Boneyard Media

Archive for the ‘Children’s Books’ Category

A plug for The Pearl

Thursday, November 24th, 2011


Kendell Kardt has posted a disarming children’s story with a Thanksgiving theme on his blog. It’s called The Pearl, and let’s hope that by this time next year, some wise publisher or animator will have gotten to know William the Bell Buoy, Sally the Seagull and Freddy the Fish and given their story its due.

Gregoire Solotareff, The Secret Life of Santa Claus (1996)

Saturday, December 5th, 2009


This chubby alphabet book is out of print but well worth the effort to dig up. It’s a classic. Some sample entries:

“Airplane: in his airplane Santa Claus seems happy. But how many people really know if they are happy?

Artichoke: artichokes have no connection at all with Santa Claus. They do not make good presents, and you cannot make a Santa out of an artichoke.

Bottom: in Africa there are nasty monkeys who display their bottoms to Santa. This is neither very nice nor very polite. That’s why they never get presents.

Confuse: sometimes Santa’s elves disguise themselves as red-and-white toadstools. It is important not to get the two things confused and, above all, not to eat either one, because you could die.

Fortunate: it is fortunate that Santa Claus doesn’t have a daughter. It is obvious how he would dress her, and she would run the risk of being eaten by a wolf.”

posted by Kim Simpson

Classic Halloween kids books

Friday, October 12th, 2007

I think about this subject every year at this time and did so even before I had kids. Maybe it’s because books had so much do with how my fantasy impressions of Halloween, not to mention the entire autumn season, have taken shape. Anyway, here’s a spotlight on six of my favorites.


Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep, by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Arnold Lobel (1976):

Prelutsky seems to have written a children’s book a day for the last several decades, but this one really stays with you. It’s not just a collection of poems about monsters, but also the terrible things they do to their victims, who are almost always children. Lobel’s Edward Gorey-esque black and white sketches are masterful, the most frightening one being “The Ghoul,” which depicts a bald, pointy-eared creature perched atop a jungle gym, eyes fixed on a schoolhouse as children inside are getting ready to leave. (“He slices their stomachs and bites their hearts,” Prelutsky writes, “and tears their flesh to shreds.”)


How Spider Saved Halloween, by Robert Kraus (1973):

Kraus, like Prelutsky, is another writer who sneezes out kids books by the score. But his “Spider” books stand out because he does the rather crude crayon drawings himself, and they’re great. Most Americans my age and younger probably remember this one with great fondness and can recall the three challenges Spider overcomes: 1) Finding a convincing costume; 2) Scaring off two bug bullies who have been out smashing pumpkins and spraying trick or treaters with shaving cream; and 3) winning the full friendship of a petty character named Fly.


The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight, by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Arnold Lobel (1980):

Fun-loving duo Jack and Arnold’s sequel to Nightmares isn’t quite as bloodthirsty but just as creepy. The standout here is “The Darkling Elves,” depicting a quorum of twelve tiny apostles of evil gazing down from a tree at a sweet and unsuspecting little girl reading a book.


The Witch Who Went Out for a Walk, by Margaret Hillert, illustrated by Krystyna Stasiak (1981):

In this book, we follow the travels of a green witch and her black cat who, strangely enough, have never seen owls, bats, jack-o-lanterns, or trees with faces on them before. Finally the witch decides to call it a night when the sight of trick or treaters finally freaks her out. Stasiak’s rich and colorful illustrations pay tribute to Eastern European naive art and make this one a must.


Granny Greenteeth and the Noise in the Night, by Kenn and Joanne Compton (1993):

In this story, a witch can’t read her book at night because of a strange noise under her bed. After failing to get help from a resident cat, broomstick, ghost, troll, goblin, bats, and bugaboo, all of whom prove to be whiny, excuse-making bums, she lets out a scream which finally scares them into action. The illustrations are all bug-eyed and funny, providing a lasting image of the quintessential scaredy cat.


Very Scary, by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Douglas Florian (1995):

This is another one featuring unusually gorgeous water colors that seem to capture the very mood of Halloween. The simple story’s good too: A number of nuisances slowly invade a nighttime pumpkin patch – owls, cats, crickets, children, and a real life witch. The kids find an enormous pumpkin, carve a face on it, and when they finally stick the candle in, it shrieks out a “boo,” scaring the pants off every last creature (including the witch, whose hair stands on end) and sending them all scurrying home, thus reaffirming what we’ve all learned elsewhere: The Great Pumpkin always gets the last laugh.