Monday, February 8, 2016

Sift, Reinvent, Reorganize

"My task as a visual storyteller is to observe, record, and edit. Some images go straight from life into a book. Most need to be carefully sifted, reinvented, reorganized."
-Jan Ormerod*

Bookplate by Helen Dardik
from her blog Orange You Lucky

*via HarperCollins interview

Friday, February 5, 2016

PPBF: Stella Queen of the Snow

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Stella Queen of the Snow, by Marie-Louise Gay
Stella Queen of the Snow
Written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Groundwood Books, 2010
ages 4-8

Siblings, winter

"Sam had never seen snow. This was his first snowstorm."

Sam has never seen a big snowfall, so his big sister Stella takes him out into the wide white and shows him everything he needs to know.  Although she wants to romp, Stella patiently satisfies Sam's boundless curiosity. He has a million questions; She has a million and one answers. What do snowmen eat? Snow peas among other things. Why do we see our breath? Because our words freeze. Everything we say is a different shape, but since Sam can't read, naturally he wouldn't know. In the end, Sam learns how to enjoy a winter day and his sister learns that even pesky little brothers can make good companions.

What I Love:
Believe it or not, this is the first Stella book I've read, but it won't be the last. Energetic illustrations, pitch-perfect dialogue, dazzling colors, and loving siblings make this a book we'll return to.
The book ends a bit abruptly, but I forgive it because it is just so believable. I love the subtle way the author displays the pair's relationship. She brings out Stella's personality in the way she answers each question. But parents will recognize themselves in Stella, too. How often do we try to come up with as many answers as a toddler has questions. The perfect warm and fuzzy for those chilly fireside reading sessions.


More from an article in the National Post
1. Readers who enjoyed Stella, Queen of the Snow, may want to look for other books about Stella and Sam. I found almost a dozen other titles on the creator's website.
2. Meet the author at TeachingBooks. One video in French, one in English.
3. Marie-Louise Gay's work graces Canadian postage stamps! Read an interview with the book's creator on All the Little Lights. While you're at it, why not let readers explore a new hobby: collecting stamps. Tips for kids at the American Philatelic Society.
4. Stella has an answer for every question and her ideas are rather eccentric. Challenge students with questions like the ones below. First, do they know the right answer? Second, can they come up with an imaginative fictional response like Stella's?
  • Why do snowflakes have six sides? Why are they each different?
  • What sound does snow make? Why is it cold?
  • Does it ever snow in the desert? Why or why not?
  • Where does ice come from? Where do snow and ice go in the summer?
  • Where are the bears in winter? What do they do all winter long?
5. Stella compares snow to vanilla ice cream. Make your own vanilla ice cream science experiment from TeachNet or maple snow candy (like the one in Miracles on Maple Hill) with this recipe from
6. DesMoines Performing Arts Center has an activity guide and performance ideas on their website.

 7. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed By Fats

Reviewed by Barbara

Reviewed by Joanne

Reviewed by Andrea

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for February 5, 2016 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Enough Books For a Lifetime

“Of course anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can hope to read in one fleeting lifetime.”
David Quammen*

Rhino Bookplate copyright Evelia Designs,
available from Bookplate Ink

*via The Boilerplate Rhino: Nature in the Eye of the Beholder

Friday, January 29, 2016

PPBF: Maudie and Bear

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Maudie and Bear,
by Jan Ormerod and Freya Blackwood
Maudie and Bear
Written by Jan Ormerod
Illustrated by Freya Blackwood
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2010,
American edition 2012
ages 3-8, under 800 words

Friendship, Manners

"I need some exercise," said Maudie.
"Fresh air would be nice," said Bear.
"How about a bike ride?" said Maudie

Maudie and Bear are friends. In this picture book with five short stories, readers are introduced to imaginative, adorable Maudie. She is an everyman, playing in the yard, eating cookies, having tea parties. Bear is more like a beloved dad. It is the believable reactions of Maudie and the patient love of Bear that make this book a Frog and Toad for this generation. Stories include "Making Up", where Maudie's antics make Bear laugh. Maudie can't understand why anyone would be laughing at her, except to poke fun, and so a tiff ensues. In "Telling Stories" Bear makes excuses for listening to Maudie's made-up story with his eyes closed. Maudie tries everything little ones do to get Bear to stay awake but in the end, it is Bear who has to finish the tale. Also included are "The Bike Ride," "Home Sweet Home," and "The Snack."

What I Love:
Jan Ormerod perfectly captures the voice of little Maudie. She pouts without being spoiled. She exasperates without being annoying. The parent / child friendship is the perfect vehicle for these quiet stories which will seem familiar to any mom and idyllic to any child. Freya Blackwood's illustrations are . . . perfect. (Can't use that word too many times for this collection.) Her soft watercolors are both fresh and nostalgic. And the fabulous American edition was designed by Annie Ericsson, designeer extraordinaire. I dare you not to love this award-winning book.


Photos and variations courtesy Minieco
1. Early Words offers a teacher guide with activities, written by Dr. Robin Morrow.
2. I love the torn paper bear made by Crafty Morning. The no-scissors technique is easy for even the smallest readers.
3. Pair storytime with snacktime with bear toast from Kids Soup.
4. Have your students come up with additional adventures for Maudie and Bear. Use the existing stories to teach conflict and resolution.
5. Check out these and other related Perfect Picture Books from your local library.

Reviewed by Amy
Reviewed by Kirsten

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Stacy

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for January 29, 2016, available on Susanna Leonard Hill's excellent blog.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Register for World Read Aloud Day

Make your plans to celebrate reading around the world.

Register at

How will you celebrate?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Most Valuable Possessions

". . . the things of greatest value are the things that can’t be taken away – creativity, heart and intelligence. "
-Mira Reisberg*

Bookplate provided by Pratt Institute Libraries

*Via Nerdy Chicks Rule

Friday, January 22, 2016

PPBF: The Biggest, Best Snowman

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The Biggest, Best Snowman,
by Margie Cuyler and Will Hillenbrand
The Biggest, Best Snowman
Written by Margery Cuyler
Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Scholastic, 1998
Age 4-8, ATOS level 3.6

winter, individuality


Little Nell lived with BIG Mama, BIG Sarah, and BIG Lizzie in a BIG house in a BIG snowy woods.

Little Nell lives with her BIG family. They tell her she is too small to help, too small to do anything. So Nell escapes to the BIG woods to get some perspective. Her animals friends persuade her that she is too big enough to build a snowman, a really, really big snowman. She teaches them how to roll the snowballs just right, how to build a snowman, and how to decorate him. Nell proves to her family that she is both clever and capable, even if she is small. 

What I Love:
Margie Cuyler uses the common childhood experience of being left out as the basis for this simple story. The stunning pictures are full of life and color (despite all the snow.) And illustrator Will Hillenbrand throws in a few surprises too. (Look carefully at the tracks the animals make in the snow.)


One blogger thought this mom had too much time
 on her hands. Sorry, I disagree. These are adorable! 
1.Margie Cuyler talks about her love of picture books and why they're important on WritingForKidsWhileRaisingThem.
2. You'll find teacher resources on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock site
and more worksheets and ideas on The Picture Book Teacher
3. Create a healthy snowman snack with cheese sticks from  ihow.
4. Try Tic Tac Snow and other fun activities suggested by Parents Magazine.
5. Live in a sunny climate? Make your own play snow with this recipe from Momma's Fun World.
6. Parenting Chaos recommends additional children's books about snowmen.
7. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Patricia

Reviewed by Katie
Reviewed by Joanne

Reviewed by GradeOnederful

Reviewed by Catherine

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for January 22, 2016 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.