Perfect Picture Book Friday Remembers the Famous Lunar Landing. #PPBF

Are you old enough to remember where you were on July 16, 1969, when the Appollo 11 mission to the moon began? Do you remember where you were on July 20th when Neil Armstrong set his foot on the moon? Or do you remember watching a video of this remarkable moment in school?

Years back when my daughter was five, bedtime had come, and I had just turned off the lights in the living room to take her upstairs to her room. Instead of following me, she remained behind. The moon shone in the window, and my little girl couldn’t take her eyes off the big, glowing ball.

“Do you think someone will ever walk up there?” she asked.

“Someone already has,” I told her.

Instead of tucking my daughter in bed, I turned on my laptop and showed her the famous news broadcast with Walter Cronkite.

“Do you think I’ll ever get to walk up there?” she asked.

“Maybe if you think about it hard enough,” I said, “tonight you can dream you are an astronaut, leaving your footprints on the moon beside Neil Armstrong’s.”

Title – Eight Days Gone

Written by – Linda McReynolds

Illustrated by – Ryan O’Rourke

Published by – Charlesbridge – 2012

Topics – Space, astronauts, lunar landing

Opening –  

Hundreds gather.

Hot July.

Spaceship ready–

set to fly.

 

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE.  Snappy verse and retro art recount Apollo 11’s historic, eight-day mission to the moon in 1969. Young readers learn the basics about the gear, equipment, and spaceship used by the astronauts, as well as the history of NASA’s moon mission.

Why do I like this book? Knowing the phenomenal amount of research needed to write a nonfiction picture book, I was amazed at Linda McReynolds’s skill in taking on such a huge project as the famous lunar landing. In the simplest and sparest text, Ms. McReynolds not only informs children of one of the greatest historical moments but also captivates and entertains them with her brilliant verse!

Three quotes by Neil Armstrong

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
“Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”

Where were you when the lunar landing was broadcast? Did you watch it on television? Did you see it years later in school? I’d love to hear your recollection.

Spirited, dream-seeking women are the focus of today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF review

Back when I was in high school taking classes to decide what to be when I grew up, women were going after careers as doctors, firefighters, attorneys, journalists, and much more. Unfortunately, my mother kept a dated attitude about which occupations were suited to men and which were suited for women–more specifically me.

When my high school interest in interior decorating led me into the Architectural Design course (where I achieved an A. Gotta blow my horn a little.) My mother, fearing I might choose to become an architect, put her foot down. She said architecture was a male-dominated field, and she wouldn’t pay the college tuition if I pursued it.

Wait. What? Male-dominated? There are going to be lots of men?

My mother’s problem became a perk.

Moving on. My next big interest was Psychology. One class led to two, and when two looked like it would turn into three (Can anyone see where this is going?), my mother said, “If you become a psychologist, your patients will be crazy people in search of advice. I won’t have it. If you want to pursue this field in college, I won’t pay the tuition.”

Without thinking, my teenage mouth spurted, “If you reconsider and let me become a psychologist, I’ll offer you free therapy in your old age.”

Moving on . . . (with a sore bottom.)

So there I was, envious of my older sister who chose the career she wanted and headed to college to study law without the parental flack I always received.

Ummm . . . Isn’t the field of law dominated by men?

My admiration for women who let nothing stand in the way of their dreams brings me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review. Please welcome Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt (whose mothers I would have loved to meet).

Title – Amelia And Eleanor Go For A Ride

Written by – Pam Munoz Ryan

Illustrated by – Brian Selznick

Published by – Scholastic Press – 1999

Topics – Following dreams and determination

Opening – Amelia and Eleanor were birds of a feather. Eleanor was outspoken and determined.

So was Amelia.

Amelia was daring and liked to try things other women wouldn’t even consider.

So when Eleanor discovered that her friend Amelia was coming to town to give a speech, she naturally said, “Bring your husband and come to dinner at my house! You can even sleep over.”

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE.  Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt were birds of a feather. Not only were they two of the most admired and respected women of all time, they were also good friends. Illuminated here for the first time in picture book form is the true story of a thrilling night when they made history together!

On a brisk and cloudless evening in April 1933, Amelia and Eleanor did the unprecedented: They stole away from a White House dinner, commandeered an Eastern Air Transport jet, and took off on a glorious adventure–while still dressed in their glamorous evening gowns!

This picture book tour de force celebrates the pioneering spirit of two friends whose passion for life gave them the courage to defy convention in the name of fulfillment, conviction, and fun. Soaring text, inspired by the known facts of this event, and breathtaking drawings ask readers to dream dreams as big as Amelia and Eleanor’s.

Why do I like this book? I admire those with an adventurous spirit, and this book shows not one but two such spirited women going after their dreams full throttle. Amelia, without a care what people think about woman piloting planes, fearlessly takes to the skies to make her dream come true. And Eleanor, disregarding other’s opinions that women shouldn’t drive cars, loves the feeling of independence a car provides, has a new car, and can’t wait to get behind the wheel to feel the wind whoosh through her hair. The night Amelia comes to the White House for dinner is beyond magical for these two spirited friends.

Do you remember a dream you wanted more than anything? Did something stand in your way? Did you reach it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Compassion is the Key Ingredient in Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday Review #PPBF

Think back to an early birthday. Got it? Great! The toy you most wanted, dreamed of, hoped for, and left advertisement clippings of on the coffee pot, is inside the wrapping paper you’re ripping away with speedy, little hands. An overwhelming feeling of bliss bubbles up and spills out. In your haste to play with the newest addition to your vast toy collection . . . CRACK! A part snaps and breaks off. Bliss changes to Devastation.

“Well,” my mom would say, “that was a wasted fifteen dollars.”

My dad would hand me a tissue, scoop up the many pieces, and disappear into the basement. Hours later, he would emerge with a look of pride in his eyes and a smile straight from his heart. He’d place the mended toy in my hands and exclaim, “Good as new!”

Geeze, I miss my dad. A whole lot.

Over the years, I’ve learned how to patch rips in teddy bears, superglue cracks in Mr. Potatoe Head’s spare parts, reattach charms and clasps on little bracelets, and turn my daughter’s tears into smiles. And this brings me to today’s perfect picture book Friday review about a little fox named Pandora who has a gift for mending broken things.

I

Title – Pandora

Written and illustrated by – Victoria Turnbull

Published by – Clarion Books – 2017

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics – compassion, loneliness, and hope

Opening –  Pandora lived alone in a land of broken things. She made herself a handsome home from all that people had left behind. But no one ever came to visit.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Because the review on Amazon sums up the story perfectly, I’m not including it as it serves as a spoiler. And isn’t it better to find the book and read it for yourself?

Why do I like this book? Pandora is a lovely main character with a large heart. She shows great compassion for all the broken things people have left behind. But one day, something falls from the sky that can’t be fixed with a needle and thread. The only remedy is love, and Pandora has a brimming heart perfect for helping. Not only is the story one that touched my heart, but the illustrations are carefully created with a heart as loving as Pandora’s. This book is a treasure that sits proudly on my bookshelf.

In this book, compassion is Pandora’s strongest trait and one that can easily be taught to children through example.

This is a list of synonyms that serve as ways we can teach children to be compassionate: pity, sympathy, empathy, fellow feeling, care, concern, solicitude, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, kindness, humanity, and charity.

As always, if you have memories from your childhood about moments of compassion or broken toys, I welcome you to share them in the comments.

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at The Blue Hour

As a child, I had an ever-growing collection of picture books given to me by my mother. For birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Christmas, I could always count on receiving another. As birthdays came and went, chapter books replaced picture books. Later, middle-grade novels replaced chapter books. But one thing stayed the same . . .  My mom kept buying picture books–just not for me.

My mother, a scientific illustrator for the Field Museum in Chicago, had a deep love of art and greatly enjoyed the variety of styles used to illustrate stories for children. So maybe, being surrounded by picture books all my life, it isn’t surprising I write for children.

The picture book I’d like to share with you today is one I’m sure my mother would have bought for herself if she were still here. She would have marveled at the careful and close attention to details and the gentle swoop of lines that create the feathers on the birds. She would have admired the vast pallet of blues used to bring about the mood of each scene, and she would have smiled at the artist’s choice to include dashes of red in the botanicals as well as the cheeks and beaks of the animals throughout. If you head to your library or bookstore to look at this book, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Title – The Blue Hour

Written and illustrated by – Isabelle Simler  

Published by – Eerdmans Books for Young Readers – 2017

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics – Blue animals and flowers, nature, animal activities.

Opening –  The day ends. The night falls. And in between . . . there is the blue hour.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HEREA lovely and tranquil celebration of nature

The sun has set, the day has ended, but the night hasn’t quite arrived yet. This magical twilight is known as the blue hour. Everything in nature—sky, water, flowers, birds, foxes—comes together in a symphony of blue to celebrate the merging of night and day.

With its soothing text and radiant artwork, this elegant picture book displays the majesty of nature and reminds readers that beauty is fleeting but also worth savoring.

The Blue Hour

Why do I like this book? Though the text is sparse, each word is carefully chosen, and the brief line given to each subject, animal or botanical, reveals something interesting. The author is also a gifted artist whose gorgeous nature illustrations shine in this breathtaking book.

Want to learn a little more about Isabelle Simler? Click HERE.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at More-igami

Folding paper for origami is something my mother taught me when I was about the same young age as Joey, the main character in today’s picture book, More-igami. I first learned how to fold simple creatures like bugs and puppies. Later, after learning the more challenging folds, I progressed up the ladder and folded my first crane. Granted, it looked like the poor bird barely escaped a major catastrophe with it slightly torn wing. (Translation: severed.) And with its crooked beak and many extra folds, what I really made was the origami equivalent of the creature from the black lagoon.

Crumple. Crumple. Crumple.

Eventually, after folding another five (make that fifteen) cranes, I succeeded.

Now, years later, my daughter is at the age where origami interests her. We have spent the last number of evenings pulling up instructions for various projects on youtube and following along with a fair amount of success. The perk is that with youtube, we can pause or back up any time we need extra clarification. The origami books I used when I was a child diagramed the steps with pictures, but those pictures often brought confusion followed by…

Crumple. Crumple. Crumple. Now, on to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

Title – More-igami

Written by – Dori Kleber  

illustrated by  – G. Brian Karas

Published by – Candlewick Press – 2016

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics – origami and determination

Opening – Joey loved things that folded. He collected old road maps. He played the accordion. He slept in a foldaway bed.

Amazon Review –  View it HEREA creative young boy with a passion for practicing origami finds a surprising source of encouragement on his diverse city block.

Joey loves things that fold: maps, beds, accordions, you name it. When a visiting mother of a classmate turns a plain piece of paper into a beautiful origami crane, his eyes pop. Maybe he can learn origami, too. It’s going to take practice — on his homework, the newspaper, the thirty-eight dollars in his mother’s purse . . . Enough! No more folding! But how can Joey become an origami master if he’s not allowed to practice? Is there anywhere that he can hone the skill that makes him happy — and maybe even make a new friend while he’s at it?

Why do I like this book? Joey’s passion for things that fold shows up in surprising places, and for the most part, Joey (and the reader) sees this as a curious interest. But then… when the mother of a classmate demonstrates the art of origami at school, the light burns brightly for Joey. He now sees a direction and endless possibilities for his folding passion. And even though his first attempts are less than successful, this determined boy lets nothing stop him from mastering his newfound art. Seriously. What’s not to love? 

Want to learn a little more about Dori Kleber? Click HERE.

Want to learn a little more about G. Brian Karas? Click HERE.

Projects

Easy origami projects to make with kids HERE.

Shop for origami paper and how-to books on Amazon HERE.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping

The mere mention of camping and my skin crawls with the invisible legs of a million non-existent insects. I cringe at the thought of sleeping in a tent or any structure with walls that aren’t a few inches thick and that doesn’t have a door with a lock. And sleeping in a zippered bag on the ground…sorry, not happening.

Yes. I have experienced camping. The first time was back in Jr. high during a freak thunderstorm. Strangely, only my side of the tent lacked waterproofing. So, while my tent mates lay snoozing, I sat up all night, hovering my jacket over my head like a useless umbrella. A few years later, another camping trip came up at school. This time, parents were invited, and everyone was expected to bring a tent or a camper (if they had one). My family had neither, so we broke camp in our jeep. At bedtime, my sister claimed the front seat, and I slept in the back with my dad with the hatch open to accommodate his long legs. The next morning, I counted over 60 mosquito bites. No, not on all three of us. Just scattered over me like a blast of confetti on New Year’s Eve. Then, years and years later, my husband found a place to camp where we could stay in a rustic cabin. Hmmm. A real bed, sturdy walls, and a door that locks, you say? Yes! I can do this.

“Wait. You’re saying rustic means no place to plug in my hairdryer???”

Honestly, I’ve tried to love camping, and I understand the lure of sleeping in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, but after several tries, I’ve concluded that the most ideal way for me to camp is in a hotel (in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature).

“Room service? Could you please send a bowl of strawberries and cream up to room #349? Thank you.”

Now that I’ve aired my feelings about camping with you, I am thrilled to share a picture book that stars a squirrel who feels very much as I do about this well-loved, outdoor activity.  Please welcome, Scaredy Squirrel!

Title – Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping

Written and illustrated by  – Melanie Watts

Published by – Kids Can Press – 2013

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics – Camping, expectations, fears, conquering fears.

Opening – Scaredy Squirrel never goes camping. He’d rather be comfortable inside than risk going out in the rugged wilderness. Besides, setting up camp seems like a lot of trouble.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. Scaredy Squirrel is not too comfortable with the idea of camping … unless it’s on his couch! There will be no mosquitoes, skunks or zippers to worry about when he watches a show about the joys of camping on his brand-new TV. But first Scaredy must find an electrical outlet, and that means going into the woods! Will the nutty worrywart’s plans prepare him for the great outdoors, or will his adventure end up as a scary story told around the campfire?

Why do I like this book? Scaredy Squirrel is nervous about this new experience of camping. In fact, he’s so afraid, he brings along a television with plans of watching nature from the safety of his tree. But, one small problem surfaces… In nature, there aren’t any outlets. (Sound like someone you know?) After packing his survival supplies and getting into his protective, wilderness outfit, he treks out to the camping grounds in search of an outlet. armed with all his protective gear, supplies, plans, and maps – he goes on a trek to the nearby camping ground to find electrical outlets. As luck would have it, something unexpected happens. You’ll have to check out this book to find out what. With simple, adorable, and humorous illustrations, this Scaredy Squirrel book is a cover to cover winner! 

Want to learn a little more about Melanie Watt? Click HERE.

A Beige Childhood + Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match for Perfect Picture Book Friday

Go ahead and settle back while I first tell my story. Then, I’ll share my picture book review of Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

I would describe my mother as an old-world, German woman. Mom preferred sensible over sensational, blending in over inviting attention to, and beige and brown over all the happy colors in the world. I sometimes felt I looked more like a miniature version of her instead of a typical kid. My friends got to wear jeans, (Lucky!!!) they owned colorful shirts, blouses, and sweaters, their shoes were equally colorful, and they wore fun headbands or bright ribbons tied in their hair.

Then, there was me… boarding the school bus in my sensible, brown, walking shoes with beige socks, brown pants, and beige sweater. I might have been a child, but I looked like someone’s granny with a decent face lift.

Mom wouldn’t always take me with her when she shopped. Sometimes, I came home from school to some unfashionable surprises.

“Didn’t this dress come in blue or green?”

“Beige is better. You don’t want to bring attention to yourself.”

“If I have to wear a beige dress, can I pleeeease get red sandals?”

“What are you thinking? Did someone hit you in the head? As long as I’m paying for your clothes, you’ll dress sensibly. Honestly, if I didn’t put my foot down, you’d leave this house naked!”

“At least I’d still be wearing beige.”

“Go to your room.”

My childhood was filled with envy for the colorful clothes my friends wore. Many years later, when I married and had a daughter, I swore she would dress in every color that filled a box of crayons which brings me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

Title – Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match

Written by  – Monica Brown

Illustrated by – Sara Palacios

Published by – Children’s Book Press – 2011

Suitable for ages – 3-8

Theme – To feel happiest, be yourself no matter the opinions of others.

Opening – My name is Marisol McDonald, and I don’t match. At least, that’s what everyone tells me.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin. Polka dots and stripes are her favorite combination. She prefers peanut butter and jelly burritos in her lunch box. And don’t even think of asking her to choose one or the other activity at recess—she ll just be a soccer playing pirate princess. To Marisol McDonald, these seemingly mismatched things make perfect sense together.

Unfortunately, they don t always make sense to everyone else. Other people wrinkle their nose in confusion at Marisol—can’t she just be one or the other? Try as she might, in a world where everyone tries to put this biracial, Peruvian-Scottish-American girl into a box, Marisol McDonald doesn’t match. And that s just fine with her.

Why do I like this book? What’s not to love about a strong main character who knows what she likes, and despite the comments of others, stays true to herself. Although, for one day, Marisol decides, against her better judgement, to match and behave as others do, but that day, as you might imagine, is her worst day. Marisol is a bilingual, Peruvian-Scottish – American girl in a multiracial family with her father’s red hair, her mother’s brown skin, and a whole lot of spunk and creativity that, when brought together, equal one terrific main character. The illustrations by Sara Palacios add loads of rich, playful colors and patterns, creating one super, happy book.

Learn more about Monica Brown HERE.

Learn more about Sara Palacios HERE.

Play idea – It’s fashion show time! Have fun with your children, creating the most outlandish outfits you can put together. The only rule…no beige. Then, take funny pictures. For a snack, put together some totally mismatched foods like Marisol does. Maybe you’ll discover a combination of items that’s utterly scrumptious!

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

When you were a kid, do you remember a student or friend in your class who marched to his/her own beat like Marisol? Please feel free to share in the comments. I’d love to hear about it.

Creating “Ish” Art for Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Perfect Picture Book Friday (PPBF) Looks at Creating “Ish” Art.

Creating art as a child should be fun. After all, children are discovering the world and interpreting the many marvels around them with a box of crayons, a small paint pallet, a stubby brush, and a pad of paper. Yes, this blissful childhood experience should be freeing, but for me, it was stressful. My mother was an artist for the Field Museum in Chicago. Because of her years of education in botany and scientific illustration in Germany, she never looked at my artistic endeavors through the eyes of a mom armed with a magnet and free space on the fridge, but rather through her analytical eyes and vast knowledge of the scientific world.

She once held my picture of a grassy meadow sprinkled with flowers, two trees, one bunny, and a bright yellow ball of sunshine and gave it a sideways glance. I could see the gears turning in her head as I awaited, not praise, but her criticism.

“Leslie.” She wrinkled her brow at my masterpiece. “If the sun is just above the horizon, as you’ve drawn it, then the shadows must be longer. And if this is a picture of a field around our house, you would never see a Crocustommasinianus growing in the same season with an Iris Reticulata.”

“Really?”

Eventually, I learned to throw myself over my drawings whenever my mom came into view. “It’s not done yet,” I’d blurt. Mom would head out to tend the garden while I finished my drawing and stashed it away before she returned.

The book I’m reviewing today (Ish by Peter H. Reynolds) looks at art in a unique way. I can’t tell you how often I’ve read this marvelous, little treasure. Maybe I return to it often because I wish I owned it when I was a child. I have a feeling I wouldn’t have looked at my art as being “not right” but rather as being marvelously ish.

Title – Ish

Written and illustrated by  – Peter H. Reynolds

Published by – Candlewick Press – 2004

Suitable for ages – 3-8

Theme – One person’s viewpoint isn’t always right. Being true to one’s self, exploration, and creativity.

Opening –

Raymond loved to draw. Anytime. Anything. Anywhere.

One day, Ramon was drawing a vase of flowers. His brother, Leon, leaned over his shoulder. Leon burst out laughing. “WHAT is THAT?” he asked.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE.  A creative spirit learns that thinking “ish-ly” is far more wonderful than “getting it right” in this gentle new fable from the creator of the award-winning picture book THE DOT.

Ramon loved to draw. Anytime. Anything. Anywhere.

Drawing is what Ramon does. It¹s what makes him happy. But in one split second, all that changes. A single reckless remark by Ramon’s older brother, Leon, turns Ramon’s carefree sketches into joyless struggles. Luckily for Ramon, though, his little sister, Marisol, sees the world differently. She opens his eyes to something a lot more valuable than getting things just “right.” Combining the spareness of fable with the potency of parable, Peter Reynolds shines a bright beam of light on the need to kindle and tend our creative flames with care.

Why do I like this book? Most obviously, because I would have loved to label my art as being “ish” when I was a child. I believe the term frees up the inner artist and gives permission to play. Peter Reynolds inspiring story teamed with his simple and emotion-packed illustrations tells a necessary story the artist in all of us can cling to. One of my favorite pages shows labeled art from Raymond’s journal with such descriptive titles as tree-ish, house-ish, afternoon-ish, and fish-ish. To me, this book is the best-ish, most perfect-ish picture book to read to budding, young artists.

Learn more about Peter H. Reynolds HERE.

Art idea – After reading ISH, encourage children to draw “ishly”. Set out a table full of art supplies, and let them freely interpret their world. Art supplies to include are colored pencils, colored paper, crayons, scissors, glue, pipe cleaners, paper plates, markers, yarn, beads, tissue paper, and more.

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

What are your childhood memories of the art you created?

 

Searching For What You Have + Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at The Friend Ship.

Perfect Picture Book Friday (PPBF) Looks at The Friend Ship by Kat Yeh.

My father never cared to spend more than a few minutes searching for something. Often, when he couldn’t find what he was looking for, he’d go out and buy another, come home, and promptly find the misplaced item. My father might have been the only man who owned more than ten dremels, (a super cool tool that can do a bazillion home repair fixes and so much more) thousands of nails, screws, nuts, and bolts, more than twenty-five hammers, around four dozen screwdrivers in varying sizes, two bandsaws, eight drills, and I’ll stop here before I feel compelled tweak this list to fit The Twelve Days of Christmas. So… what does having what you’re looking for and going out to find it have to do with today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review?

Everything.

Title – The Friend Ship

Written by  – Kat Yeh

and illustrated by – Chuck Groenink

Published by – Disney Hyperion – 2016

Suitable for ages – 3-8

Theme – Sometimes what you search for is already yours. Loyalty and friendship.

Opening – Hedgehog was curled up in a prickly little ball in the lonely little nook of a lonely little tree when she heard someone say her name.

“Poor Hedgehog seems so lonely!”

“I know, but it will get better. Friendship is out there–all she has to do is look.”

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. Little Hedgehog is very lonely. But then she overhears passersby talking about something that gives her hope–something called a Friend Ship!

Hedgehog imagines a ship filled with friends of all kinds, and soon she’s ready to hit the open seas in a boat of her own to track it down. Along the way, she meets other lonely animals eager to join her quest.

They search north. They search south. They search east. But Hedgehog and her new friends can’t find the Ship anywhere! Until she realizes she knows just where the Friend Ship is. . .

This heartwarming tale by Kat Yeh, with charming illustrations by Chuck Groenink, proves that sometimes, what you’re searching for is right in front of you.

Why do I like this book? Every once in a while I come across a picture book that has me saying, “I wish I had written this book. It’s brilliant!” For me, The Friend Ship is that book. The author, Kat Yeh, has taken the word friendship and turned it into a marvelous misunderstanding of friend ship. Then, she added a crew of helpful and understanding animal characters, gave them a boat, and set sail to this timeless treasure of a story.

The illustrator, Chuck Groenink, with a loving hand, created a sea-worthy, child-friendly crew, eager to lend a hoof or paw. Each page offers variety to the reader through interesting angles, bubble art, and creative close-ups. When I saw this treasure at the bookstore, I knew I needed to add it to my picture book collection. It’s the sort of story that, after reading it, I returned to page one and read again. And again…

Learn more about Kat Yeh HERE

Learn more about Chuck Groenink HERE.

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

Let Me first Embarrass Myself. Plus Perfect Picture Book Friday Review of The Purple Coat

As you’ve come to expect, and hopefully look forward to, I have a little memory to go along with today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review of The Purple Coat by Amy Hest. And yes, it’s embarrassing.

Back when I was in Jr. High, I saw a fashion magazine at the dentist with page after page of svelte women wearing culottes. Culottes, for those of you unfamiliar with this fashion statement, are split skirts or wide-legged, knee-length shorts. Back in the 80’s, the only place I looked svelte was deep in my imagination. To the outside world, I was a five-foot, scrawny girl, weighing in at 90 pounds who owned three pairs of shoes, none of which looked trendy under any circumstances. One pair were my fuzzy house slippers, the second were my scuffed sneakers, and the third pair were clunky, brown, lace-up, walking shoes my mother bought in a women’s shoe shop. (Please, no comments, I feel bad enough.)

I bought a copy of the magazine and raced home, hopeful my aunt, who sewed all my clothes, could duplicate those super cool culottes for me. I showed her the magazine.

“Are you sure about this?” She looked me up and down, wrinkled her nose at the picture, and shook her head.

“Oh, yes!” I said. “I LOVE these! Can you make me a pair?”

My aunt reluctantly took me to the fabric store where I found the perfect pattern and a bolt of electric, mint-green polyester that screamed, “Make your culottes out of me!!!” (Please, no comments, I feel bad enough.)

kulottes

My aunt gaped at the bolt of fabric clutched in my arms. “Are you sure about this?” She looked me up and down, wrinkled her nose at the fabric, and shook her head.

“Oh, yes!” I said. “I LOVE it! Can you please make my culottes out of this?”

When those fabulous, mint-green culottes were sewn, I teamed them with a frilly blouse, a pair of white knee socks and my brown, lace-up, clunky, walking shoes my mother bought in a women’s shoe shop. (Please, no comments, I feel bad enough.)

My friends couldn’t bottle their laughter. Kids at school I didn’t know slapped hands over their mouths and swiped at their tears. Cute boys rolled up their pant legs and mocked me. And those culottes? Strangely and most mysteriously disappeared after I came home.

So…what does my memory have to do with my picture book review? The Purple Coat is the story of a girl who, despite her mother’s opinion, wants a coat that looks different than the one she gets year after year.Except in her case, everything turned out better. Lucky…

Title – The Purple Coat

Written by  – Amy Hest

and illustrated by – Amy Schwartz

Published by – Aladdin – 1992

Suitable for ages – 3-8

Theme – Knowing what you want and compromise.

Opening –  Every fall, when the leaves start melting into pretty purples and reds and those bright golden shades of pumpkin, Mama says, “Coat time, Gabrielle!”

Amazon Review –  View it HERE.  Every year, in the fall, Gabrielle gets a new coat. And every year her coat looks the same — navy blue with two rows of buttons and a half belt in the back. But this year Gabrielle wants something different — a purple coat.
“Purple?” Mama laughs. But Gabrielle is quite serious.

Alone with Grampa in his cozy tailor shop, Gabrielle does some fast talking. Still, even Grampa is dubious. His solution makes The Purple Coat a very special book, just right for every child who has ever wanted to try something different.

Why do I like this book? Because I was a child much like Gabrielle who wanted something different. Except in my case, the culottes flopped. But back to the book. Gabrielle is a little girl with gumption. She has a vision of what she wants, and she’s not about to back down. And, because I like books with strong main characters, I loved this one. The illustrations by Amy Schwartz brought back sweet memories of the days when my aunt measured me for the clothes she made. The colorful, well-researched pictures capture the time this story takes place in. All around, this book won me over.
Learn more about Amy Hest HERE.
Learn more about Amy Schwartz HERE.

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