Perfect Picture Book Friday Hangs Out With Elephant and Piggie.

While I was writing my personal story to accompany today’s picture book review, something magical happened. The more details I recalled and wrote down, the more I realized I had written a rough draft for my next picture book manuscript. So, I’m going to switch gears and share a different book with you.

I thought I had read every single Elephant and Piggie book by Mo Willems, but one had escaped me.

I’m especially fond of stories which offer an unexpected twist at the end. And yes, most picture books deliver just such an ending, but as I neared the last pages of The Thank You Book, the ending I expected and was 99.99999% sure would be delivered, was waaaay off. Mo Willems delivered a spot on, eye-popping surprise.

The Thank You Book (An Elephant & Piggie Book)

Written and illustrated by- Mo Willems

Published by- Hyperion Books for Children – 2016

Topics – Thankfulness and consideration for others.

Opening – “I am one lucky pig. I have a lot to be thankful for… I had better get thanking!” 

(How adorable is that?) 

Synopsis from Amazon – Gerald and Piggie are best friends. In The Thank You Book, Piggie wants to thank EVERYONE. But Gerald is worried Piggie will forget someone . . . someone important.

Why do I like this book? I have never read a book by Mo Willems I didn’t love. And in The Thank You Book, I spent page after page knowing exactly what Mo Willems had planned. Exactly. And then… BAM! A surprise came beyond all surprises. You’ll simply have to check out this book to find out who Piggie forgets to thank.

Learn more about Mo Willems HERE.

Watch a video interview with Mo Willems HERE.

See some great kid-friendly projects inspired by Mo Willems Books HERE.

Until next Friday.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at City Dog, Country Frog

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at City dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems.

For once, I don’t have a personal story to tell you that relates to the picture book I’m reviewing. So, why am I reviewing this book, you might ask? Because it’s about friendship, and friends are precious to me.

I thought I had a lot of friends when I was a child until my mother told me what a true friend is.

“A true friend,” she said, “is someone who will always be there for you no matter what. A true friend is someone who won’t make you feel bad for your choices and will support you in your decisions.” Then Mom added, “If you think about all the people you call a friend and really look closely at the relationship you have with them, you’ll only have enough true friends to count on one hand. The rest,” she said, “are acquaintances.”

That seemed a little harsh, so I softened it by renaming the two categories: True friends and friends.

We all have at least one friend we especially like being around. That person is someone who brings out the best version of ourselves. This leads me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, City Dog, Country Frog. A story of two unlikely friends who discover a great joy when they are together.

Title – City Dog, Country Frog – view on Amazon HERE.

Written by – Mo Willems

Illustrated by – Jon J Muth

Published by – Hyperion Books for Children 2010

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics/Theme –  Friendship and loss

Opening – Spring.

City dog didn’t stop on that first day in the country; he ran as far and as fast as he could and all without a leash!

Amazon Review – In spring, when City Dog runs free in the country for the first time, he spots Country Frog sitting on a rock, waiting for a friend. “You’ll do,” Frog says, and together they play Country Frog games. In summer, they meet again and play City Dog games. Through the seasons, whenever City Dog visits the country he runs straight for Country Frog’s rock. In winter, things change for City Dog and Country Frog. Come spring, friendship blooms again, a little different this time.

Mo Willems’ spare, poignant text and Jon J. Muth’s expressive watercolors team up to tell a story that will resonate with readers of all ages.

Why do I like this book? The reader is taken along on a friendship between two unlikely characters – a city dog and a country frog. Through words and tender, watercolor illustrations, we feel the dog’s excitement each time he bounds outside through the changing seasons to be with country frog. This is the story of a friendship, how it began, how it grew in strength, and how all this changed…ended…when winter came. When spring arrives, a new friend comes into dog’s life. Yes, this is the story of loss, and Mo Willems handles this delicate subject with great care, ending not with a feeling of sorrow, but instead, with a feeling of hopefulness.

Learn about Mo Willems HERE.

Learn about Jon J Muth HERE.

Find more picture book reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE.

Activities to do with children –  Have children think of two very different animals such as the dog and frog in today’s picture book. Then, have them think up some games like hopscotch, jump rope, or twister. Ask them which animal would have the easiest time playing that game and why. Ask  what would make it challenging for the other animal and why? Maybe brainstorm ideas on what each animal could do to play that game.

Grab a glass of wine or cup of coffee and let’s have a toast to friendship.


PPBF Looks at Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

For this Friday’s PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday), I would like to share with you one of my very favorite picture books, Goldilocks And The Three Dinosaurs, written by one of the most beloved authors and illustrators around–the very talented, Mo Willems.

I have a good number of books by Mo Willems on my shelf, but today’s book has an element I absolutely love…a narrator with a snarky personality. Mo Willems has taken a well-known story and given it a boost of creativity, originality, and blatant honesty. My favorite page in this book, hands down, comes when the narrator says, “Sure enough, five minutes later a poorly supervised little girl named Goldilocks came traipsing along. When I read that, I not only laughed myself off my chair, but I realized how true his statement is. Cover to cover, Mo Willems gives us a picture book reading experience that is a true treat.

Title – Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs – view on Amazon here.

Written and illustrated by – Mo Willems

Published by – Balzer + Bray, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 2012

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics/Theme –  Fractured Fairy Tale with loads of humor

Opening – Once upon a time, there were three Dinosaurs; Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur, and some other Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway.

Jacket copy  – Once upon a time, there were three Dinosaurs; Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur, and some other Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway.

One day–for no particular reason–they decided to tidy up their house, make the beds, and prepare pudding of varying temperatures. And then–for no particular reason–they decided to go…someplace else. The were definitely NOT setting a trap for some succulent, unsupervised little girl.

Definitely not!

This new take on a fairy-tale classic is so funny and so original–it could only come from the brilliant mind of Mo Willems.

Amazon Review – same as above. Read it here.

Why do I like this book? I love fairy tales and I also love fractured fairy tales–there are many to read, but when I need a big dose of laughter, this is a book that delivers page after page of giggles.

Visit Mo Willems here.

Playing with puppets is an activity my daughter has enjoyed for years. So when I went searching the internet for an activity to go with today’s picture book review, I was happy to find this creative craft project over at the wonderful blog, the Messy Little Monster which turns wood spoons into puppets. Head on over for instructions on how to make these fun spoon puppets. I’ll bet a set of wooden spoons could be painted to look like dinosaurs, too…

Goldilocks and the Three Bears Spoon puppets for pretend play