As the Poetry Director for this children's writing contest, I will be coordinating the poetry written by students
for an upcoming anthology published by Story Monsters Press. The deadline for submissions is the end of February.
all the information can be found on www.storymonsters.com
RECENT PRESS & HONORS
Jack and the Lean Stalk
A wonderful professional Story Time reading video of Jack and the Lean Stalk available on You Tube: here
We won a Best Book Finalist award for So You want a Puppy?, the prestigious Story Monsters Approval in Cultural Diversity for My Community as well as an honorable mention from Kids Shelf Books for the cover design, and The Mom's Choice Award honoring excellence!
A Cheer for the Year
"Raven Howell is like a modern day Roald Dahl; she knows how to play with language, how to have fun with language – and it’s wonderful! Punchy, superbly illustrated and packed full of fun."
— The Wishing Shelf
Howell cheerfully portrays events children experience during the seasons. A rousing, artistic celebration of childhood that should appeal to readers of all ages!
— Kirkus Review
Chuckles and Smiles!
An endearing and playful book filled with vibrant and engaging poems that are entertaining, uplifting, and educational. I highly recommend Chuckles and Smiles for young children and anyone looking to brighten their day.
— Reader's Favorite
"With every poem, an epiphany! With every page turn, another smile! Written in a variety of poetic styles, Raven Howell's irrestistible, full-of-cheer poems muse on subjects familiar to young readers. A pleasure to read aloud!"
- Heidi Roemer, Author of Peekity Boo - What Can You Do?
Jack and the Lean Stalk
Raven Howell’s picture book, Jack and the Lean Stalk celebrates the joys of taking chances in friendships.
Jack, the son of the Garbanzos, is a skilled carpenter, but a clumsy farmer. His family’s bean fields are languishing. When a giant appears, other children shun him because of his looks. The giant retreats to the Garbanzo’s bean field, where his tears ruin the bean stalks. Jack befriends the giant and brainstorms ways to return the giant home. Through the clever use of his woodworking skills, Jack builds a grand staircase.
This sympathetic story is an unusual reimagining of what happened in the fairy tale’s aftermath. Humanizing the giant leads to useful lessons about kindness and inclusivity. Changing Jack from a vengeful, thieving boy into a helpful figure also reforms him as a role model. Still, the book’s messages are unsubtle: it introduces a “lonely, bullied giant,” and Jack is passionate in declaring that “No one has given the giant an opportunity—he’s not that different from the rest of us!”
Jack and the Lean Stalk is an empowering alternative fairy tale in which a brave young boy welcomes a giant in need.
— Karen Rigby, Foreword Reviews.
A Flock Full of Fun
This is a very sweetly illustrated bedtime story written by Raven Howell and illustrated by David Barrow. In a nutshell, a little boy is trying to get to sleep. He begins counting sheep. The problem is the sheep don’t want to go to sleep, getting up to all sorts of trouble in his bedroom: investigating his toy chest, swinging on his lamp, even trying on his underpants.
When I opened this book, I instantly fell in love with the lambs. The rhyming text is simple and there is rhythm to it, making it enjoyable for the adult to read. It’s not overly long - perfect for tired parents at bedtime – and there’s a fun twist at the end involving snails. Yes, snails!
This is a gem of a book - colorful, and packed full of cuddly characters for younger children to relate to. I would happily recommend it to parents of 0 – 6 year olds. And to anybody who thinks lambs are cute; which is everybody, right!?
— The Wishing Shelf
5 Star review – A Flock of Fun by Raven Howell, amusingly illustrated by David Barrow, is a real winner as a bedtime book. It's entertaining without being overexciting and defeating the object - soothing the young listener to sleep.
— Sarah Stuart, Readers' Favorite
So You Want a Puppy?
5 Star Rating – A wonderfully fun, rhyming story, perfect for younger children, particularly if they want a puppy. Highly recommended.
— The Wishing Shelf
When Daddy brings home a puppy, the narrator isn’t immediately sure what to make of him. But soon the pooch, named Murray, wiggles his way into the boy’s heart. Although the two become friends, the boy discusses how the puppy needs to learn the right set of behaviors. In this picture book, Howell neatly blends the joys of having a dog and how loving the canine can be with the responsibilities of raising a puppy. The smooth rhymes scan well throughout, delivering puppy-raising suggestions that feel shared from a friend rather than strictly instructional. Pilicer’s gouache/digital cartoon images have painterly backgrounds; Murray stands out in the scenes as the only character drawn with heavy lines, which work well for the black-and-white pup. Pet tips at the end spell out the counsel introduced in the rhymes.
Dog-loving children will find excellent advice for puppy care in a poetic package.
— Kirkus Review
Glimmer, Sing of Sun
Seasonal poems, dominated by summer themes, paint pictures of exploring nature and enjoying kid-friendly activities in this picture book from the team of Howell and Povarchik (Shimmer, Songs of Night, 2017).
Beginning with leaves frozen beneath the surface of a pond and the sorceress of spring taking over from winter’s snow fairy, these poems of sunlight and balmy days mix the magical and the ordinary—and sometimes make the ordinary seem magical. Howell’s linguistic twists and turns are a delight for the tongue, especially in poems that praise the “slosh,” “muck,” and “murk” of mud, or a “twirling, rolling, cartwheeling” journey to find polliwogs. The poetry form sometimes changes; though most of the pieces rhyme, haiku and free verse are also featured. The vivid imagery in Howell’s verse is echoed in Povarchik’s watercolor-and-ink images, which feature cartoonish children, animals, and fairies in brightly colored moments of whimsy. Although a variety of settings, including beach, city, and woods, are included, all the human characters have pale skin. To accommodate the illustrations, some poems are presented in smaller fonts, giving them a squished look on the page. That is unlikely to stop poetry lovers in the 6 to 12 age group, who will find plenty of tongue-tangling rhymes and rhythms to relish.
A charming celebration of the sun’s warmth and glow, perfect for sharing and reading aloud.
— Kirkus Review
Glimmer is magical; a spellbinding, sun-blinding, sparkly celebration of the songs the seasons sing. I love it! It’s gorgeous.
— Liz Brownlee, National Poetry Day Ambassador, author of Apes to Zebras, an A-Z of Shape poems (Bloomsbury), and Be the Change, Poems Exploring Protecting the Planet (Macmillan)
Two siblings enjoy a year of seasons in this poetic concept book full of detailed digital paintings.
“Goodbye, winter / Hello, spring!” A brown-haired sister and her spectacled younger brother, both nature lovers, say goodbye to each season as they move into the next one. On the spread that features the farewell to winter, the left-hand page depicts the two siblings and their dog bundled against the snow, watching a sleeping nest of bunnies. On the facing page, they observe three bears greeting spring. Howell’s (My Community, 2018, etc.) inventive rhymes correspond with the seasons, with a few phrases for each. Various familiar activities—eating ice cream, going to the beach, trick or treating, and sledding, among them—help highlight each season. The white siblings encounter plenty of human friends with varying skin tones as well as a number of animals: geese, robins, otters, turtles, and more. Some of the creatures are very realistic in Pilicer’s (Morten and Gordon, 2017, etc.) illustrations while others have cartoonish features to make them look more human. The innovative rhymes and the clear flow of one period into the next make the concept of seasonal change easy for young readers to grasp.
With action-packed illustrations and a repeating refrain, this nature tale is sure to become a favorite read-aloud in preschool classrooms.
— Kirkus Review
I must say, I had a very enjoyable evening tucked up by the fire enjoying this superbly illustrated children’s book. Firstly, I must say, the drawings were excellent. In fact, not just excellent, they were stunning! The illustrator is fantastically talented at showing the reader everything they need to see to help them to not only understand the text but also to add to it. I find many picture books too ‘Disney’, but this book has a wonderfully ‘classic’ feel to it which I very much enjoyed.
Greetings! by Raven Howell is not a story as such, but a rhymical look at the world as it slips from season to season. The imagery is vivid, the words simple, perfect for young children. There’s also plenty of pace, and there’s plenty to look at too – and discuss – to keep a child interested. The writing style, the rhyme and the rhythm, fit the book perfectly: simple, classic and working hand in hand with the drawings.
But, for me, the most striking element of this picture book was how the author put across so much in so few words. ‘Crack, egg, crack. Sing, bird sing! Goodbye winter. Hello spring!’ Many authors try to do ‘too much’ in a picture book; they don’t understand that in a good picture book, the words and drawings work together to tell the story. Well, I’m happy to say, this authors understands this very, very well.
Sweetly written and charming in every. Children will love it; parents too!
— The Wishing Shelf
A girl walks readers through her day, introducing the many members of her diverse community in Howell’s (Shimmer, 2017) rhyming picture book with illustrations by Yang (A New Book for Jack, 2017).
A young, pale-skinned girl with red hair awakens in her room, which features a large picture of her mother, who looks just like her, and an African-American father. She listens to the local garbage trucks, then has breakfast: “Mom makes pancakes, / Morning’s cool. / Soon I’m dressed, / Ready for school.” Her brown-skinned younger sister sits in a high chair. During the day, the older girl greets her neighbors: Mailman Juan, bus driver Mr. Lee, Chef Mario at the pizza parlor, Police Chief Cho, teachers, librarians, and a vet and a doctor (both women). Later, the girl reveals that her father is the mayor. The book depicts a busy day with plenty for readers to see, filled with friends and family...Yang’s gentle, pastel-hued illustrations have soft edges, giving the backgrounds a painted look, and offering round-headed, large-eyed, cartoon-style characters. Howell’s steady rhymes make this an easy read-aloud.
A nice reflection of a diverse, multihued world.
— Kirkus Review
Colorfully illustrated and with plenty happening to keep a child amused, this might prove very popular at bedtime. A delightfully bright story with a strong community message of how life should be in a multi-cultural community. Warm and comfy with a sweet ending. Highly recommended!
— The Wishing Shelf
Shimmer:Songs of Night
This book delights with every page! I tried to pick a thought, settle on one to share, but it was impossible. Having grown up in a house filled with poetry and song, Howell has managed to capture the essence of life and sprinkle it on every page. Imagination awakens as the day’s eyes grow heavy and night springs to life. There is not enough space allotted to tell you of all the treasured thoughts tucked so brightly illustrated into this book. So I encourage you to find a copy and share the giggles and joys with your children. Let their minds wander and explore all the fancies and wonders of a simple world. They will never outgrow this book, or the creativity it can bring.
— Darleen Wohlfeil, Story Monsters Ink
A prolific children’s poet offers an eclectic collection of nighttime pieces.
Opossums, space creatures, the Sandman, dream catchers, and Halloween trick-or-treaters—this inviting book of poems for ages 6 to 12 celebrates dusk to dawn as a world of possibility where nature and flights of fancy coexist. Using different forms (haiku, free verse, couplets, quatrains, and more), Howell (Gibber, 2016, etc.) shapes her rhythms and rhymes with a keen appreciation for the subjects and wordplay most likely to engage her target audience. They are matched on every page by debut illustrator Povarchik’s fluid watercolor-and-ink images (of wildlife, imaginary beasts, and white siblings), employing a bright, varied palette. The poet’s lyrical universe is a place where back-to-back haiku (“5 P.M.” and “5 A.M.”) contrast whispered secrets as “the wind scrambles by” with the view of “tall and patient” sunflowers anticipating the coming day; where fireflies “skitter” and “flitter” and the Sandman “slippers into the night”; where “Beehives of buildings /...Glow honey-yellow,” where dusk can be “as thick / As chocolate cake”; and where, when bats fly, “The silver of moon / Glistens a bit / On the black on black, / On the flitter and flit.” From a child’s thoughts about the cosmos and fairy rings to campfire ponderings, shooting stars, and pillow fights, Howell’s witty and wise visions of night flow along until “The skillet sky / Warms up / To a pale buttery yellow.”
This verbal and visual treat portrays the evening as a lively and thought-provoking place of wonder.
— Kirkus Review
A Star Full of Sky
A Star Full of Sky by Raven Howell is an illustrated collection of twenty-five poems intended for young children and early independent readers. Each poem is relatively short, typically no more than two concise stanzas, and none take up more than half a page. Further, illustrations by Caryn Schafer appear intermittently throughout the collection. Themes found throughout the poems revolve around space and scientific facts. These poems can be used as a teaching tool as well as for straight entertainment.
The author utilizes rhythm and rhyme in each poem; in fact, the poems are much more enjoyable when read out loud. The author’s rhyming added significantly to the melodic tone of each poem, and words that were rhymed together never felt forced. Additionally, the author imbues her prose with a magical, almost effervescent feel. This collection is truly written just as much for adults to enjoy as it is for children.
I was most impressed with the subject matter of this book. The poems focus on space, planets and the universe, and they include historical and scientific terms that will definitely get children and adults thinking. Galileo, UFOs, the galaxy, comets and what they are made of, Pluto and it’s demotion from planet status, constellations, the horizon, cumulous clouds, and black holes are just some of the topics introduced in this collection of poems. Not only will these subjects spark conversation between children and parents, they will also get children thinking about topics they might have no previous knowledge of. This book provides a fun way for children to begin learning about science and gain excitement about the topic.
The illustrations are simple images drawn in black and white. At first, I’d hoped for more from the images since the cover of the book is bright and intricately drawn. However, as I read through the collection of poems, I found the illustrations perfectly complement the author’s words. The simplicity of the drawings ensures they do not distract from the lyrical prose and intriguing content of each poem. Further, the poems are quite short, so the basic drawings are just enough to capture the attention of a young reader without distracting them from the words on the page.
As an adult, I found these poems incredibly enjoyable. Although they are short, they pack a lot of information and curiosity into their words. I found myself considering each poem and analyzing them in-depth. I can see how curiously fun each of these poems would be for a young child. However, I do recommend these poems be read with a parent or adult because children will surely have questions about the meaning of some of the terms used throughout the poetry. A Star Full of Sky earns a full 4 out of 4 stars, and I applaud the author for finding a unique and fun way to introduce young children to the joys of scientific exploration!
— Marisa Rose, On Line Book Club
A Star Full of Sky is a delightful book of 25 short poems that will light up the imaginations of young readers and their adults. The poems mainly focus on topics related to the sky or things in space. This premise helps to tie the poems together in a cosmic theme that will keep readers engaged as they enthusiastically bounce through the pages.
Each poem is penned with a playful rhyme and a clever twist. The freshness is demonstrated in passages such as:
“In 2006 they voted
And Pluto was demoted.”
Rhymes like these can introduce children to poetry in a way that fosters interest and demonstrates the ease with which a writer can craft a meaningful message through the use of just a few well-placed words. The words jump out to ignite wonder among young readers and to amuse adult readers. Each page demonstrates the joy that can be found in poetic imagery and the author’s ability to spark discussion, with topics such as:
“I relish when a strong wind blows
And gladly welcome UFOs!”
This warm and imaginative book of poems would be suitable for children and adults of all ages, and would especially appeal to those with an interest in space, or those with a literary sense of humor. The book would also be ideal for children that love to hear the rhythmic cadences of stories. And last but not least, the book would be wonderful for adults hoping to inspire young readers’ questions, or just instill a love of poetry that will stretch out into the stars.