Friday, May 29, 2015

PPBF: I Pledge Allegiance

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

I Pledge Allegiance, by Bill Martin Jr,
Michael Sampson, and Chris Raschka
I Pledge Allegiance
Written by Bill Martin, Jr. and Michael Sampson
Illustrated by Chris Raschka
Candlewick, 2002
Grade K-2, Reading level 4.9, 576 words

History, Patriotism

I pledge . . .

I Pledge Allegiance, by Bill Martin, Jr. and Chris Raschka is a beautiful and simple nonfiction picture book. One or two words of the Pledge are printed on every page with graphic illustrations. Below each word or phrase, the author has explained in simple language the meaning or breadth of that section of the Pledge. Some sidebars appear throughout the text, but the information presented there is kept general for a young audience. Some history, notes on Francis Bellamy, and tips on Patriotic etiquette are added to give substance to the book.

What I Love:
A beautifully diverse rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance which is both moving and elementary, it teaches younger readers respect for citizenship and reminds older readers to consider as they recite the pledge. I loved how the author included flag etiquette, which as far as I know, is rarely taught to students. I also learned the reason Francis Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance. (You'll have to read it to find out!) And as a writer myself, I was fascinated with the way Bill Martin took a simple plot and a challenging subject, and turned them into a valuable and fun picture book. Thanks, too, to Chris Raschka for his vision of the American people.

1. At Teacher Vision, you'll find rebus-type worksheets on the American Pledge of Allegiance.
Courtesy Lisa Storms
2. MPM School Supplies offers printing worksheets of the text of the pledge.
3. Commoncore blogger offers the pledge in both Spanish and American Sign Language.
4. Lisa Storms has created a healthy snack version of the American flag.
5. Read more about the history of the pledge on US
6. PBS chronicles the history of the flag itself.
7. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Carrie
Reviewed by Beth
Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Barbara

Reviewed by Susanna
Reviewed by The Picture Book Review

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 May 29, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

IF: Melt

Melted Popsicles, by Joanne Roberts for Illustration Friday

Just a quickie sketch with my new Pentel Pocket Brush Pen on Bee Marker paper. Really wish I'd had more time to work on this. Freehanding it wasn't the best idea I had all day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Draw This! Bounce

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators 
has developed a new perk, 
the monthly Draw This! challenge. 

The June prompt is BOUNCE.

Members may participate by submitting one illustration inspired by the monthly prompt. Aside from the opportunity to see fellow illustrators' work at #scbwidrawthis, one can view the gamut of bouncing creatures via the SCBWI site's online gallery.

Bounce House, by Joanne Roberts

Thanks especially to Sarah Baker for her diligence in bringing this challenge to fruition!

Learn More at

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Odd Thing About Book Collectors

"The odd thing about people who had many books was how they always wanted more."
-Patricia McKillip*

Bookplate by Maria Leboroni
via ExLibris Art Shop

*The Bell at Sealey Head via Goodreads

Friday, May 22, 2015

PPBF: Lily's Victory Garden

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Lily's Victory Garden,
by Helen Wilbur and Robert Steele
Lily's Victory Garden
Written by Helen L. Wilbur
Illustrated by Robert Gantt Steele
Sleeping Bear Press, 2010
Grade 1-4, Reading level 5.3, 2017 words

History, Affecting Others, War

"My brother Jack and I go every Saturday to collect tin cans and scrap for the war effort. We also pick up the full cans of grease the army uses to make bombs and bullets. Although how they make bullets out of bacon drippings, I have never figured out."

Part of the Tales of Young Americans Series. Lilly and her brother are doing what they can for the war effort. But now President Roosevelt has asked Americans to plant victory gardens. Lily is too young to have a piece of the community garden, so she gets permission to plant in her neighbor's yard. Mrs. Bishop is still grieving the loss of her son, the first soldier in town to die. As the vegetables grow stronger so does the bond between Mrs. Bishop and Lily. Two pages of historical back-matter further explain shortages, recycling, and life during World War II.

What I Love:
This picture book shows how one person can make a difference, even if that person is a child. Set against the backdrop of war, this book informs readers about the recycling efforts of stateside Americans, specifically the Victory Garden movement. But it also shows kids they can effect change in their community. They can be a part of the solution to a problem much bigger than themselves. In so doing, they may find the power to change individual lives for the better. A text sprinkled with historical details and lush, realistic illustrations make this book both beautiful and informative.

Painted rocks as garden markers
1. Visit the National WW II Museum to learn about life in America in the 1940's and Victory Gardens in particular.
2. Read the original Victory Garden Handbook from 1940 and start your own community garden project.
3. Visit Wessels's Living History Farm in York, Nebraska or Fenway Victory Gardens in Boston, MA.
4. Kids can grow their own vegetables with the 7 easiest plants to grow from Inhabitots and 10 kid-friendly gardening tips from the American Community Gardening Association.
5. Paint these terrific garden markers from Crafts By Amanda.
6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Jarm
Reviewed by Patricia

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Julie

Reviewed by Wendy
Reviewed by S. N. Taylor

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 May 22, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

IF: Pet

How do you like your marshmallows? Well done?

Joanne Roberts pencil sketch for Illustration Friday theme: Pet
A dragon is a Boy Scout's best friend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Girl With A Guinea Pig

On my desk today:

Pentel brush pen on 90lb? Strathmore Visual Journal, 8"x 51/2"

Monday, May 18, 2015

Books Are . . .

"Books are . . . windows on the world and lighthouses erected in the sea of time."Barbara W. Tuchman*

*via Amloki    

Friday, May 15, 2015

PPBF: Scaredy Squirrel

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Scaredy Squirrel book #1 by Melanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel
Written and Illustrated by Melanie Watt
Kids Can Press, 2006
Age 4-8, Reading level 3.6, 516 words

fear, humor, adventure


Scaredy Squirrel insists that everyone wash their hands 
with antibacterial soap before reading this book.

Scaredy Squirrel never leaves his nut tree.
He'd rather stay in his safe and familiar tree than risk venturing out into the unknown. The unknown can be a scary place for a squirrel.
Interior art by Melanie Watts, courtesy Kids Can Press

Scaredy Orville Squirrel (S.O.S.) has more than a few phobias: germs, bees, sharks, aliens. He is so paralyzed by his fear that he never leaves his tree. Everyday is predictable, until a killer bee comes along who is not part of his plan. Scaredy is forced into the unknown. He discovers he has a hidden talent, and that the unexpected can lead to wonderful things which even Scaredy's vivid imagination couldn't have planned.

What I Love:
In the tradition of the best how-to manual farces (think Goofy cartoon: How to Ski), the Scaredy Squirrel books tease us about our fears and nudge us out of our comfort zones. Young readers can relate to reasonable fears as well as phobias, but through Scaredy's adventures may find courage despite their feelings.

That is not to say these books are meant to instruct. Far from it! The Scaredy Squirrel series is just plain funny. The  measures he takes to avoid what might happen, the lengths he goes to keeping himself protected from his exaggerated fears make for hilarious reading  . . . again and again!

1. There are seven other Scaredy Squirrel books to love!
Pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon frosting
2. Join the Scaredy Squirrel Fan Club!
3. First Grade Garden has a paper plate craft to make your own Scaredy Squirrel.
4. Melanie Watt has provided coloring pages, activities pages and more on her Scaredy website.
5. JavaCupcake cooked up a delicious recipe with a nutty theme. 
6. Kidzworld has a fun quiz about our fears. Can you correctly identify the listed phobias?
7. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Beth

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 May 15, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Small Successes

On my desk today . . . 

Fortune Cookie Success

"Success is an accumulation of successful days."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Did You Finish NaPiBoWriWee?

Did you participate in Paula Yoo's National Picture Book Writing Week?

How many stories did you draft?

Mark your calendar for May 1-7 2016

I was able to finish well with two wordless storyboards, five first drafts, one rewrite of a previously unsuccessful manuscript, and three false starts which showed me those PiBoIdMo ideas may not be picture books after all.

If you didn't accomplish as much, that's okay. It's not easy. This was my third year of NaPiBoWriWee. I have a system in place and was able to do some prep back in March. This event was particularly important to me this year, and so I put aside other important projects to focus on Napi almost exclusively. Just don't ask me how much illustration I finished in the last two weeks.

Feel like you missed out?

Why not join me and dozens of other writers as we take up the next challenge?

Register for the NonFicPic WOW 2015

Seven days of drafting, just like NaPiBoWriWee, but this time writing your nonfiction picture book ideas.
There's still time to register and research, outline and organize. Find helpful resources on Kristen's website. Join the Facebook group and dig in!

Friday, May 8, 2015

PPBF: I Love You As Much . . .

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

I Love You As Much . . .
Written by Laura Krauss Melmed
Illustrated by Henri Sorensen
HarperCollins, 1993
Preschool-2nd grade, 24 pp

love, motherhood, animal babies

Said the mother horse to her child, "I love you as much as a warm summer breeze."

Said the mother bear to her child, "I love you as much as the forest has trees."

Laura Krauss Melmed's rhyming text presents the reader with eight mother and child animal pairs. Each mother in I Love You As Much . . . equates her love to something in her environment. The bear loves her cub like she loves the forest. The mouse loves her pinkie as much as she loves grain. The goat's love is as rugged and high as the mountain. The book ends with a human mother comforting her baby and putting him to sleep.

What I Love:
As gentle and rhythmic as the rocking of a cradle, this picture book will lull little ones into that sense of peace they can usually only find in Mommy's arms. Henri Sorensen's watercolors are by turns vivid and cozy. We enjoyed this book with each of our children, even memorizing the text for difficult cars rides. It's a perfect Mother's Day gift.

1. Read about the history of the American Mother's Day celebration or its roots in ancient times.
Thanks to Miss Morgan of Brilliant Beginnings Preschool.
2. You'll find a coloring pages of babies and their siblings free on picgifs.
3. Make a mother's day card with the instructions from BrilliantBeginnings or use thrift store jigsaw puzzle pieces instead.
4. The American Astronomical Society  has a splendid article on growing up with a scientist mom and the main page links to women in the sciences. Great STEM stuff!
5. ZooBorns lists animals and their special baby names, or quiz yourself using the list on EnchantedLearning 
6. Laura Krauss Melmed is a consummate rhymer. Use these Mother's Day poems as a spring board for young readers to try their hand at writing something poetic for their moms.
7. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Stacy
Reviewed by Julie

Reviewed by Wendy
Reviewed by Joanne

Reviewed by Barbara
Reviewed by Barbara

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 May 8, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Friday, May 1, 2015

PPBF: The Apple and the Butterfly

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The Apple and the Butterfly,
by Iela and Enzo Mari

The Apple and the Butterfly
Written and Illustrated by Iela Mari and Enzo Mari
Reprinted Stern, Price, Sloan, 2013 (original Bompiani, 1969 and Pantheon, 1970)
Preschool-2nd grade, wordless

Wordless, Science, Non-fiction

This wordless picture book takes the reader on the journey of a butterfly life-cycle. In graphic, but realistic style, the author / illustrators beautifully portray how a butterfly lays her egg on an apple blossom, how the egg becomes a tiny caterpillar who eats his way out of the center of the fruit, how the caterpillar feeds on the apple tree, makes a chrysalis, emerges as a butterfly, and begins the cycle again.

What I Love:
When I happened on a modern copy of this book in a book store, I had no idea artist Iela and designer Enzo created it in 1969! That explains the limited use of color, but don't let that stop you from sharing this marvelous book with your young nature lovers. It has a fresh look and a timeless appeal which can teach little ones to appreciate the intricacy of creation even while it informs, all in an approachable wordless package.

Interior illustrations,
Courtesy Babyccino Kids

1. You can find more books by the Maris on The Animalarium.
2. Learn the facts about butterflies on The Children's Butterfly Site.
3. The Butterfly Site offers free coloring pages.
4. The Australian site Nudie has instructions for kids on how to grow an apple tree or find fun facts about apples on Science Kids.
5. KinderCare invented an adorable peanut butter and banana caterpillar.
6. Make your own crafty pasta life cycle on A Nation of Moms or a technicolor butterfly suncatcher from MiniEco.
7. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Erik
Reviewed by Laura Anne

Reviewed by Clarike
Reviewed by Sue

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 May 1, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.