Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Scholastic book: "Spooky Tricks"

Announcement: For "Mild Fear 2017," I'm just going to sprinkle Halloween-themed posts throughout the month, whenever I darn well feel like, instead of the past practice of funneling all of the spooky stuff into the last 10 or 12 days of October, in an orderly fashion.

I understand this might cause some of you to pine for the good old days, when Papergreat was logical and regimented and everything was businesslike and ship-shape. When the world make sense. Before those kids came along and stood on your finely manicured lawn.

Well, too bad. Times are changing. Papergreat's going all hippie now and doing whatever it likes. It's going to be crazy and messy!

Now, please let me finish this post, so I can go alphabetize my bookmarks.

  • Title: Spooky Tricks
  • Authors: Rose Wyler and Gerald Ames
  • Illustrator: Tālivaldis Stubis
  • Publisher: Scholastic Book Services (TW 1484)
  • Cover price: 50 cents
  • Year: First printing, September 1969
  • Pages: 64
  • Format: Paperback
  • Contents: "How to be a Spook," "Willie the Ghost," and "Haunted House"
  • Random paragraph #1 from middle: "Tell your friends, 'When I go spooking, I sometimes need a helper. I have a good one. My helper is a very small ghost. His name is Willie. Do you want to meet him?'"
  • Random paragraph #2 from middle: "Show your cat and say, 'I had a spooky kitten that became a spooky cat. She sparkles in the dark. Now what do you think of that!'"
  • Rating on Goodreads: 4.11 stars (out of 5.0)
  • A Goodreads review: Denise writes: "This 'I Can Read Book' from 1968 explains simple magic tricks kids can do. The first chapter explains how to be a spook with an extra finger, a pincushion thumb, and x-ray eyes and how to stop your pulse. In another chapter Willie The Ghost writes a lemon juice message, sleeps in a matchbox, and ties a knot. The Haunted House chapter teaches the way to make a mummy finger in a box, electric cat and disappearing girl. The groovy purple and green drawings are by Tālivaldis Stubis."
  • About the authors: Rose and Gerald were a husband-and-wife writing team. He died in 1993 and she died in 2000. Here is an excerpt from her obituary in The New York Times, which mentions this book:
    Rose Wyler, who wrote more than 50 books for children on science and other topics, died on June 12 at her home in Manhattan. She was 90.

    Ms. Wyler was the sole author of over two dozen books and a co-author of others. One of her best-known works is Spooky Tricks (1968), which she wrote with her husband Gerald Ames. When it was reissued in 1994, Scripps Howard News Service called it "the perfect Halloween book" for "school-agers who are just beginning to read."

    Ms. Wyler once recalled that as a girl she "always had a collection of stones, bugs or leaves and always wanted to know more about nature." She never could find books on nature as a child, she said, so at 11 she decided she was going to write them.
  • About the illustrator: Stubis died in late 2009. Here is his brief obituary from Publishers Weekly:
    Talivaldis Stubis, the prolific graphic designer and artist, died late last year at the age of 83, after a long battle with amyloidosis.

    Stubis illustrated nearly two dozen books over his long career, including Sir Alva and the Wicked Wizard by Otto Friedrich, Sam's Place by Lillian Moore, and many by the husband-and-wife team Rose Wyler and Gerald Ames. In 1962 his A Pocketful of Seasons was named one of the New York Times' 100 Best Books of the Year. His books were published by many of the leading houses of the day, including Harper & Row, Lothrop Lee and Shepard, Scholastic, Atheneum, Seabury Press, Parents Magazine Press, and Doubleday.

    In addition to his work for children, he also designed many iconic movie and theater posters, including, for Broadway, Funny Girl, Camelot, and Anyone Can Whistle; and for Hollywood, The Sting and The Exorcist.
    Whoa, whoa, whoa. We have buried the lede, people!

    A news release issued upon Stubis' death adds the following, with regard to his amazing legacy of Broadway and Hollywood design work:

    Perhaps the artist's most memorable image was for the Broadway musical, “Funny Girl,” an upside-down girl on roller skates whose body spells out the title, but he worked on literally hundreds of other now-iconic posters for stage and screen. His Broadway works included Eugene Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros,” “Camelot,” “The Most Happy Fella,” “Anyone Can Whistle,” “Night of the Iguana,” and “Flower Drum Song.” From 1963 to 1980 Stubis was senior art director for a boutique agency working on many of the best-known movie poster campaigns of the 20th century, including Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” and “Barry Lyndon,” “Deliverance,” The Sting, and The Exorcist. Later he worked on many of the most popular film campaigns for Paramount Pictures, including “Airplane!” “Elephant Man,” “Reds,” “Ordinary People,” “An Officer and a Gentleman,” “Witness,” “Star Trek,” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
    Holy movie history, Batman!


  1. I still have this book from my youth. I always bought these magic books from Scholastic, convinced they were going the share the secrets of the Magic World with me. Instead, they taught me how to stick a pin in a carrot and pretend it's my thumb.

    1. Tom, you sound as disappointed as I was with Sea Monkeys :)

  2. I know the Funny Girl poster well. My first roommate was a theater geek and she had one on our wall :)