Mama Mayhem

A Book Week costume fit for an empress

By Ivy Jensen

I CAN tick off Book Week for another year. This time for a job well done.

You see, it’s taken me seven years to get it right.

After many years of half-hearted attempts at Book Week costumes, I believe I have redeemed myself.

Last year’s last-minute disappointment — Maya went as Lee Fox’s ‘Ella Kazoo Will Not Go To Sleep’ (all she had to do was roll out of bed and go to school) — was not my finest moment, but I was busy okay!

The guilt was just too much to bear so the next day, after listening to Maya’s 26th complaint that she never wins the costume contest, I promised her we would prepare for the next year’s parade months in advance.

And I stayed true to my word.

Now the choice of character may not have been Maya’s but she is more than happy with my original selection.

And why wouldn’t she?

It’s original — I’m pretty sure no-one has done it before (at least at her school) — it’s warm enough to wear in winter and the angelic costume is right up Maya’s alley.

Plus, it’s from my favourite childhood movie ... okay all-time favourite. And yes, it was first a book.

Okay, okay. The suspense must be killing you, so drum roll please.

For the Book Week parade on Thursday, Maya will be dressing up as the Childlike Empress from The Neverending Story.

For those of you who don’t know who this is, shame on you.

First, I want you to think long and hard about who you are. The I want you to buy, hire or download a copy of the 1984 film, grab a box of tissues and watch it. Watch it with your kids, watch it with your partner or watch it alone.

And if you don’t tear up when Artax the horse drowns in the Swamps of Sadness, you have no soul.

Anyhoo, I’m going off topic a little but this flick has been an obsession of mine since I first watched it as a nine-year-old and wanted to marry Atreyu and have his babies.

Unfortunately Atreyu was not an option for Maya who would wear a flowing white gown over a pair of brown pants a leather vest any day.

The Childlike Empress is the ruler of Fantasia — a fantasy land threatened by The Nothing, a darkness that destroys everything it touches. The Nothing is also making the empress sick, so she instructs the young warrior Atreyu to find a way to stop the dark force before it’s too late.

Yes it’s kind of dark and disturbing (there’s a terrifying wolf called the Gmork chasing Atreyu through most of the film, a giant Rockbiter who loses his mind when he is unable to save his friends, two busty naked Sphinxes who shoot lasers out of their eyes at anyone not deemed worthy and a slightly creepy flying luck dragon who ‘‘likes children’’), but it’s rated PG, I swear! And it leaves you with some pretty powerful morals and life lessons.

I have watched this movie so often, I know the script off by heart. So much so that I translated the German version word-for word in high school.

And I can proudly say my children are following in my footsteps.

Ayla now has to leave the room during the devastating swamp scene and although Maya first thought Atreyu was a girl because of his long hair (I have since forgiven her), the film is up there with her favourites.

So I have managed to whip up a perfect costume for her, thanks to the Echuca-Moama Theatre Company's costume room and star dressmaker Jean Pedretti, a bit of imaginative handiwork and good ol’ eBay.

And while it’s not about winning, if Maya doesn’t come home with a best costume award this week, it certainly won’t be for lack of trying.