In The Lion: crappy costumes!

2017 marks the 5-year anniversary of my book In The Lion.

In The Lion, front coverIt’s a catchy cumulative picture book about bravery, heroism and a very hungry carnivore. It was my first book as author and illustrator, and my first with the wonderful team at Walker Books.

I recently realised that in the five years since the book came out, I never got around to sharing the costumes I made for each character in the book. These were quick, easy and – yes, slightly crappy – costumes I made in an afternoon from things you could find around the house, plus a few things from the $2 shop and the art and craft store. When I talked about the book at the Perth Writers Festival in Feb 2013, kids from the audience wore the costumes and helped me act out the story.

An example of the crappy costumes – here, the character of the armadillo.

Hopefully these costumes (or something like them) would work for you and your kids at home, or even the students in your class, so that you can act the story out too.

A few caveats:

  • I wasn’t trying to go full-on accurate cosplay with these; I was going for a few recognisable props and features that would quickly and simply indicate the characters from the book. They’re quick, they’re easy, they’re crappy but most of all they’re FUN.
  • the lion was a massive painting with a big cut-out for the mouth (see below). So when different characters were eaten, they stood in the mouth. Now obviously you don’t need to build one of these! You could just draw a lion’s face on a big piece of butcher’s paper; you could even attach a big bedsheet to stand in for the body, and the sheet could cover up everyone who gets eaten. Or you could have someone dress up as a lion. I’ll leave that bit up to you.
Author swallowed by own creation
  • I didn’t make a costume for Richard, the main character. He’s a pretty easy costume anyway (see below).

OK, so! On to the costumes.

The Dentist

I painted a big toothbrush on a piece of card, and scored a face mask from a medically-minded sibling.

The Hairdresser

I cut out a big cardboard comb, and found some fancy sunnies in a $2 shop.

The Chef and the Zookeeper

For the chef’s cloche I grabbed a metal mixing bowl and a tray from the bottom of a cake tin. I found a squeaky dog toy shaped like a steak at a $2 shop. The chef also has a blue check scarf (a tea towel would work fine too).

The zookeeper carries a most important prop – the key to the lion’s cage. I made one out of cardboard and paint. You could also grab a khaki shirt or jacket from a grown-up’s closet.

The walrus and the flamingo

This walrus mask is made out of half a paper plate (painted grey), a strip of elastic, and two horns taken from a plastic viking helmet.

The $2 shop had a pink feather boa. I also grabbed some wire and some pink fluffy wool from the arts and craft shop. I wrapped the wool around a length of wire to make the headband, and added some feathers I cut from the boa.

The spider monkeys

These guys get a paper plate mask and a tail each. The tails are made from some of the wire, plus some fluffy brown wool I bought at the arts and crafts shop. Strips of elastic keep the masks and tails on; the tails also have some velcro so they can be detached and reattached.

The armadillo

This guy gets a paper plate mask as well (with strip of elastic as per usual). This mask has a longish ‘nose’ to mimic the long snout of it’s real-life counterpart. The ‘claws’ are rubber gloves with halved wooden pegs hot-glued to the fingers.

So there you have it – my crappy In The Lion costumes.

Have you ever made any similar costumes for these animals? Got any suggestions for alternatives? Hit us up in the comments.


Author: James Foley

James Foley makes children’s books for children who read books. If you’re a child and you’re eating his books, you’re doing it wrong. His books include Brobot, Dungzilla, Gastronauts, Chickensaurus, Toffle Towers, My Dead Bunny and There's Something Weird About Lena. James lives in Perth with his wife, 2 kids, and a labrador. He is a massive Marvel movie nerd and comes from a long line of queuing enthusiasts. Follow him on FB/twitter/insta/youtube @jamesfoleybooks, or at .

2 thoughts on “In The Lion: crappy costumes!”

  1. Love those crappy costumes! The gloves with pegs are brilliantly crappy. As a parent (well, now a grandparent) the search for quick costumes can be stressful. You’ve solved many a future problem James.

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