Friday, October 26, 2007

Poetry Friday -- Halloween ABC

Halloween ABC
by Eve Merriam
Illustrated by Lane Smith
Copyright 1987

I'm feeling old. (It doesn't take much these days.) Eve Merriam's book of 26 Halloween poems has been one of my all-time favorite holiday books since...this is where the problem lies...since close to the beginning of my teaching career. Yeah. That long. And when I went to Powell's to get an image and a link, it wasn't there. Because it's out of print.

Come to find out, I missed the release of the updated version in 2002:

I doubt I would have bought it because, frankly, it doesn't look as spooky as the original book. I really liked Lane Smith's dark, foreboding illustrations. It appears from the reviews that the poems are the same in both books, only the illustrations have been updated. And the poems are classic Eve Merriam. If she chooses some predictable Halloween subjects for some of the letters, she writes a surprising poem. Every poem is completely unique -- there is no formula for the poems that make them repetitious and boring. The poem for Apple begins,

sweet apple,
what do you hide?
Wormy and
rotten inside.

(You can see the whole poem for Apple here.)

This poem is a good example of the way the whole book twists and turns your expectations for what each poem might be about, or what word she might choose for each letter of the alphabet.

Grab this book (if you can find it), turn the lights off and light a flickering candle, get out your spookiest voice, and have a great read aloud! Happy Halloween!


Today's roundup is at Literary Safari, a new blog for me. Look around their blog a bit before you click out to the poems today. They've got some great stuff over there!


  1. Thanks for the link to this classic (not gonna say OLD) title. I really love that A is for Apple spread!

  2. Thanks for the recommendation--it looks great. Our library has the Lane Smith version, and I will be getting it!


  3. Anonymous11:36 AM

    Looks excellent - I might have to score a copy of that!

    What are the original illos like?

  4. This collection looks great! The ending of the apple poem came as a total surprise. Love that.

  5. And in their own horrible-intake-of-breath fashion, worms -- in apples? Very scary.

    Like this!

  6. I first became acquainted with this book when I started teaching as well, and like you I prefer the old illustrations. The new one looks like every other illustration today, which don't get me wrong, isn't a bad style, just overdone.

  7. Anonymous9:10 AM

    Thanks for the recommendation. I've just put it on reserve at the library. And because of fund cuts, all they have is the original with the Lane Smith illos. Yea!


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