Perfect Picture Book Friday Shares a Book (within a book)Written by a Mysterious Author.

Saturday was the day my dad drove into town to run errands. Saturday was also the day my sister and I climbed into the car to join him. Just the three of us. First, we’d head over to Lang’s News Depot, in the town square, to buy a newspaper. A group of regulars always sat along the counter, drinking coffee and chatting with the owner. From there, Dad took us to the bakery where I faithfully pointed to the bismarcks and savored every blessed mouthful of the sweet doughnut and divine raspberry filling. Next, we’d head to the hardware store where Dad reminded me of a little boy in a candy store. All of those marvelous nuts and bolts and screws and gizmos!

The second to the last stop was always the library. I still remember the feeling of awe, looking out at the vast sea of books and the sound of my wooden chair, squealing across the tiles when I pulled it out to spend time with a book. I can also hear the infrequent “Shhhhhhh.” from the librarian when people spoke above a hush. I chose my books for the week and carried them back out to the car. I’d already read the first pages and couldn’t wait to see if Charlie would find the last golden ticket or if Meg and her little brother, Charles Wallace, would ever locate their father, but we still had one more stop to make before we headed for home…

If you love reading, you already have something in common with the characters in the book I’m sharing with you today.

Title – Library Mouse – A Friend’s Tale

Written and illustrated by  – Daniel Kirk

Published  – Scholastic – 2009

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8.

Topics – Reading, writing, and friendship

Opening – Sam was a library mouse. He lived in a little hole in the wall behind the children’s reference books. Sam loved to read, and he loved to write, too. Everyone loved his little books. But Sam was very shy, and no one at the library had ever met him.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. Celebrated writer and illustrator Daniel Kirk brings to life the joys of reading, writing, and sharing in this all-new Library Mouse adventure. Sam the library mouse loves to write, and the children love his little books, which he leaves on the library shelves for them to find. But no one at the library has ever met him. When Tom can’t find a partner for a book-making assignment and finds Sam’s secret hole behind the children’s reference section, will the pair be able to work together, or will Sam’s secret identity be spoiled forever? A heartwarming tale about collaboration and creative ambitions, this book will enchant any young aspiring author or illustrator.

Why do I like this book? I grew up with books, and I don’t mean a pile on the coffee table and one in the bathroom. My father built bookcases to hold many books with deep shelves that concealed extra rows of books. Yes, I would pull a book off of the shelf and find another behind it, and another behind that one. The book, Library Mouse, shares a similar love for books by the school librarian, a mysterious author named Sam, and a little boy named Tom. When small, handmade books appear in the library, Tom decides to discover the true identity of the mysterious author. What he finds is (spoiler alert, I’m about to reveal the author.) a mouse. Yes! A mouse who writes books. I think that’s pretty amazing! In time, Tom’s discovery of Sam grows into a rare and precious friendship that truly touched this book reviewer’s heart.

Learn more about Daniel Kirk HERE.

And what was the last stop my dad made on Saturday? 

Every Saturday, my dad visited a florist on the way home. He always took his time to look at every bouquet, always choosing the most beautiful one to bring home to my mom. He never missed a Saturday in over thirty years.

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

Leslie

P.S. If you have a fond memory of the library or a favorite book you read as a child, I hope you’ll share it with me in the comments.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at Something Else.

See that girl, sitting alone on the bleachers, waiting to get picked for a team in gym class?

Nobody calls her name because she’s the girl that doesn’t play to win. She plays for the joy of being with others. To her, winning means someone has to lose, and she doesn’t want to be the cause of anyone’s sad feelings. 

See that girl in the lunchroom, eating a sandwich while pretending to read a book?

Nobody sits with her because she never brings ‘normal’ food to school–nothing anyone would want in trade for something they brought.  

See that girl at the back of the classroom, the one that doesn’t wear anything cool?

Nobody wants to get to know her because they think they know everything based on her appearance. 

Then, one day…

Someone calls her name and asks her to be a part of their group.

One day, someone sits beside her in the lunchroom and offers to trade snacks.

One day, someone asks questions to find out what she likes to do in her free time, what places she dreams of seeing, what thoughts fill her head at night when she can’t sleep, what she hopes for, what she cares about, and what she loves almost as much as air. 

This brings me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review of Something Else.  

Title – Something Else

Written by  – Kathryn Cave

Illustrated by  – Chris Riddell

Published  – MONDO Publishing -1994

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8.

Topics – Being different, acceptance, compassion, and friendship.

Opening – On a windy hill alone
with nothing to be friends with lived Something Else. 
He knew that was what he was because everyone said so.
If he tried to sit with them or walk with them or join in their games, they always said, “Sorry. You’re not like us. You’re something else. You don’t belong.”

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. A little creature is ostracized despite his attempts to fit in, but his experiences enable him to be accepting of others’ differences.

Why do I like this book? The first impression we form about a book usually comes when we glance at the front cover. We read the title and see if our curiosity is piqued. We look at the illustration and decide if we connect with the art enough to want to see more.

I came across the book, Something Else, and wondered what the something else was. Then, I looked at those sweet eyes of the main character, who’s been named by everyone as Something Else. Although his eyes take up very little cover space, they gripped my heart and made me want to offer up hugs.

Because Something Else looks and acts differently, he is rejected by all. Despite the sad treatment he receives, he continues to make an effort to have friends by sharing his paintings, joining in on games, or sitting with others for a meal. But he is told, “You’re not like us. You’re something else.” So, he goes home. (Please say your heart is breaking for him.)

One day, a creature, much like Something Else, shows up at his front door and offers understanding and friendship. But does Something Else accept this gift? You’ll have to read the book to find out. The ending is filled with surprises sure to soften the hardest of hearts.

Words of wisdom on writing from Kathryn Cave HERE.

Illustrator for JK Rowling and other writers–meet Chris Riddell HERE.

See you back here on Monday when I share a special poem.

Leslie

We’re Roughing it this Perfect Picture Book Friday!

I love taking walks out in nature, breathing in fresh air, listening to the musical symphony of the birds and insects, hugging a tree or two, spreading out a blanket to enjoy a picnic beside in a serene setting. I’m there! But pitch a tent, hand me a sleeping bag, and tell me that these are my accommodations for the night, and you’ll see me run like I’ve got a crocodile snapping at my heels. According to the dictionary, accommodations means something that meets a need; a convenience.  Let’s take a look at Leslie’s List of Basic Needs.

  • A comfortable bed at least one foot above the ground (higher is, of course, appreciated).
  • One deep pillow and a soft, quiet blanket.
  • Real walls that don’t flap.
  • A window with a screen to keep out bugs.
  • A door that locks with a latch or key and NOT with a zipper.
  • A sink with clean, drinkable, running water.
  • A genuine toilet – NOT an outhouse or a bucket.
  • An outlet (This is a big one) to plug in my hairdryer.

I could go on, but to any hardcore campers out there, I probably sound like a princess.
No apologies. This is who I am.

Yes, I have been camping. Twice officially, and one time that probably doesn’t count. More on that later.

Camping fiasco #1 My sleeping bag fell in a stream and bloated up with smelly water. With nothing to sleep on, I sat up all night. The evening brought a thunderstorm. Rain pelted. The tent sprung a leak JUST over my sleeping bag but not over the sleeping bags of my two tentmates.

Camping fiasco #2  I slept in the family car with my dad and sister. Due to my father’s long legs, we kept the back hatch down so he could stretch out, and the mosquitos could fly in with easy access to the all-night ‘Leslie Buffet.’ In the morning, I sported what looked like the plague. People kept their distance.

Camping fiasco #3 (The third unofficial camping trip.) I slept in a cabin–a seriously rustic cabin–that provided a sink barely big enough to wash one hand in at a time, a filthy mirror, cracked cement floors, and a sagging mattress (more of a hammock, really). Forget what I said earlier, I’m totally counting this one as a camping experience.

All of these fond memories bring me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review of a camping story that takes place, not in a tent or cabin, but in a camper trailer. Hang on to your seats, you’re in for a rollicking adventure with Mr. Magee and his little dog, Dee!

Title – A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee

Written and illustrated by  – Chris Van Dusen

Published  – Chronicle Books – 2003

Suitable for ages – 4 to 8. Scratch that. This book is suitable for all ages.

Topics – Camping, stories in rhyme, bears, sticky situations.

Opening – Early one morning at 7:03,

Mr. Magee and his little dog, Dee,

packed up the camper and hitched up the load,

hopped in the Rambler and then hit the road.

They drove to the mountains, far from the sea,

for two nights of camping (or possibly three).

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. Mr. Magee and his trusty dog, Dee, are enjoying a peaceful camping trip when along comes a lumbering, marshmallow-loving bear and the excitement begins. The next thing the two campers know, they are plunging down a mountain, racing down a river, and teetering on the edge of a waterfall! How will Mr. Magee and Dee find their way out of this slippery situation?

Why do I like this book? Without a doubt, if anyone can make a camping story, even one wrought with hair-raising, edge-of-your-seat action, sound like a must-do outing, it’s Chris Van Dusen. You’ll come across situations in this story you’ll swear no one could escape from or survive. But, with his brilliant imagination and true-blue gift for storytelling as well as his detail-rich, color-filled, high-energy illustrations, Mr. Van Dusen gets Mr. Magee and his little dog out of some pretty crazy scrapes. It’s what I call magical!

Want to learn a little more about Chris Van Dusen? Click HERE.

ACTIVITY TIME  – How to have some camping fun indoors.

  • Clear some space in your living room to pitch a tent.
  • No tent? No problem! String up some strands of twinkle lights, spread out your blankets or sleeping bags, and pretend you’re lying under the glow of a million shimmering stars. Of course, you could make a cozy blanket tent with chairs, too.
  • Pull on your PJs.
  • Grab a flashlight, dim the room lights, and tell ghost stories (or jokes).
  • Broil or boil up hot dogs.
  • And for the vegetarians… make veggie burgers!
  • Make S’mores for dessert.
  • Campfire? Gotta have one. Pile up a few small logs or empty paper towel rolls, and use red and yellow tissue paper for the flames. Add a glow from below with battery-operated tea lights.

The perks? Oh, yes! Indoor camping’s got ’em!

Walls that don’t flap, doors that lock, outlets, no bugs, and indoor plumbing.

Need more ideas?

  • Everything you need to have an indoor camping party HERE.
  • 20 imaginative camp-perfect crafts for kids HERE.

I hope you’ll stop back on Monday to read my poem about… Camping!

See you then!

Leslie