B.A.R.F. Books by Jaclyn Kruzie

The Kid Lit community is filled with talented, knowledgeable, amazing people who are always ready to share what they know. Author Jaclyn Kruzie is one of those people. Jaclyn loves to do school visits and her Young Author’s Workshops focus on teaching second through sixth grade students about character development, plot progression, and language concepts. Jaclyn has stopped by Frog on a Blog today to talk about B.A.R.F.

B.A.R.F. Books

By Jaclyn Kruzie

Does your favorite picture book B.A.R.F.? Chances are, it does. The best ones always do. Naturally, the retching HU-WA of a troubled tummy is foremost in your mind right now, but bear with me as we explore what makes a picture book B.A.R.F. and why it’s so important.

Readers are drawn to books with action, conflict, and loveable characters. When a character is loved, the reader wants them to succeed. They feel their failures, cheer their conquests, and long to meet them in the real world because surely, they would become the best of friends. That is a B.A.R.F. book.

When a story has a character the reader can BELIEVE IN, that is ACTIVE in accomplishing their goal, that is RELATABLE, and FLAWED, that story will be read again and again and again.

A few notable B.A.R.F. books that debuted in 2016:

NNNormal Norman by Tara Lazar – Norman, “a regular, ordinary, common, everyday creature” steals the hearts of readers with his not so normal behaviors. Like when he chooses pizza over a banana, I can relate to that! Norman’s flawed actions create conflict which creates a seamless flow (another word that fits our acronym, because flaws equal conflict which equals flow). 

TTA Tiger Tail by Mike Bolt – Anya wakes to find she has grown a tiger tail overnight, and on the first day of school! Going to school feeling self-conscious and different is out of the question. I still feel that way from time to time. Like the time I walked around all day in a shirt that I didn’t realize had a gross stain on it. The more I tried to fix it, the worse it got and I was positive everyone was staring me. Sorry to make this excerpt all about me, but isn’t that what a good book does? It makes the character’s story your story. 

WWWorm Loves Worm by Mike Curato – Wiggly worms have a wedding, and it’s adorable! Which completely surprised me seeing how worms are not on my cuddly creature list. But their determination and wit won me over. They earned my respect and my desire for them to succeed. With every page turn I hoped to discover how they were going to solve each problem that arose (there’s that flow again). I cheered every time they succeeded.

Now my list of B.A.R.F. books wouldn’t be complete without a nod to my favorite picture book of all time…

MMMiss Nelson is Missing! by James Marshall – Relatable to every kid who has ever sat in a classroom. Full of action as the kids try to find where Miss Nelson has gone. The furiously flawed Miss Viola Swamp who terrified me to my toes. And of course, I wanted Miss Nelson to be found! I wanted those kids to succeed in finding her and rid themselves of the sour substitute. This book affected me in such a way that 25 years later, I read it to my kids.

So you see, B.A.R.F. is a good thing, at least when it comes to picture books.


JKJaclyn Kruzie is a picture book author and creator of The Young Author’s Workshop, a school presentation that teaches students how to create works of fiction using the B.A.R.F. method. She serves on the library board for the Gunter Library and Museum in Gunter, Texas and is the regional advisor for the SCBWI North Texas chapter. Follow Jaclyn on Twitter @JaclynKruzie and subscribe to her blog at jaclynkruzie.com.



Picture Book Personals (32)


Picture Book Personals

Small brown hare seeks ways to show big brown hare how much he loves him.

What Classic Picture Book Am I?

Guess How Much

Leave your best guess in the comments below. Find out the answer when the next Picture Book Personals is posted.

And the answer to last week’s Picture Book Personals is…

Millions of Cats


Did you get it?

My View Book Review: Watersong by Tim McCanna and Richard Smythe


Title: Watersong

Author: Tim McCanna

Illustrator: Richard Smythe

Publisher/Year: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers/2017

Jacket flap blurb: With a drip drop plip plop the rain starts—just a sprinkle at first. But as the storm builds, one lone fox seeks shelter.

A fox, perhaps heading home after a hunting trip, makes its way through the woods. Along the path, it encounters frogs, and mice, and ducks. The sky is gray and soon it begins to rain. At first it’s a gentle pitter patter. But before long, soft sprinkles give way to whirling winds and crashing tree branches. Picking up its pace, our fox friend looks for shelter from the storm—and finds it just in time.

Watersong is incredibly expressive, yet it employs such few words to convey the before, during, and after of a rainstorm. It’s not the number of words that matters. What matters is how they’re used. Author Tim McCanna uses onomatopoeia, or sound words, brilliantly. As the rain begins, we can almost hear the soft drip drop plip plop of the rain droplets hitting the surface of the pond. As the rain picks up, we hear the gurgle burble babble bubble of the fast moving stream. And in the midst of the storm, we hear the hiss, slap, slam of the wind and the branches. His words allow us to experience the emotional drama of the storm.

No matter how expressive the words, without the illustrations, the story would be incomplete. It’s Richard Smyth’s lovely and lively watercolor art that invites us into the woodland setting, that introduces us to the little fox, that allows us to follow the frightened creature to the safety of the hollow log. Had we just the words, we would still hear the rainstorm, but we wouldn’t experience it as vividly. We would just “get out of the rain” instead of fearing for the wellbeing of the fox.

Have you ever heard the expression “April showers bring May flowers”? It seems appropriate to feature Watersong, a book about rain, now that it’s April and spring weather is finally here. I often wonder during a storm, whether it’s a rainstorm, snowstorm, or something even worse, about the animals. Where do they go? Are they safe? How do they survive? I like to believe a higher power is looking out for them. It gives me peace of mind… just like the satisfying ending to Watersong.

Final thoughts: Be sure to check out the back matter on the last page to learn about ecosystems, the water cycle, how rainbows are formed, and more.


Illustration from Watersong provided by The Bright Agency | copyright 2017 by Richard Smythe


Picture Books At The Library 104

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.


When Chunk goes missing, Yeti has to go to bed all by himself. Bedtime can be scary without your best friend.


In a village on the African plains, a little girl stalls bedtime by saying good night to various animals and objects. Gorgeous illustrations! This could be a Caldecott contender for next year!


Fox has lost a sock. Ox is on the case, but his silly antics frustrate Fox.


Mr. Fuzzbuster the cat sets off to prove he’s the favorite pet in the house.


At bath time, Marlo the dog is thrust into an underwater adventure filled with fish and predators.


A boy shrugs off cleaning up after himself, and his lack of cleanliness meets with disastrous results, an infestation of barbarians!


A little bear learns from his mother what it means to make and break a promise, as well as the lesson that some things in life simply cannot be promised.


A bird wants to make friends with a bear, but the bear already has a friend.


Three great warriors, Rock, Paper, and Scissors meet up for an epic battle that continues to this day.


After a long winter, ferns uncurl, cherry blossoms pop, animals wake up, and birds return.


A girl befriends a bee and together they fill their city with beauty. Incredibly imaginative!

Picture Book Personals (31)


Picture Book Personals

Lonely old woman seeks sweet and fluffy little cat–just one.

What Classic Picture Book Am I?

Millions of Cats

Leave your best guess in the comments below. Find out the answer when the next Picture Book Personals is posted.

And the answer to last week’s Picture Book Personals is…

Strega Nona

You knew that, right?

Picture Books At The Library 103

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.


Triangle plays a sneaky trick on his friend Square, but it’s Square who gets the last laugh.


For an anywhere farm, all that you need is soil, sunshine, water, a seed, and you.


When one little boy notices a grasshopper, he exclaims, “Mama, look!” and sets off a series of curious baby creatures noticing other curious baby creatures.


Lucia proves she’s just as brave and daring as the boys on the playground, with or without her mask.


Percy and his friends spend time at the dog park doing what dogs do best.


Although unable to grow a beard, Al the garden gnome, after discovering his talent for barbering, wins a special award at the beard contest.


Sophie has trouble saying hello and thank you. Will she ever learn?


The Catawampus Cat walked into town one day at a slant, and since then everyone in town is seeing their world with fresh eyes.


There was a cat who lived alone. Until the day a new cat came.


A lonely hedgehog sets out on an adventure to find friendship. Cute!


Alice and Jack were outside playing when they heard something…a strange and curious noise…coming from the forest. Sweet!

Donating Character-Developing, Idea-Generating, World-Building Books: The Beginning by Rhonda McCormack

Love this post over at Nerdy Book Club about donating books!

Nerdy Book Club

In the mid-1970s, my older sister convinced my parents to buy me a monthly subscription to the Dr. Seuss Beginning Reader club. When a book arrived, we’d crack the spine and turn the pages, lingering over the rhymes, humor, and art. As the 70s gave way to the 80s, my sister invited me to read MADMagazine with her. We’d lie on her bed, quietly leafing through the magazine until we’d smirk or laugh at a punch line. Then, for some reason, it felt necessary to discuss what made that particular thing funny. There were times when she’d have to clarify a joke, but she never questioned my ability to grasp cultural or political concepts. In fact, she’d pluck obscure words from the books she read and challenge me to spell, define, and use the word in a sentence by the end of the day. I liked this game and…

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Picture Book Personals (30)


Picture Book Personals

Man seeks way to stop avalanche of pasta from destroying town.

What Classic Picture Book Am I?

Strega Nona

Leave your best guess in the comments below. Find out the answer when the next Picture Book Personals is posted.

And the answer to last week’s Picture Book Personals is…

The Cat In The Hat



5 Ways to Make Storytime the Best Time Ever by Susan Day


Please welcome author, literacy advocate, blogger, and dog lover, Susan Day, to Frog on a Blog. On her blog, Astro’s Adventures Book Club, Susan has made it her mission to help grandparents create lasting memories by showing them how to share the wonders of reading with their grandchildren.

Today, Susan stopped by to share tips on making storytime an extra special time for both reader and listener.

5 Ways to Make Storytime the Best Time Ever

by Susan Day

Have you ever been riveted to your chair by a powerful storyteller? One who weaves such a magical and inspiring tale you simply can’t move until it’s over?

A good storyteller can hold the breath of each listener in their hands, and mesmerize them with every word.

Storytelling is certainly an art form that takes many hours of practice, but just about anybody can quickly gain the right skills to have children or grandchildren hurrying to bed each night in eager anticipation of their next bedtime story.

Here are some pointers to help you –


Your voice is your most important tool when it comes to storytelling. We each have a unique voice which adds to the charm of any story we tell.

But, why not give each character its own voice. The more exaggerated you are the more fun it will be. This is further enhanced when you give a large, heavy animal like a hippopotamus or an elephant a high, squeaky voice.

As well, who said all mice have to sound meek and small? What about a mouse with a deep voice that is gruff and coarse?

You might be great at accents too. Delight your children with a long southern drawl or a sharp Cockney accent each time you read.

Voice volume

Changing the volume of your voice to reflect the plot is another wonderful way to keep children engaged in the story. When the heroes enter the dark, mysterious cavern, drop your voice to a whisper. When they are at the fairground, shout the words out loud! (You know how noisy fairgrounds can be!)

boy reading


Try to match the speed at which you read to the action in the plot. Try doing this with the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill to get some practice.

Read in a measured, deep voice which imitates someone slowly walking up a steep hill: “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.”

Now in a quick voice imitating someone falling down a hill: “Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after.”

This will make the whole story so much more engaging and fun. Your children will love to hear how the actions of the characters are reflected in the way you read the story.

Hand gestures and facial expressions

Hand gestures may be difficult if you are holding the book, but don’t let that stop you from employing them. As with facial gestures, you can add so much more to story time by mimicking the reactions of the characters.

Remember the Big Bad Wolf in the Three Little Pigs story? He put a lot of effort into blowing those houses down. Imagine how much fun the story would sound if you ran out of breath and became tired as you ‘huffed and puffed’?

What kind of face would Little Miss Muffet have pulled when she ate her curds and whey? Yikes! Who eats curds and whey today?

One of the keys to success for all storytellers is in the element of surprise. Using your voice, hand and facial gestures will keep your young audience enthralled with every turn of the page. Let’s face it, the key to good storytelling is not in the story, but in the telling!

Image3About the author – Susan Day

Susan Day is a children’s author and writer. Her blog, Astro’s Adventures Book Club, is full of ideas and tips for grandparents, parents and teachers to support them in helping children become better readers. As well, Susan has created a guide to help grandparents build a more meaningful relationship with their grandchildren through their love and passion for books.

Susan lives in country Australia with four dogs, three boss cats, three rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo. And, apart from blogging, writing and reading; she loves coffee, painting and learning to box.

My thanks to Susan for featuring Frog on a Blog on her site, Astro’s Adventures Book Club!


March’s Winner (plus April’s Prize)!

In January, I posted about a year-long giveaway called New Year=New Beginnings that I’m offering here on Frog on a Blog–a new prize each month for folks who comment on blog posts. With so much negative energy floating around in the world, I wanted to do something positive to show my gratitude to my followers, fans, and friends for their support.

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.

And the winner is…

David McMullin

Congratulations, David! Please contact me by clicking HERE. Once I’ve got your address, I’ll get your pens sent out to you asap.

For April’s prize, I’m offering TWO choices: Either a picture book Manuscript Critique (for the writers amongst us), or this super cute Personal Library Kit (perfect for any book lover).

Comment on this post or any post during the month of April for your chance to win. For more information on how to qualify for prizes, click HERE.

Due to contest/sweepstakes regulations in other countries, this giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. I’m very sorry fans and followers from other nations. I still appreciate you! All winners are chosen at random.