Tag Archive for Preller

Thinking about Fear, Featuring a Very Short Excerpt from “Scary Tales”


It’s a classic “horror” setup: the kid alone in bed in a dark room. Common to all. We’ve felt it, we remember that zipper of fear along our spines, that feeling of something else — something other — also in our childhood rooms.

Innocence meets experience.

Or was it just the strange pleasure of jarring ourselves to full wakefulness? A feeling we craved because, weirdly, we liked it? We sought it, that roller coaster of the mind. And so we invented it?

Writing the “Scary Tales” series (grades 2-5) I’ve had been able to try my hand at some of those moments — writing comfortably within the tradition, as well as attempting to conjure new chills of my own.

Here’s a paragraph from Swamp Monster, the 6th and last book in the series.

Darkness filled the room. It felt like a presence, a living thing that came to spend the night, watching in a corner, waiting. Lance breathed in the dark. It filled his lungs, entered his stomach. He closed his eyes and the darkness waited. He opened them and it seemed to smile. The invisible night’s sharp teeth. Lance breathed out. He disliked the long nights when the sounds of Dismal Swamp played like an eerie orchestra in the air. Frogs croaking, bugs buzzing . . . and the sudden, startled cry of a rodent killed by some winged creature in the night.

Be sure to read them all, folks. A strong addition to any classroom library, illustrated by the great Iacopo Bruno.

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White House Dog: Obama Narrows Choice

NOTE: Since I began this blog in May of 2008, one post has driven the highest readership by far: “An Open Letter to President-elect Obama.” Unfortunately, it was written by my dog, a precocious Goldendoodle. As a professional writer, fully licensed by New York State, you can’t imagine how this humiliates me. I am a trained writer. Daisy is barely trained to stay off the couch. Something’s amiss.

Nonetheless, in appreciation to all those visitors who have stopped by to read Daisy’s letter — and there have been nearly three thousand directed by goldendoodles.com alone — Daisy has agreed to send another missive to President-elect Obama. Goldendoodle fanatics, this one’s for you!

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Dear President-Elect Obama:

This is Daisy again. Maybe you remember me.

I’m the dog who can type. Actually, typing isn’t the hard part — it’s sitting in this crazy, spinning swivel chair. Yipes. My stomach feels funny. I’m worried I might hurl on the desk. I keep telling myself, “Good doggie, good doggie, don’t upchuck on Mr. Preller’s keyboard.

Oops. Oh well. It doesn’t smell that bad. But come to think of it, what does? To dogs like me, smells are purely quantitative. Things either smell a LOT or a LITTLE. And I say, Mr. President-elect Obama, the more something smells, the better I like it! And right now, this desk is pretty righteous.

I read with interest that your choice for First Dog has been narrowed down to two contenders: A Labradoodle and a Portuguese Water Dog. Just the other day I was barking at absolutely nothing. It’s a blast, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried it. Just go outside and barkbarkBARKbabarkybarkBARK into the velvet sky — it doesn’t have to mean anything. Insider info tells me that President Bush used to do it all the time; he growled a lot, too. Anyway, around that time, I noticed your face on television. You said:

“We’re now going to start looking at shelters to see when one of those dogs might come up. This has been tougher than finding a commerce secretary.”

Maybe there’s been some confusion. I specifically suggested that if you loved your daughters, you’d get a Goldendoodle. Not a Maltipoo . . .

not a Cockapoo . . .

and certainly not a Labradoodle . . . .

Sure, they all have Poodle in them, but, come on, just look at Goldendoodles: We’re smart and loyal and won’t bite (unlike that scary Rahm Emanuel, whom I’m pretty sure is part Pit Bull). A Goldendoodle could be First Dog . . . and Commerce Secretary!

I should add that though I personally would never bite, if I ever meet that Blagojevich guy, I might have to pee on his leg. Not for any political reasons. But his hair frightens me.

Who grooms that guy? He should try my lady, Irma, at Pearl’s Groomin’ Room. She’s expensive, but worth it. I don’t know why more people don’t wear a shag like me.

As for this business with the Portuguese Water Dog . . . are you pulling my tail? Sure, sweet looking dog. Smells great . . .

. . . but just two words of advice: Buy American.

Don’t blow the first important decision of your presidency. Throw us a bone. Rescue a Goldendoodle today!

Yes! We! Can!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to step outside. Don’t you just love going in . . . and out . . . and in . . . and out . . . and in . . . ? I could do it all day long!

Loyally yours,


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BLOGGER’S POSTSCRIPT: Young dog lovers might enjoy a book from my Jigsaw Jones mystery series, The Case of the Runaway Dog, for readers ages 5-9. It’s a light-hearted mystery, but it does deal with some of the issues in the search for a missing dog. And haven’t we all been there?