For Anya, Dasha, Irina, and Dimitrii, newly arrived to this country, Halloween seems a wonderfully strange and exciting holiday. They enlist Mrs. Rumanski and her midnight-blue Singer sewing machine in the apartment downstairs to help with their costumes, and Papa agrees to take them out trick-or-treating. But Papa comes home sick that evening, and it looks as though the children will be watching the trick or treating from the upstairs window. Mama, who is frightened by so much in this new country, especially the thought of ghosts and goblins on the streets, surprises them all when she rises to the occasion and takes her young princess, witch, devil, and clown down the stairs and out into the night.
As they go from house to house, they find that everyone along the street is friendly. No one seems to care that their "Thank yous" are said with an accent, or that Mama, in her babushka, can speak only a few words of English.
For Anya, Dasha, Irina, and Dimitrii, it is their first sense of belonging in their new country, of savoring the fun and magic of Halloween and the generosity of strangers. For Mama, it is a much greater step out into a new world, led by her children.