Friday, May 26, 2017

PPBF: Alpha Bravo Charlie

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Alpha Bravo Charlie,
The Complete Book of Nautical Codes, by Sara Gillingham
Alpha Bravo Charlie

Written and illustrated by Sara Gillingham

Phaidon Press, 2016
Ages 6-10, 120 pp

Language, Nautical, Nonfiction

Ship ahoy!
Imagine you are on a boat out at sea, a long time ago, with no phone or electronic way to talk to anyone else. Sailing in the big, wide ocean is pretty dangerous! There are pirate ships that could rob you, and maybe even enemy ships from countries you are at war with. So when you see another ship off in the distance, what do you do?

Alpha Bravo Charlie is truly a "complete book of nautical codes." The introduction explains the need for and definition of signal flags, the phonetic alphabet flags, Morse code, and semaphore. Then, for each letter of the alphabet, the book includes a full page flag, explanations of each of the other languages, plus a different kind of boat on every page giving examples of the code in use. Each boat is also explained in detail adding a bonus of 26 boats to the reader's repertoire. The back matter includes a glossary, more about nautical history, more about codes, decorating boats, links, and resources for further study. Whew!

What I Love:
This brightly colored, graphic book is sturdy and perfect for enquiring minds and eager little hands. The format is what makes it stand out, as well as the information packed between the covers. Even the endpapers are in Morse code (though I found myself wishing there was a secret message embedded there!) I loved learning the meanings of the flags and can see this being referred to often by best buddies: sending signals from the tree tops or covertly in the classroom. The creator cleverly included various ships to help tell her story. For example, the Alpha flag also means "diver down." The artist drew a boat with diving platform, including descriptive text, to cement the details in our minds. I was astounded she could come up with twenty-six different kinds of boats, each linking to the meaning of the International Code of Signals flags. I did find myself wishing I could detach the flags and use them. I can imagine my kid-self doing just that.


Secret codes in Math class
from What Do We Do All Day
1. I found an Australian site which has pictures and descriptions
of the International Code of Signal Flags.

2. has articles on the history of Morse code and
lessons on the subject.

3. I found a huge, detailed list of various ships on the Ultimate Online Guide. I wonder if it more or less reliable than Wikipedia.

4. Kids Activities Blog and each have a multitude of codes you can teach your kids.

5. Creative Interviews posted an interview with Sara Gillingham on her duties as design director.

6. Check out these related reviews from my previous posts and don't forget to support your local library.

Jackrabbit McCabe & the Electric Telegraph

Mr. Wuffles!

Reviewed by Leslie
Reviewed by Vivian

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, May 5, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Two Out of Three?

“A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.”
~ William Faulkner*

Czechoslovakian bookplate
via Pinterest

*Via Rosi at The Write Stuff

Friday, May 19, 2017

PPBF: The Book of Mistakes

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The Book of Mistakes, by Corinna Luyken
The Book of Mistakes
Written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken

Dial BFYR, 2017
Ages 4-8, 56 pp

Creativity, Accidents

It started

with a mistake.

From the first two words, "It started" we see a pencil drawing a face and we know this book is going to be special. On the next page, the "artist" makes a blob where the eye should be. But this clever picture book shows readers how to keep creating through the mistakes, turning them into happy accidents, or transforming them into out-of-the-box solutions. As the book progresses, a main character emerges and by the end, her personality is fully realized along with a fantastic setting peopled with other unusual characters. The very end is no mistake as the story circles back on itself, leaving the reader with the definitive message to explore their creativity without fear.

What I Love:
This debut book showcases Corinna Luyken's talent in creating fascinating quirky drawings as well as a page-turning picture book. With the emphasis on the theme and the text directed at the reader, the "story" is a little light. But in many ways, this feels like a Peter H. Reynolds book. I predict many wonderful masterpieces as a result of the author's permission to revel in our mistakes.

1. For interviews with the illustrator, see SCBWI's Kidlit Artists, Design of the Picture Book, and Let's Talk Picture Books.

2. Introduce budding artists to Ed Emberley's drawing pages and books. No one says "I can't draw" when they follow his step-by-step instructions.

3. Peter H. Reynolds's International Dot Day is all about creativity. You don't have to wait until September to be infected by his encouraging mission.

4. Not confident with a pencil? Try baking Oops cookies from Steph's Blessings.

5. More4Kids has posted a straightforward article on helping children learn from their mistakes. And Roots of Action lists ten ways you can turn mistakes into positive experiences.

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

Reviewed by Laura
Reviewed by Barbara


Reviewed by Leslie
Reviewed by Sue

Reviewed by Erik
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, May 19, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Don't Forget the Fun

"Scarry considered himself above all else a fun-man disguised as an educator. 'Everything has an educational value if you look for it. But it’s the fun I want to get across.'"
—Richard Scarry*

Giraffe bookplate via Jaume Matamala

*Via Sterling Publishing

Friday, May 12, 2017

PPBF: Poor Louie

Thanks to Joyful Riot

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick is dedicated to moms and their kids, expecting mothers, and doggie mommies.

Poor Louie, by Tony Fucile
Poor Louie
Written and illustrated by Tony Fucile
Candlewick, 2017
Ages 3-7, 40 pp

Pregnancy, Pets

Oh. Hello.
You're probably wondering what I'm doing here in the dark.
By myself. With all this stuff.

Louie the Chihuahua loves his pet parents. His life is perfect, until Mom and Dad begin preparing for real parenthood. Louie is convinced his happiness will end. Running away seems like the only solution, but the author-illustrator has something much better in store.

What I Love:
Tony's previous books are fun to read, so I knew this would be a winner. As I turned the pages in the book store I was struck by the beautiful balance between text and art. Tony's characters are utterly adorable. His style is vintage chic, timeless and appealing. As the story winds its way to the surprising yet inevitable conclusion, I found myself giggling, guessing, and hoping. I realized this book had staying power and bought it on the spot. It's a perfect gift for pet parents, older siblings, and parents-to-be, but kids will immediately relate to the main character. This is my new book crush...and I'm a cat person!

1. If you aren't familiar with Tony Fucile (pronounced Foo-Chilly), you can find an interview from a previous book, Let's Do Nothing! at Candlewick Press. Or watch The Iron Giant or Disney's Lion King or The Little Mermaid. Tony was a phenomenal character animator.

DIY Network features this all natural
dog treat recipe with bacon and peanut butter
2. For care and feeding of real Chihuahuas, visit Totally Chihuahuas

3. Young readers might enjoy a free Chihuahua coloring page from Coloring Café.

4. Poor Louie is hilarious, but helping your pet cope with a new baby is serious business. Get tips from both sides of the cradle at Parents online and the ASPCA.

5. For the humans in your life, try this recipe for White Chocolate Vanilla Peanut Butter Puppy Chow from AverieCooks.

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

Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Penny
Reviewed by Diane
Reviewed by Erik
Reviewed by Wendy
Reviewed by Heather
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, May 12, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

See the World

"We may sit in our library and yet be in all quarters of the earth."

~John Lubbock*

Letterpress bookplate of Australia
Created by Mac and Ninny
*Via Quote Garden

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Dia de Los Ninos

Book Day is here!

El Dia de Los Libros

Join libraries and schools around the country in celebrating Dia. No events in your area? Organize an event of your own or donate some diverse books to your kids' classrooms.

I just finished Nora & Kettle, Clean Teen Publishing, 2015. This first book in the Paper Stars series had me riveted to the page despite its Mature rating. Racial prejudice and disparity are major themes in the book along with the intense scenes of physical abuse. As uncomfortable as those scenes were, each felt like a necessary part of the narrative. Though the Peter Pan veneer was forced, the characters stayed with me long after the last chapter.

Written by Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Cover by Marya Heiman

Drawing from Memory
The Inker's Shadow

Allen Say's graphic memoirs are beautiful and moving. His experiences present an opportunity to analyze some disappointing parts of our national history.

I haven't read it yet, but others have recommended A Place Where Sunflowers Grow for the picture book crowd, Children's Book Press, 2012.

Written by Amy Lee-Tai
Illustrated by Felicia Hoshino

El Dia de Los Ninos comes once a year, but Dia is a year-long commitment. Let's pledge to introducing cultural diversity to local families through books...todas las dias!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

May Events

There are a host of great bookish activities at the beginning of May, but I've committed to

Join Screen Free Week May 1-6, 2017
As part of my pledge to be screen-free, there will be no Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, Wednesday Quote, or Perfect Picture Book Friday postings this week. There are a host of bookish online and community activities you should know about if you aren't eliminating the tech.

Children's Book Week
Support Every Child A Reader
Poster by Christian Robinson
7 mauscripts in 7 days
Paula Yoo's NaPiBoWriWee
Star Wars Day

If you are interested in celebrating screen-free, I've rounded up some suggestions.
  • Green Child has a checklist of 50 non-tech activities for you and your family.
  • This is the perfect week to catch up on your reading, dabble in some of those crafts or recipes on Pinterest, or create some lasting family memories.
  • If you haven't prepped ahead of time, take a trip to the book store: there's nothing better for getting your kids on board than letting them pick out a new book. If it's DIY, then follow up with a trip to the craft or hardware store.
  • Stuck inside? Visit your local game café to get addicted to the latest tabletop offerings.

My recommendations? Build a tree fort, bake cookies, play Zooloretto, or dive into a new book series like The Uncommoners, by Jennifer Bell.

And don't forget to stock up on Star Wars comics and games for May the 4th!

What are you waiting for? Get off the internet and get screen-free!
See you on May 8th.

Friday, April 28, 2017

PPBF: Jazz Day


Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The making of a Famous Photograph
Jazz Day:
The Making of A Famous Photograph

Written by Roxane Orgill
Illustrated by Francis Vallejo

Candlewick, 2016
Grades 3-7, 66pp

Non-fiction, Poetry, Music, History, Photography

In 1958, Art Kane had a crazy idea. Gather as many jazz musicians as possible in one place for a black-and-white photograph, like a kind of graduation picture. Kane was a graphic designer and a jazz buff, not a photographer. He didn't even own a proper camera. But he pitched the idea to the boss at Esquire Magazine, and the boss went for it.

This startlingly beautiful collection of poems carries the varied rhythm of a jazz band repertoire. The poems are grouped to tell the story of a famous photograph taken for Esquire in 1958, which set out to gather all the great names in jazz music in one place for posterity. This fully-packed volume includes an introduction, author's note, bibliography, links, biographies of the various performers, and a page on the Harlem Renaissance. It's awesome!

What I Love:
I don't always react as I should to poetry and I only like hot jazz, but this book fascinated me from page one. The author's fluid poetry was expressive, scintillating, exuberant: everything I love about jazz. The emotional illustration style complimented the captivating poems. Each of the twenty-one poems varies in style, but each carries the right tone, whether introducing a jazz great or setting the scene through a child's eyes. The back matter tells the whole story in delightful detail. I'd love to see this in libraries and classrooms. It's an engaging book which will fill a gaping hole in our kids' educations.

1. Fellow PPBF reviewer Patricia Nozell posted this book last July.

2. Read The Horn Book interview with the author, or visit the Q & A from Bookology about the making of the book.

3. Check out an interesting interview with the illustrator featured on Multicultural Children's Book Day. You can read his acceptance speech for the BGHB picture book award on their website.

4. The history of jazz music for kids, on Ducksters.

5. Learn about the Harlem Renaissance, linking the setting to the photo which inspired Jazz Day.

6. The video at right shows the illustrator talking about his creative process.

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

Reviewed by Vivian
Reviewed by Clara

Reviewed by Vivien

Reviewed by Barbara

Reviewed by Patricia

Reviewed by Jarm

Reviewed by Leslie
Reviewed by Sue and 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 28, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.