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.

 

 

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. 

ACROSTIC (uh-KROS-tik)

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.

PERHAPS A POEM ABOUT POEMS (unrhyming)

Only the sweetest words

Express the

Magic I feel in my

Soul

 

LESLIE

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.

Spirited, dream-seeking women are the focus of today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF review

Back when I was in high school taking classes to decide what to be when I grew up, women were going after careers as doctors, firefighters, attorneys, journalists, and much more. Unfortunately, my mother kept a dated attitude about which occupations were suited to men and which were suited for women–more specifically me.

When my high school interest in interior decorating led me into the Architectural Design course (where I achieved an A. Gotta blow my horn a little.) My mother, fearing I might choose to become an architect, put her foot down. She said architecture was a male-dominated field, and she wouldn’t pay the college tuition if I pursued it.

Wait. What? Male-dominated? There are going to be lots of men?

My mother’s problem became a perk.

Moving on. My next big interest was Psychology. One class led to two, and when two looked like it would turn into three (Can anyone see where this is going?), my mother said, “If you become a psychologist, your patients will be crazy people in search of advice. I won’t have it. If you want to pursue this field in college, I won’t pay the tuition.”

Without thinking, my teenage mouth spurted, “If you reconsider and let me become a psychologist, I’ll offer you free therapy in your old age.”

Moving on . . . (with a sore bottom.)

So there I was, envious of my older sister who chose the career she wanted and headed to college to study law without the parental flack I always received.

Ummm . . . Isn’t the field of law dominated by men?

My admiration for women who let nothing stand in the way of their dreams brings me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday review. Please welcome Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt (whose mothers I would have loved to meet).

Title – Amelia And Eleanor Go For A Ride

Written by – Pam Munoz Ryan

Illustrated by – Brian Selznick

Published by – Scholastic Press – 1999

Topics – Following dreams and determination

Opening – Amelia and Eleanor were birds of a feather. Eleanor was outspoken and determined.

So was Amelia.

Amelia was daring and liked to try things other women wouldn’t even consider.

So when Eleanor discovered that her friend Amelia was coming to town to give a speech, she naturally said, “Bring your husband and come to dinner at my house! You can even sleep over.”

Amazon’s Review –  View it HERE.  Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt were birds of a feather. Not only were they two of the most admired and respected women of all time, they were also good friends. Illuminated here for the first time in picture book form is the true story of a thrilling night when they made history together!

On a brisk and cloudless evening in April 1933, Amelia and Eleanor did the unprecedented: They stole away from a White House dinner, commandeered an Eastern Air Transport jet, and took off on a glorious adventure–while still dressed in their glamorous evening gowns!

This picture book tour de force celebrates the pioneering spirit of two friends whose passion for life gave them the courage to defy convention in the name of fulfillment, conviction, and fun. Soaring text, inspired by the known facts of this event, and breathtaking drawings ask readers to dream dreams as big as Amelia and Eleanor’s.

Why do I like this book? I admire those with an adventurous spirit, and this book shows not one but two such spirited women going after their dreams full throttle. Amelia, without a care what people think about woman piloting planes, fearlessly takes to the skies to make her dream come true. And Eleanor, disregarding other’s opinions that women shouldn’t drive cars, loves the feeling of independence a car provides, has a new car, and can’t wait to get behind the wheel to feel the wind whoosh through her hair. The night Amelia comes to the White House for dinner is beyond magical for these two spirited friends.

Do you remember a dream you wanted more than anything? Did something stand in your way? Did you reach it? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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.

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at Bridget’s Beret

Relaxation wasn’t something my parents encouraged. To them, doing nothing wasted life. To this day, I can still hear their voices echo each evening, “What do you have to show for this day?” Translation: What did you accomplish? What did you create? And can we please see it? The one thing I did every day and loved to do every day was creating art.

Looking back at those days, whether I was at home, school, the bank, a restaurant, or in the backseat of the family car, I drew pictures of the world and people around me. I was never without paper, pencils, and watercolors. True then, true now.  And although I don’t illustrate my picture book manuscripts, I often sketch the actions of my characters to help me visualize them, see their environments, and make sure I’m changing scenes with my page turns.

The picture book I chose to review today stars Bridget, a young artist who believes she needs to wear a black beret – “The kind of hat that lots of Great Artists wear.” in order to make art. I wish I had known about the hat when I was a child. Like Bridget, I had an image in my mind of what artists should look like, but my image didn’t include that wonderful hat. I pictured an artist wearing a smock with more paint splatters than fabric showing, dried paint in many shades on the hands, and slightly disheveled hair that made the bold statement, “I’m too busy being creative to care about such petty details as my appearance.”  But enough about my image of what an artist looks like. It’s time to meet Bridget!

Title – Bridget’s Beret

Written by  – Tom Lichtenheld

Illustrated by – Tom Lichtenheld

Published by – Christy Ottaviano Books – 2010

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics – preconceived notions, art, creativity, confidence, artist’s block

Opening – Bridget was drawn to drawing. She liked to draw as much as other kids liked ice cream.

Amazon Review –  View it HERE.  Bridget loves to draw, and she likes to wear a beret for inspiration. So when her beloved hat blows away, Bridget searches for it high and low. She files a Missing Beret Report. She even considers other hats, but none of them feel quite right. It’s no use; without her beret, Bridget can’t seem to draw. How will she overcome her artist’s block?

Make sure to check out Bridget’s notebook scribbles at the end of the book for her thoughts and facts on art!
Bridget’s Beret is a 2011 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.

Why do I like this book? Because I was much like Bridget when I was a child, (minus the beret) but bursting with artistic visions I drew on every sheet of paper, napkin, borders of homework, and backs of notebooks, I felt a kinship to this little girl who loses her hat and with it, the feeling she can no longer create art. The revelation Bridget experiences when she discovers her artistic ability lies inside her and not in the beret is a beautiful, triumphant moment for the reader. Yes, the reader. Because we see her artistic gift return long before Bridget does. And, when the neighbors believe the many lemonade stand signs she painted for her little sister are really advertisements for her art opening, the reader cheers louder still. Tom Lichtenheld, whom I recently had the pleasure of listening to at the SCBWI Spring Thaw Conference, has a powerful gift both as a writer and as an illustrator, and those gifts shine in Bridget’s Beret. (A picture book I’ll be adding to my shelf very soon.)

Learn more about Tom Lichtenheld HERE.