Need a Friend? Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday Review Shows You How.

Let’s travel back in time…

I was a couple of months into first grade. My friends from kindergarten and I were a year older, ready to say goodbye to little kid activities like stacking blocks and hello to reading Sally, Dick, and Jane books. Except instead of joining my friends on their first-grade adventure, I had more than stacking blocks to say goodbye to.

My family was moving, and I’d never see any of my friends again.

My childhood was not the age of cell phones, texts, and Instagram posts.  Sure, I could have written snail mail letters, but let’s not forget that I was just learning to write my name and spell simple words, so writing newsy letters to keep in touch wasn’t an option.

Moving meant starting from scratch.

Of course, all of the kids in my new homeroom had playground buddies and knew who would trade pudding cups for Ding Dongs while I was clueless who would want to trade me ANYTHING for my salami and parsley sandwich -guaranteed to leave flecks of green between your teeth. Yes, I was the only kid who survived elementary school without ever having a normal, peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I also didn’t get to wear jeans, but that’s another story…

Looking back, I wish today’s picture book, Neville, existed when I was six. The main character, in this adorable book by Norton Juster, figures out how to make friends in a most ingenious way. Yes, it would take courage, but boy does this kid’s method work!

In case you’re wondering where you heard the name, Norton Juster, he is the well-known and beloved author of The Phantom Toll Booth, The Hello, Goodbye Window, and many more remarkable books.

Title – Neville

Written by – Norton Juster

Illustrated by –G. Brian Karas

Published by – Schwartz and Wade Books -2011

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics/Theme –  Moving and making friends

Opening – The big gray van pulled away from the curb, moved slowly down the street, and disappeared around the corner. Now it was quiet, and there he was, where he really didn’t want to be.

Amazon Review HERE – Written by the acclaimed author of The Phantom Tollbooth, this Amazon Best Picture Book of the Year is a simply told story about a boy who moves to a new neighborhood and finds a unique way to make friends. With whimsical illustrations by award-winning illustrator G. Brian Karas, here is a read-aloud that’s great for storytime, and is sure to be a hit among fans of Juster, Karas, and anyone who is “the new kid on the block.”

“[T]his ingenious foray into breaking into a new neighborhood makes for an amusing and appealing story.” —School Library Journal

Learn more about Norton Juster in this video interview HERE.

Enjoy this Q & A with G. Brian Karas HERE.

Did your family move when you were growing up? If you have a memory you’d like to share, I hope you’ll include it in the comments.

Until next Friday!

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, you’ll meet a man who knows the names of EVERYTHING!

I was on one of those baking-hot family vacations, back in the days when having air conditioning in a car was optional. Seriously. My sister and I were probably the only kids at school whose parents would not spend the extra dollars to have it installed.

“Roll down your window,” they’d say, “and poke your head out if you’re hot.”

Okay, maybe not in those exact words, but the coolest air my sister and I enjoyed in the back seat was called WD50 which translates to windows down at 50mph.

I’m remembering one vacation out in Colorado when we drove through the Rocky Mountains. The meadow flowers bowed in the breezes, the sun blazed over us, and the views were spectacular. Up in the passenger seat, my mother glanced up from her map to gaze out the window. (Yes. These were the days before cell phones. How did we manage to live back then???)

“STOP!” my mom ordered. “There’s no one behind us. Back up about one-hundred feet, and pull over.”

Of course, we all thought Mom had spotted an injured animal and asked what we were backing down the mountain to rescue.

“I saw a (insert LONG Latin name of a botanical species found in Colorado EXCEPT at that particular time of year).”

Dad pulled over. Mom popped the trunk and pulled out a small pail and trowel. (These were standard equipment in our car when traveling with my mother.) Mom marched up the hill, flashed us her triumphant smile, knelt, and dug up the rare species to bring home for her rock garden. I don’t think there was a plant she didn’t know the proper botanical name for. That goes for bird names, too.

As always, my story ties in with today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review. Yes, my story was about my mother, who, like my dad, amazed me with all she knew–just like the child in today’s book who feels amazement at his father’s extensive knowledge.

My Father Knows the Names of Things is written by Jane Yolen, the beloved, award-winning children’s author of more than 370 books and illustrated by the imaginative, award-winning illustrator, Stephane Jorisch.

Title – My Father Knows the Names of Things

Written by – Jane Yolen

Illustrated by –Stephane Jorisch

Published by – Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers – 2010

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  Learning, sharing, father and child time.

Opening –

My father knows the names of things,

Each bird that sings,

Their nicknames, too,

He knows the names of dogs

And cheese

And seven words that all mean blue.

Amazon Review HERE – From each bird that sings, to every kind of cloud, to all of the planets, the father in this story knows the names of them all–and takes the time to impart his knowledge to his child. As they walk together outside, the father points out which mosses are the fuzziest and which insects are the buzziest, which flowers are the tallest and which beetles are the smallest. Jane Yolen’s lyrical text is complemented by Stephane Jorisch’s soft artwork, a pairing that is touching without being overly sentimental, which makes this the perfect choice for fathers and children to share.

Learn more about Jane Yolen HERE.

Learn more about Stephane Jorisch HERE.

Until next Friday!

Messes aren’t always disasters. See why this Perfect Picture Book Friday!

I’m pretty sure many of us could look back to our childhood years and identify a little, and hopefully a lot, with Jamie, the main character in today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection, Down Here by Valerie Sherrard.

Jamie is a little boy with a big imagination. He sees the world in ways grownups no longer can. Where his mother sees a mess of blankets thrown over chairs, pillows piled up precariously, and a toboggan IN THE HOUSE, Jamie sees a castle where knights tame dragons to roast marshmallows. Don’t you already love this kid?

Although I never played with imaginary knights and dragons when I was little, I did play under the dining room table. I’d imagine the long tablecloth, that swept down to the floor, made the walls of my secret room. I would dump out my box of Legos and build a small village for my dolls. Some days, I’d pull my little, wooden stool under the table and pretend it was an artist’s table. I’d spread out my paper and crayons and color pictures of my family and flowers. Then, I’d tape up my mini-masterpieces to the underside of the tablecloth to decorate my secret room. Minus the dragons, I was a little like Jamie. Maybe that’s why I love today’s book so much.

Title – Down Here – view on Amazon HERE.

Written by – Valerie Sherrard

Illustrated by – Isabelle Malenfant

Published by – Fitzhenry & Whiteside – 2015

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  Imaginative play, looking at things differently

Opening – Everyone is good at something.

My sister Lynn is good at drawing cats. Our fridge is covered with her pictures!

My brother Marcus is good at telling scary stories. Mom claps and says he will be a great author some day.

I am good at building. I can build ANYTHING! There is only one problem.

Why do I like this book? I had forgotten, until my daughter was about two or three, that everything around me can be seen from more perspectives than simply straight on or from top-down. My little girl walked and crawled close to the ground, she could see the undersides of furniture, the undersides of the dog’s belly, and the underside of a skirt on a mannequin at Macy’s… But that’s another story. Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection, Down Here, reminds us not to be quick to judge until we have looked at something from all sides. I call that a great reason to like love this book.

Learn more about Valerie Sherrard HERE.

Learn more about Isabelle Malenfant HERE.

Are you interested in ideas to encourage imaginative play? You’ll find ten HERE.

Until next Friday!

We’re peeking into Grandma’s Purse this Perfect Picture Book Friday. :)

My grandmother’s purse was nothing like the enormous, treasure-filled bag in today’s picture book, Grandma’s Purse, by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. My grandmother preferred a small, tan, leather clutch with a delicate snap closure to keep her few necessities near. Although she never emptied out her purse, like the grandmother does in today’s book, I was naturally curious to see inside and often leaned over to peek when she removed a lace hankie with her initials embroidered at the corner, her compact mirror engraved with a bouquet of her favorite violets, or a small comb. Despite the petite size of her clutch, my grandmother found space for her coin purse and a few wrapped, lemon candies she shared with me.

If your grandmother had a treasure-filled purse, like the one in today’s book review, I hope you’ll share in the comments a few of the special items she packed that brought you smiles.  🙂

Title – Grandma’s Purse

Written and illustrated by – Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Published by – Alfred A. Knopf -2018

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics –  Grandmothers, playing dress-up, sharing.

Opening – Today my grandma Mimi is coming to visit. When Mimi comes over, she always has a new treasure to share. And no matter what it is, it comes from inside her purse.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. Spend the day with a grandma and granddaughter in this charming picture book about the magic found in their favorite accessory, perfect for readers who love How to Babysit a Grandma!

When Grandma Mimi comes to visit, she always brings warm hugs, sweet treats…and her purse. You never know what she’ll have in there–fancy jewelry, tokens from around the world, or something special just for her granddaughter. It might look like a normal bag from the outside, but Mimi and her granddaughter know that it’s pure magic!

In this adorable, energetic ode to visits from grandma, beloved picture book creator Vanessa Brantley Newton shows how an ordinary day can become extraordinary.

Related image

Why do I like this book? Vanessa is both a gifted storyteller and a brilliant illustrator.  With just the right expression, the perfect head tilt, and swing of clothing, she brings to life all of the enthusiasm and delight one little girl feels when her grandmother comes for a visit. Each picture is loaded with sweet details to keep the most fidgety of listeners engaged. And for the adults reading this book, this story serves as a sweet stroll down memory lane.
Watch Vanessa Brantley-Newton read her book on YouTube HERE.

Learn about Vanessa Brantley-Newton HERE and HERE.

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

Did your grandmother keep fun treasures in her purse? Candy? A small present? Photographs of her loved ones? I would absolutely love to hear some of your treasured “Grandma’s purse” memories in the comments.

Until next Friday!

Can a violin be worth more than a house? Find out this Perfect Picture Book Friday.

A number of blog posts ago, I wrote about the violin I found and learned to play when I was a child. I discovered the instrument in a chipped and nibbled case down in the attic. (Yes, you read that right. My childhood home had a roomy attic/loft in the basement.) When I found the honey-gold instrument, two strings were strung, and two strings had long snapped and curled off to the sides. The varnish was worn, and the instrument needed repairs and love.

When I showed the violin to my father and asked him who it belonged to, he told me the violin was his. He had purchased it countless years ago with the intentions to, one day, learn to make a violin.

Dad made phone calls, found a teacher in the area, and signed me up for violin lessons. After learning how to turn the sounds of cat squeals into pleasing music, I was ready to join a youth orchestra. That was around the time my Dad realized he was ready to dust off his dream. He read book after book after book on violin making, befriended a violin maker who offered instruction and set out with great determination to make a violin for me.

This brings us to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday book about a girl with a dream to play the violin in a place where a violin is worth more than a house.

Title – Ada’s Violin

Written – Susan Hood

Illustrated by – Sally Wern Comport

Published by- Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers — 2016

Topics – recycling, music, determination

Opening – Ada Rios grew up in a town made of trash.

(Gotta admit, I’m curious to learn more. What about you?)

Synopsis from Amazon –From award-winning author Susan Hood and illustrator Sally Wern Comport comes the extraordinary true tale of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, an orchestra made up of children playing instruments built from recycled trash.

Ada Ríos grew up in Cateura, a small town in Paraguay built on a landfill. She dreamed of playing the violin, but with little money for anything but the bare essentials, it was never an option…until a music teacher named Favio Chávez arrived. He wanted to give the children of Cateura something special, so he made them instruments out of materials found in the trash. It was a crazy idea, but one that would leave Ada—and her town—forever changed. Now, the Recycled Orchestra plays venues around the world, spreading their message of hope and innovation.

Why do I like this book? The main character, Ada, holds a powerful dream to play the violin in Cateura, Paraguay, a small city developed on top of a massive dump. In this impoverished place, a violin is worth more than a house. When her music teacher sets out to turn trash into musical instruments, including a violin made from an old paint can, an aluminum baking tray, a fork, and pieces of wooden crates, Ada proves that passion + practice = perfection.

Learn more about Susan Hood HERE.

Learn more about Sally Wern Comport HERE.

Learn more about The Recycled Orchestra of Cateura in the videos below.

Until next Friday!

What Makes a House? Find out this Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Childhood memories can seem the most distant and unreachable, like the Milkyway. But I have come to learn that with the right memory trigger, like a smell, taste, or sound, a long forgotten memory has a way of filling the mind with clarity. In my case, a childhood memory returned when I opened Deborah Freedman’s picture book, This house, once.

As the different parts came together to make a house in this book, the memory returned when my parents bought a wooded piece of land in the country. I recalled the countless weekends my family drove out to see the building progress. Trucks of different sizes dug a deep, deep hole for the foundation, stacked up stones for sturdy walls, added windows, and doors. I remember playing with my sister around the building site after the trucks drove away. We dug through the sand and earth with our bare hands, searching for dinosaur bones and other treasures, but instead found stones, insects, and frogs. Week after week, we anxiously awaited the day or parents would announce moving day. And then that happy day came. Decades have passed. Another family lives in my childhood home. But the memories are mine to hold.

Title – This house, once

Written and Illustrated by – Deborah Freedman

Published by- Atheneum Books for Young Readers – 2017

Topics – building a house, creating something, nature

Opening – This door was once a colossal oak tree about three hugs around and as high as the blue.

(Is anyone else smiling about the oak tree being about three hugs around?)

Synopsis from Amazon – Deborah Freedman’s masterful new picture book is at once an introduction to the pieces of a house, a cozy story to share and explore, and a dreamy meditation on the magic of our homes and our world.

This poetically simple, thought-provoking, and gorgeously illustrated book invites readers to think about where things come from and what nature provides.

Why do I like this book? I honestly can’t tell you which is more stunning, the text or the illustrations. Deborah Freedman is equally gifted in both the writer’s world and the illustrator’s. I was most taken in by her thoughtfulness in describing each “ingredient” needed to build a house from the door to the stones which were once tucked beneath a blanket of leaves. Each page offers another reason to love this book.

Learn more about Deborah Freedman and her books HERE.

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If you have a fond, funny, or otherwise memorable memory about creating or building something from scratch, I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Until next Friday!

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.

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 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.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at The Most Magnificent Thing

Perfect Picture Book Friday looks at The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires, a story about never giving up no matter how many failures come.

Back when I was about ten years old, I colored a picture of a field of flowers for my room. I drew some teeny-tiny blooms and some enormous ones. I gave each flower unique petals, shapes, and colors – no two were alike. I worked until I had filled the field with the happiest flowers I could imagine. Then, I ran to show it to my mother, eager for her praise and pretty sure I had earned lots of it for my masterpiece!

Note: My mother was a scientific illustrator at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois.

Does anyone see where this is going? 

Picture me dashing into the kitchen, clutching my drawing, and putting off as much enthusiasm as Charlie Bucket did when he found the golden ticket, wrapped inside a Wonka bar.

My mother smoothed out my drawing and studied it. I watched her eyes sweep over my art as she took in the beauty of each of my carefully executed blossoms and my impressive array of colors.

“Well?” I begged. “What do you think?”

Mom pointed to a yellow flower with spiky petals. “What kind of flower is this one?”

“That’s a daisy,” I said, “and that blue one is a daisy, too. This red one is rose, of course. And that hairy, pink one is a clover. And that orange one is a marigold. Over here, I drew a lilac bush, and in that corner is a tulip. And look,” I said, my enthusiasm nearly pushing the roof off of our house, “I even drew a cactus exactly like the ones we saw in Arizona on vacation last summer!”

“And all these flowers are growing where?” Mom asked.

“In a big field.”

“And where is this big field?” Mom pressed.

“Here,” I said, holding up my picture. “Right here.”

“Well, if that’s so,” Mom said, “this picture could never exist anywhere. In real nature, these plants wouldn’t grow in the same place. If you want to draw an accurate picture of flowers, you can look them up in one of my botany books by region and season.” She handed the picture back to me.

I walked to my room and drew a picture of a flower–one flower. On another sheet of paper, I drew a different kind of flower. By the end of the day, I had drawn lots of flowers. I pinned them next to each other because, in my room, anything I could imagine was possible.

The Most Magnificent Thing

Written and illustrated by- Ashley Spires

Published by- Kids Can Press – 2014

Topics – Determination, imagination, and persistence.

Opening – This is a regular girl and her best friend in the whole wide world. They do all kinds of things together. They race. They eat. They explore. They relax. She makes things. He unmakes things. One day, the girl has a wonderful idea. She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! 

(Seriously long) Synopsis from Amazon – Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. “She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right. For the early grades’ exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl’s frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it’s okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn’t just “make” her magnificent thing — she “tinkers and hammers and measures,” she “smoothes and wrenches and fiddles,” she “twists and tweaks and fastens.” These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

Why do I like this book? Kids need to learn not to give up at the first sign of failure, and this story provides the perfect example of how trying, again and again, can lead to success. This story also shows that taking a close look at “why” something failed can lead to better results. The specific areas Ashley Spires chose to color in the illustrations keeps the focus on what is important in each scene. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best), I give this book a solid 10!

Learn more about the author/illustrator, Ashley Spires HERE.

A writer’s prompt: Write about a something you made that took many, many, many tries to get right.

Until next Friday.