Day 7 of my 13 Horrifically Silly Days of Halloween…children’s author Penelope Anne Cole

Day 7 of my 13 Horrifically Silly Days of Halloween…children’s author Penelope Anne Cole

On this, the seventh day, into the first week of Halloween, I have for you another children’s author with a terrific, Halloween counting book!

Welcome, Penelope! Tell me about yourself.

I’ve been a writer all my life–wrote stories as a kid, though none have survived. I worked for the government’s SF Regional Training Center where I developed and taught training courses in personnel management, wrote case studies, handouts, and other training materials. I did training for supervisors and was the editor of three Navy installation newsletters and wrote articles about personnel (in the government personnel was H.R.) I also wrote training manuals, handbooks, instructions, regulatory guidance, letters, memos, and reports. I taught writing courses, too.

After I retired from the federal government, I got my teaching credential and taught K-8th grade, all subjects, and 7-12th grade English as a Second Language–since I’d taught ESL in Spain & Turkey. I retired from teaching to tutor and wrote my children’s books (more below). Now I write short stories, memoir and poetry for anthologies of the California Writers Club Branches that I belong to.

Tell me about Ten Little Tricksters — what’s this picture book about, and when was it published?

Tricksters is a short and sweet Pre-K & Kinder reverse counting book, illustrated with 10 different Halloween creatures walking down the street as they’re out Trick or Treating. It’s a really cute chanting book and also features the “ee” sound. It was published in 2014 by Guardian Angel Publishing, whose publisher has since retired. Here’s an excerpt:

Ten little ghosties out on Halloween.
Run ghosties! Run ghosties!
Scream! Scream! Scream!

Nine little goblins out on Halloween.
Run goblins! Run goblins~
Sneak! Sneak! Sneak!

Eight little monsters out on Halloween.
Run monsters! Run monsters!
Shriek! Shriek! Shriek!

Seven little ogres, six little black bats, five little zombies, four little skeletons, three little witches, two little black cats, down to one little pumpkin. Then it counts down 10-9-8-7… to Happy Halloween! The last illustration is of all the creatures sharing their candy.

What made you want to write a Halloween-themed picture book?

I had an image of the little creatures out on Halloween. What if they were all real–not little kids in costumes. Until the end, you don’t know if they’re in costume or if they’re real. I like surprises at the end of my stories.

What inspired you to do a Spanish edition?

Living in California, we have a lot of Hispanic kids, and a lot of bi-lingual programs, so I thought kids and parents would enjoy this in both languages.

Tell me about some of your other books.

I have a five-book Magical series about Matthew, a boy who has magical powers to fix things, but he keeps it secret. Then he loses his magic and his little sister Mea gets it. Matthew was a do-gooder and Mea is a prankster. Then she loses her magic and then twin baby boys are born. Will they have magic? Spoiler alert, yes they do, but they know they’ll lose their magic so they’re working against time to make a special graduation gift. There’s a surprise at the end of each of these books: Magical Matthew, Magical Mea, Magical Mea Goes to School, Magical Max and Magical Mickey, and Magical Max and Magical Mickey’s Big Surprise.

Then I have a rhyming book about two kids learning about friendship who are opposites: In and Out, All ‘Round About – Opposite Friends.

Then I have a book about Katy invited for dinner at her Nigerian friend’s house. She doesn’t know Nigerian food, so she asks her mom and her friends. There’s a surprise at the end. It’s in English and Spanish: What’s for Dinner? and ¿Qué vamos a comer?

Then I have a book about growing up with my two brothers and spending time at our grandma’s house in the country. I have a coloring book, too: My Grandma’s Pink House, and My Grandma and Me Coloring Book.

What is your favourite Halloween or spooky movies of all time?

I don’t really watch spooky movies, but I did watch some with my daughter: Beetlejuice, The Nightmare before Christmas, and The Haunted Mansion. I like them all about the same. I like The Haunted Mansion better as a Disney ride than a movie.

What is your favourite Halloween or spooky novel of all time?

I’ve always liked The Legend of Sleepy Hollow because I read that to my 6th grade class. I also liked Poe’s scary short stories, like The Telltale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher. They were so scary that I can still remember how I felt reading them decades later.

How about fav horror-comedies?

I liked both of them (Beetle Juice & Ghostbusters), but I think Ghostbusters was the best of the funny horror-comedies.

Favourite B-movie?

I loved The Little House of Horrors… Parts of Jurassic Park really did scare me.

Last, but not least, what is your Halloween ritual?

We decorate the yard with spider webs, spiders, ghosts & spooky lights. When my daughter was younger, I’d go with her trick or treating, while my roommate gave out candy. Those were the best years. My favorite costume was when she was Dorothy and I was the Good Witch Glinda. In the dedication to “Tricksters,” I list all my daughter’s costumes. As she got older, she went out on her own & I stayed home giving out candy. I’d dress as a black cat with ears, whiskers, & a tail. Then, when she and her boyfriend lived with me, they really decorated the yard & dressed up to scare the big kids–not the little ones.

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