Selfless Acts of Kindness Come to Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Carmine the Crow has been a favorite picture book of mine for years. I find hope, not in the largest part of the story, but in the book’s heart-hugging ending. The story introduces us to an ordinary crow by the name of Carmine who, like other crows, lives in a tree and feels a strong attraction to objects with a glint or a glimmer.  However, Carmine’s extraordinary heart is revealed when he saves the life of a swan and is rewarded with a rare gift for his kindness.

Carmine the Crow

As is true for all literary characters, when given the gift of something astonishing or when placed in a stressful situation, their true nature is revealed by their actions, words, and choices. The gift the swan gives to Carmine is a small box filled with ancient stardust–powerful enough to make any wish come true.   Any wish.    Instead of using the powers of the stardust to grant his own impossible wishes, Carmine sacrifices his dreams to help others. He gives away pinch after pinch of the sparkling stardust until he has no more to offer, not even to himself.

Carmine the Crow-2

With all the compassion both words and illustrations can hold, Heidi Holder delivers an unforgettable ending as brilliant and promising as the magic stardust.

Title – Carmine The Crow

Written and illustrated by- Heidi Holder

Published by- Farrar, Straus and Giroux – 1992

Topics – Selfless acts of kindness, friendship, and dreams.

Opening – Carmine the Crow was a very old crow and he lived in a very old tree. He loved to collect shiny objects and had masses of glittery things in his attic: thimbles, beads, keys, anything with a glint of a glimmer. He was especially fond of his tinfoil collection.

Find the book, Carmine The Crow, on Amazon HERE.

Learn More about Heidi Holder HERE.

Interesting facts about crows HERE.

Until next Friday.

The Monday Poems Congratulate 2020 Graduates.

Monday Poems

I’m sure I don’t need to share the education struggles many people are facing during this pandemic. Schools closed rapidly. Almost suddenly. Teachers, parents, and students across the globe scrambled to put a homeschool program into place. One of the greatest hardships for many students was missing out on their much-anticipated and well-earned graduation with their friends. Like other families, we held our daughter’s graduation ceremony in our living room, complete with cap and gown, diploma, commencement speech, photographs in the yard, and a favorite cake (lots of cake).

The world is going through a complete upheaval, trying to find ways to deal with the challenges brought on by social distancing guidelines. And me? I’m being the truest version of myself. I’m desperately trying to find a path back to anything that feels remotely normal and familiar–even if that means dwelling inside of memories. Schools, too, have received their list of requirements to fulfill before reopening in the fall. Some families will send their children back into classrooms while others will continue homeschooling. For every parent or student, no matter what choice you make for your education, I wish you much happiness and success on the path you choose.  

For this Monday, I’m sharing the poem I wrote for my daughter who just graduated from 8th grade.

Graduation w-byline

TO MY MIDDLE SCHOOL GRADUATE 2020

Middle school is behind you—your future lies ahead.

You’ll take with you the lessons learned in all the books you’ve read.

You shed some tears on algebra and box and whisker graphs,

but all in all, the years of learning brought you smiles and laughs.

Ahead of you comes high school with new subjects you’ll adore,

along with some you might pooh-pooh, like lessons of the war.

The learning path you’re heading down is filled with some unknowns,

but beside you, I will always stay so you won’t feel alone.

Today you are a graduate, and I am very proud.

It’s time to raise your hands up high and cheer your joy out loud!

 

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

 

Until next Monday

Let’s Be Honest this Perfect Picture Book Friday.

I finished my writing day and headed into the kitchen toward the whirring sound of the blender.

“If that’s a banana smoothie,” I asked my daughter, “I’ll take some… If you made enough.” 

“It’s not a smoothy,” she said.

I closed in on the blender and examined the milky, chunky, pulpy contents. “What IS that?”

She gave the contents another pulse. “I’m making homemade paper.” 

“I don’t think so,” I said. “I made paper years ago, AND I visited a paper mill when I was a kid. Trust me when I say you’re not making paper. Try adding more water. And by the way, are you using my special paper making screen?”

“No, it was too small, I needed something lots bigger.” She led me outside.

Gasp! “WHERE DID YOU GET THAT BIG SCREEN?”

“The living room window,” my daughter said, as if it were the obvious choice.

“Ingenious.” I forced a smile and reminded myself that she was exploring exciting, creative outlets while hoping I was winning a heap of “cool mom” points for staying calm. 

“So,” I asked, “what kind of paper did you shred to make the pulp?”

“My homework,” she replied.

And, this moment of honesty leads me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review about a little boy named Ping who discovers that telling the truth brings great rewards.

Title – The Empty Pot

Written and illustrated by – Demi

Published by – Henry Holt – 1990

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics/Theme –  honesty, courage, and rewards

Opening – A long time ago in China, there was a boy named Ping who loved flowers. Anything he planted burst into bloom. Up came flowers, bushes, and even big fruit trees, as if by magic!

Amazon Review – The Empty Pot is Demi’s beloved picture book about an honest schoolboy

A long time ago in China, there was a boy named Ping who loved flowers. Anything he planted burst into bloom.

The Emperor loved flowers too. When it was time to choose an heir, he gave a flower seed to each child in the kingdom. “Whoever can show me their best in a year’s time,” he proclaimed, “shall succeed me to the throne!”

Ping plants his seed and tends it every day. But month after month passes, and nothing grows. When spring comes, Ping must go to the Emperor with nothing but an empty pot.

Demi’s exquisite art and beautifully simple text show how Ping’s embarrassing failure is turned triumphant in this satisfying tale of honesty rewarded.

Why do I like this book? I couldn’t be more impressed with Ping’s strength of character. When his efforts to grow a beautiful flower from the emperor’s seed lead to failure, Ping acts with honor. He gathers up his strength, stands before the emperor with his empty pot of soil, and confesses. One of the first lessons I taught my daughter was to accept full responsibility for her actions, which she clearly did while making paper the other day… And, instead of getting upset, I helped her make finer pulp and praised her amazing results. And the living room screen? It’s shot.

Learn about Demi HERE. (It’s quite impressive!) 

Until next Friday (or sooner when I share my second post for “The Monday Poems.”)

There’s Something New Over Here.

Monday Poems

During my writing hours, when I’m not editing one of my children’s stories or reviewing picture books for this blog, I write poems. Some of my verses are intended for children and have been published in magazines. But there are other poems, mostly unrhymed, that fall outside of this genre. These are the poems I write for myself. Each one sits undisturbed in a notebook or in a file on my laptop, and each poem shares a piece of me.

I was recently encouraged to explore and share areas of my writing beyond the comfort zone I so carefully stay within on this blog. I thought about the poems I write  for myself and felt something stir inside as the encouragement slowly grew into a form of permission.

Today, I’m happy to share with you the first of many Monday Poems.

The Lost OnesPhoto by A. Kanifatova 

THE LOST ONES

In the small hours before first light,
an iron-gray sky fills my window.
The world breathes soft. Asleep.
I roll over under my warm covers,
exhausted and awake,
wandering through nearly forgotten memories
that grow like flowers along a path,
hoping to be discovered again—
seen again.
I gather the lost ones into my arms
like a fragile bouquet,
praying when morning breaks,
they are still mine to keep.

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

 

Until next Monday.