Susanna Hill’s 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest

One of the most important things a writer can do is…WRITE!

Perhaps you set aside a large chunk of time every day to write. Or maybe, because of family and other obligations, you snatch precious minutes whenever you can.

Jane Yolen advises writers to BIC…Butt in Chair.

And one way that encourages writers to do that is to enter contests and writing challenges. One of my dear friends and favorite picture book authors, Susanna Leonard Hill, is holding her 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest.


If you are interested in joining in the fun, there is still time to do so. And even if you aren’t able to participate, you’ll have so much fun reading all of the entries.

The rules are simple: Write a 100 word Halloween story for children using the words monster, candy-corn, and shadow. For more details, go to Susanna’s website by clicking the link above.

I decided to take a trip around the world via the internet to see how Halloween is celebrated in other countries. Interestingly enough, it began in Ireland and has spread, in various forms, to many parts of the world. In some places it is celebrated on different days and in others, it is a more religious holiday to honor the dead. But costumes and candy seems to be present in most of the celebrations.

Here is my entry. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Maybe I need to do a picture book about HALLOWEEN AROUND THE WORLD.


It’s time to search for Halloween

Around the globe and in-between.

Jack-o-lantern in the shadow

Glowing eyes and burning smile.

Trick or treat,” a monster shouts.

Halloween—American style

Chinese children say Teng Chieh.

Lanterns glow to light the way.

Special foods are offered up.

Spirits come on Halloween Day.

In Mexico, kids decorate

With posies bright and candy-corn

And shout “Queremos Halloween.”

They trick or treat from dusk till dawn.

Disguised, Greek children come to call.

“Do you know who I am?” they ask.

A guessing game begins until

The treats are served and they unmask.

Hurray for Halloween!

Haloween-worldwide-web-e1445546580957Photo courtesy:

And hurray for Susanna Leonard Hill and her wonderful contests!

PPBF: Cat Tale….A Lesson in Group Dynamics and Word Power

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

I do have four (!!!!) things to share with you before we reveal the Perfect Picture Book Friday pick.

  1. Show Me How! has been endorsed by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).  Studies show that kids with special needs often struggle with self-esteem issues and JDRF feels the book is especially helpful to families who are dealing with juvenile diabetes or children with other special needs.  The book will appear on their newly launched book review page from now until April:   I’m donating 20% to JDRF for any books people buy when they click through to my website from the JDRF page.
  2. If you haven’t already signed up for Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo 2012, hurry over and DO IT!  I’m planning on using the wonderful journal Susanna sent me for participating in Summer Short and Sweets…it will be PERFECT for those 30 picture book ideas that are already swirling around in my head!
  3. Monday, October 29, at 7pm EST, the wife of Governor O’Malley of Maryland will be talking about bullying on a Google+ HOA (Hangout on Air).  I may be joining the discussion.  I will definitely know by Sunday…so if it works out, I will include that information in my Sunday post.
  4. Susanna Leonard Hill has a wonderful Halloweensie writing contest going on right now…you still have plenty of time to participate…entries are due by Wednesday, October 31.

And now…because you have been so patient…perhaps I should offer goodies like Susanna does…here is the last PPBF for October.

Our Perfect Picture Book Friday choice is Cat Tale…in honor of  National Bullying Prevention Month.

Written and illustrated by Michael Hall

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (2012)

Ages: 4 and up


Communication (using words), friendship, group dynamics

First lines:

“From word to word, they find their way, Lillian, Tilly and William J.

They pack some books and kitty chews, they choose a spot, they spot some ewes.”


Using words, the three intrepid cats go from adventure to adventure…always sticking together.

Why do I like this book:



Experts recommend that kids use group dynamics and words to combat bullies (in addition to telling an adult right away).  Michael Hall’s three cats show us how using words and sticking together can get one past many obstacles.


Kids love to do arts and crafts!  Michael Hall used cut paper for his illustrations.  Using cut paper, kids can do amazing projects.

Here’s a cut paper “quilt” that would make a wonderful wall or door decoration for Halloween.  All you need is a large piece of poster board and several sheets of appropriately colored construction paper.  Trace various ‘Halloween” themed characters, cut them out and paste onto the poster board.  You can make the project more simple by using a single piece of construction paper and doing just one character.

Here’s a project that will be easy for the youngest child.  You will need several sheets of contruction paper in “Halloween” colors, paste and scissors.  Trace the child’s handprint several times on each sheet and cut out.  Paste them together to form a wreath shape and hang up on door or wall.  To make the wreath more sturdy, use a piece of poster board or cardboard as backing.

Both of these crafts are from:

More wonderful paper crafts here:

And more amazing paper crafts here:

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.   This is an unbelievable resource for any parent, teacher or children’s librarian.

Sunday Post: Cities…A Good Place to Raise Children?

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge and every week he provides a theme…this week’s theme is CITIES.


Do you live in a big city like Chicago?

Or are you raising your family in a smaller town?

Wherever children grow up, they enjoy doing things with their parents.

If you want to be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you need to be in their lives today.”

How can we do this?

Read with them.  This is Carter with the interactive Cheerios Halloween book that was part of the Halloween Prize Package I sent to his family.

Introduce them to nature and let them get dirty!  This is my grandson, Jeremy, having a ball with mud!

Share your interests with them!  This is my granddaughter, learning to fish.

Be joyous with them!  Laugh with them!  Love them!


Want more information about Jake’s Sunday Post?

Halloween Hangouts on Google+

#Halloween fun for #preschoolers


Need a few fresh ideas for Halloween?


Join these moms, teachers and other parenting experts in a Google+ Hangout!


I’m joining author and educator Susan Case on Thursday at 3:30pm CST…I hope you’ll hop over and say hello!


A full line up of HOAs celebrating
#parenting , #kids , and all things #Halloween
+ Join +Angelique Felix at 2:15 PM CST for a Witches story and cupcakes
+ Join +Angelique Felix at 2:15 PM CST for a Monster song and craft
+ Join +Susan Case and guest +Rachelle Doorley at 5:30 PM CST for Spooky Simple Science Recipes
+ Join +Holly Homer at 9:30 AM CST and guests as they discusses Candy Control
+ Join Kimberley Blaine and guests at 1:00 PM CST as they discuss children’s age differences and participation in Halloween
+ Join +Green Kid Crafts at 2:00 PM CST for Greening Your Halloween
+ Join +Angelique Felix at 2:15 PM CST for a Ghosts! story, song, and craft
+ Join +Angelique Felix at 2:15 PM CST for a Black Cat! story and song
+ Join +Holly Homer at 9:00 PM CST for a discussion on Homemade Costumes
+ Join +Susan Case and +Vivian Kirkfield at 3:30 CST for Halloween book reading, craft and discussion on how picture books help children deal with their problems
+ Join +Angelique Felix at 2:15 PM CST for a Pumpkins! rhyme and song
Please come and connect with me and Susan Case on Thursday at 3:30CST…Halloween story reading by Susan…and a great Halloween craft with me…and how picture books can help your kids with their challenges!

Our show will be streamed to YouTube where you’ll be able to view it later on.

Halloween memories

I’ve been looking back at my memories of past Halloweens.  As a young child, I lived in an apartment house with 104 units…a Halloween paradise…and you didn’t even have to go outside!  Of course, that was over 50 years ago, when there was less of a concern about knocking on a door of someone you didn’t know.  My 8-year old sister, Rho, was put in charge of me and my two best friends, Jane and Marilyn.  We were all of 5-years old and so excited about the candy we would receive…rainbow dots stuck on the white strip of paper, Bazooka bubblegum, Tootsie rolls…just what you’d find if you went to a vintage candy store.  I don’t remember what characters we portrayed, but I know that the costumes were always homemade by our mothers.

My next memories are of Halloweens we celebrated when our children were growing up.  In the beginning, we went trick or treating in the neighborhood of the small Connecticut town where we lived…where almost everyone on the street knows your name.  However, one year, on the morning of Halloween, there were broadcasts on TV and radio about some tainted candy that had been given to children.  I was just finishing tying the ribbons on colorfully wrapped portions of homemade rice krispie treats that were to be given out to the neighborhood trick or treaters.  Of course, there was no way I could give those out…I’m sure parents would examine their children’s goodie bags and throw out anything that wasn’t store-bought and factory-sealed.  That was the last time our children went trick or treating…from then on, we opted to have Halloween parties at our home…inviting friends of our children to share a safer Halloween.

It’s too bad those Halloween trick or treaters didn’t get to enjoy the rice krispie treats, but you can!  Here is the recipe I used:


You will need:  3TB butter or margarine, 1 package (10 oz) fresh marshmallows, 1/2 cup almond butter, 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal, 1 cup organic mini chocolate chips, large microwave-safe bowl, and a 13x9x2-inch casserole pan. 

  1. In microwave-safe bowl, heat butter or margarine and marshmallows on High for 2 minutes.  Stir and heat 1 more minute.  Stir until smooth.
  2. Add almond butter and stir well.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Add the cereal and stir until well-coated.
  5. Spray the 13x9x2-inch pan with canola oil and press the mixture into the pan with a buttered or oiled spatula.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap. Cool and then cut into squares.
  7. Best eaten within 24 hours…I don’t think they will last that long.


Halloween activities for preschoolers

Building self-esteem in young children is a cause which resonates deep within me.  I have found that picture book stories are an amazing vehicle for parents and teachers to use, not only for entertainment and enjoyment, but also to help preschoolers deal with the many issues they face as they grow up.

Halloween is a perfect time to read, “A TIGER CALLED THOMAS“, by Charlotte Zolotow.  Every young child will enjoy the story about the little boy who moves into a new neighborhood and feels that no one will like him.  He is too afraid to connect with the children he sees playing outside.  But on Halloween, even though he hides behind a tiger mask, the children and adults in his neighborhood welcome him and show him that they want to be his friend.  For other books that address a similar theme of young children who are hesitant about moving to a new place and making new friends, check out “ALEXANDER WHO’S NOT (DO YOU HEAR ME? I MEAN IT!) GOING TO MOVE” by Judith Voirst and “GILA MONSTERS MEET YOU AT THE AIRPORT” by Marjorie Weiman Sharmat.

Halloween is also a perfect time for dress-up and role-playing, although these activities can be enjoyed by young children all year long.  In fact, dress-up and role-playing are wonderful ways for  children to express feelings and concerns that they might be hesitant to express as themselves.  You can use a sturdy cardboard box to store dress-up items…your child can help decorate the outside of the box and you can shop at Goodwill or consignment stores to find inexpensive items to supply the box.  If you do go out to buy a premade costume, make sure it will be safe and comfortable for your young child to wear.  Most little ones will be thrilled with a homemade costume that they have helped put together.  We often get caught up in the commercialism of many holidays…but with young children…simple is often the best choice.

Over the years, we had many Halloween parties for our children.  We also went trick or treating countless times.  But the best Halloween ever was the one we spent at a church-organized “Trick or Treat” where the children and adults all dressed up in costumes.  Each Suncay school classroom was manned by an adult (in costume) and the children walked down the halls, knocking on each door that was opened by the adult who was ready with a bowl of treats.  When all of the children had gone “trick or treating”, everyone assembled in the main dining room which was festively decorated.  In each corner, games had been set up…dunking for apples, donuts on a string, beanbag toss, etc…and there were small prizes awarded to each child. There were also tables with juice, cupcakes and other things to eat and drink.  Finally, there was a costume parade and each child won a blue ribbon for the best costume in different categories: scariest costume, most colorful costume, shiniest costume, etc.  It was a safe, fun-filled evening for everyone.  Perhaps your church, temple or neighborhood group can organize a similar event.  It’s not too eary to start planning!

For more information on all things Halloween, go to;

 where Sherri Osborn is hosting a Halloween Blog Carnival.  You’ll find tips on costumes, food, party ideas and more for the youngest trick or treaters and lots of ideas for older children and teenagers, as well.