publication:Reading Time
Article Type:Book review
Date:Feb 1, 2010
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