A Bake Shop, a Ghost, and a Surprise! This Perfect Picture Book Friday.

I learned how to bake by watching and assisting my mom and my aunt. At first, I was only allowed to sit on a tall stool near the counter, watch closely, and call out the next step or ingredient from the recipe (and sneak a small finger-full of dough). In time, I was trusted to measure out the flour or the butter and learn the art of cracking an egg one-handed. Eventually the day I waited for came.

Mom said I could choose whatever cake or batch of cookies I wanted to bake–all by myself. I’m telling you, that moment was big for me. My first cake was a two-layered, strawberry shortcake filled with fluffy, whipped cream and thin-sliced strawberries. Yes, my cake leaned precariously to one side. Yes, some of the strawberries slid downhill. Yes, my parents made a beautiful fuss, telling me how delicious it was and asked for seconds.

The point of my mini-story is that the success, or lack thereof, of that first cake, didn’t deter me from baking more cakes until I was happy with the outcome. I’m rather surprised I don’t tip the scale, considering how much I love to bake and cook.

Today’s picture book is about a vacant bakeshop, once run by the best baker in the state who created many scrumptious delicacies. The story tells the tale of different bakers who come and flee from the shop, claiming the place is haunted by the ghost of the original owner until…

One day, a spirited chef named Annie Washington arrives who is not frightened off by a few flying bags of flour or countless eggs dropped over her clean floor by a cranky ghost. If Annie wants to stay and never again be bothered by the ghost, she must fulfill a curious request. You’re, no doubt, wondering what the ghost ask Annie to do. So, to that question,

I have a special surprise for you at the end of this post. 

Title –  The Bakeshop Ghost

Author – Jacqueline Ogburn

Illustrator – Marjorie A. Priceman

Published by –  Houghton Mifflin Books – 2005

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics – Determination, friendship, and cake – Oh, yes! LOTS OF CAKE!

Opening – Miss Cora Lee Merriweather ran the best bakeshop in these parts–maybe even in the whole state! The chocolate in her Mississippi mud pie was darker than the devil’s own heart. Her sponge cake was so light the angels kept wishing it would float up to heaven. No Birthday was complete without a Merriweather layer cake without her special buttercream frosting.

Amazon Review HERECora Lee Merriweather had a lemon pucker mouth and hair scraped back into a hard little bun. Cora Lee also baked the best pies and cakes for miles. But now Cora Lee haunts the shop she used to own. When new bakers arrive to take over her empty bake shop, she scares them away. Then Annie Washington comes to town, and it seems Cora Lee has met her match.

Why I like this book— This is a story that, despite its high word count, will hold the attention of most children and delight them. In addition to the cast of colorful characters, strong plot, element of mystery, (and did I mention there’s a cake recipe on the last page?) the illustrations are off-the-charts colorful, emotional, humorous, and filled with scrumptious details.

Learn more about Jacqueline Ogburn’s books HERE.

Learn more about Marjorie A. Priceman’s books HERE.

And now for the special surprise I promised you.

I came across this lavish, short film, just over 17 minutes. that tells the story of The Bake Shop Ghost.

If you scroll down, you’ll find the comments box. Oh, how I love getting mail! I hope you’ll stop in to deliver a favorite baking memory or just say hello.

On Monday, if you visit, I’m sharing a bakery-inspired poem sure to please the most discerning sweet tooth!

I hope to see you then!

Perfect Picture Book Friday Wishes Happy Birthday to Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Today is a special day in many ways. Yes, today is Perfect Picture Book Friday, but it is also Poetry Friday and the birthday of the beloved poet and anthologist, Lee Bennett Hopkins whose poetry anthology book, School People, I recently shared with you. If you want to join in the birthday celebration for Lee, the party is well underway over at Robyn Hood Black’s blog.

Lee Bennett Hopkins

As you probably guessed, today’s picture book review is a poetry anthology- a book of poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins about a place that is dear to my heart.

The library.

I came from a serious, book-loving family. My father designed and helped build the house I grew up in, and instead of wallpaper, Dad cut and sanded looooong pieces of wood for floor to ceiling and wall to wall bookshelves. Those shelves were deep enough to hold two or three rows of books–and they did!

Imagine pulling a book off of a shelf and finding another book behind it and another book behind that one. Owning thousands of books seemed normal to me.

Dad was fond of saying, “When I have a little money, I buy books. If I have a little money left, I buy more books.

I figured everyone lived in a house filled floor to ceiling and wall to wall with books until I was invited over to a friend’s house back in the first grade. Dad had taught me that I can learn much about a person from their books. So, I was naturally excited to learn more about my friend, Carol, from the books she and her family piled, gathered, and stacked on their shelves. But the first thing I noticed at Carol’s house was NO books! (No books except the one they kept in their bathroom.) I wanted to go home because her house didn’t feel like a home to me. I didn’t care that Carol had piles of games and stuffed animals to play with. I simply wondered how anyone could be happy in a house without books.

“Dad!” I said when he picked me up later that afternoon, “I thought people were supposed to buy books when they had a little money. Carol and her family must be stone poor because they don’t have any books!”

Dad took my hand in his. “I know a place that has more books than we have at home.”

“Can you take me there?”

That afternoon, Dad introduced me to a place I have come to think of as my second home–a place with friendly, knowledgeable people who went out of their way to find the book I wanted to read, find more books on subjects I was interested in, helped me  navigate the card catalogue, and always made me feel welcome.

Yup! I’m talking about the library.

In honor of the library, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Poetry Friday, and Lee Bennett Hopkin’s 80th birthday, I’d like to share a special book of poems dedicated to the library.

Title – Jumping Off Library Shelves

Poems selected by – Lee Bennett Hopkins

Illustrated by – Jane Manning

Published by – WordSong – 2015

Topic – poems, the library, books

Opening –  I’ll only include part of this poem with hopes you will visit your library to find this treasure of a book and read on. 

Breakfast Between the Shelves by Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Morning pours spoons of sun

through tall windows, rests along

a reading chair, a copper rail;

hovers over crumbs, small supper scraps

left by those who opened books

last night, to live in story.

Mice scamper

between shelves,

pass poems

like platters of cheese;

Please read this about Owl!

And this about Giant!

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Here is the library, not just as a place that houses books, but as an experience. Fifteen poems celebrate the thrill of getting your first library card, the excitement of story hour, the fun of using the computer, the pride of reading to the dog, and the joy of discovering that the librarian understands you and knows exactly which books you’ll love. The poems, compiled by noted poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins, pay homage to the marvels of books and reading. Accompanied by Jane Manning’s colorful, imaginative illustrations, this collection lyrically celebrates the magic of libraries.

 I like this book because… the fifteen poems gathered like friends between the covers of this anthology express the happiness I have always felt, and still feel, about a visit to the library. Each poem serves as an ingredient which, alone or combined, conjures up childhood memories like the magic of a bulging bag of books, the pride I felt when I held my first library card, learning about faraway places and people-fictitious and real. This collection of poems paints a clear picture of the place I call my “other home.”
Happy Birthday, Lee Bennett Hopkins! I’m glad I got to meet you through the Highlights Poetry workshop, taught by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard.  Your passion for poetry is delightfully contagious. Hugs and heartfelt thanks,
Leslie Leibhardt Goodman
Until next Friday!

A Beige Childhood + Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match for Perfect Picture Book Friday

Go ahead and settle back while I first tell my story. Then, I’ll share my picture book review of Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

I would describe my mother as an old-world, German woman. Mom preferred sensible over sensational, blending in over inviting attention to, and beige and brown over all the happy colors in the world. I sometimes felt I looked more like a miniature version of her instead of a typical kid. My friends got to wear jeans, (Lucky!!!) they owned colorful shirts, blouses, and sweaters, their shoes were equally colorful, and they wore fun headbands or bright ribbons tied in their hair.

Then, there was me… boarding the school bus in my sensible, brown, walking shoes with beige socks, brown pants, and beige sweater. I might have been a child, but I looked like someone’s granny with a decent face lift.

Mom wouldn’t always take me with her when she shopped. Sometimes, I came home from school to some unfashionable surprises.

“Didn’t this dress come in blue or green?”

“Beige is better. You don’t want to bring attention to yourself.”

“If I have to wear a beige dress, can I pleeeease get red sandals?”

“What are you thinking? Did someone hit you in the head? As long as I’m paying for your clothes, you’ll dress sensibly. Honestly, if I didn’t put my foot down, you’d leave this house naked!”

“At least I’d still be wearing beige.”

“Go to your room.”

My childhood was filled with envy for the colorful clothes my friends wore. Many years later, when I married and had a daughter, I swore she would dress in every color that filled a box of crayons which brings me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

Title – Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match

Written by  – Monica Brown

Illustrated by – Sara Palacios

Published by – Children’s Book Press – 2011

Suitable for ages – 3-8

Theme – To feel happiest, be yourself no matter the opinions of others.

Opening – My name is Marisol McDonald, and I don’t match. At least, that’s what everyone tells me.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. Marisol McDonald has flaming red hair and nut-brown skin. Polka dots and stripes are her favorite combination. She prefers peanut butter and jelly burritos in her lunch box. And don’t even think of asking her to choose one or the other activity at recess—she ll just be a soccer playing pirate princess. To Marisol McDonald, these seemingly mismatched things make perfect sense together.

Unfortunately, they don t always make sense to everyone else. Other people wrinkle their nose in confusion at Marisol—can’t she just be one or the other? Try as she might, in a world where everyone tries to put this biracial, Peruvian-Scottish-American girl into a box, Marisol McDonald doesn’t match. And that s just fine with her.

Why do I like this book? What’s not to love about a strong main character who knows what she likes, and despite the comments of others, stays true to herself. Although, for one day, Marisol decides, against her better judgement, to match and behave as others do, but that day, as you might imagine, is her worst day. Marisol is a bilingual, Peruvian-Scottish – American girl in a multiracial family with her father’s red hair, her mother’s brown skin, and a whole lot of spunk and creativity that, when brought together, equal one terrific main character. The illustrations by Sara Palacios add loads of rich, playful colors and patterns, creating one super, happy book.

Learn more about Monica Brown HERE.

Learn more about Sara Palacios HERE.

Play idea – It’s fashion show time! Have fun with your children, creating the most outlandish outfits you can put together. The only rule…no beige. Then, take funny pictures. For a snack, put together some totally mismatched foods like Marisol does. Maybe you’ll discover a combination of items that’s utterly scrumptious!

Find more “Perfect Picture Book Friday” reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE.

When you were a kid, do you remember a student or friend in your class who marched to his/her own beat like Marisol? Please feel free to share in the comments. I’d love to hear about it.

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