The Ghosts Went Floating by Kim Norman (+GIVEAWAY)

Oh, Picture Book Builders people. Kim Norman is back with another boo-tiful book.

This is what Kirkus had to say in a STARRED review:

“[A] winner of a holiday-themed counting book. . .The rhymes read and scan deliciously well and develop vocabulary wonderfully by utilizing nifty words to describe the characters’ movements and behaviors as the creatures and count-along proceed. . .The humorous, extremely child-appealing illustrations are set against mostly dark red, blue, and purple backgrounds lit by a full moon, as befits the occasion. . .No trick: Count this one as a real Halloween treat.”

This is what I say about the book in one word:


Hi, Kim! Welcome to Picture Book Builders.

Tell us a little about your latest book, The Ghosts Went Floating.

Thank you, Tammi. It’s great to be back! So this one wandered through my brain several times before it found a form that worked. As you know, I have an obsession with rewriting old children’s songs, and “The Ant’s Go Marching” has always been a favorite of mine. The first version I tried was also Halloween themed, called “The Pants Went Prancing,” about clothing that comes alive around the town and starts a parade. I had fun writing it, but it had a western theme, which aren’t as popular right now, and some editors thought the dancing clothes, without people in them, might be too creepy. I guess Angela Lansbury can pull that off better than I can. (Nod to Bedknobs and Broomsticks movie lovers.) Once that version got a pass, the song was still stuck in my head, so I took another stab with Halloween monsters. It was even more fun writing that version, and Jay Fleck did an amazing job of making the monsters cute and funny and not a bit scary.

Since I’m in your critique group–The PBJeebies–I know the earliest versions of this book did not feature a spooky cast at all. Please tell us how this book evolved.

Oops! I just answered your question early! Ha! Well, I’m sure you guys immediately knew this version was a lot better. You all have incredible instincts that I really respect. I feel extra lucky that all the Jeebies are good at rhythm and rhyme. That’s such valuable feedback to have, too, not to mention that we’re spread out around the country, so I get feedback on regional pronunciations, too, which is an important consideration in rhyme.

You are a master at taking a familiar song and turning it into something fresh. Do you have a spooktacular piece of advice for any of us who might want to give this sort of storytelling a go?

Sure! For me, it often starts almost as a pun. I’ll have a song in mind, for instance, “Ten in the Bed,” and I’ll turn the words over looking for rhymes to replace the words already in the title. I  realized that replacing “bed” with “sled” had amazing potential, not just because it could be a fun winter book, but because it had so many possibilities for varied illustrations. It’s pretty hard to pull off a book where the characters are just sitting at a table having a conversation. I remember years ago having a light bulb moment when I read an interview with an editor in the Children’s Writers’ and Illustrators’ Market where she said something like, “When I’m reading a manuscript and I can already start to see the scenes in my head, that’s a good sign.” So I always try to keep varied action and scenes in mind. Ten in the Sled became the flagship of a trio of books hilariously illustrated by Liza Woodruff.

Another way to tweak an old favorite is to borrow the rhyme scheme but change the setting or the main character. I’ve got a book coming out next year from Abrams Appleseed Books, Hush, Little Trucker, about a boy and his mom in search of his beloved toy truck. Likewise, “I know an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly” became I Know a Wee Piggy who wallowed in brown mud and many other colors at a county fair.

Even though this book includes ghosts, skeletons, witches, and zombies, it doesn’t come across as scary in any way. I think Jay Fleck’s adorable art has a lot to do with that. What was your reaction when you first saw Jay Fleck’s art?

Love love love! I’m in awe of an illustrator who can make me laugh and tug at my heart with a cute character at the same time. And not only is Jay a wonderful illustrator, he’s an amazing designer. The composition is so satisfying in his illustrations. Each spread is a work of art that could hang in a gallery. (For the record, my favorite characters in the book are the zombies, whose mismatched googly eyes make me giggle.)

Scoop time! What’s next for you?

Oh gee, I scooped myself early again, mentioning Hush, Little Trucker. It’s being illustrated by Toshiki Nakamura who (I can already tell from first sketches) will bring tons of heart to the story. And with his animation background, I’m certain the finished color illustrations will be dazzling! I’m tickled to be working with Meredith Mundy on it. She edited many of my books when she was at Sterling, and I’m thrilled to now be doing a book for her at Abrams Appleseed.

Here’s Toshi’s website if you want to take a peek.

Thanks for sharing! Thanks, too, for stopping by, Kim!

It was my pleasure, Tammi! Thank YOU for your skill, knowledge and psychic abilities.


Kim Norman is the author of more than twenty children’s books published by Sterling; Scholastic; Penguin/Random House; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; and Candlewick; and forthcoming from Abrams. Calling herself a “Bedtime reading evangelist,” Kim has been invited to countless schools around the US to talk to students about her favorite thing: books! Years ago, Kim sang briefly in a big band – for pay even – but she’d rather sing Broadway songs for free. The parents of two grown sons, Kim and her husband live in Smithfield, Virginia, with two pug mix dogs in a little house shaded by giant pecan trees. Read more about Kim and her books at



For a chance to win a copy of The Ghosts Went Floating, leave a comment and/or share this post on Twitter. Please be sure to tag Kim Norman @KimNormanAuthor and Tammi @SauerTammi. Winner must live in the continental United States.


Congratulations, Lenora Biemans! You won a signed copy of The Farm That Mac Built.

Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer, a former teacher and library media specialist, is a full-time children's book author who presents at schools and conferences across the country. She has more than 30 published picture books and has many others on the way. Her books have received awards, earned starred reviews, made lists, been made into musicals, and been translated into many different languages. Most importantly, kids really like her books! To learn more about Tammi and her books, please visit and follow her on Twitter at @SauerTammi.


  1. So cute! I need a copy of this for my grandson, even if I don’t win!

  2. So so fun! What a great halloween treat.

  3. Debra Kempf Shumaker

    This book looks like SO much fun! Kim, you are a master at reworking beloved children’s songs! I will be singing The Ants Go Marching all day long now, LOL.

  4. Ha – those googly eyes are a hoot! Can’t wait to sing along with this one Kim!

  5. I agree, those zombies are adorable, and they are perfect for your bouncy, fun words. Thank you for the insight into your process!

  6. Fun, fun, fun! Love the taking an old familiar tune and turning it into something new. Thanks for sharing!

  7. How fun. I was singing along as I read. Great inspiration for new ideas. I love it!

    • Thank you, Susan! One of my favorite places to get ideas for great kids’ songs is the Wee Sing website where they list all the well known songs they offer on their CDs. So give them a Google if you’re looking for ideas.

  8. This is so clever. It would be such a fun read aloud.

  9. What a fun book for a fun holiday -congrats!

  10. I can’t wait to read this one, Kim! And I already have the song stuck in my head, lol. Looking forward to seeing Jay’s illustrations, too. Congratulations!!

  11. A read-aloud with the rhythm of a song is always a winner. This is a Halloween story that will be in demand by kids well past Thanksgiving.

  12. Kim never ceases to impress! this book will be become a Halloween classic! I say Hip Hip Boo-Ray for Kim Norman!!!

  13. Very cute!! Kids will definitely be singing along with this one!

  14. How frightfully adorable! I have to get my little zombie hands on this one! Congratulations, Kim and thanks, Tammi!

  15. Wonderful library read aloud. Or sing aloud!

  16. Now I will be singing this all day!

  17. I look forward to reading the full book. Congrats on publication & stellar review.

  18. I love this idea. Using children’s songs and reworking them is a brilliant idea. ? congrats!

  19. Love the idea of reworking a children’s song. Brilliant idea. Congrats! ?

  20. Love the idea of reworking a children’s song. Would love to win this one, ?

  21. These books look great, want to read them with my twins!

  22. This looks wonderful, Kim. I loved Give Me Back My Bones too! Congrats!

  23. I enjoy all your books Kim. You’re so creative with all your concepts. Congratulations!

  24. This is great thank you for the opportunity

  25. Cleaver, creative, and fun! I can’t to read (and sing) this one with my little friends.

  26. This book looks so fun! Thanks for sharing.

  27. I love Halloween & this book looks adorable!!

  28. Janet Frenck Sheets

    I think “The Pants Went Prancing” version sounds hilarious, too. I wish you could publish them both!

  29. Sherri Jones Rivers

    How delightful. Kim is a master rhymer and story-teller.

  30. Boo-rah, Indeed! And Tammi, might we chat about collaborating on a PBB interview and giveaway for my newest book: Only the Cat Saw? It has a very interesting back story!

  31. What a fabulous read aloud! I couldn’t help singing this to myself while reading this post.

  32. This book looks perfectly charming. I can’t wait to read it.

  33. Congratulation Kim! This newest book sounds so fun!

  34. Always looking for a new ghost book for October!

  35. This book is adorable and sounds wonderful to share and get kids to participate with the Boo-rahs.

  36. Ooh, this is perfect! I’m loving ghosties and witches right now!

  37. Cute! I can’t wait to read the whole thing.

  38. What a cool idea for a book! I like you use familiar nursery rhymes. I know my firsties would love this book!!!

  39. So much fun–will request it at the library!

  40. This books looks delightful. Can’t wait to read it!

  41. Erica Jensen Sanchez

    I’m a sucker for holiday-themed books! Can’t wait to sing this one!!!!

  42. Kim and Tammi,

    I just loved this interview, diving so deep into the creation. You both are so talented! I can’t wait to read this story, the art does look like it compliments the text and even adds another great level!

  43. What a clever idea for a fun Halloween read aloud! Congratulations, Kim!

  44. Wonderful interview, Tammi and Kim, and BIG congratulations! Ghosts looks so fun!

  45. Aw thanks, Debra. Yes, the drawback to this line of work is having a song stuck in your head for weeks. LOL!

  46. This book is truly adorable! A starred review. Congratulations!

  47. This is so cute and clever! Counting, singing, cute zombies, what more could you want?!

  48. Oh my gracious! I HAVE to get this book! I knew Kim way back at book number one. What a delightful journey to this one!

  49. Love all of your books, Kim. You have such a delightful talent for rewriting familiar songs!

  50. How fun! Thanks for sharing!

  51. I love, love, love the idea and song behind this book. Can’t wait to read it to my grand kids.

  52. Congratulations, Kim! This looks so fun!

  53. Great interview, Kim and Tammi. This book looks fa-boo-lous!

  54. This looks so adorable, Kim! I can’t wait to read it! My daughters were just talking about new books to add to their Halloween collections, too!

  55. Congrats, Kim and Jay! This book looks adorable.

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