Celebrating Poetry Month this Perfect Picture Book Friday!

I came across a book of poetry written by Robert Macfarlane. I wasn’t able to see a preview of any of the poems online, and the illustration on the cover was the only illustration I could see. So, why did I want this book so much?  Because of this line from the opening page.

Once upon a time, words began to vanish from the language of children. They disappeared so quietly that at first, almost no one noticed–fading away like water on stone.

I ordered the book from my library and when it came in, I was awestruck by both the lyrical language chosen for each poem and the masterful illustrations. I read the poems again and again. I studied them, and I enjoyed them.

Every once in a while, I come across a book that touches me so deeply that I have to own the book so I can return to its pages whenever the mood comes.

For me, this is that book.

Title –  The Lost Words – A Spell Book

Author– Robert Macfarlane

Illustrator – Jackie Morris

Published by – Hamish Hamilton – 2017

Suitable for everyone of all ages. 

Topics – Poetry, nature, plants, and animals

Opening –   


As a flake is to blizzard, as
Curve is to sphere, as knot is to net, as
One is to many, a coin is to money, as bird is to flock, as
Rock is to mountain, as drop is to fountain, as spring is to river, as glint is to glitter, as
Near is to far, as wind is to weather, as feather is to flight, as light is to star, as kindness      is to good, so acorn is to wood.

Amazon Review HERE.

In 2007, when a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary ― widely used in schools around the world ― was published, a sharp-eyed reader soon noticed that around forty common words concerning nature had been dropped. Apparently, they were no longer being used enough by children to merit their place in the dictionary. The list of these “lost words” included acornadderbluebelldandelionfernheronkingfishernewtotter, and willow.

Among the words taking their place were attachmentblogbroadbandbullet-point, cut-and-paste, and voice-mail. The news of these substitutions ― the outdoor and natural being displaced by the indoor and virtual ― became seen by many as a powerful sign of the growing gulf between childhood and the natural world.

Ten years later, Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris set out to make a “spell book” that will conjure back twenty of these lost words, and the beings they name, from acorn to wren. By the magic of word and paint, they sought to summon these words again into the voices, stories, and dreams of children and adults alike, and to celebrate the wonder and importance of everyday nature. The Lost Words is that book ― a work that has already cast its extraordinary spell on hundreds of thousands of people and begun a grass-roots movement to re-wild childhood across Britain, Europe, and North America.

Learn more about Robert Macfarlane HERE.

Learn more about Jackie Morris HERE.


Until next Friday.

Bringing Home A New Pet This Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday! Today’s story from me, as well as the book I’m sharing, are about the joys of bringing home a new pet.

One of the pets in my little zoo came to live with me because he desperately needed rescuing. I remember the day I walked around the pet shop, greeting the fish, having a stare-down with a lizard, and watching the tree frogs play leapfrog. As I passed a row of terrariums, a rhythmic clunk-clunk-clunk caught all of my attention. I kneeled down and peered under a shelf at a seemingly forgotten terrarium. Inside, a tortoise was desperately trying to climb out. He placed his front feet on the glass where they slid down with a clunk–again and again and again.

I reached back and pulled out his terrarium. His water bowl contained a thin layer of brown film. A half-inch scrap of wilted lettuce poked out from under a piece of bark. A layer of crust rimmed the tortoise’s half-shut eyes.

I called the manager over and showed him the tortoise who needed and deserved care.

“He’s sick.” The manager shrugged. “When he gets better, he’ll be for sale.”

“He’ll never get better with the kind of care he’s getting here,” I said. “I want to buy him and bring him home today.”

“You can buy him when he’s better,” the manager said. “I’ll sell him to you for $100.”

I looked the manager in the eyes, I didn’t smile, and I didn’t blink when I said, “I’m going to pay you $150, and I’m taking him home today.”

Our staredown lasted for a long moment before the manager gave me a quick nod.

With a large, clean terrarium, a dish filled with fresh water, a fistful of crisp kale, and a whole lot of love, my tortoise grew healthy and happy.  And my animal rescue story brings me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection about a boy named Bruno and the guinea pig he brings home from the pet shop one day.

Title –  Bruno and Titch: A Tale of a Boy and His Guinea Pig

Author and Illustrator– Sheena Dempsey

Published by – Candlewick Press – 2014

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8

Topics – New pet, friendship

Opening –   I’ve been waiting three human weeks for a Big Person to come and bring me home. In guinea-pig time, that’s almost a year. Which is a VERY long time to wait. No matter how hard I try (and I try R-E-A-L-L-Y hard)… the Big People always choose some other guinea pig instead.

Amazon Review HERE. As the only guinea pig left in Mrs. Pinkerley’s pet shop, Titch is getting lonely and anxious. All he wants is his very own Big Person. Then one day a boy named Bruno comes into the shop looking for the perfect pet. Their eyes meet, and Titch has a home at last! There’s just one problem: Bruno loves to play and invent wild games and make big messes (and eat sticky pancakes). As for Titch, well, he prefers the quiet life — a nice nap, a plate of salad leaves. Will they find a way to make their friendship work, or will Titch end up back where he started, in the pet shop? Sheena Dempsey offers a contemporary and comical take on new pets — and new friends.

Why do I like this book? Frankly, any story about the adoption and good care of an animal wins my heart. In this story, Bruno not only gives Titch, his guinea pig, a good home, tasty food, and a cozy bed for sleep, but he takes his love for his new pet one step further and builds him a… Oh, wait! I can’t tell you what Bruno builds for Titch, that would give away the best part of this story. I hope you’ll check out this book and read it to find out for yourself.

Learn more about Sheena Dempsey HERE.

Until next Friday.

Home Is A Great Place To Be

I don’t need to tell anyone that the world has changed or that I can’t wait for a state of mostly-safe and relatively-normal to return so I can greet friends with a hug or hang out at the library with a stack of picture books as I search for the perfect one to share with you.

Out in the world, everything has changed. 

Last week at the grocery store, a sign limited shoppers to one loaf of bread. I had arrived too late. The aisle for water also posted a one flat limit. Toilet paper? If I hadn’t been down to our last roll, I could have saved myself the drive to five stores to locate a package of this necessity which, from the state of the world, holds a value near gold. Shoppers around me grabbed anything remaining on the shelves and loaded their carts to overflowing. As I added ten cans of black beans and ten boxes of pasta to my cart, (don’t judge)  I formed an image of the Grinch and his dog, Max, with their heavily ladened sleigh, making their way back home on Christmas Eve.

In my yard, nothing has changed.

The robins have returned and are, as I’m writing to you, setting their heads near the earth to listen for worms. Outside my kitchen window, the first tiny buds have emerged on the trees and shrubs.  A squirrel, my daughter and I named Bob, visits our back porch each morning in search of the seeds and nuts I set out for him. And when the sun has set, millions of stars twinkle, like distant lanterns, across the sky.

Inside my home, not much has changed.

I don’t leave the house unless I absolutely must. That has changed. But…

I continue to write while my daughter works through her online classes. Our parakeet chats while the cockatiel whistles his version of Take Me Out To The Ballgame. In his big terrarium, 0ur tortoise knocks against the glass to let me know when he’s out of spinach or kale and would appreciate having his neck caressed. As the sun slowly crosses through our living room, our dog wakes long enough to change his napping location to stay in the center of the warm beam of light.

Later in the day, my daughter and I play gin rummy or browse through our books and read. Some days we watch a favorite movie or hang out in our cozy art room to paint. In the evenings when my husband comes home from work, we sit down to dinner, share our day, play a board game, and read until bedtime.

All of this tells me that home is a great place to be.

Which leads me to my Perfect Picture Book Friday selection.

Title –  Home: A Journey Through America

A collection of poetry by over a dozen poets

Illustrator –Thomas Locker

Published by – Silver Whistle – 1998

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8

Topics – Poetry

Opening – Home is more than just the place we return to after being away. Home is something that becomes part of us as we live in it. For artists and writers, home can become part of how we see the world and how we shape our words or our artwork. For everyone, the place we call home becomes a part of our lives.

Amazon Review  HERE. Home. In this unique volume, prominent American writers from the past and present–Willa Cather, Henry David Thoreau, Eloise Greenfield–give voice to the region of the country each calls home. Thomas Locker’s lavish oil paintings accompany each passage, transporting the reader from the crashing waves of the Pacific coast to the bluebonnet fields of the Texas prairie. Come along on a spectacular journey through our home–America.

Watch and listen to a short, but wonderful, video of Thomas Locker HERE.

Other books by Thomas Locker HERE.

Poets included in this book plus links to learn more about each one.

Joseph Bruchac HERE

Willa Cather HERE

Robert Frost HERE

Merle Good HERE

Eloise Greenfield HERE

Washington Irving HERE

Abraham Lincoln HERE

Thomas Locker HERE

Pat Mora HERE

John Muir HERE

Carl Sandburg HERE

Henry David Thoreau HERE

Jane Yolen HERE

Before I sign off for today, I found a few music videos I thought you might enjoy. 

Louis Armstrong sings What a Wonderful World HERE.

Cat Stevens sings Morning Has Broken HERE.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow sung by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo ‘ole HERE.


Until next Friday.

Simon’s New Bed – A Story of Sharing and Friendship Today at Perfect Picture Book Friday!

We adopted our dog, Max, about eight years ago. Of all the dogs at the rescue shelter, he was the most desperate to be loved because he had been adopted and returned six times.

The second he saw my daughter and me, he walked up to us and poured out his love with a million, hope-filled, dog kisses. I’ll never forget that day. I cradled Max in my arms like a baby and rubbed his belly while my daughter planted kisses all over his warm head and twiddled his ears. Max was the missing puzzle piece in our family picture.

We gave Max his own dog bed to snuggle into, his very own bowls for water and food, a blanket, and toys. Some years passed, and we decided to add more pets to our family. A budgie, a cockatiel, a dozen fish, one tortoise, and some treefrogs. With each new pet, Max worried he would have to make it through each day with less than ALL of our love. At times he’d turn his back to us and give us the silent treatment. Other days, he’d bark at the birds to show them who’s boss, He sniffed the tortoise and sneezed on its shell, he snubbed the fish and frogs. But… over time, Max learned to share his home with our little zoo. Which brings me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review in which learning to share leads to friendship.

Simon's New Bed by [Trimmer, Christian]

Title –  Simon’s New Bed

Author – Christian Trimmer

Illustrator – Melissa van der Paardt

Published by – Atheneum Books for Young Readers – 2015

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8

Topics – Sharing and friendship

Opening – What do you think of your new bed, Simon? You like it?

Bark! Bark!

Okay, Simon. Let’s go for a walk. You can try out your new bed when we get back!

Amazon Review  HERE. Simon’s new dog bed has been claimed by…a cat?! Laughter, scheming, and cuddles ensue in this fun naptime tale you’ll want to share, from debut author Christian Trimmer and illustrator Melissa van der Paardt.

Simon’s been looking forward to trying out his brand-new dog bed all day. He may be ready for the best nap of his life, but Miss Adora Belle the cat has other ideas. She’s taken over his bed before he even gets a chance to try it—and she’s not budging. As Simon struggles to find a way to free his bed for the Greatest Naptime Ever, he may just discover something wonderful about his new bed: there’s plenty of room for two.

Learn more about Christian Trimmer HERE.

Learn more about Melissa van der Paardt and this book HERE.

Video tutorial for a no-sew pet bed HERE.

Until next Friday.