Saturday, October 29, 2011

Three Halloween Books for Wee Ones

My granddaughter Julia Anna

Julia wants to tell you about some Halloween books she likes.
I can’t wait for Halloween to come. I’m getting SOOOO excited. I like to wear my special orange and black Halloween outfit all the time!

My Grammy got me some books about Halloween last week. They’re G-R-E-A-T! I’d like to recommend them to any parents who have wee ones like me at home. There’s nothing better than books for babies!
Whooo’s That?: A Lift-the-Flap Pumpkin Fun Book
Written by Kay Winters
Illustrated by Jeannie Winston

This book has sturdy pages and really colorful pictures. You’ll find the same two words printed in big black letters on every page of this book: Whooo’s that… You have to lift the flaps to find out who is doing things like rattling bebop bones...and brewing savory stew.

This book is written in verse. I like rhyming words…don’t you?

Here’s how the book begins:

Whooo’s that…
Prancing in the park?

Whooo’s that…
Prowling in the dark?

Whooo’s that…
Hanging upside down?

Whooo’s that…
Scowling with a frown?

When my mommy reads this book to me she almost sounds like an owl hooting.

You’ll have to get yourself a copy of this book to find out WHOOO’S behind the flaps.

P.S. The pictures in this book are so delicious I could eat them!

You can see more of Jeannie Winston’s terrific illustrations from the book here.

Click here to look inside this book.

Halloween Mice
Written by Bethany Roberts
Illustrated by Doug Cushman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Halloween Mice is a little board book. I can’t tear the pages. It’s a story about a bunch of mice who go out on Halloween night and have a party. They skitter through a cornfield...scamper through a pumpkin patch…dance around in the moonlight. Then they stop and listen. They hear a rustling sound. Uh-oh, the Halloween cat is coming!!! The mice huddle together and devise a plan to scare away the frightening feline. I’m not going to tell you any more of the story. You’ll have to read it yourself to find out how the book ends.

By the way, the little mice characters in this story look so cute dressed up in their Halloween costumes.

Click here to see some of the pictures in this book.

One Halloween Night
Written & illustrated by Salina Yoon

One Halloween Night is a board book with 18 “lift the flaps.” It has rhyming words—and it’s a counting book. (I haven’t learned how to count yet. I hope this book will help me learn my numbers.)

Here’s how the book begins:

Halloween is spooky fun
for mummies, ghosts, and everyone.

It’s time for trick-or-treat delights,
so count with me all through the night!

The pictures in One Halloween Night are really bright and colorful. They’re not scary at all.

That's all for now.

Happy Halloween
Happy Halloween Reading!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Poetry for Halloween

Hallowilloween: Nefarious Silliness
Written & illustrated by Calef Brown
Houghton Mifflin, 2010

Kids enjoy reading poems about scary things that "go bump in the night"—and they LOVE Halloween. What better way to celebrate the spooky holiday at the end of October with children than to share with them the poems in Calef Brown’s Hallowilloween? The collection contains fourteen poems about the usual “Halloween” suspects—including a werewolf, witches, the grim reaper, a shrunken head, and a mummy.

Brown’s poems brim with whimsy and humor and wordplay.

From Jack:

Jack is a rare wolf.
A covered with hair wolf.
A crouch in the doorway
to give you a scare wolf.
A big as a bear wolf.
A devil may care wolf.
A constantly burping
and fouling the air wolf.

From Lone Star Witches:

The witches of Texas,
with cackles and hoots,
are doing a two-step
in lizard-skin boots
while filling a cauldron
with truffles and newts.
A sinister potion
is brewing in Austin
to fire up the feud
with the Witches of Boston.

There are poems about someone having dinner with the grim reaper, a poltergeyser at a national park, and a baseball umpire who’s a vampire. The “vumpire” only works night games—as would be expected. In one poem, a mummy complains about how badly its mummification was botched:

Who do I sue?
I’m completely unraveling!
No more vacations.
Forget about traveling.
All of my wrappings
are ragged and ripped.
I slipped up and tripped
on the edge of my crypt.

Brown’s stylistic acrylic paintings are saturated with color—oranges, greens, yellows, browns—and there are ample touches of black to help set a "dark" Halloween tone. Like the poems, the illustrations are imbued with humor. This book is sure to bring smiles to children's faces. I have little doubt that both the poetry and art in Hallowilloween will appeal to children.
Click here to view three two-page spreads from this book.

Click here to look inside this book.


More Poetry for Halloween

Poetry for Halloween (Wild Rose Reader)


Click here to read a few of my original Halloween haikus.

Click here to read some of my witch poems.

Here's a Halloween acrostic that I wrote a few years ago:

Ghastly spirit

Hovering in dark corners of the
Old house it once inhabited…
Silent sentinel of the past
Torn between two worlds


The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Random Noodling.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Three Great Picture Books for Halloween Reading

Heebie-Jeebie Jamboree
Written & illustrated by Mary Ann Fraser
Boyds Mills Press, 2011

On Halloween night,
Under a butterscotch moon,
Sam and Daphne pull two tickets
Out of thin air…

The two tickets are for the Heebie-Jeebie Jamboree. When Sam and Daphne reach the site of the jamboree, they present their tickets to the ticket taker…and the spooky fun begins. The children head off to see the sights—warlocks riding on broomsticks, a witches’ brew-off, a fun crypt, a goblin pie contest. Along the way, Daphne loses sight of her younger brother. She sets off to find Sam. She asks a fortune teller for help. She looks for her brother in a haunted house. She calls out to him at a Rolling Bones concert at the mausoleum. No luck. Just as the jamboree begins fading away, Daphne finds Sam in the “Lost and Found” coffin. The tale ends happily as the two siblings reach home safely.

Fraser’s colorful acrylic illustrations are a delight. They show readers all the sights Daphne and Sam encounter at the Heebie-Jeebie Jamboree. The illustrations, I should add, have touches of humor and aren’t very frightening. Heebie-Jeebie Jamboree would be an excellent picture book to read aloud to a little listener who is sitting on your lap. I am sure young children would enjoy this lost-and-found Halloween tale and the age-appropriate “spooky” pictures.

Click here to look inside this book.

Heebie Jeebie Jamboree Book Trailer

Zombie in Love
Written by Kelly DiPucchio
Pictures by Scott Campbell
Atheneum, 2011

Mortimer is a zombie. He wants to take a date to Cupid’s Ball. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a sweetheart—and all his attempts to find one are met with failure.

Mortimer decides to place an ad in the newspaper. He's sure that will find him a date.


If you like taking walks in the
and falling down in the rain.
If you’re not into cooking,
if you have half a brain.
If you like waking up at midnight,
horror films, and voodoo
then I’m the guy who you’ve looked for
and I’m dying to meet you!

Saturday, Cupid’s Ball,
Punch Bowl, 7:00 p.m.

The night of Cupid’s Ball, Mortimer dresses up in his “new” suit, combs his hair, splashes on his best cologne, and seats himself next to the punch bowl at the dance. Then he waits and waits and waits and waits…until the room begins to empty. That’s when Mortimer realizes that no gal has been dying to meet him. Just as he begins to shuffle toward the exit, he hears a loud THUD…and then a louder CRASH! Mortimer looks down and sees a young lady sprawled out on the dance floor. Her name is Mildred. She’s “drop-dead” gorgeous—and she’s a zombie too!

All ends well for Mortimer. He and Mildred dance and hold hands. Then they dine out in the moonlight at a graveyard—and it’s love at first bite!
Zombie in Love is a hoot--and sure to get kids laughing! I know this book would have been a BIG hit with my second grade students. DiPucchio’s text and Campbell’s watercolor illustrations work together like the A-Team to tell this humorous zombie tale that’s perfect for Halloween reading.

And Then Comes Halloween
Written by Tom Brenner
Illustrated by Holly Meade
Candlewick, 2009

This is a little gem of a picture book about Halloween and the fall season. Brenner’s evocative text and Meade’s watercolor and collage illustrations beautifully capture the sights and sounds of autumn...and of that special holiday at the end of October that children get so excited about. Holly Meade’s art has an elegant simplicity that complements this book about children’s preparations for Halloween and their night out trick-or-treating.

The repetitive format of the book is reminiscent of Cynthia Rylant’s When I Was Young in the Mountains.

Here’s how the book begins:

WHEN nighttime creeps closer to suppertime,
And red and gold seep into green leaves,
And blackberries shrivel on the vine…

THEN hang dried corn,
Still in husks all crinkly and raspy,
Sounding like grasshoppers.

WHEN Papa stacks firewood under the eaves,
And a V of geese squawks its way south,
And chilly morning air turns noses pink…

THEN cut out paper witches on brooms
And dangle skeletons in doorways.

The book continues on in this same fashion. It touches on many of the things that children and adults typically do during the month of October—rake leaves, stack wood, carve pumpkins, decide what to dress up as on Halloween, make costumes.

When Halloween arrives, children set off into the neighborhood to go trick-or-treating with friends. Children...

Swirl from porch to porch…dart past bushes casting spooky shadows…sweep past clumps of moaning monsters...

They return home after plundering their block. They eat, count, trade, and share some of their candy. Then it’s time to get ready for bed…where they dream about what they’ll be next Halloween.

And Then Comes Halloween is a terrific seasonal book for reading aloud to young children. Brenner uses rich vocabulary in his text that transports one to a time of year when change is in the air and all around us.

Click here to look inside this book.


More Halloween Book Recommendations



Halloween Picture Books: Wherefore the Style? (School Library Journal)

Children's Picture Books for Halloween (HubPages)

Children’s Books: Once Upon a Broomstick (New York Times)

Halloween Picture Books: A Scary-Big Compilation (WIP)

From Wild Rose Reader
Picture Books & Poetry Books for Halloween

Great Halloween Read-Alouds for Little Listeners

Bone Soup: A Great Halloween Read-Aloud

The Tailypo: A Ghost Story

Picture Book Review: The Three Bears Halloween

Friday, October 21, 2011


I was sitting at my computer yesterday thinking about Halloween. My daughter Sara used to get so excited about Halloween when she was little. She always loved spooky stories and movies. She'd start decorating the house for the holiday in early October. I had so much fun watching Sara enjoying herself getting the house ready for the "big night."

Well, Sara is still into Halloween even though she's an adult--and a mother now. Her own home is decorated with Halloween lights, ceramic pumpins, and jack-o-lanterns. I got an idea while I was sitting at my computer yesterday morning. I thought I'd try writing some Halloween haiku--just for fun. Here are some of the "still-in-progress" haikus that I wrote:

Peaked hat piercing clouds
She zooms on a bristled broom
Brushes the sky black

(Picture by Alvina Ling)

Pumpkin heads staring
From doorsteps, their crooked smiles
Flickering with fire

Who haunts this house? Whose
Spirit lingers and won’t leave?
Who-o-o-o...Who-o-o-o haunts this house?

Nothing but bones, it
Clicks and clacks and clatters its
Way through Halloween


Jama Rattigan has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Alphabet Soup.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

P*TAG: The First-Ever Poetry eBook for Teens

P*TAG is the first-ever poetry anthology eBook for teens! It was compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. It contains 31 new poems written by 31 different poets especially for P*TAG. You won’t find the poems in any other collections or anthologies. (The photos for P*TAG were taken by Sylvia.)

The poets whose works are included in P*TAG:

Marilyn Singer
Betsy Franco
Allan Wolf
Naomi Shihab Nye
Sara Holbrook
Charles Waters
Michael Salinger
Joyce Sidman
Margarita Engle
Jeannine Atkins
Steven Withrow
David L. Harrison
Lorie Ann Grover
Julie Larios
Michele Krueger
April Halprin Wayland
Stephanie Hemphill
Heidi Mordhorst
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
Paul B. Janeczko
Arnold Adoff
Kimberly Marcus
Jen Bryant
Kathi Appelt
Helen Frost
J. Patrick Lewis
JonArno Lawson
Sonya Sones
Lee Bennett Hopkins
Jaime Adoff

The P*TAG Rules
* a poet is tagged
* the poet chooses a photo from this photo library blog
* the poet writes a poem inspired by the photo
* the poet must incorporate 3 words from the poem prior to his or her poem to keep the poems connected
* the poet writes a short prose "connection" piece explaining how the poem came to be
* the poet tags another poet
* the game continues

The P*TAG poems are terrific! Janet and Sylvia gave me permission to post some photos and poem excerpts from the eBook. I think they will give you a good idea of just how great this anthology is.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Reading Allan Wolf’s rich poem about drinking tea in China plunged me into Traveler-Mood—alertly attentive to everything. Once I was awakened by a call from Japan, title needed for forthcoming presentation to teachers—groggily I said, Wind in a Bucket. They took this title very seriously. I bought a green bucket with cat-face in Hayama as visual aid. Maybe everything boils down to wind in bucket, tea in cup, windows, watching.

(Words from the previous poem by Allan Wolf: sip, steeping, future)

Excerpt from Blue Bucket
by Naomi Shihab Nye

What if, instead of war,
we shared our buckets
of wind and worry?
Said, tell me the story
you carry there,
steeping in old pain
and future hope,
rich with fragrant
savory spices,
ginger, turmeric,
tarragon, find me
a spoon in one
of your pockets,
even if we don’t
speak the same language,
I’ll sip your dream,
and then, and then…

Sara Holbrook

Naomi’s visual poem is fragrant with story—the stories we collect along the path, each to place in our own buckets. I smell the essence of this poem and am transported to the shores of Lake Erie, where I like to wander barefoot, collecting beach glass, other people’s stories fractured and tumbled. Shards of life that were tossed at the Lake and that she tossed back.

(Words from the previous poem by Naomi Shihab Nye: blue, pocket, story)

Excerpt from Beach Glass
by Sara Holbrook

But do they want to be picked up,
sunstruck jewels that once were bottles, bowls, wall tiles?
Now that the novelty of the beach has worn them down
to smooth bits of frost white,
amber, emerald, sapphire mixed with
barely blue and rarely pink.
But aren’t they tired of being pushed around
by the insistent bashing of boisterous waves?
Each shard, its own story,
particulars tossed overboard,
discarded facts disconnected from their origins…

Jeannine Atkins

Who doesn’t like a broken blue and white plate? Shards that show up in woods or on beaches make me wonder about the people they once belonged to and what happened before they were wrecked or lost. I’ve broken enough dishes, but the story is usually of carelessness. Well, okay, anger now and then. This poem began with what I’d say after I heard a crash and ended up with a table I never planned to set.

(Words from the previous poem by Margarita Engle: shiny, golden, drab)

Excerpt from Broken
by Jeannine Atkins

It’s only a plate.
But some hearts are made of china
kept at the backs of shelves or in boxes
in attics, sprinkled with balsam
or pine from ancient wreaths.

These drab corners aren’t as silent
as they seem. Saved shards or stubs
of tickets make memory leap-frog
or nudge forgetting into acrobatics...

Julie Larios

Lorie Ann Grover’s ethereal “wisp” of a poem floats like goose down, but I wanted my poem to keep its feet on firm ground. When I saw a photo of what I thought was a goose in a barnyard, I knew I had my muse. On closer examination, the goose is actually a swan and the barnyard is actually a park! But goose, swan or person—don’t we all long to leave our “barnyards” and take flight?

(Words from the previous poem by Lorie Ann Grover: trapped, eyes, away)

Excerpt from Walking, Waiting
by Julie Larios

Trapped? I don’t think so.
Don’t let my Silly-Goose act
fool you—I have a wild honk or two
or three that might surprise you,
I’ve got a trick or ten up my wing.
Right now, I strut, I walk, I wait.
But this barnyard can’t hold me.

P*TAG has a lot to offer to poetry lovers--whether they are young adults or old adults like me!


Click here to Look inside P*TAG.

Teen Poetry Tag Time Blog

Poetry Tag Time Website

Friday, October 14, 2011

POETRY FRIDAY: Original Animal Acrostics

I thought I’d go through my files this morning and look for animal acrostics that I'd written over the years. Here's a mini collection of them for Poetry Friday:


Mitten-footed forager
Out on a midnight adventure,
Unheard, unseen, in the whisper-soft dark,
Scurrying about the house,
Eking out a meal.

Frustrated prince dwelling in a pond kingdom,
Royal amphibian resting on a lily pad throne, biding his time,
Ogling unsuspecting insects, waiting for the princess to lose her
Golden ball so he can retrieve it and become her hero.

Changes suits to suit
His locus. Abracadabra! Hocus-pocus! He’s
A clever
Master of disguise…a trickster who can fool the
Eyes! This
Lizard with a fashion flair takes his wardrobe
Everywhere. Predators don’t stop
Or stare.
No one even knows he’s there.

Take it easy,
Old One. Hare is
Resting beneath a willow
Tree dreaming
Of the finish line—dreaming he is champion.
It is not to be, Old One. You are wise and know
Slow and steady wins the race
Every time.

Claw-handed critter
Races sideways, skitters
Across the sea-washed land…
Beachcombing in the sand.

Chirping in the dark, their song
In the still air. A
Chorus of summer night strummers in concert with
Entertaining warm evenings with
Symphony of wings.

Caw, caw, caw is all they say,
Repeating that one sound day after day…
Over and over—the same old thing.
Why can’t they find a new
Song to sing?


Dagger-toothed demon
Roars its fiery breath, sets
Aflame a village,
Grips everyone in its claws
Of terror.
Now where is the knight in shining armor?

Unreal animal,
No one has ever seen you except
In the land of make-believe
Cavorting with maidens
Over flower-strewn fields and
Romping through woodlands in a world of
Never ending days.

David Elzey has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Fomagrams.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

2011 Cybils Announcement!

If there’s a children’s or young adult book that you’d like to nominate for a 2011 Cybils, do it soon. You don't have much time left. The nominations close on October 15th!
I’m happy to be serving as a Round One Poetry Judge this year. We have a terrific panel once again!

Click here to check out the 2011 Cybils Poetry Nominations.

The 2011 Poetry Judges
Poetry has long been the genre where we've insisted on the most credentials and expertise. It may get the fewest nominations, but it's far from the easiest to judge. Many of our experts are poets themselves and bring their practiced eye to the Cybils.

Round One

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater 

Susan Taylor Brown

Elaine Magliaro

Bruce Black

Tricia Stohr-Hunt

Jone Rush MacCulloch

Carol Wilcox

Round Two

Diane Mayr  
The Write Sisters

Mary Lee Hahn
A Year of Reading

Julie Larios
The Drift Record

Andi Sibley

Laura Purdie Salas

I reviewed a few of the nominated poetry books:

Friday, October 7, 2011

Autumn Celebration: A Passel of Original Poems about Fall

I love autumn in New England! September and October are my favorite months. Here are a number of the poems that I’ve written about fall. I’ve posted some of them previously at Wild Rose Reader or Blue Rose Girls.


One thing I miss most about autumn is the smell of burning leaves. When I was a kid, we used to rake leaves into a pile and burn them on the side of the street/road. The following poem, Autumn Fires, tells about a childhood memory of mine. I was raking leaves with two of my first cousins at the home of my maternal grandparents. My dzidzi (grandfather) set the leaves on fire and we cousins sat on wooden crates watching as the leaves burned and the smoke rose into the air.


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.


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.

The following color poem was inspired by Joyce Sidman’s book Red Sings from Tree Tops: A Year in Colors:

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.

Mad magician of
Every color of the rainbow

Animals get ready for winter--slip
Under stones, hide in hollow logs, bury
Themselves in pond bottoms. The
Underlife of leaves bursts forth in a
Myriad of colors and they dazzle like jewels on a
Necklace of trees.

Must fly south
Into the sun…must
Get going…before Mother Nature
Raises her icy hands
And frosts
This world
In white. Follow me
On the wing to a land that does
Not know the chill of winter

Like baby birds
Eager to test their wings
A scarlet flock takes flight in a silent
Valediction to summer.
Earthbound, they
Settle into autumn, curl up from the cold.

Crimson and gold, pumpkin
Orange, lemon yellow, burnt sienna...
Leaves don their autumn finery in
October to celebrate the season.
Restless breezes set them dancing,
Swirling through air like a rainbow of dervishes

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.

Here are a few of the old moldering poems that I found recently while cleaning out bins in my basement:


Trees shiver on cold autumn nights
When dark comes early. Frost delights
In painting earth with icy hands.
From the orchards, yellow strands
Of apple scents drift through the town,
Colored leaves sift softly down,
And soon the summer green will drown
In a sea of nutmeg brown.


Wild geese fly past the face of the moon.
The long days will be over soon.
“Now,” they caution, “time to go
Before the sky fills up with snow.”

I watch them soar past summer’s end.
I close my eyes and I pretend
My arms are wings and I can fly
To where the sun flames gold in a winter sky.


When autumn comes,
the cricket strums
a wishful song—
the echo of a summer gone,
warm memories to dream upon.


At the farm stand—
fat, flame-orange pumpkins
jumbled and tumbled together—
a heap of harvest moons
waiting to shine on Halloween.


The Poetry Friday Roundup is over at Great Kid Books this week.