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.

 

Compassion is the Key Ingredient in Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday Review #PPBF

Think back to an early birthday. Got it? Great! The toy you most wanted, dreamed of, hoped for, and left advertisement clippings of on the coffee pot, is inside the wrapping paper you’re ripping away with speedy, little hands. An overwhelming feeling of bliss bubbles up and spills out. In your haste to play with the newest addition to your vast toy collection . . . CRACK! A part snaps and breaks off. Bliss changes to Devastation.

“Well,” my mom would say, “that was a wasted fifteen dollars.”

My dad would hand me a tissue, scoop up the many pieces, and disappear into the basement. Hours later, he would emerge with a look of pride in his eyes and a smile straight from his heart. He’d place the mended toy in my hands and exclaim, “Good as new!”

Geeze, I miss my dad. A whole lot.

Over the years, I’ve learned how to patch rips in teddy bears, superglue cracks in Mr. Potatoe Head’s spare parts, reattach charms and clasps on little bracelets, and turn my daughter’s tears into smiles. And this brings me to today’s perfect picture book Friday review about a little fox named Pandora who has a gift for mending broken things.

I

Title – Pandora

Written and illustrated by – Victoria Turnbull

Published by – Clarion Books – 2017

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics – compassion, loneliness, and hope

Opening –  Pandora lived alone in a land of broken things. She made herself a handsome home from all that people had left behind. But no one ever came to visit.

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE. Because the review on Amazon sums up the story perfectly, I’m not including it as it serves as a spoiler. And isn’t it better to find the book and read it for yourself?

Why do I like this book? Pandora is a lovely main character with a large heart. She shows great compassion for all the broken things people have left behind. But one day, something falls from the sky that can’t be fixed with a needle and thread. The only remedy is love, and Pandora has a brimming heart perfect for helping. Not only is the story one that touched my heart, but the illustrations are carefully created with a heart as loving as Pandora’s. This book is a treasure that sits proudly on my bookshelf.

In this book, compassion is Pandora’s strongest trait and one that can easily be taught to children through example.

This is a list of synonyms that serve as ways we can teach children to be compassionate: pity, sympathy, empathy, fellow feeling, care, concern, solicitude, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, kindness, humanity, and charity.

As always, if you have memories from your childhood about moments of compassion or broken toys, I welcome you to share them in the comments.

 

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.

Projects

  • 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.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at Water Sings Blue

Ever since that first magical day when I saw the ocean as a child, I have been drawn to the soothing sound of the tides lapping on the sand in concert with the call of the gulls. I have loved searching for treasures in tidepools, loved finding colorful seashells, and enjoy holding smooth washed stones. I’m also easily enchanted by the momentary treasure of the etched lines the sandpipers draw in the sand as they run by before the next wave washes the sand clean. With so much to love about the ocean, it’s no wonder poets continually try to capture the magic of water, sand, and sea life.

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review is Water Sings Blue, a collection of ocean poems that includes subjects such as waves, tide pools, and sea urchins along with the Nudibranch, a lesser known sea creature. Instead of writing poems about what one might find in a tide pool or the magical colors of coral, Kate Coombs often writes her poems from the unique and quite imaginative perspective of each ocean swimmer and treasure.

Maybe, after reading this book, you will be inspired to write a poem about where you live, a favorite place you’ve visited, or something special you treasure. Try to include as many of your senses as possible. Some places have a distinct smell or sound. Some objects have a texture. And don’t forget taste in case what you are describing happens to be a jelly doughnut or other favorite treat. Remember, even though we don’t associate taste with the ocean, often, after spending a day playing on the sand and in the waves, a salty taste is often part of the memory.

And now for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

Title – Water Sings Blue

Written by – Kate Coombs  

illustrated by  – Meilo So

Published by – Chronicle Books –  2012

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics – Ocean, poetry, and sea life

Opening –  

Push away from the stillness of the nut-brown land, from the road that leads to the shore.

Push away from the town with its tight tree roots, from its closed brown shutters and doors.

Push away–heave-ho–from the heavy brown pier, from its pilings huddled and dull.

For the water sings blue and the sky does, too, and the sea lets you fly like a gull.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. Come down to the shore with this rich and vivid celebration of the ocean! With watercolors gorgeous enough to wade in by award-winning artist Meilo So and playful, moving poems by Kate Coombs, Water Sings Blue evokes the beauty and power, the depth and mystery, and the endless resonance of the sea.

Why do I like this book? Each time I open this book I’m transported to the ocean through the clever poems and thoughtful illustrations. Kate Coombs has a natural gift for putting herself into the mind of the ocean and its remarkable inhabitants. And Meilo So, a highly gifted illustrator, places the reader down in the depths of the ocean, on the sun-warmed beach, and inside of a cloud of octopus ink. Truly, this book is an amazing tour of ocean life.

Want to learn a little more about Kate Coombs? Click HERE.

Want to learn a little more about Meilo So? Click HERE.

Projects

Make a paper plate aquarium. Instructional video HERE.

How to fold an origami fish HERE.

Here’s a kid-friendly site with lots of fish craft ideas! HERE.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at More-igami

Folding paper for origami is something my mother taught me when I was about the same young age as Joey, the main character in today’s picture book, More-igami. I first learned how to fold simple creatures like bugs and puppies. Later, after learning the more challenging folds, I progressed up the ladder and folded my first crane. Granted, it looked like the poor bird barely escaped a major catastrophe with it slightly torn wing. (Translation: severed.) And with its crooked beak and many extra folds, what I really made was the origami equivalent of the creature from the black lagoon.

Crumple. Crumple. Crumple.

Eventually, after folding another five (make that fifteen) cranes, I succeeded.

Now, years later, my daughter is at the age where origami interests her. We have spent the last number of evenings pulling up instructions for various projects on youtube and following along with a fair amount of success. The perk is that with youtube, we can pause or back up any time we need extra clarification. The origami books I used when I was a child diagramed the steps with pictures, but those pictures often brought confusion followed by…

Crumple. Crumple. Crumple. Now, on to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

Title – More-igami

Written by – Dori Kleber  

illustrated by  – G. Brian Karas

Published by – Candlewick Press – 2016

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics – origami and determination

Opening – Joey loved things that folded. He collected old road maps. He played the accordion. He slept in a foldaway bed.

Amazon Review –  View it HEREA creative young boy with a passion for practicing origami finds a surprising source of encouragement on his diverse city block.

Joey loves things that fold: maps, beds, accordions, you name it. When a visiting mother of a classmate turns a plain piece of paper into a beautiful origami crane, his eyes pop. Maybe he can learn origami, too. It’s going to take practice — on his homework, the newspaper, the thirty-eight dollars in his mother’s purse . . . Enough! No more folding! But how can Joey become an origami master if he’s not allowed to practice? Is there anywhere that he can hone the skill that makes him happy — and maybe even make a new friend while he’s at it?

Why do I like this book? Joey’s passion for things that fold shows up in surprising places, and for the most part, Joey (and the reader) sees this as a curious interest. But then… when the mother of a classmate demonstrates the art of origami at school, the light burns brightly for Joey. He now sees a direction and endless possibilities for his folding passion. And even though his first attempts are less than successful, this determined boy lets nothing stop him from mastering his newfound art. Seriously. What’s not to love? 

Want to learn a little more about Dori Kleber? Click HERE.

Want to learn a little more about G. Brian Karas? Click HERE.

Projects

Easy origami projects to make with kids HERE.

Shop for origami paper and how-to books on Amazon HERE.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping

The mere mention of camping and my skin crawls with the invisible legs of a million non-existent insects. I cringe at the thought of sleeping in a tent or any structure with walls that aren’t a few inches thick and that doesn’t have a door with a lock. And sleeping in a zippered bag on the ground…sorry, not happening.

Yes. I have experienced camping. The first time was back in Jr. high during a freak thunderstorm. Strangely, only my side of the tent lacked waterproofing. So, while my tent mates lay snoozing, I sat up all night, hovering my jacket over my head like a useless umbrella. A few years later, another camping trip came up at school. This time, parents were invited, and everyone was expected to bring a tent or a camper (if they had one). My family had neither, so we broke camp in our jeep. At bedtime, my sister claimed the front seat, and I slept in the back with my dad with the hatch open to accommodate his long legs. The next morning, I counted over 60 mosquito bites. No, not on all three of us. Just scattered over me like a blast of confetti on New Year’s Eve. Then, years and years later, my husband found a place to camp where we could stay in a rustic cabin. Hmmm. A real bed, sturdy walls, and a door that locks, you say? Yes! I can do this.

“Wait. You’re saying rustic means no place to plug in my hairdryer???”

Honestly, I’ve tried to love camping, and I understand the lure of sleeping in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, but after several tries, I’ve concluded that the most ideal way for me to camp is in a hotel (in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature).

“Room service? Could you please send a bowl of strawberries and cream up to room #349? Thank you.”

Now that I’ve aired my feelings about camping with you, I am thrilled to share a picture book that stars a squirrel who feels very much as I do about this well-loved, outdoor activity.  Please welcome, Scaredy Squirrel!

Title – Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping

Written and illustrated by  – Melanie Watts

Published by – Kids Can Press – 2013

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics – Camping, expectations, fears, conquering fears.

Opening – Scaredy Squirrel never goes camping. He’d rather be comfortable inside than risk going out in the rugged wilderness. Besides, setting up camp seems like a lot of trouble.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE. Scaredy Squirrel is not too comfortable with the idea of camping … unless it’s on his couch! There will be no mosquitoes, skunks or zippers to worry about when he watches a show about the joys of camping on his brand-new TV. But first Scaredy must find an electrical outlet, and that means going into the woods! Will the nutty worrywart’s plans prepare him for the great outdoors, or will his adventure end up as a scary story told around the campfire?

Why do I like this book? Scaredy Squirrel is nervous about this new experience of camping. In fact, he’s so afraid, he brings along a television with plans of watching nature from the safety of his tree. But, one small problem surfaces… In nature, there aren’t any outlets. (Sound like someone you know?) After packing his survival supplies and getting into his protective, wilderness outfit, he treks out to the camping grounds in search of an outlet. armed with all his protective gear, supplies, plans, and maps – he goes on a trek to the nearby camping ground to find electrical outlets. As luck would have it, something unexpected happens. You’ll have to check out this book to find out what. With simple, adorable, and humorous illustrations, this Scaredy Squirrel book is a cover to cover winner! 

Want to learn a little more about Melanie Watt? Click HERE.