A Tuesday Ten: Wondrous Wearables
Posted by Stephanie Whelan
My theme for this week is clothing. There’s plenty of magical garb out there in stories, and I’ve grabbed a few of my favorites to feature here!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Scholastic, c1997)
The particular article of clothing I’m thinking of in these stories runs through most of the Harry Potter series, but it’s this book where our hero first acquires it. Harry is given an invisibility cloak that was once owned by his father. It comes in mighty handy–in this book and the others–for thwarting whatever bad stuff is going on, as well as for sneaking out when confined to school grounds! I’m sure most of us have wished we owned an invisibility cloak at least once in our lives . . .
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (Greenwillow, c1986)
There are two marvelous bits of magic that involves clothing in this book. One is a pair of 7-league boots that Sophie decides to take for stroll to see what Howl is up to. (And finds out he’s busy flirting with her sister!) The other is magic that Sophie herself has, but remains unaware of for some time. In the beginning of the book she’s making hats, and often talks to them. What she doesn’t realize is that she’s is enchanting them to have the same traits as she tells them they have. More notoriously is the suit that Sophie repairs for Howl! But you’ll have to read the book to find that one out . . .
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (HarperCollins, c1900)
One of the most famous enchanted articles of clothing? Well it’s got to be those shoes worn by Dorothy! Those silver slippers worn by the Wicked Witch of the East, coveted by the Wicked Witch of the West and the power that finally enable Dorothy to get back home. In the movie they’re ruby slippers rather than silver, but the premise is mostly the same. I’m not sure what those shoes were altogether capable of, but it probably was a good thing they were kept out of the hand of the villain!
The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien (HMH, c1954)
If we’re talking Tolkien, I’d have to point to the Mithril armor as my favorite. This particular armor, so lightweight and yet so strong is one of the things that gets Frodo out of some tight spots. Bilbo is given the small, ringed mail shirt before he returns from his adventures. This mail shirt from the dragon’s hoard is worth more than the shire itself. Check out the LOTR history of mithril for more info!
What the Witch Left by Ruth Chew (Random House, c1973)
What seem at first to be simple objects prove to be quite magical. Katy and Louise open an old drawer with a key they find. Inside are several items. One of these is bathrobe with a hood which turns out to be a cloak of invisibility. The girls don’t realize this until one of them uses it as part of a school play and parades around with just her head visible. Another of these is a pair of thin gloves that make the wearer great at anything they use their hands to do (piano playing, drawing, etc.) And finally there are the red rubber boots are Seven League Boots, able to swiftly span the miles and allow the girls to journey to Mexico. I loved this book as a kid–it’s a simple story, but a fun one full of magic!
The Whatnot by Stefan Bachman (Greenwillow Books, c2013)
This may seem like an odd choice. But I added it for a significant bit of magical clothing featured in the story. In this rather steampunk dystopian world of fairies and humans, Hettie, who is a part of both worlds finds herself stuck on a vast fairy estate. At one point in the story she is convinced into wearing a magical item that reveals the true nature in the appearance of the person wearing it. It’s an interesting concept in the story and a real turning point for Hettie herself. I’ve always be intrigued by items (clothing or otherwise) that reveal something of the character of the person who claims them or holds them. Very often such things backfire for our villains, forcing them to confront truths about themselves they’d rather not see.
Inside My Feet: the Story of a Giant by Richard Kennedy, illustrated by Ronald Himler (HarperCollins, c1979)
The was a recent flashback friday post for me. I figure magical boots that enchant people and force them to wear them (so that they can drag them off to be eaten by a giant) work for this list. No worries though, our protagonist sees to it that these boots will never mysteriously appear at midnight on another doorstep!
Attack of the Alien Horde by Robert Venditti, illustrated by Dusty Higgins (Simon & Schuster, Expected Publication June 2015)
My one sort of science fiction addition to the list! This is the first book in a series about a kid who is given a mysterious golden cape that will turn him into a superhero. Miles quickly discovers that being a superhero is not all it’s cracked up to be. The golden cape will only work so long as Miles is acting for the purposes of good and not simply showing off or wanting to have some fun. But when aliens come to town intent on enslaving the Earth and gaining the Golden Cape for themselves, Miles will have to find a way to fight back!
Pockets by Jennifer Armstrong, illustrated by Mary GrandPre (Knopf Books, 1998)
I love this lyrical picture book. A mysterious woman comes to a somber, hardworking town where people don the drabbest of clothes to go about their day. Frivolity and color are not found in this town–or at least they aren’t until this woman becomes their seamstress and begins to sew magical scenes inside their pockets. These visions of faraway lands and rich beauty begin to change the inhabitants, bring joy, color and imagination back to their lives, one pocket at a time.
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury, c2006)
Creel isn’t happy about being used as a dragon-sacrifice! But this isn’t some damsel in distress story. Our young protagonist talks her way out of the dragon’s home and heads down the road to the city to seek her fortune with a remarkable pair of slippers in her grasp. Little does Creel realize that those small slippers can mean the saving of her kingdom . . . or its ultimate destruction!
So what titles can you add to the list? Comments welcome!
About Stephanie WhelanI'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.
Posted on April 17, 2015, in General Posts, Lists and tagged Authors, Books, Children's Books, Children's Literature, fantasy, kidlit, Lists, literature, MG Books, Middle-Grade Fiction, Picture Books, Reading, series. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.