Zombies ahoy


Real, live, fresh-from-the-printer books! It's the most incredible feeling to see the courier truck in the driveway—nothing else arrives that way!—and to receive that box, always wrapped so perfectly in kraft paper. The pages are almost a little damp, like it's come straight off a machine. It's soft and lovely and smells of ink.


If I Were A Zombie—silly little monsters-and-magical-creatures poems for preschoolers and early-grade goofballs, as fantastically illustrated by the award-winning Eric Orchard—is going to consume much of my year. I'm already booked for the first few school readings; hustling for festival spots; dreaming up monster parades and costume prizes for the launch on May 21 in Halifax. Time to crack out my classroom growl, the one that makes the kids giggle.

That's all we do, really, when authors write for little ones. We trade tricks for giggles. Sea monsters with bare bums, naughty wood fairies with mud up their noses, mom-mooning pirate ghosts, and of course, zombies with mouldy underpants.

I keep using that word: silly. "It's just a silly thing," I say, like it's unimportant. But I think I might be wrong about that. Then seven years old, Evan rattled off all the things he'd like me to write, if I were to write a book for him especially. And I've been thinking about the word silly ever since—how silly things are like Superman spinning the world backwards, against the tide of everything else that's scary-silly. You know. All the scary-silly stuff that money-grubbing and power-grubbing grown-ups perpetrate.

To make serious space in the house for silly is sacred work. Start with an old wooden chest or a crate or a special dresser. Watch for good stuff. Sunglasses; hats; a perfectly good size 6 black cloak with only one moth-eaten bit in it; a spare clump of grey cheesecloth all knotted up. Sapphires! Emeralds! Rubies! Don't wait for Halloween. And for heavens' sake, don't forget the wigs.

When you grow up and have children of your own, do please remember something important: A stodgy parent is not fun at all! What a child wants—and DESERVES—is a parent who is SPARKY! — Roald Dahl


Here's a to-do list: Take a sneak-peek through the new slideshow at the book page, with never-before seen images from Eric! Book May 21 on your calendar for the big Halifax Library launch party. Start scouring Frenchy's so you can show up dressed to the nines. Wait until then to buy your copy—and get it signed!—or be a keener and order now direct from Nimbus, from a gigantic conglomerate, or from the globally-shipping Woozles—Canada's oldest children's bookstore. Monsters ho!