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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title – The Hole Story of the Doughnut

Written by – Pat Miller

Illustrated by – Vincent X. Kirsch

Published by – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

Topics – Determination, invention of the doughnut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without further adieu…

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

Title – Princess and the Peas

Written by – Rachel Himes

Illustrated by – Rachel Himes

Published by – Charlesbridge – 2017

Topics – Fairytale twist, mother and son, cooking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Title – Pecan Pie Baby

Written by – Jacqueline Woodson

Illustrated by – Sophie Blackall

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

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

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


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

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

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



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.


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.