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 cafĂ© 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.

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