Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Everyone kept telling me to get two copies of this book, and I wondered, what are they talking about? Why would I need two? Well, after reading it, may I say: get two, because like any great sandwich, you're going to want to share.

The delightfully irreverent Rex (THE DIRTY COWBOY) has written a book so funny, it's scary. Bring your best monster face, it will will be weeping with laughter from these poems, whether it's "The Creature of the Black Lagoon Doesn't Wait an Hour Before Swimming," "An Open Letter from Wolfman's Best Friend" ("Dear Wolfman,/I wanted to make some things clear./ I know we've been roomates for nearly a year,/and I probably should have said something before,/ but could you please try/not to scratch the front door?"), "The Invisible Man Gets a Haircut" (would you look at the barber's expression?) "Count Dracula Doesn't Know He's Been Walking Around All Night With Spinach in his Teeth," "The Phantom of the Opera Can't Get 'The Girl from Ipanema' Out of His Head," shall I go on? How about listening to an oversensitive Bigfoot's lament, getting the skinny on a Witch-Watcher's Club, and of course, what collection of hoorors would complete without a visit to the dentist? Children will not like this book, they will
love it, and the poems are only surpassed by the artwork, distinctive, distinguished, and utterly limber in style, ranging from painterly to comic-bookish. A mix of Shel Silverstein, Art Speigelman, Colin McNaughton, and something wholly original and inspired, this is an absolute must-have for any self-respecting collection, this holiday book really puts this talent on the map, even if the map happens to be of Transylvania. It liiiiives! (6 and up)

Also of interest:
In my lesson planning today, I had such a blast rediscovering some seasonal read-alouds that I just can't wait to I'll share them with you, in case you're planning, too! More tricks and treats coming through the month, but let the spine-tingling begin with these gently spooky delights:

THE BAKE SHOP GHOST by Jacqueline Ogburn, illustrated by Marjorie A. Priceman (Houghton Mifflin)Cora Lee Merriweather bakes such delicious pies and cakes, her bake shop customers are willing to forgive the fact that every bit of sweetness seems to go into her work. When mean Madame Merriweather finally gives up the ghost, that's all she's willing to give up. As a prankish poltergeist, she successfully drives away anyone who seeks to inhabit her former kitchen, but when former cruise ship pastry chef Annie Washington rents the storefront, it is going to take more than a little flying flour to drive her out. When Annie finally asks what she can do for Cora Lee to settle her spirit, she says, "Make me a cake so rich and so sweet, it will fill me up and bring tears to my eyes. A cake like the one I might have baked, but no one ever made for me." Will Annie spend the rest of her life trying to bake this magical cake, or will she find the bittersweet ingredient that will free them both? Superb storytelling and ebullient illustrations are a recipe for read-aloud in this perfectly delicious ghost story about empathy and cooperation. (7 and up)

CURSE IN REVERSE by Tom Coppinger, illustrated by Dirk Zimmer (Atheneum) Agnezza the witch wanders through the small hamlet of Humburg, looking for some shelter and a bite to eat. Selfish Mrs. Raff refuses her, and is given the Curse of the Silent Night. Rude Mr. Fooss rejects her, and is put under The Curse of the One-eyed Jack. When childless Mr. and Mrs. Tretter recieve her with open arms, they are chagrined when, upon their departure, she lays a Curse of the One-Armed Man upon them. Why did she do that? Their alarm grows as they see the curses of their neighbors come to unfortunate and surprising fruition. Little do they know that Agnezza has another trick up her sleeve when it comes to rewarding kindness! A funny folktale that's formalistically flawless, peppered perfectly with Zimmer's zany cross-hatched line drawings. Share this charmer anytime of year, and you'll have to decide for yourself if repeated readings are a curse…or a curse in reverse! (6 and up)

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