Picture Books At The Library 163

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.


TINY, PERFECT THINGS: A child and grandfather marvel at all the perfect things they see as they take a walk.


ONCE UPON A SLIME: Beginning with Goldilocks, various fairy-tale characters are drenched in slime and join forces to discover who is responsible.


THEY CAME: When a spaceship lands on Earth, a small town launches into a frenzy until a boy named Stephen explains why the aliens came.


MUSTAFA: Mustafa feels out of place in his new country with strange customs and strange language he doesn’t understand.


A PLACE FOR PLUTO: Pluto feels lost, confused, and left out when he finds out he’s not a planet.


SOMETHING SMELLS!: When Elliot wakes up to a terrible smell, he’s determined to find the source.


SUPER MANNY CLEANS UP!: Manny and his friend Gertie join forces to clean up their local park.


HENRY AND THE YETI: Henry sets off to prove that yetis exist.


KING BEN AND SIR RHINO: Ben must learn how to be a good friend if he wants the other animals to play with him.


ROCK ‘N’ ROLL SOUL: With the school talent show coming up, one young music lover dreams about creating the perfect act.

Top 5 Books For Kids to Learn ABC’s by Ilham Alam

ABC imageParents, have the past few weeks been hectic because your kids are going back to school? You may even be feeling emotional because your little one is starting preschool or kindergarten for the first time. Do they know their ABC’s? Is there a way you can help them learn? Of course! ABC picture books! 

Author and mom Ilham Alam has stopped by today to share her favorite books for helping kids learn the alphabet. Read on for a great selection of ABC concept books!

Top 5 Books for Kids to Learn ABC’s

By Ilham Alam

September is finally here, which brings with it cooler temperatures, apple cider and apple picking, harvest and pumpkin farms, and leaves of red and gold. It also brings the back-to-school season with kids back in their classrooms, many of them for the very first time.

As a parent/guardian, how can you best prepare and help your child succeed during Kindergarten? By ensuring that their learning in the classroom is reinforced at home, if your child is not already familiar with their basics like ABC’s by the time they reach JK.

Here are the Top 5 books for kids to learn their alphabets. I have read all of these books with my oldest son, who’s off to Kindergarten this year. We both enjoyed these books for various reasons and are recommending them to you:

Dinosaur A-Z: For Kids Who Really Love Dinosaurs

Dino ABC

This book has photo-realistic pictures of 26 of these prehistoric and majestic creatures, complete with short facts about each of the dinos written in the first-person and meant to make your child laugh along while they learn. I credit this book for teaching my son his alphabets, including the correct order of the letters. In addition, the book spells out the pronunciation of each of the long names phonetically, ensuring that your child begins to connect the letters with sounds. We have had this book for a year and my son still requests to read this a few times a week as it’s not only taught him fun dino facts thus encouraging his passion, but also, he has learned his alphabets and beginning reading skills using the now-familiar words. I cannot recommend this enough and this book is our favourite of the bunch.

Dr.Seuss’s ABC

Seuss ABC

Who doesn’t love the silly rhymes found in Dr. Seuss’s iconic books? This ABC book is no exception and has illustrations featuring many of Dr. Seuss’s familiar characters. The text goes full throttle right from the beginning in fast-moving, foot-tapping, finger-snapping rhymes. What I liked about this was that it also introduces big and little letters to your child, so that visually your child can see where and why big and little letters are used.

Elmo’s ABC Book

Elmo ABC

This ABC book features another iconic children’s character: Elmo from Sesame Street. The book cover is a bright blue making our fuzzy red monster stand out, thus attracting your child’s eye and inviting them to read it. Inside, we meet Elmo and his friends as he tries to figure out what his favourite letter of the alphabet is. Elmo is having a hard time deciding because there is something to love about each letter. For example, he loves the letter ‘B’ as Elmo loves cute babies. Keep reading to discover what Elmo’s favourite letter is. This book stood out for me because it helps to introduce kids to everyday words corresponding to each letter.

Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault

Chicka ABC

I am sure you have heard of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom? This is the alphabet version which begins,

A told B, B told C/

I will meet you on top of the coconut tree 

This is another fantastic way for your kids to learn their alphabets as it turns it into a catchy song, which is a great way for your kids to remember and get comfortable with a new concept. And I found it unique that bright colours like orange and hot-pink are the dominant colours used here. You can also put on a YouTube video of the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Alphabet song and dance along to it as well, to further help with the memorization of the alphabets. 

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert

Eat Alphabet

This is a different type of alphabet book as each of the alphabet pages have colorful, painting-like pictures of different foods corresponding to each letter. It is a good book for kids to learn of the many different types of food. This could even inspire your little one to try new foods, which is what my son and I like about it. However, this does not have fun rhymes like the other ones listed here.

Thank you, Ilham, for the terrific list of ABC books that are sure to help any child learn the alphabet and have fun at the same time!

Ilham Alam

Ilham Alam

Ilham is a Student Advisor by day and a writer and Children’s Book Author by night. She has her upcoming picture book, Wonder Walk, releasing later this year, to be published by Iguana Books. An avid children’s lit book reader and traveler, she has documented her adventures on her book review and family travel blog, Story Mummy: www.storymummy.com.

LOVE IS KIND Blog Tour + Giveaway -AND Introducing Little Owl

I adore picture books that highlight the themes of love and kindness. That’s why it’s my great pleasure to be a stop on Laura Sassi’s LOVE IS KIND Blog Tour. Readers, this book is incredibly sweet (and I don’t mean because it includes a little something about a box of chocolates), and the ending (which I won’t give away) is darling. Speaking of darling, check out the cover of LOVE IS KIND, featuring Little Owl, the star of the book.

Love is kind cover

And, guess what? You get to meet Little Owl, the brand new story time puppet, right here on Frog on a Blog! Hello Little Owl!

Little Owl

Laura’s stopped by today to talk about how she uses puppets to enhance the story time experience and engage her young audience, and how you can too. Little Owl will soon be joining her on her author visits.

MEET LITTLE OWL: Using Puppets to Engage Young Readers

I started using puppets with the release of my very first book. Since a pair of skunks play an important role in that book, and thinking that my very youngest readers might not be familiar with the species, I thought having a pair of skunk puppets would be an engaging way to introduce the story. The former teacher (and crowd control freak) in me, also thought skunk puppets might be a friendly way to help young audiences settle down before and during the reading since, as you know, skunks are notorious for making a big stink if they get startled.


Those skunks became such an integral part of author visits, that I decided to incorporate puppets into the author visits for every one of my books – skunks for GOODNIGHT ARK, a rooster for GOODNIGHT MANGER, a seal and mouse for DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE, and now, for LOVE IS KIND, my newest release, a darling little owl.

Now, in celebration of sharing books with little ones, here are TEN tried-and-true tips for using puppets to enhance a story time experience.

Before the story time.

1. Pick a puppet that fits the book. The puppet you choose can either be a protagonist, like my seal, mouse and owl, or minor characters such as my skunks and rooster. The most important thing is that you have a good reason for picking that puppet – a reason that enhances your story time.  For example, the skunks are useful in introducing an important and fun subplot in GOODNIGHT, ARK.  (They are hiding under the bed in every spread until – at last – they make a big stink that’s important to the resolution of the story.) And that rooster, while very minor to GOODNIGHT, MANGER, becomes a fun and engaging way to introduce the concept of loud vs. quiet voices when putting a baby to bed.


2. Play… and plan ahead of time! This is probably obvious, but it’s worth spending time in advance putting together a little stand-up routine for you and your puppet.  This is your chance to tap into your inner comedian.  The more you ham it up, the more the kids will love it! 

3. Practice your ventriloquist skills. There are two ways to use your puppet. Either you can just talk with it and it can shyly nod, react etc., OR you can have that puppet actually converse with you, or “cock-a-doodle-doo” as my rooster does and SING as that darling Diva Delores loves to do! If you decide to have them speak, then I’d recommend practicing your ventriloquist skills in front of a mirror ahead of time.

During the story time.

4. Use your puppets to break the ice. If you are a little shy, like me, then you’ll probably agree that mingling is easier with a buddy.  In that awkward “before the story time officially begins” period, I’ve discovered that EVERYBODY enjoys a little mingling with the author and her storytelling companion – especially when it’s a cute stuffed animal puppet.

5. Have your puppets help introduce the story.  This takes a little planning ahead of time (see step 2), but a short puppet routine is a great way to introduce the themes of your story, any special concepts, or just to get the kids excited.  For DIVA DELORES, for example, my seal puppet likes to sing for the audience so they can hear what opera sounds like. Then she invites them to join along in singing the refrain that appears on certain spreads in the book.  I haven’t finalized exactly what Little Owl is going to do before I read LOVE IS KIND, but it will surely have something to do with kindness and love.

Diva Delores

6. Have the children model for the puppets what “good listening” looks like before you read.  It’s amazing how eager young readers are to engage with the puppets, and I’ve discovered over time that little ones especially like the opportunity to model for my puppets what good listeners look like.  So, I have THEM show the puppets what it looks like to sit quietly with eyes on reader, ready to be read to. (I also use those skunks to my advantage (see intro)). 

7. Use your puppets to engage young readers in some post-reading ponderings. After my readings, I like for the kids to reflect with me on what the characters in the story learned and I’ve found that involving the puppets in the process is effective and popular. For example, after reading GOODNIGHT, MANGER we ponder what made the difference in getting Baby Jesus to sleep.  (The answer has to do with creating a quiet, peaceful atmosphere). Then, together, we see if we can teach our very NOISY rooster to do a quiet cock-a-doodle-doo.  If he learns well, we invite him to join as we sing a final lullaby to Baby Jesus. For LOVE IS KIND, I think I will have Little Owl help me select volunteers to share their post-reading thoughts by looking with me for participants who are showing kindness by being good listeners with each other during our post book chat.

8. Include your puppets in the story time farewell.  This can be very motivational if your audience is getting antsy because you can promise your young participants that if they hold on just a little longer, then they can pet and hug the visiting puppet!  They love this!  And I am just charmed by how many “I love yous” each puppet has so gently received over the last four years since I first started using puppets.

After the story time.

9. Have a puppet de-briefing session with yourself. After each story time, I find it helpful to evaluate what worked, what didn’t, and what I could do next time to make that puppet even more integral to my story time. For example, it wasn’t until I had done a few story times in that I decided to have my GOODNIGHT, ARK skunk puppets engage my audience in a little quiet “thumbs up” challenge.  But it worked so well, that now, at every GOODNIGHT, ARK story time, my skunk puppets challenge the audience to quietly put “thumbs up” as soon as they spot the skunks on each spread – which makes for a nice set up to the stinky climax! 


10. Most important:  HAVE FUN!  Yes, let’s not forget this last important tip. If you are having fun, it will be contagious!

Thank you for having me, Lauri, and I hope my love for puppets inspires others to experiment with incorporating something new into their story times as well.

Hurrah for puppets! And what a fun post! I wonder if that monkey puppet is still around that I had when I was a kid. Hmm…

Folks, don’t forget to check out the other stops on the LOVE IS KIND tour. 

Love is KInd Blog Tour Schedule


ZonderKidz, the publisher of LOVE IS KIND, has generously agreed to give away a copy of the book to one U.S. blog reader. Just leave a comment here to be entered to win. A winner will be chosen at random on September 30. Be sure to follow Frog on a Blog so that I can contact you if you win.

Thank you Laura and ZonderKidz!

Picture Books At The Library 162

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.



BIGGER THAN YOU: Dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes discover that cooperation, creativity, and being a good friend make playtime the best time.


BE OUR GUEST!: At the Parker Palm Springs Hotel, you can sip lemonade with flamingos, play games with penguins or a zebra, and explore the beautiful grounds with a tiger, a camel, or an elephant.


THE DINOSAUR EXPERT: Kimmy can’t wait to share her fossil facts with all of her friends at the natural history museum.


AYOBAMI AND THE NAMES OF THE ANIMALS: Ayobami dreams of going to school, but to reach the schoolhouse, she has to take a dangerous path through the jungle.


SEED MAGIC: Little Spider teaches her friend Anxious Ant about the life cycle of plants.


JACK B. NINJA: Jack sneaks over castle walls, swims through hidden tunnels, and uncovers a secret treasure, all while avoiding detection.


MAGNOLIA’S MAGNIFICENT MAP: It has taken Magnolia months of exploring and sketching to create her latest map. There’s just one problem, it’s not finished.

LITTLE BROTHERS & LITTLE SISTERS: Explores the relationship between younger and older siblings.


Picture Books At The Library 161

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.


When Juno returns from a nighttime adventure, she finds a polar bear near the door she left open, and she must summon all her courage to save her boy.


A boy and his family visit the local public gardens throughout the year to see the turtles.


On a gray and rainy day, Kat feels better after writing a song and singing it around the neighborhood.


Newly arrived at boarding school, a boy finds an invitation and goes on an adventure that may lead to friendship.


Fox is lonely and confused when winter comes and his friends Chipmunk, Marmot, and Bear take to their beds and he can’t wake them up.


Fox sets off to find the golden glow, a very rare plant from the Wellhidden family that grows high in the mountains.


Piggy is unhappy living with a boy named Thomas. A chance encounter with a wild pig may lead him to discover what lies beyond the fence.


Bear is hungry and Gertie wants to help, but finding the perfect snack is harder than it looks. Funny!


Hedgehog wakes up needing a hug, but has trouble finding a friend who will get so close to his prickles. Cute!

My View Book Review: Hedge Hog!


Title: Hedge Hog! (or Hedgehog!)

Author/Illustrator: Ashlyn Anstee

Publisher/Year: Tundra Books/2018

Back Cover Blurb: It’s Hedgehog’s hedge and he isn’t sharing.

*Review copy provided by Penguin Random House Canada

All of the animals in the garden are preparing for winter. Finding a cozy place to call home for the season, like a burrow, hive, or nest, is at the top of everyone’s list. The animals need shelter in order to survive the coming cold. 

The bees, foxes, birds, and groundhogs happily share their homes with the other animals. Grasshopper, who dwells under the hedge, does too, especially after Hedgehog–who lives in the hedge, all by himself, and likes it that way–turns the other animals away.

As more and more animals show up on his doorstep looking for a place to stay, Hedgehog becomes increasingly agitated and he puts up signs and builds a fence to keep them out. But when Grasshopper accuses him of being a hedge hog, he goes inside and slams the door, with disastrous results. How will the others react now that Hedgehog is the one in need?

Though overflowing with cute, expressive characters, and featuring an unusual setting and fun text, the book offers readers something more–a message about helping others, sharing what we have, and being gracious.

Taken literally, opening our doors and allowing strangers to move into our homes is unrealistic and potentially dangerous. But opening our hearts to help those in need is something each one of us can do in our own way. Whether you donate to a worthy cause, volunteer your time, assist a neighbor, or simply show thoughtfulness by holding a door for someone, you can make the world a better place. We all can. Let’s start today. 🙂

Random Pic Of Cuteness: Writing Prompt #5

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!


*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 160

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 young girl finds an injured crow and nurses him back to health.


A girl demonstrates how to take care of a dog.


When Kitty learns that her teacher is home sick from school one morning, she gets worried.


A boy visiting his father in prison explains why he both loves and hates him.


Duck gets a job in the city, but discovers it’s not the right job for him.


On the way to Grandma’s house, Red is delayed and distracted by Wolf. What are the woodland creatures up to?


Lucy wants a dog, so she goes in search of one and finds a bear instead. Will the bear make a good dog? Cute!


Nate, who loves sharks, cannot swim, but with his brother’s prodding, a good coach, and a lot of determination, he learns to swim like a shark.


At the zoo with her family, a girl mopes around until she meets a new friend on the monkey walk. Fun!


Tomato explains why he’s a fruit and belongs in the fruit bowl. Funny and informative!


A lonely robot decides to build himself a companion. Sweet!


Picture Books At The Library 159

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.

This group is overflowing with gorgeous art! 


Two kids explore an abandoned house and imagine who might have lived there.


As twilight falls, some animals come out to graze while others are settling in for the night.


Separated from her mother, a young whale swims the oceans for decades until she finds a young girl who shares her vision of one planet for which all are responsible.


Fred tries to keep still, but it’s so hard to keep that bouncy feeling inside.


Follow the clues to guess which adorable baby animal appears on the next page.

Start With The Whys And Improvise! by Damian Synadinos

Do you like to write children’s books? Do you know why? There’s no right or wrong answer. We each have our own reasons. We probably have more than one reason, and our reasons can change depending on what we’re writing. 

I like to write picture books for lots of reasons. I love how picture books can represent so many things for kids (and adults): They can be windows to the world, mirrors in which to see oneself, gateways to literacy, tools for together time, mini-museums of art, and generators of joy. (Stay tuned for blog posts featuring examples of these.)

Author/Illustrator Damian Synadinos has his reasons, too, for creating his picture book HANK AND STELLA IN SOMETHING FROM NOTHING, a unique story that features improvisation. Today, he’s stopped by to share the inspiration behind the book and to encourage all writers to Start With Why


Start with the Whys and Improvise!

by Damian Synadinos

I think that understanding Why we do things is important. By “Start with the Whys”, I mean “first try to identify and understand the reasons you want to do something, and then use those reasons to help guide What you do and How you do it.”

When I first considered writing a children’s book, I “started with the Whys”. I asked myself “Why do I want to write a children’s book?”

Image 1

I eventually identified many reasons, but the main reason was, “to help my kids laugh while they learn”. Like many kids, mine love to do both. However, some children’s books are very entertaining, but not very educational, while other children’s books are very educational, but not very entertaining. And while there is nothing wrong with that, in order to satisfy my reasons, I wanted to write a book that was both entertaining and educational. And, by identifying and understanding my reasons for writing a children’s book, it helped guide me as I determined What to write about (improv – to be educational) and How to write it (as a picture book – to be entertaining).

“Improv” is short for “Improvisational theater”, which is, essentially, creating something from nothing. Players create and perform shows simultaneously and in the moment, without any script, props, or costumes.

Image 2

My own improv training “Started with the Whys”. On day one, the teacher asked the class, “Why do you want to learn improv?” Over 50 nervous and excited teenagers, young adults, and seniors gave vastly different answers and reasons, such as “to think more creatively and quickly”, “to improve my interactions and relationships with others”, “to boost my self-confidence”, and of course, “to entertain and perform on stage”.

Over the next year, we learned the fundamental principles and skills of improv. Things like “focusing on the present”, “ways to get and explore ideas”, “how to react to accidents and mistakes”, “the importance of practice”, and “the benefits of diversity”. These principles and skills helped each student satisfy their reasons for learning improv. And, improv can help children with the same! The fundamental principles and skills of improv are as useful on stage as they are at play and in life. Improv is a great way to help children develop their imaginations, learn to play cooperatively, increase their confidence, and much, much more.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve performed hundreds of improv shows and even use improv to teach adults various life skills in a variety of contexts. And, I wrote “Hank and Stella in Something from Nothing” to be an entertaining and educational way to introduce my kids (and more!) to improv so they can laugh while they learn.

And so, I encourage new authors to “Start with the Whys” to help guide What and How to write your book!

For more information about “Hank and Stella in Something from Nothing”, visit https://www.hankandstellabooks.com/.

Image 3


Damian SynadinosHello! My name is Damian Synadinos. I’m born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, the father of 2 wonderful kids, an improviser with 10+ years of experience, and the author and illustrator of “Hank & Stella in Something from Nothing”.

Photo from Amazon.

Bio from Damian Synadinos’ site: https://www.hankandstellabooks.com/.