Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book by Vivian Kirkfield+ Book Winner!

This Friday, as promised, I’m sharing Vivian Kirkfield’s stunning picture book, Four Otters Toboggan – An Animal Counting Book, as well as the lucky winner of this book, “hat picked” from those who left a comment on last Friday’s author interview post.

vine borderHave you ever been attracted to a book because of its title or cover illustration? Have you ever paged through a book and connected with it so powerfully you hugged it all the way to the store’s cash register? Have you ever been moved by a book so greatly you read it countless times? 

Vivian’s picture book, Four Otters Toboggan – An Animal Counting Book, will have you saying Yes! Yes! Yes!

Welcome to an ecological journey of discovery on which you will be delighted by Vivian’s special word choices – sure to change the way you see and hear the world.

We’ve seen dragonflies hover and zip across a pond, but have we thought of them as ballerinas above a liquid stage? 

In nature films, we have observed otters slide into the water, but when Vivian writes that they toboggan down a slide of mud, this playful scene comes to life. 

Title – Four Otters Toboggan – An Animal Counting Book

Written by – Vivian Kirkfield

Illustrated by – Mirka Hokkanen

Published by- PomegranateKids – 2019

Topics – wildlife preservation, endangered animal awareness, counting, water, weather

Opening –

Water waits.

Dawn breaks

in a chorus of bird song.

ONE willow flycatcher whistles

as the night slips silently away.

Synopsis from Amazon  Water wakes. Wildlife greets the day and finds shelter, safety, and fun on the river in this lyrical, ecologically oriented counting book. One willow flycatcher, two dragonflies, three kit foxes, and more thrive in their habitat. As kids count, the day turns from dawn to dusk, and the character of the water changes as quickly as a child’s moods. Animals sing, leap, tiptoe, toboggan, hoot, hunt, flit, flutter, and hover. They ride out a storm, bask in waning rays, and tuck in under the silver moon.

Filled with modern wood engravings, Four Otters Toboggan celebrates wild beauty, encouraging readers of all ages to preserve and cherish our planet. After the story is finished, children can read more about each species in the back of the book, conservation efforts, what causes animals to become endangered, and what people can do to protect wild habitats.

Why do I like this book? Along with the fun of finding and counting animals on each page, children are introduced to eleven endangered species, the concept of time passage over a day, and the ever-changing mood of both water and a storm. That’s a lot to build into a 32-page picture book! And did I mention the back matter offers additional facts about each animal? The part I love best is that this information is told with lyrical and thoughtfully-chosen words, accompanied by lovingly-created, modern, wood engraving illustrations.

Now for the winner of Vivian’s beautiful book.

Please put your hands together for Jilanne Hoffmann!!!

Learn more about Vivian Kirkfield HERE.

Learn more about Mirka Hokkanen HERE.

Read about and watch the making of the illustrations for Four Otters Toboggan HERE.

From Siera Club – Learn 5 Ways to Protect Endangered Species HERE.

Until next Friday!

 

What Makes A Mammal BEASTLY? Find out on today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday Review.

When I came up to mother’s hip, my favorite books were BIG and oversized. They brimmed with attention-holding illustrations and fun, kid-friendly facts. I was thrilled to gain tidbits of knowledge I could run and share with anyone who wasn’t too busy to listen.

“Mom! MOM! Did you know baboons make friends by picking ticks out of each other’s fur? Did you know bats all look the same but have different voices so their moms can find them? Did you know a lion’s roar can be heard up to five miles away? Did you know…”

“Did you know,” Mom said, “that I have to get dinner on the table soon? And did you know when I call that dinner is ready, you won’t need to be five miles away to hear me?”

We’d smile, hug, and I’d rush off to learn more facts I could share over a good meal.

So, if you love BIG, oversized books that brim with attention-holding illustrations and fun, kid-friendly facts, I have a feeling the book I’m sharing today will win your heart.

Title – The Big Book of Beasts

Written and illustrated by – Yuval Zommer

Beast expert — Barbara Taylor

Published by- Thames & Hudson – 2017

Topics – Beasts, animal behavior, animal facts

Opening – Beastly Families – What makes a mammal a beast? Warm-blooded animals with hair or fur have the scientific name “mammals.” Some mammals are friendly and some are beastly! Beasts are deadly, cunning and most importantly, wild! Here’s a who’s who of the most beastly of the bunch.

Synopsis from Amazon— A beautifully illustrated, informative book for children introducing them to a fascinating cast of beasts

In The Big Book of Beasts Yuval Zommer’s wonderful illustrations bring to whimsical life some of the grizzliest, hairiest, bravest, wiliest, and most fearsome beasts in the animal kingdom. Brimming with interesting facts from beast consultant Barbara Taylor, this charming picture book is a beautiful way for parents to introduce young children to the animal world―and for older children to learn by themselves.

In the first pages, children learn that beasts are wild animals that can’t be tamed and that they all defend themselves in different ways. As the book continues young readers meet specific beasts, including armadillos, bears, tigers, and the Tasmanian devil. The Big Book of Beasts also approaches the world of beasts thematically, looking at mythical beasts, Ice Age beasts, beasts on your street, and how to save beasts in danger of extinction.

The funny and conversational text, amazing facts, and glorious and quirky pictures will draw in young children over and over again.

Why do I like this book? Learning isn’t a chore with this book of beasts. Even if you already know a great deal about animals, you’ll probably come across a fun fact here and there that will have you running off to share your newly acquired knowledge with anyone who isn’t too busy to listen.

“Hey there! Do you know why a hyena’s poo is white? Do you know why beavers have orange teeth? Do you know why bats sleep upside down?”

I hope you’ll read this incredible book to find out.

Learn more about Yuval Zommer HERE

Watch an armadillo video HERE

Watch a Disney video about brown bears HERE.

Learn about bats HERE

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!

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.

I’m Back! And what kept me too busy to blog?

I apologize for not keeping up with my Friday picture book reviews. Three weeks have slipped by, and yes, I have a good reason for my absence.

I felt the time had come to give my future as a picture book writer a closer look.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably heard me praise my collection of little notebooks. In fact, I am so fond of little notebooks that my daughter gives them to me for presents on my birthdays and holidays. One of my notebooks holds ideas for future picture books topics. When an idea for a clever title pops into my head, I write it down because a clever title can often spur a clever story.  I make note of amazing people I have long admired or recently heard about whose accomplishments I find admirable. And I take notes about astonishing historical events I would have loved to read about when I was a school girl.

Hmmm. I thought to myself. It looks like I have an interest in writing nonfiction. (Visualize a light bulb flickering on above my head.)

Questions followed.

Can a fiction-loving picture book writer switch over to nonfiction? Where do I find my sources? How many primary and secondary sources do I need? Which sources are respected over others? How do I find an expert in the field who can verify my facts? How do agents and editors prefer to see research organized? What if I can’t find enough information about the subject? What if I find so much information I stagger under the load? What do I include in my author notes? What information goes in the back matter? Should I include a glossary of terms? How long is too long for a nonfiction picture book manuscript? Can back matter get too lengthy? Where do I start?

Baffled by many questions, I decided to take an intensive online course in writing nonfiction picture books.

Flash forward.

Research pile

My notes from the class as well as my research notes on my topic fill three, fat, three-ring binders. More notes are piled on the sofa, jotted in numerous notebooks (of course), stuffed in the pages of library books, and filed on my computer. Additionally, my loving husband took a few days off from work to travel with me for my research. (What a great guy!) My manuscript is written, and I’m happy to report that I’m moving through the revision process with a giddy heart. And what about those marvelous morsels of information I discovered that don’t move my story forward but have EVERYTHING to do with my topic? Turns out I can include some of them in my back matter. Yay!

I’m excited that I embarked on my nonfiction picture book writing journey. What surprised me most is how much I am enjoying the research process.

Come next Friday, I’ll be ready to post picture books reviews once again.

See you then!