Pick A Pumpkin: meet children’s picture book poet Patricia Toht

[Poetry Friday is collected by Carol who savors summer this week. Go, see at her “Linky” page.]

. . . .

Let us write a holiday story, in rhyme. Topic: the much-anticipated October trip to ye olde P.P.

pumpkin/bumpkin/lumpkin        patch/catch/thatch     pick/kick/lick

Er, this isn’t rolling so trippingly off the tongue. Lucky you, Bookseedstudio readers. I asked poet, picture book author & pumpkin patch queen Patricia Toht to join us for Poetry Friday:

“Pick a pumpkin

from the patch

tall and lean

or short and fat”

c. Patricia Toht c. JARVIS
PICK A PUMPKIN

“Vivid orange

ghostly white

or speckled green

might be just right.”

c. Patricia Toht, all right reserved.

c. Patricia Toht
c. JARVIS
PICK A PUMPKIN

Her prancing pumpkin verses romp in a new picture book stuffed with the fall fun of finding a unique vegetable FRUIT. And the sly illustrations (from artist Jarvis, in a second holiday party with Patty after PICK A PINE TREE, both from Walker Books ) are drool-worthy. So, I just had to grill this author:

Q/Bookseedstudio – Will you tell of Halloween costumes you’ve enjoyed wearing – at any age? With your & your hubby’s background did you ever create costumes? What were they like?

PATRICIA TOHT My folks never allowed store-bought costumes, so ours were either sewn by mom or pulled together from the dress-up bin. When I was in middle school, my best friends and I dressed up as three blind mice and a black cat. Random, but we loved it!

My husband has made some amazing costumes for our kids. One year, our son Will went as a garbage can. Straps held the can at shoulder height, “garbage” scraps were hot glued around the edges, and my son wore a pizza box on his head. If he stopped and scrunched down, no one knew it was a costume and not an actual garbage can!

Q/Our family knocks on the Toht Family door at Halloween. What’s in the candy bowl? Is the carved pumpkin scary or goofy or ….? Decorations at the front step?

PATRICIA TOHT Our Halloween candy always includes the family favorites – Nestle Crunch bars, Mounds bars, Malted Milk Balls, and Twizzlers. The pumpkins are usually goofy ones because…well, we’re a pretty goofy family!

We have this amazing motion-detector skull and bones above our front door. When trick-or-treaters approach, it makes a spooky sound and the bones lift to either side so we can hand out candy through the middle. I love it! I hope it never breaks!

Q Other than yours, which I think will become a modern classic of pumpkin festivities, can you mention a title or two that your family enjoyed at Halloween when the kids were young?

PATRICIA TOHT Aw, thanks for saying that, Jan! A few of our family favorites include THE LITTLE OLD LADY WHO WAS NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING by Linda Williams and Megan Lloyd, BORIS AND BELLA by Carolyn Crimi and Gris Grimly, and ROOM ON THE BROOM by Julia Donaldson and Axel Sheffler. Great books for reading aloud!

Bookseedstudio says: Wonderful selections! Among my favorite Halloween titles I now have yours.  I have often shared these beloveds: Lisa Desimini’s TRICK OR TREAT! SMELL MY FEET, Kathi Appelt’s & Melissa Stewart’s BAT JAMBOREE & a surprise animal for Halloween pages in TRICK-OR TREAT OLD ARMADILLO, from Larry Dane Brimner with art by Dominic Catalano.

Thank you for this lively peek inside your family Halloween traditions, Patty. That garbage can get-up sounds super!

Below, I send everyone away with my best pumpkin pudding (chocolate-pumpkin pudding. . . 🙂 from hot, humid Florida, in lieu of pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies & pumpkin pie. But first . . .

More on author Patricia Toht

How did Patty get into children’s books? Invoices, orders, returns. She created, owned and operated her very own kid lit bookstore. This Never Never Land, in the Chicago region, brought a full calendar of back-to-school, holiday, summer vacation & other story times. Not to mention boxed crates of children’s non-fiction, chapter books, classics, novels, poetry collections, picture storybooks and yes – rhyming picture books.

At one playful point – Jumpin’ Jacks!- Patty added to her sales floor, shiny, fluffy, bouncy, moving products from a closing toy store. After keeping her Never Never Land venture hopping for s e v e n years, change came. The intrusion of big box competitors prompted a shuttering of the Land.  Sniff, sniff.

But, no worries. The play side of the store brought a toy designer into her life, Mr. Toht, the Toht Family’s four wonderful children followed along with a decade of fun living near a real British palace in the UK, while Patty’s husband created and produced in kids’ TV, before returning to the USA. Patty’s hubby has designed such darlings as Lamaze baby toys and kid give-aways for fast-food emporiums. Guess whose kids posed as testers?

Beyond this, I know from Patty’s guidance and support to me with my works, via our mutual online space, Group Blog, this author is like us within Poetry Friday; she is a reading, writing & editing pal who cares deeply about creating the best books for children. And she creates just that.

Here is what Kirkus says about PICK A PUMPKIN, brand-new this season:

“The nearly flawless rhythm of the text is a pleasure to read and will likely become a favorite…Enchanting.”

Author Patricia Toht   

JARVIS, artist 

PICK A PUMPKIN at Alphabet Soup!

Group Blog

What is Poetry Friday?   

I am a recipe renegade, so add ingredients into blender in amounts you think are good. Taste after the big swirl. Adjust flavors. CHILL!

 

…enroute to chocolate-pumpkin pudding bliss . . .

 

( I am posting early due to some important family events at Poetry Friday time. I appreciate your comments & may be delayed a bit in adding them.)

Update:  7 Oct 2019  Groovy photo – Patty’s PICK A PUMPKIN featured on the Halloween table at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Cleveland. I was occupied with kidney surgery routine check ups & first-time thyroid tests last week- dear friends, all is well!! My joy was amplified when after that squee! news, ambling around the Cleveland Clinic campus, I was wowed by surprise – a stand-up book party with my talented pal prominent. (See who in the book world keeps Patricia Toht company?  🙂

Grackles cackle! It’s Halloween 2015!!!

Grackles cackle. Crows glow. Ghouls drool.

It’s Halloween 2015!
(If you are seeking the Poetry Friday link click-clack, scit-scat over to
Check It Out’s post, which beautifully looks ahead to Veteran’s Day.)

My favorite goblin-night reading for teens & adults is a privately
printed poetry chapbook, ON ANY DARK AND SPOOKY NIGHT.
It was a gift to me in 1992 from the poet author, Audrey Parente. It
is one of the first orange items I reach for each year to decorate
the house.

ON ANY DARK AND SPOOKY NIGHT c.1992 Audrey Parente, read by woman with ghost-color legs!

ON ANY DARK AND SPOOKY NIGHT c.1992 Audrey Parente, read by woman with ghost-color legs!

The spine-tinglers in Audrey’s collection are creepy
& kooky & make adults shiver.

Here is a less-ghoulish poem for the wee ones.

When Goblins Sing
by Audrey Parente
in the chapbook, ON ANY DARK AND SPOOKY NIGHT

Oh, when the goblins sing,
your skin begins to crawl
with bumpy, goosey flesh
which drives you up a wall.
But scary as this is,
if they seem down the hall,
don’t you worry dear,
for they’re not there at all!

©1992 Audrey Parente

I love how I always go back & read it again to see what
she did there! Her Halloween poems are perfect presents.

Fortunately we held a Halloween poetry partee last weekend,
before All Hallow’s Eve. This way we would be free this weekend to enjoy
some of the many bubbling cauldrons of festivals & treats our town puts on.
But this year we are both under a sick spell (bad sore throats, etc.) now
at Halloween & feel fortunate to have these pre-Halloween memories.

c.2015JanGodownAnnino, all rights reserved

c.2015JanGodownAnnino, all rights reserved

The first set of images are from the partee.
Outdoors images in the second group were
made at our nearby park. It provides a naturally ghostly atmosphere
with rugged live oaks, swaying Spanish moss (not truly a moss but an
epiphyte) & an annual scarecrow row. The artists who create them
are local folks who love Halloween.

My Halloween picture books for young readers can fill a bottomless caludron but include –
TRICK OR TREAT, SMELL MY FEET by Lisa Desimini, TRICK OR TREAT, OLD ARMADILLO, by Larry Dane Brimner, with illustrations from Dominic Catalano, THE MONSTORE by Tara Lazar & HAMPIRE by Sudipta Bardhan Quallen.

c.2015JanGodownAnnino, all rights reserved. subject: Abraham Lincoln & a bear.

c.2015JanGodownAnnino, all rights reserved. subject: Abraham Lincoln & a bear.

Walk this way! c.1992, all rights reserved

Walk this way! c.1992, all rights reserved

c.2015 Classic Scarecrow

c.2015 Classic Scarecrow

c,1992 Bee-utiful Scarecrow

c,1992 Bee-utiful Scarecrow

c.2015 Village Philosopher

c.2015 Village Philosopher

c.2015 Eyes so sad... could it be...

c.2015 Eyes so sad… could it be…

c.2015 Cheer up, dear!!!

c.2015 Cheer up, dear!!!

c.2015 GO AWAY BIG GREEN MONSTER, by Ed Emberly. The Emberly family has several cool monster picture books. Check 'em out of your libraree!

c.2015 GO AWAY BIG GREEN MONSTER, by Ed Emberly. The Emberly family has several cool monster picture books. Check ’em out of your libraree!

c.2015 Classic Caludron Gals

c.2015 Classic Caludron Gals

c.2015 That's right dearie, this way...

c.2015 That’s right dearie, this way…

c.2015 Good. You're drawing closer....

c.2015 Good. You’re drawing closer….

c.2015 Good. You're drawing closer....

c.2015 Good. You’re drawing closer….

c.2015 You are at The End, protected by Classic Smiley Pumpkin! Happy times always.

c.2015 You are at The End, protected by Classic Smiley Pumpkin! Happy times always.

Owl Bee Thinking of Owl-o-ween

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

Ef you
Don’t
Watch
Out!”

gobble-unsll-git-you-joel-schick1

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

 

“A

waaaay

Up
Stairs.”

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.

 

Illustrated by  Diane Stanley

Illustrated by
Diane Stanley

 

Lee Bennett Hopkins

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.

 

Mary Ann Hoberman

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.

 

by Mary Ann Hoberman & Michael Emberley

by Mary Ann Hoberman & Michael Emberley

 

 

 

Annette Simon

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.

Written & illustrated by Annette Simon

Written & illustrated by Annette Simon

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!

Tara Lazar

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.

written by Tara Lazar & illustrated by James Burks

written by Tara Lazar & illustrated by James Burks

Owl Moon 

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

at Bookseedstudio.

 

written and illustrated by Lisa Desimini

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.

shadow season

It’s shadow season.

Visits to real-life houses built centuries before, trips up the stairs to eerie

attics, and doors opened on creaky cupboards, might reveal a scarab, sphinx or

a selkie.

Here’s a few images from our recent visit to the lovely Orman House in Florida’s Panhandle.

This is North Florida. Author Gloria Jahoda labeled the area, The Other Florida.

The Orman House doesn’t present itself as a haunted house.  The elegant

Orman (begun in 1836, completed in 1838) is living proof that all long in the tooth

buildings along the Panhandle Florida coast aren’t wall to wall sliding glass doors.

Nor are they all beach bungalows perched on stilts.

The imposing bay front Orman edifice is decorated with antique settees,

an elegant piano, vintage clothes and some of the tools you see in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Plus fascinating documents that could be in the National Archives. Inkwell ink

from fountain pens, flows in careful cursive  words about commerce,

manners and the sweltering, “bad air” life of the subtropics of North Florida, a time before

the company named Carrier brought us AC.  (Although another local inhabitant, a

physician, rigged up what is said to be the first air-cooling system for his malaria

patients.)

At the Orman House, as within the innards of any seasoned old Southern

landmark, some people,  some times, detect some THING.  Who would not want to

visit?! Makes you want to cut a rug!

Such as the delightful Carolyn Jones &  John Astin with Thing’s help – dance here. from YouTube.

a funny Halloween

Is “Smell my feet”  the best greeting  a Trick-or-Treater can say at the door today?

That’s how the green-haired twins, Delia & Ophelia, want the neighborhood children to respond when they ring the bell & the door opens.

The twins are witches who are up to their britches stirring up a witchy brew of trouble in this most-inventive Halloween book.

Trick-or-Treat  SMELL MY FEET! from artist-author Lisa Desimini is a treasure.

Her collage art is a wizardry of the highest order.

I was so unhappy when this beloved book wasn’t in our box of Halloween that we unpacked at the beginning of the month.  Then last night, like a work of magic, I found it in a pile of great items in a box in my office – just in time for Halloween.

Books for the Boo!

We keep creepy Halloween in a box 11 months out of the year.

Come October, the ghosties & ghoulies, black cats & bats

are let out of the box.

We hammer tombstones into the yard dirt & place home-made pumpkins

of paper around the living room.

My daughter puts read-aloud Halloween books on a low  table.

And she & her father stuff & dress a scarecrow who guards our yard. We will all

carve the pumpkin closer to the big evening.

What are your favorite Halloween titles? Once you read some of ours, these may become a grand part of

your Halloween bookshelf:

SIX CREEPY SHEEP by Judith Ross Enderle & Stephanie Gordon Tessler, with illustrations from John O’Brien

BAT JAMBOREE by Kathi Appelt, with illustrations by Melissa Sweet

THE LITTLE SCARECROW BOY by Margaret Wise Brown (yes, MWB herself, without a bunny in sight) and brought to a delightful modern art interpretation by David Diaz.

Trick or Treat (I want it to be Treat) to You & Yours

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