Thursday, December 10, 2009

Rocks in My Shoes, Stickers in My Socks

copyright by Shannon Starks

Thanks to John & Sandra for the wonderful memories at Oswald State Park.

I went exploring up the hill,
Round the switchbacks, over bumps,
And when I went exploring, this is what I got--
Rocks in my shoes.

I searched for tadpoles in the pond,
Under rushes, through tall grass,
And when I searched for tadpoles, this is what I got--
Stickers in my socks.

I scrambled up a knotty pine,
Among the needles, near the sky,
And when I scrambled up there, this is what I got--
Scratches on my legs.

I took a field trip to the woods,
Down the hollow, across the creek,
And when I took a field trip, this is what I got--
Mud between my toes.

I made a voyage on the sea,
Aboard the white caps, past the cliffs,
And when I made a voyage, this is what I got--
Salt against my skin.

I skipped and jumped around the fire,
Along the benches, by the light,
And when I skipped and jumped there, this is what I got--
Sand stuck in my teeth.

I ran to catch the yellow moon,
After dark, beyond the shore,
And when I ran to catch it, this is what I got--
Cold like an ice berg.

So I went looking for my dad,
From the castle to the logs,
And when I found my dad, this is what I got--
Warm as hot chocolate.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Silent Notes

Ever wonder what those angels are doing up there while we're down here doing our good and bad stuff every day? Patrick is finding out first-hand--and he wants to do things differently. Can he help Jake? Will he lose his wings?

Silent Notes is a short chapter book for ages 8-10 and a fun read-aloud for younger kids.
Coming soon!

Storeroom Stomp

copyright by Shannon Starks

to the grandchildren

“Hush,” my dears, said Grandma Lou one frosty harvest morn.
“It's quiet time while Grandpa naps--you see he's tired and worn.”

“May we see the bottled cherries, peaches, pears, and plums?”
We asked our Grandma sweetly . . . while twiddling our thumbs.

“Why yes, of course! I know you love to gaze at all those shelves.
I never did quite understand how you amuse yourselves.”

We thanked our Gran and tippy-toed down twenty-seven stairs,
Then past the laundry, making leaps across the carpet squares.

With secret smiles we raised the latch and pushed the storeroom door,
Then slipped inside and waited till we heard our Grandpa snore.

The bottles started quivering, the cans began to quake,
Sweet potatoes rubbed their eyes and shook themselves awake.

The onions tagged the sugar beets and got the whole crew romping,
Then we skipped in with elbows high and started triple stomping.

Tippity-tap with a rock step--slide,
Hippity-hop then side to side.

The salsa jug was frolicking, twirling with the chips,
The pickle crock was wobbling, the gherkins doing flips.

The hammer and the pliers knocked and twisted from their drawers,
And Macintoshes bopped around in time to Grandpa's snores.

Well, the popcorn jigged and the black beans jived and we all began to spin,
When to our wondrous jubilation. . .
Grandma boogied in!

Tippity-tap with a rock step--slide,
Hippity-hop then side to side.

She galloped with the wild oats, shivered with the jelly,
Then two-stepped with the peanut butter, rocked the vermicelli.

The storeroom door swayed in and out with swingin' Grandma Lou,
When to our glad incredulation . . .
Grandpa bounded through!

Tippity-tap with a rock step--slide,
Hippity-hop then side to side.

He trotted with the dusting mop, pranced with a pair of skis,
Then whirled our Gran around the room and gave her quite a squeeze.

They capered with the black-eyed peas and discoed with the rice,
While red-hot peppers shimmy-shoed to add a little spice.

Then Gramps beat time with the Bantam eggs in a maple syrup splash,
And Grandma swished through the pancake mix with her polka-dot apron sash.

Tippity-tap with a rock step--slide,
Hippity-hop then side to side.

We all joined hands with the cuckoo clock and circled round and round,
When Grandpa zoomed with lightning speed and swept us off the ground.

The clock struck 10 and a thought struck me, a thought I'd been ignoring.
“Grandpa, if you're dancing here . . . then who is up there snoring?”

We tracked the sound to Grandpa's chair and found against the wall
The thing that rocked the storeroom was a furry little ball.

[humans dance while cat purrs]

Tippity-tap with a rock step--slide,
Hippity-hop then side to side.

It yawned and stretched and rubbed its fur, then went to find some cream.
The dancing melted into shadows. Was it all a dream?

[everyone runs downstairs]

Cherries sparkled, peaches glowed, beans stood straight and tall,
It looked as though no soul had stirred, no feet had stomped at all.

Then Gramps pulled out his penney-whistle, skipping while he blew.
And Grandpa made the storeroom stomp. . .
so what else could we do?

[the storeroom starts dancing again]

Tippity-tap with a rock step--slide,
Hippity-hop then side to side.



Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Grain of Salt

copyright by Shannon Starks

Yesterday a spaceship the size of Jupiter landed in the branches of my favorite mustard plant at the nature park.
I was astonished, because in winter it was only . . .
a grain of mustard seed.

Before the crew could disembark, 42 rabid raptors attacked the ship. I fought fiercely until the raptors dispersed. It's a good thing I have . . .
a grain of courage.

The captain told me the ship was on its way to a cooking convention in the constellation Pisces, and the crew had voted to take a side-trip to Earth to share a prize-winning sushi recipe. The story sounded fishy, so I took it with . . .
a grain of salt.
The sushi was out of this world.

While the maintenance crew worked on the ship, I invited the captain and spare crew members to our backyard for a cookout. The captain didn't want to impose, so he took just . . .
a grain of rice.
I convinced him he was being silly.

We brought dinner for the maintenance crew. They still hadn't found the problem, so the rest of us went to the Happyville Museum of Natural History. I told the crew how the people in our town pooled their resources and built this place, and it began with only . . .
a grain of thought.
The crew was impressed.

We went downtown to get a souvenir. A street vendor tried to sell us the most authentic and valuable pearl in the world, so I checked it for . . .
a grain of sand.
It was fake. The captain bought a plaster of Paris Statue of Liberty instead.

Dazzled by the skating exhibition, the crew members forgot to watch where they were going. When they helped me sweep up, I told them we couldn't miss even . . .
a grain of popcorn.
On our way back to the spaceship, we fed the ducks.

The spaceship was still broken. When I told the crew I have experience fixing problems, they invited me to check their equipment. I wasn't surprised when I found lodged behind the navigation needle . . .
a grain of stardust.
No wonder they were off course!

The trouble was the fuel tank was nearly empty on account of the unscheduled side-trip. Making more fuel was no problem—except they were missing one important ingredient, a rare subspecies of poison ivy that grew only one place on Earth--Camp David.
“That's a presidential retreat,” I told the captain. “We'll never get past security.”
He asked if I would call the president for permission. I told them there wasn't . . .
a grain of hope.
I was right.

That's when the honeybees arrived. The ship was blocking traffic. They were anxious to help, because a honeybee works hard to collect . . .
a grain of pollen.

Those wonderful bees flew all the way to Camp David, slipped past security, and brought back the rare plant. In no time, the crew whipped up the fuel. Before the ship took off, the bees gave the captain a parting gift of . . .
a grain of honey.

It was sad to see them go.

This morning when I told my mom, she said my story might contain . . .
a grain of truth.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Heiner, Heiner

copyright by Shannon Starks

It was a boy. His parents decided to name him Heiner.

In the beginning, Heiner cried because it was the only thing he knew how to do.
“Heiner, Heiner, there, there,” said his mother, dipping his pacifier in honey.
“Heiner, Heiner, there, there,” said his father, making ridiculous faces.
Heiner giggled.

When he started to talk, Heiner's parents were relieved.
“Now he can tell us what he wants,” said his father.
“No more crying,” said his mother.

But Heiner cried anyway.
“Heiner, Heiner, have a treat,” said his mother.
“Heiner, Heiner, have an airplane ride,” said his father.
Heiner laughed.

When he started to open doors, Heiner's parents were frantic.
“Heiner! Heiner! NO, not the tabasco sauce!” said his mother.
“Heiner! Heiner! NO, not the exacto knife!” said his father.

Heiner screamed.
“Heiner, Heiner, drink this fizzy soda pop,” said his mother.
“Heiner, Heiner, play with my computer,” said his father.
Heiner was happy.

When he learned to use the phone, Heiner's parents were proud.
"He will always be able to call us," said his father.

“Heiner! Heiner! You can't call the fire department!” said his mother.
“Heiner! Heiner! Don't put my phone in the toilet!” said his father.

Heiner screamed.
“Heiner, Heiner, take my earrings,” said his mother.
“Heiner, Heiner, take my keys,” said his father.
Heiner beamed. But only for a moment.

“I want the phone,” screamed Heiner.
“Here's a nice toy phone,” said his mother.
Heiner screamed louder.
“Take my wallet,” said his father.
Heiner opened the wallet and threw it. He screamed louder.

His mother and father ran to their room and shut the door.

Heiner stopped screaming. He looked around. Then he picked up the phone and called Dr. Savage.
“This is Heiner,” he said. “My mom and dad really need some help.”

Friday, September 25, 2009

Monster Peas

Sara liked her sandwich to be just right.
She liked creamy peanut butter and grape jelly.
She liked squishy white bread with the crust cut off.
And she liked her sandwich cut into triangles.
She was about to take a bite when she noticed a teeny, tiny bump.

Sara peeled the bread apart and peered closely.
“A pea!” she cried. “There's a pea in my sandwich!”
Mother looked at the sandwich, and sure enough, there was a pea.
“You can take it out,” she said.
“I can't eat this sandwich now,” said Sara. “It's pea flavored.”
“Suit yourself,” said Mother. “It's time to get ready for kindergarten.”

Sara liked her socks to be just right.
She liked swirly pink and purple stripes.
She liked toes with no seams.
And she liked her socks with no stains, thin spots, or holes.
Sara was about to put them on when she felt a teeny, tiny bump.

She reached in and her fingers closed on something smooth and round.
“A pea!” she cried. “There's a pea in my sock!”

“You can take it out,” said Mother.
“I can't wear these socks,” said Sara. “They smell like peas.”
“You are going to be late for school,” said Mother.

Sara liked her kindergarten snack cracker to be just right.
She liked neat edges with no cracks.
She liked little dents that lined up straight.
And she liked her cracker with four square corners.
She was about to take a bite when she noticed a teeny, tiny bump.

Sara peered closely.
“A pea!” she cried. “There's a pea in my cracker!”

Ms. Cherry peered at the cracker, and sure enough, there was a pea.
“You can take it out,” said Ms. Cherry.
“I can't eat this cracker now,” said Sara. “It's pea flavored.”
“Very well,” said Ms. Cherry. “Who would like more water?”
Sara was a little bit hungry that day.

When Sara played at Vanessa's after school, she liked her superhero cape to be just right.
She liked shiny ribbons.
She liked sparkly blue stars.
And she liked yellow satin that glowed in the dark.
“You always get the yellow one,” said Vanessa. “It's my turn to wear it.”
“I'm going home if you don't let me,” said Sara.
Vanessa let Sara wear the yellow cape again.

Sara was about to tie it on when she felt a teeny, tiny bump.
She yanked off the cape and peered at it.
“A pea!” she cried. “Peas in my cape, peas in my crackers, peas in my socks, and peas in my sandwiches! I hate peas!”
She threw down the cape and ran home while Vanessa stared after her.
“I thought you wanted the yellow one,” Vanessa called.

That night Sara dreamed that three tiny peas grew into monsters and set her on a throne.
“I want to go home,” said Sara, but the monsters shook their giant pea heads and bowed down to her.
“Hail, Princess of Monster Peas,” they sang. “May you live long while we grow strong.”
They brought her sandwiches and socks full of teeny, tiny peas that grew into monsters.

“Hurry and eat, or you'll be late again,” said Mother at breakfast time.
copyright by Shannon Starks

Sara liked her pancake to be just right.
She liked it to be a perfect circle.
She liked it to be light brown with no dark spots.
She liked her pancake with a golden pool of maple syrup in the middle.

Sara was about to take a bite when she noticed a teeny, tiny bump.

It looked suspiciously like a pea.

Sara took her knife and fork and cut that pancake into 20 pieces. Then she ate every bite.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I, Goldilocks

copyright 2009 by Shannon Starks

Every day during my walk I keep an eye on my neighborhood. One day I noticed the Bears' door was ajar. Concerned for their safety, I knocked. There was no answer, but I heard noises and grew very worried. What if there was a robber in the house? I couldn't just walk away without doing something, so I went inside and found the blinds tapping against an open window.

I was about to leave, but when I saw the poor breakfast laid out for the Bears to eat, my conscience got the better of me.

That porridge had not a single kernel of whole grain. Father's porridge was swimming in melted transfat, and Mother had sweetened her porridge with artificially flavored high fructose corn syrup. I couldn't leave my neighbors to a future of high cholesterol, heart disease, and colon cancer.

What would any decent neighbor do? I searched the cupboards for whole grain, but it took almost 20 minutes to organize things. I found none, so I ran home and brought back some good, wholesome 7-grain cereal which I started to prepare. Naturally I had to empty a bowl so I would have a place to put the cereal when it was ready.

Tired from all the exertion, I was going to sit down when I noticed the chair was loose and creaky. The other two chairs seemed sound enough. I took apart the creaky chair and went to look for wood glue and clamps.

The utility closet was in such disarray that I set to work at once. Exhausted as I was, I couldn't find the wood glue and went to look in the other closets. Twice I nearly fell asleep but was jolted awake by my sense of neighborly duty. When I had gone through the last closet and realized there was no wood glue in the house, I lay down for a moment so I'd have enough energy to get to the General Store.

You can imagine how offended I was to be awakened to all that growling and complaining after all I'd done for those bears. Such ingratitude is a mark of the uncivilized, so I left that house and never went back.