Archive | October, 2013

Halloweensie Challenge

28 Oct

TRICK OR TREAT!  Susanna Leonard Hill is having a contest to write a short (less than 100 word) children’s story, poem, or prose for Halloween which must include the words spooky, black cat, and cackle.   There are great prizes involved.  So even though I have never tried my hand at this before, I decided to give it a go!  After all it’s not really Halloween if you’re not scared.  If you’re not scared (or even if you are) and you want to join in the fun, here’s her link.


Before I started, I looked through a great facebook page called Once Upon for inspiration.  This is a site devoted to artistic illustrations.  This is the painting that spoke to me.  (Notice the little black cat walking on the rooftop.)  It’s called Witch’s Moon by  Hazel Billingsley, I have included it for your enjoyment and the added dimension it gives my prose.

Don’t forget to leave me a comment (tab on the left).


Sleepless Hallow’s Eve

by Juliana Lee


Full moon shining in the grey-black night

Ghostly shadows slip silently overhead

Barren tree branches scratch the sky

Spooky noises fill the air


Rattle Clatter Cackle


Bats on velvet wings swoop low

Black Cat pads soundlessly on the roof

Deep sighs inhale then release

Spooky noises fill the air


Rattle Clatter Cackle


Midnight hour tolls warning

Footsteps fall outside your door

Heavy hinges creak unknowing

Spooky noises fill the air


Goodnight dear

Sleep tight






Lazy Bones

20 Oct

Happy Fall Everyone!

I’m in a festive fall mood and so I’m going to share with you a rhyming story I wrote called,  Lazy Bones.  I wrote it last week.  After a trip this weekend to the Cumberland Gap in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky and the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, I decided to add some photos to my story.   Where I didn’t have a photo, I added images from google.

Just for fun, I added two videos from youtube.  The first is a cute skeleton cartoon dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  The second is an easy craft for Q-tip skeletons.

I hope you enjoy the story.  Please share it with your little ones and leave me a comment.



by Juliana Lee


“Lazy Bones get out of bed!”

Mama Bones, Papa Bones, Baby Bones said.

“Let’s go to the pumpkin patch.”

“Let’s go sleepyhead!”

Three orange faces giving off light.

Lazy Bones slumbers, sleeps through the night.


“Lazy Bones get out of bed!”

Mama Bones, Papa Bones, Baby Bones said.

“Let’s go the apple farm.”

“Let’s go sleepyhead!”

Handpicked bushel, caramel apples crunch.

Lazy Bones dozes, naps until lunch.


“Lazy Bones get out of bed!”

Mama Bones, Papa Bones, Baby Bones said.

“Let’s go to the mountain trail.”

“Let’s go sleepyhead!”

Leaves, red, orange, purple, yellow, brown.

Lazy Bones blinks, eyelids falling down.


“Lazy Bones get out of bed!”

Mama Bones, Papa Bones, Baby Bones said.

“Let’s go to the park hayride.”

“Let’s go sleepyhead!”

Long bumpy trail, bouncing on the bales.

Lazy Bones drifts on his dreamboat sail.


“Lazy Bones get out of bed!”

Mama Bones, Papa Bones, Baby Bones said.

“Let’s go to the dried corn maze.”

“Let’s go sleepyhead!”

Right turn, left turn, all turned around.

Lazy Bones snores, doesn’t hear a sound.


“Lazy Bones get out of bed!”

Mama Bones, Papa Bones, Baby Bones said.

“Let’s go to the haunted house.”

“Let’s go sleepyhead!”

Screech, screech, howl, howl.  Shiver, shiver, shake.

Lazy Bones snoozes, just won’t wake.


“Lazy Bones get out of bed!”

Mama Bones, Papa Bones, Baby Bones said.

“Let’s go to the graveyard dance.”

“Let’s go sleepyhead!”

Rattle-clatter, conga.  Hip, bump-bump.


Salsa-samba, swing.  Jazz-jive-jump.

Funny Bones, Crazy Bones


Riff-rhumba, rump.

Silly Bones, Skin n’ Bones


Shimmy-swing, stump.

Haunted Bones, Spooky Bones


Wiggle-waltz, wump.

Groovy Bones, Funky Bones


Dip-disco, dump


Lazy Bones got out of bed.

Music rocking in his head.

Rhythm, beat, lyrics, tones

Boogie, Mojo, Footloose Bones!

Hope you liked the story.   (Don’t forget to leave me a comment.)

Here are the youtube videos promised!

Cartoon skeletons dancing to Thriller:

Q-tip skeleton craft:


Mama, Let’s Make a Moon

15 Oct


Sometimes you find just what you need.  While looking for a newly published book to add to my blog,  I came across this simple text and beautiful artwork published this year.  I was browsing my local library the week before taking a trip to the Appalachian Mountains for a cousin’s wedding, who coincidentally is also named Clay, and was struck by the timeliness of it.  Then while browsing the internet for a book cover for this post, I also found a youtube video by Clay Rice himself singing and talking about how he made this book, posted just two days ago.

Clay Rice tells a tale in verse of an Appalachian family living a tiny cabin, who make something out of nothing but their imagination and love for each other.  It is beautifully written and illustrated.  The back cover proclaims, “Clay Rice is considered by many collectors to be the finest silhouette artist in the world.”

My favorite line:  “We’ll stuff it with silly, and marshmallow goo, and paint it with promise: Mama, let’s make a moon.”  It makes me want to go right out and make a moon with my little ones.  Because really, except for the silly and the marshmallow goo, all we really have to give is promise.

Take a look at this video and I’m sure you’ll be just as captivated by the magic of the story as I am.

If you have found this post to be ‘just what you needed’ please leave me a comment.  I would love to hear from you!

Book Donations

12 Oct


Just had to share a picture of this beautiful mosaic on the outside of the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The hands are gorgeous each in their own right, but put together they really make a powerful statement.  They also put me in the mind of sharing, reaching out, lending a helping hand, and working together.

This morning I spent several hours inside this building with hundreds of other people at the Books by the Banks book festival.  I met some really great authors, writers, speakers, and volunteers.  I also picked up two children’s books that I had autographed by the authors and dedicated to the students of the last school I worked at before I retired last year.

The students of Woodlawn Elementary School will be receiving What Was Your Dream, Dr. King? by Mary Kay Carson and Benjamin Franklin, American Genius by Brandon Marie Miller.


 Benjamin Franklin, American Genius

On my way home I snapped the picture of the hands.  Later this evening I got the idea to have more give-aways.  So I thought I would get some ideas from you… where would YOU like me to make my next donation?  Leave me a note in the comment box telling me where and why you think I should make my next donation.


Mrs. McBloom, CLEAN UP Your Classroom!

10 Oct

Image   I was browsing through the library today looking for new picture books, and instead got swept up by a 2005 gem!  I sure wish I had seen this before I retired, it would have been a great book to share with my class.   Author, Kelly DiPucchio has a wonderful flair for imagery and silliness.  And illustrator, Guy Francis takes the story and runs with it!

Mrs. McBloom has been teaching since ‘long before that Armstrong fella set his tootsies on the moon’ and in all that time has never cleaned her classroom.  Whenever anyone complained she simply said it was at the top of her to-do list, right above ‘take a fancy-shmancy cruise’.  But now that it’s time for her to retire she realizes that the job is too big for her.  She gives her students a homework assignment to come up with an idea to get the room clean ‘lickety split’.  The last student to present her idea suggested that if everyone in town came in and picked up just one item the room would be clean.  And since ‘nearly every citizen of Up Yonder had been a student of Mrs. McBloom’s at one time or another’ they all pitched in to help.  The things they found in her room ranged from lost library books and eyeglasses to a postcard signed by President Roosevelt and a flag with forty-eight stars.  Mrs. McBloom got a chance to shake hands with all her former students and she ‘bawled like a baby in wet britches’.  The town had a huge yard sale and with the money they raised, they sent Mrs. McBloom on a ‘fancy-schmancy cruise’.  The story ends with the ‘sweet, young Miss Bumblesprout’ announcing to her class in the ‘spiffed-up tidy’ room that they were going to plant pumpkin seeds.    (Can you see where this is going?)

Now if that synopsis doesn’t make you want to run right out and get a copy, you’re either: a) not a teacher (or ever have been)   b) not a kid (or ever have been)  c) too busy teaching to read a great picture book  or d) all of the above.

Me and Mom

8 Oct


This is a picture of me with my mother taken last May on Mother’s Day.  Many people have said that I look a lot like her.  I never really saw that, but in recent years I can see more and more of the similarity.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and am startled to see my mother looking back at me!

Notice how we’re both squinting into the camera?  That’s a bad habit we both have when we’re smiling.  Since this picture was taken, my mother’s vision had begun to deteriorate.  Although she didn’t know it at the time, she’d been developing cataracts in both eyes.  She found out this summer when she went to renew her driver’s license.  So we spent the better part of the summer having them removed.  I’d like to say that I was a perfect daughter throughout the whole process, but I must admit it was more than a little frustrating.  First of all, what genius decided that eye drops for cataracts should come in little tiny bottles with even tinier written instructions???  For goodness sake, the woman can’t see!  And to make matters worse, there was not one but three different eye drops to take in differing amounts and for differing lengths of time.  There was a full page sheet of ovals for her to fill in each time she took one of these drops.  So I did what any good teacher would do, I made the necessary accommodations and labeled three large ziplock baggies with the name of the drop and when is should be taken.  Then I cut her sheet into strips so that she only had to deal with one week at a time, because of course the directions for each drop changed each of the four weeks that it was administered!  And then we repeated the whole process for the second surgery.   Throughout all this process, she can’t drive…. so who gets to do all the shopping, library runs, post office delivery, banking, etc…. you guessed it!

Ah well, the good news is that now mom has almost perfect vision in both eyes and her driver’s license.   I still have my sanity and my mother… life’s good!

So here’s to all you children out there who are doing your best to help their parents, friends, and neighbors…. Keep up the good work, they appreciate it!

Llama Llama and the Bully Goat

7 Oct


Llama llama and the Bully Goat written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney (2013)

As promised… last week when I met Anna Dewdney at a book signing event in Cincinnati, I promised to review this book. Here it is.

Sorry it took me a little longer than expected to write this review, but I do have a good excuse.  It was my grand daughter’s third birthday this weekend.  On the bright side though, I do have her reaction to this book as well as my own review!

Llama Llama and the Bully Goat is a wonderfully written picture book for the preschool crowd addressing the issue of bullies in a realistic yet sweet way.  Llama and his friends at school run into problems with billy goat who laughs at others, says ‘not-nice words’, and is mean on the playground.  Llama tells the teacher and she has a talk with the class during circle time.  By the end of the story the billy goat is singing with the rest of the class and everyone goes home happy.

I liked that even though the billy goat was a bully goat, Anna Dewdney presented him as a character with flaws who is still likable.  It’s so important that young children realize the difference between bad behavior and a bad person.  She also presented a solution that little ones can implement in their own dealings with bullies or friends who can be mean sometimes.

Little Juliana listened to this book so seriously!   She repeated after me and asked ‘why’ on every page.  She’s still at the why stage, so we had lots to talk about.  She was so happy that the billy goat was nice and that llama and the billy goat were friends at the end of the book.

“Read it again!” … highest praise for an author!

So, from me and my grand daughter… two thumbs up!

Anna Dewdney

3 Oct

Anna illustrated her famous llama for the audience. I especially liked how she interacted with the little ones there. One little guy really wanted her to add the red pajamas from his favorite book!


Here she is reading Llama Llama Mad at Mama. I loved how she introduced the story with the background that even the youngest participants could identify with.


Can’t you tell how much she loves her job! The kids were enthralled, and so was I!

I got a chance to meet Anna Dewdney, author of the Llama Llama series this morning.  She was at the Blue Manatee Children’s Bookstore in Cincinnati drawing, reading, sharing, and signing with a packed house of little ones and their parents, grandparents, and caregivers.  As you can see from the photos, she is multi-talented and engaging.  The kids loved her and were eager to participate in the storytelling.

Being the nice person that I am, and having an ulterior motive, I let all the people with little ones goes first.  I grabbed a seat in the cafe and waited out the crowds at the book signing with a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin.  When the last child got their book signed and their picture take, I took my turn.  I had three books signed, her newest book, Llama Llama and the Bully Goat for my oldest granddaughter, and two board books for my youngest granddaughter.  And of course I had my picture taken also.

Now for the ulterior motive… I got a chance to talk with Anna Dowdney about writing!   She is so sweet and caring.  She asked right away if I was a teacher, we have that in common.  (Said she could tell right away!)  But most importantly she gave me lots of advice and encouragement.  She even gave me the name of her agent and told me to email her with any questions.   How cool is that!


I’m not too embarrassed to want my own picture take with a famous author!

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