Halloweensie Contest


It is so much fun to participate in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie ContestBut so challenging to write a story in 100 words or less. Each entry must incorporate 3 terms: spooky, cackle and black cat. Susanna insisted I defend my title (haha – no arm-twisting was necessary!), and though I’ve been avoiding rhyming texts I could not resist – my apologies in advance to my well-metered friends!



Full moon ascends velvet sky
Flickering Jack bats an eye

Scarecrow snitch dons a straw hat
Spinal twitch of a black cat

Scritch scratch, ratatatat
Halloween comes to the farm

Restless cows moo sweet and low
Leafless boughs buckle and throw

Strident screech of the barn owl
Ruffles feathers of lesser fowl

Scritch scratch, ratatatat
Halloween comes to the farm

Cobwebs beguile sloping beams
Saddling horse’s pleasant dreams

Spooky sighs thicken the night
Cresting dawn spills early light

Scritch scratch, ratatatat
Halloween comes to the farm

Spirits rise to bid adieu
Dispel night with Cackle-dee-doo!

PPBF: One Witch

Author: Laura Leuck
Illustrator: S.D. Schindler

Publisher: Walker & Company, 2003
Age Level: 3-8
Themes: witches, Halloween, counting, stories in rhyme
Opening: One witch / on a hill / had an empty pot / to fill.
Summary: (from Kirkus Reviews) In jaunty rhyme, one witch gathers up a fish tail from two cats, a blackbird’s claw from three scarecrows, and similarly appetizing ingredients from similarly iconic ookie-spookies, up to the spider’s soup donated by ten werewolves.
Why I like this book: I admit I fell for the illustrations first, especially the fine pen line textures, and subtle contrast of dark red tongues and sharp white teeth, even tthe spectrum-opposing harmonies.

Snapshot 2012-12-27 14-33-45

But I soon came to admire the simple yet horrific list of cauldron ingredient . Just yucky enough!
Resources/Activities: discuss symbols of Halloween and their origins; invite students to contribute imaginary ingredients to ‘add’ to the list, more in mucky measure!

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks, including teacher resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog.

Cavorting with Pumpkins, and Catherine

The bright globes are more than a symbol for Halloween to me: a strong connection to my childhood, the season, to my nationality and even my wedding. I can easily conjure their cut-open scent, the sweet-baked aroma, and the rotting stench on my porch as squirrels are destructively determined to rid me of this decoration choice!

Not one of my own today, but here is a favorite poem from my early days…

“I saw thousands of pumpkins last night
come floating in on the tide,
bumping up against the rocks and
rolling up on the beaches;
it must be Halloween in the sea”

Richard Brautigan, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster

And I’ll be honest – I think of them cut up and menacing more often than not!


Now go check out what Catherine has carved up – HERE

PPBF: Newell Duet

I hope I have the pleasure of introducing author/illustrator Peter Newell‘s (1862-1924) work to someone here, as I only recently discovered it myself. He began his artist’s life using crayons to ‘paint’ portraits, before turning to children’s books. The following two classics are the ones I could get through my library system – maybe you can get The Hole Book through yours. If you can’t – go to Project Gutenberg to view all three ebooks.

This first edition on sale now for $1,250

Author/Illustrator: Peter Newell
Harper & Brothers, 1910; Tuttle Publishing, 1969
Age Level: 4 and up, way up!
Themes: shaped/novelty book, American town life, story in rhyme
Opening: Where Bobby lives there is a hill-, A hill so steep and high, ‘Twould fill the bill for Jack and Jill, Their famous act to try
Summary: (From Tuttle) In The Slant Book, a go cart, a newsboy, and the force of gravity make for a most excellent adventure in a busy American town. As an added bonus, the book is actually set on a slant!!

Buy a new edition direct from Tuttle for $16.95

Publisher: Harper & Brothers, 1912; Tuttle Publishing, 1969
Age Level: 4 and up, way WAY up!
Themes: novelty book, story in rhyme, rockets
Opening: The Basement: When Fritz, the janitor’s bad kid, Went snooping in the basement, He found a rocket snugly hid Beneath the window casement.
Summary: (From Library of Congress) The upward progress of a rocket, lit in the basement by the janitor’s son, causes some strange situations as it passes through 20 floors of apartments!

Why I like these books: Are you kidding? You don’t think I have to explain it, do you? Didn’t think so!

Resources/Activities: make your own novelty books or cards – HERE is a link to the how-to site of the contemporary pop-up master: Robert Sabuda; introduce turn-of-the-(20th)-century kids’ life with both books; use the The Slant book to discuss gravity and make a list of items in the classroom that might roll first if the room were on a slant.

As a treat for hanging with me this long – the trailer to this SNAP animated app:

PPBF & IF: Scapegoat


Author: Dean Hale
Illustrator: Michael Slack

Bloomsbury, 2011
Age Level: 

Themes: rhyming text, goats, blame

Opening: On Monday, when Jimmy Choat came home with no coat, his mother asked him, “Where is your coat, Jimmy Choat?

Summary: (From Amazon) In the Choat family, you never have to look hard to find a culprit. Missing TV remote? Blame the goat! Lost coat? Keys in the moat? Broken boat? Blame the goat! But don’t be surprised if the goat doesn’t take it lying down. In this hilarious, rhyme-happy picture book, children will love to pore over the funny illustrations, picking up clues that all is not as it seems between Jimmy Choat and the goat, Petunia P. Oat. Because Petunia knows who’s really to blame, and before long the whole family will too!


Why I Like This Book: So, so much fun to read aloud! A bit of mystery and tension provide the perfect build up for the surprise twist at the end – despite rhyming clues to help the reader. Jimmy and the goat both share just the right amount of ‘bite’ to make me fall for them. The spreads are well constructed and the art leads the eye well around the pages. Simple yet sprinkled with fun 50’s style tidbits. And I have to admit that the endpapers are right up there in line for my favorite part of the book.

Resources/Activities: An excellent book to read with the class when learning the ‘oa’ sound, or learning about rhyme and rhythm; the class could also discuss what animals make good pets, and which ones may be allowed in the area they live in (you can keep up to two goats in my city); for art class, this makes a good reference when discussing textures and how to create variety with collage: try rubbings of different surfaces to create textures that could be used in a book like this – cement walls, carpet, bark, leaves – you name it.

For more PPBF picks, go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – CLICK HERE

Just saw the Illustration Friday prompt for the week, so I whipped up my own Slack-styled goat for ‘mustache’ – a little folly with Dali!


Tandem: TerRUFFic Twos


Another poem (keep an open mind!) and doodle to match, in tandem with my friend Catherine – HERE

Tricks for Treats: TerRUFFic

Here boy, huh, huh
Come, heel, heh, heh,
Throw, chase, ha, ha,
Go fetch your toy.

Sit, stay, hah, hah,
Look here, heh, heh
Down, roll, huh, huh
Such a good boy.


Super Reader to the Rescue!

SUPER READER is 11 years old.


He has a friend: “Meet my friend Renn.”

The friend is in need: “On October 28th the doctors are going to put some kind of grid in his brain to figure out what part of his brain is doing it and then they are going to take that part of his brain out. They may have to take a whole section out.”

He has an idea: “I am the fastest reader of anyone I know.”

You can help: “Sponsor me for every AR point I get for the month of October.”

You ask how? Click on the banner/image above to go to SUPER READER’S blog, sponsor him in the comments, then SPREAD THE WORD!


Got any questions, leave a comment.


PPBF: The Meanest Birthday Girl

Author/Illustrator: Josh Schneider
 Clarion Books, 2013
Age Level: 6-9/Easy Reader
Themes: birthdays, gifts, elephants
Opening: It was Dana’s birthday and she could do whatever she liked.
Summary: (From my library catalog) Dana soon learns that receiving a big white elephant for her birthday is not as wonderful as she thought it would be.

Why I like it: I know this is not specifically a picture book, but I could not resist sharing it! I mean, is that first line loaded or what? We know there will be trouble! It’s got made up words, bright fun illustrations, packed with emotions we can all identify with – and a silly straw too!

Resources/Activities: This could help lead into a discussion about getting what we want and how that might affect others; have kids draw pictures of their ideal birthday breakfast; Read his picture book Tales for Very Picky Eaters, then listen to Josh Schneider introduce and share some of the backstory – HERE