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!

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.

One Fun Father-Daughter Picture Book Review + 11 Parent & Child Activities.

Playtime with a child is a very special time. Being a mom, I have to remind myself from time to time that what I think is fun isn’t always my daughter’s idea of fun.

“So, Mom, wanna do something fun together when you’re done with your writing today?”

“Sure, sweetheart. How about going to the garden center and picking out some shade-loving plants for the backyard or cleaning out the laundry room?”

“Get serious, Mom.” 

“Ummm . . . I was being serious. What’s not fun about filling the trunk with plants and poking out lint, lost socks, and undies from between the washer and dryer?”

“I was hoping we could build a BIG tent in the living room and pretend we’re going camping. Max (our dog) can come, too. He could be a bear that comes to snatch our food while we’re sleeping.” 

“And then we can clean the laundry room?”

Long eye roll. “Then, we can bake cookies, curl up in the tent, tell ghost stories, and hug.”

Today’s picture book review is about a super cool dad who, despite having a daughter, is willing to subject himself to her list of girly plans for their day together (as long as they can trade off and do things on his list, too.)

Title – Hammer and Nails

Written by – Josh Bledsoe

Illustrated by – Jessica Warrick  

Published by – Flashlight Press – 2016

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics – Dealing with disappointment, imaginative play, and taking turns.

Opening –  Darcy crumpled up her playdate plans and plopped onto her bed. Her best friend was sick, and now Darcy’s entire day was ruined.

Daddy overheard the grumbling and knocked on Darcy’s door.

Daddy had a list of his own. “Hey, Squirt. I’ve got an idea. What about having a Darcy-Daddy Day?”

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Darcy has plans. She and her friend are going to play dress up, do each other’s hair, and polish their nails. Daddy has plans, too. He’s going to read the paper, mow the lawn, and fix the fence. When Darcy’s friend cancels and she’s sure her day is ruined, Daddy suggests that they tackle their to-do lists together with a Darcy-Daddy Day. Daddy dons a tutu, and Darcy gives him a fancy hair do. They groom the lawn with Her Majesty’s Mowing Service and face off in a Daddy-directed sock battle. But will Darcy want to hammer? Will Daddy do nails? Stepping outside their comfort zones, Darcy and Daddy opt to be open-minded and even a bit daring. As Daddy says, “Sometimes things you’ve never done end up being fun!” With a gung-ho attitude, Darcy masters the hammer, and Daddy goes for it with the nails.

Why do I like this book? I seriously cannot picture my dad tugging a tutu over his work trousers and styling my hair. And I REALLY can’t picture him allowing me to style his hair, thin as it was. And if I ever came near him with a bottle of nail polish, he would have streaked out of the room and not come back until he felt I cleared that silly notion out of my noggin. But this is what makes Hammer and Nails such a fun book. Josh Bledsoe gave the illustrator, Jessica Warrick, a fantastic manuscript, allowing for much creative freedom and expression. Together, their talents create a laugh out loud picture book both parents and children will want to read again and again. Hey, it might even inspire parents and children to plan out a similar day!

Playtime ideas for parents and kids.

  1. Grab a few chairs, a stack of bed sheets, and pillows to build the biggest fort or tent. And while you’re at it, pop a batch of cookies in the oven to snack on when you’re ready to crawl into the tent. The tent is also a great place to read stories with a flashlight. And make room if your dog wants to join in on the giggly fun.
  2. Okay, so maybe heading to the garden center for some shade-loving plants doesn’t sound like a fun idea for most kids, but if you fill a pot with soil or clear a small patch in your garden, they’ll love picking out a few packets of seeds to plant their own garden.
  3. Bake cookies. I like to make a double batch of butter cookie dough my daughter and I split it in half. Clearing two counter spaces, we each have our own workspace to add whatever we please to the dough.  (Peanut butter, chocolate chips, crushed nuts, oatmeal, granola, coconut flakes, raisins, dried cranberries, cinnamon, etc…)
  4. Grab two sketch pads, a box of colored pencils, a couple cushions, a blanket, and head outside for some artistic fun. There’s always plenty to inspire a budding young artist in a backyard or at the park.
  5. Rearrange your child’s bedroom with them.
  6. Upcycle clothing in your child’s closet to add a little fun to their wardrobe. With fabric markers, they can color pictures or add borders around the neckline and sleeves of a t-shirt.
  7. Call the parents of your child’s friend(s) and arrange for a surprise playdate at the park.
  8. Cuddle together in a big chair with a stack of your child’s favorite picture books.
  9. Choose frozen fruits to mix with milk or yogurt in the blender and make popsicles.
  10. Fold a stack of paper in half, staple the seam, and trade off writing a story together.
  11. Take a little advice from Darcy and her dad in today’s picture book review. Make a list of three to  five things you each want to do and trade off doing them together

Well, I’m off to ignore the garden, sweep the laundry room lint out of my mind, and build a BIG tent with my daughter that fills the living room.

Feel free to share in the comments any fun activities you do with your kids or activities you remember sharing with your parents when you were a child.

You’ll be shocked when you learn who authored this picture book!

Read through this list of facts to see if you can guess the mystery author’s name.

Born on October 23, 1959, this American singer, songwriter, parodist, record producer, satirist, actor, voice actor, music video director, film producer, and author is known for his humorous songs that make light of popular culture and often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts.

Since 1976, when his first comedy song aired, he has sold more than 12 million albums!

Between 1976 and 2017, he has recorded more than 150 parody and original songs.

He has performed more than 1000 live shows.

His works have earned him four Grammy Awards and a further 11 nominations, four gold records, and six platinum records in the United States.

Any guesses?

About two weeks ago, friends of mine sent me a lovely message on Facebook telling me they are enjoying my book reviews and have checked out some of the books from their library. Then, with one question, they sent me falling off the side of my chair.

“We wondered if you ever reviewed a picture book by Weird Al Yankovic.”

HUH? WHAT? Weird Al Yankovic writes picture books? Seriously? This I’ve GOT to see.

I hopped over to Amazon, read the glowing review, read the first pages Amazon shares, laughed like crazy at the brilliant humor, placed my order, and checked my mailbox twice every day until the package arrived.

OMG! This guy knows how to write entertaining, rhyming picture books both kids and their parents will love!

Without further ado . . .

When I Grow Up

Title – When I Grow Up

Written by – Al Yankovic  

Illustrated by – Wes Hargis

Published by – scholastic – 2011

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics – rhyming text, a child’s humorous career plans.

Opening –  I waited so long for the hours to pass, but soon it was noon there in Mrs. Krupp’s class. And Thursday at noon, as I’m sure you know well, is the time of the week when we do show-and-tell.

And this week the subject–so special to me–was “When I grow up, what am I gonna be?” That’s something I’d really been thinking about, and I just couldn’t wait to let all those thoughts out.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Grammy Award-winner and pop culture icon “Weird Al” Yankovic delivers his first picture book, bringing his trademark wit, wordplay, and silliness to a story that explores the timeless question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Funny and charming, this is a celebration of creativity and possibility.

An Amazon Best Book of the Month! “The farce and parody make this a rare book with appeal to both kids and adults” (Booklist).

It’s Show-and-Tell time in Mrs. Krupp’s class, and Billy just can’t wait for his turn! Today the class is discussing what they want to be when they grow up, and our exuberant eight-year-old hero is bursting to tell everyone about his future career plans.

In dazzling wordplay and delicious rhymes, Billy regales his patient teacher and amazed classmates with tales of the variety of careers he wants to pursue—each more outlandish and wildly imaginative than the last!

Why do I like this book? Honestly, if a book makes me laugh a lot, the author has won me over. And I received a laugh out loud moment on every page. Bravo, Al Yankovic!

The imagination of Billy, the main character, goes well beyond that of a typical child. Billy is a boy with BIG dreams for his future, and he’s not about to settle for a boring career. From dreaming of becoming the greatest chef in the world who makes such tantalizing (and strange–unless you’re pregnant) dishes such as Twinkies au gratin and candied pigs’ feet topped with shrimp-flavored lollipops, he also dreams of becoming a snail trainer, giraffe milker, and a gorilla masseuse for starters. And if you aren’t laughing hard enough, Wes Hargis’s give the text an added zing with his witty and imaginative illustrations. I could go on, but best you check out his one to see why I love it so much.

Learn more about Al Yankovic HERE.

Watch a YouTube video interview with Al Yankovic on The Today Show HERE.

Watch another YouTube video from an interview on Conan HERE.

The two picture books Al Yankovic wrote are When I Grow Up and My New Teacher and Me!  

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at The Blue Hour

As a child, I had an ever-growing collection of picture books given to me by my mother. For birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Christmas, I could always count on receiving another. As birthdays came and went, chapter books replaced picture books. Later, middle-grade novels replaced chapter books. But one thing stayed the same . . .  My mom kept buying picture books–just not for me.

My mother, a scientific illustrator for the Field Museum in Chicago, had a deep love of art and greatly enjoyed the variety of styles used to illustrate stories for children. So maybe, being surrounded by picture books all my life, it isn’t surprising I write for children.

The picture book I’d like to share with you today is one I’m sure my mother would have bought for herself if she were still here. She would have marveled at the careful and close attention to details and the gentle swoop of lines that create the feathers on the birds. She would have admired the vast pallet of blues used to bring about the mood of each scene, and she would have smiled at the artist’s choice to include dashes of red in the botanicals as well as the cheeks and beaks of the animals throughout. If you head to your library or bookstore to look at this book, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do.

Title – The Blue Hour

Written and illustrated by – Isabelle Simler  

Published by – Eerdmans Books for Young Readers – 2017

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics – Blue animals and flowers, nature, animal activities.

Opening –  The day ends. The night falls. And in between . . . there is the blue hour.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HEREA lovely and tranquil celebration of nature

The sun has set, the day has ended, but the night hasn’t quite arrived yet. This magical twilight is known as the blue hour. Everything in nature—sky, water, flowers, birds, foxes—comes together in a symphony of blue to celebrate the merging of night and day.

With its soothing text and radiant artwork, this elegant picture book displays the majesty of nature and reminds readers that beauty is fleeting but also worth savoring.

The Blue Hour

Why do I like this book? Though the text is sparse, each word is carefully chosen, and the brief line given to each subject, animal or botanical, reveals something interesting. The author is also a gifted artist whose gorgeous nature illustrations shine in this breathtaking book.

Want to learn a little more about Isabelle Simler? Click HERE.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at Interstellar Cinderella

I can’t say for sure, but the story of Cinderella was probably the first fairy tale I ever heard as a child. It’s the classic story of “boy meets girl, girl and boy fall in love, and soon after get married”. It’s the story many little girls dream of. Yup. . . me, too. What can I say? Reading about a girl with too many chores who was able to exchange her worn out broom and chores for marriage to a gorgeous prince sounded pretty darned appealing. Flash forward. Many years later, I’m still pushing around a broom and hurling dirty clothes over the balcony railing to spare my aching back the heavy load down the stairs. And most mornings I have dishpan hands and a sore back from pulling up weeds, but. . . I did marry a gorgeous prince of a man. No complaints from this Cinderella.

And now it’s time to get to know an entirely new Cinderella. She’s not a girl who worries about getting cinders on her face or clothes. This Cinderella is a girl with dreams of becoming a rocket ship repair girl! Wait. Isn’t grease under the nails harder to clean out than a little soot?

Title – Interstellar Cinderella

Written by – Deborah Underwood  

illustrated by  – Meg Hunt

Published by – Chronicle Books – 2015

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics – fairy tales, outer space, female role model

Opening –  Once upon a planetoid, amid her tools and sprockets, a girl named Cinderella dreamed of fixing fancy rockets.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. With a little help from her fairy godrobot, Cinderella is going to the ball. But when the prince’s ship has mechanical trouble, someone will have to zoom to the rescue! Readers will thank their lucky stars for this irrepressible fairy tale retelling, its independent heroine, and its stellar happy ending.

Why do I like this book? The story of Cinderella has been around since 1697! Since then, many additions and revisions (such as a seed-free pumpkin coach) have been made to this classic fairy tale. This version, taking place in the outermost reaches of space, is as far out as possible. And Cinderella, though she’s a girl who benefitted from the magic of her fairy godrobot, is a girl who knows who she is, what she wants out of life, and isn’t about to let a prince, no matter how good looking, sway her into marriage plans. I call that a powerful, female role model girls can look up to.

Want to learn a little more about Deborah Underwood? Click HERE.

Want to learn a little more about Meg Hunt? Click HERE.


  • Kids can make their own rocket ship using an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll, scraps of cardboard, paper, pipe cleaners, paint, and their amazing imaginations.
  • Ask your child what planet they would want to visit if they had a rocket ship. Maybe they’d like to invent a new planet!

Is there life on that planet? What do the aliens look like? What grows there? What color is the soil, the flowers, the sky? Maybe the planet is known throughout the universe for its yummy desserts or great artists.

After your interstellar interview, see if you and your child can write a short story or poem about a rocket ship journey to this place.