Little Ghost — Halloweensie Contest

 ghostimages
Courtesy of Google Art

It’s Susanna Leonard Hill 4th Annual Halloweensie Contest!

All you have to do is follow the simple rules I copied from Susanna’s website.  Make sure you check out all the entries.

Write a 100-word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words pumpkin, broomstick, and creak (or a variation of creak, creaked, or creaking.)  Your story can be poetry or prose, scary, funny or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)

My entry is 98 words. Happy Halloween!

Little Ghost

Little Ghost shuttered and shook. It was his first Halloween.

He hovered over a pumpkin and watched as other ghosts darted after trick-or-treaters and bellowed their names. “Nan—ceeee.” “Bob—beeee.” “Jos—seeee!” Kids scattered with fright.

Little Ghost hid near a creaky porch and ambushed a little witch with his loudest “BOOoooooo!” She slammed him with her sack of candy.

“You’re not a convincing ghost” yelled the gutsy witch. She summoned her broomstick.

“Yes, I am,” he moaned. “I don’t like scaring children.”

“Neither do I,” cackled the little witch. “Candy?”

Little Ghost puffed up his chest. “Sure!”

The Smallest Gift of Christmas

smallest_gift_of_christmasThe Smallest Gift of Christmas

Peter H. Reynolds, Author and Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Sept. 24, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 3-7

Themes:  Christmas, Gifts, Disappointment,  Family

Opening“Roland was eager for Christmas Day.  He raced downstairs to see what was waiting for him.”

Synopsis:  When Christmas morning arrives, Roland races to the living room and finds the smallest gift ever with his name on it.  He closes his eyes and wishes for a bigger gift.  Not happy, he wishes again and again. Larger gifts magically appear, but they don’t satisfy Roland.  Frustrated, this feisty and determined boy sets off in a rocket to search the universe for the biggest gift. Looking back at earth, Roland realizes what he wants most.

Why I like this book:  Peter Reynolds has created a very charming story that both children and adults will relate to in a manner that is light-hearted. Reynolds addresses the importance of family and being happy with what you have in a very entertaining manner. This is a small book packed with a big message.  The illustrations are festive for the holidays as each page is beautifully done in bold splashes of red and green.  And, the characters are done in Reynolds signature cartoon style. This is a wonderful gift book.  Visit Peter H. Reynolds at his website.

Resources:  This is meant to be a humorous read, but it also can be a great discussion book to talk with kids about the importance of Christmas. Put out paper, markers, crayons, glitter and glue and encourage your child to make Christmas cards or small gifts for family members.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

The Christmas Wish

The Christmas Wish14858500_201309121500The Christmas Wish

Lori Evert, Author

Per Breiehagen, Photographer

Random House, Fiction, Sept. 10, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 3-8

Themes: Christmas,  Arctic region, Tundra animals, Santa Claus, Adventure

OpeningLong, long ago, in a place so far north that the mothers never pack away the wool hats or mittens, lived a sweet little girl named Anja, who greatest dream was to become one of Santa’s Elves.

Synopsis:  Anja, who lives in the arctic region, dreams of being one of Santa’s elves.  She watches the position of the North Star at night and memorizes the great map  at school as she prepares for her trip. Leaving behind presents and a note for her family, she bundles in Nordic clothing and straps on her skis so she can travel through the deep snow. Along her way, a bird, a horse, a musk ox, a polar bear and a reindeer help Anja on her journey to find Santa Claus at the North Pole.

Evert_Breiehagen_Anja_--_credit_Per_Breiehagen_cropped_jpg_165x0_q85Why I like this book: Lori Evert has written an enchanting Nordic Christmas tale that is pure magic. The author was inspired to write the story when she saw an image of her daughter, Anja, with a reindeer.  Award-winning photographer Per Breiehagen captivated this beautiful story with his extraordinary photographs of breathtaking landscapes and touching scenes of Anja.  This was a beautiful collaborative effort by this husband-wife team, and their daughter Anja. The Christmas Wish is a treasure you will want to keep on your book shelf for years. Visit the The Christmas Wish website to see enlarged pictures of the book and a video.

Resources:  Visit Random House for more information about the book.  Click on the activity page at the top and you can download The Christmas Wish ornaments and find other winter activities.  Encourage your children to take winter pictures of animals and children romping in the snow

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

A Chanukah Noel

Chanukah Noel9781897187746_p0_v1_s260x420A Chanukah Noel

Sharon Jennings, Author

Gillian Newland, Illustrator

Second Story Press, Fiction, 2010

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Moving to a foreign country,  Feeling left out, Chanukah, Christmas, Friendship

Opening:  “One day, Daddy came home from work and said, “I have a big surprise.  We are going to live in France.”  I wasn’t so sure I liked this surprise, but I left home with Mommy and Daddy and sailed all the way across the ocean. 

Synopsis:  Charlotte and her family move to France.  She doesn’t speak the language and is put in a lower grade.  She finds that foods in her French village some times taste and smell strange.  Many of her classmates are friendly, except Colette.  At Christmas the village is beautifully decorated.  Charlotte is Jewish and wants to celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas.  She’s disappointed when her mother tells her they will celebrate Chanukah.  At least, at school she can participate in the festivities of decorating the class and bringing a gift.  When Charlotte discovers that Colette is poor and won’t be able to celebrate Christmas either, she sets aside her hurt feelings and comes up with a plan to help her friend and celebrate both holidays.

Why I like this story:   Sharon Jennings has written a charming story based on the true story of her friend.  Readers never learn the origin of Charlotte’s country, only that she is Jewish and she finds Christmas in France exciting.   It is also a story about feeling left out.  But, Charlotte shows a lot of compassion and helps a poor classmate enjoy Christmas with her family.  I enjoyed the story, but wished there was a little more shown about Charlotte’s Jewish Chanukah tradition.  Gillian Newland’s illustrations are rich and capture both the holiday spirit and the feeling of a timeless French village.

Resources:  Chanukah or Hanukkah activities for children and teachers can be found at this website.

America’s White Table

America's White 9781585362165_p0_v2_s260x420America’s White Table

Margot Theis Raven, Author

Mike Benny, Illustrator

Sleeping Bear Press, Fiction, 2005

Suitable for Ages: 5-10

Themes: Veterans Day, Remembering our fallen soldiers, Symbolism

Synopsis:  It is Veterans Day and Katie’s mother has invited her Uncle John for dinner.  She explains to Katie and her two sisters that they will  be setting a separate little table,  just like the ones that will be set in  Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy dining halls across America to honor the men and women who have served their country.  Mama gets out a white table-cloth,  a single empty  chair, a white plate, silver ware, a black napkin, an overturned glass, a white candle and a red rose in a vase tied with a red ribbon.  She explains the significance of each item on the table, and what it will mean to Uncle John.

Much to Katie and her sister’s surprise, they learn a special story about their favorite uncle from their mother.  Uncle John was on a rescue mission in Vietnam when his helicopter was shot down over enemy territory.  He was taken as a Prisoner of War (POW).  Uncle John found an opportunity to escape and carried his wounded friend on his back to safety.  He was a hero.

Katie and her sisters are in awe when they hear the story.  Katie stares at the little white table and feels there is something missing.  The girls come up with a special idea and surprise their uncle at dinner.  Uncle John is moved beyond words by their loving gesture.

Why I like this book:  Once again I am sharing a book I reviewed several years ago before I had following.  This is an outstanding book that will touch the hearts of young and old alike.  It is a time to remember and honor those who are not with us.  I was delighted to find a book about this very simple, but deeply meaningful tradition observed by service members for over 35 years.  Few civilians are familiar with the symbolism.  It seemed the perfect book to share again on Veterans Day.  Raven tells a moving story, and at the end  provides a detailed history of the origin of the White Table and how it became a symbol of caring for our MIA and POW service members after the Vietnam War.  Benny’s subdued pastel paintings add to the mood of the solemn occasion that transcends generations.

Resource:  Click here to lean how to set America’s White Table.  Also visit Margot Theis Raven at her website.

The Ghost-Eye Tree

Ghost-Eye Tree9780805009477_p0_v3_s260x420The Ghost-Eye Tree

Bill Martin and John Archambault, Authors

Ted Rand, Illustrator

Square Fish Publisher, 1988 (Reprint)

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: It’s okay to be scared, Imagination, Halloween

Book SynopsisOne dark and windy autumn night when the sun has long gone down, a young boy and his older sister are sent to the end of town to get a bucket of milk. As they walk down the lonely road, bathed in eerie moonlight, all the boy can think about is the ghost-eye tree.

Oooo…

I dreaded to go…

I dreaded the tree….

Why does Mama always choose me

When the night is so dark

And the mind runs free?

What will happen when they come to the tree?  Can they run past it or will it reach out and grab them?

 Why I like this book:  I will admit that this is a favorite dark and edgy book that my daughter and I still enjoy today.   I reviewed it several years ago, before I had much of a following, so I decided to share it again.  It is written by the late Bill Martin (1916-2004) and John Archambault, who give children a lot of room to use their imaginations.  Martin wrote children’s books for nearly 60 years.  I am a bit nostalgic as this was my daughter’s favorite spooky Halloween book.  I was so happy to find her copy and to know it is still available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and in libraries.  Written in verse by the authors in 1988, it is packed with imagery and suspense with each turn of the page.  Ted Rand’s illustrations are dark, eery and perfectly exaggerate the mood of the story.   The book is also a great read around any camp fire.  It remains on my bookshelf because it shows kids that being scared is okay.  It has just enough tension to make this a good Halloween read.

I discovered a short film was made of the Ghost-Eye Tree in 2008 by Nusomfilms.  Here is the trailer.

The Night Santa Got Lost: How NORAD Saved Christmas

The Night Santa Got Lost: How NORAD Saved Christmas

Michael Keane, Author

Michael Garland, Illustrator

Regnery Kids, Fiction, 2012

Suitable for Ages: 4 and up

Themes: Santa, Christmas, NORAD, Military, Teamwork

Opening/Synopsis‘Twas the night before Christmas at NORAD’s home base/ Not an airman was stirring, each one was in place/Ready and waiting for the very first sight/Of good old St. Nick on his Christmas Eve flight.”  Every year the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) tracks Santa as he delivers gifts to children worldwide.  But, Santa and his reindeer get lost in a blizzard.  He disappears from their radar.  Will NORAD be able to find Santa with their high-tech equipment and help Santa deliver presents to the children in the world?   Children will love the suspense and the illustrations.

Why I like this book:   Michael Keane has written a beautiful picture book in the style of Clement Clark Moore’s The Night Before Christmas.  Every year millions of children track Santa on the NORAD Santa Tracker.  I especially like how Keane shows children the humanitarian side of the military.  The generals worldwide come together to develop a plan and teach kids about teamwork during a crisis.  They learn military language and the compassion of all services worldwide to serve the greater good.  There is even an element of suspense with the involvement of Special Ops teams.  The book speaks to the true nature of Christmas when we can set aside our difference and remember our humanity.  Michael Garland’s artwork is eye-popping.  His digital illustrations are bold, colorful, lively and will engage both young and older readers in looking at the detail.

Favorite Stanzas “The Commander-in-Chief was handed a phone/ Scramble the fighter jets/Send up a drone!/For both red state and blue state, this is a real threat!/It’s even much worse than our national debt!”

“Go Army!  Go Marines!  Go Navy and Air Force!/Call in the Reservists and the Guardsmen, of course!/To the ends of the earth, help with Santa’s big haul!/ Now march away! Fly away! Sail away, all!” 

Resources.  There are six wonderful pages of history about how the tradition began in 1955 with a very funny story involving an ad in the newspaper and a wrong phone number.  Have your kids track Santa on the NORAD Santa Tracker  on December 24, to check on Santa’s location in the world.  They can map Santa’s progress and learn about time zones.  NORAD volunteers take kids phone calls and respond to e-mails.  NORAD actually begins the countdown on December 1, so kids can visit the site daily.

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Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.