Owl Bee Thinking of Owl-o-ween
Whole universes of poets and their poems from countries afar,
and originating from our own states just up the road,
who I don’t yet know,
became an obvious missing part of my education when I sat in a graduate poetry seminar that I devoured at a green little place tucked into Virginia hills,
Hollins summer children’s literature program.
In moments after the first class, the student in the next seat
started a litany:
“Onct they was a little girl…”
She had begun an obscure-to-everyone else verse that ended…
“And the Gobble-uns’ll git you
And so I joined in on James Whitcomb Riley’s old piece, finding not only
a kindred gobblin spirit in the student, Regge, but also a memory.
Riley’s poem became an annual Halloween spine-tingler, my mother’s performance of
The Hoosier Poet’s classic cautionary poem-story, “Little Orphant Annie,” meant Halloween had arrived. She rose up high as a Gobblin and shrunk down low as a meek orphant sent up to bed at night
And I was a mite lil’ deliciously scared girl by the time she completed her unique recitation/performance/thriller. Reading the poem today I see that she edited, embellished & pronounced as suited her acting temperament at the time, as any creative would. She was a baby when Riley was still living, so he was truly her childhood poet as her mother loved his work too.
And that’s why Riley’s verses about autumn became one of the standards of my October child days. Years later when we learned that my father’s older cousin, who we knew as Aunt Kay, grew up across the street from the Riley Lockerbie Square home in Indianapolis, his poetry developed a larger patina in the family lore.
You may find some the many picture book versions of his poems as he was also known as The Children’s Poet.
They are beautifully presented in this blog, Sing Books With Emily. Appreciations more than Emily can have known when she put it together, for this Riley article that includes an uncommon silent movie of the poet. Any one of the girls in this black and white historic movie clip could be my “Aunt Kay.” Did you see all the hair bows?
Since this is Halloween Week, how about timely books you may want to add to your annual Stack-O-Ween titles?
James Whitcomb Riley
The Gobble-uns’ll Get You (1975 ) (cover is above) Riley’s poem illustrated by Joel Schick or another version to covet, illustrated by Diane Stanley.
RAGGED SHADOWS, Poems of Halloween Night, is a collectible, illustrated by Giles Laroche. “Somewhere/ in the black-cat dark,/ Halloween begins.” With historic scenes from Salem, Massachusetts in a cut-paper format & titles such as “Skeleton Key” from Alice Schertle, these 14 poems, created by favorites, including Nancy Willard and Barbara Juster Esbensen this collection lurks in the pumpkin’s light.
YOU READ TO ME, I’LL READ TO YOU from Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley. Such a team, their fourth “read to me” partnership. Zombies, ghouls,ogres, knights and even a dinosaur join witches & others for Halloween season delights.
Annette Simon’s inventive, ROBOT ZOMBIE FRANKENSTEIN!
Recently I popped into Annette’s home bookshop on the Florida east coast. And busy artist and creator that she is, she was not in residence but her books were appropriately on display. I enjoyed a shop tour from Nora & found several delights, including a prominent perch for one of my poet faves, Naomi Shihab Nye represented by her POEMS FOR GIRLS.
Appreications to Jama’s Alphabet Soup for this lovely look at Annette’s first picture book from 2012, & you’ll want to read all the way to the book trailer, I think!
The Monstore has a secret place in the back that … well, bring gummy worms that you can buy in the store & find out yourself. Hope monster is a fun word for you. This silly skip-a-beat book, is from creative Tara Lazar who is thanked (or cursed!) every November for the inventive & p0pular kids’ writer/illustrator game that I’ll be playing for my second year, known as PiBoIdMo Picture Book Idea Month.
I think of this title every fall & you may recall the scary scene where the large owl flies at the father & daughter. It’s a Caldecott winner illustrated by John Schoenherr & written by the wonderful talent, Jane Yolen.
Finally, here are some of my past Halloween title posts here
And if you think it’s
pronounced Boo-seedstudio this time of year,
you are correct.
Next blog up:
November is First Peoples/ American Indian/Native American Month.
Where to Learn What We Should Want & Need To Know About This Topic? Early, on a weekday in November I hope you’ll come back for a visit.