Wednesday, February 28, 2018

And Now For A Brief Pause

A death in the family and a family crisis are forcing much of my work to the back burner. Please excuse this brief but necessary absence.

I hope to return to blogging, book reviews, and more by Easter.

Thank-you for all the prayers being sent on our behalf.

Hope to see you in April.

Picture Book Recipe

"The ingredients are simple: words and pictures and page turns. Stir in the magic of a story read aloud, a lap to sit on, a story circle to be part of, a nap time, a private space –– and a picture book can be a force that shapes us, changes us, and never quite releases its grip on our heart."

–Marla Frazee*

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

From Imagination to Publication

"The book that stands on the shelves of a bookstore and then into a kid's home needs structure in the process of its making. It needs your grit as an author and a dash of luck."

Bookplate by Alexei Yapatov

Friday, February 16, 2018

PPBF: Hatching Chicks in Room 6

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick*

Hatching Chicks in Room 6, by Caroline Arnold
Hatching Chicks in Room 6

Written and illustrated by Caroline Arnold

Charlesbridge, 2017
Ages 3-7, 40 pp, 590L

Science, Nature, Non-fiction, Chicken Life Cycle

Mrs. Best keeps chickens in her backyard. Every day the hens lay eggs. Every day Mrs. Best collects the eggs for her family to eat. But today Mrs. Best is bringing the eggs to school.

Hatching Chicks in Room 6 is a photo essay of one Kindergarten class's hands-on experience raising chickens in the classroom. The book documents the journey from incubator to outside pen, serving as textbook and guidebook. Hatching Chicks is a great companion for teachers, a starting point for those wishing to raise their own flock, and an introduction to the avian life cycle for schools unable to care for actual animals.

What I Love:
This is not my kind of non-fiction. I would never have picked this book up off the shelf. As a child, I would never have chosen this book. So why is Hatching Chicks in Classroom 6 my Perfect Picture Book Friday pick? Not just because it won the CYBILS Award for elementary non-fiction (though it did), but because it is surprising, and fun, and almost perfect.

The text is perfectly suited to its audience. The writing is straightforward, but not dry. Facts abound, but not in a didactic way. The author's interaction with the kids of Room 6 and their combined enthusiasm for the subject shines from every page, putting the reader in the classroom, transforming the chicks into characters in a story.

Hatching Chicks is rather like a scrapbook of Caroline Arnold's time with Ms. Best's 6-year-olds. As readers, our education grows along with the little peeps. Questions, vocabulary, links, and more provide a complete package of resources for like-minded teachers or inquisitive students. I would love to see it in the hands of kids (especially the ones like me who might miss it!)


1. If you know a teacher who would like to raise chickens in the classroom, pass on these links for educators: 7 Rules for a Successful Hatching Project from MyPetChicken and an elementary grade activity booklet from NYAgriculture in the Classroom.

2. Expand on the project with Vital Farms's 20 Ways to Recycle Eggshells.

3. Whole Fed Homestead has an economic, organic recipe for chicken mash, instead of purchasing store-bought chick feed.

4. Some administrators may need convincing, or schools may need to apply for grants. Find the info they'll need on PetsInTheClassroom.

5. Celebrate hatching day with a healthy snack: Alana Jones-Mann cooked up a dozen hard-boiled eggs that look like chicks hatching. There's a slightly more complicated version available from HGTV.

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

Reviewed by Jarm
Reviewed by Susanna

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Patricia

Reviewed by Sue
Reviewed by Susanna

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Perfect Picture Book Friday is pre-empted today because of the 2018 Valen-Tiny Contest. Please check out the entries on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

*As a CYBILS second round judge, a review copy of this book was made available in exchange for my honest opinion.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

CYBILS Awards 2018

Congratulations to each of the CYBILS winners. Book bloggers from all over whittle down the list of best books in each category: board books, graphic novels, poetry, and non-fiction, to name a few.

You'll find the top books (published in the previous year) in each category on the CYBILS blog.

The list of nominees is usually the cream of the crop.
Peruse the list to fill out your TBR pile.

Walk, don't run, to your local book store and pick up a copy of each of these deserving winners. While you're at it, take along a list of the finalists, too. There's always a passionate discussion among the judges. Sometimes the winners are only a fraction apart in quality. Celebrate these beautiful books and book creators with me...and pass the books on to the young readers in your life!

Starting tomorrow, I'll be reviewing each of the finalists in my category: Elementary Non-Fiction. So tune in to Perfect Picture Book Fridays. If time permits, I'll also post my thoughts on Middle Grade Mondays for the finalists in the Middle Grade Non-Fiction category. I've been dying to shout out about these amazing books. Please join me or sign up to follow my blog so you don't miss a single post!

Thanks, and happy reading.

Hatching Chicks in Room 6, by Caroline Arnold

Hatching Chicks in Room 6

by Caroline Arnold.
Winner in the Elementary Non-Fiction category.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Lovable Books

"He loved books, those undemanding but faithful friends."

–Victor Hugo*

Bookplate of window bookshelf via Flikr

*Via Shesourceful

Friday, February 9, 2018

PPBF: Ask Me

And now on to today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Ask Me, by Bernard Waber and Suzy Lee
Ask Me

Written by Bernard Waber
Illustrated by Suzy Lee

Henry Holt BFYR, Macmillan, 2015
Ages 4-7, 40 pp, 250L

Relationships, Family, Fathers

Ask me what I like?

What do you like?

I like dogs.
I like cats.
I like turtles.

Daddy and daughter take a walk together, giving Daddy time to discover inner secrets of his little girl through the lost art of listening. A celebration of both fatherhood and childhood.

What I Love:
Ask Me is a delightfully sweet book that echoes the yearning in every child's heart, to be heard, to be someone other people want to get to know. Dad and daughter exchange a series of questions with delightfully child-like answers which just may reveal more about her inner self than he could have imagined. Perfect for Valentine's Day, Father's Day, or any day.

How to Listen So Other People Will Talk,
Recommended by Parenting Like Hannah

1. Enjoy daddy-daughter date suggestions from toddlers to teens on Ask MenThe Simple Dad, and Happily Ever Mom.

2. Have Daddy fill out a questionaire, from NotJustCute.

3. Questions aren't just for dads. Get to know your kids with conversation starters from Our Three Peas and Parents.

4. I'm still convinced that reading aloud with my kids (now teenagers) is consistently one of our strongest bonding times. Read more and find suggestions on ReadAloudRevivial podcasts and website.

5. My husband is a baking wiz. For our daughter's birthday he made these cherry limeade cupcakes from Bird on A Cake. Why not give it a whirl with your young lady? Or prepare dinner with five easy recipes from All Pro Dad.

6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.
Special thanks to three great PPBF reviewers: Julie, Wendy, and Perfect Picture Book Friday creator, Susanna Leonard Hill.

Review of Meet the Parents
Review of  The House on East 88th Street

Review of Dad and Pop
Review of Open This Little Book
Review of Daddy Depot
Review of Mother Bruce
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, February 9, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Growing Story Seedlings

"Once an idea comes to should ask, 'Who could help me tell that story? What character and what situation can help demonstrate that idea?'"

–Peter H. Reynolds*

Dandelion bookplate by Mads Stage,
Courtesy Frederikshavn Art Museum

Friday, February 2, 2018

PPBF: Claudia & Moth

And now on to today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Claudia & Moth by writer/illustrator Jennifer Hansen Rolli
Claudia & Moth

Written and illustrated by Jennifer Hansen Rolli

Viking BFYR, Penguin Random House, 2017
Ages 4-6, 40 pp, 610L

Pets, Friendship

"Claudia loved butterflies."

Claudia is in love with butterflies. She yearns to take one home, but instead learns to paint them. She revels in the colors all summer, but when winter comes, greys and whites dominate her world. When Claudia encounters a white moth in her bedroom, she devises a plan to add some color and a new pet to her dull snowy days. Instead, Claudia learns that creatures in nature can't be improved upon or contained.

What I Love:
This book received a lot of hype in my area because the creator is a hometown girl. Now that I've finally gotten my hands on a copy, I realize the praise in a natural result of this book's well-told narrative and engaging illustrations. Claudia is adorable and kid readers will empathize with her desire to keep a butterfly in her room. I thought the story had an unusually long set-up, but I was so caught up in the story that I didn't notice until well after the last page was turned. The art is energetic, keeping the reader moving through the pages. The moral is more of an under-tone, turning the book into a perfect story time read which opens the door for further discussion.

This color-your-own butterfly is my favorite craft
from the list on Danielle's Place

1. Learn to identify caterpillars and the butterflies they become with the guide found on The Children's Butterfly site or try the database on DiscoverLife.

2. Moths and butterflies have some obvious differences. Can you name the four main differences? Find out on EasyScienceForKids.

3. The art-themed birthday party on Crafts by Courtney could easily be transformed into a Claudia & Moth party. Check out the snacks and wall decor!

4. Paint your own butterflies with the coloring sheets found on ExploringNature.

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

Revuewed by Sue
Reviewed by Julie

Reviewed by Beth
Reviewed by Barbara
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, February 2, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.