Category Archives: Perfect Picture Book Friday

Elephants Make Fine Friends by Colter Jackson

Elephants Make Fine Friends by Colter Jackson
Elephants Make Fine Friends is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday! 


Written/Illustrated by: Colter Jackson 

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (August 2015)

Suitable for ages: 3-5

Themes/Topics: friendship, recognizing differences, empathy, acceptance, elephants

Brief Synopsis:  Ella has elephant problems. She sent her elephant away although they are best friends because of their differences. Elephants don’t fit in bathtubs or at the dinner table. They make big messes. Then Ella realizes watching the moon rise or reading books or going to the movies is just not the same without her best friend. When Ella reunites with her elephant she learns humans make fine friends too.

Opening pages:  “Ella’s best friend is an elephant. They went everywhere together. And did everything side by side.”

Why I like this book: This story is such a tender yet powerful story of friendship. It helps young children see that although differences exist and are even expected between two friends, it’s the similarities they share that matter. The illustrations are warm and inviting.

Resources:  Click here to land on the book Facebook page.

Click here to land on Colter Jackson’s website.

Click here for more stories about friendship from The Measured Mom.

Click here for more stories about friendship from No Time For Flash Cards.

For more of today’s book reviews, click here to go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

Daredevil Duck by Charlie Alder

Daredevil Duck by Charlie Alder

Daredevil Duck is today’s pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Written & Illustrated by: Charlie Alder 

Publisher: Running Press Kids (May 12, 2015)

Suitable for ages: 3-6

Themes/Topics: facing fears, bravery, believing in yourself, helping others


Brief Synopsis: Daredevil Duck is the bravest duck in the whole world, kind of. When he’s dressed in his superhero cape, red helmet, dark x-ray glasses and rides his squeaky super tricycle, he sure is! Although he dreams of being brave, underneath the costume he’s afraid, of just about everything, like things that are too dark, too wet, too fluttery or too high. Other ducks make fun of him. While floating in his rubber ring dreaming about being brave, a mole appears. Daredevil duck is so frightened he pedals away through the dark woods over puddles, leaves and hills! Ending back where he started he meets the Mole again who asks for his help retrieving his balloon from a tree. Mole believes if Duck could pedal through the dark, in deep puddles, through the most fluttery leaves and the highest hills he’s the right one to help.

The foldout pages add to the page turns and the illustrations are bright and colorful.

Opening pages:  “This is Daredevil Duck. (Well, sort of)”

“He is the bravest duck in the whole world. (Well kind of)”

Why I like this book: This is such a sweet story. The reader will root for Duck every page, hoping his dream of being the superhero he would like to be is realized. I especially like the message that although it’s hard to face your fears, sometimes it’s easy to do for a friend.

To read other Perfect Picture Book Friday picks, head over to author Susanna Hill’s page here.

Happy reading!

Swing Sisters by Karen Deans

Swing Sisters by Karen Deans

Swing Sisters: The International Sweethearts of Rhythm by Karen Deans is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday in honor of Jazz Fest in New Orleans and Teacher’s Appreciation Week, both celebrated in the month of May.

Swing Sisters

Illustrated by: Joe Cepeda

Publisher: Holiday House (January 1, 2015)

Suitable for ages: 7-11

Themes:  women in music, educational activism, integration, jazz, gender studies, perseverance, inspiration, US history, Jim Crow laws, stereotypes

Brief Synopsis: This book brings attention to the first interracial all female jazz/swing band, The International Sweethearts of Rhythm formed in 1939 at Piney Woods Country Life School in Mississippi. The band became popular in the 1940’s and toured the US and Europe.

The story opens by bringing attention to Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones, a black educator who started a school in 1909 for orphans in Mississippi. Music education eventually became a part of the school’s curriculum and many of the Sweethearts were part of the school band.

Swing Sisters highlights the struggles these women endured from society because of both race and gender.

Opening pages:  “Way back in 1909, not far from Jackson, Mississippi, there was a special place for orphans It was called Piney Woods Country Life School.

A man named Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones started the school. He wanted to make sure these African American kids had a place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, and a good education. In return, the children worked at the school to earn their keep. Some planted seeds and picked weeds outside on the farm; others chopped vegetables in the kitchen or did laundry.”

Why I like this book: A great example of history using a story that inspires and educates. During one of the most difficult times in US history when the intent of oppression from Jim Crow laws was to prevent African Americans from achievement, this band of talented women, black and white, formed and succeeded in entertaining Americans and Europeans.

Further research shows Dr. Jones came from a family of educators, with an uncle who started a school back in 1846. When Dr. Jones learned about a county in Mississippi that had an eighty percent illiteracy rate, he moved there from Missouri and eventually started Piney Woods Country Life School.

Resources: See the Teacher’s Guide here. Listen to their story on NPR. Listen to them play! Dare you not to boogie!

For more of today’s book reviews from May 15, 2015, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett

THE GIRL AND THE BICYCLE by Mark Pett is my pick for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Written and Illustrated by: Mark Pett  9781442483200_p0_v5_s260x420

Publisher: Simon & Schuster April 2014

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Determination, kindness, generosity, selflessness

Synopsis: A wordless picture book about a girl who wants to buy a bicycle, and the neighbor who she works for to earn money  toward her goal. She works and saves as the seasons pass, however, when she finally has enough to buy it, the bicycle is no longer available. In the end the girl is rewarded for her acts of kindness and her willingness to work.

Opening pages:  The book begins with a double-page spread of a little girl holding the hands of a little boy walking toward a storefront display window. The only color on the second page is part of the green frame on a bicycle in the window. On the next page, the girl stops suddenly when she sees the bike.

Why I like this book: The themes are why I love this book! They are universal and timeless. And the story flows so easily, all through the illustrations. Very impressive. This book is sure to be around for generations. See if you can catch a clever hint on the first spread that shows why the neighbor hired the little girl to work when others did not!

For more book reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page to see other January 16, 2015 reviews.


The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie

The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday! My pick for today is The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie by Chris Van Allsburg.

This book has garnered reviews that swing like a pendulum! Some hate it while others love it. There’s only one way to find out how it makes you feel, read it.

Title: The Misadventures of Sweetie Pie sweetie pie

Written & Illustrated by: Chris Van Allsburg

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2014)

Suitable for ages: 5-8 (according the publisher)

Themes/Topics: pet responsibility & ownership, animal adoption & care, abandonment, longing, courage

Brief Synopsis: Sweetie Pie is a hamster adopted from a pet store who ends up in the care of multiple children who are either not ready for pet ownership or who are just neglectful. Sweetie Pie goes through a few owners, one who leaves him outside stuck in a plastic hamster ball, another who leaves him out in the snow. In the end Sweetie Pie escapes and joins a family of squirrels, finding solitude in the outdoors.

Opening pages:  “He’s sooo cute!” squealed the pigtailed girl. The hamster had heard these words before. He’d once shared his home with a dozen friends. One by one, they’d all been taken away.

He’d been left behind because whenever a child had picked him up, he’s squirmed and scratched.”

Why I like this book: Sweetie pie is not the best pet. Why? Is his behavior innate? Is it possible his  environments affected him? Readers have some pretty strong opinions about this book! I see it as an example of a picture book appropriate for older audiences. Firstly, the text is far lengthier than many of the newer 500-700 word picture books; secondly there are many social factors that can be discussed using Sweetie’s Pie’s situation, his desires, and the behavior of the children and adults that are supposed to care for him. It’s not a funny story, but rather poignant. A good read for anyone studying animal care or for parents or teachers who are considering getting a pet for the home or classroom. I would recommend parents and or teachers read it first because it does stir many different emotions, some which are just not pleasant but totally authentic. So where some see it as not a great book coming from what they expect from the well-known author, I feel it’s that this book isn’t funny or witty or clever. Some books are good because they stir up strong emotions and opinions.

For more book reviews, go to author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book page.

Ghosts for Breakfast

Ghosts for Breakfast

Title: Ghosts for Breakfast

Written by: Stanley Todd Teraski

Illustrated by: Shelly Shinjo

Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc. 2002

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Japanese culture, immigration, ghosts, community, cultural awareness

Brief Synopsis: Neighbors fear there are ghosts in the fields where they farm. A man and his young son go out to prove otherwise.

Opening pages:  “PON! PON! PON!

The pounding at the door shattered my family’s peaceful evening


Who could it be at this time of night? I saw Mama’s puzzled look as Papa opened the door a crack and peered out.

“Ah, Papa delighted, “”The Troubelsome Triplets.”

Why I like this book: Set in a farming town during the 19th century when Japanese families immigrated to the west coast, this story is about how a father and son tackle fear of ghosts that their neighbors are convinced are real..


For more book reviews see author Susanna Hill’s page, Perfect Picture Book page.


Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet Wong

Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet Wong

Just in time to find and read for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

Title: Apple Pie 4th of July
Written by: Janet S. Wong
Illustrated by: Margaret Chodos-Irvine
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; May 1, 2006
Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: celebrating holidays, community, immigration, cultural awareness, third culture adults and kids

Brief Synopsis: A little girl questions her parents’ understanding of the Fourth of July holiday when they open their store to sell Chinese food.

Opening pages: “Seven days a week, fifty-two weeks, three-hundred-sixty-four days a year (and three-hundred-sixty-five in a leap-year) our store is open.

Christmas is the only day we close.

Even on Thanksgiving we open the store.
Even today, New Year’s Day.
Even today, the Fourth of July.”

Why I like this book: Firstly, the main character is a feisty female! The book is based on a true life conversation with the author and her father on the Fourth of July. The book is based on a true life conversation with the author and her father on the Fourth of July. But the conversation was brief because her parents were busy selling food from their family mini mart. When asked why the store opened on the holiday, “And why not, “Fireworks are Chinese, father says.”

Wong is able to show the complexity of cultural adaptation. A perfect book for third culture kids and adults.

How do you celebrate the Fourth of July?

Resources: (author interview) (page 9)

Apple Pie

The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting PPBF Review

The Wednesday Surprise by Eve Bunting PPBF Review
Title: The Wednesday Surprise
Written by: Eve Bunting
Illustrated by: Donald Carrick
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: adult literacy, overcoming challenges, compassion
Brief Synopsis: Anna and her Grandmother plan a special surprise for her father. She is teaching her Grandmother to read.
Opening pages: “I like surprises. But the one Grandma and I are planning for Dan’s birthday is the best surprise of all.
      We work on it Wednesday nights. On Wednesdays Mom has to stay late at the office and my brother Sam, goes to basketball practice at the Y. That’s when Grandma rides the bus across town to stay with me.”
Why I like this book: I adore the idea that Anna taught her grandmother to read and that her son was so proud of her. A must read for all ages and genders because it introduces the reader to adult illiteracy. Illiteracy may result from having a language barrier or disability or from being born into a culture or country that does not value girls’ education. As women’s history month come to an end, and I reflect upon the lives of women who overcame challenges like Anna’s grandmother and were role models for future generations. This book reminds us that even though hurdles exist, and for girls and women in particular, change is possible. To quote the title of the song sung by Loretta Lynn, “We’ve come a long way baby’’. Don’t stop now!

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story of the Underground Railroad

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story of the Underground Railroad
Henry’s Freedom Box
A True Story of the Underground Railroad
Written by: Ellen Levine
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Scholastic Press, January 2007, Historical Fiction
Suitable for ages: 7-10
Themes/Topics: Biography and Autobiography, Slavery, Underground Railroad,  Abolition, Determination and Perseverance
Brief Synopsis: Henry is born a slave one day around 1830 in the state of Virginia. But Henry does not know his birthdate or his age.  As a child, Henry is sold and taken away from his mother and family. Many years later, his wife and young children are also taken away from him and sold. Henry doesn’t know his birthday, but knows one day he wants freedom. Through heartbreak and time Henry finds others who want the same for him and he is able to break free from bondage.
Opening pages:  “Henry Brown wasn’t sure how old he was. Henry was a slave. And slaves weren’t allowed to know their birthdays.
Henry and his brothers and sisters worked in the big house where the master lived. Henry’s master had been good to Henry and his family.
But Henry’s mother knew things could change. “Do you see those leaves blowing in the wind? They are torn from the trees like slave children are torn from their families.”
Why I like this book: Freedom. It’s something children desire very early in life. Humans want choice and independence. It’s what Henry wants but he is born in a time when his freedom is not allowed. This Caldecott Honor Book introduces kids to a very complex time in US history through a biography loosely based on a true story of a slave named Henry “Box’’ Brown.  Henry is sold to another master as a young child but tries to make the best of a terrible situation. He marries and has a family of his own and they mean the world to him. Then his wife and children are sold and Henry is devastated. Henry then enlists the help of an abolitionist and together they make a plan to mail Henry through the Underground Railroad to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and freedom. Kadir Nelson’s illustrations are wonderfully supportive of the story. Readers of all ages can identify with Henry when he is accepting of his situation, when he is happy and when he is filled with despair. And all readers will certainly want for Henry what he wants for himself- freedom.

Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds

Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds


Written by: Aaron Reynolds

Illustrated by: Dan Santat

Chronicle Books, August 2013, Fiction

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: nature, differences, self-awareness, accepting who you are

Brief Synopsis: The lion, great white shark and timber wolf are feeling misunderstood and sad because other animals fear them just because they eat their relatives.

Opening pages:  “The lion is known throughout the animal kingdom as the “”king of beasts.” The great white shark is the most feared predator in the oceans. And the Timber wolf’s howl strikes terror into the hearts of fuzzy woodland creatures everywhere. But even SAVAGE CARNIVORES get their feelings hurt.

Why I like this book: Carnivores is hilarious. The lion, great white shark and timber wolf are feeling rejected. They come up with ideas so the other animals will like them but their solutions fail because it’s just not the way the animal kingdom works. They are predators and come to accept themselves as they are…and at the end you learn they truly are what they are…carnivores. Belly laugh funny!



Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale

Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale
Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale
Written by: Lorraine Johnston
Illustrated by: Preston Asevedo
Mascot Books, April 2013, Fiction
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: kindness, courage, community, cultural awareness
Brief Synopsis: An alligator at the New Orleans Audubon Zoo gets into colorful trouble when Scottish tourists ignore the sign “DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS AT ANY TIME”. A little girl comes to the rescue through the help of local shopkeepers.
Opening pages:  “If you’re ever going to visit Audubon Zoo, remember this story, it is quite true. There is an old alligator who sits in his pen. He’s got quite a story, it all started when…”
Why I like this book: Later Tartan Gator: A New Orleans Tale written by Scottish author Lorraine Johnston weaves the love of her own culture with the culture of New Orleans through her choice of setting and characters. Themes and topics addressed are valuable teaching tools. The alligator learns there are consequences when rules are broken. A little girl shows kindness and courage by her desire and actions to help him solve his problem. And through cooperation with a community chocolate shop, the little girl helps the alligator return to his original self.