BE QUIET! by Ryan T. Higgins

BE QUIET! by Ryan T. Higgins

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is BE QUIET!.

 

Written/illustrated by: Ryan T. Higgins

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion, April 4, 2017

Suitable for: Preschool – Kindergarten

Themes/Topics: Friendship, Frustration, Patience

Brief Synopsis:  Higgins writes a laugh out loud story about Rupert, Thistle and Nibbs, the mice he introduced in Hotel Bruce. Rupert wants to star in a book without words that is “visually stimulating” but Thistle and Nibbs cannot stop talking about being quiet.

 

Opening pages: 

Rupert: “FINALLY! I get my very own book to star in.

This is going to be great!

 I’m going to make it a wordless book.

They are very artistic.

This book will have NO WORDS at all. Starting…NOW.”

Why I like this book: These mice are hilarious!  Reading it aloud is so much fun. When Rupert uses vocabulary like “vishery strigulating” it is mistaken for “visually stimulating”.  “Ima-gonna-pee-a” is mistaken for “onomatopoeia” as the mice banter.

Higgins entertains readers with visual puns like on the spread when Rupert tries to explain visually stimulating means strong illustrations and the mice suddenly have the physique of body builders.

Resources:

Happy reading!

A Perfect Picture Book Pair: SIBLINGS

A Perfect Picture Book Pair: SIBLINGS

A Perfect Picture Book Pair about sharing the spotlight with younger sibling. These stories feature the cutest DIVAS!

In STARRING CARMEN by Anika Denish and illustrated by Loren Alvarez Gómez, Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2017, Carmen is a showgirl! She loves an audience, the attention, and the applause! But her little brother Eduardo wants to perform with her. Can Carmen make room for him?

In FAMOUSLY PHOEBE author Lori Alexander and illustrator Aurelie Blard-Quintard, Sterling Children’s Books, 2017, Phoebe was always the family star, followed by camera-carrying “paparazzi” until the arrival of a new sibling. Can Phoebe find a new role to play?

A Perfect Picture Book Pair or #PPBP showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience, or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that contribute to diversity in children’s literature.

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too!

Kids love to see their reflections in books. Follow  #WeNeedDiverseBooks  #ReadYourWorld for more selections of diverse books.

A Perfect Picture Book Pair – Facing Fear

A Perfect Picture Book Pair – Facing Fear

A Perfect Picture Book Pair about courage. These stories show it’s possible to overcome fear with the love and support of family.

In JABARI JUMPS by author-illustrator Gaia Cornwall, Candlewick Press, 2017, a boy declares to his dad that he is ready to jump off the high diving board for the first time. Or is he?

In THUNDER CAKE by author-illustrator Patricia Polacco, Philomel Books, 1990, a grandmother distracts her granddaughter frightened by an incoming storm by gathering all the ingredients needed to make a Thunder Cake – some from outside!

Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience, or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that contribute to diversity in children’s literature.

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too!

Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!

Nina by Alice Brière-Haquet, illustrated by Bruno Liance

Nina by Alice Brière-Haquet, illustrated by Bruno Liance

Saturday, January 27, 2018 is the 5th annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day!  I am honored to once again participate in this wonderful event as a book reviewer.

Children want to see stories about their families, cultures, customs, traditions, histories, and religions in books. And it’s important to expose all children to literature that reflect people who are different from them. One way to introduce kids to diverse stories is through characters in picture book biographies. NINA: JAZZ LEGEND AND CIVIL-RIGHTS ACTIVIST NINA SIMONE is an introduction to the civil rights diva, High Priestess of Soul, and icon of American music, Nina Simone.

by Alice Brière-Haquet; illustrated by Bruno Liance; translated by Julie Cormier;  published by Charlesbridge; ages 4-8

The publisher sent a copy for me to review, however all opinions expressed are my own.

The story begins with a tender moment, a mother telling her child a story. The mother is Nina Simone, the child is her daughter. The story Nina tells is about her own life.

To set the story in motion, Nina shares her earliest memory of learning to play the piano. She compares her blackness to the physical difference between the notes on her keyboard. The imagery is powerful.

“The white keys are whole notes and the black keys are flats, or half notes,” my teacher explained. 

I asked why.

“Because that’s just the way it is.”

Yes, that’s the way it was. White was whole. Black was half.

Despite her experiences growing up in a country where white people and black people were treated differently, Nina didn’t allow discrimination to interfere with her dreams. When Nina was 12, she refused to sing when her mother had to give up a front row seat to white people at a concert. This early memory demonstrates how Nina learned to use her voice to fight for social justice too.

Music has no color.  In music there is only one rhythm. Only one heart.

The story of Nina Simone is about a talented artist and how she feels about the world in which she lives. Readers learn why and how she speaks out against injustice. This is the kind of story that would inspire children to believe they too, can use their voices to do the same.


Free Multicultural Books for Teachers.

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm. #ReadYourWorld & #MCBD2018

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs

GOLD:Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

SILVER:Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal BoweGokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

2018 Author Sponsors

Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina, Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan BernardoAuthor Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne BroylesAuthor Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports QueenAuthor Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and  MFL Publishing  Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham  Author Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

 

HER RIGHT FOOT by Dave Eggers

HER RIGHT FOOT by Dave Eggers

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is  HER RIGHT FOOT by Dave Eggers. I am often asked, “Where are you from?” Sometimes I respond, “If you tell me your immigrant story, I will tell you mine.”

HER RIGHT FOOT is an important reminder that the majority of Americans are descendants of emigrants and immigrants. Maybe your ancestors were part of the early British-American colonies or the French and Spanish colonies as mine were. Maybe they came via the Gulf of Mexico as my great-grandfather did during the 19th century, or were greeted by the Statue of Liberty in the Atlantic upon arrival from a distant land. Regardless of your family origin, this story reminds us of the early motto of the United States, E pluribus unum, “out of many, one”.


Written by: Dave Eggers

Illustrated by: Shawn Harris

Publisher: Chronicle Books (September 2017)

Suitable for ages: 6-9

Themes/Topics: Statue of Liberty, US History, Immigration

Brief SynopsisDave Eggers tells the story behind the making of the Statue of Liberty. As the story progresses, readers learn the history behind this gift from France and most importantly, that it represents how the United States is a country that embraces and welcomes emigrants and immigrants.

Opening pages“You have likely heard of a place called France.

If you have heard of France, you may have heard of the French. They are the people who live in France.

You may have also heard of something called the Statue of Liberty.

Did you know that the Statue of Liberty comes from France?

This is true. This is a factual book.”

Why I like this book: Written in second person, the narrator addresses readers directly. The author uses a playful but instructive approach to introducing kids to fun facts about the design, construction and transportation of the Statue of Liberty. It artfully teaches the fact that our country is populated with people from many different countries and cultures from around the world and ties in the symbolism of Lady Liberty as a beacon that welcomes everyone to the United States.

Resources:  

Read other perfect picture book Friday reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

Reading for Research: Author Mentor Text Studies

Reading for Research: Author Mentor Text Studies

It’s been a joy to be a part of the Reading For Research Month team of bloggers that study stellar picture books. Check out the blog for loads of informative and  inspirational posts.

I am looking forward to the 2018 ReFoReMo. Carrie Charlie Brown and Kirsti Call always plan a great month for all who read, write, and study picture books. Hope you will join us in March.

Happy New Year!

Here are the 2017 posts of authors I chose to study.

November 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Study: Barbara Rosenstock

October 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Shutta Crum

September 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Study: Kevin Henkes

August 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Deborah Underwood

July 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Susanna Hill

June 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Jeff Mack

May 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Kim Norman

April 2017 Post ReFoReMo Reflection

Reading for Research: ReFoReMo Day 18: Keila Dawson Takes the Challenge

February 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Doreen Cronin

January 2017

Reading for Research: Mentor Text Author Study: Patricia Polacco

Happy Almost Mardi Gras!

Happy Almost Mardi Gras!

On this day last year I wrote a blog post about the popular song, The 12 days of Christmas.  This is the time of year to actually sing that song. The first day is today, December 26th. The twelfth day is January 6th, Little Christmas, also known as the Twelfth Night, Feast of the Epiphany, Women’s Day, Three Kings’ Day and or Kings’ Day.

During this time of year of course you’ll hear Merry Christmas, Happy Hanakkah, or Happy Holidays. Thanks to the Dirty Coast store there’s have another greeting you should know…


While the holiday season ends for most on New Year’s Day, those of us with roots in Louisiana are gearing up for another season -Mardi Gras, baby!

We get this party started on January 6th with King Cake. And we’ll keep buying, baking and eating them all season long. According to tradition, you want to “get the baby” because it will bring you blessings or good luck.

This year, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is February 13, 2018. That’s 39 days of celebration. Can’t wait to get this party started!


 

King Cake Baby Goodreads Giveaway

King Cake Baby Goodreads Giveaway

Think you can catch dat baby? Enter the Goodreads Giveaway to find out!

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The King Cake Baby by Keila Dawson

The King Cake Baby

by Keila Dawson

Giveaway ends January 09, 2018.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

“No mon ami, you can’t catch me, I’m the King Cake Baby!”

Photography – Non-fiction biographies about photographers

Photography – Non-fiction biographies about photographers

This Perfect Picture Book Pair is dedicated to two nonfiction biographies about American photographers. Both artists chose to capture current events by taking pictures of people  during important eras in our nation’s history.

Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee! by Andrea Loney, illustrated by Keith Mallet, published by Lee & Low is about photographer James Van Der Zee whose pictures depict an important era and people in American history – the Harlem Renaissance.

Dorothea Lange Photographs the Truth by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Gérard Dubois, published by Calkins Creek Books is about photographer Dorothea Lange whose pictures depict an important era and people in American history – the Great Depression.

 

Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience,  or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that contribute to diversity in children’s literature.

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too!

Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!

Arturo and the Bienvenido Feast by Anne Broyles

Arturo and the Bienvenido Feast by Anne Broyles

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is Arturo and the Bienvendio Feast. Arturo and his grandmother, Abue Rosa, return in this sequel to Arturo and the Navidad Birds. This is the  perfect month to share a story about family and food. Every November families gather to give thanks for one another and share a Thanksgiving feast. Children will enjoy reading about Arturo and his family’s feast.

Written by: Anne Broyles

Illustrated byKE Lewis 

Translator: Maru Cortes

Publisher: Pelican Publishing Co., Inc. (August 2017)

Suitable for ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: family, Latin American culture culture & food

Brief Synopsis:  Arturo and Abue Rosa plan a special feast to welcome Michael, the fiancé of his aunt, Tía Inés.  Their menu includes Pupusas, curtido, fried plantains, chocolate almond cake and more. While cooking Abue Rosa gets a headache so she takes a nap. But Arturo can’t wake her up and the guests are coming. What can he do? Arturo saves the day of course!

Opening pages“Arturo stole a glance at his grandmother as he popped a handful of shredded cheese in his mouth.” 

“Arturo echó una miradita a su abuela mientras se metía un bocado de queso rallad a la boca.” 

“Leave some for the pupusas.” Abue Rosa threw the dough into the mixing bowl – thwack! – and massaged the masa into a smooth ball.” 

“Deja un poco para las pupuses.” Abue Rosa ventó la masa al tazón – jzas! – masajendo la masa hata formar una bala suave.” 

Why I like this book: The tender relationship between Arturo and his grandmother continues in this sequel. Reading about Arturo and Abue Rosa reminded me of the special bond shared between my son and my mother when they cooked Louisiana Creole Filé Gumbo together. Food and family are important to culture and celebrations. Anne Broyles brings both together in this sweet story told in English and Spanish. In addition to recipes for Curtido (slaw) and Pupusas (stuffed, fried corn cakes), there is an author’s note. Also included is a glossary with phonetic pronunciations and definitions for the Spanish words used in the story.

The illustrations are warm, and earthy colors represent Latin American culture.

Resources:  

  • Lu and Bean Read podcast 11/16/2017 interview with author Anne Broyles.

  • Mr. Donn’s Free lessons, games, presentations about Latin America.

Read other perfect picture book Friday reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

Halloweensie Contest 2017: TRICKS & TREATS

Halloweensie Contest 2017: TRICKS & TREATS

It’s Halloweensie time! Every October author Susanna Hill hosts a writing contest. The rules: write a 100 word Halloween story for kids 12 and under using the words candy corn (counted as one word), monster, and shadow.

Tricks & Treats 

 

The Candy Corn Quartet arrived early to the annual Halloween auditions.

They turned the lights on bright just as the Caramel Candy Quintet

stepped up to perform.

 

Rather than stick to their notes, the candy stuck to one another.

 

Backstage, the Chocolate Bars practiced their harmony.

 

“Nice white costumes,” laughed the quartet.

 

The Bars sweat through their performance and onto the floor. “Cone

heads!” they yelled.

 

Up next, the quartet sang in perfect pitch. They got the gig!

 

The quartet rang the doorbell. A large shadow loomed.

 

“Treats are here,” yelled a monster. “Yum, my favorite!”

 

And he gobbled them up.

 

Read the other fun submissions at Susanna Hill’s blog.

 

Happy Halloween!

Goodnight, Numbers by Danica McKellar

Goodnight, Numbers by Danica McKellar

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is Goodnight, Numbers.

What does the Hallmark channel, popular TV shows The Wonder Years, The West Wing, Dancing with the Stars and math have in common? Actress, mathematician and author Danica McKellar!


Written by: Danica McKeller

Illustrated by:  Alicia Padrón

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers (2017)

Suitable for ages: 2-5

Themes/Topics: bedtime, numbers, counting

Brief SynopsisGoodnight, Numbers is a bedtime book and concept book about numbers.  Using the same pattern as the classic book Goodnight Moon, children say goodnight to things familiar to them – two hands, three wheels on a tricycle, four paws on a cat. The book highlights the fact that numbers are all around us.

Opening pages“Goodnight, one fork, Goodnight, one spoon, Goodnight, one bowl, I’ll see you soon.”

Why I like this bookGenius! Really, the book and McKellar. The rhyme is perfect. The illustrations are soft and gentle and include diverse families. Children can see numbers are everywhere and practice counting along on every spread.

A letter to parents, grandparents and caretakers as well as an author’s note with suggestions on how to use the book is included.

Resources:

Read other perfect picture book Friday reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

FRIENDS (Mostly) by Barbara Joosse

FRIENDS (Mostly) by Barbara Joosse

It’s back to school time! So today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is FRIENDS (Mostly). As new students start school and old students return to new classrooms, children will make new friends, some will lose old friends all will hopefully learn what friendship means and how to keep them intact.

Written by: Barbara Joosse

Illustrated by:  Tomaso Milian

Publisher: Greenwillow Books, 2010

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Friendship, Jealousy, Kindness and Caring

Brief SynopsisThis book is about how two best friends make up when one allows jealousy to tear them apart.

Opening pages:

Ruby and Henry, 

Henry and Ruby,

Usually we’re friends, but sometimes we’re unfriends.

It all depends.

Why I like this book The title tells all, you can be friends (mostly) and you can be unfriends too. Friendships often hit rough patches and kids need to find a way to work through those times. When Ruby is teased because she can’t float like her best friend Henry, she lashes out at him. And then she decides to walk away from their friendship. In the end, the two friends work out how to remain friends. A wonderful lesson for showing children what friendship looks like and how friendships work. And even when bad feelings come between friends, sometimes only one act of kindness can save a relationship.

Resources

To read other Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews from today, head over to author Susanna Hill’s page

Happy reading!

Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History or Sports

Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History or Sports

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in the History or Sports 

This Saturday is the kick-off of the Western & Southern Open Tennis Tournament here in Cincinnati, an exciting week for tennis fans. As a player, I enjoy keeping up with the pros and watching professional tennis. Some of the most thrilling matches in women’s tennis happened between Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. This dual biography tells their story.

Written by: Phil Bildner 

Illustrated by:  Brett Helquist 

PublisherCandlewick (March 14, 2017)

Suitable for ages: 7-10

Themes/Topics: Sportsmanship, women in sports, professional athletes, perseverance, resilience, equality, and respect

Brief SynopsisTwo professional female tennis players, Chris Evert from America and Martina Navratilova from Czechoslovakia, had very different upbringings and very different approaches to the game. But both shared the same goal – to be the best in the world.

Why I like this book Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert were two talented, hard-working athletes who competed for the #1 ranking in women’s tennis . As the top female  players on the tour in the 1970’s and 80’s they were often fierce opponents. Martina & Chrissie were also friends. These two talented hard-working athletes competed  for fifteen years. Martina and Chrissie met 80 times on the court – 60 of their matches were in tournament finals!

The two best players in the world battled tournament after tournament. One time Martina beat Chrissie, another time Chrissie beat Martina. When Martina started losing often to Chrissie, she decided to train harder. The training paid off and Martina started winning their matches.

Martina beat Chrissie 13 times in a row in tournament finals! But Chrissie never gave up. At one tournament when everyone thought Chrissie would lose, she fought back and won. Chrissie and Martina made each other better players. Their friendship endured the greatest rivalry in the history of sports. And both won the hearts of tennis fans worldwide.

Resources

Happy reading!

She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton

She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World. 

When Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) voiced her objections about the nomination of Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General during his confirmation hearing on February 7, 2017, she was silencedSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) interrupted Senator Warren as she read from the letter written in 1986 by civil rights leader Coretta Scott King. That letter helped prevent the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as a federal judge for his home state of Alabama. McConnell accused Warren of making statements that impugn the character of Sessions which he determined was against Senate rules. 

The senator presiding over the hearing advised Warren that she was out of order under Senate Procedural Rule 19. “I’m reading a letter from Coretta Scott King to the Judiciary Committee from 1986 that was admitted into the record,” Senator Warren argued. “I’m simply reading what she wrote about what the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be a federal court judge meant and what it would mean in history for her.” 

Senator McConnell asked for a vote. After a 49-43 vote split across party lines, Senator Warren was not allowed to finish nor speak again. Instead, she continued reading the letter outside the door of the Senate floor. 

Defending his actions, Mitch McConnell later explained, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”  

Inspired by that event, Chelsea Clinton wrote this book and featured thirteen other women in America who also faced opposition and or adversity but succeeded because they persisted

Written by: Chelsea Clinton

Illustrated by:  Alexandra Boiger

Publisher: Philomel Books (May 2017)

Suitable for ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: Women in US history, perseverance, resilience 

Brief Synopsis:  In She Persisted, Chelsea Clinton introduces young readers to thirteen American women throughout history who, despite resistance from others or society, made positive contributions to our nation because of their persistence. 

Opening pages“Sometimes being a girl isn’t easy. At some point, someone probably will tell you no, will tell you to be quiet and may even tell you your dreams are impossible. Don’t listen to them. These thirteen American women certainly did not take no for an answer. They persisted.” 

Why I like this bookShe Persisted is an inspirational tribute to thirteen women whose contributions to our nation deserve recognition. Some of the women featured are well known and others are not. The colorful illustrations by Alexandra Boiger include a diverse cast of characters, girls and boys, that reflect our nation’s multicultural population. 

Perseverance, persistence, fairness, and dreaming big are common themes in children’s books. I enjoyed the inclusion of women in a book that also teaches US history. As a non-fiction book, there are endless opportunities for educational use. Students could conduct more in-depth study of each character, or research other lesser known female figures who have also helped shape our nation. The adults in this book are role models children should know about and look up to. The author includes a quote that explains why every child, especially girls, should read this picture book, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” -Astronaut Sally Ride 

Resources

Read other perfect picture book Friday reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog

Happy reading!

Girls, Challenge & Resilience!

Girls, Challenge & Resilience!

This Perfect Picture Book Pair written by award winning author-illustrator Ashley Spires features girls with strong characters.  Both books are wonderful examples of how they face challenges and demonstrate resilience. 

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING is about a girl who knows exactly what she wants to build and how it will work, but is frustrated because it’s not easy. So she quits. But she comes back and guess what? She gets it right! The book is a great example to kids that it’s okay to make mistakes and even get angry. We all face frustration and fear that we may not succeed in our endeavors. 

THE THING LOU COULDN’T DO is about a girl who loves adventure until her friends decide to do something Lou couldn’t do.  She makes all kinds of excuses but eventually Lou faces her fear. Rather than feel like a failure, she sets a goal. Not everything we fear can be solved easily or quickly. Just recognizing the fear is a step in the right direction. 

Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes, but one must include a diverse setting, or life experience, or main character. My goal is to support books in the market that contribute to diversity in children’s literature. 

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too! 

Kids love to see their reflections in books. Join me and #ReadYourWorld!

Happy reading…

Indiana SCBWI Summer Kick-Off Conference 2017 Re-cap

Indiana SCBWI Summer Kick-Off Conference 2017 Re-cap

Last Sunday I drove through rural Indiana on my way home from an inspirational weekend at the summer SCBWI Indiana writer’s conference when my eyes caught the light on my dashboard. This incident sent me on a journey to get gas fast. Thank goodness my GPS found a gas station nearby. I listened carefully to the directions, but drove and drove. The gas light began to blink. My first thought: what a great example of rising tension!

Believe me, there was panic, but my first reaction was about writing. I credit this SCBWI Indiana conference for that.  I just spent the weekend writing and thinking about writing. Thinking about character, and plot and story arcs. A weekend filled with instruction, inspiration and motivation.

Here’s a re-cap of the amazing faculty who presented.

Danielle Smith, founder of Lupine Grove Creative is an agent that represents picture books through young adult novels. She is such an inspirational force in this industry. I always enjoy listening to her honest appraisal of what it takes to be successful in this business.

 

The one and only author and indie publisher Darcy Pattison shared her wisdom with us. Pun intended! If you haven’t heard Darcy speak, put her on your bucket list and listen carefully to what she has to say.

What’s better than hearing author Tammi Sauer speak? Hearing her TWICE! Tammi gave a dynamic instructional presentation, er performance on story plot and structure. Her books are great to use as mentor texts because she is the plot whisperer!

 

Tammi is a role model for how teaching can be entertaining! She is as funny in person as the characters readers know so well in her books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Troy Cummings is a mega talented author-illustrator. He shared tips for making a dummy to check and improve pacing and page turns. He is such a naturally funny guy. I would be very disappointed to learn he was shy as a child and not the kid that always kept others laughing.

 

 

Troy also shared the revision process for one of his soon to be released picture books that has that perfect combination of heart and humor. Pictured here is an example from one of his new releases.

 

 

 

 

A huge thank you to Shannon Anderson, SCBWI Indiana Regional Advisor (photo), Mandie Anderson, Assistant Regional Advisor, and Sharon Vargo, Regional Illustrator Coordinator, for hosting and coordinating a fabulous event.

 

It’s always fun spending time with writers and meeting new talent. It’s exciting to finally meet writers in person you interact with in the virtual world. Here’s Emmie, me, and Manju.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The King Cake Baby sold in the PAL Bookstore and some readers in and around Indiana will learn a bit about one of our Mardi Gras traditions.

This conference faculty was delightful and the venue at Potawatomi Inn in the state park was breathtaking. I am definitely looking forward to the next SCBWI conference hosted in Indiana.

Write on!

ANYWHERE FARM by Phyllis Root

ANYWHERE FARM by Phyllis Root

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is Anywhere Farm. It’s spring! And we know what that brings. Time to plant. Do you know what food you’ll grow?

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Written by: Phyllis Root

Illustrated by:  G. Brian Karas

Publisher: oooCandlewick (March 2017)

Suitable for ages: 2– 5  

Themes/Topics: community supported agriculture, urban environments, cooperation, farmer’s market

Brief Synopsis:  This book introduces young children to the idea of community supported agricultural more than farming and shows how urban areas are used to grow food.  

Opening pages“For an anywhere farm, here’s all you need:

                                      soil

                    and sunshine,

                                            some water,

                               a seed.”  

 Why I like this book We joined a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), last year. The produce we get is abundant and so tasty. Anywhere Farm is an informational book. Kids learn it’s not hard to grow food, you need soil, sun, water, and a seed. An empty lot surrounded by buildings is transformed into a community garden. Food can be grown anywhere and in anything. Kale in  pail. Corn in a horn.

Children and adults work together. They re-purpose items found in the garbage to use as pots. Children also learn about insects and animals found in an urban garden. And when there’s plenty of food, the neighbors start a farmer’s market to sell to other neighbors.

The rhythm and rhyme is playful and the illustrations inclusive. A delightful book for young children to learn about growing food in an urban environment through a community effort.

Resources

Read more of today’s reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper

The Ring Bearer by Floyd Cooper

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is THE RING BEARER. It’s normal for the bride and groom to be nervous on their big day, but imagine a young child who is part of a wedding party feeling nervous. Now imagine it’s his mother’s wedding!  

Written/Illustrated by:  Floyd Cooper

Publisher: Philomel Books (April 2017)

Suitable for ages: 3– 7

Themes/Topics: overcoming fear, anxiety, dealing with change, love, weddings, blended family

Brief Synopsis:  Jackson’s mother is getting married. And he is an important part of the ceremony. Jackson is the ring bearer! But he’s worried. What if something goes wrong? He could trip. He could drop the rings. Sophie, his younger new stepsister is part of the ceremony too. She’s the flower girl. But Sophie isn’t worried at all. In fact, she’s having fun.  

Opening pages“Mama is having a wedding, and Jackson is worried. What will it be like to call Bill “Dad”? And share stuff with Sophie, his new little sister? Things won’t be the same around here anymore.” 

 Why I like this book This story made my heart smile. I adore the cover with a cautious Jackson and playful Sophie. Through text and illustrations, Floyd Cooper created an endearing story about the power of family. Readers will love his inter-generational characters and blended family because they express their love of one another throughout the story.

With the support of his family, old and new, Jackson is able to overcome his fear. And because of the wonderful examples in his life, Jackson even saves the day!

Resources

  • Find answers to your burning questions about having children in a wedding party here.

  • Find the article from the site, Today’s Parent, Kids at weddings: Essential do’s and don’ts here

  • Find an article, Children’s feelings about blended families, here.

Read more of today’s reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

PUG meets PIG by Sue Lowell Gallion

PUG meets PIG by Sue Lowell Gallion

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is PUG meets PIG

Written by:  Sue Lowell Gallion

Illustrated  by:  Joyce Wan

Publisher: Beach Lane Books (2016)

Suitable for ages: 2- 6

Themes/Topics: sharing, kindness, adapting to change, acceptance, friendship

Brief Synopsis:  Pug is quite happy with his life until Pig moves in. What’s a Pug to do when a Pig who moves into his home eats from his bowl, interrupts his routine, and sleeps on his bed? 

Opening pages:

“This is Pug’s home. This is where Pug lives.

This is Pug’s bowl. This is where Pug eats.

This is Pug’s yard. This is where Pug works.

This is Pug’s bed. This is where Pug sleeps.

Pug is happy hear at home with his bowl, his yard, and his bed. But one day when the door opens…” 

 Why I like this book Delightful story! The easy to read text delivers a powerful message about kindness, adapting to change, sharing, acceptance, and friendship. The illustrations are adorable and expressive. They show exactly how kids look when someone else wants what they have.

PUG meets PIG is a wonderful story to share with kids who are expecting a sibling, or learning to share, or who are having difficulty resolving conflicts. It is also a perfect story to introduce the concepts of empathy and kindness to very young children.

The easy to read text coupled with fun illustrations also makes this book a great pick for beginners to practice independent reading.

Resources

  • Find an activity guide to accompany the book here

  • We’ll see more of this dynamic duo in a second book “Pug & Pig Trick or Treat,” in July 2017.

Read more of today’s reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

Miss Paul and the President by Dean Robbins

Miss Paul and the President by Dean Robbins

Today’s Perfect Picture Book pick is Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote. 

Written by: Dean Robbins

Illustrated by:  Nancy Zhang

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers  (September 2016)

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Activism, Right to vote, Women’s suffrage, US history

Brief Synopsis:  As a child Alice Paul saw her father go off to vote but not her mother. Why?  She studied the nation’s laws and knew they needed to change to allow women the right to vote. Alice protested in different ways and convinced other women to join her.

One day in 1914 she organized a parade that upstaged the arrival of the newly elected President, Woodrow Wilson. He asked to meet her. However the president told her he had more pressing issues to deal with that working on the women’s right to vote . But that didn’t stop Alice Paul. She persisted. Even the president’s daughter Margaret agreed with Alice Paul. Then one day in 1918, President Wilson agreed too!

Opening pages:

Alice Paul hurried up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in a purple hat.

She wanted to make everything perfect for her parade. A parade in Washington D. C. no one would ever forget!”

 Why I like this book This is a wonderful introduction to a female activist who was instrumental in the fight for the right to vote for women. Through scenes that are both playful and serious, Robbins tells the story of activism by describing the actions and persistence of Alice Paul. 

The book is a wonderful introduction to this period in history and could spark discussion about the US Constitution as well as the role of Congress in making laws. 

Resources

  • Scroll down the author’s website for Activities for Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote. 

  •  A teaching unit about women’s suffrage movement can be found from Rutgers: Teach a Girl to Lead

  • Head over to A Mighty Girl to find girl-empowering resources such as toys, movies, music and books. 

Read more of today’s reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

The Girl with a Parrot on her Head

The Girl with a Parrot on her Head

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is The Girl with the Parrot on her Head

Written/Illustrated  by:  Daisy Hirst

Publisher: Candlewick (2016)

Suitable for ages: 2- 5

Themes/Topics: Coping with loss, anger, fear, anxiety, friendship

Brief Synopsis:  Isabel, who wears a parrot on her head, has a best friend named Simon who moves away. At first she hates everything and is able to cope by sorting and labeling her things into cardboard boxes.  Except she and her parrot worry about the box of wolves, especially what to do with one big wolf. Until she finds a big box. And inside that box is a boy named Chester who helps her deal with the wolf.

Opening pages:

“Once there was a girl with a parrot on her head. Her name was Isabel, and she had a friend named Simon, who was very good with newts.

But one day Simon went away in a truck and never came back.”

 Why I like this book This story addresses the range of emotions kids experience when coping with loss, anger, fear, and anxiety in a unique way.  The use of symbolism for anxiety and fear using boxes and wolves may be quirky, but effective. The illustrations cleverly show time through the seasons demonstrating coping while finding a solution to a problem takes time. Kids learn about different difficult feelings they may encounter when disappointed or hurt by the loss of a friend, but also that those feelings don’t always last. In the end, new friendships do come along.

Resources

Read more of today’s reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

I YAM A DONKEY by Cece Bell

I YAM A DONKEY by Cece Bell

Although I read today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick last week, I YAM still laughing!

Title: I YAM A DONKEY story, pictures, and bad grammar

Written & Illustrated by:  Cece Bell

Publisher: Clarion Books (June 16, 2015)

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Wordplay, grammar, dialogue, humor

Brief Synopsis:  A yam, yes, a vegetable, determined to correct the grammar of an oblivious donkey fails because it’s just an impossible feat. The frustrated yam enlists other vegetables to help but remains unsuccessful. Alas, all good things must end and the surprise ending to this story is laugh out loud funny.

Opening pages:

YAM:  What did you say?  “I yam a donkey?” The proper way to say                               that is “I am a donkey.”

DONKEY: You is a donkey, too? You is a funny-looking donkey.

YAM:  No, I am a yam. You are the one who said, “I am a donkey.” 

Why I like this book It is laugh out loud funny! As the publisher’s blurb pointed out, I YAM A DONKEY can be compared to the comedic routine of the“Who’s on first.” about baseball by Abbott and Costello. What a fun way to teach grammar and dialogue. The ending is hilarious. I double dare you not to laugh while reading this book.


  • Find a comprehensive list of resources here with a links to Cece Bell’s school presentation reading the book, activities, crafts, material about yams and sweet potatoes, and other books on grammar, etc.

  • TeachersPayTeachers has a book companion unit here.

  • Find a free ESOL resource here.

  • After learning all about grammar, make some yam or sweet potato fries. Read the story and you’ll know why!

To read more reviews of today’s picks, visit author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

The Littlest Streetcar by Vernon Smith

The Littlest Streetcar by Vernon Smith

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is The Littlest Streetcar by author-illustrator Vernon Smith. What a sweet story!

Written & Illustrated by:  Vernon Smith

PublisherPelican Publishing Company, Inc. (February 2017)

Suitable for ages: 3 and up

Themes/Topics: Self-Concept, Self-esteem, New Orleans, Louisiana, Streetcars & Trains, Transportation

Brief SynopsisThis is a story about a little streetcar named Charlie who wasn’t as popular as other streetcars because he was a maintenance vehicle. Convinced he was “just a worker car”, Charlie didn’t feel worthy or as important as the other streetcars until his skills helped them out of trouble. Charlie then realized he is appreciated and valuable and special, just they way he is.

 Opening pages:

“Charlie the Streetcar liked to roll down the tracks and enjoy his day. It made him very happy, because he didn’t go out all the time like the other streetcars.

Some days, Charlie was called upon to put sand on the rails. This would create traction, so the other streetcars could move without the wheels slipping and sliding.” 

 Why I like this book This is such an endearing story with a wonderful message. The Littlest Streetcar reminds readers that there is something special about each and every one of us. The artwork is colorful and expressive showing every character’s personality. See if you can find the spread where Vernon Smith gives a shout out to The King Cake Baby the first book we both published with Pelican; he as the illustrator.

In the back matter Smith gives a brief history about New Orleans streetcars and his inspiration for writing the story.

Resources

  • Learn more here about New Orleans Streetcars. And if you are ever in the city take a ride on one!

  • Read the history of trams, trolleys, and streetcars here and or visit your local train museum.

  • See this KidsHealth PreK-2 Teacher’s Guide on Self-esteem

  • Extension activities to help children develop self-esteem.

  • Extension crafts from Pinterest to help children develop self-esteem.

Read more today’s reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

HELLO BABY by Keila V. Dawson

HELLO BABY by Keila V. Dawson

THE 2nd ANNUAL #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge hosted by author Vivian Kirkfield in honor of Dr. Suess is here!


The challenge is to write a story for children 12 and under using 50 words or less. YIKES!

My entry, at exactly 50 words, is about the wonder and curiosity a child has about the baby growing inside his or her mother.

HELLO BABY

You’re quiet inside mama’s belly. What are you doing in there?

Listening?

Sleeping?

Dreaming?

You’re moving inside mama’s belly. And I can feel what you’re doing in there.

Kicking.

Stretching.

Twisting.

You’re noisy outside mama’s belly. I can hear and see what you’re doing now!

Screaming!

Squealing!

Smiling!

Hello baby!