Tag Archive for retellings

The Muffin Man—Review

9781632903648_int01From the Tangled Tunes series of Cantata Learning, “The Muffin Man” is a delightful storybook/music/CD combo package that sets the scene for the song story about “The Muffin Man,” who bakes and sells delicious muffins, and lives on Drury Lane. Bright, comical, stylized illustrations reminiscent of the 50’s and 60’s decorate each page of treasured song lyrics, encouraging children to imagine the tale themselves as they hear and sing along with the song. A funny brown dog named Cupcake accompanies the Muffin Man throughout his day, cleaning up stray crumbs and spills with hilarious efficiency, and shepherding the baker home from his shop when the day is done.
—Children’s Bookwatch

Peter Pan — retelling

PeterPan_Cover_Color02Every now and then, my editors send me teasers of the books I’ve written, whether it’s sketches of the illustrations or a mock up of the cover. I always enjoy seeing my books come to life through the art work, so it’s great to get a glimpse into how things are progressing.

Early last year, I finished up a graphic novel retelling of Peter Pan. I believe it will be released this summer. And not long ago, my editor sent me this mock up of the cover. The book is being illustrated by Fernando Cano. He illustrated my Tony Hawk—Live 2 Skate books as well, and I love his work. His style is really capturing the playful feel of my retelling.

Can’t wait to have a copy of the printed book in hand.

Tangled Tunes—She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain

When working on my adaptation of “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain,” I wanted to do something similar to my version of “On Top of Old Smoky.” I wanted to turn it into a fun, silly, and hopefully rememberable song. One kids will have fun singing.

Now sometimes I don’t know where my inspiration comes. An idea will just hit me, and this can happen while I’m walking the dog, cooking dinner, or on the verge of falling sleep. The best ideas always seem to strike when I am away from my computer, which is what happened in this case.

I started to think: What if the main character was a clown? So I began to list all the things that remind me of a clown: big nose, floppy shoes, painted face . . . Then I started to wonder: What will the clown be doing? And that’s when it struck me, my clown, the clown in this song will be a rodeo clown. And instead of riding a buckin’ bronco, she’ll be trying to round up a pesky billy goat.

And then I wrote . . .

She’ll round up a billy goat on the loose.
(na-a-a-a, na-a-a-a)
She’ll round up a billy goat on the loose.
She’ll round up a billy goat,
she’ll round up a billy goat,
She’ll round up a billy goat on the loose.
(na-a-a-a, na-a-a-a)

“She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountian” was once a song sung by railroad workers, and as one person sang, the other workers would call out after certain lines in the song. I thought it would be fun to do that as well, so each verse will have call outs, like this one, which has the billy goat na-ing.


Tangled Tunes—On Top of Old Smoky

Growing up, and given the choice, I’d sing “On Top of Spaghetti” before the traditional “On Top of Old Smoky.” The made-up lyrics were funny and silly and all about my favorite food—I could eat spaghetti and meatballs for every meal, including breakfast. Plus, the original version was all about courtin’ and losing a true lover. Things I knew nothing about in my knee-scraped youth.

When approaching an adaptation of “On Top of Old Smoky,” I wanted to recreate that feeling of silliness inspired by the “On Top of Spaghetti” version. And here’s where my background in research helped inspire me. “Old Smoky” refers to the Smoky Mountains—I once edited a book about Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This fact wasn’t in that book, but there have been hundreds of Bigfoot sightings in those mountains. So . . .

On top of old Smokey
all covered in snow,
I lost my true lover
by courtin’ too slow.

. . . became . . .

On top of Old Smoky,
all covered with fog,
went looking for Bigfoot
with my pot-bellied hog.

My version of the song is about a boy and his pot-bellied pig looking for Bigfoot, and the various animals they meet along the way.

Tangled Tunes—Oh, My Darling, Clementine

So the song Oh, My Darling, Clementine is about a miner who’s daughter drowns, and he sings about the tragedy. It’s a pretty morbid tale.

In a cavern, In a canyon,
Excavating for a mine,
Dwelt a miner forty-niner,
And his daughter Clementine.

Oh my darling, Oh my darling,
Oh my darling Clementine,
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry Clementine.

Now I wanted to have a more playful twist on this song, so I thought, what if it was a cowboy who was looking for his cow? Throughout the story, the cowboy rides across the plains searching for his long-lost cow, and the cow will be hiding somewhere within the illustrations: behind a cactus or riding on a train.

In a pasture, in a prairie,
walking down a railroad line,
lived a cowboy with a big hat
and his cow named Clementine.

Oh, my darling, oh, my darling,
oh, my darling, Clementine,
you are lost and gone forever.
I’m so sorry, Clementine.

To find out how the cowboy and his cow became estranged, you’ll just have to check out the song at Cantata Learning when it’s published—all songs will be available to listen to on their website.

Tangle Tunes—The Chores We Do

This Tangled Tune is based off of Here We Go ’round the Mulberry Bush, a song in which children hold hands and go around in a circle. And it’s a pretty simple tune with one basic verse.

Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush
On a cold and frosty morning.

My version will use the same melody, but the publisher wanted to have a wider variety of verses, and that’s when I came up with the idea of doing daily chores throughout the song.

This is the way we pick up toys,
pick up toys, pick up toys.

This is the way we pick up toys
so early Sunday morning.

And the illustrations will be fun, because instead of showing children, there will be monsters doing the chores.

Tangled Tunes—Three Blind Mice

So my first Tangled Tunes adaptation was Three Blind Mice. The original song is pretty simple, with one verse.

Three blind mice,
Three blind mice,
See how they run,
See how they run!

They all ran after
The farmer’s wife.
She cut off their tails
With a carving knife.

Did you ever see
Such a sight in your life
As three blind mice?

I wanted to create more of a story for this book, so I added a few characters. Not only do the mice meet the farmer’s wife as they run through his house, but also his daughter and son, and a farm cat at the end.

Then there’s that bit about cutting off tails with a butcher’s knife—since these will be illustrated picture books, I was told to stay away from such gruesome details. So here’s one of my verses, in which the mice wander into the kitchen as the farmer’s daughter is doing the dishes.

Three blind mice.
Three blind mice.

See how they run!
See how they run!

They all ran after the farmer’s daughter,
who picked up a cup
and splashed them with water.

Did you ever see such a thing in your life
as three blind mice?

Tangled Tunes

Ever since I first strummed a guitar way back in middle school, I’ve been writing songs. The lyrics always came easier for me than the music, which could explain why I became a poet instead of a rock star, but that hasn’t stopped me from continuing to pluck away on my 6 string. Today I play a Dobro acoustic with resonators. It has a deep, bluesy sound.

Now I can’t say that my guitar skills have improved much over the years, but I still try to write songs, though, nowadays those songs have turned silly. I blame that on my kids as they influence what I write.

There’s the nose-picking blues:

Everybody knows when [insert name] picks [his/her] nose
[he/she] eats her boogers,
[his/her] green, slimy boogers.

And the pretty butterfly song:

I’m a pretty butterfly—watch me flap my wings
I’m a pretty butterfly—watch me flap my wings
I’m a pretty butterfly—I’m a pretty butterfly
I’m a pretty butterfly—watch me flap my wiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnngssssss

 Now image me and my two kids singing that as we stroll through a butterfly garden—quite a sight.

Recently, I’ve been contacted by Cantata Learning, a new publisher that is pairing books with music—the text is actually written as a song. And while they weren’t impressed with my guitar licks, my poetry skills have landed me a chance to write some books/songs. I’ll be working on several stories in their Tangled Tune series, which will take some of those old classics like She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain and twisting them into funny new songs.

To see what I come up with, stay tuned . . .

Review — Treasure Island

Fun to see my Treasure Island adaptation up on LitPick, a site where kids (my readers!) are the reviewers. Check it out Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

Review — Treasure Island

“Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island is not only a fun action packed adventure it is a treasure hunt for the story itself. Readers are challenged to make choices as to whether or not the story could end before it really gets started. Readers have the option to end the story as they see fit. Chapter one of this tale can be found on page 64. Your name is Jim Hawking and you help your mother run the Admiral Benbow inn. A strange sea fellow carrying a chest with him rents a room. After months of keeping to himself he asks you, for a few coin of course, to keep an eye out for a peg legged man. There might be a lot as stake. So, if you decide to help, go to page 47. If not, page 26. The reader decides which direction the adventure will go.

Author Blake Hoena has adapted one of his favorite childhood stories into a Choose Your Path book. These already exciting stories now offer a fun way for readers to enjoy them all over again or for the first time. Readers are encouraged to make a decision as to which way they want to read the story and follow the adventure. Parents and teachers will love this storytelling method and can use it as a tool to get those kids who wouldn’t normally pick up a book to actually have fun reading and enjoying the adventure.”

Kristi’s Book Nook