Friday, October 30, 2009

Children's Poetry Books for Halloween

You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You
Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together
Written by Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrated by Michael Emberley
Little Brown, 2007

This is the fourth book in the popular You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You series. Hoberman describes this as a “read together/read-aloud book.” The “very short scary tales” in this book, written in rhythmic, rhyming verse, would be perfect for a choral reading activity in an elementary classroom. They’d also be wonderful stories for a parent and child to read together—especially at this time of year. Children are sure to delight in reading the book’s thirteen tales about zombies, a ghoul, a witch and her broomstick, trick or treating, a ghost and a mouse, and goblins, gremlins, demons, and devils.

Here’s an excerpt from Goblins, Gremlins, Demons, and Devils

There are goblins in the garden.
There are gremlins in the glen.
There are demons in the cellar.
There are devils in the den.
They are crawling in the windows.
They are creeping in the doors.
They are sliding down the chimney.
They are slipping through the floors.

Oh, we wish we knew some magic
That would get us out of here,
Or a secret spell to corner them
And make them disappear!

All of the scary stories for two voices close in the same fashion—with the characters reading to each other.

The ending from The Ogre and the Giant

Since the day is
Warm and breezy,
Why don’t we just
Take it easy?

Stretch out on
The sandy beach.

Take a sunbath.
Eat a peach.

Find a storybook
Or two.
You read to me.
I’ll read to you.

The poems for reading together aren’t really terribly scary tales—but they would be lots of fun to read aloud with someone…at any time of the year. Michael Emberley adds just the right touches of ghoulish humor with his mixed-media illustrations.

Halloween Hoots and Howls
Written by
Joan Horton
Illustrated by Joann Adinolfi
Henry Holt, 1999

The rhyming verses and illustrations included in this poetry collection are more silly and light-hearted in nature than they are dark and scary. The poems’ topics include a child talking about the costume he’ll wear when he goes trick-or-treating; a ghost and goblin ball; a dancing ghost; a Halloween quiz; a recipe for goblin punch; the rather gross dishes on a witch’s dinner menu; a mummy who drives a school bus; and Doctor Frankenstein going food shopping at the market.
Halloween Hoots and Howls would be a fun collection to share with young children in the classroom—or at home.

Here’s one of my favorite poems from the book:

Witch Hazel’s Dinner Menu

Electric eels,
thinly sliced.

Baby bat wings,
hotly spiced.

Worms in brine
(cup or bowl)

Dragon entrails casserole

Sumac salad, green and chivey,
tossed with lots of poison ivy

Spider bundt cake

Witches’ brew
(regular and decaf, too)

Los Gatos Black on Halloween
Written by
Marisa Montes
Illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Henry Holt, 2006

Los Gatos Black on Halloween is one of those picture poetry books in which the art provides a perfect backdrop for the verses. The textured paintings with soft blurry edges and mostly muted colors contain plenty of macabre images of skeletons (los esqueletos), witches (las brujas), phantoms (los fantasmas), the dead (los muertos) and monsters (los monstruos) to set kids shivering with delight.

Los Gatos Black on Halloween is a book-length poem written in English and Spanish about black cats and ghosts and skeletons and other spooky beings making their way to a haunted casa on the last night of October. There they all crowd into the Haunted Hall where they play music and dance and have a grand time…until they hear loud RAPS on the door. Then…

La puerta creaks…it opens wide.
The things are coming. Run and hide!
They hold up bags, yell “TRICK OR TREAT!”
Los monstruos beat a quick retreat.

The thing that monsters most abhor
Are human ninos at the door!
Of all the horrors they have seen,
The WORST are kids on Halloween!

This is an excellent story in verse that would be a wonderful book to read aloud. Montes proves herself to be adept at writing rhythmic verse. Her lines scan well. She uses a rich vocabulary of English words—and includes some interesting rhyming pairs: gleam/scream, stalks/mocks, parade/invade, waltz/somersaults, gasps/unclasps, abhor/door.

The book could serve as an excellent introduction to the Spanish language for young children. Even kids who don’t know any Spanish will be able to easily figure out the non-English words interwoven in the text because of the context clues and illustrations.

Los Gatos Black on Halloween was the Pura Belpre Award Winner for Illustration and an Honor Book for Narrative in 2008. The book includes a glossary with a pronunciation key.


At Blue Rose Girls, I have Shakespeare’s Song of the Witches.

My poetry post this week at Political Verses is a Paean to a Bovine Beauty.

Jennie has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Biblio File.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Easy Poet Costumes for Halloween

From the Academy of American Poets: Whether you're heading to a party with a literary theme or simply trying to impress an English teacher this Halloween, here are a few inexpensive costume ideas worth trying on.

Emily Dickinson

You will also find costume ideas for poets Walt Whitman, Sappho, Edgar Allan Poe, and William Carlos Williams.

For your Halloween reading pleasure: Vampire Poems

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monster Mash: A JibJab Halloween eCard

Here’s a little JibJab Halloween eCard from my husband and me. Enjoy!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dragonfly: An Orignal Mask Poem

I had planned to write reviews of Halloween poetry books for today. I didn’t get around to doing that for a good reason. Yesterday, Grace Lin and I went to the Wellesley Booksmith to see Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston. Mary Ann and Linda are on tour talking about their outstanding new poetry anthology The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination. (Click here to see where Mary Ann and Linda will be in upcoming weeks.)

After their book signing, Mary Ann and Linda invited Grace and me to have dinner with them and Joanne Myszkowski, who was taking them around to different events in Massachusetts. We had a fabulous dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant just two doors down from the book store. We all had a grand time eating and talking. I didn’t return home until 10:30—so I just didn’t have the energy to work on several book reviews. I decided to post an original poem today instead.
Linda Winston & Mary Ann Hoberman

I’m dedicating my poem Dragonfly to Mary Ann and Linda in honor of their new book. Dragonfly is a poem I wrote for Docile Fossil, a collection that I’ve been working on for the past year.

by Elaine Magliaro

Long, long ago

before dinosaurs

roamed the land

I flew through prehistoric skies,

my glassy wings glistening in sunlight.

Long, long ago

I printed my image

in mud,

then melted into Earth’s memory.


you can see me

stenciled on the stony pages

of time.

Mary Ann, The "Wild Rose," & Linda

You can read about Mary Hoberman Here: Mary Ann Hoberman Named Children’s Poet Laureate.

Click here to read some of my Wild Rose Reader posts about Mary Ann and her poetry.


At Blue Rose Girls I have three original double dactyls.

At Political Verses, I have two new posts this week: A Poem about the Conservative Bible Project and Better Duck...It's Dick: A Poem about Dick Cheney's Hunting Prowess.

Kelly has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Big A, little a.

Monday, October 19, 2009

2009 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards

The 2009 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards for Excellence in Children’s Literature

Check out the following links:

The Small Graces October Auction Is On!!!

This month "Small Graces: A Painting a Month to Benefit the FCB" features another fabulous painting by the talented and generous author/illustrator Grace Lin. This is the 10th painting to be auctioned on eBay as a benefit for our programs in under-served schools.

Here's how it works: Every month a small (5x5 inch), unpublished, original painting will be auctioned on eBay with 100% of the proceeds to support the FCB's author/illustrator visits and residencies in urban schools. Each painting will illustrate a bit of wisdom, a proverb, a "small Grace."

This month's painting (above), painted in gouache on watercolor paper, is on auction beginning today, Monday, October 19 through Friday, October 23. To bid on this painting, click on this ebay link.
For those who find original art from children's books beyond their budget, this is a great way to buy affordable art! Please spread the word and bid!
Click here to view the other Small Graces paintings that have been sold at auction.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

2009 Keene State College Children's Literature Festival

In two weeks, I’ll be heading up to New Hampshire for the Keene State College Children’s Literature Festival. Look at the fabulous lineup of children’s authors and illustrators who will be the featured speakers this year:

Festival Information
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Place: Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire
Conference Registration: $72
Lunch: $8.00
Daily Schedule: Click here.
Registration Form: Click here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Witch Poems

It’s that witchy time of year when kids start thinking about Halloween, trick-or-treating, skeletons, vampires, and other scary things going bump in the night. Today, I have three witch poems for you. I wrote For Sale, the first poem posted below, for my collection of humorous fairy tale poems. I think you’ll be able to figure out “which witch” of fairy tale fame is referred to in the poem.

I posted the other two poems previously at Wild Rose Reader.


A cottage made of gingerbread.
The owner witch was just found dead.
She left it to her brother Fred.
He doesn’t want it. Freddie said:
“Please sell the house at any price.
I do not want one made with spice—
A candy coated, sticky sweet
Old cottage that lost kids will eat.
It’s just one room—that’s way too small…
And thirty miles from WARLOCK MALL.
I shop there almost every day.
Please sell the house without delay.
And with the money that I get
I’ll buy a brand new jumbo jet
Engine powered zigzag zoom
Silver bristled sonic broom.”


There was a witch who liked to race
Her supersonic broom through space.
At six o’clock last Friday night
She blasted off at speed of light.
She whizzed past Mercury and Mars…
Then headed off toward distant stars.
Across the galaxy she sped,
A black peaked helmet on her head.
An interstellar traveler, she
Explored the Milky Way with glee.
She chased swift comets here and there.
She watched bright supernovae flare.
She zipped through clouds of cosmic dust…
A witch bewitched by wanderlust.
There was a witch, I’m sad to say,
Flew near a big black hole one day.
It sucked her in just like a bean.
You won’t see HER on Halloween!

Wicked, warty crone, dressed

In black, a peaked hat

Teetering on her head as she

Careens through the air on her broom cackling

Happy Halloween!


At Political Verses, I have a double dactyl written by Julie Larios.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a repeat post called Blogging My Poetry.

Laura Purdie Salas has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

National Book Awards 2009: Nominees in Young People's Literature

Here are the nominees in Young People’s Literature for 2009:

The Young People’s Literature Judges: Kathi Appelt, Coe Booth, Carolyn Coman, Nancy Werlin, Gene Luen Yang

The 2009 Cybils Poetry Book Nominations

The deadline for nominating children’s and young adult books for the 2009 Cybils is tomorrow. Nominations will close at 11:59 p.m. on October 15th.

I will be serving as a second round judge in the Poetry Category this year. Following is the list of poetry books that were nominated and are eligible. If you don’t see your favorite poetry book of the past year on the list, by all means get thee over to the Cybils site and nominate it.

Here’s a link to the nomination form: Cybils Nomination Form

Read this Wild Rose Reader post, 2009 Cybils Poetry Panel Announced!, to find out who’ll be serving on the poetry panels with me this year.

Poetry Books Nominated in 2009

  1. A Curious Collection of Cats By Betsy Franco
  2. A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing and Shout By Paul Janeczko
  3. A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems By Deborah Ruddell
  4. Absolutely Wild By Dennis Webster
  5. African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways By Avis Harley
  6. Button Up!: Wrinkled Rhymes By Alice Schertle
  7. Change-up: Baseball Poems By Gene Fehler
  8. City I Love By Lee Bennett Hopkins
  9. Come to the Castle!: A Visit to a Castle in Thirteenth-Century England By Linda Ashman
  10. Concrete Poetry (Poetry Basics) By Valerie Bodden
  11. Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings By Douglas Florian
  12. Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems By ed. Georgia Heard
  13. Lady of Shalott, The (Visions in Poetry) By Alfred Lord Tennyson
  14. Mother Poems By Hope Anita Smith
  15. Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors By Joyce Sidman
  16. Sky Magic By Lee Bennett Hopkins
  17. Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles By J. Patrick Lewis
  18. Stampede!: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School By Laura Purdie Salas
  19. Steady Hands: Poems About Work By Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
  20. The Bill Martin Jr Big Book of Poetry By Bill Martin Jr.
  21. The Cuckoo's Haiku: and Other Birding Poems By Michael J. Rosen
  22. The Fastest Game on Two Feet: And Other Poems About How Sports Began By Alice Low
  23. The House By J. Patrick Lewis
  24. The Monsterologist: A Memoir in Rhyme By Bobbi Katz
  25. The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination By Mary Ann Hoberman & Linda Winston
  26. The Underwear Salesman: And Other Jobs for Better or Verse By J. Patrick Lewis
  27. The Young Inferno By John Agard
  28. Tofu Quilt By Ching Yeung Russell
  29. What's the Weather Inside? By Karma Wilson

National Day on Writing

From the National Council of Teachers of English

U.S. Senate Declares October 20, 2009, as the National Day on Writing

On October 8, the U.S. Senate unanimously agreed to S.RES.310, declaring the importance of writing to the nation and declaring October 20 the National Day on Writing.

On this day, the National Gallery of Writing will go live, unveiling over 5,000 compositions in nearly 1,500 local and partner galleries. And this is just the beginning!

It's not too late for a last-minute submission before "go live!" And, of course, you'll be able to submit after October 20 all the way up until June 30, 2010.

Here are a few galleries for you to consider:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Double Dactyl at Political Verses

I have a new poem over at Political Verses: God, the Goalpost, and Gimme Scriptures: A Double Dactyl. I was inspired to write it after reading Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Goal Post of Life: School Board to Meet on Christian Cheerleader Controversy, a post at the blog of Professor Jonathan Turley, a nationally recognized legal scholar who teaches at George washington University.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Poetry Friday: October Poems

Tricia challenged us to write poems about October for her Poetry Stretch this week. I wrote a new acrostic for the stretch. I think it still needs to be tweaked a little—or a lot. I’m also posting some other autumn/October poems that I’ve posted previously at Wild Rose Reader.

Orange moon, disk of burnished copper, gleams in the sky, prowling
Cats step gingerly through fallen leaves crisped by the cold,
Toothy pumpkins smile tremulously in the dark, a flock
Of geese honks farewell to trick-or-treaters toting sacks of sweets. Woe
Betide those out at the witching hour when All Hallows’
Eve swarms with ghosts who rise from their graves and
Return to spirit away unsuspecting souls before the month creaks closed like Dracula’s coffin.

Inspired by Joyce Sidman’s book Red Sings from Treetops, I wrote the Orange poem below for Color Poems, a post in which I encouraged my blog readers to write their own color poems.

The Orange of October
shines in the face
of a harvest moon,
grows plump and round in pumpkin patches,
flickers in the angled eyes of jack o’ lanterns…
and their crooked copper grins.
The Orange of October
flames in oak leaves and asters,
smells like cinnamon and nutmeg,
tastes like sweet potato pie.

Autumn Fire is from my unpublished collection of memoir poems entitled A Home for the Seasons.

Two tall maple trees grow
in front of my grandparents’ house.
In late Octoberthey shed their golden crowns.
When the fallen leaves
curl up like little brown bear cubs,
we rake them into a pile
at the side of the street.
As dusk arrives
Dzidzi sets our harvest afire
with a single match.
We sit on wooden crates
at the sidewalk’s edge,
watch the brittle leaves
blossom into golden flames,
smell autumn’s pungent breath.
From the pyre summer rises,
a small gray ghost,
and drifts away
into the darkening sky.

Mad magician of
Every color of the rainbow

In October, colored leaves
Fall from oak and maple trees…
Bright confetti shaken down
From their boughs. All over town
Trees are celebrating fall,
Decorating every wall,
Sidewalk, yard, and flowerbed
With pumpkin-orange, gold, and red.
We stand out in the falling leaves
And catch confetti on our sleeves,
In our hands and in our hair.
We party till the trees are bare.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have Robert Frost’s poem After Apple Picking.

Anastasia Suen Has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Picture Book of the Day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Children's Author & Illustrator Melissa Sweet to Be the Featured Speaker at the Fall Meeting of the Massachusetts PAS North Shore Council

The schedule for the 2009-2010 Speaker Series of the Massachusetts PAS North Shore Council of IRA has finally been set. Here are the dates and venues and names of the authors and illustrators who will be our featured speakers this school year.

PAS North Shore Council of IRA 2009-2010 Speaker Series Schedule

That’s one fine line-up of speakers, don’t you think?

About Melissa Sweet
Melissa Sweet
is the author and/or illustrator of more than sixty books for children. Melissa has won a number of awards and acknowledgements for her picture books in recent years. The Boy Who Drew Birds was included on the New York Public Library’s List of Best Books of 2004. In 2005, she received the Golden Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators for Baby Bear’s Chairs and the Maine Lupine Award for Carmine: A Little More Red. Two of Melissa’s books were designated as Best Illustrated Books of the Year by the New York Times—in 2005 and 2009. This year, Melissa received a Caldecott Honor Award for her stunning mixed-media illustrations in A River of Dreams: The Story of William Carlos Williams. Melissa is also the illustrator of the popular Pinky and Rex series of early readers.
Information about the Fall Dinner Meeting of the PAS North Shore Council
The meeting will begin at 5:00 with a social hour during which Melissa Sweet will sign books. Attendees can purchase a number of Melissa Sweet’s most popular books at the yacht club. (Note: Payment for books must be made in cash or by check.)

The cost for our November dinner is $38 for members and $48 for non-members.

Dinner choices are:

  • Sliced Roast Beef with Bordelaise Sauce
  • Seafood Casserole with Scallops, Shrimp and Scrod.

If you are interested in attending our November dinner, email me. I have extra copies of the registration form. The deadline for registration is October 23rd.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

How Maurice Sendak Made the World Safe for Monsters

Here’s an article from today’s edition of the Boston Globe that I thought some of you might find interesting—Monsters ink: How Maurice Sendak made the world safe for monsters, and vice-versa.

And here’s a link to a Wild Rose Reader post dated September 28, 2009: Maurice Sendak & Where the Wild Things: Article & Movie Trailer.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Button Up! Wrinkled Rhymes by Alice Schertle

Button Up! Wrinkled Rhymes
Written by Alice Schertle
Illustrated by Petra Mathers
Harcourt Children’s Books, 2009

Today I have a review of Button Up!: Wrinkled Rhymes by Alice Schertle. I was really excited when I learned many months ago that Schertle had written a new poetry book. I have been an admirer of her work ever since I read How Now, Brown Cow, her first published poetry collection. Button Up! is a delight from start to finish. Schertle's poems are infused with humor and a childlike sense of fun. The illustrations done by Petra Mathers, the perfect complement to Schertle’s text, express the same sense of playfulness and whimsy.
I was especially happy to find that Button Up! was collection of mask poems. (I love mask poems!) Button Up! contains fifteen point-of-view poems in which the author speaks in the voices of shoes, shoelaces, galoshes, a soccer jersey, bicycle helmet, jammies, dress-up clothes, and undies—all of which have their own personal stories to share. The characters wearing the aforementioned footwear, headwear, and clothing are anthropomorphized creatures—pigs, cats, birds, dogs, bears, alligators, etc. Mathers artfully imbues her animals with human facial expressions and body language.

Like Mathers’s animals, Schertle’s poems all have their own “personalities.” Their rhythms and rhyme schemes vary. The book of poems never gets bogged down in a boring “sameness.”

I asked Alice Schertle if there was anything she could tell me about where she got the inspiration for this book, how long it took her to complete the collection, or any other interesting facts she’d like to share about Button Up!.

Alice responded: Button Up! started with one poem, Jennifer's Shoes--and that was years ago. I wrote that one in the course of fiddling with shoe poems in general, liked it, and found it handy to use when I'd talk about mask, or persona poems. Much more recently I began adding to my stash of poems in which kids' jackets and shoelaces and hats are doing the talking and it began to look like a collection. The trick was in finding the duds that children would recognize and trying to give them a bit of individual personality. Once I got going, assembling, choosing and discarding, it probably took half a year. I found myself chuckling as I wrote: always a good sign.

I, too, chuckled as I read the poems in Button Up!. I’m sure you will too!

Here are some tasty tidbits from a few of the book’s poems to give you a flavor of the delicious verses in Button Up!:

From Bob’s Bicycle

Bob’s on his bike
and I’m on Bob.
I’m Bob’s helmet.
I’m on the job.

From Jennifer’s Shoes

We are learning the ways
of Jennifer’s world:
the way that Jennifer’s
toes are curled,
the softness of carpet,
the steepness of stair,
the curve of the rung
under Jennifer’s chair…

From Jack’s Soccer Jersey

When Jack plays soccer we get our kicks.
I’m Jack’s jersey.
I’m number 6.

From Clyde’s Costume

I’m a gingham sheet and I used to sleep
tucked into the guest room bed.
One day—surprise! Clyde cut out eyes
and slipped me over his head.

And here is the first stanza of my favorite poem in the collection—Emily’s Undies:

We’re Emily’s undies
with laces and bows.
Emily shows us
wherever she goes.
She doesn’t wear diapers,
not even to bed.
Now she wears undies
with ruffles instead.

I know my elementary students would have loved Button Up!. Many of them enjoyed writing their own mask poems--and the poems in this collection serve as fine examples. I highly recommend this book.

Alice Schertle Interview

More Mask Poems
You can read some of my previous posts about mask poems and some of my original mask poems in the following Wild Rose Reader posts: Earthworms: An Animal Mask Poem, Poetry Friday: Mask Poems, JACK: A Mask Poem, Toucan Talk: An Original Mask Poem, and Mask Poems Reprise.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have four original autumn acrostics.

Kelly Herold has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Crossover this week.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Picture Books & Poetry Books for Halloween

I just updated my 2008 list of links to sites that have recommended Halloween-themed children’s books. I’ve also included links to sites with suggestions for Halloween crafts and projects.

New Links for 2009

Links from 2008

From Wild Rose Reader

Halloween Projects & Crafts