Truly Tan costume for Children’s Book Week


Next week it’s Children’s Book Week, right across Australia,  from the 20th – 26th of August. Many schools will mark the occasion with a school-wide costume parade, encouraging kids to dress as their favourite children’s book characters for the day. Tan Callahan or one of her trusty, feisty friends from the Truly Tan series (illustrated by me and written by the wonderful Jen Storer) could be a great choice as Tan is not only completely loveable, but a Tan costume can be quickly and easily made from items around the house. Dig through the laundry basket and voila!


I love illustrating Tan (and co’s) various outfits, always receiving a folder of images from Jen of carefully thought out and sought out suggestions with every new manuscript. Jen has written about the process here.

I look at Jen’s suggestions and then at my own kids’ raggle-taggle wardrobes for inspiration.

Here are a few of my favourite outfits from the books:


When dressing as Tan for Book week here a few things to keep in  mind:

– Think zany! She is definitely not a conservative dresser, and will use her outfits to express her truly individual personality.

– She loves animals and will ALWAYS include an animal motif somewhere in her outfit, whether it be a fox on a t-shirt, or a cat clip in her hair. To help out with Tan costumes, I have created a printable hedgehog illustration from the cover of Truly Tan, Spooked! which you could print off and glue to a cardboard backing, then pin on with a safety pin.


– She likes layers – t-shirts, vests, cardigans, tunics, leggings, and so on.

– She loves bright colours and patterns.

– Her hair is always a little scruffy and maybe in pigtails or adorned by a quirky hat or a headband.

– Don’t forget her TAN necklace. Gloria Pappos, her best friend, made her a necklace with wooden cubes that spell TAN. Make it out of cardboard, or scrabble tiles or polymer clay if you can’t find wooden cube beads.

– Accessories to complete the costume could be yellow binoculars, a magnifying glass, a folder with “SECRET SPY FILES” written on it, a camera or maybe a big shaggy, stuffed dog representing Tan’s loyal companion, Awesome.

If you happen to dress as Tan, or Gloria or Ted or one of the other fabulous Truly Tan characters be sure to send me or a Jen a photograph! We will publish them with your permission. You can find us on our blogs or on facebook.

Jen: Website and Facebook

Me: Email and Facebook


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