A blog for kids (and their parents) who love books, words, and dreaming big...
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Monday, October 31, 2011

This is Halloween

This Is Halloween

Goblins on the doorstep,
  Phantoms in the air,
Owls on witches' gateposts
  Giving stare for stare,
Cats on flying broomsticks,
  Bats against the moon,
Stirrings rounds of fate-cakes
  With a solemn spoon,
Whirling apple parings,
  Figures draped in sheets,
Dodging, disappearing,
  Up and down the streets,
Jack-o'-lanterns grinning,
  Shadows on a screen,
Shrieks and starts and laughter --
  This is Halloween!

~ Dorothy Brown Thompson

Wishing you all a spooktacular Halloween!! :)


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Please Bury Me in the Library

Halloween tree ornament, Oct. 2011

Please Bury Me in the Library

Please bury me in the library
In the clean, well-lighted stacks
Of Novels, History, Poetry,
Right next to the Paperbacks,

Where the Kids’ Books dance
With True Romance
And the Dictionary dozes.
Please bury me in the library
With a dozen long-stemmed proses.

Way back by a rack of Magazines,
I won’t be sad too often,
If they bury me in the library
With Bookworms in my coffin.

~ J. Patrick Lewis

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Eyeballs for Sale

Mmm... eyeballs.... Oct. 2011

Eyeballs for Sale

Eyeballs for sale!
Fresh eyeballs for sale!
Delicious, nutritious,
not moldy or stale.
Eyeballs from manticores,
ogres, and elves,
fierce dragon eyeballs
that cook by themselves.

Eyeballs served cold!
Eyeballs served hot!
If you like eyeballs,
then this is the spot.
Ladle a glassful,
a bowlful, or pail-
Eyeballs! Fresh eyeballs!
Fresh eyeballs for sale!

~ Jack Prelutsky

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A dilemma

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

"If I'm trying to sleep,
the ideas won't stop. 
If I'm trying to write,
there appears
a barren nothingness."
~ Carrie Latet

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

A word often heard around Halloween time is eerie, an adjective meaning "mysterious, uncanny, or weird, especially in such a way as to frighten or disturb".  I think the word itself even sounds a little spooky!

Here are a couple of sentences that I came up with:

I bolted upright in my bed,
the eerie cry that woke me still ringing in my ears.

I walked uneasily through the darkening woods,
trying to ignore the twisted, eerie skeletons of trees creaking in the wind.

How would you use eerie in a sentence?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Ghost of John

From Skeleton Hiccups, illustrated by S. D. Schindler

The Ghost of John

Have you seen the ghost of John?
Long white bones with the skin all gone.
Wouldn't it be chilly with no skin on?

~Author unknown

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm reading it to you for relax.

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

An excerpt:

         He held up the book then.  "I'm reading it to you for relax."

     "Has it got any sports in it?"

     "Fencing.  Fighting.  Torture.  Poison.  True love.  Hate.  Revenge.  Giants.  Hunters.  Bad men.  Good men.  Beau-tifulest ladies.  Snakes.  Spiders.  Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain.  Death.  Brave men.  Cowardly men.  Strongest men.  Chases.  Escapes.  Lies.  Truths.  Passion.  Miracles."

     "Sounds okay," I said, and I kind of closed my eyes.

~ from The Princess Bride, by William Goldman

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Take flight

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

“So it is with children
who learn to read fluently and well:
They begin to take flight
into whole new worlds
as effortlessly as young birds
take to the sky.”

~ William James

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net


Someone came knocking
  At my wee, small door;
Someone came knocking,
  I'm sure -- sure -- sure;
I listened, I opened,
  I looked to left and right,
But nought there was a-stirring
  In the still dark night.
Only the busy beetle
  Tap-tapping in the wall,
Only from the forest
  The screech-owl's call,
Only the cricket whistling
  While the dew drops fall,
So I know not who came knocking,
  At all, at all, at all.

~ Walter de la Mare

Friday, October 21, 2011

Oh, the horror!

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

As I mentioned earlier this month, I love Halloween.  I also love reading scary stories, and October is the perfect time for doing just that!  Here are a few middle grade and young adult "horror" stories that I recommend:

The Witches, written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake, 1983...  A young boy moves to Norway to live with his grandmother after his parents are killed in a car accident.  His grandmother warns him about witches -- REAL witches -- and explains how to recognize them.  Her tips come in handy when the boy stumbles across a whole room full of witches, who are determined to rid the world of children by turning them into mice!

This is a fun book, whether you're reading it aloud to younger kids or reading it to yourself!  More humorous than scary, it also focuses on the love between a grandson and his grandmother.

A Sound of Crying, written by Rodie Sudbery, 1970... Twelve year old Polly and her siblings go to spend a few weeks with relatives when their mother takes ill.  Soon Polly begins having very realistic dreams about the past and a girl named Sarah.  But are they actually dreams?  Or is Polly being haunted by a ghost?

This is the first spooky book that I remember reading as a young girl, and it sent shivers up my spine!  I recently re-read it, and appreciated it even as an adult.  It's a good introduction to the horror genre for kids -- while it offers the thrill of a ghost story, it isn't overly scary, and does not contain gore.

100 Cupboards (2008) and Dandelion Fire (2009), written by N. D. Wilson, 2008...  These are the first two books of the 100 Cupboards Trilogy, which also includes The Chestnut King (2011)...  In Book One, Henry moves to a small town in Kansas to live with his aunt, uncle, and cousins when his parents are abducted in South America.  Strange things begin happening in the old farm house -- the plaster starts coming off of the wall next to Henry's bed, revealing odd cupboards underneath.  He quickly realizes that these aren't any ordinary cupboards, but portals to other worlds, including some terrifying ones. 

In Book Two, Henry is abducted into one of the cupboard worlds by an evil wizard.  This same wizard also comes out of the cupboard into Kansas, wreaking havoc in the lives of several characters.

I really enjoyed the creepiness of  Book One, up until the ending, which seemed rushed and incomplete to me.  Once I learned that there were sequels to the book, however, I understood why it wrapped up that way.  I'm currently in the middle of Book Two, which is even creepier!  I can't wait to find out what happens next....

Coraline, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean, 2002... Coraline and her parents recently moved into a flat in a huge old house.  While exploring her new home, Coraline discovers a door that opens into a strange and sinister world that tries to mimic the world she came from, but fails.  Odd human-like creatures insist they are her parents and do their best to prevent her from returning home.

This is a delightfully creepy book, filled with suspense!  I recommend it for kids (and adults) who already know that they enjoy reading something a little scary.

The Ghost Belonged to Me, written by Richard Peck, 1975...  It's 1913, and Alexander's friend Blossom tells him that (according to her mother) he has the ability to "make contact with the Unseen".  Soon afterwards, Alexander witnesses an eerie glow in his family's barn.  When he explores the barn loft, he meets the ghost of a girl, Inez Dumaine, who died in 1861.  Inez warns Alexander of an upcoming tragedy -- can he prevent it from happening?

This is an entertaining book, filled with interesting characters, spooky scenes, and some laughs, as well!

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, written by Stephen King, 1999...  Nine-year-old Trisha wanders off a forest path, away from her family, and ever closer to danger.  She spends nine days lost in the woods of Maine and New Hampshire, with only a knapsack, a small amount of food and water, and a Walkman to help her survive.  The Walkman, which she uses for listening to the games of her beloved Red Sox, is Trisha's only link to the outside world.  Meanwhile, someone -- or something -- is stalking her...

I have been a huge Stephen King fan ever since I was a teenager.  When my daughter Emmalie was supposed to read a spooky story for a class in middle school, I recommended this one to her -- while it certainly has some intense, frightening scenes, it does not have the gore or violence that many of King's other novels contain.  Though I wouldn't recommend it for young kids, there is even an intricate "pop-up" version of this book, perfect for older kids and adults who love King's stories.  (I don't own it... yet... but hope to someday!)

In addition to the spooky stories above, I also recommend the following non-fiction Halloween books, especially if you are interested in ideas for costumes, decorations, and parties this time of year:

The Penny Whistle Halloween Book, written by Meredith Brokaw & Annie Gilbar and illustrated by Jill Weber, 1991...  This book is filled with fun Halloween ideas for kids of all ages, and it provides easy-to-understand instructions for each craft/costume/decoration/game/etc.

Scary Scenes for Halloween, written and photographed by Jill Williams Grover, 2002...  This book offers many wonderful Halloween decor ideas, with beautiful photos of each.  It also lists a few recipes for spooky treats.  It gives step by step instructions and illustrations for each of the ideas inside.

Have you read any of the books above?  If so, what did you think?  What are your favorite scary (or not-so-scary) books for Halloween?  As always, I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Within the four walls...

Photo courtesy of

"The student has his Rome,
his Florence, his whole glowing Italy,
within the four walls of his library. 
He has in his books
the ruins of an antique world
and the glories of a modern one." 

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Obvious, intentional exaggeration  that is not meant to be taken literally is called hyperbole [hahy-pur-buh-lee].  I tend to use hyperbole a lot in my every day speech, saying things like:

I waited in line forever to get tickets!

It was so cold, my fingers turned to ice.

I'm so hungry, I could eat a horse!

I could sleep for a hundred years....

Hyperbole is often used when writing poetry or satire.  Here is one example:

Hyperbole of My Dog

Little Girl is my dog.
She sleeps like a log.
She has a huge mouth
And eats like a hog.
In her excitement
Her tail is a whip times ten.
When she sees food
Her eyes start to spin.

~Autumn Jones

 Do you have any favorite examples of hyperbole?  Try making your own hyperbolic sentences.  (Don't forget to share them -- I'd love to see them!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Science Fair Project

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Science Fair Project

The purpose of my project this year
Is to make my brother disappear.

The world would be a better place
If my brother vanished without a trace.

3 erasers
Disappearing ink
1 younger brother
1 kitchen sink

Chop up the erasers.
Add the white-out and the ink.
Rub it on the brother
While he's standing in the sink.

The kid was disappearing!
I had almost proved my theorem!
When all at once my mom came home
And made me re-appear him.

Experiment a failure.
My brother is still here.
But I'm already planning
For the science fair next year.

~ Carol Diggory Shields,
Almost Late to School and More School Poems

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stacks of books...

An excerpt:

     ...Meggie tugged him along the corridor so impatiently that he stubbed his toe on a pile of books, which was hardly surprising.  Stacks of books were piled high all over the house -- not just arranged in neat rows on bookshelves, the way other people kept them, oh no!  The books in Mo and Meggie's house were stacked under tables, on chairs, in the corners of the rooms.  There were books in the kitchen and books in the lavatory.  Books on the TV set and in the closet, small piles of books, tall piles of books, books thick and thin, books old and new.  They welcomed Meggie down to breakfast with invitingly opened pages; they kept boredom at bay when the weather was bad.  And sometimes you fell over them.

~ from Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How potent...

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"Words --
so innocent and powerless
 as they are,
as standing in a dictionary,
how potent
for good and evil
they become in the
hands of one
 who knows how
to combine them."

~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Wind Song

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Wind Song

When the wind blows
the quiet things speak.
Some whisper, some clang,
Some creak.

Grasses swish.
Treetops sigh.
Flags slap
and snap at the sky.
Wires on poles
whistle and hum.
Ashcans roll.
Windows drum.

When the wind goes --
the quiet things
are quiet again.

~ Lilian Moore

Friday, October 14, 2011

Not-so-spooky Stories

Our friendly scarecrow, Oct. 2010

I love Halloween!  I love "spookifying" my house from top to bottom.  I love dressing up in costumes.  I love watching scary movies.  I love taking my kids trick-or-treating.  And I love reading Halloween stories!  Here a few not-so-scary books for young children that I found at the library and on our bookshelves here at home:

The Curious Little Witch, written and illustrated by Lieve Baeten, 2010... A young witch crashes into an attic window, and -- being curious -- explores the mysterious house that belongs to several older witches.  The illustrations are filled with fun details.  Each spread contains an extra, narrower page that kids can flip back and forth to see changes in the scene.

Halloween ABC, written by Sarah Albee and illustrated by Paul Meisel, 1993... It's time for trick-or-treating, and a whole alphabet of costumes parades by in this book.

Hallowilloween: Nefarious Silliness, written and illustrated by Calef Brown, 2010.  This book is filled with amusing Halloween poems and bright, whimsical artwork -- a delight to look at and read!

Skeleton Hiccups, written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by S. D. Schindler, 2005...  This silly book cracks me up every time I read it!  It's hard to have the hiccups when one is a skeleton -- none of the usual remedies work.

Jeepers Creepers: A Monstrous ABC, written by Laura Leuck and illustrated by David Parkins, 2003... Twenty-six strange-looking creatures make up this odd alphabet.

The Little Pumpkin Book, written by Katharine Ross and illustrated by Katy Braten, 1999...  A sweet story for little ones, this book follows two children as they grow pumpkins in their garden all summer long, make jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin pie in the fall, and then wait through winter to plant the seeds they've saved for next spring's garden.

Most Loved Monster, written by Lynn Downey and illustrated by Jack E. Davis, 2004...  This story revolves around that age-old question: Which child does Mom love most?  Of course, Mama Monster loves all of her little monsters!  Kids (and adults) will get a kick out of hearing the unique qualities that Mama loves about each of her monsters.

The Littlest Pumpkin, written by R. A. Herman and illustrated by Betina Ogden, 2001...  The littlest pumpkin at the pumpkin stand dreams of becoming a jack-o-lantern.  She waits and waits, but all the children who come to the stand are looking for bigger pumpkins.  Will anyone ever choose her to take home?

Skeleton Bones & Goblin Groans: Poems for Halloween, written by Amy E. Sklansky and illustrated by Karen Dismukes, 2004... Though I thoroughly enjoyed the poems in this book, I was most impressed by the incredible illustrations created with fabric and beads!  (My photos do not do them justice at all.) I checked this one out from the library, but have since put it on my "to buy" list -- this book is a treat!

Spooky Night, written by Natalie Savage Carlson and illustrated by Andrew Glass, 1982... A witch's black cat wishes to become a family's pet cat.

The Teeny Tiny Ghost and the Monster, written by Kay Winters and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, 2004... All the ghosts at school are excited about the upcoming Make a Monster contest.  All except one -- the teeny tiny ghost, who is frightened by the idea.

Wee Witches' Halloween, written and illustrated by Jerry Smath, 2002...  The wee witches have been to Scaring School, preparing for Halloween night, but their attempts at scaring others go awry....

Who Said Boo?: Halloween Poems for the Very Young, written by Nancy White Carlstrom and illustrated by R. W. Alley, 1999...  This book is filled with simple rhymes and colorful illustrations that will appeal to toddlers and preschoolers.

Witches' Holiday, written by Alice Low and illustrated by Tricia Tusa, 1997...  A lighthearted rhyming tale, this story describes what happens when three witches escape from a young boy's bedroom closet on Halloween night.

For even more Halloween picture books, please check out my 2012 post, Bootiful Books for Young Children.

What are your favorite picture books for Halloween?