The Monday Poems Rip Away the Wrapping Paper.

Monday PoemsLast Friday I shared the heart-squishing picture book Something Else about a little animal that is ostracized despite his attempts to fit in. Everyone judges him before getting to know him, and none are willing to give him a chance. For any of you who can relate to this, even in a small way, I am truly sorry this happened to you.

The poem I wrote for today is told through the symbolic use of wrapped presents as compared to the appearance of the people we are and see every day.

Does a beautifully wrapped present always suggest the gift inside is as lovely as the fancy paper and ribbons?

Like the present above, do all especially attractive people have personalities that equal their outer beauty?

The same can be said for the present wrapped in an upcycled, paper bag with twine or the person with the plain appearance. The gift that lies within may delight you.

Bottom line – Someone’s outer appearance cannot be used as an accurate gauge for the kind of people they are on the inside.

brown paper present


I was fooled by the pretty paper,

misled by strings of gold—

Beneath the beauty lay a gift

that truly left me cold.

But in the package, plainly wrapped

with tissue, tape, and twine,

I found a precious treasure

that I truly found divine.


Leslie Leibhardt Goodman


See you here next Friday.


A Word Without Vowels that means a great deal – Today for Perfect Picture Book Friday.

For those of you who know me, this post won’t come as a surprise. You’ll probably say, “Yup! This is truly ‘Leslie’ because…

…the theme for today’s Perfect Picture Book review is about hugs.

I don’t remember the exact moment I realized the right kind of hug could fill an emotional need in me. Yes, there is a right kind and a substandard variety. More on that shortly.

Whether my day flew by perfectly or came with snags, my parents had at hug to give me, and they let me sink into it as long as I liked. Their hugs made me feel like everything in the world was right and that they would always be there for me. They called me their little hugabug.

I never cared if my dad’s clothes were covered in machine oil or sawdust. It didn’t bother me if my mom came inside from berry picking, sweaty from spending long hours in her garden. I didn’t mind if the cat padded inside after discovering every muddy puddle between the woods and our front door. “Get in these arms!”

I discovered the substandard variety the first time my parents invited friends over for coffee and cake. I received a quick embrace, a pat on my back, and an emptiness I didn’t care for. “Wait. What? Is that all I get?” It was then that I discovered a shocking truth… Some hugs aren’t magical! Don’t get me started on the A-frame variety.

A friend of mine recently introduced me to the Welsh word for a hug. Frankly, the word means quite a lot more. It actually defines the hugs I love to give and find rare to receive. And no, there are no vowels in this baby.

Cwtch (pronounced ‘kutch’, the word rhymes with ‘butch’) And, as it turns out, you can find loads of items for sale online, sporting this fabulous word!

Keep Calm and Cwtch Mug Welsh Hug or Cuddle Wales Gift Ceramic Coffee Tea Cup and  Fun Welsh Saying T-Shirt - Fancy A Cwtch - Unisex and   VinMea Wooden Hanging Sign - Cwtch (N) Hug Or Snuggle; But More Than That. Home Decor Accessory Gift Plaque Wooden Sign

So, for today’s Perfect Picture Book Review, I’m sharing the book, The Giant Hug.

Title –  The Giant Hug

Author – Sandra Horning

Illustrator – Valeri Gorbachev

Published by – Dragonfly Books – 2008

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics – sharing, hugs, kindness, love.

Opening –
“What do you want to send Granny for her birthday?” Owen’s mother asked.

“A giant hug,” Owen replied. He opened his arms as wide as he possibly could to show how giant the hug would be.

“Do you want to draw a picture of your hugging Granny?” his mother asked.

“No,” Owen said. “I want to send a real hug.”

Amazon Review HEREHow do you give your granny a hug when she lives far away? Send it through the mail, of course! This sweet story makes a perfect gift for Mother’s Day for the granny in your life, whether she lives close or far!

Owen’s hug travels across the country in a series of hilarious, sometimes awkward, always heartfelt embraces between animals of different shapes and sizes. Valeri Gorbachev’s adorable artwork pairs beautifully with Sandra Horning’s charming text, and makes for a fun, funny, and educational read-aloud. An unexpected twist at the end will delight readers and have kids asking for this book again and again.

Why I like this book— Like Owen in this book, I have friends that live too far away to hug. Owen’s solution to his problem of how to get a ‘real’ hug to his grandmother is beyond ingenious. Kids reading this story will anticipate what happens at each page turn and get a funny surprise when Owen’s hug finally reaches its destination.

Learn more about Sandra Horning HERE.

Learn more about Valeri Gorbachev HERE.

I hope to see you here on Monday when I share my cwtch-inspired poem.

I’ll also be sharing my father’s instructions to me for a good hug.

Before I sign off, I hope you’ll watch this video that is dear to my heart.

until Monday.

What Makes a House? Find out this Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Childhood memories can seem the most distant and unreachable, like the Milkyway. But I have come to learn that with the right memory trigger, like a smell, taste, or sound, a long forgotten memory has a way of filling the mind with clarity. In my case, a childhood memory returned when I opened Deborah Freedman’s picture book, This house, once.

As the different parts came together to make a house in this book, the memory returned when my parents bought a wooded piece of land in the country. I recalled the countless weekends my family drove out to see the building progress. Trucks of different sizes dug a deep, deep hole for the foundation, stacked up stones for sturdy walls, added windows, and doors. I remember playing with my sister around the building site after the trucks drove away. We dug through the sand and earth with our bare hands, searching for dinosaur bones and other treasures, but instead found stones, insects, and frogs. Week after week, we anxiously awaited the day or parents would announce moving day. And then that happy day came. Decades have passed. Another family lives in my childhood home. But the memories are mine to hold.

Title – This house, once

Written and Illustrated by – Deborah Freedman

Published by- Atheneum Books for Young Readers – 2017

Topics – building a house, creating something, nature

Opening – This door was once a colossal oak tree about three hugs around and as high as the blue.

(Is anyone else smiling about the oak tree being about three hugs around?)

Synopsis from Amazon – Deborah Freedman’s masterful new picture book is at once an introduction to the pieces of a house, a cozy story to share and explore, and a dreamy meditation on the magic of our homes and our world.

This poetically simple, thought-provoking, and gorgeously illustrated book invites readers to think about where things come from and what nature provides.

Why do I like this book? I honestly can’t tell you which is more stunning, the text or the illustrations. Deborah Freedman is equally gifted in both the writer’s world and the illustrator’s. I was most taken in by her thoughtfulness in describing each “ingredient” needed to build a house from the door to the stones which were once tucked beneath a blanket of leaves. Each page offers another reason to love this book.

Learn more about Deborah Freedman and her books HERE.


If you have a fond, funny, or otherwise memorable memory about creating or building something from scratch, I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Until next Friday!

Over 100 Ways To Awaken Your Childhood Memories – Wednesday Prompts and Inspirations



Tapping into childhood memories is an exercise, activity, and skill many writers turn to when generating a fresh story idea. However, after leaving childhood in the dust, the process of digging through the debris for a story-worthy gem is daunting.

How can we wake up our memories?

Sometimes a smell, a place, an event, holiday, or word can bring back a memory. Let’s try it and see what happens. For each word on the list that awakens a memory, write a sentence or two. Include such things as your age at the time of the memory, where you were, who you were with, what you recall seeing, and what you recall feeling emotionally.

Scents: Lavender, cinnamon, lemons or other citrus, pine, wet dog, fresh-cut wood, mowed lawn, chocolate, perfume, new car smell, peppermint, crayons, machine shop, roses, smoke, mildew, incense, popcorn, rain, people have smells, too – Is there someone from your childhood that comes to mind from a particular scent?

Places: Farm, city, train station, airport, grocery store, hardware store, camp, department store, shoe store, movie theater, relative’s house, friend’s house or backyard, garage sale, car ride, farthest place you traveled on vacation.

Holidays and events: Best Christmas because of: present you received, relative that visited, Santa encounter, new outfit, etc…), worst holiday gift you ever received, Valentine that surprised you, the first birthday party you can remember (What made it memorable? Who attended? Where was the party? What gifts did you receive?), sporting event you attended (Who took you? Did your favorite team win? Was the experience better than you expected?), recital, school play, county fair, contest, Halloween, school field trip…

Random words:  Can you think of a memory involving any of these? An alarm clock, dresser, back door, basement, attic, doughnuts, bacon, party, new outfit, new shoes, hand-me-downs, present, pet, insects, gardening, hamburger, rainbow, storm, wish, restaurant, stranger, zoo, peaches, carnival, circus, farm animals, lamp, museum, backpack, picnic, hiccups, sneeze, playground, stuffed animal, broken toy, broken bone, rain, stray animal, dentist, snow, first pet, photograph.

How about jogging your memory with some questions? Remember to make note of the place the memory occurred, who you were with, your emotions at the time, and any other details that crawl back. 

What is your earliest memory of trying a new activity like a game in gym class, a music lesson, flying a kite, swinging…

Who is the first friend you ever had? How did you two meet? Why did you like being friends?

Who was your favorite teacher? Why does this teacher stand out in your memory? What made this teacher the best?

Who sent you your very first letter? Do you remember how you felt receiving mail? Did you write back by yourself or with the help of a parent?

Did you have a pen pal? How did you get this pen pal? Where did he/she live? What kinds of things did you write to each other about?

What is your earliest happy memory? Feel free to list as many happy memories as you can. Were they happy memories because they made you feel good about your accomplishment(s), made you feel grownup, or made you feel listened to? Is the memory happy because you went someplace you always dreamed of? Or is it a happy memory because you received a great surprise or present you always wanted?

What is your earliest sad memory? Feel free to list other sad memories. Was the memory sad because the incident made you feel ashamed of yourself, sad because you lost something or someone, sad because you didn’t do well in school at an event or on a test, sad because a friend didn’t want to be your friend anymore?

Were you ever jealous of another child at school? What made you jealous?

What did you cherish as a child? (a person, a place, your privacy, time spent with a parent, walks, trips to favorite places, a doll or toy…)

What is your strongest childhood memory? What brings this memory back to you?

Did you ever leave something behind on a trip that caused you emotional stress? (a toy, book, a piece of clothing, etc…)

Did anyone ever surprise you with a great kindness?

What did you like to collect?

What was your favorite meal that your mom or relative made?

Describe your childhood bedroom. Did you have a desk? What did you keep in it? What could you see from your window? What toys did you keep on your bed? What books were your favorites and why?

Could you draw a floor plan of the house you grew up in? List as many things as you can remember being in each room. List as many activities or memories you have from each room. Which room(s) were your least favorites? Which rooms were your favorites?

I hope the words and questions unlock good memories for you. And if you are a writer, I hope those memories make their way into your stories.

Happy writing!