Category Archives: Picture Book

October 2020 Mentor Text Author Study: Margarita Engle

October 2020 Mentor Text Author Study: Margarita Engle

The October Mentor Text Author Study looks at Margarita Engle’s latest picture book about pianist Teresa Carreño. Celebrating Latinx Heritage!

Click the book cover to read the post. Happy writing!

September 2020 Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Tim McCanna

September 2020 Mentor Text Study: Revisiting Tim McCanna

In this month’s author study, I revisit master storytelling Tim McCanna. Click on the picture to see the post over at the Reading for Research blog!

OPENING THE ROAD: The Story Behind the Story

OPENING THE ROAD: The Story Behind the Story

OPENING THE ROAD is the true story behind the Green Book guide Black Americans used to travel safely during legal segregation and the mail carrier who wrote it. I was honored to reveal the cover of my upcoming release on author Tara Lazar’s blog. Click on the cover to see a sample spread from the book by the talented artist Alleanna Harris.

I also wrote about my inspiration, the story behind the story, and a little about my road to publication.

BEEP! BEEP! On our way, be there January 26, 2021!

And there’s a GIVEAWAY! Comment on the blog post to enter a chance to win a copy of OPENING THE ROAD: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book.

Beaming Books | ISBN: 978-1506467917
40 pages | ages 4-8

Pre-order wherever books are sold!

Bookshop | Blue Manatee Literacy Project | Beaming Books | Amazon | B&N

SLJ Review: Inspiring!

SLJ Review: Inspiring!

What does the School Library Journal think of No Voice Too Small?

Pre-order your copy today!

Charlesbridge | ISBN: 978-1-6235-4131-6
40 pages | ages 5-9

Bookshop | Blue Manatee Literacy Project | Charlesbridge | Amazon | B&N

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #3

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #3

Join us at this year’s Picture Book Summit to hear the very talented picture book author-illustrator Peter Reynolds!

Check out the author study to learn more about him and while there register for the virtual conference.

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #1 –

Picture Book Summit 2020 Author Study #1 –

Register for Picture Book Summit to hear the very talented author and illustrator Sophie Blackhall! Read the author study to learn more about her and while there register for the virtual conference.

Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

Opening the Road: Victor Hugo Green and His Green Book

GREEN LIGHT!

I am so excited to announce my latest book deal! And I am thrilled to be working with my agent Dawn Frederick at Red Sofa Literary, Beaming Books, editor Naomi Krueger and the talented illustrator Alleanna Harris to bring the story of Victor Hugo Green and his Green Book to young children. Stay tuned.

BEEP! BEEP!

Coming to a shelf near you on January 19, 2021

Easy Peasy King Cake Party!

Easy Peasy King Cake Party!

August Author Study – Susan Verde

August Author Study – Susan Verde

This month’s Reading for Research author study takes a look at books by Susan Verde. Read how she connects with kids and invites them to learn and grow. Her books address compassion, empathy, mindfulness and community.

July Author Study: Ashley Spires

July Author Study: Ashley Spires

In this month’s Reading for Research Author Study I took a look at picture books by Ashley Spires. She is one witty woman!

Let’s Play! by Keila V. Dawson

Let’s Play! by Keila V. Dawson

Every year author Vivian Kirkfield hosts the annual writing contest #50PreciousWords. The challenge is to write a story using 50 words or less for children under the age of 12. Below is my 2019 entry.

Anyone who has a canine family member will understand why I wrote this story! My fur son’s name is Casey.

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is UNDER MY HIJAB.

Written by: Hena Khan

Illustrated by: Aaliya Jaleel

Publisher: Lee & Low Books, February 5, 2019

Suitable for ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics:  hijab fashion, modern Muslim women, religion

Brief Synopsis: UNDER MY HIJAB is written from the point of view of a young girl who observes how, when, and where her modern, independent, female family members wear their individual headscarves for work and play.

Why I like this book: Hena Khan’s story is for anyone curious about modern Muslim women who choose to wear a hijab.

Most often women cover their hair, ears, and neck but to show just how individual that choice is, the cool artist aunt covers her hair and ears pinned with a handmade jewel. Illustrator Aaliya Jaleel adds other details like henna designs worn on the hands of these characters while attending a social event.

At the end of the book, the author shares the cultural and religious significance of wearing the headcover.

I read the ARC for this review. UNDER MY HIJAB would be a great addition to the home, school, and library.

Resources:

  • Resources: For more about Islam for kids, see the World Religions website.
  • See examples of modern hijabs at this London fashion show.
  • Watch this tutorial on youtube by a young girl on how to style different headscarves.
  • Read this interview on the Lee & Low Book blog with author Hena Khan.

To read lots more Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews visit author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS by Alice Faye Duncan

A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS by Alice Faye Duncan

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is…

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A SONG FOR GWENDOLYN BROOKS

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Written by: Alice Faye Duncan

Illustrated by: Xia Gordon

Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (January 2019)

Suitable for ages: 5-8

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Themes/Topics: biography, poetry, African-American life

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Brief Synopsis:

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A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks is about the African-American poet and author Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) who wrote about the urban African-American experience.

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The book is part of the “People Who Shaped Our World” series. Alice Faye Duncan captured the life and work of Brooks, beginning in 1925 at age eight, ending in 1950, the year she became the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

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Why I like this book:

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Duncan writes in lyrical text and shows observations informed the poet’s writing, even from an early age.

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The author also gives examples of the kinds of struggles Brooks faced as a young, gifted writer as well as the support she received from her family. Brooks struggled with her confidence and her words. A teacher once accused Brooks of plagiarism so her mother had the young poet write a poem in front of her. As a teen when others were looking for work, Gwendolyn’s parents supported her dream and allowed her to “sit and think”. And from all her years of hard work, an adult Brooks realizes her dream and became a professional writer.

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Back matter includes an author’s note, timeline, suggested readings by Gwendolyn Brooks and bibliography to learn more about one of America’s most influential writers.

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I read the ARC for this review; the book release date is January 1, 2019. This book would be a great addition to the home, school, and library.

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Resources:

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  • For more about poetry for kids, see the Poetry4kids website.

  • A lesson plan about Gwendolyn Brooks  (grades 3-12).

  • A lesson plan for Gwendolyn Brooks (grades 5-6).

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To read lots more Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews visit author Susanna Hill’s blog.

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Happy reading!

How the Squid Got Two Long Arms by Henry Herz

How the Squid Got Two Long Arms by Henry Herz

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is…

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HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS.

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Written by: Henry Herz

Illustrated by: Luke Graber

Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. (September 2018)

Suitable for ages: 3-8

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Themes/Topics: greed, ocean animals, pourquoi story

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Brief Synopsis: In this pourquoi tale, Herz tells the story of how the squid, who once had 10 arms “all of equal length”, ended up with 2 long arms. A shivering squid, one scarf, and the need to stay warm in the cool ocean water set this tale in motion. When the squid steals clothes from other animals, he ends up learning a lesson, “if you do bad things, bad things will happen to you.”

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Why I like this book: A fun read to help kids think twice about greed! Luke Graber’s illustrations are bold, expressive, and the details are hilarious. Herz weaves in ocean vocabulary throughout the story and includes information about squid in the back matter. Elementary teachers will be able to use the story as supplemental reading in a science lesson related to ocean animals.

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Herz gives credit Jon Klassen’s THIS IS NOT MY HAT for the last spread. No spoilers here…read it to find out what happens.

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I read the digital ARC for this review, the book release date is September 4, 2018.

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Resources:

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To read lots more Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews visit author Susanna Hill’s blog.

Happy reading!

BE QUIET! by Ryan T. Higgins

BE QUIET! by Ryan T. Higgins

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

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Written/illustrated by: Ryan T. Higgins

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion, April 4, 2017

Suitable for: Preschool – Kindergarten

Themes/Topics: Friendship, Frustration, Patience

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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.

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Opening pages: 

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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.”

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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:

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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?

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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.

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

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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.

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

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

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.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYsY09hktc0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAeKTKMWpkM

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!

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!

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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Resources:

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

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 [spacer height=”10px”]

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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Resources

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYskF1gG6xU&list=PLS9RiVz3Xq0LPgtskcr8HarpMVBrTnzu4&index=1

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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. [spacer height=”10px”]

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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. [spacer height=”10px”]

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. [spacer height=”10px”]

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. [spacer height=”10px”]

Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” I believe reading is too! [spacer height=”10px”]

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

Happy reading…

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)

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

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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.  [spacer height=”10px”]

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

                                      soil

                    and sunshine,

                                            some water,

                               a seed.”  

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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Resources

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

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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!  [spacer height=”10px”]

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 [spacer height=”10px”]

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.  [spacer height=”10px”]

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.” [spacer height=”10px”]

 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! [spacer height=”10px”]

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. [spacer height=”10px”]

  • Find an article, Children’s feelings about blended families, here. [spacer height=”10px”]

Read more of today’s reviews at author Susanna Hill’s blog. [spacer height=”10px”]

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. [spacer height=”10px”]

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

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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!

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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!”

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 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. [spacer height=”10px”]

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. [spacer height=”10px”]

Resources

  • Scroll down the author’s website for Activities for Miss Paul and the President: The Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote. [spacer height=”10px”]

  •  A teaching unit about women’s suffrage movement can be found from Rutgers: Teach a Girl to Lead. [spacer height=”10px”]

  • Head over to A Mighty Girl to find girl-empowering resources such as toys, movies, music and books. [spacer height=”10px”]

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[spacer height=”10px”]

Written/Illustrated  by:  Daisy Hirst

Publisher: Candlewick (2016)

Suitable for ages: 2- 5

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

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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.

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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.”

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 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.

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Resources

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

Happy reading!