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First, let me be transparent. Our family’s current Halloween tradition consists of hanging a “No Candy” sign on the front door, and then running to the store to get all the half priced leftover candy. We call it “Fall Indulgence Day.” We may occasionally watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, but the kids aren’t nearly as into Charlie Brown as I was growing up. For them, it is about the candy – nothing else.
Now that they are older, they are doing Halloween adjacent things, but they aren’t really into horror or scary entertainment. However, they do enjoy Caribbean folklore. My middle son was introduced to the story of the douen while preparing for a steel pan concert.
Douen, Duende, Douaine, Doune, Dwen, Duegne (n): A Trinidad folklore character, the spirit of a child who died before baptism. Douens wear large hats, have backwards-pointing feet, utter a soft hooting cry, and often lead children to wander off.Via TriniInXisle
Now, if you want to add some culture to what is supposed to be the scariest holiday of the year, and you don’t have a working knowledge of these stories just yet (and that’s ok!), you can start with some books by an author that I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing in the early days of SocaMom.
One of the first authors I interviewed was Tracey Baptiste, author of The Jumbies book series.
The first book in the series is The Jumbies.
Corinne La Mer isn’t afraid of anything. Not scorpions, not the boys who tease her, and certainly not jumbies. She knows that jumbies aren’t real; they’re just creatures parents make up to frighten their children. But on All Hallows’ Eve, Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden woods. Those shining yellow eyes that follow her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they?From Amazon
The next book in the series is The Rise of the Jumbies.
You know I’m all about education AND entertainment, so check out this video with Tracey Baptiste talking about how she touched on the topic of slavery in her second book.
When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne. To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea. But Mama D’Leau’s help comes with a price. Corinne and her friends Dru, Bouki, and Malik must travel with mermaids across the ocean to fetch a powerful object for Mama D’Leau. The only thing more perilous than Corinne’s adventures across the sea is the jumbie that waits for her back home. With action-packed storytelling and inventive twists on Caribbean and West African mythology and fairy tales, Rise of the Jumbies is a breathlessly exciting tale of courage and friendship.From Amazon
The third book in the series is The Jumbie God’s Revenge.
Now you know at Halloween, we LOVE a series, right? Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Child’s Play… so this is a series that you can use to introduce kids to folklore, encourage them to read, AND get a little scare in there while you’re at it.
When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, Corinne knows it’s not an ordinary storm. At first Corinne believes Mama D’Leau, the powerful and cruel jumbie who rules the ocean, has caused the hurricane. Then an even more ferocious storm wrecks the island, sending villagers fleeing their houses for shelter in the mountains, and Corinne discovers the storms weren’t caused by a jumbie, but by the angry god Huracan.From Amazon
These books are for kids ages 8-12 in grades 3-7. When I got my copy of the Jumbies to review, my daughter was about 8, and the cover alone was too scary for her to want to read it. The age and grade range is a suggestion, but you know your kid better than anyone. If they are into scary stuff and won’t end up sleeping in your bed – maybe preview it or consider purchasing the audiobook to check it out together on a car ride.