Shy Mama's Halloween Story Detectives Answers
On the front cover, Mama sits at a distance from the jack-o'-lantern. As Anya tells us, Mama "wanted no part of this holiday." She doesn't seem to want
to interact with the jack-o-lantern or what it represents. On the back cover,
Mama peeks into the pumpkin, curious, because after taking her children
trick-or-treating, she said, "'Now I know this Halloween,' and sighed with
The matroyshka, or Russian nesting doll, represents the family's birthplace
and former home, Russia. The funny jack-o-lantern man is a symbol for the United
States. Can you find all the times these symbols appear in Shy Mama's
Anya is just learning English as her second language. We can tell this by
phrases such as "went on the trick-or-treat," "take us on the trick-or- treat"
and "do the trick-or-treat" because most native English-speaking American
children would instead say, "go trick-or-treating." Anya's language is often
formal, such as "I was not sure how I felt seeing my little sister as a wicked
enchantress" or "He would have polka-dot pajamas this night."
First, we read that when Dasha got tired of her royal robe's weight, "Mama
slung it around her shoulders." Next, Anya hands Mama her pitchfork when she
picks up her brother, then hands Mama Dimitrii's red clown wig. Last, we see a
picture where Irina gives Mama her witch's hat. As the family walks back to
their apartment, we see Mama's back but may not pay much attention to what she
is wearing because there are so many other details in the picture. It is not
until we see Mama's face reflected in the mirror that we understand how she
looks in her children's Halloween costumes.
Many children today buy costumes already made. In the time of the story,
costumes were homemade and more simple. As now, children enjoyed dressing up as
superheroes, as well as fairy tale or folk tale characters. In the book, we see
the following costumes that might still be seen on a typical Halloween today:
witch, devil, clown, princess, Robin Hood, skeleton, angel, Superman, Red Riding
Hood, pirate, ghost. Captain Marvel (who is looking at Superman on a two page
picture spread) is less known today. Materials for costumes have changed; Dasha's nose is papier-mache because plastic was not widely used then.
Illustration by Leane Morin from Shy
Mama's Halloween (Tilbury House, 2000)
used by permission.