World Book Day Costume Cheats

Image: Amy Kim Kibuishi

We love books at Mr Fox, but the annual costume drama of World Book Day has us cursing War Horse and wishing that the Gruffalo had never set foot in the deep, dark wood. Don’t fancy sewing a caterpillar costume at 1am?Read on…

Do you have a crafting cupboard stocked with a rainbow of felts and a glue gun? Thought not. So, before you reach for the Spiderman costume again (not least because it was a comic, people), or sit up until ungodly hours trying to create a Very Hungry Caterpillar with no props and a complete dearth of sewing skills, consider one of these three easy cheats:

The Striped Top

Unless you’ve boycotted the Breton craze, the chances are you’ll have a striped jumper or long-sleeved t-shirt lurking in the cupboard (failing that, a white top that you are happy to draw stripes onto with a marker pen?). If so, you have an automatic costume for Horrid Henry, Where’s Wally, Dennis the Menace, or that fabulous throwback, Burglar Bill.


Print Horrid_Henry_s_Holiday Dennis the Menace

You’ll need:

  • The Striped top: Horrid Henry (blue and yellow), Where’s Wally (red & white), Dennis the Menace (yes, a cartoon strip but if you only have red & black…), or a fabulous throwback to Burglar Bill (blue and white).
  • Shorts or Trousers

And for the finishing touches:

  • A bobble hat, glasses or a walking stick for Wally
  • A black eye-mask and/or a flat cap for Burglar Bill
  • Jeans and messy hair and perhaps a black paper pirate hat for Henry
  • Red socks, black boots, a skateboard or perhaps a catapult for Dennis the Menace.

How to:

Simply cobble it together based on which colours and accessories are close to hand. It you need to, make a catapult by cutting the Y-shape out of thick cardboard and threading with an elastic band. All the credit, none of the effort.

The Cat

Call it Mog, Slinky Malinki or Cat in the Hat: a cat is a cat and it’s extremely easy to make. They will be comfortable, you will avoid needle and thread.


You Need:

  • A Black t-shirt
  • Black trousers or leggings
  • Black headband or elastic
  • Black card (to cut out ears)
  • Black tights
  • Black gloves
  • Eyeliner

How To:

  1. Fold your card in half and from the base of the fold, cut two triangles. Place the headband into the fold and glue the triangle tips together to hold them in place. Use pink chalk, or stick cotton wool on the front to make the ears more realistic (or just be satisfied that this year, you haven’t forgotten altogether).
  2. Cut one leg from your tights (preferably not your only pair of control tops) and stuff it with black socks or tissue paper to make a tail. Attach it with anything except a pin, for obvious reasons.
  3. In the morning, draw whiskers and a cat’s nose with your eyeliner – waterproof if you have it.

The Cape or Cloak

Not all caped crusaders are comic-book heroes. From Harry Potter to Captain Underpants, and Dracula, cloaks and capes are versatile and quick to make, and it’s a one-item, instant outfit.

Harry Potter MrFox-captain-underpantsMrFox-dracula-costume

You’ll Need:

  • Either a hooded bath towel or an old sheet, towel or table cloth that you are willing to cut up.
  • String, bunting or ribbon
  • A marker pen

And for the finishing touches:

  • Pants for Captain Underpants (if you’re really cruel enough to let a child go out next-to-naked in March)
  • Glasses for Harry Potter
  • Leftover fangs from Halloween for Dracula

How To:

If you have a hooded towel, you’re nearly there. Just find the correct spot on the front of the towel to close it and cut two slits to feed through ribbon or string. Tie at the front and then decorate the back with something relevant: if it’s Harry Potter, google the Hogwarts emblem or draw a bat. If you are using an old sheet, simply cut a line of slits into the top seam (the neckline of the cape) and feed ribbon or string though, leaving enough at the ends to tie a bow at the neck.

Add a crown, and it’s a King’s cloak, a long stick to channel Harry Potter or a witches hat if you have one in the dressing up bag. If you’re really diligent and have some Dylon on hand, then dye it the right colour for maximum impact.

Some other Instant Outfits:

  • Pilot goggles: Biggles
  • Blue jumper, Brown trousers and a quiff: Tin Tin
  • A golden ticket: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Empty milk bottle and salad serving spoon: George’s Marvellous Medicine

{Images: Classic Media (Wally), Radio Times (Horrid Henry), DC Thomson & Co Ltd (Dennis The Menace),  Kerr-Kneale Production (Mog), Lynley Dodd (Slinky Malinki) Mary GrandPré (Harry Potter), Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants), Edward Gorey (Dracula)}