It’s the night before Halloween when dad gathers his six children and explains that they are not to leave the house after dark—for ghosts and goblins might be out and ready to scare the children and gobble them up.

A serious warning or just having some fun?

So begins The Dale Family Adventures (CreateSpace) by Ursula Masdal, a delightful and exciting children’s book that follows the exploits of the Dales through their holiday confrontations with talking animals, leprechauns, fairies, witches, wizards, trolls, scarecrows and other creatures. 

The stories have a nostalgic quality for adults reading to their children as they reminisce about their own holiday experiences as children. Masdal herself was the youngest sibling in a family of nine, so she understands and captures the activity and interaction of large families through her own experience. She was inspired by a trip to Michigan where she met another intriguing large family. Staying with them for a few days became the basis of the series of stories moving from one holiday to the next.

So how do the children react to their father’s pre-Halloween warning? Much as you might expect: While the younger children are sufficiently scared, the older girls think it is silly. In fact, they take the advice as a chance to do just the opposite.

“What if we go to the Johnsons’ down the road—surely that would be safe… We would be able to run back if we saw any fearsome goblins,” says one daughter, Donna. Not long into their escapade, their dog runs off into a cornfield and they hear words from what they thought was nothing more than a scarecrow.

A Story for Every Season

Masdal takes the Dale family children—and the readers—to fantasy worlds and realms through a series of adventures using festivals and holidays as the backdrop, including Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day. The stories originate from the children’s grandmother, who seems to have a tale for every occasion—pixies at Christmas, leprechauns and trolls on St. Patrick’s Day—and educates the reader about the various holidays themselves.

The book also helps children understand how to use their imaginations, as exemplified by the Dale children constantly dreaming up new adventures and characters.

While the book can be read in its entirety, it is also written so that each chapter, or holiday, can be treated as a separate bedtime story or reading experience.

The children’s father is a crime detective, complete with an investigator case that includes a spyglass, puffing pipe and thinking cap. Among his tasks, he investigates the mystery of weird legends, folklore, strange illusions and visions—and even the mysterious disappearance of vegetables just as mom is planning Thanksgiving dinner.

In the course of this work, children are treated to fun adventures. They also experience some of life’s lessons. And perhaps most of all, whether they are from large or small families themselves, they get to read about the special joy of being part of a large family, letting them witness the love and respect cherished throughout the year, but certainly around the holidays.

The Dale Family Adventures is available for purchase.

Learn more about Ursula on her Author Profile page.


About Ursula Masdal

Ursula Masdal was born in Ireland and raised in England. The last of nine children, she followed her family to the U.S. She has written short plays and children’s books, and her interests include geology, astronomy, science and science fiction. Large families and their interaction have influenced her writing. She lives in Largo, FL.