If you’re looking for something to do between now and Oct. 31 with the kids that doesn’t involve candy or costumes, you should check out the Halloween Story Trail! This is the fourth year the Boothbay Region Land Trust has offered this seasonal event. Environmental Educator Tracey Hall decides what book will be featured and this year it’s “The Ugly Pumpkin,” written and illustrated by Dave Horowitz.
“The Ugly Pumpkin,” is reminiscent of the Hans Christian Andersen tale of “The Ugly Duckling” or “Rudolph” even – both are about not fitting in because you are different than everyone else around you – in appearance, personality … whatever. This colorfully illustrated book is about celebrating differences and finding that place of belonging. Maybe after reading this story, your family will choose a not-so-perfect pumpkin for this year’s jack-o-lantern! Maybe.
The book was published in 2005, so there’s a strong possibility your kids have already read it – you may even have a copy at home – but there’s nothing like reading something familiar in a novel way. Read it out loud together – and don’t forget to create voices for the characters!
Families who’ve visited the trail have told Tracey they enjoy reading a book while hiking. “Families say it’s a great activity for kids as it keeps their interest and motivates them to hike.”
I was curious about how Tracey chose each year’s books. Were they recommended by friends with kids; requests or suggestions from families? Nope. Before she walks the trail putting up the pages of each book, Tracey visits our local bookstore. “I walk through Sherman's and see what catches my eye. They always put out a nice display of Halloween books.”
The Halloween Story Trail is set on a well-traveled path that winds its way through the forested area. There’s a carpet of pine needles and acorns under your feet – and plenty more acorns falling from the oak trees as you go! There are two mini-bridges and lovely views, including the areas of fallen and dead trees that create additional “seasonal atmosphere;” The trail takes you along Hodgdon Cove, past an autumn flower-filled field (say that three times fast); an apple orchard in the making, and a fresh water pond.
Keep in mind the restrooms are open weekdays only, in the Land Trust’s white farmhouse/education center 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the Halloween Story Trail should be experienced during daylight hours only. And, yes, bring your pupsters along – just keep him or her leashed – they will enjoy just listening to their family’s voices as you read aloud.
Boothbay Region Land Trust’s base camp, if you will, is at 60 Samoset Road in Boothbay Harbor. There are a few ways to get there. From the roundabout exit onto Corey Lane: Proceed 0.3 miles and continue onto Lakeside Drive. Proceed 1.4 miles and turn right onto Samoset Road. Continue .3 miles. Preserve parking is on the left. Or, since I was in Boothbay Harbor already, I took Route 27 headed to West Boothbay Harbor, took a right onto Lakeside Drive and then a left onto Samoset.
After you park and everyone piles out of the car, head over to the information kiosk, look left and you’ll see the cover of “The Ugly Pumpkin” mounted on a sign with a dayglow orange ribbon wrapped round it. Then set off on a journey with the Ugly Pumpkin as he travels out of the pumpkin patch to find the place where he belongs.
After you’ve finished the book (and maybe talked about it), keep the Halloween fun going! Sing a favorite song or two ... “Five Little Pumpkins sitting on a fence ...” or, I know! “They did the mash, they did the Monster Mash ...”