Perfect Picture Book Friday heads out to sea with The Storm Whale by Benji Davies.

When it comes to helping injured animals, my heart holds a soft spot that can’t be measured. This condition showed itself when I was quite young. As you know from previous blog posts, this is an inherited condition (precious gift) I received from my mother. I’m fairly certain that if my father wouldn’t have objected so strenuously, Mom would have opened the front door to welcome in all the furry critters inhabiting the woods surrounding our home. Thinking back, I would have gladly set out extra plates on our table for them all.

Years later, my heart hasn’t changed.  I’m the bird whisperer who cradles dazed birds in tissue-lined shoe boxes after they have hit the windows, calming them with soothing words. I’m the “strange lady” who has been seen purchasing baby mice from the pet shop where the defenseless darlings are sold as food for snakes. And I am the rescue girl who has climbed down window wells in spring to save tree frogs that can’t make it up and out. Having shared this, I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise that animal rescue stories, nonfiction or fiction like the one I am sharing today, are dear to me.

Image result for images of the storm whale


Title – The Storm Whale

Written and illustrated by – Benji Davies

Published by – Henry Holt and Company – 2013

Topics – Animal rescue, compassion, understanding

Opening – Noi lived with his dad and six cats by the sea. 

Every day, Noi’s dad left early for a long day’s work on his fishing boat. He wouldn’t be home again till dark.

One night, a great storm raged around their house. In the morning, Noi went down to the beach to see what had been left behind. As he walked along the shore, he spotted something in the distance.


Illustration from The Storm Whale

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Noi and his father live in a house by the sea, his father works hard as a fisherman and Noi often has only their six cats for company. So when, one day, he finds a baby whale washed up on the beach after a storm, Noi is excited and takes it home to care for it. He tries to keep his new friend a secret, but there’s only so long you can keep a whale in the bath without your dad finding out. Noi is eventually persuaded that the whale has to go back to the sea where it belongs. For Noi, even though he can’t keep it, the arrival of the whale changes his life for the better

 Why do I like this book? If you want a clear picture of Noi, the little boy in this story whose heart is as immense as the whale he sets out to rescue, take an ocean of kindness and stir in an endless river of thoughtfulness.
With his father out fishing at sea until supper time, Noi does his absolute best to make the baby whale feel at home. Aside from keeping the whale happy in his bathtub, Noi plays Handel’s water music for the ultimate in listening enjoyment, gives him a reassuring touch on his back, and talks to him. (And this is all in the incredible illustrations.) I won’t spoil the ending–the part that reveals what Noi’s father does when he discovers the whale. I will, however, say that Noi’s dad does not react as my father would have. Between the story and the illustrations, my heart experienced the squeeze of a perfect hug. I hope you’ll read this loving book by Benji Davies.
To learn more about Benji Davies, the author and illustrator of The Storm Whale, click HERE.
Would you like to hear the music Noi played for the baby whale? Here is a recording of Handel’s Water Music. Listen
To hear the song of whales like the one Noi rescued, listen HERE.
Art projects
How to make an origami (paper folding) whale. Here.
How to upcycle an egg carton to make a super cute whale. Here.
Until next Friday!

Perfect Picture Book Friday Shares “School People” by Poet and Anthologist, Lee Bennett Hopkins.

I’m sorry I didn’t review a picture book last Friday, but after a visit to the podiatrist that day, I learned I have a stress fracture. Apparently, it’s the sort of thing that can happen without dropping a safe or dining room table on your foot. I had no idea walking (a lot) could bring this about.

Being on crutches again after many years, brought me back to my elementary school days when I needed these infernal sticks after knee surgery. Not including the sore arm muscles, inconvenience, and frustration of getting from class to class and up and down the school bus steps SAFELY, I thought back to my other school memories during that time–the pleasant ones. I thought about the teachers who encouraged me and allowed me extra time to get to class, the bus driver who lend a helping hand on and off of the bus, and the librarian who suggested a joke book to keep me smiling.

For today’s picture book Friday review, I’d like to share a collection (anthology) of school themed poetry written by a collection of gifted poets. And the man who contributed to and selected the poems for this book is none other than Lee Bennett Hopkins. Mr. Hopkins is an award-winning poet whose countless accomplishments and list of people whose lives he has touched, including my own, would fill volumes. I can’t say enough about this talented man whom I had the honor of meeting through Skype last fall at a Highlights poetry workshop.

And now it’s time to wander back in time to our elementary school days through the poems in the picture book, School People.

Title – School People

Poetry selected by – Lee Bennett Hopkins

Illustrated by – Ellen Shi

Published by – WordSong – 2018

Topics – Poetry, School people, the way we see others.

Opening – School’s Story – A poem by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, one of my instructors at the Highlights poetry workshop I mentioned above.

(I’m only including part of this ingeniously thought out poem with hopes you will check out this book to enjoy the rest…)

I am waiting–come on in!

Welcome to this house of brick.

Enter whispers, whistles, signs,

footsteps, fossils, notebook lines.

Rooms hold calendars, chairs, and nooks,

murals, maps, library books.

Feet scamper, shuffle, dash, drum.

Listen to my hallway hum!

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Welcome to school, a building of brick “full of soul and heart,” eager for students and staff to fill its halls with sounds. This anthology of fifteen poems celebrates the grown-up people that children encounter throughout the course of their school day: the school bus driver with her morning smile, the teacher who inspires imagination, the rarely seen, yet caring custodian, and the nurse who heals hurts, big and small. There’s even a poem about the school building. Award-winning poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins has compiled this marvelous collection featuring a variety of brand-new works by well-known poets and beautifully imaginative artwork by illustrator Ellen Shi.

 Why do I like this book? The poems I love best evoke emotions, tickle my memories, stop me, get me thinking, let me hear, see, taste, smell, and touch something, startle me with surprisingly perfect comparisons, end with a twist, bring a smile, cause a tear, and stay with me long after I have turned the page. Through Lee Bennett Hopkin’s collection, I experienced all of this as memories came crawling, running, and tumbling out of the cobwebby corners of my mind. I hope you will run (not walk) to the nearest library or bookshop to immerse yourself in the poems that fill this book.
Click on the links below to learn more about the poets whose poems are included in the book, School People.
I hope you’ll share an elementary school memory in the comments below about a special teacher, a time you shared with your best friend, an unforgettable school project, something about your homeroom pet, or other fond memory from those days.
Until next Friday!

What’s With The Hole In My Doughnut? Find out here for Perfect Picture Book Friday.

When I saw this picture book, The Hole Story of the Doughnut, I zipped back in time to the days when I wore a dress with knee socks and my hair in braids. I could almost feel my father’s hand, holding mine as we strolled through the cobblestone streets of our little town on Saturday morning to visit the bakery. My mouth watered as I looked at all the frosted pastries, chocolate chip-studded cookies, gooey brownies, and cakes, tempting me from behind the shiny glass case. Dad and I walked from one end of the pastry case WAY down to the other end, carefully looking at each sweet treat. The long line of moms, dads, and kids disappeared and it was our turn.

“What can I get for you?” the lady behind the counter asked.

Dad looked at me. I looked up at him. We smiled and ordered the same thing we each chose every Saturday over the years.

“I’ll have an applesauce doughnut,” Dad said.

“And I’d like a jelly bismark,” I said.

It’s not that we lacked imagination or the desire to work our way through the case, treat by treat, week by week, trying to see how long it would take us to sample every delectable dessert, it’s that we knew exactly which doughnut gave us the biggest smile and the most satisfaction to eat. At least when Dad wiped the sugar off of my cheeks, he didn’t lick the napkin first like my mom did. (I know…I know… Yuck!)

I don’t think we ever wondered why the baker cut a hole in the middle of Dad’s applesauce doughnut. I’m pretty sure we figured the hole made it easier to hold onto and offered a funny place to peer through and make faces. But enough strolling down memory lane. It’s time to take a look at The Hole Story of the Doughnut.

Title – The Hole Story of the Doughnut

Written by – Pat Miller

Illustrated by – Vincent X. Kirsch

Published by – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

Topics – Determination, invention of the doughnut

Opening – Few remember the master mariner Hanson Crockett Gregory, though he was bold and brave and bright. But the pastry he invented more than 166 years ago is eaten daily by doughnut lovers everywhere. This is his story.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE.  In 1843, thirteen-year-old Hanson Gregory left his family home in Rockport, Maine, and set sail as a cabin boy on the schooner Achorn, looking for high-stakes adventure on the high seas. Little did he know that a boatload of hungry sailors, coupled with his knack for creative problem-solving, would yield one of the world’s most prized and beloved pastries.

      Lively and inventive cut-paper illustrations add a taste of whimsy to this sweet, fact-filled story that includes an extensive bibliography, author’s note, and timeline.

Why do I like this book? Besides finding the story fascinating, I loved Pat Miller’s lively way of telling this tale. She has a gift for getting those pages flying! And sure, non-fiction books can be dry, but this story about the invention of the doughnut is as moist as the finest doughnut you’ve ever sunk your teeth into! I promise. And while you’re devouring this book, you’ll be glad to know it is 100% calorie free. Another reason to check out this gem.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Reviews Princess and the Peas. Yes, peas – plural.

Cooking was an important part of my childhood. My mother, with her German background, filled our home with the many recipes her mother taught her. Pot lids rattled under the steam, sweet smells escaped from the oven, spatulas with cookie dough were offered with a smile. The kitchen was the heart of my home. For the first number of years, I kneeled on a chair to see over the counter to watch as my mother taught me the fine art of cooking. She disclosed secret ingredients that “made all the difference” and demonstrated cooking techniques. Later, when I was ten, my mother allowed me to partake in the cooking process–simple tasks of whisking egg whites until they formed snowy peaks, carefully measuring ingredients, and stirring, stirring, stirring. To this day, I still love preparing meals, experimenting with exotic spices and recipes, and tinkering to create a new, totally amazing meal. And the kitchen is still the heart of my home.

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday shows that cooking an important meal is by far more important than bruising from sleeping on a well-cushioned pea.

Without further adieu…

Princess and the Peas. Yes, you read that right. Peas (plural).

Title – Princess and the Peas

Written by – Rachel Himes

Illustrated by – Rachel Himes

Published by – Charlesbridge – 2017

Topics – Fairytale twist, mother and son, cooking.

Opening – Ma Sally was the best cook in CharlestonCounty, South Carolina. Everybody knew it, especially Ma Sally. When she fixed supper, the tables groaned under crocks of collard greens, piles of sweet potatoes, and heaps of hot rolls. But Ma Sally was most famous for her black-eyed peas. When she brought them to the Sunday evening potluck at First Baptist, folks lined up ist to get a taste.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. In this adaptation of The Princess and the Pea, Ma Sally cooks the best black-eyed peas in Charleston County, South Carolina. Her son, John, is a highly eligible bachelor, and three local women vie for his hand in marriage by attempting to cook as well as Ma. At the last minute, a surprise contestant named Princess arrives at the door. Princess and John are well-matched, but Princess has her own ideas. When told she has won John’s hand, she asks him to scrub the pots and pans before she’ll give him an answer. Her answer, it turns out, is that she wants to spend some time getting to know John first.

Why do I like this book? The author’s story behind this version of Princess and the Pea answers this question perfectly. Ms. Himes wondered why, in the original telling of this story, was it so important that the princess be sensitive enough to feel a pea through all those mattresses? Focusing on things that are truly important, she has created a story which places the emphasis on love and family. This story shows us that being a capable woman who can cook a fine meal is far more important than being overly delicate. And what man would prefer a wife who bruises over the slightest discomfort to a wife who can cook up the finest meal in town? As an added bonus, the recipe for the scrumptious pot of black-eyed peas is included in the book!

If you have a family favorite meal that was passed down to you, feel free to share it in the comments.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at Life Changes in the Book – Pecan Pie Baby.

As writers, we change the first sentence of every story we write again and again. We ask ourselves questions like: Is it the best path into our story? Does it start in the action? Is this information needed to understand the story? Could I start later in the action? Am I using the strongest words? Should I add an interior line rhyme? Maybe I need to sprinkle in a fresh description? Does this sentence lead in with the right mood? We stress like nuts over this single string of words. Why?

Because this one sentence has a big job. It must let an agent or reader know they are in the hands of an experienced writer, hold them, and keep them turning pages.

My library decorates the tops of their shelves with recommended books or seasonal favorites in the children’s section. I often peek inside the covers and read first lines as I walk down the rows. Yesterday, one of those top-shelf books caught my attention. I didn’t open it because the title intrigued me–although the title begged the question, “What exactly is a Pecan Pie Baby?” And the illustration on the cover isn’t what caused me to pick up the book–although the adoring look between mother and daughter instantly won my heart. What caught my attention was the author’s name. I have read other books by this author and, admittingly, fell in love with her writing style many stories ago. Jacqueline Woodson is one of those brilliant writers who lets you settle in, knowing you’re in the hands of an experienced writer. And her opening sentence, which you’ll find below, is exactly the kind of opening sentence I talked about above.


Title – Pecan Pie Baby

Written by – Jacqueline Woodson

Illustrated by – Sophie Blackall

Published by – G.P. Putnam’s Sons – 2010

Topics – New baby, jealousy, sharing, and love.

Opening – Just as summer started leaving us and the leaving brought all those colors to the trees, Mama pulled out my winter clothes.


Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. All anyone wants to talk about with Mama is the new “ding-dang baby” that’s on the way, and Gia is getting sick of it! If her new sibling is already such a big deal, what’s going to happen to Gia’s nice, cozy life with Mama once the baby is born?

Why do I like this book? Change is never easy, and everyone faces changes in their life. Some changes are welcome, while others we resist. Jacqueline Woodson takes the reader through the emotional journey faced by Gia, a little girl, who holds tight to all of her precious mother-daughter memories and moments. But since her mother became pregnant, family and friends only want to talk about the baby, the baby, the “ding-dang” baby! To make matters worse, Gia’s uncles are building a crib for the baby which they are placing in Gia’s room!  Gia’s mother knows how to soothe away each concern and assures Gia that life with the new baby will be sweet as pecan pie.

If you have a child or know a child who is struggling with the changes life brings, this book might be the right choice to share.



Acrostic Poems Meet Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Last month I had the immense pleasure of attending a Highlights Foundation poetry workshop in the Poconos Mountains of Pennsylvania. I honestly thought the dream of taking one of their classes would remain a dream. After all, Pennsylvania isn’t exactly up the road from me. And let’s not forget that I’d be away for a full week, leaving my husband and daughter to fend for themselves.

I’m happy to report that the pets of our small zoo were alive when I returned home. However, the dog looked thinner from a lack of treats, the laundry hadn’t been taken care of, and confessions revealed that “snack night” replaced dinner a few times…

I drove up with a friend from my poetry critique group for a writing experience that changed the way I look at the world, poetry, and writing. Since the workshop, I have given myself much needed quiet time each day to rework past poems and begin new ones. And in addition to receiving valuable critiques and comments on my writing along with valuable insight, inspiration, and a fresh approach to writing, I left the class with the gift of new friendships.

For today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review, I’m sharing a book of acrostic poetry. Acrostic poems are created when a word or phrase is written vertically down the page. interesting facts and clues about the subject comprise each line of the poem.

Title – African Acrostics: A word in Edgeways

Written by – Avis Harley

Photographs by – Deborah Noyes

Published by – Candlewick Press – 2009

Topics – children’s poetry, safari, African animals

Opening – The book opens with a poem that defines the acrostic poem. 


Welcome, all poets — both new

Or well versed. Non-rhymers or

Rhymers! Come,

Drive in headfirst!


Inviting all writers —

Now you’re just the right age.


Explore the acrostic that rides

Down the page.

Get a word you

Enjoy and would like to define.

Write it down vertically

And fill in each line.

Your name is a very good way to begin.

Surprise yourself. Find that poem within! 

If you read down the spine the poem (including the title), you’ll find four words that appear in the book’s title. 

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Inside every acrostic is a secret message, often lurking in the first letter of each line (read top to bottom). But look out! These acrostics not only follow their subjects to Africa, but they also take the form to a whole new level. Here you’ll find the elusive double acrostic (in which the first and last letters of each line spell a message), the cross acrostic (in which the message is read diagonally), and the multiple acrostics (see it to believe it) — not to mention lions, zebras, crocodiles, hippos, leopards, and elephants. Oh, my! Illustrated with gorgeous full-color photographs, this collection is sure to send poetry buffs and animal lovers on an armchair safari they’ll never forget.
Back matter includes information about acrostics, nature notes, and a photographer’s note.

Why do I like this book? While at the Highlights Poetry Workshop, one of the writers specialized in acrostic poetry. I played with writing this form back in high school, but I never wrote in this style since. Then, while I was browsing the poetry shelves at my library yesterday, I pulled this book off the shelf and learned that other forms of acrostic poetry exist beyond the most common form (the subject reading down the left side of the poem). I discovered double acrostics in which a word is formed down both the left and right side as well as the cross acrostic in which the word appears diagonally. So much creativity in one magical book! Plus AMAZING photographs of the animals of Africa.

Just for fun – Try writing your own acrostic poem. You can start by writing your name down the left side of the page, a word that defines your personality, a favorite season and what it means to you, the name of your favorite animal or pet, a place you love to visit, or your favorite go-to snack. Then, brainstorm words or phrases that come to mind about your topic and fit them into this marvelous form of poetry. Remember, poems don’t need to rhyme.

Here are two of my acrostic poems with the title’s first letter being part of the word.


Only the sweetest words

Express the

Magic I feel in my




Envies the birds with their wings spread in flight,

Soaring as high as a sky-sweeping kite.

Lifting from branches.

Imagining chances.

Every day.

I hope you’ll take a moment in your day to write an acrostic poem. And if you feel brave enough, please share it in the comments.

Mother Goose Meets Your Favorite Vehicle This Perfect Picture Book Friday!

One of my critique groups focuses solely on writing children’s poetry. I’m one of four ladies that meet once a month to share and critique ten new poems we’ve each written. I’m not kidding when I tell you I find it challenging to write ten new (and hopefully clever) poems month after month. However, the challenge is met with an equal amount of fun. Some poems start out with a bang! A great idea turns into line after line of sheer childhood wonder. Other poems. . . Well, there’s no better word I can think of. Other poems I try to write stink. Delete, delete, delete.

Obviously, new poems require inspiration. Where do I find inspiration?

  • I drive to my library and hang out in the children’s play area, observing and listening.
  • I sit at the playground and watch the kids interact.
  • I also use photographs as springboards.

Anything and everything can become the subject of a poem.

Another way I find inspiration is from writing out topic lists. Here are some of my headings.

  • What do children love?
  • What do children learn at school?
  • What games do they like to play?
  • What do kids notice that adults don’t?
  • What do children want more than anything?
  • What do children wish they are big enough to do?
  • What do children believe?
  • What are they afraid of?
  • What foods do they love?
  • What foods would they rather never see on their plates?
  • What pets do children want for a birthday present?
  • What are their fantasies and dreams?
  • Write about a child’s visit to a new place.
  • What can happen on weekend with their grandparents?
  • Write about a new skill a child learns, like fishing with their dad.

Today, I want to share an amazing, innovating, highly creative book of poems written by Rebeca Colby. Her inspiration? Enlightening children about the uses of a variety of vehicles from a submarine to an airplane and everything in between.  And one more thing . . .  All her poems can be sung to favorite, classic nursery rhymes. Now that’s what I call a fun book to share with a child!

Title – Motor Goose

Written by – Rebecca Colby

Illustrated by – Jef Kaminsky

Published by – Feiwel and Friends – 2017

Topics – poems about vehicles, nursery rhymes

Opening –  


Little Jack Junker (Little Jack Horner)

Little Jack Junker,

broken-down clunker,

surprised all the cars

in the race.

‘Cause right from the start,

he lost part after part,

yet he finished the race

in first place.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Wonderful rhymes and VEHICLES! Here is a collection that every car/plane/boat/crane/digger/taxi/train-loving kid will adore. With hilarious artwork by Jef Kaminsky, Motor Goose is a must-have for readers who like things that go. And as the rhymes progress, the day winds down, making this perfect for bedtime.

Why do I like this book? The poems are ingenious, unexpected, and downright FUNNY! If you love to laugh and you enjoy sheer cleverness on a genius level, this book is for you. Rebecca Colby clearly researched each vehicle she built into a poem and educates children in a highly entertaining manner. And yes, the addition of bright, colorful, illustrations created with humor and the right amount of attitude by Jef Kaminsky, compliment the poetry to perfection!

Just for fun – Take a kid-friendly topic of interest to you, add to it your favorite nursery rhyme, and see what magic you can create!

My Struggle Plus a Perfect Picture Book Friday Review.

I needed to step away from my blog for a while because being a full-time mom became more important. I’ve always been able to juggle my day between being a wife, a mom, and a writer. But after my daughter’s required eye exam to enter 6th grade, life took a turn.

I first noticed something had changed when I asked her to fetch my blue notebook, and she said the only one she could find was purple. Slowly, all colors appeared different to her. Then, she said things that were once red looked gray.

The eye doctor discovered she has an extremely rare case of macular degeneration for which there is no cure.

My father-in-law, a retired doctor, was a great help. In a matter of a few hours, he found a specialist at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital. But when I called to make an appointment, the secretary told me the soonest appointment she had was in four months. I cried. She asked me to hold for a moment, and when she came back on the line she said she could fit my daughter in at the end of the week.

The specialist found that the layer of cones which allows us to see color is disrupted in both of my daughter’s eyes directly behind each retina. Then, she said what I didn’t want to hear. “I’m puzzled.” She wouldn’t say what she thought it pointed to, only that we need to come back for more tests. While I’m holding my breath, experiencing a nervous heart, and fighting back tears, I’ve taken matters into my own hands. The hours each day I devote to my writing have turned into research hours to help my daughter.

When I came across book after book and website after website all pointing to the same list of foods that speed and foods that slow Macular Degeneration, I made changes.

Our kitchen went through an upheaval as I moved systematically from refrigerator to freezer to cabinet, filling garbage bag after garbage bag with all the “bad” foods. Then, I went shopping for the “healing” foods. With a will to save her sight, my daughter helps me experiment with recipes. And despite how some meals have turned out, she has been encouraging, tolerant, and helpful as we push on. As restrictive as this diet is, I’ve joined her because everything is easier when you have someone to lean on and share the journey with.

My picture book review for Perfect Picture Book Friday will be shorter than usual but seems appropriate because of what my family is going through.

Title – A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Written by – Philip C. Stead

Illustrated by – Erin E. Stead

Published by – A Neal Porter Book by Roaring Brook Press – 2010

Topics – Friendship, support, and caring.

Opening –  Amos McGee was an early riser. Every morning when the alarm clock clanged, he swung his legs out of bed and swapped his pajamas for a fresh-pressed uniform.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE.  Friends come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. In Amos McGee’s case, all sorts of species, too! Every day he spends a little bit of time with each of his friends at the zoo, running races with the tortoise, keeping the shy penguin company, and even reading bedtime stories to the owl. But when Amos is too sick to make it to the zoo, his animal friends decide it’s time they returned the favor.


Perfect Picture Book Friday Remembers the Famous Lunar Landing. #PPBF

Are you old enough to remember where you were on July 16, 1969, when the Appollo 11 mission to the moon began? Do you remember where you were on July 20th when Neil Armstrong set his foot on the moon? Or do you remember watching a video of this remarkable moment in school?

Years back when my daughter was five, bedtime had come, and I had just turned off the lights in the living room to take her upstairs to her room. Instead of following me, she remained behind. The moon shone in the window, and my little girl couldn’t take her eyes off the big, glowing ball.

“Do you think someone will ever walk up there?” she asked.

“Someone already has,” I told her.

Instead of tucking my daughter in bed, I turned on my laptop and showed her the famous news broadcast with Walter Cronkite.

“Do you think I’ll ever get to walk up there?” she asked.

“Maybe if you think about it hard enough,” I said, “tonight you can dream you are an astronaut, leaving your footprints on the moon beside Neil Armstrong’s.”

Title – Eight Days Gone

Written by – Linda McReynolds

Illustrated by – Ryan O’Rourke

Published by – Charlesbridge – 2012

Topics – Space, astronauts, lunar landing

Opening –  

Hundreds gather.

Hot July.

Spaceship ready–

set to fly.


Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE.  Snappy verse and retro art recount Apollo 11’s historic, eight-day mission to the moon in 1969. Young readers learn the basics about the gear, equipment, and spaceship used by the astronauts, as well as the history of NASA’s moon mission.

Why do I like this book? Knowing the phenomenal amount of research needed to write a nonfiction picture book, I was amazed at Linda McReynolds’s skill in taking on such a huge project as the famous lunar landing. In the simplest and sparest text, Ms. McReynolds not only informs children of one of the greatest historical moments but also captivates and entertains them with her brilliant verse!

Three quotes by Neil Armstrong

“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
“Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.”
“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”

Where were you when the lunar landing was broadcast? Did you watch it on television? Did you see it years later in school? I’d love to hear your recollection.

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!