April’s Winner (plus May’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.

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

And the winner of April’s prize is…

Kelly Burkett

Congratulations, Kelly! Please contact me by clicking HERE. Let me know if you’d like the manuscript critique or the Personal Library Kit. If you’d like the kit, I’ll need your address. Then I’ll send it out to you asap.

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

Comment on this post or any post during the month of May 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.

Picture Books At The Library 106

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.


Auggie feels ordinary; he just doesn’t look ordinary. Can the others look past his appearance and see him for who he truly is?


A mother and child communicate about going away to summer camp, through a series of sticky notes


A mother panda bear, elephant, leopard and orangutan follow their little ones through the jungle and try to get them to bed.


It’s spring and the pond is bursting with new life. But one little gosling is not ready to hatch.


An inspiring reminder to readers to follow your dreams and pursue your own unique path to happy.


A boy keeps a toy dinosaur in his pocket to help him be brave, but when it goes missing, Dad knows just what to do.


No one understands the abstract pictures that Niko draws until a new friend sees the thought and feeling within his shapes and forms.


Spend a day swooping and soaring, flapping and flying, just like busy birds.


One morning, Jonah decided to become ruler of the playground. Everyone pinkie promised to obey, except Lennox.


Dinosaurs eat, rest, roar, and march, making the earth flat.


Friends Snail and Worm contemplate flying, their reflections, and Snail’s shell in a series of three short stories. Cute!


Whimsical illustrations accompany Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic poem. Gorgeous art!

A Labor Of Love: Harriet And The Little French Doll


The treasured story of Harriet and the Little French Doll has been passed down from my grandmother Harriet to my mother Shirley and finally to me. The events in the story, which take place over three Christmases, really happened to my grandmother when she was a young girl in the early 1900s.

In 1944, she typed the story, drew and painted illustrations for it, and handmade her own little book, complete with a cloth cover, and gave it to her daughter Shirley for her seventh birthday. Today, I’m proud to be the current keeper of the original book. The first half of the story introduces readers to all eighteen members of Harriet’s doll family (she loved dolls!), and the second half features the very special little French doll.

With an eye toward making the story available to others, I decided to recreate it using Amazon’s Kindle Kids’ Book Creator. I designed the book in Microsoft Publisher, with some minor text edits, and the addition of a foreword and an About the Author page. I included all of the original art, which I had snapped photos of and transferred to my computer. Surprisingly, the art required very little touching up. Then I converted the document to PDF and uploaded it into the Kids’ Book Creator, which saved it as a file on my computer.

After that, I opened Kindle Direct Publishing and followed the instructions to complete the book. This was my first time using Kindle Direct Publishing and I discovered there is a bit of a learning curve. But I sorted everything out, and now I’m pleased to report that a Kindle version and a paperback version of Harriet and the Little French Doll are now available on Amazon.

My grandmother was a special person. She lived with my family since before I was born and helped to raise my five siblings and me. I have many fond memories of time spent with Gramma. And I remember, too, that she was always writing, either with typewriter or pen.

She was very talented, both artistically and as an author. She was a self-taught poet who wrote her first poem at the age of 11. She went on to write hundreds of poems over her lifetime. Many appeared regularly in magazines and newspapers, including Ideals, which, to this day, often still publishes her poetry in its special Christmas issue. I know without a doubt that I inherited the writer’s gene from her.

Image19_Harriet (Age 11)

My grandmother Harriet at age 11 with the little French doll (on the right)

My purpose for recreating my grandmother’s story, Harriet and the Little French Doll, is to share a tiny bit of her life and talent with the world.

Picture Book Personals (33)


Picture Book Personals

Boy seeks man with ladder to rescue brother with very long name from well.

What Classic Picture Book Am I?


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…

Guess How Much I Love You



Picture Books At The Library 105

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.


Over the pond, the water is a mirror, reflecting the sky. Under the pond is a hidden world of minnows darting, beavers diving, and tadpoles growing.


It’s raining, but one little boy can’t wait to go outside on an adventure with his granddad.


Fur, feathers, scales, and hair, explore some animal outerwear.


Come out and explore all the new life waking up around you–newly hatched birds in the trees, tadpoles in the pond, and a newborn fawn in the woods.


Gus stores a lot of odd things at his garage, but they may be just what’s needed to help his friends. Cute!


When he wears green pants, Jameson can do anything, but if he wants to be in his cousin’s wedding, he’s going to have to wear a tuxedo–and that means black pants!


Cy the cyclops is good at building things, but not very good at making friends. Fun! Love the mythological creatures!


An old man alone on a deserted island, except for his bird companion, sends a special message in a bottle out into the ocean.


From panicking puffins to entangled sperm whales, Turtle Tug is out to rescue all his sea-dwelling friends.


Pete likes everything to be neat and tidy, but sometimes it’s good to know when to stop. Fun from front flap to back flap!!


Two bored badgers have run out of things to do until their mom suggests they help with the laundry.


Giraffe tries desperately to tell the other animals that he is not a chair. Hilarious!


As a child dreams of all the things in her world that make her happy, she realizes how fortunate she is to live in the world she does. Beautiful illustrations!!

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?