One-Minute Book Reviews

October 24, 2008

John Ciardi’s Halloween Limerick for Children – A Good Poem About a Haunted House

Filed under: Children's Books — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 5:55 pm
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The shortest good Halloween poem I’ve found is John Ciardi’s limerick, “The Halloween House,” an amusing send-up of children’s tendency to pretend they’re not afraid of haunted houses. It begins:
I’m told there’s a Green Thing in there.
And the sign on the gate says BEWARE!

For copyright reasons, I can’t quote all five lines of the poem. But you can find “The Halloween House” in Ciardi’s The Hopeful Trout and Other Limericks (Houghton Mifflin, 1992), illustrated by Susan Meddaugh, which is out of print but on the shelves of many libraries. You can also find “The Halloween House” in Scared Silly! A Halloween Book for the Brave: An Arthur Adventure (Little, Brown, 64 pp., $7.95, paperback), illustrated by Marc Brown, which is in print and available through online and other booksellers. The Hopeful Trout is used in grades 2 and up in schools. Scared Silly! has gentle not-so-scary poems, jokes and more for preschoolers, written by a variety of authors.

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

October 19, 2008

James Stevenson’s ‘That Terrible Halloween Night,’ a Picture Book for Ages 3–8

Filed under: Children's Books — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:22 am
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I admire the offbeat comedy of James Stevenson, the illustrator and New Yorker cartoonist, particularly his children’s stories about a curmudgeon who longs to connect with others, The Worst Person in the World and The Worst Person in the World at Crab Beach. But I missed his That Terrible Halloween Night (Greenwillow, 1980), a picture book for ages 3–8. So I’ll quote what Michael Dirda, the Pulitzer Prize–winning critic for the Washington Post, says about it in Readings (Norton, 2003): “When the kids try to scare grandpa, he tells them about the shocking thing that happened to him in a forbidding old house many years before. One of a series of fine tall tales related by Grandpa.”

That Terrible Halloween Night is out of print, but Stevenson has written dozens of popular picture books. If you’re lucky, the children’s department of your library will have this one. If not, it may have other books by Stevenson, shelved near those of his equally gifted New Yorker colleague, William Steig, whose Spinky Sulks might make a fine consolation prize if you strike out

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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