Picture Books At The Library 133

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

This batch is overflowing with fun!


A look at nature as winter turns to spring and spring to summer. Beautiful!


A little dragon named Drake is reluctant to listen to his father who tells him to go burn down some houses in the village.


Panda siblings don’t always get along, but they always agree on one thing: bamboo is the best.


Belbum the giant has lost his pants and decides to go find them. Funny!


Winter is coming and the fox is unsure what to do; none of the other animals plans seem quite right. Lovely art!


A tiny narwhal dreams of exploring the world beyond its fishbowl.


A little girl sets out to help her grandpa find his Cree language again. Heartwarming!


Ming and her poppy appreciate life’s simple moments as they walk around town.


A kitten who just wants to play, gets in trouble when he makes a mess. Cute art!


An anteater who loves to eat, eats everything but ants. Fun wordplay!


Snickerdoodle can’t resist Mom’s famous lemon poppy seed cake with buttercream icing.


Kevin the koala doesn’t like change. How will he cope when a disaster causes his whole world to come crashing down? Fun rhyming text!


When Baby and Mama go to the market, Mama doesn’t notice all the treats the sellers give to Baby. Cute story and art!

How To Use Picture Books To Help Your Grandkids Fall in Love with Reading by Susan Day

Here on Frog on a Blog, I’ve been saying for years that literacy is the jump-off point from which all of life’s successes take flight. Many of us take reading for granted, but did you know that some people can’t read street signs, or menus, or cereal boxes, let alone job applications, instruction manuals, or other important documents. If children are introduced to books and reading early on, their chances of becoming strong readers and ultimately successful in life increase substantially. The best way to start is by reading picture books together. 

Please welcome back author and literacy advocate Susan Day. Susan’s article 5 Ways to Make Storytime the Best Time Ever appeared on Frog on a Blog last year. Today, Susan has returned with suggestions on how grandparents (or parents) can use picture books to help their grandkids learn to read and, hopefully, fall in love with reading in the process.

Develop a love of reading with picture books_2

How To Use Picture Books To Help Your Grandkids Fall in Love with Reading

by Susan Day

Learning to read is one of the most important tasks any child has to learn.

It is right up there with learning to ride a bicycle, learning to swim, and later on, learning to drive a car. However, many might argue that learning to read is so much more important, and for good reason.

Without basic literacy skills, a child’s future career, job prospects, and even happiness will be compromised. One of the saddest things I have ever come across was meeting an adult who couldn’t advance their career because they simply couldn’t read or write well. This not only meant never earning more money, but it affected their ability to prepare for retirement, and of course, their self-esteem.

So where do we begin and what can we do?

All children have an innate love of pictures and funny stories. They seem to be hardwired to respond to bright colors, and magical tales. Toddlers and preschoolers like nothing more than cuddling up to a parent or a grandparent, and sharing the special memories only a book can offer.

Picture books offer children so much enjoyment, but is just buying a book and reading it to a child enough?

Is there something else we can do to build a love of books, and a desire to read?

Picture Books Created For All Children

Picture books have been specially written, designed and illustrated to appeal to their young readers. The images are bright, large and some often have delightful quirky things hidden inside them. As well, the text is simple enough to keep a child’s attention.

Look for books which have large text. This way your child can read along with and track the words with their fingers. Sound out individual letters and blended sounds, and ask what other things begin with these sounds.

Encourage your child to look at the shape of the letters and the words as they appear on the page. Once they have done this a few times, you might like to begin to point out other places where these words appear including signs, packaging and, of course, other books.

Grandmother reading with grandchildren

Take Time to Study the Illustrations

We are all in too much of a hurry today with some parents rushing to finish reading because they have so many other things to do.

However, to really build a strong bond and understanding of how a book works, point out the illustrations and ask questions.

What is that character doing?

What color is this or that?

Do you think the character is nice, angry or sad?

Stop and Ask, What’s Going to Happen Next?

One thing children love to do is predict what is going to happen next in the story. Shut the book at a certain point and ask your child what he or she thinks is going to happen. If they don’t know or seem confused give them some options. Such as:

Do you think Goldilocks is going to drive a car next?

Where do you think the Three Bears were when Goldilocks came into the house? At the shops or at the park? Do you think they were at the movies?

Can you imagine what Little Red Riding Hood had in her basket? If she was visiting you, what would you like her to bring?

Predicting the text encourages engagement and involvement rather than just passively accepting what happens next.

Make the Book Relatable to Your Child’s Life

While many stories and fairy tales seem distant or fantasy based, there will always be aspects that can be related to a child’s life.

They might have a dog like the character in the story. They may not like the dark or they may love to sing, for example.

When a character’s parents do something funny or strange, you might ask if they know any parents who do those things too.

When a child can relate the actions or behavior of a character to their own lives, it makes the story more real and believable. They build a connection with the characters and the story that has a real meaning, even though the plot might be fantasy based.

With this in mind, don’t forget that many old fairy tales were written as warnings to children about how to behave and what to be frightened of in their world.

Next time you sit down to read to your child keep in mind how important it is to build a strong connection with reading, and grow a love of books in the heart and mind of your child.

SUSAN DAY AUTHORSusan Day is a passionate author, educator and, grandmother. She wants to empower all parents and grandparents to build meaningful relationships with their grandchildren. Her first non-fiction book was written to explore changes in grandparenting, and teaches the reader how to create their own Grandparenting Philosophy. Discover the Top 10 Things Happy Grandparents Never Regret Doing



Top 17 Circulating Picture Books Of 2017


Which picture books were checked out most often from the Community Library of DeWitt and Jamesville in 2017? 

I report, rather happily (and surprisingly), that no TV or movie tie-ins made the top 17 in 2017! Though, had I expanded the list to top 25, we’d certainly see Peppa Pig (who was very popular in 2016). Had I expanded to top 30, we’d have seen Disney’s Frozen

Not surprisingly, Pete the Cat makes an appearance, as does Mo Willem’s pigeon and Thomas the Tank Engine. The rest of the books on the list are a wonderful mix of titles and characters. The top book of 2017 stars a little elephant that you just might recognize.

Circulated 17 Times: This may seem like a small number, but when you consider that each book may be checked out for up to 3 weeks (21 days), that 17 times means the top book was checked out over and over for nearly the entire year.


Circulated 16 Times:


Circulated 15 Times:





Circulated 14 Times:









How many of these titles have you read?

Take a look at the top circulating picture books in prior years:

Top 19 Circulating Picture Books Of 2016

Top 15 Circulating Picture Books Of 2015

If every library made a list of top circulating picture books, every list would be different. How does your library compare?

Picture Books At The Library 132

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.


A girl loses her favorite doll on the way to her grandma’s house, but it’s returned to her by someone special. Beautiful illustrations!


A little girl’s pet turtle sets off to find a gift for the girl’s seventh birthday.


Even a small mouse can conquer big things. Striking cover!


A girl hates her shadow and cuts it off, but later she realizes how much an important part of her it was.


Little Penguin ate his friend Kenneth’s lollipop without asking and now he needs to make things right. Funny!


A leaping flea sets off a chain reaction of leaping, jumping, bounding creatures. Lovely art!


A fox attempts to teach a trio of lemmings to read in order to save them from their habit of jumping off cliffs.


An introduction to numbers and how you can find them everywhere.


With Dragon as boat and Girl as crew, the two friends sail off in search of Far Away.


Little Train goes out on the track all by himself for the very first time.


An exploration of building forts throughout all four seasons. Clever concept book about the seasons!


Farmer MacDonald’s farm is invaded by a group of escaped zoo animals.


A mama robot helps her little bot get ready for bed. Awesome, colorful art and fun rhyming text!

New Year=New Beginnings: December’s Winner


Happy New Year, everyone! Today I announce the final winner in my year-long blog giveaway, a giveaway in which I endeavored to show my gratitude to my followers, fans, and friends for their support by spreading a bit of positivity in what seems, at times, an overwhelmingly negative world. When I started New Year=New Beginnings last January, I never dreamed the year would fly by in the blink of an eye. But here we are, in a brand new year! As I bring 2017’s giveaway to a close, my hope is that 2018 will prove to be a joyous year, filled with positive energy, for each one of you.

Let’s recap the past year and announce December’s winner!

January’s prize was a copy of my book The Peddler’s Bed.

February’s prize was an adorable plushie Curious George.

March’s prize was a set of Pilot’s pens, a Night Writer 2-pack with LED lights, perfect for writing in the dark, and a must have for writers or travelers.

April’s prize was winner’s choice of either a picture book manuscript critique (for writers) or a Personal Library Kit (for book lovers).

May’s prize was a set of two darling bookmarks: A Hippo and a Crocodile.

June’s prize was a Maurice Sendak Nutshell Library box set that includes four tiny classics: Alligators All AroundChicken Soup With RiceOne Was Johnny, and Pierre.

July’s prize was a set of two music CDs by the amazing Emily Arrow: Storytime Singalong volumes 1 and 2!

August’s prize was a super cute, super fun novelty Writer’s Block Journal filled with 300 blank pages, ready and waiting for inspiration to hit!

September’s prize was a Dr. Seuss finger puppet set featuring three lovable characters from The Lorax (my favorite Dr. Seuss book)!

October’s prize was a stylish scarf designed to look like a library due date card.

November’s prize was a new copy of an old classic: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, a picture book that pairs Robert Frost’s poetic text with Susan Jeffer’s dreamy illustrations.

Last but not least, December’s prize brought New Year=New Beginnings full circle: a signed copy of my book The Peddler’s Bed or, alternatively, a picture book manuscript critique from me.

Final Final Cover

And the winner of December’s prize is…

Joan Leotta

Congratulations Joan! Please contact me by clicking HERE and let me know which prize you’d prefer.

It is with much appreciation to all who have read, followed, shared, liked or commented on my blog posts this past year that I bring this giveaway to a close. But, look for new content coming soon to Frog on a Blog, including more giveaways. Also, don’t forget to check back each week for the latest Picture Books At The Library post where I share new picture books. I’ll keep sharing; you keep reading! 🙂

Picture Books At The Library 131

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.


Engrossed in a book, Henry decides to ignore the school bell, which sets off a chain reaction.


A young pirate sets off alone to prove she’s a good pirate, and to make amends for a mistake.


Les is clean and responsible, while Ronnie is dirty and laid back. Will these opposite feet ever learn to walk in one another’s shoes?


Annie wants to be in the school talent show with her friends Lillemor and Lilianne, but she won’t listen to any of their ideas.


A boy and his father make a pizza from scratch.


When their pizza gets loose and starts wreaking havoc all over town, the witches need help from the neighborhood kids.


Two young seeds can’t wait to grow up and become pears.


A bear sits and waits through the changing seasons for his friend to show up.


Everyone is Strictville is terrified when their town is invaded by hundreds of adorable puppies.


A brother and sister spend a fun-filled day with their grandparents enjoying the wintry outdoors. Lovely art!


Lila wants to help her family get ready for Shabbat dinner.

Picture Books At The Library 130

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.


A stranded wolf cub is rescued and raised by a loving polar bear. Sweet!


Two baby elephants are captured and sent away to perform at a circus.


When a giant chicken shows up in her kitchen, Anyaugo must find a way to save the yams for the New Yam Festival.


Fred the beaver tries to make friends with the super cool lumberjack he meets in the woods.


A boy welcomes several animals into his home who are searching for a warm place in which to settle for winter. Fun read!


Follow a mother and her family through all the stages and battles of cancer.


Ira is a bit too enthusiastic about making friends before he starts at his new school.


Lucy’s had enough of her little sister Mia always wreaking havoc in her room.


When Molly and Mae meet at the train station, two journeys begin: one through the countryside and one through the ups and downs of friendship.


Yoomi’s brothers call her a baby because she won’t eat kimchi. Maybe there’s a way to make it tastier.


Julie helps her grandpa find the perfect new chair.

Once Upon a Time…in History….by Lisa Olson

 “It’s easy to get sucked up into the enormity of life and not think you could ever make a difference. That’s what I like all my books to say. YOU ARE IMPORTANT!!!” ~Lisa Olson





I love this quote by Lisa Gammon Olson, author of the American Herstory series! Lisa contacted me recently about her picture book series and I could tell (even through e-mail correspondence) that she’s very passionate about what she wants young readers to take away from her books. I asked Lisa to tell us more about the books and the messages they impart.

My American Herstory Series started where every story starts…with a Once Upon a Time…a small snippet of time from our past, as seen through the eyes of one young girl.  

Working as a secretary in a small rural elementary school has given me a glimpse into the inner workings of a child’s heart and mind.  I see their need for acceptance, for praise and to feel valued as an integral part of the daily school routine.

My father taught 9th grade World Geography and American History. My three sisters and I grew up immersed in daily discussions of current and historical events, interconnected and tightly woven together, todays, tomorrows and yesterdays… sewn together in the colorful patchwork quilt of life.  I’ve always been amazed at the tenacity of the human spirit and the will to survive and even thrive in harsh conditions throughout history.

So, in wanting to validate every child’s sense of belonging, coupled with a passion for history, Dust Flowers, came to life.  The first book in this historical fiction series takes place during one of the most difficult periods in American history, the Dust Bowl Era. Imagine being a child, watching your parents struggle to farm during a decade long drought, besieged with daily black blizzards of swirling dust and not having ever felt a drop of rain in your entire lifetime.  What could one small girl do in the enormity of a drought?  Every act, no matter how small, can change someone’s life for the better. Growing a flower and bringing a smile to her mother’s sad face promises something even more precious…hope!


Illustration from DUST FLOWERS by Lisa Olson, illustrated by Kyle Olson, published by Eifrig Publishing

Children need to know that everything they do in life will affect someone or something, either positively or negatively, depending on their actions.  In the second book, Sewing the Magic In, a young girl living in 1912 learns her own impact and importance.  She’ll find out how her seemingly tedious work in the costume department plays a part in bringing the magic of the circus to life.


Even the orphan train riders in the third book, The Cheese Song, can find hope and promise in a situation far out of their control.  Each of us has a part to play on this earth and we soon find out we are all dependent upon the actions and kindness of others. Lessons learned from the past, hopefully, help us to grow and evolve in the future.


Illustration from THE CHEESE SONG by Lisa Olson, illustrated by Lauren Rutledge, published by Eifrig Publishing

While the American Herstory series starts with “Once upon a time”…every book ends with a message of hope, love and the pursuit of the American dream, and they live, as we all should… “Hope”fully ever after.

Lisa Gammon Olson is an author for Eifrig Publishing.  She lives in Coon Valley, WI, where she is the secretary at the Coon Valley Elementary School….a job she adores!  She believes the most important skill we can ever teach our children is “How to be Kind.”  Any kindness we do, no matter how small, has the power to change someone’s life.  Growing up in northern Wisconsin has instilled in her the wonder of nature… sparkling lakes, endless forests and trails littered with pine needles and possibilities.  Preserving our planet and populating it with human beings who are Respectful, Responsible and Kind seems like an awesome idea.

Learn more about Lisa and her books at http://lisagammonolson.com 

Hope. Kindness. Tenacity of the human spirit. What wonderful messages for all of us to take into the New Year!

Picture Books At The Library 129

PB at the library 2

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.


A little boy and his mother go in search of the moon on a walk through the city.


During a skink hunt with Papa, little monster wonders if Papa loves the swamp more than he love him. Clever and fun to read!


Cinderella has a twin named Tinderella and, together, the sisters split all the chores, but they cannot share Prince Charming.


Melvin gets into trouble at school because he cannot resist making a variety of strange noises, such as a tiger, a shark, and a train.


Zelda wants to be the first chicken in space, but none of her friends will help her achieve her dream.


A lonely panda tries to make friends with another panda, but nothing seems to work.


When a little girl’s father is arrested during a peaceful march, letters of support give him hope and set him free.


Two sisters worry about all the things they have lost until they finally learn to look toward the future instead.


As the news tells of anger and hatred, a frightened young girl wonders what she can do to make the world a better place.


When Malaika’s mom marries a man from Canada, and they have to move there, Malaika has trouble adjusting to her new home and family.


Tiger tries to prove that the rumors about him being dangerous are not true.


A little whale sets off to find out what it feels like to be a friend.


Two boys connect the lines they have drawn, but a mistake causes a growing rift between them.


Fox invites his friends along on a wild, adventure-filled bike ride.


A polar bear cub and its mother explore the beauty of the Arctic as the seasons change.


A brother and sister explore nature as the seasons change from autumn to winter.

Follow along as children experience the endless firsts of growing up–first time tying their shoes, first time catching a ball, etc.

Interview Alert: Katey Howes

I am so excited to share this interview with fellow Ripple Grove Press children’s author Katey Howes! Katey’s debut picture book Grandmother Thorn released this past summer and has received many wonderful reviews. I don’t remember where in the kidlitosphere Katey and I first met, but I do remember sending her a message and spellcheck changing her name to matey. I’d like to think we’ve been kidlit “mates” ever since. 🙂 Let’s learn more about Katey Howes!

How long have you been writing with the goal of being published?

IKathrynHeadshots-40 (2) decided in early 2014 to take my writing seriously, and to take the steps necessary to learn about the publishing industry, to improve my craft, and to actively pursue publication. I also started a blog that January, to give myself a way to connect with other writers and to hold myself accountable for producing and “publishing” written words every week. Looking back, I am overwhelmed by how far I’ve come. Here’s an excerpt from one of my first blog posts on January 14, 2014, entitled “Can I call it an author page?”

I’ve imagined myself a writer so long, it’s surprising to me that I have no real idea how to go about becoming one. Can I just put “author” down as my occupation and start counting endless hours of staring into space as work time? Are all those cups of coffee and bookstore bargains now business expenses? And exactly how guilty should I feel when I get caught up in a chapter and don’t fold the laundry?

Three years later, I’d answer those questions: yes, yes, and not one bit!

What was the inspiration behind Grandmother Thorn?

I had several berry bushes in my backyard, in a garden bed where nothing else seemed to want to grow. The berries must have loved it, though, because they grew out of control!! I spent hours chopping them back, wrapping vines around trellises, and eventually hammering 10-foot lengths of rebar into the ground to support the trellises! One day, as the unruly raspberry bush gave me one too many thorny scrapes, I yelled at it, “sooner or later, everything meets its match!” And then I stood silently, wondering whether that advice was for the bush, or for me. I knew then and there that I needed to write Grandmother Thorn

blackberry bush

How did you hear about Ripple Grove Press and why did you decide to submit Grandmother Thorn to them?

Through SCBWI and the KidLit411 website, I found listings of publishers that accepted unagented submissions. I went to my local library and requested recent books from those publishers, trying to get a sense of what they made and how their books resonated with me. I was blown away by the beauty and timelessness of the Ripple Grove Press titles. I wanted those qualities for my book. 

Grandmother Thorn Cover hi res

How did you feel upon seeing the finished book for the first time?

What a wonderful day that was! My daughters were home with me when the box of books arrived, and we all opened it together. My heart was pounding, I was so excited! As soon as the box was opened, my girls each took a copy and curled up to read it. I held my copy reverently, examining all the beautiful details – from the surprise on the case cover to the thick, heavy feel of the paper. It was truly a dream come true!

What is your favorite thing about picture books?

That’s a tough question! I suppose if I have to choose one thing, it’s their versatility. Picture books can do and be so many things for so many people. They bring art to story and story to life. They invite the engaged reader to slow down and search for hidden details, or allow the reluctant reader to skim through quickly and confidently.  They open the door to big conversations, or wordlessly introduce new worlds. It’s a kind of magic, the things that picture books can do.  

What is your best piece of advice for aspiring picture book authors?

It’s been said before – but I’ll say it again: READ! A great composer listens to and plays and studies thousands of compositions before writing her own – authors need to do the same. There are times when I take a brief break from reading picture books because I can feel other authors influencing my writing too heavily, but in general, I read at least two a day, sometimes as many as ten.   

Where can fans connect with you online?

I love to connect on Twitter as @kateywrites, and on Instagram @kidlitlove. You can also follow my author page on Facebook. Check out my website, www.kateyhowes.com, for more about me and my books. I’m no longer very active on my blog, but there are several years of posts about raising kids who love to read and about my journey to published author. You can find a link on my website, search #RaisingReaders, or go directly to www.kateywrites.wordpress.comI’m also a team member at the fabulous children’s book website, All the Wonders, where we find new and wondrous ways to connect readers to books they will love.

magnolia mudd cover art

Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your book, or picture books in general? What’s next for Katey Howes?

There are more picture books on my horizon – MAGNOLIA MUDD AND THE SUPER JUMPTASTIC LAUNCHER DELUXE comes out January 2nd from Sterling Children’s Books and is available for pre-order now.  I’m very excited to be launching (pardon the pun) a book about such an innovative girl, as I’m passionate about helping girls see themselves as inventors, scientists and leaders. In fact, I’ll be presenting a session on using picture books to support STEM/STEAM curriculum at nErDcamp NJ in April. I hope to see many of your readers there! 

Thank you so much, Katey, for sharing more about yourself with my blog readers! I love the berry bush story! It proves that inspiration can come from anywhere and everywhere! 🙂

And congratulations on your forthcoming Magnolia Mudd And The Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe! I can’t wait to read it!