CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 6. . . . October 13, 2017
Amayah wants to win the prize for having a truly original Halloween costume. She's tired of the ghosts, witches, fairies, and princesses that abound each year at school. When a last-minute idea strikes, Amayah knows it's the inspiration she's been waiting for. She gathers supplies and creates a one-of-a-kind outfit—the walking bathroom.
The Walking Bathroom, written by Shauntay Grant and illustrated by Erin Bennett Banks, is a fun story about breaking the norm. Amayah is not satisfied with the mountains of sheets, masks, and other costume props she has in her room. She wants to wear a Halloween costume no one has ever seen before, a feat she accomplishes by taking accessories from the bathroom and pinning them to her clothes. Amayah's proud of her costume, but when she gets to school, the other kids don't see the value in her unique outfit. Amayah feels downtrodden when the others tease her, but when she remembers why she chose to dress differently, her confidence in the costume returns. And when the judges for the costume contest begin awarding prizes, Amayah finally finds others who admire her personal creation as much as she does.
Many readers will be able to identify with Amayah's struggle to find the perfect costume and the thrill and trepidation that come with getting inspired at the last minute. Instead of using a lot of money or a prefabricated design, Amayah relies on her imagination and the resources at hand to put together what she feels is a great outfit. However, when the other kids at school don't understand what she is dressed as and tease her once she's explained, Amayah begins to question her decision to dress as a walking bathroom. For anyone who has put a lot of effort into a costume only to have others make fun of it, Amayah's confusion and disappointment will be easily understood. Although it would have been nice to see another student compliment Amayah's outfit, rather than an adult being the one to boost her confidence, readers will still cheer for Amayah when she embraces her costume and goes on to win the contest at school.
The illustrations by Erin Bennett Banks are crucial for showing readers how Amayah is dressed. While the text does not clearly describe what she's wearing, the illustrations show details of Amayah's costume, including a shower curtain cape and rolls of toilet paper worn like bracelets around her wrists. The images are colourful and full of expression, highlighting Amayah's creativity and the joy she has at creating costumes that have not been seen "in the whole entire history of Halloween".
The Walking Bathroom is an enjoyable look at one girl's decision to make her Halloween costume as individual as she is. Good for those who always strive to find the perfect costume, and for those that appreciate a unique sense of style.
Meredith Cleversey, a librarian in Cambridge, ON, loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.