October 31 – Halloween

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About the Holiday

Carving jack-o-lanterns from pumpkins, dressing up in spooky or funny costumes, and receiving candy just by ringing doorbells and calling out “Trick or Treat!” all make Halloween the favorite holiday of many. Thought to have originated around the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, during which people lit bonfires and wore costumes to ward off ghosts, Halloween—or All Hallows Eve—later ushered in the November observation of All Saints Day which honors all saints and martyrs. The holiday was later embraced as a community event and has been transformed into the celebration we know today. However you celebrate, enjoy this night when a shivery chill is just for fun.

Shivery Shades of Halloween: A Spooky Book of Colors

Written by Mary McKenna Siddals | Illustrated by Jimmy Pickering

 

Have you ever thought, “What color is Halloween?” Sure, we all know it’s orange and black—but what about the rest of the color wheel? Tell me—what’s your favorite color? Purple? Let me look through Shivery Shades of Halloween…Yes! Halloween is purple—“Twilight, / Shadows, / Monsters lurking, / Secret potion— / Poof! It’s working! Dusky-musky, bruisy-oozy, cruelish-ghoulish / Blotch of purple.”

Hey! This is fun! Give me another one! Gray, you say? Hang on…. Yes! Halloween is Gray! “Tombstone, gargoyle, / Dungeon wall, / Rats and rubble, / Haunted hall, / Dusty-fusty, dimly-grimly, shady-fraidy / Shroud of gray.”

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Image copyright Jimmy Pickering, text copyright Mary McKenna Siddals. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

Okay, now it’s my turn. I’m choosing…Red. Yep! Halloween is also Red: “Tip of fang, / Flash of cape, / Horns and tail, / A gash, a gape, Bloody-ruddy, burning-churning, blushing-gushing / Stain of red.”

Wild! And that’s just the beginning! There are also spirited, spooky rhymes about brown, yellow, blue, white, green, and, of course, orange and black.

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Image copyright Jimmy Pickering, text copyright Mary McKenna Siddals. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

Mary McKenna Siddals brings joy and a love of words—their sounds and their effects—to her verses that transport kids to the throbbing heart of Halloween on the broomsticks of color. In Shivery Shades of Halloween, Siddals presents all the spine-tingling  places, characters, and objects that make this holiday, and any mystery, so much chilling, thrilling fun. With giggles, ewwws, and a few shivers, kids will delight in the original and imaginative phrasing in this clever concept book.

Jimmy Pickering’s vibrant, full-bleed illustrations ooze, flash, and swirl with the colors of Halloween. For Green, a “queasy-peasy” web-eared reptile slurps a “vile brew” from a test tube as an evil scientist looks on and the walls seep with a thick green sludge. Purple zaps and sparks as the reptile is transformed into a smiling goblin with bats’ wings and five legs. This goblin then leads readers from page to page where they meet a tricky ghost, a haunted graveyard, a spell-casting wizard and crystal-ball-reading witch, a floating candlestick in a haunted house, a howling werewolf, a dancing caldron, a clumsy demon, and a trio of trick-or-treaters. Each painting incorporates touches of the other colors introduced, creating eye-catching and suspense-building pages.

Shivery Shades of Halloween is a book that kids will want to hear and you will want to read over and over. For teachers, the book makes a wonderful resource for writing lessons and the power of evocative words not only around Halloween, but at any time of the year. Shivery Shades of Halloween is one concept book that transcends its holiday theme and would be a welcome addition to home bookshelves as well as school and other libraries.

Ages 2 – 7

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2014 | ISBN 978-0385369992

Take a peek at Victoria scaring up some fun by reading Shivery Shades of Halloween!

To learn more about Mary McKenna Siddals and her other books, visit her website! You’ll also find lots of activities as well as activity sheets to extend your enjoyment of Shivery Shades of Halloween: A Spooky Book of Colors as well as her other books.

Here’s a link to Shivery Shades of Halloween Activity Sheets.

You can also connect with Mary McKenna Siddals on her Shivery Shades of Halloween Facebook Page, where you’ll find more fun and a whole community of readers.

Discover more about Jimmy Pickering and view a gallery of his illustrations, paintings, sculpture and more on his website. You can also find him on Facebook!

Halloween Activity

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Spooky Halloween Mo-BOO-ile

 

With glue, glitter, and your imagination you can make your love of Halloween and its ghosts, ghouls, pumpkins, and more colorfully transparent to all!

Supplies

  • Printable Halloween figure templates | Template 1 | Template 2
  • Poster board or other heavy stock paper or cardboard
  • White glue
  • Glitter in a variety of colors
  • Googly eyes (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Wax paper
  • Popsicle or craft sticks
  • Needle
  • White thread (or any color)
  • Fine-tip permanent marker
  • Hot glue gun or regular glue

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Directions

  1. Print the Halloween Figures templates
  2. Cut out the figures
  3. Trace the figures onto the poster board
  4. Cut out the figures around the outside edge and also along the inside edge
  5. Lay out the figure templates on the wax paper
  6. Gently pour some white glue into the center of the figure template
  7. Smooth the glue completely to the edges of the figure template, adding glue if needed
  8. Sprinkle glitter on the glue, as much or as little as you’d like

To dry the glue

  1. Let the figures sit overnight OR:
  2. Place the figures on the wax paper in a warm oven. Turn the oven on to 200 – 250 degrees and let it come up to heat. Then turn the oven off and place the figures inside. Check after 15 minutes and check frequently until dry.

After the glue is dry

  1. Add faces to the ghosts with a permanent marker
  2. Add googly eyes with the hot glue or regular glue
  3. If desired, color the edge of the template to match the color of the glitter

To hang figures

  1. Thread a needle with the desired length of thread and gently push the needle through the glue near the top of the figure.
  2. Tie the thread around a chandelier, curtain rod, or any other place you would like to decorate

Picture Book Review

October 30 – Candy Corn Day

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About the Holiday

It says something about a candy that is only sold for a month or two out of twelve and yet has been around since the late 1800s. What is that candy? Candy Corn, of course! Seeing those little triangular white, yellow, and orange morsels on store shelves means Halloween is just around the corner. Whether you can eat them by the handful or find them too sweet, there’s no denying that Candy Corn is part of trick-or-treat fun!

Witches

Written by Cheryl Christian | Illustrated by Wish Williams

 

A gaggle of witches, too small for their feet to touch the floor as they sit around the table, stir up a special brew in their iron caldron. Into the bubbling pot go spiders’ webs and “a bone or two,” in fact “any kind of smelly, slimy, sticky stuff will do.” The witches gobble up their feast and hurry on their way, flying broomsticks into the night. They cackle with “screeching screeches”—“what a fearful sight.”

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Cheryl Christian. Courtesy Star Bright Books

Wearing dark capes and “witchy hats,” they creep along the street, meeting ghosts and astronauts, lions and crocodiles, and of course black cats. There are “witches ringing doorbells” and “running through the street. Witches having lots of fun…calling ‘TRICK OR TREAT!’”

Cheryl Christian’s bouncy, bounding rhyme bubbles with the excitement and joy kids feel on Halloween night. Transformed by costumes into witches that want more treats than tricks, favorite animals, personal heroes, mythical creatures, and spooky haunters, children relish the abandon of going door to door collecting goodies, meeting their friends, and “screeching screeches”—and all in the mysterious deep, dark night when they might usually be going to bed. Kids will love Christian’s focus on them and the activities that make Halloween such a looked-forward-to holiday.

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Cheryl Christian. Courtesy Star Bright Books

Wish Williams’ luminous celebration of Halloween night radiates a glow-in-the-dark feeling that lends the story an element of the fantastical even as it illuminates the traditional fun kids have on this special night. A distinctive color palette of deep turquoise, magenta, green, purple, and orange lit with an eye toward creating an atmosphere of spooky coziness, makes each two-page spread a joy to explore. In the kitchen scenes, cats frolic, jack-o-lanterns grin, and kids happily concoct a witchy potion from ingredients found in the fridge and pantry. Spatulas, whisks, and spaghetti spoons held up to the light become monstrous shadows on the wall.

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Cheryl Christian. Courtesy Star Bright Books

Outside, readers can almost hear the shouts and laughter of the trick-or-treaters as they fan out across the neighborhood, play in the town center fountain and gazebo, jump in fallen leaves, and run door-to-door calling out “trick-or-treat.” There are so many details tucked away from corner to corner of every page that kids will want to linger and find them all.

One very welcome and distinguishing aspect of Witches is its inclusion of children of color and children with disabilities among the group of witches as well as the other trick-or-treaters. Witches would be an excellent addition to library shelves for all kids to enjoy.

Ages 3 – 7

Star Bright Books, 2011 | ISBN 978-1595722836

Candy Corn Day Activity

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Halloween Word Search

 

Join the witch in this spooky printable Halloween Word Search as she concocts the perfect potion for a fun holiday!

Picture Book Reveiw

October 29 – Hug a Sheep Day

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About the Holiday

Founded in 1992 by a woman who rescued a sheep from wooly circumstances, Hug a Sheep Day gives us time to appreciate the warmth and comfort these animals provide through their soft fleece. As winter approaches in many parts of the world, many of us would be lost and cold without our favorite wool sweaters. If you want to take full advantage of today’s celebration, find a farm or petting zoo where you can give a sheep or lamb a hug.

Six Creepy Sheep

Written by Judith Ross Enderle and Stephanie Jacob Gordon | Illustrated by John O’Brien

 

Six sheep just hanging out on Halloween night decided to go trick-or-treating. This spur-of-the-moment idea doesn’t leave them much time for elaborate costumes, so they cut holes in sheets and toss them over their heads. Then with pumpkin buckets in hoof and “on little sheep feet,” the “six creepy sheep went a-haunting UNTIL…they passed a passel of pirates, and one creepy sheep turned tail with a shriek.”

Five creepy sheep continue their haunting UNTIL…a flock of fairies crosses their path, sending one sheep running with a shriek. Down to four, the creepy sheep bravely head down the path again UNTIL…a herd of hobos happen by, “and one creepy sheep turned tail with a shriek.” Three bold sheep “on little sheep feet” tip toe through the forest UNTIL… “they glimpsed a gaggle of goblins” that sends one shrieking on its way.

Now two creepy sheep, more courageous than the others, hurry on as spooky trees wave and the wind howls UNTIL… “they whisked by a warren of witches” which is just too much for one of the sheep and it…well, you know! Under the bright full moon the last creepy sheep has come to the old barn that was the group’s final destination. Jack-o’-lanterns light the doorway, and the windows glow. The fearless ghostly sheep calls out, “Sheep trick or treat.”  Then the farmer swings open the door to a barnyard Halloween party with music, pumpkin pie, apple cider…and all the sheep’s friends!

When the holiday is “Hug a Sheep Day” to celebrate those sweet, gentle animals that say Baaaa instead of Booo, but the specter of Halloween is everywhere, what’s a reviewer to do? The classic Six Creepy Sheep is the perfect solution! Judith Ross Enderle and Stephanie Jacob Gordon created a concept book that will keep little readers on their little feet as they count down the flock of sheep that go “a-haunting” on Halloween night. Alliterative verses introduce the other trick-or-treaters who so frighten the sheep that their numbers dwindle with each page. The repetitive phrasing makes Six Creepy Sheep a fun read-along, and the inclusive ending will charm kids.

John O’Brien’s pen and ink and watercolor illustrations are just spooky enough to create a slightly shivery story time for young readers. Kids will giggle at the orange-fleeced sheep wearing ghost costumes and walking on two legs. The site of the sheep fleeing in fright will also delight little ones as they pluck up their courage and proudly know that they would never be afraid of the pirates, fairies, hobos, goblins, and witches the sheep encounter. The forest, rendered in muted shades of purple, green, blue, and orange, is populated with trees that appear eerily alive and add to the Halloween atmosphere.

More readily available at libraries and with used booksellers, Six Creepy Sheep is a cute addition to your Halloween reading list.

Ages 3 – 6

Scholastic, 1992 | ISBN 978-0590119481

To learn more about John O’Brien and his artwork for children’s books, The New Yorker, and other publications, visit his website!

Hug a Sheep Day Activity

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Sheep on a Farm Coloring Page

 

With their fluffy wool and sweet Baaaa, sheep are a favorite of kids and adults.Enjoy this printable Sheep on a Farm Coloring Page.

Picture Book Review

October 28 – It’s Bat Appreciation Month

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About the Holiday

Bats are popular during the Halloween month of October for many reasons—they fly out of caves and nooks and crannies at night, they look kind of spooky, and they have that cool association with Dracula and other vampires. With over 1,300 species of bats around the world, however, these small fliers play a vital role in the welfare of our planet. Some bats are important for insect control, while others are pollinators and still others disperse seed. Unfortunately, bats have been in the news in the past few years for their declining numbers due to habitat destruction, disease, and hunting. Today’s holiday promotes awareness of the value of bats and urges people to help protect them.

Elsie Clarke and the Vampire Hairdresser

By Ged Adamson

 

“Elsie Clarke was a brave little girl”…until she had to get her hair cut. Whenever her tresses reached a certain point and it was time for that appointment, “she would scream in her horriblest, loudest voice ‘Hairdressers are scary!’ I’m never going again! EVER!’” But Elsie’s dad thinks she might like his barber. Boris Lazzario, Hairdresser of Quality reads the business card he hands her.

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Copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy gedadamson.com

The card piques Elsie’s curiosity, so she heads down to 110 Turning Lane. She enters the door to find a very unusual looking boy rushing toward her. He has a comb in one hand and a scissor in the other, and his delighted smile reveals two sharp fangs. “‘A customer! Come in! Come in!’ he exclaims. “Boris Lazzario at your service!’” Before Elsie knows it, Boris has taken her hand and is showing her to his chair, while his cat, a ghostly Jasper, leads the way.

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Copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy gedadamson.com

Before Boris can look at Elsie’s hair, however, she tells him that she is afraid of haircuts. Boris has heard it before. He shows Elsie a portrait of his father, Count Lazzario. “‘Everyone’s terrified of him,’” Boris explains, but “‘he’s scared of haircuts, just like you.’” He plays an old movie for Elsie, revealing that his dad wanted him to be a “proper vampire.” To escape this life, Boris tells Elsie, he ran away and is sure his dad is glad that he did.

Just then the door flies open and the house rings with a “blood-curdling HOWL!” It’s Count Lazzario—not looking very glad at all. The Count chases Elsie and Boris upstairs and downstairs, all the while shouting “‘My son a hairdresser! Oh, the shame of it! You’re a disgrace to vampire kind!’” Finally, Elsie has had enough. She stops and pointedly tells the Count in her “horriblest, loudest voice that he should be proud of his son. “‘He’s not a monster like you,’” she shouts.

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Copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy gedadamson.com

The Count breaks down in tears. “‘I just wish Boris did something that wasn’t so scary,’” he wails. Suddenly Elsie sees how silly it is to be afraid of a haircut. She musters her courage, reassures the Count, and tells Boris he has two customers. Boris shampoos, rinses, and cuts. While Elsie and the Count sit under the hairdryer, they read magazines while enjoying tea and chocolate cookies.

When the two see their new ‘dos they can’t believe their eyes. The Count proclaims his a “triumph,” and Elsie thinks hers is “‘the coolest, most amazing hairstyle in the world!’” As Elsie turns to go, the Count thanks her. He realizes how ridiculous he’s been and even thinks he may “start a new career as a model.” Elsie gives a final wave before heading home to show her mom and dad not only her new haircut but how very brave she really is.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-elsie-and-the-vampire-hairdresser-saying-goodbye

Copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy gedadamson.com

There’s a wonderful free-range silliness to Ged Adamson’s books that brings a smile to your face as you read them. The great thing is that they are based on a kernel of truth, which anchors the story and gives it broader resonance. In the case of Elsie Clarke and the Vampire Hairdresser it’s a fear of haircuts—a scenario I know well from my own son who for a time received his cuts from a very understanding woman who sat with him on the salon’s play rug while she cut his hair. Adamson’s knack with humorous and believable dialogue paired with laugh-inducing action makes the story a page-turner with the kind of suspense that keeps kids giggling from the first page to the satisfying last.

Adamson’s lush illustrations, in a palette of purples, pinks, yellows, and greens, set on backgrounds of plaid tweed, herringbone, denim and other fabrics as well as ornate Victorian wallpapers, offer all the spooky details readers could want from a vampire’s hair salon. Kids will marvel at the old film projector, and the black-and-white home movie of Boris and his dad is a clever touch. Readers will root for cute Elsie and Boris, and have a change of heart when the tyrant Count tears up.

For those times when a fear needs to be overcome—or for any story time—Elsie Clark and the Vampire Hairdresser is monstrous fun and would be an amusing addition to home libraries that kids will really sink their teeth into.

Ages 4 – 8

Sky Pony Press, 2013 | ISBN 978-1620879832

Discover more about Ged Adamson and his books on his website!

This Elsie and the Vampire Hairdresser book trailer is shear fun!

Bat Appreciation Month Activity

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I Vant to Eat These Treats! Vampire Goodie Box

 

Would you like your gift of homemade or store-bought cookies, candy, or other treats to have a little bite to it? Deliver them in this vampire box you can make yourself!

Supplies

  • Recycled pasta box (or any box with a cellophane window in it)
  • Black Paint
  • Silver Paint
  • Black felt, 8 ½ x 11 sheet or heavy stock paper
  • Red felt, 8 ½ x 11 sheet or heavy stock paper
  • Googly eyes
  • Black paper, heavy stock or construction paper
  • Fabric glue
  • Regular glue or double stick tape
  • Hot glue gun (optional)
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-vampire-treat-box-side-view (2)

Directions

  1. Paint the entire box silver, leaving the window unpainted, let dry
  2. With the black paint create the pointy hairstyle, with the point descending about 1 inch from the top of the box and the curves ending about 1 ½ – 1 ¾ inches from the side of the box (see picture).
  3. Paint around the sides and back of the box in line with the ends of the curves
  4. From the black paper make eyebrows—these can be pointy or rounded
  5. From the index card make the nose and teeth
  6. I painted the nose darker silver by combining silver and a little black paint
  7. With the glue or double stick tape, attach the eyebrows and nose to the box
  8. With the glue or double stick tape, attach the teeth to the window, fitting them slightly up into the rim of the window.
  9. Attach the googly eyes

To make the cape

  1. Holding the black felt or paper horizontally, cut a piece about 4/5 as tall as the box
  2. Holding the red felt or paper horizontally, cut a piece of red felt so that there will be a ½-inch border of black along the top and sides
  3. With the fabric glue attach the red felt to the black felt. Use craft glue on paper. Let dry
  4. With the hot glue gun, fabric glue, craft glue, or double stick tape, attach the felt or paper to the back of the box
  5. Fold the felt or paper around the sides of the box and attach along the bottom edge with tape or glue
  6. Fold the top of the felt or paper back to make the collar
  7. Attach the bottom portion of the collar to the box near the front edge with the tape or glue.

Fill with your favorite treat!

Picture Book Review

October 27 – Black Cat Day

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About the Holiday

Sure, there’s that superstition about having bad luck if a black cat crosses your path, and it’s fun to indulge it and feel a little scared around Halloween, but, really, black cats are just like other cats. They’re beautiful, sleek, stealthy, and have lots of love to give—or not (they are cats, after all). If you are thinking of adopting a cat into your home, consider choosing a black cat. Because of the superstition, they are less likely to be adopted from shelters, leaving many precious kitties without families.

Black Cat, White Cat

By Silvia Borando

 

“Ever since he was a kitten, Black Cat has been entirely black….from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail.” White cat is entirely white “from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail.” Black Cat likes to roam during the day and watch the black swallows swoop through the sky. White Cat prefers nighttime when the twinkling stars gleam.

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Copyright Silvia Borando, courtesy of Candlewick Press

Black cat becomes curious about the night, though, and asks his friend Blackbird what he could see in the darkened sky. Blackbird doesn’t know because he is asleep in his nest during the night. Blackbird suggests that Black Cat go out when the sun goes down and “see what you can see.” At the same time White Cat wonders what the daytime holds. She asks her friend Snowy Owl, but Snowy Owl doesn’t know because she is always asleep by the time the sun comes up. Snowy Owl suggests White Cat go out during the day and “see what she can see.”

Copyright Silvia Borando, courtesy of Candlewick

Copyright Silvia Borando, courtesy of Candlewick Press

With good wishes from their friends, both Black Cat and White Cat head off on their new adventures, and somewhere between day and night, Black Cat meets White Cat. They tell each other where they are going and invite the other along with them. They agree, and so “White Cat takes Black Cat to discover the night.” Then Black Cat introduces White Cat to the day.

“The night is full of wonder. ‘Purr, purrrr, look at those glittery, fluttery fireflies,’” Black Cat says. “And the day is full of surprise. ‘Meow, look at those busy, buzzy bumblebees,’”  White Cat exclaims. Black Cat shows White Cat all of his favorite daytime things, such as “daisies, doves, and butterflies…” while White Cat dishes up the most delicious nighttime goodies—“snakes, bats, and mice.”

From then on Black Cat and White Cat are inseparable whether it’s daytime or nighttime. “So inseparable, in fact, that they have one, two, three, four, five, SIX… KITTENS! And can you guess what color they are? Orange!”

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Copyright Silvia Borando, courtesy of Candlewick Press

In her adorable book that proves opposites really do attract, Silvia Borando presents two cute cats that live in only half the world until their curiosity and friendship broaden their horizons. Borando’s gentle, lyrical language elevates this concept book to include the ideas that treasures can be found outside one’s comfort zone and that mutual sharing of one’s life and favorite things leads to strong relationships–even magic and sometimes the seemingly impossible! The soft curves of the figures and stark white-on-black and black-on-white pages make for striking illustrations that will delight even the youngest child.  The final spread of the six orange kittens will delight little readers.

Wonderful for story time or bedtime, Black Cat, White Cat is a sweet addition to home libraries for young readers.

Ages birth – 5

Candlewick, 2015 | ISBN 978-0763681067

Whether it’s day or night, watch this Black Cat, White Cat book trailer!

Black Cat Day Activity

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Cute Cat Coloring Page

 

Today is black cat day, but you can color this printable Cute Cat Coloring Page any way you’d like to!

Picture Book Review

October 26 – National Pumpkin Day

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About the Holiday

What would Halloween be without jack-o-lanterns or autumn without pumpkin pie? Even the seeds of the orange gourds we celebrate today are delicious with a little roasting. Whether you like pumpkins that are perfectly round or a little misshapen, small or behemoth, why not visit a pumpkin patch and pick a perfect pumpkin.

The Vanishing Pumpkin

Written by Tony Johnston | Illustrated by Tomie dePaola

 

In a little yellow house there lived a 700-year-old woman and an 800-year-old man. Out the window the sun rises as round, plump, and orange as a pumpkin. “‘Lucky lizards!’” croaks the old man when he finds out that it’s Halloween day. “‘Fetch the pumpkin we’ve been saving, and let’s make a pumpkin pie.’” But when they go out to the pumpkin patch “the pumpkin had vanished from sight.”

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Image copyright Tomie dePaola, 1996, text copyright Tony Johnston 1996. Courtesy of Penguin Books.

The 700-year-old woman “looked in the coffeepot. No pumpkin. She looked in the bed. No pumpkin. She looked in her purse of magic powders. No pumpkin. Not a single one. Our Halloween pumpkin’s been snitched!’” the old woman cried. “‘Great snakes!’” exclaimed the old man, and the two fly off to find the culprit. They meet a  ghoul sitting atop a fence, and the old man demands to know where his pumpkin is.

With the kind of audacity only a ghoul can give he growls, “‘Dunno’” and looks around himself, behind the old woman and behind the old man. “‘Stop that. Or I’ll do you such a trick,’” the old man threatens, but it seems that’s just what the ghoul wants. “‘Please do,’” he answers. The old man turns the ghoul as transparent as onionskin and gazes through him for the pumpkin. Everyone claps at this trick, but they don’t find the pumpkin.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-vanishing-pumpkin-ghoul

Image copyright Tomie dePaola, 1996, text copyright Tony Johnston, 1996. Courtesy of Penguin Books.

The ghoul joins the old couple as they fly down the road where they come upon a rapscallion collecting mushrooms. At the order by the old man to produce his pumpkin, the rapscallion looks behind a rock, under his shoes, and in his mushroom basket. He finds no pumpkin, but offers a mushroom to replace it. “‘I shan’t eat mushroom pie. It’s pumpkin pie or nothing!” the old man thunders. “‘Then it’s nothing,’” sasses the rapscallion, and happily takes the trick the old man dishes out.

Although the rapscallion is hanging upside down in midair, no pumpkin falls out. Everyone claps at that trick, and they set off again. Next they find a varmint standing in a tree. “‘Varmint, did you see a pumpkin go by? A big fat one?’” the old man asks. “‘A great big fat one?’” asked the Varmint. The man jumps up and down in excitement. “‘Nope,’” the varmint answers “wickedly.” The varmint laughs as the old man turns him into a black cat with fleas, but even though the cat scratches and scratches, no pumpkin emerges.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-vanishing-pumpkin-rapscallion

Image copyright Tomie dePaola, 1996, text copyright Tony Johnston, 1996. Courtesy of Penguin Books

“‘They went as fast as a 700-year-old woman and an 800-year-old man can. In fact, they fairly flew” with the others in tow. At last they see a 900-year-old-wizard rocking in a chair near a fire, but as they approach, the old man sees that the fire is actually his pumpkin “carved into a jack-o’-lantern and grinning from ear to ear.” “‘I borrowed your pumpkin,’” the wizard explains.

The 800-year-old man bemoans the loss of his pumpkin pie. But wait! That reminds the wizard of something. “‘That’s just what I made for you.’” he says. He searches inside the jack-o’-lantern, under his beard, and under his hat—and there it was! “So they all sat down and gobbled it up. What do you think of that?”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-vanishing-pumpkin-wizaed

Image copyright Tomie dePaola, 1996, text copyright Tony Johnston, 1996. Courtesy of Penguin Books.

The team of Tony Johnston and Tomie dePaola never fails to delight kids with books they want to read over and over again. In The Vanishing Pumpkin Johnston introduces an old woman and an even older, cantankerous pumpkin pie loving man who have had their fattened up gourd “snitched on Halloween day. The imps they meet on their search are as silly as the little ones being read to can be, and Johnston’s feisty dialogue will make kids giggle. His repetitive phrasing allows for plenty of interactive read aloud fun, and you can bet there’ll be lots of clapping.

From the moment when Tomie dePaola’s mystical old woman with her high, tight hair bun and old man with his high suspendered pants discover their pumpkin missing and fairly fly off to find it, kids will happily tag along to discover Halloween mischief  created by a green, pointy-eared ghoul, a cloaked rapscallion, a glowing varmint, and even a confused wizard who are a little scary but mostly sweet. dePaola’s color palette provides all the Halloween atmosphere readers expect, and the final spread of the gobbled up pie presents a satisfying ending.

Ages 3 – 8

Puffin Books, reprint edition, 1996 | ISBN 978-0698114142

To see more beloved books by Tomie dePaola and learn more about this prolific artists and writer, visit his website!

National Pumpkin Day Activity 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-rock-pumpkin-craft

Rock! Paint! Pumpkin! Craft

 

With carefully chosen rocks you can create one jack-o’-lantern or a whole pumpkin patch!

Supplies

  • Round, smooth rock ( or rocks in a variety of sizes)
  • Orange craft paint
  • Black permanent marker or black craft paint
  • short sturdy twig (one for each rock)
  • Hot glue gun or strong glue
  • Paintbrush

Directions

  1. Clean and dry the rock
  2. Paint the rock orange, let dry
  3. Draw or paint a jack-o’-lantern face on the rock, let dry
  4. glue the short twig to the top  of the rock pumpkin

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-vanishing-pumpkin-cover

You can find The Vanishing Pumpkin at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

 

YouPicture Book Review

 

 

October 25 – International Artist Day

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About the Holiday

Instituted in 2004 by Chris MacClure, a Canadian artist who specializes in Romantic Realism, National Artist Day celebrates the various forms of art, the artist, and the unique vision each one brings to their work and the world. Whether you like classic or abstract styles, watercolors or oils, sculpture or installations, why not take some time today to visit an art museum or gallery—or page through a collection of prints or a biography like today’s book!

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art

Written by Barb Rosenstock | Illustrated by Mary GrandPré

 

As a Russian child Vasya Kandinsky spends his days absorbed in learning math, science, and history. He takes piano lessons and attends formal dinners where the adults drone on and on. His life is polite, stiff, and colorless until the day his aunt gives him a small wooden paint box. “Every proper Russian boy should appreciate art,” Vasya’s aunt tells him while explaining how to mix colors.

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Image copyright Mary Grandpré, text copyright Barb Rosenstock. Courtesy of randomhouse.com

Vasya takes up the brush and combines red with yellow then red with blue. As the colors change to orange and purple, Vasya hears a whisper that grows into a noisy hiss. “‘What is that sound?’” he asks, but no one else hears anything. “The swirling colors trilled like an orchestra tuning up for a magical symphony,” and “Vasya painted the sound of the colors.” A lemon yellow “clinked like the highest notes on the keyboard; a navy blue “vibrated deeply like the lowest cello strings.” Crimsons “blared” and greens “burbled.”

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Image copyright Mary Grandpré, text copyright Barb Rosenstock. Courtesy of randomhouse.com

Vasya runs downstairs to show his family what he has created. His mother, father, and Auntie look at the canvas with its swoops, shapes, and angles. “What is it supposed to be?” they ask, and send him off to art school to learn how “to draw houses and flowers—just like everyone else.” Vasya finishes school and becomes a lawyer. He leaves his paint box untouched and lives the way he is expected, but the sounds of the colors are always with him.

One evening as he listens to an opera, the music surrounds him with color—“stomping lines of vermilion and coral; caroling triangles in pistachio and garnet; thundering arches of aqua and ebony…” Vasya can hear the colors and see the music. He knows then what he must do. He quits his job teaching law and moves to Germany to be a painter. He surrounds himself with artists and takes classes with famous teachers, and yet people still look at his canvases and asked, “What is it supposed to be?”

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Image copyright Mary Grandpré, text copyright Barb Rosenstock. Courtesy of randomhouse.com

Once again he paints what is expected. His teachers love his houses and flowers, but Vasya does not. His friends understand. They too want to expand the meaning of art. They agree with Vasya when he says, “‘Art should make you feel.’” In his studio Vasya continues to paint the sounds he hears, to give music color and color sound. Bravely, he invites the public to view his paintings, which are named after musical terms—Composition, Accompaniment, Fugue, and more.

This is a new kind of art—abstract art—and it takes a long time before people understand. They look and still ask, “What is it supposed to be?” “It is my art,” Kandinsky replies “How does it make you feel?” 

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Image copyright Mary Grandpré, courtesy of randomhouse.com

An author’s note telling more about Kandinsky’s life and synesthesia, a genetic condition in which one sense triggers another, follows the story.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Kandinsky is one of my favorite artists, so I was excited to read this biography—I was not disappointed! With so many great artists, their work speaks for itself, but viewers wonder: How did it come about? What influenced the artist? Barb Rosenstock, with lyrical language and beautifully chosen descriptions, reveals the emotions and passion that fueled Kandinsky’s art from his earliest ages: as he walks through Moscow he can’t ignore “the canary-colored mailbox whistling as he rode to work. The scarlet sunset haze ringing above the ancient Kremlin walls.” Rosenstock’s inclusion of the conflicts and opposition Kandinsky faced and overcame will inspire children to listen to their inner voice and makes readers and lovers of his abstract art glad he never gave up.

Mary GrandPré’s unique style brilliantly depicts Kandinsky’s singular vision, allowing readers to experience the way he wielded his paint brush like a conductor’s baton. Vasya’s early life is painted in muted blues and grays, and the boredom on his face as he studies his schoolwork is obvious. Kids will appreciate his one-finger plinking at the piano and the rolled-eyed drowsiness of the formal dinner. Once Vasya is introduced to the paint box, however, GrandPré’s illustrations become vibrant, with swirling colors overlaid with the musical notes that Kandinsky associated with them. His uninhibited painting is gloriously shown as the young boy’s shirt comes untucked and the colors burst from the canvas upon his first painting.

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Image copyright Mary Grandpré, text copyright Barb Rosenstock. Courtesy of randomhouse.com

As the adults look at his work, the room is again swathed in somber colors. The text revealing that Vasya attended regular art classes to learn to draw houses and flowers is set above a single wilting flower in a vase. The personal tug-of-war Kandinsky experienced even into adulthood is wonderfully rendered: Colors flow into his ears at the opera; he studies his own landscape and still life paintings with misgiving in a hazy studio, and the joy and freedom of his abstract art is demonstrated with wild abandon while a dove escapes its cage. The final image of a child sitting in front of a Kandinsky painting reinforces the idea that his art lives for all and for all time.

Ages 4 – 9

Alfred Knopf, Random House Children’s Books, 2014 | ISBN 978-0307978486

International Artists Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-i-love-art-word-search

I Love Art! Word Search 

 

There are twenty-five art-related words for everyone to love in this printable I Love Art! word search puzzle! Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review