Valentine’s Day Get’s a Change of Heart this Perfect Picture Book Friday.

When I was in elementary school, one girl made it her daily task to find something mean to say to me. Her unkind words kept me miserable for years.

I well recall Valentine’s Day when we were expected to give a card to every student in homeroom. EVERY STUDENT. I wrote cards for all of my classmates and saved the card I had to give the mean girl for last. I chose the least sweet card in my box of pink, white, and red Valentines. And although I wrote every student’s name at the top and signed my name at the bottom of their card, I left the mean girl’s card blank. I couldn’t bring myself to write her name, and I couldn’t bear the thought of giving her my signature.

Would she care if she got a card from me? Would she notice if I didn’t give her a Valentine? And if I did give her a Valentine, would she tear it up and throw it away?

While I was suffering in visible agony, my mother asked me what was wrong.

“I don’t want to give a Valentine to the mean girl in my homeroom,” I said.

“She probably doesn’t want to give one to you, either,” Mom said, “but there are times when we have to do things we don’t want to do. Instead of keeping bad feelings between you two, why don’t you do something she’d never expect?”

“Tear up her card before she does?” I guessed.

“I was thinking you could give her a nice Valentine’s Day card,” Mom said, “and ask her to be your friend.”

I did as my mother suggested, and the mean girl laughed. At least she didn’t tear up my card.

She crumpled it.

Years later, when elementary school was long behind me, I came home from college for winter break. I was at the grocery store when I saw the mean girl, slicing meat behind the deli counter. Apparently, she saw me, too, because she wiped her hands down her apron and raced out from behind the counter to catch up to me.

I was wondering what mean thing she had saved up to say to me when she did the unexpected.

“I don’t know if you remember how mean I was to you through school,” she said. “And I don’t even know why I wanted to hurt your feelings. But, I’m sorry.” Then, she impulsively hugged me, returned to the deli counter, and left me standing. Dumbfounded.

And this leads me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

Title – Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink

Written and illustrated by- Diane deGroat

Published by- Harper Collins Children’s Books – 1996

Topics – Valentine’s Day, friendship, misunderstandings

Opening – There they were, fifteen blank Valentine cards, waiting to be filled with nice Valentine poems…

Synopsis from Amazon – Gilbert is all set to write fifteen friendly valentine cards to his classmates. But how can he write a nice poem for the boy who tweaked his nose or the girl who made fun of his glasses? Instead, Gilbert writes two not-so-nice valentines…and signs the wrong name on both!

When his classmates read his poems, their feelings are hurt, and Gilbert’s prank quickly turns into pandemonium. But with the help of a friend and an honest apology, there’s always time for a change of heart on Valentine’s Day.

Why do I like this book? Aside from reminding me of my own elementary school, Valentine’s Day dilemma, this story shows that feelings of anger toward someone are often based upon a simple misunderstanding. The colorful, detailed watercolor illustrations add a strong emotional layer to this story of friendship and forgiveness.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Until next Friday.

Charlotte’s Bones. An Unforgettable Picture Book Mystery for Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Most people can’t resist a mystery. So, when I came across today’s picture book, Charlotte’s Bones, my curiosity shot up when I read the added seven words, carefully included in the cover illustration…

The Beluga Whale in a Farmer’s Field.

Admit it, aren’t you curious to find out how Charlotte’s bones found their way there?

when I read the book, I discovered more than the answer to my question. I discovered a lovingly-written, lyrical story accompanied by equally touching and emotional illustrations that needed to be shared.

Charlotte’s Bones: The Beluga Whale in a Farmer’s Field 

Written by- Erin Rounds

Illustrated by – Alison Carver

Published by- Tilbury House Publishers, 2018

Topics – Beluga whales, Mystery, Evolution

Opening – Many thousands of years ago, when a sheet of ice more than a mile thick began to let go of the land…

…the Atlantic Ocean flooded great valleys that had been scooped out by glaciers, and the salty waves of an inland sea lapped the green hills of Vermont.

Synopsis from Amazon –In 1849, a crew building a railroad through Charlotte, Vermont, dug up strange and beautiful bones in a farmer’s field. A local naturalist asked Louis Agassiz to help identify them, and the famous scientist concluded that the bones belonged to a beluga whale. But how could a whale’s skeleton have been buried so far from the ocean? The answer―that Lake Champlain had once been an arm of the sea―encouraged radical new thinking about geological timescales and animal evolution.

Why do I like this book? Every now and then, I read a book that won’t let go of me. (Admittedly, these are usually true stories about animals.) They say a good picture book is one a child will want to hear or read again and again, but in the case of Charlotte’s Bones, I found a heartfelt story that I want to read again and again.

Watch a video about beluga whales HERE.

Until next Friday.

A Parisian Night Before Christmas Picture Book That’s Tre’ Chic!

If you thought that picture books were written just for children, I’ve got a surprise for you. I was recently visiting Chicago, strolling through the decked out, lighted shops when…

What to my wandering eyes should appear,

but a book nestled snug between holly and deer.

It stood beneath branches all lit up and bright

like a treasure I’d found that came into my sight.

This book was just right for my fave holiday!

Twas the night before Christmas IN  PARIS, Hooray!

Away to the register, I made a mad dash

Flung open my purse and then laid out my cash.

One look at my cell and I saw it was three.

I grabbed book and receipt, and I started to flee.

My train left at four, so I started to jog.

I had to get home to start typing my blog.

This holiday version of this classic is sweet

I hope my dear followers find this a treat.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good read.

Title – The Night Before Christmas in Paris

Written by – Betty Lou Phillips and Roblyn Herndon

and illustrated by – Sheryl Dickert

Published by – Gibbs Smith – 2012

Opening – 

Twas the week before Christmas!

All over the world

The children were breathless

as visions unfurled

Of the magical time when their

dreams would take flight

And the sweet sound of sleigh bells

would ring in the night.

 

But Santa was frantic–

he wasn’t elated,

For his dear Mrs. Claus

could not be located.

The lists were not finished;

the maps were a mess,

And where to deliver

was anyone’s guess.

Amazon Review – A haute stocking stuffer for Paris lovers.

Haute couture and Paris sights capture Mrs. Claus’s imagination―as they would any woman’s! This charming story finds Mrs. Claus fabulously ensconced in Paris, having enjoyed fashion week and been lured for several months’ stay by all the sights, scents, and couture of Paris. In the end, Santa takes a quick tour of the City of Light himself―the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysées, the Louvre, Tuileries Gardens, Notre Dame, Montmartre and more―to find the satiated Mrs. Claus and whisk her back home just in time to help the elves with the last-minute packing of toys for children all over the world.

Find more “Perfect Picture Book Friday” reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE.

Until next Friday.

Wrap up this book for someone special. Poetry Friday meets Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Last week, my hubby surprised me with a present that combines three of my interests between one set of colorful book covers. The book is called Origami and Haiku inspired by Japanese artwork. With Christmas nearly here, I’d like to share this book with you because I believe it would make a perfect present, both for children and adults.

This book combines the beautiful and sparse poetry form of Haiku, the intricate, paper-folding art of origami, stunning nature illustrations by various Japanese artists, and…

if that doesn’t seem amazing enough, 50 removable origami papers so readers can follow along and create the projects which correspond to the poems and art.

I call that a lot to love in a book!

 

Title – Origami and Haiku – inspired by Japanese artwork

Published by – Nosy Crow, an imprint of Candlewick Press – 2018

Topics/Theme –  Haiku poems, origami projects, Japanese nature illustrations

A haiku poem from the page about the rabbit:  

even the rabbit droops one

of her ears–

midsummer heat!

by Ryunosuke Akutagawa

Find this book here on Amazon

For those of you who are interested in learning more about Haiku, here are two fun projects.

Origami rings Here
origami rings

 

 

 

 

Origami elephant Here

easy origami elephant

To learn more about Haiku look Here and Here.

More Haiku books for children (Click the title to jump to each book’s listing on Amazon.)

One Leaf Rides the Wind

Hi, Koo

The Cuckoo’s Haiku

Dogku

Until next Friday.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Goes On The Mend.

I’m sorry for reposting a book review from my blog archives, but I have a GOOD reason. Last week, I had surgery, and the enormous cast has all but swallowed up my left hand. So please bear with me as I peck out this post, letter for letter, with the speed of a sloth.

In honor of my repaired injury, I have chosen an appropriate book, How to Heal a Broken Wing.

Now, onto the original book review…

Living with wild critters was part of my childhood.  My mother often brought home temporary pets for us to observe. We had a pair of mice, a lunar moth, tree frogs, and a fair number of birds that flew into our windows. Once, we had a seriously injured salad-loving mallard living in our kitchen that my mom found along a country road.

The need to care for injured or neglected animals continues with me. Each bird that flies into the window receives a cozy, lined box, a dish of water, and a bowl of bird seeds to help with its recovery. Those that don’t survive…I carefully bury in the garden with flower petals, earth, and tears.

My love of animal rescue stories shows itself in today’s PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) review, How to Heal a Broken Wing.  See the book on Amazon HERE.

Title – How to Heal a Broken Wing

Written and illustrated by – Bob Graham

Published by – Candlewick Press 2008

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  Animal rescue and kindness

Opening – High above the city, no one heard the soft thud of feathers against glass.

Amazon Review – In a spare urban fable, Bob Graham brings us one small boy, one loving family, and one miraculous story of hope and healing.

In a city full of hurried people, only young Will notices the bird lying hurt on the ground. With the help of his sympathetic mother, he gently wraps the injured bird and takes it home. In classic Bob Graham style, the beauty is in the details: the careful ministrations with an eyedropper, the bedroom filled with animal memorabilia, the saving of the single feather as a good-luck charm for the bird’s return to the sky. Wistful and uplifting, here is a tale of possibility — and of the souls who never doubt its power.

Why do I like this book? In sparse text and tender illustrations, the reader strongly feels the love Will has for an injured bird. But Will doesn’t only bring home the injured bird, he also saves a feather the bird lost,  hoping his parents can reattach it to help the bird fly again. Understanding their son’s need to care for the bird, his mother brings a medical kit, and his father prepares a cozy box. In caring for the injured bird, Will and his family demonstrate a wonderful act of kindness from the heart.   

Learn about Bob Graham HERE.

Find more “Perfect Picture Book Friday” reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE.

 

Bird craft to make with kids   Image of Yarn Bird

Find instructions HERE. After the text instructions, photographs follow, illustrating the process to make this adorable bird.

Until next Friday.

Get a BIG Laugh this Perfect Picture Book Friday.

I recently came across a YouTube video of a grandmother reading a picture book to her grandson. With each page turn, snickers turned into laughs that grew and grew to the point where tears formed and she could barely read. The story, the humorous illustrations, and the grandmother’s infectious laughter had me hanging on to my chair to keep from falling off. Hands down, this is one of the funniest picture books.

If you happen to know someone who never or rarely finds anything funny, get a copy of this book and ask them to read it aloud to you. My guess is that you’re going to hear some BIG laughs.

The Wonky Donkey 

Written by- Craig Smith

Illustrated by – Katz Cowley

Published by- Scholastic – 2010

Topics – Side-splitting humor and being yourself

Opening – 

I was walking down the road and I saw…

a donkey,

Hee Haw!

He was a wonky donkey.

Synopsis from AmazonChildren will be in fits of laughter with this perfect read-aloud tale of an endearing donkey.

Why do I like this book? Face it, we all love reading or listening to something that makes us laugh, and this book delivers BIG laughs. The story about being okay with who you are – faults and all, plus comical and heartfelt illustrations which raise the humor to the ceiling, make this a must-have book which I quickly added to my shelf of favorites.

Learn more about Craig Smith HERE.

Learn more Katz Cowley HERE.

Listen to a YouTube video where Katz Cowley shares her illustration process HERE.

YouTube video of Grandmother reading The Wonky Donkey HERE.

Until next Friday.

Welcome Viviane Elbee, Debut Author of the picture book, Teach Your Giraffe To Ski!

I apologize for posting late today, but life has tossed me a curve with the sudden loss of my father-in-law. I’m out in California with my family, helping to plan his celebration of life while trying to keep up with my writing projects and blog.

Last week for Perfect Picture Book Friday, I reviewed debut author,  Viviane Elbee’s book, Teach Your Giraffe To Ski. As promised, here is the interview.

Welcome, Viviane, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions about your debut picture book and road to publication. I’m excited to have you here today.

Viviane Elbee's Profile Photo, Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup

 

Me: Who were your favorite authors when you were a child and why did you love their books best?

Viviane: Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary were my favorite authors in elementary school. SUPERFUDGE and TALES OF A FOURTH GRADE NOTHING and RAMONA made me laugh so hard. I remember reading THE MOUSE AND THE MOTORCYCLE and loving the idea of having a pet mouse with a motorcycle.

I also have fond memories of the librarian reading THE SNOWY DAY at story time and just enjoying the wonder the little boy felt in the snow.

Me: Was there a book you never tired of hearing or reading when you were a child?

Viviane: I could re-read all of my favorite books over and over. Well, to be honest, I even read cereal boxes over and over. If I see words I just can’t help but read them.

Me: Can you describe the moment you knew you wanted to write for children? (Or how you came to write for children?)

Viviane: I’ve always loved writing, but for a long time I thought I would write novels. After my first child was born, I fell in love with picture books. That’s when I decided I wanted to write for children.

Me: If you could go back in time to when you began your writing journey, what advice or words of wisdom would you tell yourself?

Viviane: If I could go back in time, I would tell myself that it’s important to be a prolific writer. I spent my first three years of serious children’s writing on one picture book manuscript. At the end of three years, I had one submission-ready story (which hasn’t sold yet!), but one of my critique partners had written many stories within that same time period – and she got published! Quality is important, but if publication is your goal, it’s best to work on several ideas at a time.

Me: Describe the spot in your home where you write and at what time of day you write best. 

Viviane: I get a lot of first drafts done at a nearby Barnes & Noble where I meet up with a writing buddy. It’s very inspirational to be surrounded by books and it’s also great to have someone you can bounce ideas off of while writing. I also love sprawling out on the floor of my den, in front of large floor to ceiling windows, and writing there. I write best in the morning or daytime.

Me: What inspired the idea for your debut picture book, Teach Your Giraffe To Ski?

Viviane: I got the idea for a ski story during my family’s very first ski trip. My kindergartener and preschooler helped pack, so a menagerie of stuffed animals joined us on the trip. During the day we took lessons and at night the stuffed animals became “jumping ski champions,” sliding down pillows and leaping through the air. My husband and I started making a lot of jokes about the skiing giraffe, which made our kids laugh.

After my book was acquired, my editor suggested digging deeper to better bring out the little boy’s fears of the big scary slope. To do this, I reflected back on my own experiences. I learned to ski at the same time as my kids. They were fearless and I was scared. After getting lessons, we took the kids on the ski lift to the top of a green slope (an easy slope). It was so much bigger than the bunny hill. I remember looking downhill and being petrified. I couldn’t move. But the kids took off. Obviously, I had to follow. And it turned out to be fun!

Me: How long did it take you to write this book?

Viviane: From the time I got the idea to the moment the publishing house said it was “ready” it took nearly 4 years. I spent about 2 years on it before querying it.

Me: Were there any surprises along the way from the point you started writing your book to the moment it was published?

Viviane: Yes, there were a lot of surprises. The first surprise was when I took my manuscript to an SCBWI conference critique and met an editor, Annie Nybo, who loved the story and who asked me to submit to her. (I was expecting her to give me lots of suggestions for improvement, but I was not expecting a submission request!). I sent the manuscript off and heard nothing. Months later, when I decided to nudge, I discovered Annie Nybo had left her publishing house. More months passed, and one day my friend texted to tell me that Annie Nybo had joined Albert Whitman. So I emailed her. I wasn’t sure she would remember my manuscript, so I attached a copy in the nudge email. To my amazement, she responded the next day with an offer.

Me: What is the takeaway message you hope readers hold on to after reading your book?

Viviane: Be adventurous and try new things.

Me: What is your favorite moment or page in your book?

Viviane: It’s tough to pick a favorite moment, but I love the illustration of the little boy hugging his giraffe.

Me: Can you share something interesting most people don’t know about you? 

Viviane: I’ve seen giraffes in 6 different zoos – Columbia SC, Atlanta GA, Ashboro NC, Bordeux-Pessac zoo in France, Zoo-Parc de Beauval in France and Singapore Zoo in Singapore.

Thank you, Viviane, I enjoyed having you here today.

Vivian’s book will be available on November first.

Amazon link to Viviane’s book can be found HERE.

Visit Viviane Elbee’s website HERE.

Until next Friday.

Get A Skiing Lesson Today At Perfect Picture Book Friday

Grab your jacket, scarf, and skis because Perfect Picture Book Friday is taking you out for a skiing lesson…

…with a giraffe!

I’m thinking back to one particular Friday when I was in the sixth grade. It was the Friday before Winter break. Outside, snowflakes, big as coasters, were settling down on the swings and monkey bars. Inside, my teacher, Mrs. Larson, was piling plates with candy-sprinkled cookies and filling up cups with cocoa and marshmallows. The room was buzzing with the voices of anxious kids, chattering about their plans for those snowy vacation days.

“I’m going to build a snowman, go sledding with my sister, and bake cookies!” I said.

Two kids pushed in front of me, eager to share their winter break plans. In three words, they made my dream snowman grow soggy.

“We’re going skiing!” they shouted.

Of course, everyone wanted to know if they had ever skied before, if they were sticking to the bunny hill, or if they were going to tackle the scariest slope.

After winter break, two kids hobbled into the classroom on crutches, eager to share their harrowing stories about their ride down, Down, DOWN the BIG hill. Loads of autographs and good wishes were already penned around their casts, but the kids in Mrs. Larson’s classroom still managed to find space to add in their names, too.

I’ve never been skiing. I’ve never even touched a pair of skis. But when those kids shared their adventures on the slopes, I hung onto every one of their words, trying to get a feeling for what it is like to sail over and down snowy hills. Maybe one day…

So, if you love skiing or ever wondered what it would be like to ski, you’ll enjoy the fun-filled ride in Viviane Elbee’s debut picture book, Teach Your Giraffe To Ski.

And…

As a special bonus, Viviane will be joining me here next Friday for an author interview! Please stop by to say hello to her.

Teach Your Giraffe To Ski

Written by- Viviane Elbee

Illustrated by – Danni Gowdy

Published by- Albert Whitman & Company – 2018

Topics – skiing, friendship, and facing fears.

Opening – Uh-oh. It’s snowing and your giraffe wants you to teach her to ski.

Synopsis from Amazon –Your giraffe wants to learn how to ski—but not on the bunny hill. She wants to go down the big scary slope! Enjoy this riotous journey as the narrator tries to reign their giraffe in—and learns something about courage along the way.

Why do I like this book? As a parent with a child who hears her friends talk about skiing and wonders what it’s like, this book serves as a perfect introduction to the sport. Viviane Elbee’s main character explains the skiing positions needed to slow down, go fast, make a turn, and more. And what better companion to learn alongside than a giraffe?

Learn more about Viviane Elbee HERE.

Learn more about Danni Gowdy HERE.

Until next Friday.

A Round of Robins add their poetic song to Perfect Picture Book Friday

Welcome to another Perfect Picture Book Friday book review. Knowing my admiration for all things nature, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve chosen to share a nature-themed poetry book. This one is ALL about robins – those red-breasted, fancy-vested, springtime visitors with a hearty appetite for wiggly, jiggly worms.

A Round of Robins 

Written by- Katie Hesterman

Illustrated by – Sergio Ruzzier

Published by- Nancy Paulsen Books – 2018

Topics – Bird poems, robins, and nature

The first poem in the book. 

TURF TUNE

Defender Dad sings, “Back away,

‘Cause Mom and I are here to stay!

We’ll raise a brood, and when we’re done,

We just might hatch another one.”

Synopsis from Amazon – Sixteen fresh and funny poems welcome a new batch of robins to the world!
Katie Hesterman’s vibrant verse celebrates this awesome circle of bird life, as we follow a pair of robin parents from nest-building and egg-laying to raising their hungry hatchlings, and finally sending off their flying fledglings. Sergio Ruzzier’s brilliant, candy-colored art pays tribute to all these stages of a robin’s life cycle, reminding us that while robins may be common, they are also extraordinary!

Why do I like this book? With my soft spot for nature, birds, and poetry, this book sings one of my favorite songs. I found this gem perched on a library shelf beside a flock of bird-themed picture books. Sergio Ruzzier’s signature style of illustration stood out from the other books. His playful and expressive pen and ink and watercolor illustrations add the right feel to accompany Katie Hesterman’s thoughtful poems which take the reader on a journey from nest building to family hatching to nest leaving. I opened to the first page, read the poem I shared above, and I instantly added this book to my checkout pile of picture book treasures. I hope you’ll pick up this book and enjoy the thoughtful robin poems and downright adorable illustrations.

Learn more about Katie Hesterman HERE.

Learn more about Sergio Ruzzier HERE.

Watch a video about robins on YouTube HERE.

Visit “Drawing Tutorials” to help children learn how to draw a robin HERE.

Until next Friday.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Hangs Out With Elephant and Piggie.

While I was writing my personal story to accompany today’s picture book review, something magical happened. The more details I recalled and wrote down, the more I realized I had written a rough draft for my next picture book manuscript. So, I’m going to switch gears and share a different book with you.

I thought I had read every single Elephant and Piggie book by Mo Willems, but one had escaped me.

I’m especially fond of stories which offer an unexpected twist at the end. And yes, most picture books deliver just such an ending, but as I neared the last pages of The Thank You Book, the ending I expected and was 99.99999% sure would be delivered, was waaaay off. Mo Willems delivered a spot on, eye-popping surprise.

The Thank You Book (An Elephant & Piggie Book)

Written and illustrated by- Mo Willems

Published by- Hyperion Books for Children – 2016

Topics – Thankfulness and consideration for others.

Opening – “I am one lucky pig. I have a lot to be thankful for… I had better get thanking!” 

(How adorable is that?) 

Synopsis from Amazon – Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In The Thank You Book, Piggie wants to thank EVERYONE. But Gerald is worried Piggie will forget someone . . . someone important.

Why do I like this book? I have never read a book by Mo Willems I didn’t love. And in The Thank You Book, I spent page after page knowing exactly what Mo Willems had planned. Exactly. And then… BAM! A surprise came beyond all surprises. You’ll simply have to check out this book to find out who Piggie forgets to thank.

Learn more about Mo Willems HERE.

Watch a video interview with Mo Willems HERE.

See some great kid-friendly projects inspired by Mo Willems Books HERE.

Until next Friday.