Easter is less than two weeks away. None too soon to ready the pots of dye, stock up on chocolate chickens and invite all the young--and young at heart--to listen to a hare-raising tale.
And that, of course, is Masquerade, the celebrated children's book by Kit Williams which includes clues to a buried treasure: an 18-karat-gold, jewel-studded pendant in the shape of a hare.
The golden hare was unearthed near London recently, with the aid of a dog. But even without the mystery, a reading of Masquerade is a good way to end an Easter party of traditional activities such as an Easter egg hunt and an egg-and-spoon race.
If there are children of varying ages, set aside two different areas and hide eggs for the younger children separately. The good will of an older brother or sister may let the not-too-cunningly hidden ones lie, but it's a kindness that can't be expected from a room full of competing children.
If you are truly adventurous, you will use raw eggs for the egg-and-spoon race. It makes a mess of the sidewalk, but is much more fun than the squashing of a hard-boiled one. (If there is anyone who doesn't know, children are each given a soup spoon and an egg to rest on it. First to cross the finish line with egg intact wins. If you're not sure which kind of eggs you have, spin them on a table top. A hard-boiled egg will spin, a raw will topple.)
You can also encourage the children to make up bunny jokes and tell bunny riddles: "What is a row of retreating bunnies?" "A receding hare line."
The perfect host for an Easter party will wear a bunny suit. (It might, in fact, be good for other times. When you're depressed, for instance, or giving a party for all the bores you save up to have at one dinner. Being pink and furry with ears would make such difficult occasions easier.)
Among stores which rent bunny costumes (and Easter chickens): Ask whether a security deposit is required.
Al's Magic Shop, 1012 Vermont Ave. NW. Rabbit suit with full head, $50.
Back Stage Dance & Gym Supplies, 205 Union St., Occoquan. Suit with hood and ears, $30; full head, $55.
Barry's Magic Shop, 11234 Georgia Ave., Wheaton. Suits with hood and ears, $35; full head, $50.
Costume Studio, 35 8th St. NE. Suits with hood, $25-$30; full head, $35.
Costumes Creative, 7624 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda. Hood with ears, $35; full head, $50; yellow Easter chicken, $45.
Dancer, suit with hood and ears, $40.
Fantasy Costumes, 610 Franklin St., Alexandria. Suit with full head, $45.
Gene's Costumes, 3903 Joliet, Wheaton. Hood with ears, $35; full head, $50.
Master's Costumes, 5845 Leesburg Pike, Bailey's Crossroads. Hood with ears, $35; full, papier-mache head, $45; full furry head, $55.
Plaza Costumes, 7315 Baltimore Ave., College Park. Suit with hood, $30; full head, $45.
Repeat Performance, 5018 Nicholson Lane, Rockville. Suit with hood, $35; with full head, $65. Also sells ears ($5.99 and $8.99) and tails ($2.99).
Ronna Costumers, 1139 18th St. NW. Rabbit suits, $55 and up.
Stein's Theatrical and Dance Supply Center, 1180 N. Highland, Arlington. Rents bunny jumpsuit plus a hooded head with ears for $30 a night; full head, $45.