Third Grade Ghouls by Colleen O'Shaughnessy McKenna

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Third grader Gordie worries about coming up with a scary costume for the school Halloween parade and about having to take care of a timid younger boy.

About Colleen O'Shaughnessy McKenna

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Colleen McKenna was born May 31, 1948 in Springfield, Illinois. It was not long until her family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where Colleen was influenced by Little Joe Cartwright and began to write her own scripts to the popular television show Bonanza. In eighth grade, Colleen mailed in her three best scripts with the intent to see them on television. Bonanza influenced McKenna, teaching her how to develop the sequence of plot. After high school, McKenna continued her education at Slippery Rock University where she earned a B.A. in elementary and special education. She furthered her education at Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh to pursue teaching. While teaching third and fourth grade at a Bethel Park Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Colleen married Frank McKenna III, an attorney, on March 25, 1972. Throughout her experience teaching, McKenna utilized her interest in writing to create plays for her classes. But, it was not long until Colleen and Frank had children, which led McKenna to put her love of teaching on hold. Together they had four children: Collette, Jeff, Laura, and Stevie. After the birth of her children, McKenna began writing children's literature when her husband left on a three month long business trip. To improve her writing, she took a children's literature course and learned that writing must based upon past experiences. Following the course, McKenna knew that her own children and family lifestyle was what she knew best and she would use her own knowledge to guide her writing. McKenna's secret to writing was to focus on character development rather than plot. According to an interview with McKenna, McKenna said that she feels the personalities of the individual character will create the plot on their own. Using her experiences and the techniques obtained from her writing course McKenna was able to create many stories that would appeal and relate to children. In the late 1980's McKenna began establishing her first set of children's books upon McKenna's own four children from the perspective of her oldest daughter, Collette.Throughout her writing career McKenna was able to achieve success writing about her family and the everyday obstacles children face in school and with their friends. After the completion of her first series, McKenna moved away from writing about her own life and wrote books to coincide with hit television show, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Four years later in 2000, McKenna began writing young adult novels once again. Today, McKenna's children are all grown up and she still resides in Pittsburgh with her husband. In her hometown she teaches at the Institute of Children's Literature. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.She is a strong advocate of reading and writing and aims to share her love with young children. Stephanie Roth's acclaimed work appears in dozens of books and magazines for children. Her book work ranges from picture books to chapter books. Whatever the project, her work is imbued with a gentleness, humor and emotion.Steph started drawing from a young age. Her mother started teaching her how to draw, "as soon as I could hold a pencil," she says.Her love of books came from her childhood. Before she could read herself, her German grandfather would spend hours reading her stories. "I can remember drawing pictures to go with the text, a lot of the books he read to me were collections of fairy tales and they didn't have pictures in them."Creating pictures started as a way to have fun, make stories more satisfying and keep busy and eventually turned into a career.Steph lives on California's Central Coast where she is an illustrator at large. In her spare time, she likes to garden, surf and tries in vain to train her pet parakeets to say clever things.
Published October 1, 2001 by Holiday House. 85 pages
Genres: Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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