Perfect Picture Book Friday Shares a Poetic Year of Celebrations.

Back in September, of that year many of us don’t like to speak about, I shared two picture poetry books by Raven Howell followed by her interview. Today, for Perfect Picture Book Friday, I’m pleased to share another of Raven’s poetry books that focuses on the various events and holidays celebrated throughout the year.

A CHEER FOR THE YEAR opens with a tribute to New Year’s Day with the promise of shimmering icicles and snowy hills for sledding. As you turn the pages, the poems move through the months, sharing Raven’s sweet humor, appreciation, and love for each special event. The groundhog gets questioned whether spring will arrive early or whether winter will stick around. Valentine’s Day, Arbor Day, Easter, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas, and more, lead us to the next New Year’s celebration.

Title – A Cheer For The Year

Written by  –  Raven Howell

Illustrated by  – Meredith Messinger

Published – Clear Fork Publishing

Suitable for ages – up to 12

Topics – poetry, holidays, celebrations

Opening – The first poem, in celebration of New Year’s, begins…

New year’s Day, Frizzle frazzle, Shiver, shimmer, Razzle dazzle. Promises of snow that sticks…

and continues on, taking the reader for a high-paced sled ride where they greet a special snow friend.

Amazon Review HERE A Cheer for the Year offers a poetic calendar of holiday treats, the feeling you get when a friend presses a box of decadent chocolates in your hands, and you didn’t even know that’s what you were missing.

“A Cheer For the Year is an educational and fun collection of poems that weaves through seasons and holidays with a rhyme and colorful discovery on each page. Cleverly written, with illustrations that will delight children of all ages, this is a must have on any child’s bookshelf!”
– Jo Ann DiSalvo, Youth Services Programmer/Beekman Library

Why do I like this book? It’s a combination of factors, really. I love how Raven Howell always delights me with her poetry, finding unique moments to share through unexpected twists and seriously fun to say and read aloud words. Team up her poems with the playful, paper cut illustrations of Meredith Fern Messinger, that add an additional layer of surprise and delight to each page, and you’re holding a perfect picture book!

Learn more about Raven Howell HERE.

Learn more about Meredith Messinger HERE.

I invite you to visit me next week for The Monday Poems.

Leslie

A Rescue Mission + Book Review this Perfect Picture Book Friday

If you’ve been a longtime follower of my blog, you must know that I embrace all things nature. My love for the environment moseys, sprouts, and ambles through many of my picture book manuscripts as well as my blog posts, where this fascination is evident in the books I share.

I am forever amazed by the magic that hatches from an egg as small as a garden pea. I am intrigued by great flocks of birds that change direction as if commanded by a voice only they can hear. And when I find an acorn, I look into the branches of the impressive oak, knowing I am holding a seed as small as the one that sprouted and pushed its way toward the clouds.

Before I share today’s special picture book, I’d like to tell you about the author, who, as luck would have it, is one of my valued critique partners and a dear friend. Julia Richardson holds a boundless love for nature and is currently hard at work saving Hayden Creek, which runs through the state of Michigan. A faraway village has proposed to dump their wastewater into this pristine trout stream, and Julia is taking time away from her writing to do everything possible to prevent this tragedy. In the past, I have followed each of my picture book reviews with an author interview the following Friday. Julia’s interview will be delayed for the best possible reason. To Julia, if anyone has the strength, belief, and fortitute to make positive changes for the environment, it is you.

Onward to today’s review of Julia’s debut picture book, Little Dandelion Seeds the World.

Title – Little Dandelion Seeds the World
(Available on March 15, 2021)

Written by  –  Julia Richardson

Illustrated by  – Kristen & Kevin Howeshell

Published – Sleeping Bear Press, 2021

Suitable for ages – 6-10

Topics – Dandelions, seeds, dispersal

Opening
Swish, swirl, one hundred seeds fly.
One little seed flies with the wind, far, far away.
Darting.
Drifting.
Dropping.
Down with a root.
Up wth a shoot.
A little dandelion blooms in Africa.

Amazon Review HERE – Did you know dandelions thrive on all seven continents? The cheery blooms are among the most resilient and adaptable in the world. In this lyrical book, learn how the crafty plant travels on the wind and hitches rides in all manner of ways in order to spread far and wide. Includes a map and backmatter on dandelions.

Why do I like this book? Through the use of such writer’s tools as assonance, alliteration, rhyme, and the repeated refrain (Down with a root. Up with a shoot), Julia Richardson adds musicality to her writing, making this book a pleasure to read aloud or cozy close and hear. Readers and listeners get the unexpected surprise of discovering page after page of places on Earth dandelion seeds can travel. Through colorful, textural illustrations, Kristen & Kevin Howdeshell bring to life such marvelous destinations as Australia, Africa, and Europe. Their artistic talents teamed with Julia’s lyrical text create a book both children and adults will adore.

Learn more about Julia Richardson HERE.

Learn more about Kristen & Kevin Howdeshell HERE.

  • If you are interested in supporting Julia Richardson in her efforts to save Hayden Creek or you want to follow along on the progress, you can learn more at this special Facebook group. Save Hayden Creek.

I invite you to visit me next week for The Monday Poems.

Leslie

The Monday Poems Embrace the Purification of Gold and Friendship.

Not that many years ago, I hung out with a group of friends in a restaurant. Someone brought up a topic that set off one of the worst, heated debates that threatened to tear us all apart. Two of my friends were on the verge of walking away and never looking back. Every group of friends seems to come with one neutral individual who refuses to take a side, remains quiet, and listens. James was that friend. He interrupted the tense moment to ask us a question.

“Does anyone know how gold is purified?”

The question had nothing to do with what we were arguing over. James had, no doubt, learned this random piece of information, found it fascinating, never knew what to do with it once he had it, but needed to unload it.

We were the chosen ones.

“Gold,” he began, “is filled with impurities. To make it pure, it must enter into a complex process.” His visible passion for this topic held our interest.

What followed sounded like an essay he might have written in college. He listed places around the world where gold is mined, what it looks like in its raw state, and, most importantly, how a refinery removes impurities to transform the raw gold into pure and beautiful metal. What none of us realized was that his topic fit our situation as flawlessly as that purified gold.

Here’s a brief explanation of the purification process he shared with us.

  1. Gold is melted in a furnace.
  2. Chlorine is bubbled through the liquid.
  3. The chlorine attaches to impurities in the gold.
  4. The impurities move toward the top.
  5. Next, they are skimmed off,
  6. Leaving the gold more pure.

“Cool,” someone said, “but what does that have to do with our debate.”

“EVERYTHING,” James replied.

“The purification of gold isn’t different from the journey of a friendship,” he said. “In the beginning, while we’re getting to know each other, we come up against complications that heat us like the first step taken to purify the gold.

We bring our issues into the open, much like the impurities rising to the surface of heated gold. Here, problems must be dealt with. Once we have resolved those problems, we can skim them out, making our friendship more pure and beautiful and more valuable. Work through this moment,” he said. “because friendship is always worth it.” James walked out and left us to finish our debate.

That evening four friends grew closer to each other because of their renewed understanding.

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

THE ALCHEMY OF FRIENDSHIP

So it begins
with questions and interests,
common ground,
and new ground.
Smooth and perfect,
the path before the friends
meanders around bends,
runs straight, and then
takes a turn.
Without warning,
an object lies in the path
between them,
daring to be touched,
easier to avoid.
One by one,
complications ignite,
and the fire consumes the impurities–
burns them to ashes
they sweep away.
What remains is a friendship that
holds stronger,
and shines
bright and true.

by

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Inclusion Meets Perfect Picture Book Friday

I waited on the bleachers, wedged between a competitive jock, an energetic cheerleader, and other eager students to play volleyball. The gym teacher called up two students to be team leaders.

“Take turns,” he said, “calling out the names of the classmates you want on your team.” Without saying these exact words, the basic translation goes something like this… Choose the most popular kids first, and work your way down through the least desirable ones. By the way, this statement isn’t open for debate; it’s a sad fact.

I watched as classmate after classmate dashed down bleachers to stand with their team leader. Soon, I had ample space around me. Space enough to stretch my legs and arms, flail them if I was in the mood, and not touch anyone because I was the only student left, and both teams had a matched number of players. Go ahead and dab at your eyes with the nearest tissue or your sleeve. I’ll wait.

At this point, everyone turned toward the bleachers. Their eyes bored into me as if I were a strange ingredient that would destroy their perfect recipe. Does anyone out there know what it’s like to hear, “We don’t want Leslie on our team!” or “Well, neither do we!” Anyone???

[Okay, straight off, I duck when a ball flies at my head. It’s instinctive. I don’t fight the impulse or make apologies for it. I know I do this, and everyone in my class knew this about me, too.]

The gym teacher, confident I wasn’t the make-it-or-break-it player to help either team win or lose, assigned me to one of the teams. I walked past the cheering group and over to the bunch that couldn’t contain their groans.

As you might have guessed, I ducked when the ball flew at me or sidestepped it every chance I got. In the last minute of the game, when both teams were tied, the opposing team went in for the kill. One of the big guys hefted the ball straight for my head, accompanied by a derogatory remark. I got mad, raised my hands together in a hard fist, and BAM! I scored the point that changed how everyone looked at me.

A bunch of my teammates started swearing in that good way that meant they couldn’t believe what just happened. The teacher shook his head in disbelief. “I didn’t think you had it in you,” he said, writing an A after my name in his grade book.

The takeaway from this story is that the small and meek can make a difference when given a chance (or when angered), which leads me to my second autumn-perfect picture book review of The Littlest Pumpkin.

Title – The Littlest Pumpkin

Written by  –  R.A. Herman

Illustrated by  – Betina Ogden

Published  – Scholastic – 2001

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8.

Topics – Dreams and inclusion

Opening – It was Halloween, and there were 18 pumpkins left at Bartlett’s Farm Stand. The pumpkins looked their very best, because they all wanted to be taken home and made into jolly jack-o’-lanterns.

The Littlest Pumpkin had the biggest dreams of all. She saw herself shining in the dark, with ghosts, monsters, witches, and fairies gathered around her singing a Halloween song. And today was the day when all her dreams were going to come true.

Amazon Review HERE – When Bartlett’s Farm Stand closes for the season, the Littlest Pumpkin, who longs to make someone happy for Halloween, is devastated to be the only pumpkin left, but when a group of mice come along, they make the Littlest Pumpkin the happiest pumpkin in the world!

Why do I like this book? How could I read this book and not connect with the Littlest Pumpkin? Her dreams were just as big and valid as the dreams of the other 17 pumpkins gathered together at Bartlett’s Farm Stand. And despite her wish to be chosen by a child that Halloween, she was passed over again and again until… The heart-hugging ending which I won’t give away. This story offers hope, and proof that dreams can come true.

Learn more about R.A. Herman HERE.

Learn more about Betina Ogden HERE.

I invite you to visit me next week for The Monday Poems.

Leslie