Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Still Waiting

"...writing picture books seems to be about waiting. A bit of planting and watering, but mostly waiting."
Penny Morrison*

KidsStamps Frog and Toad bookplate y Arnold Lobel
Courtesy Tera Peak

*Via Tara Lazar's Writing For Kids While Raising Them

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Poetry in April

April is
sorry I'm late

Need some ideas?

Booked,written by Kwame Alexander
Cover by Steve Gardner
Reviewed by Karen Yingling
I highly recommend Kwame Alexander's Booked. Not only is it a gripping story with authentic voice told in poetry, but the main character is obsessed with soccer, making this book a perfect compliment to the National Library Day theme "Libraries Transform" represented by soccer star Julie Foudy.

Download the poster
 as a PDF from

What other ways will you celebrate National Poetry Month?

Friday, April 21, 2017

PPBF: On Meadowview Street

In light of Poetry month, the National Library Week, and the celebration of Earth Day,
today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is

On Meadowview Street, by Henry Cole
On Meadowview Street

Written and illustrated by Henry Cole

Greenwillow Books, 2007
GradesPK-5, 449 words, 500L

Gardens, Community, Empowerment

"It was a big day. Caroline and her family were moving into their new house on Meadowview Street.

"After things were unpacked, Caroline's dad decided the grass was too tall and got busy mowing the lawn. Caroline was about to explore the new street to see if there was a meadow on Meadowview Street when she noticed a small blossom."

Caroline and her family move into a new house on Meadowview Street, which looks rather like any boring subdivision in any average suburban neighborhood. Not a meadow in sight. When her father begins mowing the overgrown backyard, Caroline fences off one small spot where a wildflower grows. She has to enlarge the area as the wildflowers spread. Caroline notices animals in her yard, too. And soon the family is building birdhouses and digging ponds. Before long human visitors are stopping by. This amazingly sweet story proves that one pair of hands, no matter how small, can make a difference in the world.

What I Love:
This book fits so well with Earth Day's message to be better stewards of our environment. The plot is kid-powered, fitting with the empowerment theme for School Library Month. And, of course, the outstanding words and pictures work so well together, it's a great choice to add to the Perfect Picture Book Friday family.

The text and art are almost perfectly balanced. The illustration style is homey and alive, including plenty of details for young readers to pore over.

1. Last year, Longwood Gardens featured this book for #CommunityRead Day. There are highlights from an interview with the author/illustrator, and suggestions for creating your own environmental revolution. While your there, why not plan a trip to the famous gardens which started as an arboretum in 1798!
Luz Makes a Splash, by Claudia Davila

2.  You absolutely need to share Claudia Davila's outstanding graphic novel, Luz Makes A Splash, with the kids in your life. It's entertaining, informative, and well-written. And it includes a detailed plan for using waste water to transform your community into an oasis in a smart and environmentally friendly way.

3. I love the suggestions from BirdSleuth for sustaining animal habitats, along with their review of this book.

4. The Humane Society suggests 13 ways to make your yard more critter-friendly.

5. National Library Week starts April 9th. The theme is "Libraries Transform." Meadowview Street is transformed in today's featured book. Why not stop by your local branch, take out some books on backyard gardening, and transform your neighborhood?

6. National Library Week's spokeswoman Julie Foudy's mission is to empower young women to impact their communities. Check out her Sports Leadership Academy.

7. Christians sometimes downplay Earth Day as skewing the relationship between man, God, and His creation, but I believe our task of stewardship is often neglected. Suggestions for crafts and activities can be found on Growing Kids Ministry. Participation with perspective can be found on Keepers of the Home.

8. I've included a video reading of the book below.

9. Check out these and other related Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Beth
Reviewed by Patricia

Reviewed by Vivian
Reviewed by Joanne

Reviewed by Patricia
Reviewed by Erik

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 Friday, April 21, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

*I do not necessarily endorse the ministries listed, but recommend the content of the links provided.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Explore, Play, Imagine

"Writing gives me the opportunity to explore ideas, play with language, solve problems, use my imagination, and draw on my own childhood."
-Jack Prelutsky

Courtesy Pratt Institute Libraries

*Via Inspirational

Friday, April 14, 2017

PPBF: Hey, Coach!

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Hey, Coach! by Linda Ashman and Kim Smith
Hey, Coach!

Written by Linda Ashman
Illustrated by Kim Smith

Sterling Children's Books, 2016
Ages 3 and up

Soccer/Sports, Teamwork

Hey, Coach! / Guess what? /  I'm on your team. /  Can we be blue? / No, red. / No, Green!

Let's be TIGERS. / No, the SHARKS. / The UNICORNS. / The BEARS. / The SPARKS!

From the first day of practice to the last game of the season, this lively rhyming text follows a U-6 soccer team during their first year. It would be hard to believe Ashman hadn't been a soccer mom. She certainly must have been paying attention on the sidelines. The rowdy kids in this book are exactly like every player I've ever known. they're constantly yelling for the coach's attention. They make ALL the mistakes of a young team: going the wrong way, whiffing, bunching up. They experience the ups and downs of learning to play, and they do it as a team.

Interior art without the text, by Kim Smith

What I Love:
I loved everything about this book. It actually made me cry while laughing because it is so genuine to what rec league is like. After sixteen straight years (and counting) as soccer parents and about thirteen years of coaching and refereeing, I can rate this book as a must have. In fact, I'm buying it for my daughter's team (sniff. Their final year.) and having all the girls sign it for the coach (my husband.) I guarantee, it'll make him laugh and cry, too.

But nostalgia aside, the rhyme and rhythm are perfect: nothing less than what I would expect from Ashman. The book is more than just a collection of soccer incidents, it has a story and builds with little highs and lows. That's quite a feat for this kind of picture book. Writers have a lot to learn from this book about layering your story over your original idea, about shaping your manuscript, and about using rhyme to move a story forward, not just for decoration. Even the opening lines which I've quoted above, subtly show first the exuberance of the kids, and second, the way they think as individuals at the beginning of the season. I love how the illustrator varied the layout and always draws the kids in motion. She even uses the end papers and scoreboard to tell the story in conjunction with the author's words. A perfect package.

1. Sarah Hall has conducted an interesting interview with author Linda Ashman. And Linda posted an interview with the illustrator from their previous book together. Read it on Picture Book Builders.

Build your own table-top soccer (foosball) from Fatherly,
or this example from Pinterest
2. I've read Linda Ashman's Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books. It's an essential part of any PB creator's library.

3. Whether your family plays soccer or not, it's important to get outside and burn energy. Soccer Coach Weekly and SoccerXpert have posted beginner and advanced drills kids can use to get more exercise. Why not make it a family event? Grab some fresh air together!

4. Julie Foudy, soccer star, Olympian, reporter, and speaker, is part of ALA's Library Week. See what she has to say about empowering our young people.

5. Kraft offers a fun tutorial for a rounded soccer ball cake. Or you can buy the Wilton soccer ball cake pan for the whole sphere.

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

Reviewed by Beth
Reviewed by Keila
Three baseball books
Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Clara

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 Friday, April 14, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

D.E.A.R. 2017

Happy birthday, Beverly!

Drop Everything And Read
D.E.A.R. is a month-long celebration of reading, but today most of us are trying to drop everything and read...without guilt.

What I wouldn't have given for this holiday during my school days!
Courtesy K. W. Barrett
You'll find my TBR stack on Instagram.

Monday, April 10, 2017

National Library Week 2017

The American Library Association has designated April 9-April 15

Olympian, Julie Foudy
Julie Foudy is the 2017 National Library Week Honorary Chair

Julie and her teammates won three Olympic medals in women's soccer. She is a two-time World Cup champion, an author, speaker, and analyst for ESPN, and was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007.

Choose to Matter,
by Julie Foudy

She created the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy, the Julie Foudy Leadership Foundation, and wrote Choose to Matter, releasing May 2.

Julie's mission is to empower young women to reach their potential and to impact their communities through sports, fitness, and leadership.

Look for these ALA events this week:

Libraries Transform
Join the fun at

Friday, April 7, 2017

PPBF: Mr. Wuffles!


Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Caldecott honor book, Mr. Wuffles!
Mr. Wuffles!
Written and illustrated by David Wiesner

Clarion, 2013, Ages 2-9

Animals, Aliens, Wordless

Since this is wordless, I've included two illustrations from the beginning of the book.
Mr. Wuffles and his toys

Hmm. That's an interesting cat toy.

One day Mr. Wuffles, the cat, discovers an unusual new toy among his playthings, a tiny spaceship complete with a tiny alien crew. The aliens will need to find allies if they are going to escape the cat, repair their ship, and make it back to their home planet safely.

What I Love:
Gorgeous illustrations, a language code, superb comic-panel storytelling, a humorous plot, and an adorable, life-like cat character make this one of my favorite of Wiesner's many creations.

1. David Wiesner introduces his nearly wordless creation and Cricket, the model for the feline hero.

2. Smart Books For Smart Kids interviewed David about Mr. Wuffles! and his picture book process. Plus, five questions for the illustrator from The Horn Book.

3. Crack the alien language code on David's blog.

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

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Erik
Reviewed by Joyce
Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Andrea
Reviewed by Susanna
Reviewed by Laura

Reviewed by Wendy

Reviewed by Patricia
Reviewed by Laura

Reviewed by Jarm
Reviewed by Joanne

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 Friday, April 7, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Science Fiction Reading List

Author Andy Weir had an unusual path to publication, but one which I think is empowering to young people, namely, make your dreams happen. Lightspeed Magazine has posted an inspiring interview with him, including some of his favorite childhood books.

Andy is the national spokesperson for School Library Month. While I would hardly call his book, The Martian, kidlit, I would like to recommend some children's books in the same genre.

Please, please, PLEASE leave your sci-fi kidlit recommendations in the comments. Thanks!

Science Fiction is hardly he norm for the picture book crowd, but aliens and robots are always popular. Try these:

No list would be complete without David Wiesner's Sci-Fi classic Mr. Wuffles! I'll post my review for Perfect Picture Book Friday. See you then!

Chapter Books tend more toward fantasy or, again, aliens and robots. These are some of the younger middle grades I found:

 There's a fine line between those chapter books and these Middle Grade, but these tend to be for older MGers. I like:
In the Young Adult category:

More School Library Month posts and events for National Library Week coming soon.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Libraries are an Investment

"A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not an article for mere consumption, but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital."
Thomas Jefferson*

Book vs. crown bookplate,
Courtesy Pratt Institute Libraries

*Via GoodReads

Monday, April 3, 2017

MMGM: Eight Keys

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick:
Eight Keys, by Suzanne LaFleur
Eight Keys

Written by, Suzanne LaFleur

Wendy Lamb Books, 2011
Grades 4-8, 590L
226 pages, 45000 words

Family, Friendships

       The trouble all started right before the first day of sixth grade, the last time Franklin and I played Knights.
        Knights works like this: we get our swords, we head out to the woods, and we go on chivalrous missions to battle ghost knights.
       Uncle Hugh made our swords when we were six, which is when we came up with the game. Franklin's mom wasn't happy about him making us weapons, but Uncle Hugh assured her that the worst that could happen was we would get splinters—and that's only happened a couple of times.
       We never really battle each other.
       Or at least, we never had before.

Eight Keys tells the story of  Elise, who lives with her aunt and uncle. She is changing schools, entering sixth grade. That can be a magical time, but, as in this case, it means the beginning of a transition from childhood to maturity. Childish habits must be examined and abandoned or accepted and sometimes this process is painful or confusing. Add to that Elise's best friend: he's awkward, uncool, and...a boy! It is at this turbulent stage, that Elise is given the key (literally) to opening her past and to discovering details about her parents. She must explore her feelings for them and that means revisiting old heartaches and uncovering new ones.

Eight Keys is a really emotional and sweet book about growing up, changing schools, best friends, bullying, self-image, and family. I love the MC's voice and made an immediate connection with her. The writing put me right back at that awkward age. The setting was one of those where you want to be there despite the heartache. There are many funny moments and bright spots, too. I didn't agree with the author's solution to the bullying problem, but think this could be used as a point for discussion. It did have a few non-swearing-rude words that we don't allow in our house for this age group, but was clean and well-written on the whole. I would heartily recommend this for both boys and girls, even though the MC is an 11/12 year old girl.

1. Don't just take my word for it. Read Rosi's review of Eight Keys on The Write Stuff

2. Find MMGM reviews of Suzanne LaFleur's other books

Love, Aubrey
On Completely Full Bookshelf
Reviewed by Jennifer Rumberger

Listening For Lucca
From Karen on Ms. Yingling Reads
From Pam on So I'm Fifty
Love, Aubrey, 2009
Listening for Lucca, 2013

3.  Need more great books for your TBR pile?

Michael of Middle Grade Mafioso recommends Grounded, by Kate Klise.

Greg of Always in the Middle and Karen on Ms. Yingling Reads recommend Be Light Like A Bird, by Monika Schroeder.

Sharon recommends Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech on Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe.

Rebecca Behrens reviews Sway, by Amber McRee Turner

In a previous Bookish Ambition post, I suggest Zoe in Wonderland, by Brenda Woods.
Grounded, by Kate Klise
Cover by Nick Lu
Be Light Like A Bird,
by Monika Schroeder
Walk Two Moons,
by Sharon Creech

Sway, by Amber McRee Turner
Zoe in Wonderland,
by Brenda Woods
Cover by Frank Morrison

I'd also suggest Journey by Patricia MacLachlan and So B. It, by Sarah Weeks.

Have you reviewed a Marvelous Middle Grade Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations for April 3, 2017.

MMGM started way back in 2010 by Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of Lost Cities. Each week, participating bloggers review our favorite books for ages 8-12. Why not join us?