Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

For older elementary readers, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a great Halloween read.  This retelling of Washington Irving's original tale is by Jane Mason and she has done a great job of abridging it for young readers. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the story, snooty school teacher Ichabod Crane moves to Tarry Town and becomes smitten with Katrina Van Tassel.  Unfortunately for Ichabod, town bully and roustabout ringleader Brom Bones also has his eye on Katrina and he decides he must find a way to get rid of Ichabod.

Tarry Town loves ghost stories and they are particularly enamoured of "The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow."  At party at the Van Tassel estate, townsfolk begin to share their favorite ghost stories and Brom regales the crowd with tales of his own encounters with the Headless Horseman, hoping to scare his competitor right out of Tarry Town.

Instead of being frightened, Ichabod prattles on about his own fearsome adventures and the party breaks up late into the night.

On his way home, Ichabod encounters none other than the Headless Horseman, who chases him through the hollow until he is able to knock Ichabod out by hitting him in the back of the head with his own jack-o-lantern head.  The reader is left to decide if Brom had a hand in this fortuitous turn of events.

When I taught 4th grade, I would show the Disney version of this story after reading the book in small groups.  I have the VHS version and it is cheesy - with Bing Crosby as the singing narrator - but it tempers some of the scariness of the tale.

Teachers, keep a close eye on Scholastic's reading clubs.  Often, they will offer a chapter book for $1, which is how I get most of my class and small group sets.

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