The death bell rings.
Everyone knows what
the death bell brings . . .
It’s time for class. You’re in the place
where goblins wail and zombies drool.
Welcome, you’re just in time.
Monster School is in session — come right in and meet the gang!
These just might be the scariest, spookiest students ever — a class where nobody blinks twice about the odd hairy eyeball on the floor or having a teacher who’s a screaming banshee.
Strangely enough, when you read about them, these spirited scholars seem to feel freakishly familiar. 🙂
In her newest children’s book Monster School (Chronicle Books, 2018),poetry wizard Kate Coombs has conjured up 18 fangtastic poems just perfect for some Halloweenish fun. Illustrated by Georgia cartoonist Lee Gatlin (who professes to love drawing monsters most of all), this cauldron of creepiness will cast you under its spell and tickle your skeletal funny bone.
Written in a variety of poetic forms, the mostly rhyming poems introduce us to some very interesting pupils, two weird teachers, and one voracious class pet.
Take “Fernanda Kabul” (please) — she has a way of instilling dread at the mere mention of her name. Part brat, part bully, and a vengeful liar, this “terrible, heartless” dressed-all-in-black “princess of hex” thrives on terrorizing her classmates:
One time Josh was laughing at something I said and she thought he was laughing at her. By the time she was finished he wasn’t a kid: He was three inches long. He was covered with fur.
Break out the marmalade, Paddington Bear turns 60 this year!
On October 13, 1958, Michael Bond published the first book about our favorite ursine from darkest Peru, A Bear Called Paddington.The novel was inspired by a stuffed bear Bond rescued from a department store shelf on Christmas Eve, and it took all of ten days to write.
Today, Paddington boasts an international following with some 70 titles translated into 30 languages, with 30 million copies sold. A beloved British institution, Paddington shows no signs of slowing down with two very successful feature films, oodles of merchandising, and commemorative coins issued by the Royal Mint.
We can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by chatting with award winning author/illustrator R.W. Alley, who’s been drawing Paddington since 1997. Though there have been several other Paddington artists through the years (Peggy Fortnum was the first), to my knowledge only Mr Alley has illustrated Paddington quite as long, and in all formats — novels, picture books, board books, and early readers. He’s also the only American among the Paddington artists.
Every bit of this ebullient fourteen poem collection is pure, unabashed, glorious, spirit-lifting joy. Celebrating the rewards and pleasures of reading and sharing good books, as well as exercising one’s creative muscle to write original poems, it’s the perfect way to get kids excited about the wonder, beauty, and infinite possibilities of words.
Bookworms, word collectors, library lovers, literacy advocates, and budding poets will find much to love in Mora’s lyrical, open-hearted poems and Colón’s stunning, beautifully rendered illustrations. This is the third collaboration by this esteemed, multi-award winning Latinx team (Tomás and the Library Lady,Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart), and they’re in perfect sync here.
I confess Mora had me with her opening poem — a simple declaration of how vital and nourishing books can be:
BOOKS AND ME
books and me,
like toast and jelly o queso y tortillas.
Like flowers and bees,
birds and trees,
books and me.
Debut picture book author Tina Cho (who currently lives in South Korea) based her story on an actual mission she herself volunteered for. This fascinating account of courage and compassion shows how ordinary people created their own miracle of hope for their starving counterparts.
As the story opens, Yoori, a young girl who lives in South Korea, travels with her father (Appa) to the border between the two countries. She explains that “Beyond that wall and across the sea live children just like me, except they do not have enough food to eat.”
Tonight may you dream sweet animal dreams. Tonight may your dreams all run free.
Tonight may you dream of what animals dream. When they sleep, what do animals see?
While kittens dream of lapping fresh milk, chipmunks dream of digging deep burrows, fishes of tasting new plants, horses of wild, windy rides, and bunnies of napping in thickets.
VanDerwater includes ten different animals in all, featured in well crafted ballad quatrains with abcb end rhymes and the same repetitive word pattern in the first three lines — a perfect lullaby, calming and incantatory as it lulls the reader to slumberland:
Turtles are dreaming of cool, muddy beds. Turtles are dreaming of learning to run. Turtles are dreaming of basking with you on a rock in a river in hot summer sun.
Kids will love all the charming details and activities, while observing the animals in their natural habitats. Best part is discovering that all their animal friends are ultimately dreaming about them!