Spookley, the star of The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin by Joe Troiano, illustrated by Susan Banta (Holiday Hill Farm; Barnes & Noble), knows what it’s like not to fit the mold. His positive message about being different—and special—has earned him the new job of official spokes-pumpkin for National Bullying Prevention Month sponsored by the Minneapolis-based family support organization, PACER (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights).
Throughout the month of October, Spookley’s public service announcement encouraging kids to "Speak Up, Reach Out, and Be a Friend" is being shown in movie theaters, on television, and on the Internet.
The awareness campaign seems a good fit for PACER, which has a division dedicated to this issue. "The culture of bullying won’t end until people across the country take action and show children and teens that they care," Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center said in a statement about the partnership. "We love the way Spookley touches the heart and the mind with his message of tolerance and acceptance."
Beyond the PSA, additional exposure for Spookley on the big screen is happening as well. The 2004 animated film Spookley the Square Pumpkin will play at more than 185 theaters in 35 states and at various children’s museums in the U.S. and Canada. The movie will also air on the Disney Channel, as it has for several years (the next showing: Friday, October 28, at 12:30 p.m.). On the social media front, Twitter parties and features on mom-oriented blogs and Web sites like Mom’s Fashion File are helping to spread the word.
This year, Spookley’s traditionally popular October appearances at more than 30 farm-based events nationwide, where kids and families pick pumpkins, and enjoy activities, also include anti-bullying information.
Teachers and educators are able to bring Spookley’s message into the classroom as well with lesson plans about tolerance and diversity. Free resources are available at www.spookley.com and www.PACER.org/bullying.
Since its first release in 2001, The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin has sold more than 1 million copies. The book will be featured at Barnes & Noble and via Scholastic Book Clubs this fall. Holiday Hill Enterprises, co-founded by author Troiano, plans to give 5% of its 2011 proceeds from The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin’s book sales to PACER. And Spookley is keeping pace with technology, too. The title is available in an ebook version for Nook, and as an app for iPhone, iPad and Android.