Yikes! It’s Halloween!


The Grizzly's Christmas - Postcard (Rev. 1)

Please click on “The Grizzly’s Christmas” in the black bar above to find out more about the book.



Have you ever caught yourself looking at a signal light two blocks ahead and then realizing there’s a red light between your car and the light you’re looking at? If you haven’t, then I’m just embarrassed. But if you have, you’ll understand how my focus on The Grizzly’s Christmas caused a “Yikes! Halloween is a few days away!”


snake shadow

Notice the snake’s shadow.


batI quickly pulled out my rubber bats, plastic insects and other creepers, fake spider webbing, and a pruned tree branch, always good to have on hand. For good measure, and because a rubber snake needs to be used whenever the opportunity presents itself, I added a rattlesnake to the bottom of my “dead” tree.

Then it was time for to rush to the bookstore to look for new Halloween books.

Hlown '13, #2If you have a daughter who wants to be a ballerina, this is the year to get her a Halloween book starring a vampire ballerina or a zombie ballerina.

If you have a school-age child who is aggravated by a younger sibling, take a look at Vampire Baby, written by Kelly Bennett, illustrated by Paul Meisel, and published by Candlewick Press in 2013. Tootie bites, and her brother can’t convince their parents that she’s a vampire. He decides to take matters into is own hands. The book is funny; and, ultimately, family ties win.

Here are other books that I would so buy for my first graders . . . if I still had first graders.

Click, Clack, Boo! A Tricky Treat is by the team of Doreen Cronin and Betsy Levin, who wrote and illustrated Duck for President and Click, Clack, Moo. Long-suffering Farmer Brown takes to his bed in Halloween fear. Anyone who already knows his strong-willed farm animals will chuckle as they encounter these characters again.

As a long-time Bunnicula, and The Celery Stalks at Midnight fan, I couldn’t resist Creepy Carrots, written by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown, and published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers in 2012. The book is a Caldecott Honor Book. The black and white illustrations set off the few objects of carrot orange and help a child understand the jokes. Jasper Rabbit fears he is being followed by his favorite food. Are the carrots out for revenge?

C carrots

Not from the book, this is just an example of the color pallet.

A remark in Skeleton for Dinner, by Margery Cuyler, illustrated by Will Terry, and published by Albert Whitman & Co. in 2013, leads to a misunderstanding in the Amelia Bedelia tradition. Cute introduction to multiple meanings.

Do you remember Boris Karloff singing The Monster Mash? We, meaning my first graders and I, used to have a lot of fun reading/singing the song and doing the Transylvania Twist at this time of year. I wish, how I wish, David Catrow’s book of the same name (2012) that illustrates the song had been available then. What a hoot!

Ten Creepy Monsters is both written and illustrated by Corey F. Armstrong-Ellis and published by Abrams in 2012. The rhyming countdown from ten monsters to none is a fun journey. The ghost disappears when she blows away as mist in the wind. Each monster exits in a fitting manner until the last little twist. The illustrations are great and kids will love the rhythm and rhyme.teddy

Who would ever expect a dragon to be afraid of Halloween? Me and My Dragon: Scared of Halloween, by David Biedrzycki, another writer/illustrator, and published by  Charlesbridge in 2013, is another book that would have been fun to read with my kids. The illustrations add to the humor as a boy tries to find a way to help his big red dragon find a costume and lose his fear of Halloween monsters.

Have a happy and safe Halloween! If you want to read about more Halloween books go to the posts of 10/25/12 and 11/1/12.

The Grizzly’s Christmas

The Grizzly's Christmas - Postcard (Rev. 1)The Grizzly’s Christmas has arrived! We are so excited about finally being able to hold it in our hands and see that the book matches our dream for it.

William A. Geiger, Professor of English, Whittier College, praised the book:  “Horace, the Roman writer, said that literature should delight and instruct. The Grizzly’s Christmas does both superbly. Irving, a grizzly from Idaho, is needed at the North Pole to help St. Nicholas deliver gifts, both material and immaterial, to children in many cultures. This beautifully illustrated story also relates the importance of bears in cultural beliefs and rituals.”

teddyThe story is appropriate for children as young as five years old. Its layers of meaning and bear track notes about folklore and traditional oral history allow this story to grow as a child grows.

Read it with a son or daughter or a grandchild.

So grab your teddy bear, click on The Grizzly’s Christmas page in the black bar above to learn more, and find out how to order.

Interviews, Part Three: Add One Artist—Miranda Marks

Here I am at part three in The Grizzly’s Christmas, interviews. In this episode I discuss my friend, the book’s illustrator, Miranda Marks. She is a young, up-and-coming artist in San Diego. More important, she is a generous, gentle soul who has participated in this project with as much dedication as if she had known Malcolm. I had hoped she could be in the taping of this interview, but the science part of her life is demanding her attention right now.

Check out more of Miranda’s art at www.mirandamarksart.com

I love her crow and her trees and the whale and . . .

Let her know where you heard good things about her work!