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by Alan Venable, pictures by Lena Venable, 2021
36 color illustrated pages
Paperback list price $10.95
In this playful, surprising tale, a savvy young witch keeps her own interests in mind as she negotiates with a scarecrow who owns some pumpkins that the witch and her ornery cronies want to carve on Halloween. A win-win deal depends on her finding out what the understandably wary, secretive scarecrow might want in exchange. Based on grownup, win-win research! Stimulating language. Written with classroom discussion in mind. Includes notes for teachers.
“The Pumpkin Deal blends a delightfully unique overlay of plot, invention, and moral.
“Delightful illustrations by Lena Venable pair nicely with a rollicking rhyme. The art– like the text–is intriguing to adult readers, as well. Greater heart, awareness and mindfulness than the usual Halloween adventure.”
—D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Children’s Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review
“It’s really a story about negotiation, about listening and problem-solving. The older witches rant hilariously and run roughshod over their adversary, but the littlest witch has the patience to listen and finds a solution that works for everyone.”
“I read this story to my small groups of 2nd, 4th & 5th graders this past week -- they all loved it! They were enthralled with the rhythm of the poetry and the imagery. They all enjoyed the bit of spookiness and a happy ending. They related to the choices that Cricket made despite the behavior of the band of witches throughout the story.
“We read this story twice in each group, stopping to study the vocabulary and phrases that help us understand nuances of the characters/actions better. The second reading in each group was to appreciate the cadence and rhythm of the poetry -- didn't even have to ask anyone not to interrupt, they loved hearing it so much they didn't want to make a peep. ”
— Lisa Barnett, Empower Learning Center
“I love a great picture book that can be used with older readers, and this Halloween tale fits the bill. With vivid language and alliterative delights, not only is this an enjoyable story but a great mentor text for writing, too. The A-B-CC rhyme scheme is another offer for readers and writers:
‘And before the boss could command them to stop,
The other six maniacs screamed with delight,
And flew in a fleet to the neighboring village
To burgle eight pumpkins by trickery or pillage.’
“The lovely (and spooky) illustrations offer style and an opportunity to look closer. Highly recommend for your seasonal library collection.”
— Rebecca Loveless, Structured Word Inquiry coach
“A great addition to our Halloween themed books and stories. With just a touch of the spooky, my kids and I enjoyed this tale about witches and pumpkins, working together to solve a problem. The ending was unique and I love that you have to ‘dig out its meaning.’ The beautiful artwork was spot on as well, a perfect accompaniment to the text.”
— Emily Wang
by Alan Venable, pictures by Byron Barton, 2010
32 full-color pages with teaching suggestions
Hardback list price $14.95
Paperback list price $11.95
“The Checker Players is a classroom essential, the perfect book for children of all ages. Reading it in September, when friendships are forming and teamwork is being encouraged, sets the stage for cooperation and goodwill throughout the school year. If ever a book promoted tolerance and fair play, this is it.
“Competing at a game of checkers, two comical characters find their budding friendship at stake. How they resolve their differences provides a springboard for endless discussions about the value of respect and compromise.
“Over the years, we’ve used the book in many creative ways. We use it to frame situations in which the students could get along better: ‘What did the carpenter do to solve his problem? The tinker?’ ‘Can you two work out your differences like they did?’ ‘How can we use the example of The Checker Players to solve problems in our families, our neighborhoods, our world?’
“Our students analyze its story structure and character description, and discover the author’s uses of humor which flows throughout the book. To predict the ending, the children may draw their own versions of the tinker’s and carpenter’s boats, then discuss how these differences would affect the story’s outcome. The Checker Players also lends itself well to reader’s theatre, as well as creative dramatics and script-writing. From this model of creative writing, students are always inspired and their writing improves accordingly.”
—Mary Fessenden & Ruth Rath, veteran New York State public school teachers
“A story that will delight young children.” —School Library Journal
“Intelligence and humor…. It has that rare substance.” —New York Times Book Review
“Charm and sense.” —New York Magazine
“Barton’s sketches nicely capture the humor in this elementary lesson that two can do better than one.” —Publisher’s Weekly
by Alan Venable, pictures by Natalie Lewellyn
32 full-color pages
Hardback list price $11.95
Paperback list price $10.95
As the peanut kids' peanutrician, Dr. Peanut leads a pleasant life until he ventures out into a peanut-eating world. Out there, he needs to travel in disguise. Costumed as an ant one afternoon, he barely escapes a squirrel and is scooped up by two hungry kids. Laughing at the learned doctor’s ingenious arguments for why they shouldn’t eat him, the amused children tell him not to worry, “We don’t eat anything that talks!”
Medical centers use this book to reassure children that doctors are friendly. This book makes a great preparation for the six-story chapter book Don’t Eat Dr. Peanut!, which children will enjoy reading in their early elementary years.
“Peanuts don’t talk…or do they? A charming story of friendship from the perspective of one Dr. Peanut [who] encounters giants (human children) who…may turn him into a quick snack. But he is delightfully surprised…. Cute drawings.”
— Reviewer’s Choice, Children’s Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review
“Delightfully nonsensical, this tale will suit every child and adult who appreciates the absurd. Much of its charm is the advice the doctor gives to his young friends, boy and girl, who are wise enough to question some of his conclusions. What civilized conversations they have! The illustrations admirably capture the spirit.”
— Small Press Review
“Plain pea-nutty fun.”
— Old Schoolhouse Magazine
by Alan Venable, 2014
Paperback, 6 chapters, 76 pages, with black-and-white illustrations
List Price $9.95
This book begins with the tale told in the picture book Nutty to Meet You! in chapter format, with fresh illustrations, slightly more advanced language for bedtime or early elementary reading. From there it just gets nuttier! The book is filled with wordplay and glimpses of real natural science and outlandishness that young readers and listeners will enjoy detecting.
1. Meet Doctor Peanut — In which Dr. Peanut learns how to communicate with giants, and the giants learn a bit of “Pinglish.”
2. Slimy — In which the doctor acquires a snail for a pet and decides after scientific research and some surprising communication that neighborliness might be a better way to go.
3. Too Many Squirrels — A spine-tingling thriller of what can happen when a peanut takes a walk in the park!
4. Where Peanuts Come From — We mean the talking kind, and the surprising natural history of the real kind, too.
5. The C-in-P Machine — Pea-nutty high-tech unravels the mystery of why some peanuts are taller than others, yet all are nutty as they are.
6. Ask Before You Bite — The peanut world goes into an uproar when a young talking peanut is bitten by a giant. Naturally, the science-minded doctor wants to prevent such disasters in the future.
“I use the Dr. Peanut stories in my literacy instruction with children and they always love them—both students just learning to read, and more advanced readers. As soon as we finish one of them, the students are delighted to find there is another in the series.
“The Dr. Peanut books have just the right balance of silliness and and empowering, kind messages. Kids love knowing more than Dr. Peanut who can be a bit foolish. There is also just enough action with encounters with squirrels and other dangers. And the language is glorious and fun. Dr. Peanut and other talking peanuts speak their own language, Pinglish. The stories play with language in ways that enrich my work teaching reading. But If you are just looking for a book kids love to read again and again, I can’t recommend them highly enough.”
-- Pete Bowers, PhD, Structured Word Inquiry Literacy consultant and founder of WordWorks Literacy Centre
by Alan Venable, illustrated by Laurie Marshall, 2007
Jacketed hardback, 10 chapters, 110 pages, 10 full-page sepia illustrations
List price $12.95
“Sister and Brother Forgotten is one of the phrases used to describe the young siblings at the center of this story of love, loss, and longing. Taught that, ‘once together, never apart,’ Sister and Brother embark on a quest that begins when Granny becomes too old to care for them. The treasure of the story is its connection to fairytales and folklore. A great bedtime story for the older child.”
“Smoothly written, …moves at a strong pace. There is a kindness about the book, realistic conflicts, and incidents of humor…. Interesting, expressive illustrations enhance the text. In all, a winner for young readers or for group audiences.”
—Nancy Ferrel, Juneau Public Library Review Committee
“I was moved and passed this on to my own grandsons. The rhythm replicates traditional folktale. The environmental theme resonates with other stories from other times. It echoes deep in the unconscious.”
—Mary Catherine Bateson, author of Composing a Life
Compassion and courage. Take Me with You leaves a mark.”
—Adriane Lonzarich, teacher and storyteller
Download a free reader's theatre or class performance script.
Listen to a simple piano arrangement of the song, provided by composer Gilbert di Benedettii.