For some people, Halloween and fairy tales are not mutually exclusive; they often co-exist if one thinks about it.
When Toy Tales approached me with the idea of writing about children’s fairy tales represented in my vinyl collection that include frightful elements reminiscent of Halloween symbolism, I considered it a challenge. To be honest, I hadn’t thought of that notion. However, upon reconsideration, some Halloween elements exist in the fairy tale world.
So, I put together a small collection of favourites from my record collection, which was also a challenge considering the numerous labels, each containing varied versions of specific stories — sometimes more than one. The list is thus narrowed down to the following (in no particular order):
1. The Three Billy Goats Gruff (Golden)
Halloween element: a troll that lives under the bridge onto which the Billy Goats Gruff must cross to get to the grassy hillside.
The phrase “trip-trap, trip-trap” is probably playing in your head right now. Published as a Little Golden Book in 1953 and released as a seven-inch 45-rpm read-along in 1967, this favourite story contains beautiful illustrations by the famous illustrator Richard Scarry. Also in the book is The Wolf and the Kids, in which seven young goats (the kids) are home alone defending their turf against (what else?) a wolf. And speaking of wolves…
2. Little Red Riding Hood (Disneyland)
Halloween element: the wolf
The label released this seven-inch LP read-along in 1968. While the illustrations look like something from a UPA cartoon (think Mr. Magoo, for example), this version of the classic fairy tale is noteworthy for narration by the excellent Disneyland story reader, Robie Lester. The second side includes two original songs: the title track and Little Red Riding Hood’s Hood, written by Farlan I. Myers.
3. Cinderella (Peter Pan)
Halloween element: pumpkin
While there are over 500 versions of this story, I enjoy this rendition with the music, the songs, the narration by Jack Arthur, and the voice of Toby Deane in the title role (recorded in 1950). And, of course, the cover art by former Disney artist George Peed is a plus. Peter Pan issued this 45-rpm EP in 1973.
4. The Wizard of Oz (Peter Pan)
Halloween element: witch
Another musical version produced by Peter Pan (recorded in 1964), the label issued this seven-inch 45-rpm read-along in 1973 with illustrations by George Peed. I love this rendition because of said illustrations (especially the Scarecrow and the Wicked Witch of the West!). It’s fun to hear and, in this case, to read along.
5. Hansel and Gretel (Hanna-Barbera)
Halloween elements: witch/house
Of the many versions of this story, this 12-inch LP (from 1965) stands out for having Barney Rubble (Mel Blanc) telling the bedtime story to Pebbles (archive voice by Jean VanderPyl) while Fred Flintstone (Alan Reed) interjects in parts. From there, it plays for laughs and some 1960s pop culture references. Blanc voices all the story characters, with all the familiar music cues and sound effects heard in the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the day.
6. Jack and the Beanstalk (Peter Pan)
Halloween element: giant
This inclusion might be considered by some reaching a bit, but why not? Giants can be scary, too!
One of my all-time favorite fairy tale stories (the other being Pinocchio), this original musical version was released by Peter Pan as a 12-inch LP with a read-along book in 1971. It’s a “light” rendition with some enjoyable songs and music (the giant is bellowing his usual Fee Fi Fo Fum while his exasperated wife sings I’m Tired!). Still, the cover art by George Peed is again a feast for the eyes.
7. Teeny Tiny (Leo the Lion)
Halloween element: ghost
While the masses do not know it well, MGM (distributor of Leo the Lion) included this title in the album Story Hour with Shirley Booth (released in 1968). Booth is probably best remembered for the television series Hazel and the classic holiday special The Year Without a Santa Claus. The story is fully named The Teeny Tiny Woman, in which the titular character discovers a teeny tiny bone at a teeny tiny market during her teeny tiny walk (yes, this is how it goes). When she gets home, she puts the bone in the cupboard and goes to bed. Then she hears an eerie voice: “Give me my bone!” I won’t spoil the ending here.
And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen – fairy tale stories with a Halloween slant. If you heard some of these as a youngster, I hope they give you warm and happy memories. If you’ll excuse me, I hear someone knocking at my door. It’s too early for candy, so let me see…