Show Me How! with Vivian Kirkfield and Four Otters Toboggan

Yay! Kidlit author and friend Vivian Kirkfield is back for part two in her three-part series of Show Me How! posts right here on Frog on a Blog. Last week, she featured her picture book Pippa’s Passover Plate. Vivian shared a summary of the book, followed by a Positive Parental Participation Note, then a craft, and finally, a recipe, just like she does in her book Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking. (For more information about Show Me How! and to read my review, click HERE.) 

Today, we continue the fun and learning with Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book. Read on!

Thank you so much, Lauri, for giving me space on Frog on a Blog again. …I wanted to speak for a moment about the writing journey that many of us are on. It’s not an easy trail to follow…there are twists and turns and boulders that sometimes block the way. Your critique buddies weigh in on your manuscript and you wonder which advice to take…which suggestions to implement. If you send your stories out to agents and/or editors, many may be rejected. Sometimes you don’t even find out because they don’t send a response. But I want everyone to know that I truly believe if you are passionate about being a picture book/children’s book writer, then please, don’t give up. The Only Failure is the Failure to Keep Trying.

Let me share what happened with Four Otters Toboggan. I wrote it back in 2013…it was called ‘Visitors to Deep Pool’ then. I revised it dozens of times with the help of my critique buddies. I sent it out…an agent responded: this is pure poetry…so beautiful…but not for me. UGH! Then after I signed with my agent Essie, she sent it out…numerous times…and editors kept passing on it. One editor wrote: This is the most beautiful lyrical language I’ve ever read. I got lost in the musicality of the words. Every child should have a copy of this book. But sorry, it’s a bit too quiet for my list.


But we didn’t give up and, finally, an editor fell in love with it and thought it was perfect for his list. That’s the thing. This business is so subjective…and our stories have to find their way to the person who falls in love with them.

I was lucky because my agent sent some art samples from one of her illustrator clients along with the manuscript. The editor loved the pairing and signed Mirka Hokkanen to do the pictures. The publication process was lovely, and I got to see early sketches. Mirka and I and the Pomegranate team collaborated in an effort to create a book that is beautiful to the ear, and features STEM back matter that makes it a must have for early primary school classrooms.

four otters cover

SHOW ME HOW!: Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book

SUMMARY: Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book (PomegranateKids, April 2019), illustrated by Mirka Hokkanen, is a counting book that introduces kids to ten endangered animals who visit a pristine river where the character of the water changes as quickly as a young child’s moods. Filled with lyrical text and modern woodcuts, we see dragonflies dancing, ballerinas on a liquid stage, river otters tobogganing down a mudslide, and mud turtles stretching their necks as day turns into dusk and the mountains swallow the sun.

*Positive Parental Participation Note: Encourage children to get involved with saving the planet. Small steps like not running the water while brushing teeth will save precious energy…and using canvas shopping bags will cut down on the plastic that pollutes the oceans and endangers sea creatures.

CRAFT ACTIVITY: Make Animal Finger Puppets

All you need is a piece of paper, a pair of scissors, glue, and markers or crayons. For detailed instructions:

For simpler instructions:

  1. Cut a small square of paper that fits around one finger when you roll it up and apply glue so that it stays rolled in a cylinder.
  2. Draw a separate small circle that will be the head of the animal (otter, fox, etc.) or the shape of a butterfly or a fish.
  3. Add features to the circle or shape…eyes, nose, whiskers, or markings on the butterfly or scales on the fish.
  4. Glue the circle or shape near the top of the cylinder.
  5. Make several so that you and your child can role play as endangered animals. 


Kids love to help in the kitchen…and there is so much learning that can go on there. Science, Math, Geography, History, Problem Solving…the list goes on and on. Why not make some healthful trail mix to take along on a woodland walk as you look for animals in the ‘wild’…even a day at the playground can yield birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and all types of insects and bugs to the observant child.

Combine your favorite nuts and seeds and dried fruits…almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, raisins, etc.

Mix well and store in airtight containers or zip-lock bags.

Easy-peasy for kids to help make!

Now I think I need to mix up a batch because I’m hungry for something healthy! And I just might take a bag of this along with me when I go to my upcoming book events. I’ll be at Paul Reynolds’ Blue Bunny Bookstore in Dedham, MA on Saturday, June 1 at 1pm for a story-time, reading FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK and also SWEET DREAMS, SARAH. And then I’ll be flying to Chicago the next day and will be at Andersons Bookstore in La Grange, IL on June 8 at 11am for their story hour, sharing OTTERS and SARAH. I hope if any of your readers are in either of those areas, they will COME ON DOWN to say hello and spread the word to friends who have children.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Lauri!

So glad you were able to stop in again, Vivian!


Writer for children – reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. She’s got a bucket list that contains many more than five words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing and banana-boat riding. When she is not looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books that she hopes will encourage young kids to become lovers of books and reading. She is the author of Pippa’s Passover Plate (Holiday House, Feb 2019); Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book (PomegranateKids, March 2019); Sweet Dreams, Sarah (Creston Books, May 2019); Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020). Vivian lives in the quaint New Hampshire town of Amherst where the old stone library is her favorite hangout and her young grandson is her favorite board game partner. You can visit Vivian on her website, Picture Books Help Kids Soar, where she hosts the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge every March. Or connect with her on Facebook, TwitterPinterest, InstagramLinkedin, and just about anywhere people are playing with picture books.

Coming up next week: Post number three in Vivian’s Show Me How! three-part series. She’ll be sharing a fun craft and delicious cooking activity for her book Sweet Dreams, Sarah. Stay tuned!

Picture Books At The Library 187

At The Library Too

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.


QUEENIE QUAIL CAN’T KEEP UP: When Queenie’s watchful eye spots a cat in the grass, she rescues her family from danger and teaches them the value of slowing down.


MAYBE TOMORROW: Optimistic Norris invites melancholy Elba to accompany him on a trip to the ocean. Love the feel good colors!


RUBY’S BIRDS: When energetic Ruby’s neighbor invites her on a nature walk, Ruby learns to quiet down and look for birds.


THE QUIET BOAT RIDE: Unlikely friends, Fox and Chick, enjoy a boat ride, a chocolate cake, and a sunset together.


THE FARMER: Paul the farmer works hard to tend the earth and sow his seeds, but what happens when the water dries up?


SPROUT, SEED, SPROUT: A young boy learns to be patient while waiting for his avocado seed to sprout.

Show Me How! with Vivian Kirkfield and Pippa’s Passover Plate

I’m so excited to feature kidlit author and friend Vivian Kirkfield on Frog on a Blog! When my book The Peddler’s Bed came out a few years ago, Vivian was one of the first bloggers to host me on her fantastic site Picture Books Help Kids Soar. I couldn’t wait to return the favor! And now I’m overjoyed to finally have the chance!

In a series of three posts in three successive weeks, Vivian will offer craft and cooking activities that parents and children can do together after reading one of her picture books. First, she’ll share a summary of the book, followed by a Positive Parental Participation Note, then a craft, and finally, a recipe, just like she does in her book Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking. (For more information about Show Me How! and to read my review, click HERE.) How cool is that! Today’s book is Pippa’s Passover Plate.

Hello, Lauri! Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog. Frog on a Blog has long been a favorite of mine and I’m honored to be here.

My journey on this path to picture book publication started decades ago. I wasn’t writing picture books then…I was reading them…first to my kindergarten students and then to my own children. But I never seriously considered writing them until my 64th birthday. You see, I had self-published a guide for parents and teachers, SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING (MoneyPenny Press, 2010). It was the book I had wanted when I was teaching and raising my children – 100 picture book suggestions and a craft project and a cooking activity for each title.

Long story short, my son took me skydiving for my 64th birthday and when my feet touched the ground, I knew that if I could jump out of a perfectly good airplane, I could do anything I wanted. And what I wanted was to become a picture book author. I began blogging to spread the word about the parenting book and met loads of people who also wanted to become picture book writers. I joined challenges. Took classes. Wrote and revised and submitted. And was lucky enough to snag an amazing agent and, over the next few years, received a bunch of book contracts.

This year, three of my picture books launched. And so, when you suggested that we follow the format SHOW ME HOW and provide a craft and cooking activity for each of my picture books, I was thrilled!!!

Pippas Passover Plate cover

SHOW ME HOW!: Pippa’s Passover Plate

SUMMARY: Pippa’s Passover Plate (Holiday House, Feb. 2019) illustrated by Jill Weber, is a joyful rhyming tale of courage, friendship, and perseverance. When Pippa Mouse can’t find her special Seder plate, she must face her natural enemies to question each even though Cats and Snakes and Owls make her Quiver, Quaver, Shiver, Shake with fear. But time is of the essence – sun sets soon, it’s getting late…and the Passover holiday will be starting. Spills and chills occur when Pippa goes to ask Golda Fish if she has seen the plate and the little mouse falls in the lake. Oh no! But life is good when friends are near and Pippa and her new friends join together in a wonderful Passover celebration.

*Positive Parental Participation Note: Encourage children to build relationships with friends by arranging playdates with schoolmates. Create finger puppets to role play with your child – sometimes a child will open up and be more honest about things they are afraid of when they can pretend they are someone else.

CRAFT ACTIVITY: Make a Seder Plate


Photo courtesy:

Materials needed: Paper plate, cupcake liners, marker or crayons, glue.

Directions: Print the names of the foods at the bottom of each cupcake liner. Glue onto plate. Decorate plate.


(Recipes courtesy of illustrator Jill Weber)

There are two secrets to light and fluffy matzo balls—letting the mixture sit for at least a half an hour. (the mixture will become spongy and thick.) and simmering the matzo balls long enough. To be sure, cut one open to make sure it is cooked through.

Makes about 18 medium sized matzo balls.

3 tablespoons of chicken fat (or canola oil)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup matzo meal
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
3 tablespoons of chicken stock

Using a fork, blend together the chicken fat and the eggs. Mix in the matzo meal and salt. Finally, add the chicken stock, mix well, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Bring 2 quarts of water, lightly salted, to a full boil. While the water is boiling, form little balls about the size of a walnut from the matzo mixture. Drop into the boiling water. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 40 minutes. The matzo balls will double in size and rise to the top. When they are done, remove with a slotted spoon and add to the soup for 10 minutes or so to absorb the flavor of the broth.



We usually serve this with shredded chicken from the stock and about 4 small matzo balls per person.

2 quarts homemade chicken stock
1 cup of sliced carrots
1 rib of celery sliced
salt to taste

Reheat the stock and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Add the matzo balls and simmer another 10 minutes. Serve. Enjoy!

And I hope everyone enjoys the book…so far, the reviews have been lovely. I think this is so much more than a book about the Passover holiday. It’s a story about courage, perseverance, and friendship…qualities that we hope all children will embrace.

Thank you so much for letting me stop by to visit, Lauri.

It’s my pleasure, Vivian! You’re welcome anytime!


Writer for children – reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. She’s got a bucket list that contains many more than five words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing and banana-boat riding. When she is not looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books that she hopes will encourage young kids to become lovers of books and reading. She is the author of Pippa’s Passover Plate (Holiday House, Feb 2019); Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book (PomegranateKids, March 2019); Sweet Dreams, Sarah (Creston Books, May 2019); Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020). Vivian lives in the quaint New Hampshire town of Amherst where the old stone library is her favorite hangout and her young grandson is her favorite board game partner. You can visit Vivian on her website, Picture Books Help Kids Soar, where she hosts the #50PreciousWords Writing Challenge every March. Or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, and just about anywhere people are playing with picture books.

Everyone, be sure to stop by next week for the second post in Vivian’s Show Me How! series. She’ll be sharing a fun craft and delicious cooking activity for her book Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book. I can’t wait!

Picture Books At The Library 186

At The Library Too

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.


POETREE: Sylvia loves poetry, and even leaves a poem tied to a tree, but she’s surprised when the tree writes back.


I DO NOT LIKE BOOKS ANYMORE: Natalie is excited about reading on her own, but when she tries reading her first book, the letters and words look like scribbles and she becomes discouraged.


BORN TO RIDE: In Rochester, NY, in 1896, Louisa defies convention and ignores her brother’s warnings by learning to ride a bicycle.


LUBNA AND PEBBLE: When a lost little boy arrives in the “world of tents”, Lubna must decide if he needs Pebble more than she does.


A LITTLE CHICKEN: When one of her mother’s eggs accidentally rolls out of the coop, Dot must pluck up her courage to save her soon-to-be sibling.


I LOVE YOU ALL YEAR THROUGH: Cuddle up and celebrate the simple, special moments shared between grown-ups and little ones all year through. Rhyme. Beautiful illustrations!


YOU ARE YOUR STRONG: A child explains how to conquer fear, anger, and other emotions to find your “strong.” Love the gold cover and interior art!


The Whimsical World Of Bilingual Books by Derek Taylor Kent

Please welcome back to Frog on a Blog, author, screenwriter, performer and director Derek Taylor Kent. You may remember Derek’s last visit when he shared “The Mystery of the Picture Book” along with his first El Perro book El Perro con Sombrero: A Bilingual Doggy Tale. (Read that article along with my review of his fabulous book by clicking HERE.)

Derek and his wife author Sheri Fink are the founders of Whimsical World, an empowering children’s brand that publishes books and produces whimsical merchandise, inspiring entertainment, and magical experiences for children of all ages. 

I’m happy to report that the sequel to El Perro con Sombrero, El Perro con Sombrero meets Los Gatos con Gelatos (that’s fun to say!) is hot off the presses. I asked Derek to stop in and tell us a little about the book and how it ties in with Whimsical World’s mission “to inspire, delight, and educate children of all ages while planting seeds of self-esteem and high achievement.”

The Whimsical World of Bilingual Books

By Derek Taylor Kent

Hello Frog on a Blog readers! This is Derek Taylor Kent, AKA Derek the Ghost. You may know me as the author of the middle-grade series Scary School, the bilingual picture book El Perro con Sombrero, and many more that have been reviewed right here on this blog.

derek book collage new book copy

I’m here today to share with you some exciting insider info about my latest book, the sequel to El Perro con Sombrero called El Perro con Sombrero meets Los Gatos con Gelatos.

But first, in case you hadn’t heard yet, last year I married fellow children’s book author Sheri Fink! ( We are truly the perfect match for each other and have had soooo much fun and so many adventures since we’ve been together. Check out Sheri’s Instagram @Sheri_Fink and you’ll see what I mean.

One of the best parts about our relationship is that we got to combine our imaginations and books together to create a brand new children’s brand called Whimsical World. We say that our mission at Whimsical World is to inspire, delight, and educate children of all ages while planting seeds of self-esteem and high achievement. This mission includes not only our library of books, but also live events such as school visits, book festival appearances, comic cons, plus pop-up experiences like Unicorn Parties and whimsical book launches.  We also have whimsical merchandise, lesson plans for schools to accompany our books, interactive fan experiences on our website, and some truly incredible things in the works that we can’t wait to share with you.

Some of you may be wondering how my latest book, El Perro con Sombrero meets Los Gatos con Gelatos, fits in with our Whimsical World mission to inspire, delight, and educate children while planting seeds of self-esteem and high achievement.

All of our books at Whimsical World carry important social-emotional learning messages. They are designed so that every child discovers something new about themselves when they read each story. They can also come to a better understanding of how to be a good person, a good friend, or a good family member. Some of our most popular titles with these messages include The Little Rose, The Little Unicorn and The Little Seahorse. Some of the books are also certified STEM educational books such as Counting Sea Life with the Little Seahorse and Simon and the Solar System.

El Perro con Sombrero meets Los Gatos con Gelatos fits into both categories, as it can be used for educational purposes as well as for social-emotional learning. On the education side, it can be utilized by youngsters learning either Spanish or English. Since the text is written in both languages (see images) children will naturally gravitate toward the language they don’t know once they’ve heard it in their native tongue for the first time. With the first El Perro con Sombrero, parents have often told me that their kids prefer to have it read to them in Spanish even though they don’t speak it! That’s because they know the story so well that hearing it in Spanish makes it a whole new story for them and their brain starts automatically picking up the language. Much to the parents’ shock, the kids start speaking it around the house automatically!

from book

Dual immersion schools also use El Perro con Sombrero because sometimes stories can create a more positive language-learning association than textbooks. When they read the story about Pepe, the homeless dog who chances upon a lucky sombrero that turns his life around, students become excited about language because they see that no matter where you come from, we all love the same characters and stories.

Besides the two El Perro books, I have a third bilingual picture book called Doggy Claus/Perro Noel, about Santa Claus’ dog who takes Santa’s sleigh so he can deliver presents to all the dogs in the world.  This one is perfect for language learning during the sometimes distracting holiday season!

Doggy Claus Cover Cropped Correct

In El Perro con Sombrero meets Los Gatos con Gelatos, Pepe has settled at home with his new family and his best friend is the daughter, little Lucia. He waits patiently at her feet while she finishes her homework so they can go outside and play together. But when Lucia accidently drops her homework assignment on the way to school, Pepe decides he must bring it to her before school starts so she can get her A in math. However, his mission turns out to be fraught with peril, including a gang of ice-cream-loving cats called Los Gatos con Gelatos who have other plans for Pepe.

Throughout his journey to the school, Pepe is confronted with a series of obstacles where the easy thing to do would be to give up and go back home, but each time he makes the conscious decision not to give up and come up with clever and creative solutions. The social-emotional learning message in this book is about persistence, hard work, creative problem solving, and how good deeds can end up benefitting you in the long run.

Overcoming multiple trials and errors to accomplish his goal gives Pepe the ultimate feeling of peace and earned self-esteem by the end.

That’s a valuable lesson no matter what language you speak. Olé!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts about the book and how you have been able to use books and stories to teach languages and important lessons to your little ones. 

You can learn more about Derek’s books and Whimsical World at and Follow on Social Media @DerekTaylorKent and @WhimsicalWorldBooks

Derek and Sheri2

Derek, Sheri and Zander

Derek Taylor Kent is an author, screenwriter, performer and director based in Los Angeles. Best known for his children’s books, his best-selling, award-winning books are treasured in hundreds of thousands of homes across the world. He and his wife, author Sheri Fink, are the founders of Whimsical World, an empowering children’s brand that publishes books and produces whimsical merchandise, inspiring entertainment, and magical experiences for children of all ages.

8 Fun (and Easy) Origami Bookmarks For Young Readers


Fact: Kids who love books, love bookmarks! Whenever we put a stack of bookmarks out at the library, they’re gone super quick. (Grownups love them too! I have a small collection myself.) There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of your book, and then being called to dinner, or told it’s time to go. Bookmarks give a child peace of mind that they can pick up right where they left off when they return.

flower and bee bookmark

Bee and Flower origami bookmarks (photo property of Personal Creations)

Fact: Kids also love crafts! Making crafts is fun! The library’s craft sessions are always well attended by enthusiastic young makers. When I saw these cute bookmarks from Personal Creations that kids can make themselves, I knew they’d be perfect to share here on Frog on a Blog!



Grab your favorite book, because Personal Creations has crafted free printable templates you can use to make adorable origami bookmarks  (follow the link to view printable templates and an instructional video)! These little bookmarks (which only have six easy steps) are perfect for readers of all ages!

superhero and monster bookmarks

Superhero and Monster origami bookmarks (photo property of Personal Creations)

Whether your little reader loves animals or superheroes, there’s a bookmark for every young bookworm you know! These bookmarks make the perfect craft for classrooms, rainy days, or just because. All you need is some paper to get started!


Materials you can use to make origami bookmarks (photo property of Personal Creations)


Stay tuned for guest posts from kidlit author and friend Vivian Kirkfield, who will share crafts and recipes that pair perfectly with three of her fantastic books, coming up soon!!!

Picture Books At The Library 185

At The Library Too

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.


MUSIC FOR MISTER MOON: All Harriet wants to do is play her cello by herself, but when she throws a teacup out the window to chase away a noisy owl, she accidentally knocks the moon out of the sky.


HERE AND THERE: When Ivan’s with his mother, he’s like a noisy bird, but when he’s with his father, he’s as quiet as a mouse, until his father gets out his guitar.


THE LITTLE PINK ROSEBUD: A little pink rosebud is reluctant to leave the safety of her tiny, dark underground house.


AS WE GROW: A depiction of each stage of life and the journey of transformation that we all experience as we grow up. Rhyme


WHEN GRANDMA GIVES YOU A LEMON TREE: A girl is unhappy at first when she receives a lemon tree for her birthday from her grandma instead of one of the gadgets on her wish list.


PAULA KNOWS WHAT TO DO: When Paula’s father, grieving the loss of her mother, can’t get out of bed one morning, Paula knows how to help him.




Happy Book Birthday to GREETINGS! by Raven Howell!

  • Title: GREETINGS!
  • Author: Raven Howell
  • Illustrator: Ann Pilicer
  • Publisher: Michelkin Publishing
  • Release Date: May 3, 2019
  • Format: Paperback
  • Summary: Join the journey on a poetic romp through the seasons! Celebrate nature and landscapes throughout the year by meeting and greeting birds, beaches, colorful leaf piles and magical snowy hills for sledding. 
  • Author’s Site:

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.

Picture Books At The Library 184

At The Library Too

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 SCARF FOR KEIKO: After Sam’s Japanese neighbor, Keiko, is sent to an internment camp in 1942, he makes her a special gift as a token of friendship.


CAKE: After being invited to a party, Cake finds the perfect thing to wear, a brand new hat. So colorful!


THE DONKEY EGG: After Fox leaves him with a large, green egg, Bear spends weeks caring for it in the hopes that it will hatch.


WILD BABY: When her baby goes barreling through the jungle, it’s up to mama to make sure her curious tot doesn’t get into too much trouble.


ARRR, MUSTACHE BABY: Mustache Baby and his firstmate, Beard Baby, set out to be heroes on the high seas, but soon the lure of pirate treasure takes hold. 


A Debut Author’s View Of The First Month by Laura Roettiger

Every author celebrates and promotes the launch of their debut book in different ways. Some take trips around the world, while others stay closer to home. No matter how you celebrate, the first month after your first book baby is born is almost always a blur of activity, usually including readings and book signings at bookstores and libraries.

It is my extreme pleasure to host debut author and kidlit friend Laura Roettiger today! (Laura has done book reviews for Frog on a Blog, so I’m sure you recognize her name.) She’s here to share her “whirlwind” first month experience with us. If you’re a picture book author with a debut coming up, you might just garner a few ideas from Laura. Read on!

A Debut Author’s View Of The First Month

As a debut author, I spent months planning and preparing for what it would be like when ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON actually made it out into the world. I read about other authors’ experiences and one piece of advice that rose to the top of the pile was to “enjoy the experience and savor the moment.” It’s the same advice I was given before my daughters’ weddings last year. I have taken this advice to heart and would like to add my own two cents: “Take pictures and ask other people to take pictures for you!”

Laura signing with woman

Laura signing at the Boulder Public Library

The first few weeks after the official release date, February 19, 2019, which coincided with the full moon, were a bit of a blur. My release date launch party at the Boulder Public Library was well attended by critique partners from both my local groups, my only local relative, and friends I’ve made since I moved here two and a half years ago, including some well-known published authors that I treasure for their support and wisdom. Unfortunately, the weather that day was snowy and several people who had planned to attend didn’t make it. In spite of the weather, it was a magical experience, and my first time sharing the slide show I had created for school visits with photos of me, the inspiration for the book, and ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON, so it could be shared on a big screen. It also allowed me to hear feedback on my slideshow from a trusted source who suggested an addition, which I made the following day.

Laura with friends

Laura with fellow SCBWI members at Second Star to the Right bookstore in Denver, CO

My second launch party, four days after the book release, was at a lovely bookstore in Denver, Second Star to the Right. If you love books, and especially if you love children’s books, it is a place worth visiting. You will probably want to move in. This time, there were children and their parents whom I didn’t know that came for story time. It was lovely seeing how engaged they were in the story. Also, at this launch, was a wonderful group of writers and illustrators from our local SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) chapter, including some big names. One friend brought her children who were older than the usual story time crowd, but they were also a wonderful audience. Side note: if you want to write anything from picture books to YA, you should join SCBWI immediately.

Laura with others

Laura at the KRFC88.9FM radio station in Fort Collins with Kristen Olsen and Jonathan Bennett

The following week, eight days after the book release, I was featured on a wonderful radio show at KRFC88.9FM in Fort Collins, “Tunes and Tales”, which was an hour with Kristen Olsen, the show’s host, Jonathan Bennett, a musician friend, and me reading ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON. The three of us talked about how nature serves as an inspiration for curiosity and creativity. It was a wonderful coalescence of creativity from the aspect of writing and music and how the theme of creativity in my book is so important. The show was aired, but won’t be available until the podcast is up and running, hopefully soon.

A week later, sixteen days after the release, if you’re counting, I left for a ten-day book tour in Chicago, which I set up on my own. I had been a lifelong Chicago resident, and a teacher in the city for ten years before I moved to Colorado, so I had a lot of connections and spent considerable time before the book came out contacting people to put everything in place. The ten days included two bookstore story times and nine school visits. It was a whirlwind, but gratifying in every way imaginable.

A few bookstore highlights:
• Childhood friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen in several years, coming to see me and buying signed copies of ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON.
• Children I didn’t know listening intently as I read the book. Some of whom coming to the rug with other books in their hands that they immediately abandoned when I started reading.
• Seeing my book on the shelf with the label SCIENCE underneath.
• Seeing my book next to a highly acclaimed 2018 release written by an editor I met at a conference.
• An author I met and have remained friends with from a conference surprising me and afterwards, over coffee she said glowing things about my work.

A few school visit highlights:
• Presenting at the Kindergarten-second grade school where my children attended and sharing my book with over 400 children in one room who were silent except for a few oohs and ahhs over my photography and some welcome comments and interaction during the story. When they were leaving the room, several of the children stopped by to tell me “thank you,” “you did a good job,” “I love your book,” and “I’m proud of you.”
• Returning to the kindergarten classroom where I did my student teaching to find that kindergarten is still a happy place full of love thanks to amazing teachers.
• Seeing former students even though I wasn’t able to go back to the school where I taught for ten years. People who came to see me included a college freshman, and a few other families with children I remember from when they were in kindergarten, but are now taller than I and are in middle school.
• One school had me scheduled for multiple presentations, all of which were well received and it was great to see how different grades interacted with me and with my presentation. There was even a former student of mine there whose family had changed schools when I left. At the end of the last presentation, when I went back to the first class to get my coat, the students had written lovely thank you letters sharing their favorite parts of the book. Some even drew pictures that looked like pages from the book.

Laura with girls

Laura with former students sisters Valentina and Valerie

And one last, but not least, highlight to share, seeing a family I had lost touch with, including the now fourth grade girl who was part of the inspiration for Aliana. Her family had changed schools and I had a phone number for them that no longer worked. Luckily for me, her mother found me on social media and we connected a week before I left for Chicago. Maria and I arranged to meet in the afternoon before pickup time at school to surprise the girls. It was a huge surprise, emotionally overwhelming at first, but when Valentina recovered from her shock, she pulled my book out of her backpack – yes, she had been carrying it back and forth to school since she got it the day it came out!

If you have any questions for Laura about launching a debut book, please post in the comments, and I’m sure she would be happy to respond.

Laura signing girl in purple

Laura Roettiger is the author of the picture book Aliana Reaches for the Moon (Eifrig Publishing, 2019) She has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she worked in Environmental Education and is now a mentor for reading and writing at a STEM school. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and letting them know she believes in them. Laura has three children of her own, all of whom were led by curiosity and creativity into STEM-related professions. Laura is also a part of #PictureBookBuzz, a group of authors with books being released in 2019.

Find Laura on Twitter @ljrwritenow and at her website

Picture Books At The Library 183

At The Library Too

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.


THE BABY BEAST: When an egg arrives on Beast’s doorstep, he’s not sure how to take care of it. Super bright and colorful!


DIANA DANCES: When Diana struggles in school, her parents can’t figure out how to help, but a doctor recommends dance school, and it changes everything.


THE BIGGEST PUDDLE IN THE WORLD: Sarah and Charlie go to stay at their grandparents’ house and it rains for days, but when it finally stops, their grandfather leads them on a quest to find the biggest puddle in the world.


WHEN SPRING COMES TO THE DMZ: Through the seasons, a boy and his grandfather look out over the DMZ, the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, which is teeming with wildlife, and dream of the day they will be reunited with family. Fascinating!


SHEEP DOG AND SHEEP SHEEP: An oblivious sheep helps a sheep dog to be the best sheep protector he can be. So cute!


LITTLE DOCTOR AND THE FEARLESS BEAST: A girl who lives in the jungle treats the crocodiles aches and pains.


WHY SHOULD I WALK? I CAN FLY!: Follow a baby bird as it tries, fails, and tries again to fly. Rhyme


WHEN I FOUND GRANDMA: When Maya’s grandmother comes for a visit from far away, she’s not what Maya was expecting.


WHEN YOU ARE BRAVE: Just as a young girl who moves away to a new home conquers her fears, so, too, can we all be brave when life is scary. Love the color palette in this one!


BE A MAKER: From a snack with a friend to a trip into outer space, discover the many ways you can imagine, create, and be a maker in the world. Rhyme

Writing Children’s Books Young Readers Will Love by Rosie Russell

Rosies Books

Please welcome author/illustrator Rosie Russell to Frog on a Blog. Rosie is a former teacher who now creates children’s books full time. I love that she donates a portion of profits from her book sales to great causes! Rosie stopped by today to offer tips on writing books that young readers will love.

Writing Children’s Books Young Readers Will Love

I love picture books! Reading them to children and exploring how the author and illustrator came up with their story fascinates me. It’s the drive and passion that started my job as a full-time author and illustrator.

I’ve had many people tell me writing picture books must be easy. I wish I could tell them it is, but it’s very hard. Coming up with a tale that young readers will enjoy and finding important elements to work with, are the keys to success for creating entertaining books.

Write from your heart.

I base most of my books on something or someone in my life. Either it’s a memory or event that was personal or topic a child will love reading about.

It’s great to come up with a theme outside of your own experience. When doing so, make sure you incorporate your own voice in the story, along with lots of research on the subject.

Make your books engaging with colorful illustrations.

Children love bright colors, so use them often.

I made one that has a darker cover. It’s called Moonshadow Mae. I ran a survey with my fans and they voted for the image.

They liked how it looked more intriguing and mysterious. The inside illustrations are much brighter. The story itself is about a young girl named Mae that loves and adores the moon. It’s my first hardcover with a Library of Congress number for those that wish to add to their libraries and stores. It’s also available in paperback.

Add information for a more interactive story.

Another tip readers love: Have an interactive story or information with fun things to think about or do in the back of the book.

Many of my books include activities, fun projects, and recipes. A few of them have added questions for further learning.

In Beasley’s Journey, I’ve included simple questions the reader can answer, and an important tip for pet owners.

For Beasley and Friends to the Rescue, I’ve included pictures of the real live pets, each character is based on.

For my Maggie, Millie and Merrie series, I include art projects, recipes, and fun things to do at home.

My two Search and Find books show over a hundred things to find: Picture finds for non-readers, and word finds for readers.

Last, include fun dialogue.

Children love it when a character’s voice is heard through the dialogue. Change up the voices in a read aloud to convey their special traits. 

Thank you for having me as your guest today.

Thank you for stopping by, Rosie!

Rosie RussellRosie Russell is the author and illustrator of eight children’s books.
She has studied Early Childhood Education and has taught students in elementary and middle school for fifteen years in the Midwest.
Rosie now writes and illustrates full time and is looking forward to sharing her books with students, encouraging them to write and illustrate their own stories.
A portion of profits from her books will be donated to different causes, depending on the subject of her books.

For more information about Rosie or to purchase her books, click the following links:

Books By Rose


Barnes & Noble

Rainy Day Books

Happy Book Birthday to WONDER WALK by Ilham Alam!


Author: Ilham Alam
Illustrator: Kerry Bell
Publisher: Iguana Books
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Format: Hardcover, Softcover, mobi, ePub
Summary: Get out there with the curious Johnny and his patient Mommy, in this colourful, rhyming book, celebrating all the wonders of the everyday world. What do they see? What do they hear? What do they talk about?
Author’s Site:

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.

Happy Book Birthday to I’M HAPPY-SAD TODAY by Lory Britain!


Title: I’M HAPPY-SAD TODAY: Making Sense of Mixed-Together Feelings
Author: Lory Britain
Illustrator: Matthew Rivera
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing
Release Date: April 15, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Summary: Happy and also sad. Excited but nervous too. Feeling friendly with a little shyness mixed in. Mixed feelings are natural, but they can be confusing. There are different kinds of happy—the quiet kind and the “noisy, giggly, jump and run” kind. And there are conflicting feelings, like proud and jealous, frustrated and determined. With gentle messaging and charming illustrations, a little girl talks about her many layered feelings, ultimately concluding, “When I have more than one feeling inside me, I don’t have to choose just one. I know that all my feelings are okay at the same time.” A special section for adults presents ideas for helping children explore their emotions, build a vocabulary of feeling words, know what to do if they feel overwhelmed, and more.
Author’s Site:

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.

Beautiful Earth by Lisa Olson

Trees Cover

Please welcome author Lisa Olson to Frog on a Blog. You may remember Lisa from a while back when she stopped in to talk about her wonderful picture book series American Herstory. (You can read about the series by clicking HERE.)

Today, Lisa’s back with a gorgeous new book And the Trees Began to Move, published by Eifrig Publishing just in time to celebrate Earth Day on April 21, and to “honor nature and all of its blessings!”

Lisa’s love for our Earth and the abundance of amazing life that surrounds us every day is evident in her article below. Enjoy!

Beautiful Earth

The earth laughs in flowers.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
In wilderness is the preservation of the world.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.” ~ John Ruskin

Walk through any wooded lot with your eyes WIDE open and your mind perfectly still and you will find a real-life Enchanted Forest. If you look…REALLY look…with all of your senses, you WILL see it. Magic…REAL magic, moving all around us. Living, breathing, growing and ever-changing…this tiny revolving planet in a vast solar system of stars is home to us ALL! Every day, life is exploding around us in a dazzling display and we barely flinch at the wonder of it.

Trees pic

*a sneak peek illustration from AND THE TREES BEGAN TO MOVE

Nature is glorious…TRULY! Shades of green and gold shimmer and the wind whispers its secrets to the trees as it passes through the canopy of leaves. Wildflowers speckle the ground in a colorful spray amid dappled shadows and bright splashes of sunlight. The sharp whiff of pine mingles with the sweet scent of newly budded blossoms and together they move among the oaks and willows in an endless dance. Delicate butterflies with gossamer wings taste the world around them with their feet! AMAZING! Buzzing bees and tiny dragonflies with iridescent wings dart here and there in miraculous loops and aerial maneuvers that leave you dizzy as your eyes track their journey from flower to flower.

With Earth Day fast approaching, we have the perfect opportunity to reflect on the miracles and everyday magic that literally surrounds us every moment of our lives. If we all plant just one seedling, together we have the power to grow an entire forest! We are called to be good stewards of our natural world. The TREES call to us…listen! It’s no coincidence the innermost part of a tree is called The Heart. Beating together, we thrive.

Lisa pic 1

First and foremost, Lisa Gammon Olson is a mom of three amazing young men; Grant, Kyle & Jay. She lives with her husband Bruce 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.

For more information about Lisa and her books, visit

Happy Book Birthday to DADDY, CAN YOU SEE THE MOON? by Gayle C. Krause

  • Author: Gayle C. Krause
  • Illustrator: Carlos de la Garza
  • Publisher: Clearfork/SPORK
  • Release Date: April 9, 2019
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Summary: Written in rhyme, Daddy, Can You See the Moon? is about the special moments a young boy and his deployed dad share by looking at the moon, until the father comes home a wounded warrior and the boy realizes that love was what kept them connected all along.
  • Author’s Site:

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.

Picture Books At The Library 182

At The Library Too

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.


THE BIG, ANGRY ROAR: After Cub gets in trouble for hurting his sister, he’s mad, and must find a way to let his anger out.


CHICKS RULE: After Nerdy Chick isn’t allowed in the Rocket Club, she bans together with chicks of all flocks and feathers to prove that chicks can do anything.


THE SECOND SKY: From the moment he hatches, Gilbert dreams of flying, and, after several failed attempts, discovers there’s more than one way to fly.


SERGIO SEES THE GOOD: When a downcast Sergio gets home from a terrible day at school, his mom shows him a simple way to measure how bad the day really was.


THE DOG WHO WANTED TO FLY: Zora is determined to learn how to fly so that she can catch a pesky squirrel.


THE NEW NEIGHBORS: The bunnies are excited to hear that rats have moved into the apartment downstairs, but the other residents are wary of their new neighbors.


A PLAN FOR POPS: When Pops takes a spill and winds up in a wheel chair, Lou and Grandad come up with a plan to cheer him up.


TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG: When his friend is sad, Tiny T. Rex is determined to learn how to hug.


THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD AND ME: A celebration of our relationship to the natural world–just as a pebble is part of a mountain, each of us is part of something bigger.


A FRIEND FOR HENRY: Henry, a child on the autism spectrum, searches for a friend among his classmates.

Picture Books At The Library 181

At The Library Too

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.


THE AMAZING IDEA OF YOU: Just as there is potential in every apple seed to be a tree and in every tadpole to be a frog, there is potential in every child to be a unique and creative adult.


DUST BUNNY WANTS A FRIEND: A lonely dust bunny tries to befriend some ants, a cat, a teddy bear and others.


THE GOOSE EGG: Henrietta the elephant accidentally takes home and hatches a goose egg and now she must teach the gosling how to be a goose.


WHAT IS GIVEN FROM THE HEART: James Otis struggles to find something to give to a girl whose family lost everything in a fire.


UNDER MY HIJAB: As a young girl observes that each of the six women in her life wears her hijab and hair in a different way, she considers how to express her own style one day.


BEAR NEEDS HELP: A polar bear needs help with an untied shoe, but the other animals are too afraid to help.


LOLA DUTCH, WHEN I GROW UP: Determined to decide what to be when she grows up, Lola tries several careers, until her friend Bear reminds her not to be in such a hurry.


DRAGON NIGHT: Georgie, who’s afraid of the dark, befriends and goes on a nighttime adventure with a dragon who dwells in a book and is afraid of a knight.

Pops Jamison And The Skwerdlock

Created with GIMP

Please welcome John Jamison, a.k.a. Pops Jamison, to Frog on a Blog. John is the author of several books for both children and adults. Today, he’s here to talk a bit about his Skwerdlock series for kids, which he also illustrates. What’s a Skwerdlock? Read on to find out.

It took me thirty-eight years to write Meet the Skwerdlock!. The idea appeared one very early morning as I sat in a rocking chair with my two-year-old sick daughter and made up a silly song about a funny looking dog called the Skwerdlock. I tried writing Meet the Skwerdlock! then, but it just didn’t work.

Over the years, I tried several more times to write the book, with no success. I talked with illustrators and had some very nice images created, but the Skwerdlock always looked like I did that Easter Sunday back in the third grade when they dressed me up in that white skirt and big red bow for the children’s choir. As nice as the pictures were, they just weren’t the Skwerdlock we knew. I couldn’t figure the book out. What was the Skwerdlock for? What did the book teach? What was the message? Why write the book?


Two years ago, my daughter’s three-year-old daughter asked what the Skwerdlock looked like. I got a piece of paper and pencil and started drawing the image from that old song. I drew ears like an elephant, a nose like a hog, and all the rest. I am not an artist, and my drawing was evidence of that fact. I started to toss it and try again when I heard the voice.

“You forgot my shoes,” the Skwerdlock said.

I drew some shoes.

“Aren’t you going to add some colors?” he said.

I got some watercolor paints. I didn’t stay inside the lines, and some of the pencil marks I hadn’t erased showed through the paints. It was nothing at all like the nice illustrations I had seen before, but, finally, it looked like the Skwerdlock.

“Now aren’t you going to write that book about that night we met?”

So I did. And then I wrote I Saw the Skwerdlock!, and have just finished Never Take the Skwerdlock to the Doctor!. I finally realized that the Skwerdlock wasn’t about looking perfect, and wasn’t about teaching a lesson or making a statement. The Skwerdlock thinks kids get enough of that. The Skwerdlock is just fun–an opportunity to escape from the pressures of growing up and learning, and just spend some time letting our imaginations dream about things that might be.


I illustrated the books with my own pictures. People sometimes point out that the colors go outside the lines, and there are pencil marks showing in places. I smile and tell them that’s exactly how the Skwerdlock looks, too. He is not perfect, and has smudges here and there, just like me. Meet the Skwerdlock! and the other Skwerdlock books are just an excuse to sit on someone’s lap in the recliner and smile.


John Jamison is a life-long believer in the power of stories. First as a pastor, then educator, creator of Centers for Innovation at multiple universities, Director of a national Game and Simulation academic degree program, and a consultant for e-learning and brand development, John has used the power of story to bring about serious change and have some fun in the process.

John grew-up in a small river-town in Illinois, and describes his childhood as “kind of Tom Sawyer-ish with a blend of Wizard of Oz.” John says, “I grew up in a family of storytellers and liars, and I spent most of my time trying to figure out which was which.”

Keep up to date with his books at

Picture Books At The Library 180

At The Library Too

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.


CRAB CAKE: When a pile of trash is dumped into the ocean, crab rallies the other sea creatures to help clean things up.


HUSH, LITTLE BUNNY: A re-imagining of a classic lullaby featuring a papa bunny and his little one.


HANDS UP: A young girl lifts her hands up in a series of everyday moments before finally raising her hands in resistance at a protest march.


SEA BEAR: A polar bear waits patiently for spring when the ice breaks up and she can hunt, but by the end of summer, she must swim very far to find land.


STARDUST: A little girl dreams of being a star so that she can shine just like her sister does.


THE TALL MAN AND THE SMALL MOUSE: A man enlists the help of the tiny mouse who’s been living in his house to fix the town’s great clock.


AUNTIE LUCE’S TALKING PAINTINGS: Through her aunts vibrant paintings, a girl comes to understand the place her family calls home.


HOW DO YOU DO: All Water Buffalo and Crane can think about is how hot it is, day after day, until Goat arrives dancing and leading them on an adventure. 


PA Young Reader’s Choice Award by Nadine Poper

Please welcome picture book author and elementary school librarian Nadine Poper to Frog on a Blog!

Nadine serves on the committee for the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award. She’s stopped by today to share a bit about this special award, sponsored by the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, that allows the students to vote for their favorite books.

PA Young Reader’s Choice Award (sponsored by PSLA)

By Nadine Poper-committee member

The students of Pennsylvania are gearing up to vote in their very own book award, the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award (PYRCA). There are 4 lists created each year by 24 PA school librarians, grades K-3, 3-6, 6-8, and YA. Each list has 15 books on which students can vote for their favorite, one per list. The book with the most votes from each list is the winner. The votes are cast by the students of Pennsylvania. 

The lists are carefully balanced to include all genres: picture books, poetry, chapter books, middle grade, biographies, and nonfiction, as well as a variety of topics and characters that will appeal to both boys and girls and that celebrate various cultures. 

Students will place their votes by March 15, and the winning books are revealed at the annual Pennsylvania School Librarians (PSLA) Conference. Winning authors from the previous year often attend the awards breakfast at the conference to receive their recognition. 

School libraries across the Commonwealth participate by purchasing the books for their collections, sharing the book talks, book trailers, and lesson ideas with their students.  The book talks and lesson ideas are created by the committee members so that teachers and librarians have resources at their fingertips. 

One lesson idea, for example, that I incorporate with my elementary students involves students taking on the roles of animals in the ocean and demonstrating the break down in the food chain as discussed in If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams. 

My students enjoy participating each year because it is a book award where their voice matters. I do a big Caldecott and Newbery award unit also, which we have so much fun with as well. However, the kids know that those awards are chosen by adults, where as the PA Young Reader’s Choice Award is all about what they like the most. 

Here’s a small sampling of titles to be voted on this year:

For more information and to see a complete list of all 2018-2019 books, visit the PYRCA website here.

Most states have their own children’s book awards. Click here for the current list in your state. 

Nadine Poper 1

Nadine Poper is an elementary school librarian for an urban PA school district, a mom to 3 amazing young men, a wiener dog owner, and foster mom for homeless dachshunds. 

She uses the proceeds from her dachshund picture books to help support dachshund rescue. As a school librarian, Nadine serves on the committee for the PA Young Reader’s Choice Award. Nadine’s traditionally published debut picture book PORCUPETTE AND MOPPET will be released June 2019 by Blue Whale Press.

Her second picture book, RANDALL AND RANDALL, will be released Fall 2019.  Visit her at

5 Best Culturally Diverse Picture Books to Read Now by Ilham Alam

DiversityPlease welcome back to Frog on a Blog author and mom Ilham Alam. This past September, Ilham shared her Top 5 Books for Kids to Learn ABC’s.

Today, she’s stopped by with another wonderful list: 5 Best Culturally Diverse Picture Books to Read Now.




5 Best Culturally Diverse Picture Books to Read Now

by Ilham Alam

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn

Mommys Khimar

This is one of the books that I always recommend for kids and is a perennial favourite for many reasons. It teaches diversity and acceptance through the means of the oft-misunderstood Hijab, or Khimar. Through the eyes of a little girl, we can see her love for her mother and her mother’s many beautifully coloured khimars. We see the reasons why this little girl and her mother choose to wear the khimar, and cultural reasons are only one part of it. I also love that it depicts diversity in relationships as it appears that her parents have an inter-religious marriage, yet family members with different religious beliefs still love each other all the same. Read the book to find out what her favourite color of khimar is.

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

Sea Prayer

Written by the writer of the celebrated novel, Kite Runner, this poem has been written as a dedication to the refugees from Syria and likely inspired by the story of Aylan Kurdi. In wispy and haunting pictures with short but powerful verses, we see the story of a boy and his family who had a lovely life in Syria prior to the current Civil War. Then comes their decision to flee using the dangerous Mediterranean crossing, just for a fighting chance to reach safety in Europe. Before they get into the boat, the father whispers a sea prayer to his son, who’s asleep in his arms and unaware of the perilous sea journey that he’s about to take. If nothing else, this book will fill you with compassion for their plight.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman


This is an untold history of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission and should be read by all kids, especially girls from diverse communities. These 4 pioneering African-American female engineers/mathematicians, are wonderful role models, as these women displayed intelligence, grace, talent, and courage, to become the first women of colour to be employed at NASA as scientists. These women worked on the historic missions, which successfully sent the first American man into space, the first people ever on the moon in 1969, and vastly improved the safety of commercial airplanes. And these women made their astonishing achievements at a time of segregation among races and when women, especially black women, had little access to higher education.

Old Mikamba Had a Farm by Rachel Isadora


This is the African version of “Old Macdonald had a Farm, E-I-E-I-O.” Younger kids will love the familiar sing-a-long, but with different animals, and older kids will love learning about the different animals that are found in the African continent. All will love the rich yellows and browns showing Mikamba, his animals, and his village. This is a clever retelling of the age-old nursery rhyme by Rachel Isadora, meant to teach us something about another part of the world.

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai and Kerascoët


Who doesn’t know of Malala Yousafzai? She is the brave young woman who was nearly killed for speaking out in support of girl’s education and equality between the genders. In simple sentences, Malala expresses her desire to rewrite her society with her pencil. In beautiful painting-like images, Malala shows us what her life was like in the deeply conservative part of Pakistan that she is from, the lack of safety and security, her home and family, and the lost potential of her female peers being denied schooling. This book is not only autobiographical, but inspirational, as kids can see what Malala’s determination and courage eventually got her: the right to an education. Kids here will be a bit more thankful that there is universal public education in the West and that it is their birth-right to get quality education, when they read about Malala’s hopes and sacrifice.

Ilham Alam


Ilham Alam is a married mom of 2 from Toronto, Canada and an avid reader of most genres. As a dedicated bookworm, she has been on a mission to turn her 2 boys and her cat into dedicated readers as well (she’s making good progress). She also has her upcoming picture book, Wonder Walk, being published by Iguana Books in Spring 2019. You can pre-order your copy of Wonder Walk today and also multiple perks to go with it for a limited time only.

wonder walk

Pre-Order Link:–

Random Pic Of Cuteness: Writing Prompt #10

Just for fun, I’m sharing–at random–cute photos to inspire your picture book writing. Perhaps a picture will spark an idea for a character, setting, or even an entire story. Have fun!

Pony and girl

*All photos are available in the public domain (or were taken by me), and are free to use and share.

Picture Books At The Library 179

At The Library Too

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.

Sometimes things are out of our control. That’s why I haven’t posted a ‘Picture Books At The Library’ segment in over a month. Yikes! It has to do with library budget and when orders get processed and it’s all very boring. So…while we are waiting on brand new 2019 titles to arrive (soon!), I’ve put together a roundup of 2018 picture books that you may have missed. Lots of wonderful books to seek out! With gorgeous art in all!


FOUND: While missing her dog, a young girl finds, befriends, and cares for another lost dog. Wordless


SOPHIE JOHNSON, UNICORN EXPERT: Sophie is so caught up in teaching others about unicorns that she fails to notice the magic right under her nose.


I JUST LIKE YOU: A diverse group of animals show how friendship can be as simple as appreciating the critter next to you.


LOVE, Z: While out looking for adventure, a young robot finds a message in a bottle that starts him on a quest to find out what love it.


TWINKLE: Twinkle’s spells go from clumsy to catastrophic on her first day of fairy school.


MOUSIE, I WILL READ TO YOU: Follow a mama mouse and her baby on the little mouse’s journey to becoming a reader.


THE BOOK THAT JAKE BORROWED: Jake borrows a library book, drips jelly on it, and must face the consequences.


FOX EXPLORES THE NIGHT: A fox sets off from its den to explore the neighborhood and hunt for food.


NO BORING STORIES: A bunny wants to help the other animals write a story, but they won’t let him because bunnies are too boring.


STEWART’S BEST PEN: Stewart and his pen Craig are best friends, so when Craig disappears, Stewart’s the one who feels lost.


HOW TO EAT PIZZA: A slice of pizza tries to convince the narrator not to eat him. Funny!


WOKE BABY: A woke baby is up early, raises his fists in the air, cries out for justice, and grows up to change the world.


WHAT’S FOR BREAKFAST: While practicing his swooping, Pip the owl crash-lands in the middle of Theodore the mouse’s breakfast.


HAROLD LOVES HIS WOOLLY HAT: Harold feels like a very special bear in his woolly hat, so when it’s stolen, he has to get it back.


STAR IN THE JAR: When a little boy stumbles across a lost star, he decides to take care of it.


IS THAT YOU, ELEANOR SUE: Eleanor Sue is a master of disguise, but when her mother gets in on the act, anything can happen. Pretty darn cute!

Happy Book Birthday to THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS by Lindsay Leslie

  • Author: Lindsay Leslie
  • Illustrator: Alice Brereton
  • Publisher: Page Street Kids
  • Release Date: February 19, 2019
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Summary: This Book Is Spineless … and wary … and absolutely unadventurous, and is freaking out about what story might be on its pages. The book takes the reader on a journey of its fears, navigating the book’s possible contents together. With each page turn, the book becomes a bit braver. This multilayered book incorporates the five senses, multiple literary genres, and various book parts, with the relationship between book and reader bringing everything together.
  • Author’s Site:

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.