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?

Image result

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!

Mardi Gras 2017 Visits

Mardi Gras 2017 Visits

I had wonderful time celebrating Mardi Gras 2017. The King Cake Baby and I ran all over south Louisiana parishes visiting with students, parents, teachers, and school librarians.

As a guest author for Scholastic I met many wonderful educators who work tirelessly to bring books into schools for kids. Book fairs are quite popular in Louisiana and the state is recognized as one of the top sales areas!  📚

 No automatic alt text available.

And while there of course I ate a lot of different types of King Cake!  I even ate a King Cake hamburger. Yes. I. Did. The food truck @FoodDrunknola sold them at the King Cake Festival. To my surprise, it was deliciously sweet and savory. Yum.


     

I was fortunate to visit Impact Elementary School at their Family Literacy Night. And had delightful visits at Port Allen Elementary and North Iberville Elementary. Watch these Port Allen Pre-K students dance! 🎶🎶

Second graders sang the 12 Days of Carnival. So much fun!  🎶🎺🎵🎷🎶 

Kindergarten students at North Iberville sang “Five Little King Cake Babies“. Cutest babies and baker in the city!

The King Cake Baby and I love to Skype with classes, especially during Mardi Gras. We hung out with a great group of first grade students in Kentucky who knew all about Kings’ Day.

Just so happens World Read Aloud Day, known as WRAD, is always during Carnival season. So the baby ran west…to Texas!

All hail the North Pointe Elementary grade 2 Kings and Queens!

                                                                                

                                              💜💚💛🎶🎺🎵🎷🎶 📚

It was wonderful to see kiddos from coast to coast celebrating Mardi Gras, like this Girl Scout troop from San Diego!   💜💚

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, sunglasses and hat

 Every year I bring a King Cake to my tennis club. Guess who got the baby?

Eating King Cake during Mardi Gras is a longtime tradition and fun no matter your age or where you live. But no worries if you don’t eat any by Fat Tuesday on February 28th, there’s always next year!

                                                                                                                                                 

 

Take the Challenge!

Take the Challenge!

The third annual Reading for Research Month Challenge registration is open! Thanks to Lori Nawyn for this adorable 2017 badge she created for you to share and or add to your blog. 

Known as ReFoReMo, this challenge was founded by Carrie Charley Brown and Kristi Call. Their big idea was to help picture book lovers who are also writers improve their craft. How? By reading, studying, and talking about picture books throughout the month of March. They invited authors, illustrators, agents and educators to provide mentor text recommendations and write about what makes them great. 

Are you ready to take the challenge? Follow this link and the directions to register. 

Hope you join me, Carrie, Kristi and Janie in the challenge. And we get to chat with you in the comments section of each post or in the Facebook group. 

Happy Reading!

 


Bridget and the Books Giveaway

Bridget and the Books Giveaway

Eh la bas! A young kidlit blogger at Bridget and the Books is hosting a giveaway of THE KING CAKE BABY. Run to her blog and comment on her post to enter. Last day to enter is February 17th. Good luck!

Happy Mardi Gras! 🎶🎺🎵🎷🎭🎶👑

Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse

Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse

I was so pleased to receive an advanced copy of Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse to review for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday.  What a fun retelling of Aesop’s fable, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, told Louisiana style!

Written by:  Todd-Michael St. Pierre

Illustrated byLee Brandt Randall

PublisherPelican Publishing (February 10, 2017)

Suitable for ages5-8

Themes/TopicsLouisiana, Creole and Cajun culture, animal folk tale, city vs. country living

Brief SynopsisThis is a story about two mice, Chicory from the city of New Orleans and Roux from the countryside of Southwest Louisiana. One day, Chicory fell asleep in a picnic basket and ended up in the countryside where she met Roux. They explored Roux’s hometown. Chicory found Roux’s food boring, and yikes…there were alligators in the swamp!  Chicory invited Roux to explore the city of New Orleans. Although they did pass a good time during Mardi Gras, Roux prefers the way the tradition is celebrated back home. The city may have fancy food but there were dangers Roux was not used to! Chicory and Roux parted ways but promised to keep in touch. They agreed that where they live is exactly where they’re meant to be.

Opening pages:

“Once upon a Louisiana time, there lived a Creole mouse named Chicory. One morning she climbed into a picnic basket to nibble on some French bread, and she feel fast asleep. A nice New Orleans family had packed the basket with their favorite foods, such as roast-beef po’boys, Creole tomatoes, and pecan pralines. As Chicory napped, she was carried away to a picnic on a humid day!

When she awoke, Chicory discovered that the basket was smackdab in the middle of a swamp!”

 Why I like this book Author Todd-St. Pierre cleverly adapted Aesop’s fable, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, to create Chicory and Roux: The Creole Mouse and the Cajun Mouse. He highlighted city vs. country life through the lens of Louisiana culture.

When people find out I’m from New Orleans, often they ask, “What’s the difference between a Louisiana Creole and Louisiana Cajun?” And I always reply that the difference is similar to any region’s city vs. country living. Simply, where you choose to live influences how you live. As a city girl I attended undergraduate school in Lafayette, Louisiana located in the southwestern corner of the state. I had a wonderful experience, but I’m a New Orleans girl and identify with Chicory, the Creole Mouse! Yet I have friends and family who are like Roux, the Cajun Mouse, who would never leave the countryside. Truthfully, whether folks live in the city or the country we all celebrate the same wonderfully unique Louisiana culture.

There are two original songs at the end of the book, “Song of Roux: The Cajun Mouse and Song of Chicory: The Creole Mouse.

Resources

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

Happy reading!

 

ABC, Adoption and Me – Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review

ABC, Adoption and Me – Multicultural Children’s Book Day Review

This Friday we celebrate the fourth annual Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

As readers, reviewers, and writers this day is an excellent way to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kidlit that address diverse topics and feature people of color. Even though census data shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team is on a mission to change all of that. You will find hundreds of book titles and reviews to read at this linky. Raising awareness of these titles will help you create a more diverse bookshelf, and make it easier to get these books into homes, schools, libraries, and into the hands of young readers. And for this reason, the co-creators of this unique event, Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom  have chosen #ReadYourWorld as the official hashtag
 ABC, ADOPTION & ME was sent to me by authors Gayle H. Swift, and Casey A. Swift to review. Published by WRB Publishing, the book has won recognition and many awards.

  • Named a Favorite Read of 2013 by Adoptive Families national magazine
  • Named a Notable Picture Book for 2013 by Shelf Unbound in their Dec/Jan 2014
  • Honorable Mention – Gittle List of 2014; 
  • Finalist; IPNE 2014 Book Awards (Independent Publishers of New England)
  • Honorable Mention 2014 Purple Dragonfly Book Award 
 ABC, Adoption & Me is an informational ABC concept book. Written from a child’s point of view, it skillfully addresses complex information about adoption, such as who can be adopted, feelings about birth parents, and the different ways to adopt, all explained in an age appropriate way for young children.
Page samples:
“C is for children. You can be adopted at any age, from tiny babies to teens.”   
“M is for miss. Sometimes I miss my birth parents. I wonder if they miss me too.”  
“O is for open adoptions. In open adoptions, adoptees know their birth parents. They visit each other and spend time together – a little or a lot.” 
The illustrations are colorful cartoon-style drawings that show an array of multicultural characters and families. What I like most about this book is that it includes the challenges and difficulties kids face when adopted, in addition to the positive experiences. It also includes an introduction to show adults how to use the book. It mentions the Adoption-attunement Quotient (AQ) which considers how adoption influences a child. The book would be a valuable resource for caregivers, parents, and schools to use when discussing adoption. And especially helpful for adoptive families who want to talk about adoption with their adopted children. The authors have provided a very informative, inclusive, and kid-friendly guide on the subject.
Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books
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 work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
MCBD Links to remember:

BunnyBear – A Perfect Picture Book Friday Review

BunnyBear – A Perfect Picture Book Friday Review

I am fortunate to have read an advanced copy of BunnyBear, my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday. What a delightful story!

Written by:  Andrea J. Loney

Illustrated by: Carmen Saldaña

PublisherAlbert Whitman & Company (January 31, 2017)

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: bears, identity, being yourself, friendship, acceptance

Brief Synopsis: What should a bear do when he feels like a bunny? And other bears called him odd. He wiggled his nose, nibbled on strawberries, and bounced through the forest of course!

Author Andrea Loney tells the story about a bear who did what felt natural because “It made him feel free and light and happy.” Even though others did not always understand, Bunnybear finds out he is not the only animal whose identity is at odds with social norms. Readers will celebrate the importance of staying true to who you are on the inside, despite what you look like on the outside.

Opening pages:

“There was once a bear who was more than a bear.

Sure, he was shaggy and stompy like most bears.  And he could be loud-very loud-if he wanted to.

But when he was alone, he loved to bounce through  he forest, wiggle his nose, and nibble on strawberries. It made him feel free and light and happy.”

 Why I like this book: BunnyBear is a wonderful story to introduce kids to the idea that it’s more  important to know who you are, be yourself and be happy rather than try to live in a way that doesn’t feel right to please others.

Being different can be difficult and lonely for kids. This story gives them hope. They learn that being true to your natural self means you don’t have to be alone. And somewhere there are friends who will accept you for who you are. The theme of this story is “Just be you.”

Resources: K-8 Classroom article, Express Yourself! Encouraging Kids to Be Themselves

Here is an article from kidshealth.org about self-esteem.

The website All Done Monkey lists these picture books about being yourself.

No Time for Flashcards picture books about being different and learning to be yourself.

Susanna Hill’s book lists on Acceptance/Tolerance and Be Yourself/Individuality.

Chapter Two “I’m Special” and Chapter Six “I Like Myself” from author Vivian Kirkfield‘s book Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking has many activities appropriate activities.

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

Happy reading!

Easy Peasy Pillsbury King Cake

Easy Peasy Pillsbury King Cake

It’s officially King Cake Season! Last year I wrote a guest post, ‘Tis the season of King Cakes, over at Charlotte Riggle’s blog for you food and culture buffs.

Today I want to share another easy King Cake recipe. The recipe in my book, THE KING CAKE BABY, uses frozen bread dough with a cinnamon-sugar filling and includes a recipe for making a Cream Cheese icing. In this recipe I use three Pillsbury Crescent Dough Sheets, the cinnamon-sugar mix, and a can of Pillsbury Cream Cheese icing. Easy peasy! The only thing easier than making this King Cake is picking one up at your favorite grocery or bakery.

Pillsbury Crescent Dough Sheet King Cake Recipe 

 Ingredients:
  • Pillsbury Crescent Dough Sheet(s) 
  • Cinnamon sugar mixture: ½ c. granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons cinnamon 
  • Plastic King Cake Baby (to hide inside, of course!)
  • Purple, Green, & Gold sugar sprinkles
  • Optional fillings: fruit pie filling, or Nutella, or almond paste
  • Pillsbury Cream Cheese Icing 
Directions:
Cover a baking pan with parchment paper or use a nonstick cookie sheet. Unroll dough sheets into rectangles.
Sprinkle middle of each dough sheet with about a tablespoon of the cinnamon-sugar mix.
Roll each dough sheet from the longest side of the rectangle.
Arrange into an oval shape. Press seams together to connect. Bake according to directions on Pillsbury package.
Decorating the King Cake
Soften ½ can of Pillsbury Cream Cheese icing. Have purple, green, gold sprinkles handy.
While the cake is still warm, pour icing on top. Alternate with purple, green and gold colored Mardi Gras sprinkles. Next time I will roll from the shortest side to make a wider cake.
Hide a plastic King Cake Baby in the underside of the cake. Before eating, check to see if you got the baby!

Click Mardi Gras King Cake from Pillsbury Dough Sheets to download the recipe.

Bon appétit!

And if any of you need a gluten free recipe, see this Red Mill cinnamon roll recipe.

 

The 12 Days of Christmas starts today!

The 12 Days of Christmas starts today!

The 12 days of Christmas starts today. I know the song by the same name first played on the radio the day after Halloween. For some cultures, primarily in Europe and Latin America, the first day of Christmas started on December 25 and will end January 5. Here in the US, at least in creole Louisiana, the first day starts today, December 26 and will end January 6.

So what’s up with that song? We know it’s about someone getting lots of gifts, especially birds, from their true love. A wee research led me to a number of guesses about its origin. The earliest written version is from 1780 published as a children’s “memory and forfeits” game much like the game ‘I went to the market and bought’ where players are tasked with remembering and repeating what was said before them. Others hypothesize it’s an English Christmas carol, a French folk song from 1770, and even a ‘code’ persecuted English Catholics used to practice their faith back in the 16th-17th centuries. A century later it was described as a game played at a Twelfth night celebration.

Fast forward to the 19th-20th centuries and the parodies ensued. If “The 12 Days of Christmas” Happened in Real Life and a very funny video 12 Days of Christmas parody of the Johnston family.


Although no one can say with certainty what the meaning is behind the song or the origin, today it’s rooted in both secular and Christian Christmas traditions. And it’s so much fun to sing! Whether there is a connection or not, there are 12 days from today till January 6th, also known Twelfth Night, Le Petit Noël, Little Christmas, Feast of the Epiphany, or Three Kings’ Day.

Whether the song is enjoyed for a secular or religious reason, we can extend the spirit of the season 12 more days. My plan is continue gift giving, but through acts of kindness. I hope you will join me!

Christmas & Hanukkah

Christmas & Hanukkah

This Perfect Picture Book Pair celebrates the most wonderful time of the year to read… Christmas and Hanukkah stories!

Title: Jackie’s Gift

Author: Sharon Robinson

Illustrator: E. B. Lewis

Publisher: Viking (2010)

Age Range: 3-7 years

The famous baseball player Jackie Robinson gives a gift to a boy he befriends in his new neighborhood. The gesture allows the two families to learn about their different holiday traditions.

***************

Title: Dear Santa, Love Rachel Rosenstein

Authors: Amanda Peet & Andrea Troyer

Illustrator: Christine Davenier

Publisher: Doubleday Books for Young Readers  (2015)

Age Range: 3-7 years

When Rachel Rosenstein feels she’s missing out because her family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, she learns others celebrate differently at this time of year too.

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!

Penguin Problems by Jory John

Penguin Problems by Jory John

Today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday is… Penguin Problems

penguinproblems1

 

Written by:  Jory John

Illustrated by: Lane Smith

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (September 2016)

Suitable for ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: penguins, grumpiness, pessimism, attitude

 

Brief Synopsis: One penguin’s pleasures are another penguin’s problems. The story follows a pessimistic penguin who complains about penguin life. The snow is too cold, the sea is too salty, and waddling makes him look silly. When he meets a wise walrus who helps him look on the bright side of life, the penguin changes his attitude. Or does he? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

 

Opening pageIt’s way too early.

                               My beak is cold.

                              What’s with all the squawking you guys?

 

Why I like this book: It’s hilarious! We’ve all met, um, penguins like this. You may live with one. You may work with one.  Maybe you’re a penguin! And Lane’s illustrations capture this little penguins attitude on every page.

Even if you are not a penguin, we’ve all certainly had penguin days, um, or weeks. One thing I’ve learned when that happens is to focus on doing something for someone else. I think giving your time or talent to help another person in is an uplifting experience, whether a planned activity or a random act of kindness.

 

Resources: It’s Not Fair! Tackling Your Child’s Complaints from Parents.com gives tips about how to deal with children who complain. 

 

Whine? Not! Four Ways to Deal with Whining Children from Parents.com gives tips about how to deal with children who whine.

 

5 WAYS TO TEACH GRATITUDE IN YOUR CLASSROOM shows creative ways to incorporate gratitude in your home or classroom. 

 

Find a lesson on gratitude for middle grade students here from Heart-Mind Online. 

 

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

 

Happy reading!

Monsters!

Monsters!

The characters in these two books figure out how to deal with their monster problems in this Perfect Picture Book Pair! 

capture

Title: Monster Trouble

Author: Lane Fredrickson

Illustrator: Michael Robertson

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (September 2015)

Age Range: 4-8 years

What’s a girl gotta do to rid her bedroom of monsters so she can get some sleep? Winifred Schnitzel finds the perfect solution to her monster trouble!

  Title: The Monstore 

Author: Tara Lazar

Illustrator: James Burks

Publisher: Aladdin   (June 2013)

Age Range: 4-7 years

What’s a boy gotta do to get rid of his pesky little sister? To solve his problem, Zach goes to the Monstore!

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!

Spider’s Trick or Treat

Spider’s Trick or Treat

Happy Halloweensie! Every year author Susanna Hill sponsors a Halloween writing contest. Submissions must include a story with no more than 100 words using specific words. This year the words are moon, ghost, and spider. Head over to her blog to see all the Halloweensie 2016 entries including my 99 word story, Spiders Trick or Treat. And there are always great prizes too!

 spider01

Spider’s Trick or Treat

 

     On the night before Halloween, the classroom filled with light from a full moon. Ants scurried. Flies buzzed. Ghost appeared.

     “Ghost, will you pack some sacks for me?” asked Spider. “I have to get more treats.”

     “What do I need to do?” asked Ghost.

    “Watch,” said Spider. “Pull! Lift! Tuck!”

     “I’ll try,” he gagged.

     Spider returned with more dead bugs.

     Ghost plucked, raised, and dragged the treats, “This is going to take all night.”

      “But the kids will be so surprised!” said Spider.

They filled the last sack when the door creaked opened. “Goodie bags!” the children – screamed.

kmjgzodq1mdgsntywmdq5fhappy_halloween_3

Books by the Banks 2016 Highlights

Books by the Banks 2016 Highlights

Books by the Banks 2016 had a stellar line-up of authors and presentations.

Bookseller Alia Jones, authors Zetta Elliott, Greg Leitich Smith and Children’s Librarian Sam Bloom discuss the state of diversity in publishing and ideas to close the gap.

14656337_2141906582701234_8277478952922886850_n

These guys! Laughed out loud the entire presentation with author-illustrators Greg Pizolli, Bob Shea, and Loren Long. Fun session where they shared personal experiences as well as a bit about their creative process.

14695479_2141903682701524_8130951108952043208_n

Authors Kerrie Hollihan, Brandon Marie Miller, Michelle Houts, Nancy Poe Pimm, Mary Kay Carson, Carmella Van Vleet, and Jen Swanson talk about science and history – and women in science and history!

14681893_2141900469368512_2659821207241081457_na   14650570_2141900499368509_2964581491635786988_na

 

14670891_2141900576035168_4407118428425777186_na 14595710_2141900549368504_6715541122968938655_na

Ohio creatives Tim Bowers, Lana Wayne Koehler, Gloria Adams, Will Hillenbrand and Christina Wald.

14650135_2141895316035694_6893051571624369920_n 14690932_2141886042703288_2793787616862503191_na

14725503_2141895809368978_5007922239789100415_na 14642497_2141895832702309_5484197190397706003_na

14721552_2142099866015239_4080891570434839349_n

What a fun and creative day! Until next year…

Read and write on!

 

 

Grandparents & Celebrating Heritage: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

Grandparents & Celebrating Heritage: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

PERFECT timing for this Perfect Picture Book Pair!

capture

This October, Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur are celebrated, and it’s also National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Both books are inspired by the Yiddish folksong “Hob Ikh Mir a Mantl” (I Had a Little Overcoat or My Coat). And both stories show how grandparents re-use, and re-purpose fabric to leave a legacy of love.

Title: Maya’s Blanket/La manta de Maya

Author: Monica Brown

Illustrator: David Diaz

Publisher: Children’s Book Press (CA); and imprint of Lee & Low Bilingual edition (August 15, 2015)

Age Range: 3-7 years.

Topics: Latino culture, inter-generational story, sewing, re-use/re-purposing cloth, legacy

 

Title: My Grandfather’s Coat

Author: Jim Aylesworth  

Illustrator: Barbara McClintock

Publisher: Scholastic Press   (October 2014)

Age Range: 4-8 years.

Topics: Immigration, inter-generational story, sewing, re-use/re-purposing cloth, legacy

Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes but one must include diverse settings,  life experiences,  and or people in the world of  children’s literature in response to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

Mark Twain said ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…”Reading is too!

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

Boys and Bots: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

Boys and Bots: A Perfect Picture Book Pair

Two boys and their bots make a perfect picture book pair! Friendship, hilarity, and science saves the day.

TitleThe Bot that Scott Built

Author: Kim Norman

Illustrator: Agnese Baruzzi

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (August 2016)

Age Range: 3-7 years.

Boy builds bot. Classroom calamity ensues. Boy and bot save the science fair!
510ugmkn4l-_sx258_bo1204203200_

Title: Boy + Bot  

Author: Ame Dyckman

Illustrator: Dan Yaccarino

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers   (April 2012)

Age Range: 2-5 years.

Boy likes bot. Bot likes boy. Friendship ensues!

2014-05-24-boybot-v2-1000

Perfect Picture Book Pair showcases two books with universal themes but one must include diverse settings,  life experiences,  and or people in the world of  children’s literature in response to the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign.

Mark Twain said ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…”Reading is too!

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