Hey! Ho! Come to the fair

Posted 10/29/10

“Hey kid, it’s almost midnight, and these woods are dark and deep. What are you doing way out here? Why aren’t you home, asleep? … “The …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Hey! Ho! Come to the fair


“Hey kid,

it’s almost midnight,

and these woods are dark and deep.

What are you doing way out here?

Why aren’t you home, asleep? …

“The 10-year-old boy in me wrote that book,” says Parker author Jessica Swaim about her new “Scarum Fair,” a trip for kids through a delightfully creepy fair that emerged from her active imagination, with a basis in her own childhood.

“Scarum Fair” is published in a colorful picture book format, but really is more geared to the 7 to 10 set, especially those of the male persuasion, who should love both the words and the strange and wonderful creatures who inhabit the pages.

Swaim, who has worked as a librarian at Highlands Ranch Library and a cataloger for Cherry Creek schools, says as a child she lived within walking distance of an old-fashioned fairgrounds, where she and a good friend spent hours playing — even when no fair was running.

“It was like our playground,” she recalls.

Her poems are “like me playing a little movie in my head — kind of vague.” She said her books began to come together after she received advice from an expert to take two ideas and put them together in your head. “It turns a thing on its ear — makes you think differently about it. (Her “Hound from the Pound” was published in 2007).

“I was extremely fortunate with the art,” she says. A publisher chooses the illustrator when a manuscript is purchased from an author.

This is Carol Ashley’s first experience as an illustrator, although she had been an animator.

“She was the perfect person to illustrate it. She’s brilliant,” Swaim enthuses, describing Ashley’s quaint, highly detailed little critters as “labbity.” She enjoys the fine touches, such as a hand resembling the one in the Addams Family series, and says the final illustration, with a mama and baby critter, is reassuring.

Ashley captured the Scary-go Round, the Teacup Terror, Dr. Crunch and the recipe for Cat-Hair Stew and much more, as well as snack bars where they serve Devil’s Food Cake and I-Scream. There’s also a Vampire wedding and a poem about Count Dracula’s Bride. (Swaim appeared at Highlands Ranch Tattered Cover dressed as Dracula’s bride on the Oct. 30 Family Fun Night).

At least several years, and sometimes more, will elapse between the time an author sells a manuscript and a final illustrated book is in bookstores and libraries, she says. Two more poetry collections are sold: “Christmas Whoa Ho Ho” about a western Christmas parade inspired by the Parker parade, written before “Scarum Fair” and another due in fall 2013.

Swaim said she has tried novels for older kids, but it’s not fun. “Writing poetry feels like play. I can be as silly as I want — it’s a great form of escapism.”

When she’s not writing, she enjoys outdoor time with her two rescue dogs: a golden retriever and a border collie who gets needed herding experience with the next door neighbor’s sheep.


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.