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The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

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Cover art for The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
HarperCollins
Author Linda Williams takes a new look at an old tale in The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, a Halloween book that is deliciously scary rather than frightening. With warm and non-threatening illustrations by Megan Lloyd and lots of repetition, the picture book has become a favorite read aloud for younger children, who find it just scary enough to make them shiver with delight.

The Little Old Lady in the Woods

The little old lady is walking home through the woods at dusk when she hears, "CLOMP, CLOMP" and sees a pair of shoes clomping towards her. The little old lady tells the shoes to go away and declares, "I'm not afraid of you." She continues through the woods towards her cottage, with the two shoes following her, going "CLOMP, CLOMP." Then a pair of pants go "WIGGLE, WIGGLE" and float towards the little old lady. She tells the pants to go away and declares, "I'm not afraid of anything," but as she walks through the dark forest, she hears the shoes go "CLOMP, CLOMP" and the pants go "WIGGLE, WIGGLE" behind her. The pants are then followed by a shirt that goes "SHAKE, SHAKE," a pair of gloves that go "CLAP, CLAP" and a tall black hat that goes "NOD, NOD." As she walks, she speeds up each time something new comes her way, but the little old lady who is not afraid of anything doesn't start running until a great big carved pumpkin appears and shouts, "BOO! BOO!" At that point, the little old lady doesn't say anything; she just rushes home to her cottage, goes inside and shuts the door with relief.

The Clever Little Old Lady Prevails

However, when the little old lady hears knocking at the door, she doesn't ignore it. After all, the little old lady is not afraid of anything so she answers the door. The pumpkin, the shoes, the shirt, the pants, the gloves and the tall black hat all crowd in the doorway, eager to scare the little old lady. When the shoes go "CLOMP, CLOMP," the pants go "WIGGLE, WIGGLE," the shirt go "SHAKE, SHAKE," the gloves go "CLAP, CLAP," the tall black hat go "NOD, NOD" and the pumpkin go "BOO! BOO!" the little old lady is not frightened, which upsets the pumpkin and the others very much.

However, the little old lady who is not afraid of anything whispers some advice to the pumpkin that solves the problem of their not being scary. The next day, the pumpkin, the shirt, the pants, the shoes, the gloves and the tall black hat can be found in the little old lady's garden, assembled into a scarecrow, and happily scaring all of the crows away.

The Author and Illustrator: Linda Williams and Megan Lloyd

Linda Williams has a background in early childhood education and is the director of a child development center. The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything is her first children's book. Williams is also the author of Horse in the Pigpen. It, too, was illustrated by Megan Lloyd.

In all, artist Megan Lloyd has illustrated more than 40 children's books, including Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White, which is on my list of Best Halloween Books for Children, Thanksgiving at the Tappletons' by Eileen Spinelli, Seven at One Blow, retold by Eric Kimmel, and Too Many Turkeys by Linda White.

My Recommendation

With limited text and lots of repetition, as well as appealing illustrations that are never too scary, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything works well as both a picture book and as a beginning reader book. It's a terrific Halloween read aloud since kids love all of the repetition, from the shoes clomping to the tall black hat nodding and like to recite the refrain again and again. I recommend The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything for ages 4-8, but, beware, this is a book young kids will want you to read to them again and again.

If the The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything is a favorite at your house, you might consider making your child a Halloween costume related to the book. I included The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything and an easy-to-make Pumpkin Head Scarecrow costume in my article Homemade Halloween Costumes Based on Children's Books. (HarperCollins, 1998. ISBN: 9780064431835)

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