This is the original book, published in 2000, by SterlingHouse.
It's still available through Amazon.com, Kindle, and Nook. You
can get it in bookstores, too, but you'll have to ask for it.
They'll get it for you, through me, since I'm now the publisher.
Or ... you can write or call me and I'll autograph one and send it
Read Some Excerpts Below!
The barking spiders all march in
just past dinnertime.
Some big, some small, they come to call
floating on the wind behind.
Each is clearly noticed,
although they can't be seen.
You're positive they're there though,
'cause your nose is very keen.
You know you can't outrun 'em
and a net won't get 'em caught.
Your friends laugh 'cause they're funny ...
Your mom yells 'cause they're not.
So open all the windows!
Crack the vents real fast!
'Cause these aren't normal spiders ...
barking spiders are just gas.
Can anybody tell me
what's that stuff between my toes?
My daddy says it's 'toe jam'
but I don't think he really knows.
It's icky and it's fuzzy
and I think I'll tell my dad ...
I wouldn't put it on MY bread
if it was the ONLY jam we had.
Belly buttons look so funny!
Some have lots of hair.
Some are in, some are out,
just a hole that goes nowhere.
Gramma's gone, but not forgotten,
that's her apron hanging -- there.
It still hangs in grampa's kitchen.
Sometimes he looks at it and stares.
When gramma wore her apron
it was magical to me.
The pockets held such treasures
for the grandkids all to see.
Saw it shine up grampa's fender once,
just as pretty as you please,
and it wiped my brother's cheek off
one time when he sneezed.
It took cookies from the oven,
and rushed to wipe a tear,
got a grain of sand out of your eye,
made a lap for the stories we'd hear.
It wiped spills up from the counter top
when she was baking pies.
A symbol of her love and care
and it showed, too, in her eyes.
Sometimes I'm sad to look at it
when I see my grampa stare.
Gramma's gone, but not forgotten.
That's her apron hanging -- there.
Little Boy's Wish
When I grow up, I want some hair
just like my Uncle Paul's.
It's yellow and it's curvy
and he has it kinda' long.
I'd rather look like daddy
and not like any other,
but daddy's head is bare on top,
just like my baby brother's.
"May you always see the world through the eyes of a child." ~CJ Heck
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other than brief quotations or printed reviews, without prior permission of the author.
On warm, dark nights I think I see,
Beneath the weeping willow tree,
The fairies dancing in the grass
On tiny feet that fly so fast.
The music is the wind that blows
While fairies spin on bare tiptoes.
The fireflies jewel up the night
Reflecting fairies in their light.
Round and round the fairies dance
On bitsy feet that skip and prance,
Through tiny dew drops to and fro,
Till morning comes and then they go.
I wonder where the fairies live
And if they know what fun they give
To little girls and boys that see
Beneath the weeping willow tree.
My Brother's Feet
PEW! My brother's feet are stinky
And he's hard to sit beside!
Mom makes him take his sneakers off
And leave them there, outside.
She really shouldn't do that,
It's not something she can hide
'Cause he brings the smell right with him
On his socks and feet inside.
EWW! That smell is really awful!
His feet must be nearby.
Gee, my brother isn't home now ...
Oh my gosh, it's mine!
The True Story Behind My Poem, "Letter From Heaven":
Ours is not to question, but to accept that everything has a purpose, a reason, and we are to "go with
Years ago, a poem came through me, almost like I wasn't writing it. I've since learned it is called
creative inspiration and it is my higher self writing through me. The poem was from the point of view
of a little girl in heaven looking down and speaking to her grieving parents. At the time, I thought how
strange, how different the poem was. It was not light and funny like what I normally wrote for
children -- this one was very sad, but it did go in my first book, "Barking Spiders (and Other Such
Stuff)". It would be five years before I found out the purpose for the poem.
I was hired to do a school visit several states away. Seven schools would be brought by bus to a
central school where I was to do five presentations per day for three days. It was a wonderful time
-- the teachers and children were really into the presentations, even reciting the poetry right along
About a week later, after I returned home, I received a phone call from the librarian at the central
school. She said one of the second graders had been killed in a car crash. Her mother and little
brother were still in the hospital.
She said after the school visit, the little girl read that poem to anyone who would listen, saying that
the little girl in the poem was her -- she was going to be the angel. I was speechless. I thanked the
librarian and asked if I could have their address to send a card to the family.
A week later, I got another phone call from the librarian. She had attended the service at the
funeral home for the little girl and the whole town had come to show their support. She wanted me to
know that as each visitor arrived, they were given a pink sheet of paper with the poem and the story
the little girl had told everyone -- that she was the little girl in the poem.
The little girl's parents called a couple of days later to ask my permission to have the poem etched
beside an angel on their daughter's gravestone.
The experience was humbling and It touched me deeply, all the way to my soul. The poem ...
Letter From Heaven
Mommy, Daddy, how I miss you
and I know you're missing me.
There are windows here in Heaven.
Every day I look and see
my toys all in the toy box
and my dolls up on the shelf.
I can't pull them in my wagon now
nor hold them to myself.
My little rocker's empty.
I know your arms feel empty, too.
I can see the sadness in your face,
Mommy, Daddy, I love you.
My music box is silent
but I don't have to hear it play.
Mommy, Daddy, it's not needed now.
Angels here sing every day.
Please don't worry that I'm lonely.
There are children everywhere.
We are all His little angels
and there's so much love up here.
Mommy, Daddy please don't cry for me.
Heaven's such a lovely place!
God says you did your very best
and your love shows in my face.
Mommy, Daddy when you need me
just look up and say a prayer.
I will see you through the windows
and I'll hear your voice up here.
Midwest Book Review:
child's perspective. Often funny, sometimes introspective, always honest, these poems form a brilliant introduction for young readers to
the magic of poetry and rhyme."
"If children could write poetry about the things in their lives, it might not sound like these poems ... but the feelings they experience are
sure to be familiar, as they listen to or read this collection. Insights and thoughts about belly buttons, toe jam, Bandaids, and passing gas
will cause chuckles from young readers and their parents." (Barbara Maslekoff)
Poetry Today Online:
"Well, it's time for a little fun, folks. Put away all those boring grownup books and let's sit down and read Barking Spiders and Other
Such Stuff. This is CJ Heck's first book of children's poetry and it is a delight!"
Staff Picks - Jackson's Books - Salem, Oregon:
"April was National Poetry Month and I enjoyed sharing a variety of poetry with children in K-2nd grade at Miller, Mary Eyre, and Pringle
Elementary Schools. The kids listened, enjoyed, and laughed out loud at poems by CJ Heck in her book, Barking Spiders ... all the kids could
relate to the poem topics and delighted in her clever prose. Your children will love this book!"
Dear CJ, I recently acquired your book, Barking Spiders, from a nearby Walden's Bookstore. I just wanted to send you a brief thanks for
writing such a delightful work. The children enjoyed it and we loved reading to them. My 7-year old even read some more tonight after
"It's often difficult to find quality children's writing that doesn't bore the poor parents, stuck with trying to get their kids interested
in reading. Not since Shel Silverstein's Light In the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends, have I enjoyed a children's book so much. You
certainly hold well with Silverstein and Mercer Mayer as among the best of children's writers with the ability of holding the kids' -- AND
parents' -- attention, plus holding up on repeated readings."
"What a fun book! I can't think of a better book to give or read to a child. In this delightful book C. J. Heck's lyrical poetry captures the
world as seen through the eyes of a child. Barking Spiders and Other Such Stuff evoked feelings of nostalgia in me. Although I enjoyed
the entire book and its whimsical illustrations, I was particularly touched by "The Quarter", which teaches children to be thoughtful and
considerate of those who are less fortunate. "Grampa's House" brought back a flood of memories of weekend visits when I was a little
girl. "Gramma's Apron" was another poem that tugged at my heart. I also enjoyed "Yes and No", the two words that have such an impact on
a child's day. And I remember how I, too, wished that a "Money Tree"would grow in my back yard. I'm glad to see that Barking Spiders is in
its second edition. Many other editions are sure to follow, as it is destined to become a children's book
classic. But don't choose it because of that; choose it because it's just too wonderful to miss."
Jennifer B. Leese, Poetry Reviewer:
"This enjoyable children's poetry book made me laugh and hold a smile the entire time I read this comical book to my three giggling
children--until the very end. The New Hampshire author, CJ Heck, originally from Ohio, has put together a spectacular collection of
children's poetry into one skillfully written and charmingly illustrated book. Michelle Lenkner has drawn delightful characters in pencil
drawings, which enhance and perfectly fits the adorable poetry on each and every page.
Do you know what a barking spider is? My children laughed hysterically as I read the poem titled: Barking Spiders and by the fourth
time...they were holding their stomachs! This honest, innocent, and appealing book transcends all age barriers and explores topics such as
belly buttons, smelly feet, birthmarks, and chicken pox! Every child and parent alike is sure to fall in love with this funny, and unique book
by a talented author who definitely knows and keeps in touch with the child within her.
My children and I enjoyed this book thoroughly and I plan to read a poem to them every day in the hopes of keeping their wonderful
imaginations alive. Get in touch with the child who is trapped inside you, make your little ones giggle and watch as their eyes light up as
you read such poems as: Dancing Fairies, "Playin' Cowboy", "Toe Jam", "My Brother's Feet", and many more delightful poems.
Visit the imaginative world of a child by getting your hands on CJ Heck's book, BARKING SPIDERS and other such stuff as soon as
possible. Highly recommended!
"I loved your children's poetry so much. To be honest, I felt like a kid again just reading the poems. In addition, I felt nurtured by
someone I've never even met. You have an enormous talent and express yourself so well. Thanks so much."
"I'm sure everyone has told you how wonderful your writing is. My message is that it could only come from someone with a heart of gold
and wings of the purest white. You touched me deeply with your poem, "Gramma's Apron", but that's not the only one. all of them are just
wonderful. It's fulfilling to stumble across someone like you. Can I already be in love with you just a little? Your words are great."
"CJ has really captured the essence of childhood in Barking Spiders and Other Such Stuff. The poems range from funny, sad, silly, sweet,
touching, and gross (according to my daughter which, of course, is a HUGE compliment, haha). The book is, also, beautifully illustrated.
While the pictures are merely black and white drawings, they evoke just as much emotion as the poems themselves. I highly recommend this
book to anyone looking for a children's poetry book. My kids and I love it, and I know you will, too."
Invite a Children's Poet
to Your School!