Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

What could be SCARIER than BANNED BOOKS?!

Can you guess the titles of these books?

Here's to celebrating Halloween in a literary fashion! 

Did you guess these titles?

(Here's a hint: The Color Purple, Fifty Shades of Grey, Catcher in the Rye, and Draw Me a Star, standing beside Lonesome Dove.)

Doesn't that just make you want to do something SPOOKY and READ?

Visit your bookstore or library today (in costume) -- or download a story on your:

(Eye-Pad and Eye-Pod!)

Thank you to the good folks at Carolina Friends School for playing along! 

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I had a weird childhood. My dad worked in children's book publishing. So did my uncle. And my grandfather.

As a toddler, I would roam the halls of Scholastic and run into (literally) the founder of Scholastic, Maurice (Robbie) Robinson. As I grew steadier on my feet, I would peek into the offices of editors and publicists and look for the latest book or a Dynamite magazine.

There was this one guy. Dad called him "Jovial Bob." He was the editor of Bananas. You remember BANANAS - that funny, cool magazine for kids in the 1970s.  Dad would make me walk down the hall to Jovial Bob's office to ask for the latest issue in person. Jovial Bob was funny, but a little intimidating. His humor... dark. My love of Bananas was strong, however. I would muster my courage, enter his office, and brave his riddles in order to win a copy.


A few years ago, I ran into "Jovial Bob" -- my childhood go-to guy for BANANAS. He was signing books after a reading at the NC Literary Festival in Chapel Hill.

I waited for an hour to get an autograph. When it was my turn, I stood before Jovial Bob sheepishly without a book to sign.

 "I'm on an austerity budget," I explained, "Do you mind signing my program?"

"What do you need? A loan?" he said reaching for his wallet.

 "No.  I just wanted to say 'hi.'  Dad sends 'Jovial Bob' his regards."

"Who is your dad?" asked Jovial Bob, aka R.L. Stine, his royal highness of horror, who seemed surprised to hear the name of his alter ego.

After some pleasantries, Jovial Bob realized that I was that little kid who was always bugging him for BANANAS, those many years ago.

I told Mr. Stine that, while I admired his success with Goosebumps, they were too scary for me! I still preferred his work in Bananas. I tried my best to lure him back to the funny side. He looked unconvinced. Someone from the crowd yelled, "I loved Bananas, too!" (The educational publisher's version of "Freebird" at a book signing.)

RL Stine's trick for writing scary stories for kids:  
"How do I make them scary without causing too many goosebumps? The secret is to never make the story seem real. It has to seem like fantasy. The reader can't believe it could ever really happen."

 It was great to see Jovial Bob again. He is the master at what he does.

Time flies. Enjoy your Halloween, my dearies.

Amy C. Spaulding
Sleepy Hollow Books

(Photo credit for Dynamite Magazine cover -- copyright: Scholastic, Inc.)
(Photo credit of fan photo [Amy C. Spaulding with author R.L. Stine] --  courtesy of Sleepy Hollow Books)

Friday, September 13, 2013


6th Grade. 1976.

I was a brainiac. A super student.

But at the start of the school year, I couldn’t pay attention. Couldn’t concentrate. Couldn’t “get” the work the teacher was doing on the board. I just couldn’t seem to FOCUS.

Maybe I was dumb after all.

My smart mother took me to the optometrist.
Confirmed. I couldn’t see!  I needed glasses.

I cried. Right there in Mr. Optometrist’s office.  My life was ruined. 

“Don’t cry,” he said, starting to cry, too.

I got a pair of rimless glasses. “Just like not wearing glasses at all,” he said.

I cried harder.

Moral of the story: Get your KID’S eyes checked regularly.

Glasses are (now) cool.

(Illustration is by Ellen Raskin from her book SPECTACLES.)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Read When It Rains

Farm when the sun shines, 
read when it rains.

Some middle-grade books we recommend for a rainy day: 

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia - two girls travel to Oakland in the summer of 1968 to visit their mother who is involved in the Black Panther movement
P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia - The sequel to One Crazy Summer (equally as good)
Yuri's Brush with Magic by Maureen Wartski-- Kids find sea turtles and discover a family secret through the Japanese folktales their aunt tells 
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate - Told from a circus gorilla's perspective
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead - Newbery Medal-winning science fiction and mystery novel 
Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead - Two friends go undercover in New York City
Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer - Hope and her aunt seek family and good fortune in a small-town diner