Saturday, August 5, 2017



There once was a village much troubled with rats.
They frightened the children and fought with the cats.
They ate all in sight, did those rats of renown . . .
Then at last a young piper came strolling to town.

Said he to the townfolk:  "These rodents are bold,
But I'll rid you of them for a bagful of gold!"
"Very good!"  Mayor Thomas replied from his lawn,
"I'll pay you the gold when the last rat is gone!"

The piper, well pleased with the bargain he'd made,
Lifted his flute and he played and he played.
Bewitched by his piping so merry and weird,
From cellar and attic the big rats appeared.

They leaped out of corners and crannies and rocks,
They sprang out of cupboards and climbed out of crocks.
Gray ones and black ones, fat ones and lean,
They followed him off and were never more seen.
But when he returned and demanded his pay,
Mayor Thomas spoke rudely:  "Be off!  Go away!"

At midnight the piper came back to the street,
Playing a tune unbelievably sweet.
Small sleepy children and tottering tots
Hearing his melody, crept from their cots!
                                                                               Leo Harrington
They stole from their homes, this pajama'd parade,
And followed the piper away as he played!
Next morning, "Alas!" cried the mothers to Thomas,
"Would you had paid him, and honored your promise!"

Meanwhile, the children trudged on, half asleep;
So weary were they, some were starting to weep.
By the time that the piper had reached his home-cave,
The tots were so fretful, they couldn't behave.

They quarreled and wrangled and hollered and ki-yied
Until the poor piper was less pied than pie-eyed.
Indeed, the poor fellow who'd lived all alone,
Now found that his time was no longer his own.

The children, poor dears, gave him no time for practice,
And this being so, he grew bristly as cactus.
Busy all day was the once-merry piper,
Washing a face, or changing a di'per!
Cooking their meals and consoling their wails,
He now had no leisure for playing his scales.
"They all need their mothers!" he muttered.  "Alack!
For my sake and theirs, I must hurry them back!"
So homeward to Hamelin he led them, one day—
And the town was so thankful, they doubled his pay!

5- 10-06
Dear Leo,
     Are you interested in illustrating a second book?   
     I spent the last few days compiling another group of Ernestine’s poems, titled Awesome Adventures because that’s what they are . . . awesome.  And funny.  A joy to read and reread.   I am enclosing "The Talking Hat" for your entertainment.  

Jonathan Clockett was striding the road
With a very tall hat for his dignified load,
When all of a sudden he gave a great leap,
For close to his ear he could hear a "cheep-

The sound bothered Clockett!  It certainly did,
For it seemed to emerge from his elegant lid!
And since his tall hat was his joy and his pride,
           "My hat is not cheap!" he indignantly cried.

            As he hustled along at a speedier rate,
            Again came a sound from the hat on his pate.
            "Cuckoo!" Clockett heard -- and believe it or not,
            The word, though absurd, puzzled Clockett a lot!

             "I'm `cuckoo' indeed!" he was forced to admit,
            For the adjective seemed an unfortunate fit.
            "I'm out of my mind -- there is not doubt of that!
             No man ever had such a talkative hat!"
                           Leo Harrington
             He was wishing the noise in his topper would stop
             When a hole now appeared in its towering top,
            And out of this hole which was ragged and small,          
            There hopped a wee bird with no feathers at all!

            Clockett's tall hat grew too heavy for him
            As cuckoos and robins hatched out of its brim.
            Some of them uttered their cheery "cheep-cheeps."
            "Cuckoo!" sang the rest at the top of their peeps.
           Well, needless to say, he discovered at last
           The birds in his hat, and his pleasure was vast.
            "Dear me!" he remarked (and he threw out his chest),
           "I've set a new fashion!  My hat is a nest!"

           Tailed by a crowd which pursued him all day,
           He said to himself as he went on his way,
           "For attracting attention and marveling words,
           There's nothing like wearing a hatful of birds!" 

May 29, 2006
To Editor,  Humanics Publishers  
Dear Chris,    
     Your author is starving for feedback about Read Me. . . .  Is it still on track for September? 
     Excited and inspired by this book, along with articles I’ve read about the resurgence of poetry, I’ve been having a grand time assembling two more collections of Ernestine’s poems.  Leo has agreed to illustrate the first, Awesome Adventures, which I recently completed.  I figure by the time this is published, Ernestine’s name will be a household name like Aesop or Elvis.  Since I am turning 85 in August, I want to be sure these books are ready for daughter Kathie to submit them, in case I’m not around to do so.
    If you need any photographs for publicity purposes, attached is one of me, sharing a book with great-grandson, Michael Morrison. If he doesn't grow some hair pretty soon, I could lend him one of my wigs.
May 30, 2006
Subject: Read Me a Rhyme, Please, and other books
 Dear Barbara:
Thanks for the message.  We have just returned from a trade show,  Book Expo America, and
we are back into the thick of actual book  production.  I am hoping to send some kind of digital
file to you  early next week which will have all of Leo's illustrations in it. 
July 14, 2006 
Dear Leo,
     I'm happy to see that you are drawing more attractive characters, like the girl who meets
The Little Person, instead of the cartoony type that is your specialty. . . .

  I met a little person who was very, very small.
  In fact, he was so tiny, he was scarcely there at all!
  The little person stared at me. "You can't be real!" he said.
  "You're something I've imagined in my clever little head!"

 The little person turned and ran, and quickly I did, too,
 Because it really startles you and scares you through and through,
 When a little guy six inches high thinks he's imagined you!
                                 Leo Harrington
Sample Exercises:

See if you can answer these Questions About the Poem

How tiny was the little person?  Tiny as a kitten?  Tiny as an elf?  
Six inches high?

What did the little person think the big person was?  A giant? 
Something he imagined?  A giraffe?

What did the little person do?  Turned and ran?  Turned a somersault? 
Turned blue?     
Bonus Activity
Color the two pictures that are the same.
picture of a kitten      picture of a puppy      picture of a kitten

The Reckoning:  
      Paid to artist for illustrating Read Me a Rhyme, Please and Awesome Adventures -- $6,000.
     As of September 2012, Read Me. . . remains an expensive failure, although one young fan sent a crumb of comfort: Topsy-Turvy Town was his favorite poem.
     Emotional cost -- inestimable.
     As of September 2012, Awesome Adventures © remains unpublished.
     As of September 2012  this blog provides incalculable happiness.

Update:As of July 2015, Read Me a Rhyme, Please has had excellent sales on Amazon, which visitors can access on my daughter Kathie's blog                                                                     

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