The village people join in a festival to free themselves of the demons, goblins, and spirits that cause their misfortunes.
“Go Away, Stay Away” is a work of folklore fiction by Gail E. Haley and tells the story of an Apline family who is troubled by trickster spirits. Each member of the family encounters a different spirit who has made some sort of trouble for them: “spinnikins” tipped over mother’s spinning wheel; the “Bunshee” ate all of Peter’s sweet buns; the “Kicklebucket” spilt Maria’s milk; and the “hobble gobblins” stole Ivan’s block of cheese. The father narrates the misfortunes of the family and explains the Peter (the youngest) about each spirit and why they act the way they do. While he is talking, the father is carving something in wood. Only at the end of the book do we learn that he was creating a wooden mask which is believed to send away these mischievous spirits. The book culminates in a festival attended to by the whole village, who parade through the town wearing masks (like the one the father made) singing “go away, stay away” to the spirits. By the end of the book, we come to understand that this ritual is what the villagers believed to cleanse their town and would bring good luck upon the spring crops.
In order to further explain the story, the author includes a short narrative of real-life festivals that she modeled the story after. She explains that rituals like this one can be found in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Greece. I think this is really interesting and helpful to children, not only to make it seem more real, but illuminate aspects of foreign cultures that they might not know anything about. The illustrations in this book are very different than what you would see in many childrens’ books: rather than drawings, they are wood cuttings and engravings. Using this type of art emphasizes the “folk” aspect of the story and suits the plot and characters. I really like how the author illustrates each spirit, they are silly and creepy, but never scary.
I would reccomend this book to a 3rd grade class, and could be read aloud to a 2nd grade class. When I was in 3rd grade, the author came to my school and signed and read the book to us, which I think makes me a little bias on how good the book is… There isn’t any complex vocabulary, but there are some words that while simple, kids may not have encountered before. All in all, I think this book does a great job of telling the story of how a village deals with legend and lore! Cameron on goodreads