Understanding Ourselves and Others: 11 Social-Emotional Learning Books for Back-to-School by Lisa Rogers

I’m excited to welcome fellow literacy supporter and animal lover Lisa Rogers to Frog on a Blog today! Lisa is a children’s librarian turned children’s book author and has published several books with several more on the way. It’s no surprise that she loves books and reading and writing “from the shores of a pond outside of Boston, Massachusetts (and sometimes from on the pond itself, where I kayak almost every day in summer).” Lisa stopped by today to share 11 beautiful recent social-emotional learning picture books that are perfect for back-to-school time. This is a must-read post!

Back to school is an excellent time to introduce children to books that support their social-emotional learning. During this transition to the school year, that support can help children as they develop routines, negotiate new friendships, adapt to new environments, and understand expectations.

It’s not simply a matter of putting on a backpack and being ready to learn. Each part of the day – waking up on time, gathering school materials, getting out the door, lining up at school, unpacking that backpack, finding one’s cubby, choosing a seat on the bus or at the lunch table, working with new partners, having a different teacher – can be filled with ups and downs that challenge a child’s sense of self and equilibrium.

Picture books give children an opportunity to see, understand, and respect themselves and others during what can be a vulnerable time. Here are 11 books to share at home and school with suggestions for related activities.

Every year on the first day of school, I sat, fraught with worry, anticipating that the teacher would mispronounce my name and that my classmates would laugh. Saying someone’s name correctly shows caring, respect and affirmation, and that models that for everyone. Hearing a child’s name mispronounced inspired educator Jamila Thompkins-Bigelow to write YOUR NAME IS A SONG, illustrated by Luisa Uribe and published by The Innovation Press in 2020. “Names are songs. Sing your name,” says Kora-Jalimuso’s momma. And so she sings her classmates’ names, her teacher’s name, and her own in this book of affirmation and respect. Children will enjoy singing their own names and those of their classmates!

Children’s multifaceted personalities are met with understanding in WHAT I AM written and illustrated by Divya Srinivasan (Viking, 2021). Her main character might be shy at first, then reluctant to leave a party, have dark skin compared to some friends and light compared to others, is sometimes mean and selfish, other times kind and generous.” We must take care never to doubt our own worth,” the author says in a note.  “Each of us is a unique, priceless, vital part of this world.” To extend the experience of reading this book, young readers might draw or write about facets of their personalities.

At age 3, my daughter put together her own dollhouse using Allen wrenches. Upending gender stereotypes and celebrating individual preferences is the theme of EXCEPT WHEN THEY DON’T by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Joshua Heinsz (Little Bee Books, 2019). The takeaway: “Be exactly who you are.” Children might discuss their own preferences in dress, in work, and in play.

Taking pride in one’s heritage and understanding that love is what connects us is the focus of WHERE ARE YOU FROM? by Yamile Saied Méndez, illustrated by Jaime Kim (Harper, 2019). When other children ask the main character where she’s from, she asks her abuelo to help her answer, because “like me, he looks like he doesn’t belong.” Abuelo’s answer will surprise readers and inspire them to talk about their own loved ones. Teachers might also use the text as a model for a whole classroom poem or individual poems about families.

Lots of family moves take place over the summer, so it’s natural for children to feel sad at not seeing those friends when they go back to school. GOODBYE FRIEND, HELLO FRIEND, written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld (Dial, 2019), shows the many losses that children experience can be balanced with some very joyful hellos. This book could be used as a wonderful model for a group-generated poem on goodbyes and hellos.

A little support and love helps Magnolia thrive in APPLE AND MAGNOLIA by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Patricia Metola (Flyaway Books, 2022). Though sometimes making an extra effort to reach out might not seem worth the trouble, this lovely book validates the importance of caring and kindness. In a short author’s note, Gehl notes the ways in which trees actually do help each other. Young readers will be able to note the parallels between Apple and Magnolia and themselves.

With the change of pace, new experiences, and full schedules that back-to-school brings, HURRY UP! A BOOK ABOUT SLOWING DOWN by Kate Dopirak, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (Beach Lane, 2020) is a reminder that taking time to enjoy the world around us can bring calm and delight. Children can follow the main character’s lead in slowing down, paying attention to the big and small worlds around them, and finding a peaceful end to each day. Children might brainstorm ways to make their lives less stressful or add beauty through observation.

Everyone learns differently. In Jamilah Thompson-Bigelow’s ABDUL’S STORY, illustrated by Tiffany Rose (Salaam Reads, 2022), Abdul loves to tell stories but has difficulty with forming letters and with spelling. Encouraged by a visiting writer who shows Abdul his own mistake-filled writing, Abdul perseveres and writes a story of which he’s proud. This book is a natural conversation starter about understanding learning differences and the importance of compassion, encouragement, and not giving up.

Hugs are a great way to show affection (or were until the pandemic hit) but not everyone likes them. The main character in DON’T HUG DOUG by Carrie Finison, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman (Putnam, 2021) good-naturedly explains that he doesn’t like hugs. This book models ways to politely but firmly decline unwanted shows of affection. Children could discuss their likes and dislikes and share their preferences with their friends and classmates and try out the myriad of fun high-fives depicted in the book.

Learning how to handle one’s emotions is important at home and at school. The premise of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR PET BRAIN by Nelly Buchet, illustrated by Amy Jindra (Beaming Books, 2022) is that your brain is like a pet: it can get into some tough situations, but with some planning and practice, you can teach your brain to acknowledge the feeling, balance your emotions, and find calm. A fun and practical approach that can be modeled in the classroom and at home.

In BE KIND by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill (Roaring Brook Press, 2018), a child considers what it means to reach out with and support others, how difficult that can be, and the ways that small acts of kindness can make a difference. Children would enjoy thinking of ways they could be kind, and recounting the ways in which others’ kindnesses have made a difference in their own lives.


Lisa Rogers is a Boston-area longtime elementary school library teacher who now writes full-time. Her debut picture book, 16 WORDS: WILLIAM CARLOS AND “THE RED WHEELBARROW,” illustrated by Chuck Groenink (Schwartz & Wade, 2019), received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, is a Bank Street Best Children’s Book, a Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice, a Junior Library Guild selection, an ALSC Notable Books shortlist book, and winner of the Boston Authors Club Julia Ward Howe Award and the Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award.

HOUND WON’T GO, a rhyming picture book illustrated by Meg Ishihara (Albert Whitman, 2020), is a 2021Massachusetts Must-Read book. She has two poems in FRIENDS AND ANEMONES: OCEAN POEMS FOR CHILDREN (Writers’ Loft Press, 2020) and a poem in the forthcoming IF THIS PUDDLE COULD TALK (Candlewick, 2024) edited by Irene Latham and Charles Waters. DISCOVER HER ART: WOMEN ARTISTS AND THEIR MASTERPIECES, coauthored with Jean Leibowitz, (Chicago Review Press, 2022) features the lives and paintings of 24 women artists. Five forthcoming picture book biographies are to be announced. Find her at lisarogerswrites.com or @LisaLJRogers on Twitter and Instagram.

Happy Book Birthday to BRAINSTORM! by Rebecca Gardyn Levington!

Title: Brainstorm!

Author: Rebecca Gardyn Levington

Illustrator: Kate Kronreif

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Release Date: August 3, 2022

Format: Hardcover

Summary: When it’s time to write in class, one child feels like she has absolutely nothing to say. But suddenly—ker-plink!—one drop, one tiny thought, hits her. Before long, she’s caught in a shower of funny phrases, a whirlwind of adjectives and verbs, and a downpour of huge ideas. BOOM, CRASH! It’s a gigantic brainstorm of creativity for her to soak up and play in!

BRAINSTORM! is targeted to children in grades K-3, who are beginning to learn how to shape and sharpen their idea-generation and storytelling skills. It includes writing prompts and a glossary to help parents, teachers, and librarians encourage kids to have fun playing with new ideas.


Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.

Heartwarming Picture Books about Sibling Relationships by Debra Westgate-Silva

I’m happy to welcome children’s book author Debra Westgate-Silva to Frog on a Blog! Debra’s delightful picture book Bethlehem Barn published just last year. She’s worked in public education for many years, as well as in child advocacy and welfare. Debra’s stopped by today with a fabulous list of some of her favorite sibling-themed picture books. I love this list! Let’s hear more from Debra!

Debra Westgate-Silva is a middle child and the mother of twins.  She is the author of Bethlehem Barn, a picture book retelling of the Christmas nativity story from a new point of view–the animals themselves!  Her work has been published in Highlights Children’s Magazine and Teaching Tolerance.  She’d love to hear about your favorite sibling books.  Connect with Deb on Facebook, Instagram, or through her website www.debrawestgatesilva.com.

You can support authors by leaving book reviews and by asking your local library to carry their books.  Bethlehem Barn is available for purchase at Amazon.com, Bookshop.org, and BarnesandNoble.com.  

“Finding the Funny” by Jennifer Buchet + PB Critique Giveaway!

I’m thrilled to feature children’s book author Jennifer Buchet on Frog on a Blog today! Her book Little Medusa’s Hair Do-Lemma is just so clever and is gorgeously illustrated by Cassie Chancy. When I spoke with Jennifer about writing a guest post, she suggested sharing how she was able to turn a notorious villain into a funny character, and I absolutely loved that idea. If you’re a picture book writer, you’re sure to find her story illuminating. Be sure to read to the end for information about winning a picture book manuscript or query critique. Take it away, Jennifer!

When I drafted my first picture book, Little Medusa’s Hair Do-Lemma, I faced a huge challenge, Not just acing the pacing, not just perfecting the word count, but how do I NOT scare away my audience when writing about one of the most famous villains in history!

The answer: I try to make them laugh!

Let’s face it. Kids dig humor. Adults dig humor, too! People love to laugh and bonus, it’s good for you!

When it comes to writing picture books, humor can be a key element both for your intended audience (the littles) and their readers (the adults—after all, you want them to enjoy reading your book again and again and again!) And when kids laugh, we all laugh!

The original Medusa is known for being a hideous, horrendous villain, turning everyone to stone. I wanted my readers to laugh, not exactly cry with each page turn! So I had to turn my story ideas around and look at different angles and possibilities.

Right away I decided to make my main character, Little Medusa, a descendant of the original mythological meanie. This allowed me a lot more wriggle—and giggle—room.

Since I’m not a natural at writing humor, I read a lot of humorous mentor texts. I also researched how to craft funny kidlit. There are so many varieties of funny, it’s like trying to choose one flavor of ice cream out of forty drool-worthy flavors! There’s fun with fear, gross funny, sarcasm and wit, visual humor, parodies, and etc. But which way was right for me?

I also had to choose what role humor would play in my story. A well-timed laugh? An insightful character glimpse? Moving the arc forward? I wanted my audience to root for Little Medusa, to laugh with her, not always at her.

So I placed her in situations that not only revealed humorous physical challenges (the outer loop of the story), but also situations that exposed emotional conflicts (the inner tale).

The result of all this hard work? I gave Little Medusa a massive pythonic problem! A Gorgon girl who loves snakes, but can’t stand having them slither through her hair. Once she receives her very first serpentine friend, she begins questioning if she really wants to turn people to stone with a stare! Using her imagination, heart and smarts, Little Medusa does her very best to please her family, her snake and herself.

Bringing humor into your writing isn’t always easy, nor is it always fun at first! It’s actually a lot of hard work. But if you do your research and try different styles, you just may find that perfect punchline!

Awesome! Thanks so much, Jennifer! Folks, if you haven’t yet read Little Medusa’s Hair Do-Lemma, I encourage you to look for it. You won’t be disappointed.


Giveaway Alert!

Jennifer is kindly offering a free picture book manuscript critique up to 600 words (non-rhyming) or a query critique. To be eligible to win, please comment below, and share this blog on social media, tagging both Jennifer and myself, to earn extra chances. I will choose a winner at random on July 31. Good luck!


Jennifer Buchet is an award-winning author and pre-kindergarten educator. She is a feature contributor for Faces magazine while also creating new picture books and chapter books.

An easy way to support an author is to leave Book Reviews and ask your Local Library to carry their books! Little Medusa’s Hair Do-Lemma is available for purchase at: Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

You can swap tales and puns with Jennifer here:

Happy Book Birthday to FRIENDS COME IN ALL SIZES by Raven Howell!

Title: Friends Come in All Sizes

Author: Raven Howell

Illustrator: Audrey Day

Publisher: Lawley Publishing

Release Date: June 21, 2022

Format: Hardcover and paperback

Summary: Patience and kindness are important when you want to make new friends, but it’s hard not to consider what it would be like to have a gangly giraffe or chilled-out polar bear as a pal. A friendship mission prompts two boys to regard would-be companions of many shapes and sizes, and their imaginative adventures hatch brand new, unexpected buddies.


Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.

Five Amazing Picture Books About Bicycles That Your Kids Will Love by Maria Monte

Kids across the globe love bikes. Kids also love stories. So what could be better than books about bicycles? Here today to share “Five Amazing Picture Books About Bicycles That Your Kids Will Love” is author Maria Monte, just in time for World Bicycle Day on June 3.

Learning to ride a bicycle is a rite of passage for many kids—we all remember the wobbly starts and stops, the falls, bumps, and collisions, and those wonky training wheels that always seemed to get stuck in every little crevice along your path. Then, one day, it all changes – the wheels come off, your riding skills sharpen – and you’re off enjoying all kinds of adventures with your two-wheeled companion. Even after we grow up, bicycles remain a constant in our lives: we use them for recreation, commuting, and exercise, and we watch sporting events that include them. Let’s face it, bikes are everywhere – as of the early 21st century, more than 1 billion bicycles have been manufactured worldwide. In 2018, the United Nations officially designated June 3 as World Bicycle Day, following a three-year campaign by Leszek Sibilski, a sociology professor and cycling and physical education activist, to recognise the significance of bicycles in our lives. Given our collective love affair with bicycles, it’s no surprise that many gorgeous picture books pay homage to the bicycle. To mark World Bicycle Day, I’ll share my top five amazing picture books about bikes that your kids will love.

The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle by Jude Isabella

This picture book is a moving tribute to the life of Big Red, a bike cherished by a young boy in America. When the boy outgrows the bicycle, he donates it to a charity that ships bicycles to Africa. Big Red then becomes an indispensable part of two women’s lives. The first uses it to take her goods to market. Later, the second uses it to deliver medicine and bring the sick and injured to a medical clinic from neighbouring villages. Big Red’s journey will inspire kids ages 8–12 to be better global citizens; the story gently encourages important values like altruism, gratitude, and cultural awareness. Simone Shin’s rustic illustrations underscore Jude Isabella’s realistic depiction of life in Africa. The author also includes a note on how to donate bicycles to charity – given that 15 million bikes are discarded each year, this is a worthwhile cause. This book would make an excellent resource for cultural studies, social responsibility classes, or parents who want to instill a broader worldview in their children.

Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson & Sean Qualls

Emmanuel’s true story is about triumph over adversity. Born into poverty in Ghana with a deformed leg, Emmanuel’s kind and wise mother, Comfort, teaches him to be independent and never give up. Emmanuel refuses to become a beggar, often the fate of disabled people, and instead earns a living to feed his family. Ultimately, he becomes a national hero by riding nearly four hundred miles in just ten days whilst championing the rights of the disabled. This feat’s powerful message is echoed in this book: being disabled does not mean being unable. Emmanuel used the humble bicycle to make a meaningful difference in many lives; his story also reminds young readers ages 4–8 that they can draw on their strength, ingenuity, and courage to overcome challenges and make a difference. Laurie Ann Thompson’s emotionally eloquent narrative is beautifully complemented by Sean Qualls’ bold and distinctive illustrations. Educators, librarians, and parents can use this book along with the documentary Emmanuel’s Gift (2005), narrated by Oprah Winfrey, as tools to explore resilience and inclusivity.

Duck On a Bike by David Shannon

This popular picture book tells the light-hearted, humorous tale of a curious duck who takes a ride on a bike that he has found on the farm. The duck greets each animal as he passes by, and as he continues his journey, the duck grows bolder and shows off his newfound riding skills. Each animal responds to the duck’s greeting with their unique animal noise – moo, baa, squeak etc. But what the duck doesn’t know is that each animal harbours a different opinion of the duck’s antics, including seeing him as silly, brave, lucky, clever, or even showy. Suddenly, a group of kids ride into the barnyard and leave their bikes outside; the story ends with each animal enjoying a ride on a bike just like the duck. The plucky duck is a wonderfully likeable creature, and his moxie will endear him to young readers ages 2–5. Kids will find this story laugh-out-loud funny and get a buzz from the gorgeous illustrations by David Shannon, who is an acclaimed creator of more than 30 children’s books. This one is a teacher’s favourite because its entertaining prose encourages kids to take an interest in reading.

Gracie Goat’s Big Bike Race by Erin Mirabella

Gracie Goat’s journey from being unable to ride a bike to participating in a bike race makes this story relatable and inspiring. A professional cyclist wrote this book – author Erin Mirabella represented the United States at two Summer Olympics and won six national championships. This story is the author’s love letter to cycling, and kids ages 4–8 will root for Gracie as she gains confidence. Lisa Horstman’s illustrations are charming, sweetly depicting the animals as they ride and interact. The story also reinforces a few vital life lessons: setbacks can occur when trying to learn something new and that practice is needed to learn a new skill. The story also tells of the touching relationship between Gracie and her grandmother as they encourage each other to face their fears – this book would make a nice gift for grandmothers and granddaughters to share. At the end, the author offers some facts about cycling, which parents and educators can draw upon to foster an interest in cycling as a hobby or sport.

Ellery’s Magic Bicycle by Maria Monte

Inspired by my childhood adventures, this heartfelt tale will take readers on a whimsical journey through Ellery’s childhood with her magical bicycle in tow. Ellery and her bicycle share many wonderful new experiences; Ellery finds adventure, love, friendship, and also weathers sorrow and loss. The bike is Ellery’s teacher, protector, friend, and solace. When Ellery grows up, she forgets her special bond with the bicycle, but she rediscovers their bond years later. A story of redemption, Ellery’s struggles, hopes, and triumph serve as an uplifting reminder to parents of their childhood bonds – some may even find this story an emotional experience. Young readers ages 4–7 will grow to love Ellery’s strong and kind spirit and see their cherished bicycle in a new light. Zoe Saunder’s delightful, captivating, and vibrant illustrations subtly draw readers into the story’s magical realism. Educators and librarians can draw on Ellery’s journey to explore important personal qualities like kindness, courage, and compassion.

The theme of World Bicycle Day is to appreciate the bicycle’s uniqueness, longevity, and diversity – this appreciation has been beautifully woven into each book’s story. I hope you enjoy these books – and cycling – as much as I do.

About Maria Monte

Maria Monte lives in Melbourne with her young son. Her time is divided between family, a fulfilling role in communications, and publishing her children’s books. She enjoys mochas, watching comedies, and losing herself in wiki rabbit holes. Maria’s latest heartwarming picture book Ellery’s Magic Bicycle, illustrated by Zoe Saunders, was released in May 2022 through Bonny Books. Her debut picture book, Eve’s Ducklings, illustrated by Emelie Wiklund, was released in July 2021. Connect with Maria on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, or you can enjoy her musings on parenthood on her blog.

Happy Book Birthday to SOME DADDIES by Carol Gordon Ekster!

Title: Some Daddies

Author: Carol Gordon Ekster

Illustrator: Javiera Maclean Alvarez

Publisher: Beaming Books

Release Date: May 17, 2022

Format: Hardcover

Summary: This rollicking showcase of daddies celebrates the incredible diversity of modern fathers. The inclusive cast of characters–including a two-dad family, a single dad, and a stay-at-home dad–highlights the bond between daddy and child as they play, learn, comfort, and laugh their way through everyday life. This open-hearted ode to fatherhood will give readers new appreciation for how their own fathers and father-figures shine in their own unique ways.


Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.

Brian Russo and Yoga Bunny Honor Mother Earth

Happy Earth Day everyone! I’m excited to welcome children’s book author/illustrator Brian Russo to Frog on a Blog! Brian’s book A Friend for Yoga Bunny was published on February 22, and is a follow-up to Yoga Bunny, a book that features an adorable little bunny in yoga poses, and encourages kids to wind down and relax. Brian is passionate about helping animals and the environment through his art, which I think is fantastic and something I can really get behind. Let’s hear from Brian!

Hi! My name is Brian Russo. I run a little shop on Threadless.com where I sell t-shirts featuring Yoga Bunny, a character I created back in 2010 during my Yoga Teacher Training. Yoga Bunny now has two children’s books available from HarperCollins. Making these books has been such a joy, because it’s given me the chance to work with a small creative team. At the same time, I love running my own online shop because I have the opportunity to come up with designs on my own and then put them online as soon as they’re ready. Each t-shirt design feels like a little story that I get to tell all on my own.

In addition to bringing in a little extra income, the Threadless Shop gives me a chance to build a personal brand, based on my beliefs. As a Children’s Book Artist, I believe I must have some responsibility to the animals I represent in my stories. Based on this, I had the idea that a portion of my earnings from the Threadless could go to support Rabbit Rescue Houses. Although this wasn’t an option on the Threadless list of charities, the ASPCA was. So, for now, I’m donating 5% of my earnings from five of my first designs to that organization.

Then, with Earth Day coming up, I wanted to create a design that reflected my beliefs about the environment and contributed a small amount of my earnings to an environmental cause. One of the options on Threadless was the Eden Reforestation Project, which combats deforestation. I only learned about the organization through Threadless, but as you can see on their website and by searching their charity score, it seems that they do good work.

I don’t consider the way I live to be especially green, and I’m not an activist by any means. Yet, I do believe that the Earth is alive, and full of actual magic that I’ve witnessed firsthand. I’m very interested in, and believe in the existence of, animal spirits. I was recently reading about the Rabbit’s symbolism and mythology, and learned that in many cultures, the Rabbit is heavily associated with the moon. So, I recreated another version of my Earth Day design where Yoga Bunny represents the moon, as contrasted with the sun, behind him. I’ll also be giving 5% of my earnings from this design to the Eden Reforestation Project in honor of Earth Day.  I read somewhere that the rabbit symbolizes humans’ connection to the Earth, and I believe that to be true. I’m grateful to both the Rabbit Spirit, and to Mother Earth on this day. 

Happy Earth Day to everyone, and thank you for reading!

Brian Russo has been drawing since he can remember. He grew up in Short Hills, New Jersey, then moved to New York, where he earned a degree from NYU. Afterwards, he discovered something he loves just as much as drawing: doing yoga. He earned a teaching certificate from Yoga to the People in 2010, during which time he developed the Yoga Bunny illustrations. He now lives in Lehi, Utah (the setting of the film Footloose) with his beautiful wife, Emily, adorable son, Quill, and loyal dog, Spike. His favorite film is Spirited Away, and the celebrity he’d most like to meet is ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.

With Heartfelt Gratitude, I Am Overjoyed To Share Some Incredible News!

Dear Readers,

I am elated and incredibly honored to share that my story, JINPA AND THE DUST CLOUD DOG, has been chosen as the 2022 winner of the Kate Dopirak Craft and Community Award!

In late January, with no expectations, I entered a story in the Kate Dopirak Craft & Community Award contest. The award is offered in celebration of Kate Dopirak, an amazing picture book author. Two days ago, I received an email from the Kate Dopirak Award Committee congratulating me. I had won the award for my picture book manuscript JINPA AND THE DUST CLOUD DOG, a story that is truly dear to me! From the bottom of my heart, thank you judges. I also want to express my sincere gratitude to the family of Kate Dopirak for seeing value in my story. Kate’s books are so lovely, and I encourage everyone to look for them.

Author/Illustrator Gabe Jensen Talks Art Process (+ win a pb manuscript critique!)

Please welcome children’s book author/illustrator Gabe Jensen to Frog on a Blog! Gabe stopped by to talk a bit about the art process he used when he created his book Neverwoof, which was just published this past September by Familius. This rollicking read-aloud has already garnered several positive reviews. I don’t know about you, but I love hearing about how artists create their art and why they choose the style that they do. Let’s hear from Gabe!

Gabe Jensen sharing Neverwoof.

For NEVERWOOF, I wanted to return to a simpler time in kids’ books when you could only print in two colors. And often those colors were clashing. I don’t remember as a kid ever thinking, “Great story, but the color theory was off” 🙂 . It also gave me a ready activity to do with classes: kids color with their two favorite crayons. I love the resulting images.

Kid’s two-color activity.

Normal 4-color printing has limits on certain colors — especially orange. So we printed this book with spot color where they can mix up any Pantone. It’s more expensive, but it means the book has an orange you won’t see in most titles. I don’t know if people pick up on that, but maybe subconsciously.

Gabe with spreads from Neverwoof.

When I was writing the book, my dad — the science fiction writer Terry Bisson — helped me with the text. My mom is a quilter with a wonderful sense of color, and we sat together to choose the exact orange and green.

One of Gabe’s mom’s quilts.
One of Gabe’s dad’s books.
Gabe says, “I really, really like green and orange.” 🙂

Working with the people at Familius was really great. They gave me a lot of creative latitude, and my editor/book designer Brooke Jorden contributed the debossing of the cover, which gives it that great tactile feel.

Thank you, Gabe! That was truly fascinating.

Giveaway Time!

Gabe has generously offered-to one lucky winner-a picture book manuscript critique! Just leave a comment on this blog post by April 15th for your chance to win. I’ll choose a winner at random and contact you with information on how to connect with Gabe. Share this blog post on any social media site and earn one extra entry per site, just let me know where you shared. Good luck!

Gabe first tried to publish a kids book at age 19 (Nightbringers is still looking for a home — anyone? 🙂 ). Since then, he’s worked on kid’s digital projects, like Jeff Kinney’s (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) site Poptropica, as a puzzle designer (Castlemouse, Lumosity), and an ad creative for clients like Coca-Cola. He has three kids, and lives in Berkeley, CA with a two-eyed Cyclops (false) and a one-eyed cat (true).

He’s currently working on his second book NOCTURNAL NICO, about a kid who tries to convince his parents he’s nocturnal so he can stay up late. Hmmm, how about purple and yellow?

Gabe says, “I love pics of pups reading Neverwoof! Send them to me at gabe@gabejensenbooks.com and I’ll post on social media.”

Find Gabe here:

https://gabejensenbooks.com/

Twitter

Instagram

Happy Book Birthday to THE HAPPIEST KID by Sarah Bagley Steele!

Title: The Happiest Kid

Author: Sarah Bagley Steele

Illustrator: Elsa Pui Si Lo and Clarice Yunyi Cai

Publisher: Yeehoo Press

Release Date: March 15, 2022

Format: Hardcover

Summary: Sally is usually the happiest kid. She wakes up every morning with a bright sun shining over her bed, and she knows it’s going to be a good day. One day she wakes up feeling different and with a gloomy cloud hanging over her instead. She doesn’t know why it’s there, but she doesn’t want anyone to see it—not her parents, not her teacher, and not her friends—so she hides it away. But as the day goes on, the cloud grows too big and heavy for her to carry, and Sally must find the courage to let it out. With gentle reassurance, this book reminds us that everyone feels sad sometimes, and that’s okay.


Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.

The Spirit Of Giving (a giveaway)

Hello, all you lovely people out there. It’s the holiday season, and to help me–and you–get into the spirit, I’m giving away a signed copy of my book The Peddler’s Bed to one blog follower who comments on this post. Just say hi, hello, how’s it going, or any other greeting that strikes your fancy.

The Peddler’s Bed is all about giving, caring, generosity, and kindness, and is perfect for the holidays or any day. Can’t we all use a bit more kindness in our lives?

Just leave your comment by Sunday, December 5. A winner will be chosen at random. I’ll contact the winner for a U.S. mailing address and to whom they’d like the book signed.

Happy Holidays!

Image from The Peddler’s Bed/Copyright (c) 2015 Bong Redila

Henry Herz’s Smoke “Cycle”

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Henry Herz’s latest picture book I Am Smoke is already receiving a lot of praise, including a starred review from Kirkus! Travis Jonker, an elementary school librarian and book reviewer for School Library Journal, included I Am Smoke on his 2021 list of The Most Astonishingly Unconventional Children’s Books. And Matthew Cordell, author/illustrator of the Caldecott Medal-winning book Wolf in the Snow, said, “I’ll never look at smoke the same way again!” With so much buzz about I Am Smoke floating around, I’m super thrilled that Henry stopped by to tell us a little about how the idea for his creative nonfiction picture book was formed. Take it away, Henry!

I find the employment of fictional elements to convey facts a great way to engage with young readers and teach them without them realizing it. Fiction can be the melted cheese we pour on top of the broccoli of nonfiction. Now, there are some picture books with anthropomorphic characters, but I’d never seen smoke treated as a character. And who better to explain the various ways in which people have employed smoke than smoke itself? But I needed an overarching structure. I considered the chemistry of smoke. It turns out that wood smoke is primarily carbon dioxide, ash, and water vapor. Water vapor got me thinking about the water cycle—water evaporates from rivers, lakes, and oceans to form clouds. Eventually, the water precipitates as rain or snow. Rinse and repeat.

Then I considered the carbon dioxide given off by wood smoke. Two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom. Carbon… Inspiration struck like lightning splitting a tree. Plants are the lungs of the Earth. They breathe in carbon dioxide through their stomata. They drink up water through their roots. Sunlight provides energy to split those molecules. The plant forms cellulose from carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen, sequestering more and more carbon as they grow. Conversely, burning tree branches releases the stored carbon. Eureka! Smoke has a “cycle” too.

Wow! That’s pretty fascinating! Thanks, Henry. I have a feeling that you’re not just blowing smoke. 😉

Readers, go out and find this book ASAP!

Henry Herz authored 11 traditionally published children’s titles: MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES (Pelican, 2015), WHEN YOU GIVE AN IMP A PENNY (Pelican, 2016), MABEL & THE QUEEN OF DREAMS (Schiffer, 2016), LITTLE RED CUTTLEFISH (Pelican, 2016), CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW (Sterling, 2017), HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS (Pelican, 2018), ALICE’S MAGIC GARDEN (Familius, 2018), GOOD EGG AND BAD APPLE (Schiffer, 2018), 2 PIRATES + 1 ROBOT (Kane Miller, 2019), I AM SMOKE (Tilbury House, 2021), and THE MAGIC SPATULA (Month9 Books, 2022).

Henry is an editor at Running Wild Press. He’s an SCBWI member and moderates author panels yearly at San Diego Comic-Con. He earned a BS in Engineering from Cornell U., an MS in Engineering from George Washington U., and an MA in Political Science from Georgetown U.

The Top 10 Picture Books You Need For Your Preschool Classroom by Amanda Leemis

Please welcome author and artist Amanda Leemis to Frog on a Blog. Amanda and I share a passion for literacy and picture books! Amanda stopped by with an awesome list of her top ten picture book picks for the preschool classroom. With schools all over the U.S. opening up again, her post couldn’t be more timely. Let’s take a look!

The Top 10 Picture Books You Need for Your Preschool Classroom includes wonderful indie authors and illustrators you absolutely must discover along with some classic picture book favorites! Each book on this list has amazing illustrations that will captivate early readers and bring them into an exciting story. It can be difficult for our earliest readers to sit through a long book, so each pick on this list has about 2-3 sentences per page. Now, let’s get reading!

“Shy Willow”

Written and illustrated by Cat Min

Can a tiny bunny make a big difference? Come along with Willow as she ventures outside of her mailbox home for the first time! It’s a very scary big world out there and she faces many obstacles. She goes on a journey to deliver a very important note to the moon. Willow uses her creative mind and brave heart to conquer her fears and deliver a very important message. The water color illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and you will be instantly transported into a beautiful story. It will be a hard time picking your favorite illustration.

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Preschool Picture Book

“The Day the Moose Went to School”

Written and illustrated by Adam DeRose

Going to school for the first time can be a lot of things: scary, confusing, exciting, adventurous. This is what the Moose learns as he heads to school! Follow along with this amazing character as he paints a picture with his hooves, blows stuff up in science class, and plays the drums. The end of the book has a great message too! If you accidentally take the wrong bus after school, it’s ok! The bus driver is there to help you and make sure you get home safely. Never be afraid to ask for help. If you like this book, then get excited, there are 19 more! See the review for “The Moose Goes to a Farm”.

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Top 10 Picture Books

“It’s Raining Cats and Dogs”

Written by M. Drew and illustrated by Margherita Grasso

This book is packed full of whimsy, captivating illustrations, and furry best friends! Have you ever seen cats and dogs literally raining from the sky? No? Well then, you must check out this amazing picture book. If you’ve ever had a kid who has had a bad day and they just need to escape into a world that’s packed full of goodness, this book is a must! Follow along a little girl’s rainy day as she catches puppies and kitties falling from the sky. Don’t these animals need homes? I guess she’ll just have to make some extra room.

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“Amy the Dancing Bear”

Written by Carly Simon and illustrated by Margot Datz

Going to bed isn’t any fun, especially when there is ballet to do! Amy the Bear wants to dance. She wants to dance in her bedroom, and do pirouettes and beautiful leaps. Her mother tells her several times that it’s bedtime, but Amy’s excitement is so infectious that her mother lets her dance on! This book’s illustrations are amazing! You will immediately want to join Amy and dance around her beautiful leafy house and look at the sunset out the large windows. While this book is great for bedtime, it is also great to read before nap time at school. It’s calming tone and peaceful images will bring everyone’s mind to rest.

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Top 10 Picture Books

“The Rabbit Listened”

Written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld

When we get mad sometimes we want to shout, sometimes we want to cry, or sometimes we want to hurt other people. The little boy in this story just needs someone to listen. After Taylor’s amazing creation falls to the ground different animals come by to tell him what to do to feel better. Roaring doesn’t work, talking doesn’t work, and laughing doesn’t work. When a rabbit comes along he sits patiently and listens to the boy’s story. He hears about all the animals who tried to make him feel better, but never listened to his feelings. You will fall in love with rabbit, and be encouraged to persevere when things are difficult. The illustrations in this book are so cute and you will love the patient, listening rabbit.

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Top 10 Picture Books

“We Don’t Eat Our Classmates”

Written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins

Penelope the T-Rex is excited for her first day of school, but when she arrives she discovers that all of her classmates are humans! How will she be able to resist eating them? Penelope has such a hard time making friends, and by the end of the day she feels very lonely. The illustrations in this book are so unique and captivating. At the end of the book, Penelope sees what it’s like to get a taste of her own medicine (she gets bitten by a fish!) and she changes her ways. This book is great for the classroom and has a great message about how to treat one another in a kind way.

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“Cowgirl and the Ghost Horse”

Written by Rae Rankin and illustrated by J-San

Ghosts aren’t real, or are they? Follow along on a little girl’s journey as she is called through the forest by a mystical creature. Could this be the legendary ghost horse? Perfect for Halloween, this book has bright and colorful illustrations that will usher you into a perfect preschool spooky adventure. In the end, we see that things are never as scary as they seem. Good news! There are 3 more books in the cowgirl series! These are wonderful books for little ones who love horses. See “Cowgirl Lessons” for more horse fun.

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Top 10 Picture Books

“Dog’s Colorful Day”

Written and illustrated by Emma Dodd

Do you love colors, counting, and dogs? Then this book is for you! Dog has 1 black dot on his left ear, but as the day moves along he finds more and more colorful spots on his coat. A splat of red jam leaves a red spot, a splish of blue paints leaves a blue spot, and a splosh of pink ice-cream leaves a pink spot. Count all of his 10 dots and name all of the 10 colors. What a messy dog! After his bath at the end of the day, he gets nice and clean in the bathtub. The illustrations are great for pre-K! With big shapes and bright colors, there is so much to talk about!

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“Bear’s New Friend”

Written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman

When a rustling in the trees attracts Bear’s attention, he goes to find out who is making the sound. What kind of animal is it? Could it be a new friend? His friends join him as he looks high and low to see where the sound is coming from. This book is great for learning about how to make new friends, and what to do if someone is a bit shy. Come check out tons of different animals and find out who is hiding from Bear.

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“Knuffle Bunny”

Written and illustrated by Mo Williams

Come discover how little Trixie says her very first words, “Knuffle Bunny”. On the way back home from a trip to the laundromat with her dad, Trixie begins to wail and sob. What could she be crying about? Oh no! She left her stuffed animal at the laundromat! Explore New York in these super unique illustrations and follow the family as they traverse the city to retrieve their lovable plush!

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Amanda Leemis is a model, artist, and creator of The Hollydog Blog! She is passionate about encouraging our littlest humans to read! With two books published in the “My Hollydog” series, she loves illustration and uses her skills to create printable worksheets for ages 2-5. Creating resources that build fine motor skills and boost creativity is her passion. 

Interview Alert: Michelle Vattula (plus a Giveaway!)

It is my pleasure to welcome children’s book author Michelle Vattula to Frog on a Blog. Michelle’s debut picture book, The Stalking Seagulls, was published earlier this year. Once upon a time, Michelle and I were in a critique group together, and I had the privilege of seeing an early draft of this story. I’m so excited that her hilarious boy vs. seagulls book is now out in the world! Let’s hear from Michelle. Be sure to read all the way to the end for information about a giveaway!

Congratulations on the publication of your debut children’s picture book The Stalking Seagulls! Please tell us a bit about the book and what inspired the story.

M.V. Hi Lauri and thank you so much. The Stalking Seagulls is a day at the beach that everyone has experienced at one time or another. A little boy gets a sandwich and the seagulls descend. The fun part of the book is what the main character, Alec, does to try to thwart the seagulls advances. My family visits my snowbird parents each year in Florida and one year the seagulls were quite relentless, which is where I got my inspiration.

Michelle’s family

The Stalking Seagulls was printed in a special font called dyslexie. Can you tell us a little about that?  And is it common for your publisher, Maclaren-Cochrane Publishing, to print books this way?

M.V. According to www.dyslexiefont.comDyslexie font is a typeface – specially designed for people with dyslexia – which enhances the ease of reading, learning and working. The dyslexic font has subtle differences with the letter, such as being thicker on the bottom and slight slants to certain letters. This in turn assists the dyslexic reader. My publisher MacLaren-Cochrane only prints their books in dyslexie.

How long have you been writing with an eye toward being published?

M.V. Even though I have been writing for a long time, it has only been in the past six years that I have truly focused on being published and ultimately learning as much as I can about the publishing world.

Image from The Stalking Seagulls

What is your favorite thing about picture books?

M.V. Hmmm….that is a great question. There are so many areas to address, but overall, I love how they make me feel. When a picture book has a great and satisfying ending, I then feel good. Picture books can elicit many different emotions and having a writer creative and talented enough to evoke them is quite a special talent.

You have a degree in Speech-Language Pathology. How does your knowledge of speech pathology affect or inform your writing?

M. V. My main focus in Speech-Language Pathology was within the geriatric population, so I dealt with a lot of Aphasia (an acquired language disorder due to a brain injury, such as a stroke) and Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). That being said, the use of language was vital, making sure words and thoughts were clear and that words and phrases helped elicit language and communication. It’s complicated to explain, but my background has allowed me to use language that is fun and creative.

You are a member of at least one writer’s critique group. How important is it to you to be involved in groups like this?

M.V. Being part of a critique group is everything! I have three different critique groups and they all bring something different to the table. I am blessed and thankful for their expertise and opinions. They have all made me a better writer and critiquer.

Michelle’s writing buddies

What’s next for Michelle Vattula? What are you currently working on?

M.V. I have a great agent, T.J. Kirsch, from JCH Literary, who believes in my writing and is working hard to find it the right home. I have multiple completed manuscripts, Yay! I am doing a lot of revisions on others. I just started working on a sequel to a complete MS. Lots of pokers in the fire, that’s for sure.

Where can fans connect with you online?

M.V. www.michellevattula.com

Instagram @michelleciampavattula and Twitter @Mmvattula

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?

M.V. I hope you enjoy The Stalking Seagulls. If you are a writer and frustrated with the process, stay strong and keep going. The publishing world is a hard business, but with perseverance and heart, anything is possible. Best of luck and may the seagulls never get your sandwich!

Thanks so much, Michelle! I’m sure everyone will enjoy your wonderful debut book.

Giveaway!

Folks, if you haven’t yet picked up a copy of The Stalking Seagulls, here’s a chance to get your hands on one. Michelle has generously offered to give away a signed copy of her book to one person who comments on this blog post by August 23. A winner will be chosen at random.

Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.

Michelle Vattula was born in Boston but grew up most of her life in Erie, PA. After she received her Bachelor’s degree from Miami University of Ohio, she ventured back to Boston for her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Northeastern University. Michelle Currently lives in the beautiful rolling hills of North Pittsburgh with her Finnish husband, her two rescue Golden Retrievers (one who is a therapy dog), and two beautiful boys who are her true inspiration for writing.

Michelle’s debut picture book, THE STALKING SEAGULLS, was released by MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing on April 20, 2021. Michelle is part of the Western Pennsylvania SCBWI leadership team as their New Member and Critique Group Coordinator. She is also a proud member of the Twitter group #Newin19. Michelle is represented by T.J. Kirsch from JCH Literary, and is open for interviews, story times/readings and visits (virtual and in-person).

Picture Books At The Library 235

Here are a few recent titles I’ve read. What new picture books have you read? Please share in the comments section.
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PEACE: From saying hello to saying I’m sorry, this simple concept book explores definitions of peace and actions small and big that foster it. Rhyme
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BARNABY: When Barnaby the budgie’s owner brings home another bird, Barnaby decides that the house isn’t big enough for two of them, and he flies out the open window.
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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE ENGINEERS: Goldilocks is an inventor with inventor’s block, but with the help of three new friends, everything turns out just right. Rhyme
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I’M A GLUTEN-SNIFFING SERVICE DOG: Chewie is going to be Alice’s gluten-sniffing service dog, but he keeps getting distracted during training.
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HALAL HOT DOGS: Every Friday, Musa’s family takes turns picking out a Jummah treat, and they’ve tried all sorts of foods, but when it’s Musa’s turn, he picks his favorite, halal hot dogs.
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LET’S POP, POP, POPCORN!: Follow along and learn the step-by-step process of how America’s favorite snack is grown, harvested, and popped. Rhyme
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I LOVE YOU AS BIG AS A RAINBOW: Big Bear and Small Bear see a rainbow in the sky, and when it disappears, they decide to make their own.

Picture Books At The Library 234

Here are a few recent titles I’ve read. What new picture books have you read? Please share in the comments section.
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THE COLOR COLLECTOR: When a boy notices the new girl collecting litter on her way home, he thinks it’s strange until she shows him the mural she created that reminds her of the home she left behind.
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BALLOONS FOR PAPA: Arthur really wants a balloon, something to keep his spirits up for Mama, but his depressed Papa’s answer is always no.
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THE LITTLE THINGS: The day after a mighty storm, a little girl finds a sea star that has washed up on shore, and she returns it to the ocean, which sets off a chain of kind acts all around her neighborhood.
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THE ALLIGATOR WHO CAME FOR DINNER: Best friends, Little Lamb and Wolf, discover a large egg in the forest, take it home, and soon find themselves caring for a baby alligator.
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BIRD HOUSE: On a snowy day, a grandmother and grandchild find an injured bird, care for it, then set it free.
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CARPENTER’S HELPER: Renata’s plans to help her father build a new bathroom are put on hold when two wrens decide to fly in through the unfinished window, build a nest, and raise their young.
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I’M A HARE, SO THERE!: An irritated hare takes the time to educate a ground squirrel on the differences between hares and rabbits. Funny and informative
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WATERCRESS: Embarrassed about gathering watercress from a roadside ditch, a girl learns to appreciate her Chinese heritage after learning why the plant is so important to her parents.
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AMERICA MY LOVE AMERICA MY HEART: A single child asks a single question that multiplies across the country from more and more children of color: America, do you love me? Some rhyme
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WELCOME HOME, WHALES: A boy befriends a whale by listening to her complex past, understanding their connected present, and offering amends in hopes of a better future.

Picture Books At The Library 233

Here are a few recent titles I’ve read. What new picture books have you read? Please share in the comments section.
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SOMEONE BUILDS THE DREAM: A house, a bridge, an amusement park all start as an idea, a sketch, a plan, but someone needs to work the saws and pound the nails, someone has to build each dream. Rhyme
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COQUI IN THE CITY: When Miguel moves with his parents to mainland U.S., he misses his home, but he soon realizes that New York has more in common with Puerto Rico than he thought.
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ANITA AND THE DRAGONS: Anita must face her fears, enter the belly of the beast-an airplane-, and begin life in a new country far from the Dominican Republic.
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THREE: A homeless three-legged dog hops and skips about the city until he befriends a little girl who accepts him as he is.
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THE SHAREY GODMOTHER: Shari T. Fairy loves to share, but when some of her friends question whether so much sharing is good, she tries being less generous, with disappointing results.
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NYE, SAND AND STONES: A young girl challenges destructive behavior from the citizens of an island of stones that the rest of her community on an island of sand has accepted since forever.
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THAO: Ever since Thao can remember, her name has been misspelled, mispronounced, and misunderstood, so now she’s ready for a new name.
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AMIRA’S PICTURE DAY: Amira is excited for Eid with special clothes, treats, gifts, and a morning party at her mosque, but picture day at school is the same day and she was looking forward to that, too.
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CLOSE YOUR EYES: If you’re not ready to go to bed, better close your eyes so that you don’t see all the sleepy little animals and get sleepy yourself. Adorable!
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THE WIND AND THE TREES: Deep in a forest, a mature pine tree and a seedling begin a conversation, and as the years pass, the older pine weathers while the younger tree grows and flourishes.

Picture Books At The Library 232

Here are a few recent titles I’ve read. What new picture books have you read? Please share in the comments section.
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A HOUSE FOR EVERY BIRD: When a young artist draws a flock of birds and a house to match each one, her drawings revolt and insist on trading houses.
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BEST FRIEND IN THE WHOLE WORLD: When lonely Roland finds a pine cone in the woods, it becomes his best friend, but someone else may just be missing their bumpy best friend at the same time.
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ME + TREE: A young girl and an old tree learn from each other how to find their purpose and foster healing in the world. Lovely!
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POOJO’S GOT WHEELS: Clever dog Poojo doesn’t let the fact that he was born without back legs slow him down.
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THE NICE DREAM TRUCK: Sleepy children receive a visit from the Nice Dream Truck whose driver serves up all sorts of delicious dreams. Rhyme
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THE TREE IN ME: A celebration of the strength and wonder within each of us, and a meditation on the interconnectedness of every living thing. Love the art!
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HOME FOR A WHILE: Calvin has lived in many houses that never felt like home, but Maggie, his new foster mother, helps him deal with his emotions while also making him feel at home.
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IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SUNNY: Laila has trouble adjusting when a thunderstorm causes her outdoor party to become an indoor party.
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SHEEPISH: When the big bad wolf creates a foolproof plan to sneak into the sheep herd, things don’t go as planned.
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THE LITTLE LIBRARY: Jake, a reluctant reader, becomes a book lover when the new librarian finds Jake a book about woodworking.

Picture Books At The Library 231

Here are a few recent titles I’ve read. What new picture books have you read? Please share in the comments section.
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MOTHER GOOSE TO THE RESCUE!: When the Queen of Hearts’ castle goes up in flames, Mother Goose and her band of nursery rhyme firefighters jump to the rescue. Rhyme
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TREEMENDOUS: Follow along as a tiny acorn grows up to be a tall and mighty oak tree.
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MEESHA MAKES FRIENDS: Meesha struggles to make friends, so she creates her own out of found materials.
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ELEPHANTS DO NOT BELONG IN TREES: When an elephant takes up roost in a tree, he upsets the other animals, until a bulldozer comes along, and the elephant saves their home.
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A FAMILY FOR FARU: Tetenya looks for a family of rhinos to take in an orphan named Faru, but he must protect the young rhino from poachers first.
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MY MONSTERPIECE: When a child’s attempts at making a scary monster fail, they begin to imagine that monsters don’t have to be scary after all.
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HOORAY, IT’S GARBAGE DAY!: Neighborhood children look forward to garbage day and have fun making their own garbage truck. Rhyme
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SAM’S FIRST WORD: Baby Sam is ready to say her first word, but the adults in her life keep missing the moment, until she does something they can’t ignore.
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THE AQUANAUT: A child dreams of being an explorer, helping others, and meeting new friends. Striking art!
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THE PERFECT SHELTER: When a child discovers her sister is ill, she doesn’t know how to deal with it at first, but then she realizes that being together is all they need.

Picture Books At The Library 230

Here are a few recent titles I’ve read. What new picture books have you read? Please share in the comments section.
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THE TALE OF THE MANDARIN DUCK: A special duck brings the people of the city back together after they put their phones away.
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AVOCADO ASKS: Avocado hunts for the truth, in each aisle of the supermarket, about whether he’s a fruit or a vegetable.
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SLOTH WASN’T SLEEPY: Mama Sloth knows some special secrets to help her worried little daughter calm down and drift off to sleep.
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RISSY NO KISSIES: Rissy’s friends and family wonder if she’s sick, confused, or rude because she’s a lovebird who doesn’t like kisses. Rhyme
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RECTANGLE TIME: Told from the cat’s point of view as it spends time with the boy and watches as the boy gets bigger, the rectangle gets smaller, and it’s (the cat’s) assistance is no longer needed.
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TEARS: Explores the reasons why people cry and conveys the idea that when we let our tears flow, we are stronger.
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OUT OF NOWHERE: A beetle courageously sets out in search of his best friend, a caterpillar who arrived out of nowhere and vanished without warning.
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RAINDROPS TO RAINBOW: On a rainy day, a girl discovers that color can be found all around us, no matter the weather. Rhyme/Concept
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THE LOST PACKAGE: Follow one package’s journey from lost to found, and from coast to coast.
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BEDTIME BALLET: When the sun sets, a little girl jumps, slides, and pirouettes her way to bed. Rhyme

Poetry Month Book Review: An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z

Title: An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z

Illustrator: Rachael Saunders

Publisher/Year: The School of Life/2021


I admit it, I don’t post about poetry very often here on the Frog. But, April is Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate than by sharing a children’s picture book filled with fun poems? And lovely illustrations, featuring adorable animals?

But An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z by The School of Life, with amazing art by Rachael Saunders, is more than a fun read. It features 26 emotions from anger to melancholy to zeal, each one encompassing a two-page spread with a new animal and setting. The goal of the book is to help children develop emotional literacy. Some of the featured emotions are more straight forward, such as boredom, fear, or happiness. And some are more complex, such as embarrassment, insecurity, or vulnerability.

Sample from L is for Loneliness:

If Loneliness was an animal,

It would glide throughout the deep:

No ears to hear its lonely song,

No company to keep.

Children experience many different emotions, and some have difficulty expressing them properly or even articulating what they’re feeling, leaving them with another feeling–confusion. An Emotional Menagerie aims to help children understand and deal with their feelings and emotions in a healthy way.

Though the rhyme isn’t perfect in every stanza, children will still likely be engaged listeners as an adult reads them each poem. And they will definitely enjoy viewing the charming animal pictures while they listen.

My favorite spread: T is for Tranquility

During these extra-trying days, I can’t think of a better time to share a book about emotions with our kids.

Picture Books At The Library 229

Here are a few recent titles I’ve read. What new picture books have you read? Please share in the comments section.
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OVER THE SHOP: A little girl’s grandparent struggles to rent the shabby apartment above her general store, until a special couple decides to move in and helps transform the store and the community. Wordless
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CHICK CHAT: When everyone in her family is too busy, chatty Baby Chick adopts an egg, and finally finds a friend who is a good listener. Cute!
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I AM NOT A PENGUIN: Poor Pangolin tries to explain to the other animals who he is, but they keep getting mixed up, confusing him with a penguin, an armadillo, and more. Funny!
TWO WOOL GLOVES: As a winter storm approaches, Father Squirrel sets out to find a warm shelter for his family and finally comes across the perfect place, just the right size for Mother Squirrel and their five babies.
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TOGETHER: Whether stargazing, playing, or cuddling before bedtime, a polar bear parent assures a child that they will never be lonely because they are together forever. Rhyme

Picture Books At The Library 228

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.
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RAIN BEFORE RAINBOWS: A girl and her companion fox travel together away from a sorrowful past, through challenging and stormy times, toward color and light and life. Rhyme/Lovely!
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THE ALL-TOGETHER QUILT: Tells the heartwarming story of a diverse group of people coming together to make a quilt and lasting friendships.
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ROO KNOWS BLUE: Little Roo only knows the color blue, but he soon learns the world is made up of lots of other colors, too. Concept/Rhyme/Fun!
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NIGHT WALK: A girl has trouble sleeping and goes for a walk at night with her father where she sees her neighborhood in a whole new light.
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TAMLIN’S GREAT ADVENTURE: When Tamlin the horse leaves his field and best friend, Ruby, to go explore the wide world, he learns the grass isn’t really greener far from home.
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MEL FELL: Mel the kingfisher bird is ready to leave the nest and learn to fly, but when she jumps she falls and falls. Or does she?
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SEEKING AN AURORA: Through the silent frost, across fields, and up hills, a father and child set off to find an aurora and share an unforgettable moment as they watch the splendor of the northern lights.
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EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS: A young girl notices that her eyes look different from her friends because her eyes kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.
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THE MIDNIGHT FAIR: After the lights go out and the people go home, the creatures in the nearby forest take their turn at the fair. Wordless
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I WANT TO RIDE THE TAP TAP: In Haiti, Claude waits all week to ride the tap tap to the beach where he meets up with a mango seller, a fisherman, a straw-hat maker, an artist, and a steel drummer.