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Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

Here are a few of the reviews we have done last week. We are also inviting everyone to join our Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge. We hosted the AWB Challenge last year and we are thrilled to be able to host it again. Do sign up if you are looking for exciting reading challenges with monthly book prizes. Click on the titles/images below to be taken to our blog posts.

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[Photo Journal/A-Z Photo Story Challenge] K is for Kangaroos in Brisbane

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[Featured Guests for September/October] Meet the Slayers of Monsters and Beasts – Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo

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Furry Beasts and Monster Quizzes

[Poetry Friday] A Museum for Monsters? Why Not?

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Star Wars Reads Day and Book Prizes to be Won!

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[Book Hunting Expedition 70] More Monsters and Beasts in Picture Books from the Library

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When we launched our theme, I knew that we needed to feature quite a number of Gris Grimly picture books, and here they are!

IMG_8575Sipping Spiders through a Straw: Campfire Songs for Monsters

Story By: Kelly Dipucchio
Pictures byGris Grimly
Published by: Scholastic Press, 2008 Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

I can imagine quite a number of young boys who would take to this grisly picture book and sing-a-long to the campfire tunes included in this compilation. Beloved songs such as Home on the Range, Row Row Row Your Boat, and 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall have been mercilessly transformed into Home of the Strange, Blow Blow Blow Your Nose, and 99 Bottles of Blood on the Wall respectively. The change to the lyrics is quite ingenious –

Blow, blow, blow your nose,

sick and stuffy ghost,

Pick it, and poke it, and pull it out,

and spread it on your toast.

I can just imagine young children going all “eew! gross!” and wanting to read more of the pages and sing along to the songs that I think have been carefully and deliberately selected for just this purpose.

IMG_8578Kelly DiPucchio indeed knows the way to a child’s heart – and Grimly’s illustrations remain unparalleled. There is a comically-macabre element to his artwork that only he can possibly pull off. Freaky yet at the same time filled with expressions that convey hilarity, never taking one’s self seriously, just monstrously fun.

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Story Retold and Pictures By: Gris Grimly (original author: Washington Irving
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007.
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

I have always enjoyed Gris Grimly’s adaptations of classics – be it his retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s macabre stories in Tales of Death and Dementia and Tales of Mystery and Madness. This retelling of Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow is no exception. While in ‘picture book’ format, the language is for precocious readers who would love knowing words such as “sojourned” or “pedagogue” among others. I like how Grimly never underestimates his young audience, expecting them to understand difficult words through context and ghoulishly-artistic rendering of the narrative.

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This book reminded me of the hapless Ichabod Crane, his resourcefulness, his vagabond air, and his gallant way with the ladies. I liked how the entire story is portrayed as creepy but not too ghastly:

Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie.

Strange yet morbidly funny. Tragic yet with a sense of inevitability – as if it is how things must go. It is the way they are.

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The Headless Horseman would always remain one of the classic “spooks and spectres” of all times. Have a read dear friends and enjoy a good scare.

Currently Reading…

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I am finally done with A Feast for Crows and have just started reading the 5th book in the Song of Ice and Fire Series by George RR Martin: A Dance With Dragons. Now what am I supposed to do with my life once I have finished reading this with Books 6 and 7 nowhere in sight? Woe is me.

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Read-a-Latte Challenge Update:  187/188 (150)

8 comments on “[Monday Reading] A Gruesomely Gris Grimly 2-in-1 Special

  1. You’re so good at finding books I haven’t heard of before. I love the anticipation that’s building for Halloween everywhere. Frightfully fun times ahead for everyone!

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  2. Scary books aren’t my own personal favorite, but my students adore them, so I’m always looking for more titles. Maybe I should add a few picture books for my students to read to siblings.

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  3. I agree, students crave scary books. My copies of Scary Stories and its companions by Alvin Schwartz are some of the favorites in my library but the number one book is called The Big Book of Texas Ghost Stories. My taste run more like Sipping Spiders Through a Straw. Nice find.

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  4. Thanks for this great list of scary books – perfect to start gathering for Halloween (since the stores have costumes and candy already!) I LOVE the Sipping Spiders Through a Straw and will likely be teaching my students some of these songs for our Halloween assembly! Ghosts for Breakfast is also one I will be checking out! Thank you!

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  5. Love the theme for the month! 🙂 Sipping Spiders through a Straw was a book that “disappeared” twice from my library. Quite the popular, fun to introduce and sing with students book! 🙂

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  6. Thanks for sharing about Read Stars Wars Day. Sounds fun!

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  7. Spooky illustrations for the Headless Horsemen, Myra. I think I need to buy Sipping Spiders – perfect for those spooky October days!

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  8. Oh my, I had to read your post while squinting – I am quite the wimp when it comes to scary and ghouls!

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