One-Minute Book Reviews

October 29, 2008

A Classic Halloween Poem and Jump-Rope Rhyme From ‘I Saw You in the Bathtub’

Filed under: Children's Books — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 4:36 pm
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You want to know what’s really spooky about Halloween? All the plagiarized poems about it that you can find on the Web.

An astounding number of sites seem to operate on the principle that it’s okay to reproduce short poems in full if you credit their authors or source. This is generally untrue unless the poems are old enough to be out of copyright.

So although I’ve written about other Halloween poems, I want to post the full text of a short poem you can use with a clear conscience. Here’s a classic folk rhyme chanted by generations of jump-ropers:

Down in the desert
Where the purple grass dies,
There sat a witch
With yellow-green eyes.

This untitled poem (and another about a witch) appear one of my favorite books for beginning readers: I Saw You in the Bathtub: And Other Folk Rhymes (HarperTrophy, 64 pp., $3.99, paperback, ages 4–8), by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Syd Hoff. “Down in the desert” may appear in many other books.

I Saw You in the Bathtub consists of 40 of those deathless rhymes that seem to have existed since Cain. (“I scream, / You scream, / We all scream / For ice cream!”) They include one about the place where the plagiarists may end up:

Silence in the court
While the judge blows his nose
And stands on his head
And tickles his toes.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

October 26, 2008

Bethany Lowe’s ‘Folk Art Halloween’ – Craft Projects for the Very Patient

Filed under: Nonfiction — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:23 am
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My supermarket has started selling cans of glow-in-the-dark orange-colored Halloween cream soda, and Bethany Lowe’s new Folk Art Halloween (Lark, 131 pp., $17.95) has something of their spirit. This oversized paperback gives instructions for 30 slightly kitschy craft projects — think Family Circle squared — that aren’t for the Real Simple subscriber base.

A table runner with appliquéd bats and pumpkins calls for embroidery floss and a size 20 Chenille needle. And a witch figurine requires 24 materials such as black glitter, spray sealer, upholstery thread, a polystyrene foam ball and a plastic spider. But Lowe www.bethanylowe.com includes 26 pages of color retro clip art and templates for basic Halloween forms (mask, black cat, spider web) that you could use for your projects. She also has a great idea for children’s party invitations: Enclose a piece of cardstock and a note asking the recipient to color a Halloween image on it and return it as the RSVP www.larkbooks.com/catalog?isbn=9781600592539.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

October 4, 2008

Good Halloween Poems for Children

Filed under: Children's Books — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:41 am
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“There once was a witch of Willowby Wood,
and a weird wild witch was she …”

From Rowena Bennett’s “The Witch of Willowby Wood,” excerpted in Sing a Song of Popcorn

Many children’s books include a Halloween poem or two, but Sing a Song of Popcorn (Scholastic, 1988) has a half dozen in the spirit of Oct. 31. All six of these brief, lively, rhyming poems come from good writers and appear in a section called “Spooky Poems,” engagingly illustrated by the Caldecott medalist Margot Zemach. For children who dislike witches and ghosts, the book has Robert Graves’s “The Pumpkin,” which begins: “You may not believe it, for hardly could I: / I was cutting a pumpkin to put in a pie …” John Ciardi’s lively Halloween limerick, “The Halloween House,” appears in two children’s books discussed on Oct. 24, 2008 www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2008/10/24.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

October 30, 2007

Why Do Children Like to Read About Witches and Other Scary Things? Halloween Quote of the Day (Agatha Christie)

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 7:14 pm
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Agatha Christie, the mystery novelist, loved playing frightening games in childhood. Here she tries to explain why:

“Why did I like being frightened? What instinctive need is satisfied by terror? Why, indeed, do children like stories about bears, wolves and witches? Is it because something rebels in one against the life that is too safe? Is a certain amount of danger in life a need of human beings? Is much of the juvenile delinquency nowadays attributable to the fact of too much security? Do you instinctively need something to combat, to overcome — to, as it were, prove yourself? Take away the wolf from the story of Red Riding Hood and would any child enjoy it? However, like most things in life, you want to be frightened a little — but not too much!”

Agatha Christie in Agatha Christie: An Autobiography (Ballantine, 1978).

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