Archives for category: Children’s books

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MERRY
by Shel Silverstein

No one’s hangin’ stockin’s up,
No one’s bakin’ pie,
No one’s lookin’ up to see
A new star in the sky.
No one’s talkin’ brotherhood,
No one’s givin’ gifts,
And no one loves a Christmas tree
On March the twenty-fifth.

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SANTA AND THE REINDEER
by Shel Silverstein

“This is the hour,” said Santa Claus,
“The bells ring merrily.”
Then on his back he slung his pack,
And into his sleigh climbed he.

“On, Dancer! On, Prancer! On, Donner and Blitzen!
On Comet and Cupid!” cried he.
And all the reindeers leaped but one,
And that one stood silently.
He had pulled the sleigh for a thousand years,
And never a word spoke he.
Now he stood in the snow, and he whispered low –
“Oh what do you have for me?”
“I have games and toys for girls and boys,”
Said Santa cheerily.
The reindeer stood as if made of wood –
“But what do you have for me?”
“The socks are hung, the bells are rung!”
Cried Santa desperately.
The reindeer winked at a falling star –
“But what do you have for me?”
Then Santa reached into his beard,
And he found a tiny flea,
And he put it into the reindeer’s ear,
And the reindeer said, “For me? Oh gee!”
And into the blue away they flew,
Away they flew with the flea.
And the moral of this yuletide tale
You know as well as me.

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And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS (Excerpt) by Dr. Seuss

Random House published How the Grinch Stole Christmas on November 24, 1957 — so it’s 56 years since this charming classic first appeared. Grinch is so fresh and edgy that it’s hard to believe the book has been with us for over half a century. For a holiday treat, watch the ending from the 1966 Chuck Jones TV version — narrated by Boris Karlov — on YouTube.

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In this charming photo from 1969, novelist/screenwriter/essayist/writing icon Joan Didion reads HONEY BEAR by Dixie Willson to three-year-old daughter Quintana Roo Dunne. Since Didion is a writer par excellence, we are assuming that she picked only the best books to read to her daughter — and it follows that Honey Bear is a classic.

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Wow! Yes! None other than Tom Wolfe — author of one of my favorite novels THE BONFIRES OF THE VANITIES and many other fiction and nonfiction works — claims that Honey Bear by Dixie Willson was the piece of literature that inspired him to become a writer (no kidding!). Because Wolfe’s take on Willson’s book is so fascinating and informative, I’m including an excerpt from his musings below.

From “The Books that Made the Writers” (YALE ALUMNI MAGAZINE) by Tom Wolfe:

“…I was… galvanized…by a writer who never rated so much as a footnote to American literary history: Dixie Willson wrote…a book called Honey Bear in 1923. My mother used to read it to me at bedtime long before I knew one letter of the alphabet from another…Honey Bear is a narrative poem about a baby kidnapped from a bassinet by a black bear. Maginel Wright Barney drew and painted in the japanais Vienna Secession style. To me, her pictures were pure magic. But Honey Bear’s main attraction was Dixie Willson’s rollicking and rolling rhythm: anapestic quadrameter with spondees at regular intervals…The Willson beat made me think writing must be not only magical but fun…I resolved then and there, lying illiterate on a little pillow in a tiny bed, to be a writer. In homage to Dixie Willson, I’ve slipped a phrase or two from Honey Bear into every book I’ve written…”

To demonstrate why Tom Wolfe fell in love with Honey Bear, here’s a excerpt:

Once upon a summer in the hills by the river
Was a deep green forest where the wild things grew.
There were caves as dark as midnight—there were tangled trees and thickets
And a thousand little places where the sky looked through.

Read more of of “The Books that Made the Writers” at YALE ALUMNI REVIEW.

Photo: Joan Didion Reads Honey Bear by Dixie Willson to daughter Quintana Roo Dunne, Los Angeles Times, 1969, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Note: Honey Bear by Dixie Willson is currently out of print, but copies are usually available on ebay (starting at around  $100)…

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WRITER WAITING
by Shel Silverstein

Oh this shiny new computer–
There just isn’t nothin’ cuter.
It knows everything the world ever knew.
And with this great computer
I don’t need no writin’ tutor,
‘Cause there ain’t a single thing that it can’t do.
It can sort and it can spell,
It can punctuate as well.
It can find and file and underline and type.
It can edit and select,
It can copy and correct,
So I’ll have a whole book written by tonight
(Just as soon as it can think of what to write).

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“Writer Waiting” appears in Falling Up, poems and drawings by Shel Silverstein (HarperCollins, 1996), available at Amazon.com. (And I recommend that everyone have a personal copy of this delightful book.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chicago native Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) was a poet, songwriter, singer, cartoonist, screenwriter, and author. Other notable books include The Giving Tree (1964), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974), and the song “A Boy Named Sue,”  made famous by Johnny Cash.

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DECEMBER SUBSTITUTE
by Kenn Nesbitt

Our substitute is strange because
he looks a lot like Santa Claus.
In fact, the moment he walked in
we thought that he was Santa’s twin.

We wouldn’t think it quite so weird,
if it were just his snowy beard.
But also he has big black boots
and wears these fuzzy bright red suits.

He’s got a rather rounded gut
that’s like a bowl of you-know-what.
And when he laughs, it’s deep and low
and sounds a lot like “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

He asks us all if we’ve been good
and sleeping when we know we should.
He talks of reindeers, sleighs, and elves
and tells us to behave ourselves.

And when it’s time for us to go
he dashes out into the snow.
But yesterday we figured out
just what our sub is all about.

We know just why he leaves so quick,
and why he’s dressed like Old Saint Nick
in hat and coat and boots and all:
He’s working evenings at the mall.

“December Substitute.” appears in Kenn Nesbitt’s collection When the Teacher Isn’t Looking (Meadowbrook Press, 2005), available at Amazon.com.

PHOTO: Actor Donald Sutherland as a teaching Santa Claus (Worth1000.com, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kenn Nesbitt is the author of numerous books of poetry for children, including The Armpit of Doom: Funny Poems for Kids (2013), The Ultimate Top Secret Guide to Taking Over the World (2011), The Tighty-Whitey Spider (2010), Revenge of the Lunch Ladies (2007), Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney (2006), When the Teacher Isn’t Looking: And Other Funny School Poems (2005), and The Aliens Have Landed at Our School! (2001). Nesbitt’s poems have appeared in hundreds of anthologies, magazines, and textbooks worldwide. His website, Poetry4kids, is an online “Funny Poetry Playground” that features poems, lessons, games, and poetry-related activities. He currently lives in Spokane, Washington with his wife, children, and pets. (Source: poetryfoundation.org)

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LEFTOVERS
by Jack Prelutsky

Thanksgiving has been over
for at least a week or two,
but we’re all still eating turkey,
turkey salad, turkey stew,
 
turkey puffs and turkey pudding,
turkey patties, turkey pies,
turkey bisque and turkey burgers,
turkey fritters, turkey fries.
 
For lunch, our mother made us
turkey slices on a stick,
there’ll be turkey tarts for supper,
all this turkey makes me sick.
 
For tomorrow she’s preparing
turkey dumplings stuffed with peas,
oh I never thought I’d say this —
“Mother! No more turkey… PLEASE!”
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Find recipe ideas for turkey leftovers at theculinarychase.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: For over 30 years, Jack Prelutsky’s inventive poems have inspired legions of children to fall in love with poetry. His award-winning books include The New Kid On The Block, The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders and If Not For The Cat.  He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife, Carolynn. Visit him at jackprelutsky.com.

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“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. MILNEWinnie-the-Pooh

Illustration: E.H. Shepard (illustrator of original Winnie-the-Pooh books, published 1926-1928)

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 ”Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” MARCEL PROUST, author of Remembrance of Things Past

Illustration: Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh by E.H. Shepard

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“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ALBERT SCHWEITZER  

ILLUSTRATION: Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet by E.H. Shepard