Monday, May 30, 2016

No Matter What

"… if you really love to write and you really love to tell stories and you really love to draw,
you just have to keep doing it no matter what anybody says."

- William Joyce*

Bookplate by Martin Ursell for My Home Library

*Via Muddy Colors

Friday, May 27, 2016

PPBF: Lady Liberty's Holiday

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Lady Liberty's Holiday,
fun fiction with informational backmatter
Lady Liberty's Holiday
Written by Jen Arena
Illustrated by Matt Hunt

Knopf Books For Young Readers, 2016
Ages 5-8, 40 pp.

Educational, America, Vacation, Humor

"Not long before the Fourth of July, Lady Liberty woke up feeling a little blue . . . despite being green.
"Year after year, she stood by New York Harbor, a torch in one hand, a tablet in the other."

The Statue of Liberty is tired of the same scenery. When she confides her boredom to her pigeon friend, Moe, he convinces her to take a vacation. Just like that, Lady Liberty lays down her torch and walks off to travel the vast United States. She sends postcards to Moe about all the wonders of America. When the Independence Day fireworks celebration is cancelled because she is missing, Lady Liberty must rush home before the holiday is ruined.
The book includes an afterword of fun facts and a page of the real Statue of Liberty's history.

What I Love:
Come on, you aren't in love with this concept already? Both author and illustrator pull it off with flair. I love the use of postcards as a storytelling device. And Lady Liberty's adventures are hilarious. She travels to the Jersey Shore, but has to rinse off the sand in Niagra falls. You'll see her head among the presidents at Mount Rushmore and when she visits Yellowstone . . . well, you'll have to be surprised along with her. Lady Liberty realizes how much she loves America, and how nice it is to return to home sweet home.


Fabulous Stutue of Liberty craft from Buggy and Buddy
1. Joanna Marple has written a wonderful and informative blog post on the Statue of Liberty.

2. Draw a kid-friendly version of the famous landmark on DrawWithRich. Combine it with salt painting fireworks, instructions from BusyMommyMedia.

3. ElementalBlogging has compiled some great homeschool ideas for studying the United States, including a state-by-state scrapbook.

4. I'd love to buy all 50 of the state cookie cutters from CheapCookieCutters and assemble a giant cookie map. Who's with me?

5. Follow the lesson plans on ReadWriteThink or benefit Leukemia patients on SendKidsTheWorld, by teaching about writing postcards. Then grab some American pen pals with the links and tips on RealClassRoomIdeas.

6. Visit the real Statue of Liberty in New York or take a virtual visit via The History Channel.

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

Reviewed by Julie
Reviewed by Carrie
Reviewed by Erik
Reviewed by Jarm

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, May 27, 2016 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Friday, May 20, 2016

PPBF: My Garden

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

My Garden, by Kevin Henkes
My Garden
Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow, 2010
Ages 2-7, 280 words

Gardening, Imagination

"My mother has a garden. I'm her helper. I water. I weed.
And I chase away the rabbits so that they don't eat all the lettuce.
It's hard work, and my mother's garden is very nice,
But if I had a garden..."

A little girl delights in her mother's garden, but dreams of a magical garden of her own where sea shells and jelly beans grow, chocolate rabbits abound, and the flowers change color at her whim.

What I Love:
I love the style Henkes uses, part child's marker-drawing, part linocut, part fabric pattern. His pages are bursting with child-like colors and almost smell like spring. He captures the young narrator's voice flawlessly. For example, the carrrots in her garden are invisible, because she doesn't like to eat them!


I found this umbrella garden on DIY Enthusiasts
1. The author/illustrator has produced a teachers guide for My Garden and other books on his website.
2. Kids Play Box designed an adorable jelly bean bush crafts inspired by this book. You'll find the instructions on their blog.
3. In the book, the garden unexpectedly sprouts buttons, old rusty keys, and umbrellas. Decorate your garden with colorful recycled key windchimes from Inner Child Fun. Faithtap showcases a dozen planter ideas from your closet including umbrella planters. DIY button stepping stones from Make Your Mark are brilliant!
4. The Science of Spring website is brimming with kid-friendly garden ideas including teacher packets for all grade levels.
5. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Loni
Reviewed by Laura

Reviewed by Penny
Reviewed by Patricia

Reviewed by Joanne

Reviewed by Diane

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 20, 2016 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Be An Empath

"Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy."
 — Nikki Giovanni*

Autumn leaf bookplate

*via Word Dance

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Journey

"For most people, the road to publication is a long one...Take a moment to enjoy the small wins as they come along, and then do what you can to push forward."
-Mark Magro*

Bookplate art by Rieko Yamanaka

*Via Eastern Penn Points


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Stay Screen-Free with Audiobooks

If you haven't had much luck convincing the addicts in your lives to join Screen-Free Week,  then why not try an audiobook. I used to be a purist—paper only—until I heard recordings of some of my favorite books like the ones below.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J. K. Rowling, performed by Jim Dale
Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale, performed by Full-Cast Audio

Books of Bayern #1, by Shannon Hale

And two fantastic choices of narrators for George Selden's The Cricket in Times Square: Rene Aubergonois or Tony Shalhoub.

Chester and Tucker's first appearance,
by George Selden

Find a bookseller near you:

Celebrate Screen-Free Week, May 2-8, 2016

Friday, May 6, 2016

PPBF: Gordon Parks, The Man Who Captured Black and White America

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Gordon Parks picture book biography
by Carole Boston Weatherford and Jamey Christoph
Gordon Parks, The Man Who Captured Black and White America

Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Jamey Christoph
Albert Whitman & Co., 2015
Grades K-3, AD840L

Nonfiction, Biography, the Arts

"The youngest of fifteen, Parks arrives stillborn and is nearly left for dead until a dip in ice water shocks his tiny heart to beat."


Portrait of Ella Watson,
"American Gothic," by Gordon Parks
This lyrical picture book chronicles Parks's life and photographic career. Uplifting and inspiring, it gives just a glimpse of the accomplishments of one man in one lifetime against the odds. The book has an afterward, a collection of the facts in Gordon Parks's life, but the true gem is the author's note which makes it personal, grounding this larger-than-life story from the past in the very real present.

What I Love:
The writing is so beautiful and honest, it was no surprise when I found out the author is also a poet. Readers are drawn into the detail, not just the facts of Parks's life. The art may be a bit different for designer Jamey Christoph, but he captures the era perfectly with engaging illustrations and muted colors.


Photographer Gordon Parks also
wrote a book of his own,
which Carole Weatherford read as a child.
The Learning Tree
1. Reading Rockets posted a comprehensive interview with Carole about her books and their inspirations.
2. The author has put together a dozen teacher guides on her books as well as general historical events, including a powerpoint presentation about the Jim Crow Laws.
3. The Gordon Parks Foundation in Pleasantville, NY is the best place to get a look at the power and scope of Parks work. Or you can view American Gothic, one of Parks most famous images at the Gordon Parks Museum.
4. Legends Online is a photographic hall of fame, including a small gallery of Gordon Parks's work. Plus Learn more about Parks's life on Biography.
5. Artist Jamey Christoph is also something of a Renaissance man. Find more of  his art, from theatrical posters to architecture on workbook.
6. The Brown Bookshelf is a favorite stop for me. With contributors like the inspiring Gwendolyn Hooks, the adorable and talented newcomer Tracey Baptiste, and picture book dynamo Don Tate, readers are assured of finding great books. The blog highlights Black and African American authors and their books.
Speaking of Don Tate, don't miss the opportunity to further your journey to publication at his Highlights Foundation Workshop.
7. The publisher offers common core statistics on their website.
8. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Clar

Reviewed by Erik
From Sally's Bookshelf

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 6, 2016 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Read Instead

Join Screen-Free Week
May 2-8, 2016

How do you get your kids unplugged?

  • Lead by example. 
  • Substitute screen time with face time. 
  • Plan a family activity.
Years ago we discovered the fun (and benefits) of reading out loud.
Thanks to Margaret Mary Kimmel and Elizabeth Segel,* we built irreplaceable family memories around a bowl of popcorn and The Wizard of Oz. Next came Mr. Popper's Penguins, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and A Bear Called Paddington by firelight. And nothing can replace the summer we drove to the shore with a copy of  The Ghost in the Noonday Sun. We started it on the drive, but finished it in rocking chairs overlooking the ocean. I still recommend a family gathering around Sarah, Plain and Tall. Start your own traditions this week and see where your bookish adventures lead you.

Sarah, Plain and Tall,
By Patricia MacLachlan
The Ghost in the Noonday Sun,
By Sid Fleischman

Try a few of these titles from your local library. They make great read-alouds.

Celebrate Screen-Free Week

*For more information and recommendations, check out For Reading Out Loud!: A Guide to Sharing Books With Children.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Dahl-ing Books

"So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall."
-Roald Dahl*

Via Flickr

*Via The Daily Telegraph

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Screen-Free Week 2016

Celebrate Screen-Free Week
May 2-8, 2016
Elephants never forget
 It's Children's Book Week

What will you do with your free time?

Here are some bookish crafts to get you started.

Frog and Toad paper bag puppet, from Bright Hub Education

  First Grade and Fabulous


Animal Corner Bookmarks, from Living and Learning at Home

Living and Learning at Home

Fabric Sketchbook Cover, From Sew DIY

Courtesy Sew DIY