2019 ALA Youth Media Awards Winners!

Great overview of the ALA Youth Media Award winners!

Jama's Alphabet Soup

Exciting morning watching the ALA Youth Media Awards live webcast from Seattle! It’s fun to root for your favorite children’s and YA books published in 2018, and there are usually a couple of surprises to keep things interesting.

First off, there were several welcome additions to the annual announcements. For years, I wondered why the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) Literature Awards were not included. We’d hear about the Coretta Scott King and Pura Belpré winners, but not about the Asian Pacific American winners.

Well, from now on, not only will the APALA Literature Award winners be highlighted, but also awards from the American Indian Library Association (AILA) and the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL). All in an effort “to bring awareness about and encourage the creation of more books that depict diverse cultures, or by authors of color.” About time, I say. Hooray!

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BECOMING BEAUTIFUL by Tarang Rawat

becoming beautiful

Please welcome author Tarang Rawat to Frog on a Blog! Tarang’s on an important mission to inspire and empower girls to be strong, independent, and confident–through her book Becoming Beautiful. Read on to see how you can help!

Are you a parent of a lovely little girl who often spends hours in front of the mirror disapproving of her face or figure? Do you try to find confidence in your child’s smile, but see it fading away every day? And wonder who stole it? Where did it go?

Well, your daughter is not alone. Statistics show that negative body image and low self-esteem is a growing epidemic in our society. Children today are exposed to fake and unrealistic standards of physical beauty. Influenced by popular television shows, celebrity culture, social media, and peer pressure, our young girls often embrace an unnatural image of beauty from a very young age. And when they compare themselves to those unrealistic standards, they feel inadequate and imperfect. If young girls are dissatisfied with the way they look, they are bound to develop negative body image and low self-esteem, which is detrimental to their growth and success in life.

If we let the status quo be, we run the risk of leaving behind a generation of girls that are completely unaware of their potential and self-worth.

I strongly believe that every girl deserves to know that she’s beautiful, and through my book, Becoming Beautiful, I want to help girls see their true beauty. Becoming Beautiful is an inspirational children’s book written for girls, aged 4-9, who find it difficult to recognize and accept their true, awesome self.

With Becoming Beautiful, I describe a beautiful tale celebrating girl power, embracing your true self, and recognizing your inherent beauty. Becoming Beautiful is here to make girls feel incredible as they truly are.

finalized becoming beautiful

To fund the production, design, and printing of my book, I am running a Kickstarter campaign from February 13th to March 13th and am seeking community support to make this book a reality.

The book trailer and pre-order of the book are now available on www.becomingbeautiful.us.

Becoming Beautiful is on a mission to empower young girls to love their bodies and themselves. When a girl feels more confident in her body, she will be more assertive, perform better physically and academically, and she will say ‘yes’ to more opportunities.

More than a book, it’s a message that needs to be shared with parents and adults, so we can raise a generation of strong, independent girls who are proud of themselves.

Support this campaign and give your daughter the gifts of confidence, self-worth, and happiness.

tarang's pic.

Tarang Rawat

About the Author: 

Tarang Rawat had an early affair with writing. Sadly, the romance ended, leaving behind splatters of dark poetry, which never saw the light of day. While other things caught her attention, they could not keep it for long. However, she found other venues of engagement; from designing clothes for models to designing system for companies, she’s worn many hats and balanced many cups.
As fate would have it, old lovers crossed paths again, and the romance rekindled. They picked up where they left off, a more candid affair this time.

Random Pic Of Cuteness: Writing Prompt #9

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!

elephant

*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 178

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.

Here are some 2018 titles you may have missed:

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PINE & BOOF BLAST OFF: Pine and Boof build a rocket so that they can return an egg from outer space to its nest. Fun!

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SPECTACULARLY BEAUTIFUL: Every day, Shahad came to school with perfect hair, but her perfect hair cannot hide her scars.

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NIGHT PLAY: A boy and his animal friends put on a stage play. Lift-the-flap pages

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ONCE UPON A SNOWSTORM: A boy, lost in the woods during a snowstorm, is aided by the forest animals. Wordless

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DREAMLAND: Amelie ventures into a fantastical world in order to uncover her favorite dreams.

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LOVED TO BITS: A boy relays the special relationship he has with his teddy bear. Rhyme

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ELEANOR WYATT PRINCESS AND PIRATE: Join Eleanor and her friends as they romp through tea parties and sword fights to discover the best treasure of all–being yourself. Rhyme

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THE CASE OF THE MISSING CHALK DRAWINGS: The chalks are drawing flowers on the chalkboard, but someone keeps stealing their artwork. Clever and fun!

 

Top 21 Circulating Picture Books of 2018

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Which picture books were checked out most often from the Community Library of DeWitt and Jamesville in 2018?

Our top circulating picture book will probably not be a big surprise: Disney Frozen. Movie and TV tie-ins will forever be popular with kids. It’s a fact of life. This particular version is actually a “look and find” concept book–not a true picture book, in my opinion, but the library has it cataloged as a picture book AND it circulated a whopping 20 times, so I felt it was worth noting in this year’s list.

Also making the list this year is the top book of 2017: Ellie in Concert. This book actually circulated two more times in 2018 (19 times) than in 2017 (17 times), yet wasn’t number one this time around. Interesting, huh?

The rest of the books in our top 21 include the ever-popular series Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol, another Frozen tie-in starring Olaf the snowman, and (Yay!) a beautiful mix of new and old stand alone favorites.

Circulated 20 Times:

This may seem like a small number, but when you consider that each book may be checked out for up to 3 weeks (21 days), that 20 times means the top book was checked out over and over for the entire year!

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Circulated 19 Times:

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Circulated 18 Times:

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Circulated 17 Times:

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What are the top circulating picture books at your local library?

Take a look at the top circulating picture books at the Community Library of DeWitt & Jamesville in prior years:

Top 17 of 2017

Top 19 of 2016

Top 15 of 2015

Picture Books At The Library 177

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.

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A BOY AND A HOUSE: A boy follows a cat and a trail of drawings up several flights of stairs. Thought-provoking wordless story!

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EBENEZER HAS A WORD FOR EVERYTHING: No one appreciates Ebenezer’s word collection until he meets a friend who writes stories and could use a word or two.

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ANNA AT THE ART MUSEUM: Anna is bored at the art museum until she’s allowed into the secret workshop.

ERROL’S GARDEN: A young boy unites his community by starting a garden on the roof of his building.

UNDER THE SAME SKY: Though we live in different parts of the world, we all live under the same sky. Lovely illustrations!

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QUIET WYATT: A friendship is born when soft-spoken Wyatt is paired with outgoing Noreen on a class field trip.

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BENJI, THE BAD DAY, AND ME: Sammy is having a very bad day at school and at home until his autistic brother, Benji, finds a way to make him feel better. 

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CONSTRUCTION ZOO: It’s a quiet morning at the zoo until some strange new creatures roll in.

Picture Books At The Library 176

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.

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CARMELA FULL OF WISHES: Carmela, finally old enough to run errands with her brother, tries to think of the perfect wish after finding a lone dandelion.

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HOW COULD A BEAR SLEEP HERE?: Shelby the bear is ready to hibernate, but everywhere he tries to fall asleep is far too noisy.

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FIRST SNOW: Neighbor kids have fun in the snow together. Sweetly illustrated!

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SURPRISE!: Pals Bear, Raccoon, and Squirrel are eager to make friends with some city folk who visit the woods.

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ELBOW GREASE: A small electric truck with a lot of gumption, enters the Monster Truck Grand Prix to prove to his brothers that he is just as capable as they are. Fun, colorful art and a great message!

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DO YOU BELIEVE IN UNICORNS?: Narrator refuses to believe that a horse in a hat could be a unicorn in disguise. Humorous and sweet!

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JUST ADD GLITTER: A girl jazzes up a rainy, boring day with glitter. Fun!

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OCTOPUS ESCAPES!: Octopus slips out of his tank while the aquarium sleeps and leads the security guard on a merry chase.

Inspiring Young Readers with Facts and Fiction by Henry Herz

Please welcome picture book author Henry Herz back to Frog on a Blog. You may remember the interview I did with Henry last year. Or you may be familiar with one of his wonderful books. Just this year, three new picture books were published, and I recently discovered another is set to be published in February. Henry is on a roll! Henry’s stopped in today to talk a little about how Rudyard Kipling and the amazing diversity of the animal kingdom helped influence one of his latest books, How the Squid Got Two Long Arms, and how they can inspire your writing too, so that you can entertain and educate kids.

Rudyard Kipling is perhaps best known for his JUST SO STORIES, a compilation of delightful fictional explanations for why many animals are the way they are. Some of its short stories include: How the Whale Got His Throat, How the Camel Got His Hump, How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin, How the Leopard Got His Spots, and How the Elephant Got His Trunk.

Kipling

Kipling deserves credit not only for his impressive creativity, but also his mastery of language and humor. Here’s the glorious opening passage of How the Whale Got His Throat. “On the sea, once upon a time, O my Best Beloved, there was a Whale, and he ate fishes. He ate the starfish and the garfish, and the crab and the dab, and the plaice and the dace, and the skate and his mate, and the mackereel and the pickereel, and the really truly twirly-whirly eel. All the fishes he could find in all the sea he ate with his mouth—so! Till at last there was only one small fish left in all the sea, and he was a small ‘Stute Fish, and he swam a little behind the Whale’s right ear, so as to be out of harm’s way. Then the Whale stood up on his tail and said, ‘I’m hungry.’ And the small ‘Stute Fish said in a small ‘stute voice, ‘Noble and generous Cetacean, have you ever tasted Man?’”

I’ve been a fan of the JUST SO STORIES since my mom read them to me when I was a young child. I’m frequently amazed at the diversity of life on Earth. So, when I learned that two of a squid’s arms were longer than the others (don’t ask me why), I decided to write a picture book offering a “creative” explanation for that development. And I wanted to employ alliteration and lyrical language to evoke (and honor) Kipling.

The second influence in the writing of my book was one of my all-time favorites – the immensely talented Jon Klassen’s Caldecott-winning picture book, THIS IS NOT MY HAT, in which a little fish steals a big fish’s hat, and gets his comeuppance in the end. I liked the theme of “do unto others”, and I especially loved the irony of the unreliable narrator. To me, few things ring so true and are as funny as people’s ability to deceive themselves. Thus, with an admiring mashup of Kipling and Klassen, HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS was, er, spawned.

Squid

Now, Kipling’s comic premise, the idea that an animal’s features that are modified after is birth (e.g., clipping a bird’s feathers) could somehow be genetically passed to its offspring has been discredited by Mendelian genetics. Although it did gain its own label: Larmarkism, after Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Your immediate response should be: “Who cares? These are FICTIONAL tales.” And you’d be right. But I’d add that fact can be stranger than fiction. Here are a few crazy animal traits that evolved over time. These critters clearly all deserve their own Just So Story too. Go home Darwin, you’re drunk! 🙂

Mole

The Star-Nosed Mole (Condylura cristata)

With impressive digging claws and a face only a mother could love, the star-nosed mole’s claim to fame is the 22 appendages surrounding its nose. They are not olfactory, but rather touch organs that help the functionally blind mole find food. The journal Nature rates it the fastest-eating mammal, taking as little as 120 milliseconds to detect something, decide if it’s edible, and eat it. That is even faster than I can eat Boston crème pie.

Seadragon

The Leafy Seadragon (Phycodurus eques)

This master of disguise looks like something right out of a high fantasy novel. When not simply drifting, movement is achieved by the small, nearly transparent pectoral and dorsal fins. Its leafy protrusions do not aid in propulsion. Their only purpose is camouflage. It’s built for stealth, not speed. As if that’s not enough, they can change color to further blend in with seaweed. Now you see me, now you don’t.

Anteater

The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)

This seven-foot long, 90-lb. pin-striped mammal is a walking vacuum cleaner. While its huge bushy tail is impressive, its foot-long snout is what makes it a fuzzy terror to ants and termites alike. Technically, it’s the tongue that shoots 18 inches out of the snout that gives insects nightmares. The anteater has poor eyesight, but a sense of smell 40 times more powerful than humans. That, combined with huge digging claws make mincemeat out of anthills or termite mounds. Adding insult to injury, the anteater doesn’t even produce its own stomach acid. Its digestion is aided by the formic acid provided by its prey. Now, that’s just lazy.

Mother Nature gives us authors so much material with which to work. I hope these wonders of the natural world with exaggerated features increase your appetite for how fiction and non-fiction are both terrific ways to entertain kids and inspire them to learn.

Henry Herz Henry Herz has an engineering Bachelors from Cornell, an engineering Masters from George Washington U., and a national security studies Masters from Georgetown, none of which helps him write fantasy and science fiction for children. He is represented by Deborah Warren of East/West Literary Agency. Henry is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). He participates in literature panels at a variety of conventions, including San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon. Henry reviews children’s books for the San Francisco Book Review and the San Diego Book Review.

For more about Henry and his books, please visit his Website.

Picture Books At The Library 175

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.

Check out the very different art styles in this selection of picture books! All terrific!

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WINTER IS HERE: Kids experience the joys and hardships of winter and look forward to spring. Lovely art!

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NEVER LET YOU GO: A celebration of the bond between parent and child.

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THE SNOWY NAP: After hearing about winter from his friends, Hedgie the hedgehog tries to stay awake to experience its wonders.

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AM I YOURS?: Several friendly dinosaurs help a lost egg get reunited with its parents. Sweet and a fun read aloud!

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NEW YORK MELODY: A stray musical note explores the sounds of New York City. Beautiful lasercut illustrations!

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HANSEL & GRETEL: In a fairy tale twist, Hansel and Gretel ransack Willow the good witch’s gingerbread cottage.

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I AM ACTUALLY A PENGUIN: A girl loves her penguin outfit so much that she never wants to take it off.

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A HOME IN THE BARN: As winter approaches, all the animals, from the horses to the mice, find comfort in the barn.

 

 

 

Book Review: ALMA AND HOW SHE GOT HER NAME: A teacher and writer’s perspective by Laura Roettiger

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I spent most of my teaching career at a school with a population of over 90% Latinx. When I heard about Alma and How She Got Her Name, by Juana Martinez-Neal, it was especially interesting to me because I miss my Chicago students and imagined them hearing the book. Lucky for me, I have a wonderful group of students here in Colorado to read to, coming from a variety of ethnicities.

The basic premise of Alma, is she thinks her name is too long, until her father explains to her how she got the name Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela. It’s a lovely story celebrating family, tradition, and being proud of who you are.

I can turn any book into a lesson and an activity after years of teaching. With Alma, the teaching extension wrote itself. When I first told them there would be homework, they protested, but when I explained what it would be, the energy in the room shifted to enthusiasm. The children were given a graphic organizer and sent home with the task of asking their parents about the origin story of their names.

story of your name graphic

As the children returned with their homework, I learned one of them is named after a WWE wrestler that his father likes and another is named for an NFL player. One is named for a Disney character, and another is named for a character in a movie her mom liked. The stories of aunts, uncles, grandparents were also shared on the page and in class. Many of them didn’t know these stories before the assignment and that is a tribute to Juana Martinez-Neal and her inspiring story.

As a picture book writer, I’ve been studying different aspects of craft and I believe this book is a perfect example of heart. Julie Hedlund, founder of the picture book challenge 12×12, talks about how heart is so important in picture books. I find it hard to define heart, but easy to find examples. The illustrations, also the work of Juana Martinez-Neal, are unique and match the story perfectly, complete with sepia toned drawings that look like old photographs.

This book earns 5 stars from me because its simple message is full of heart and it created a wonderful family project for my students. I’m sure many families would find this to be inspirational.

Laura R

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 LauraRoettigerBooks.com.

Picture Books At The Library 174

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.

 

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ROCK WHAT YA GOT: An artist, displeased with her drawing, tries to make it better, but the figure, Viva, comes to life and proclaims that she’s happy just the way she it. Fun!

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LUCIA THE LUCHADORA: Lucia becomes exasperated when her bothersome little sister makes a big hole in her mask. 

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UP THE MOUNTAIN PATH: Every Sunday, Mrs. Badger walks the mountain path alone, until the day she meets Lulu and everything changes.

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SEA PRAYER: When the sun rises, a father and son gather their possessions and join others as they embark on a perilous sea journey in search of a new home. Moving and powerful!

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A PRAYER FOR THE ANIMALS: A special blessing for all animals around the world. Lovely!

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LITTLE PENGUIN STAYS AWAKE: Penguin tries really hard to stay awake so that he can wish on a shooting star.

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GATOR, GATOR, GATOR!: Join a little girl on her quest to find a gator.

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PEARL: Pearl is heartbroken when her mother asks her to tend to a mere grain of sand. Another beautiful Molly Idle book!

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OLIVER: Just when Oliver resigns himself to always being the second largest living thing on Earth, he meets other trees who help him realize he’s part of something even larger.

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PTERODACTYL SHOW AND TELL: When one boy brings his pterodactyl to class for show-and-tell, pandemonium prevails.

The Inspiration Behind DEREK THE FLYING DODO by Vanee Apoolingum

Please welcome author Vanee Apoolingum to Frog on a Blog. Vanee stopped by to share a little about the inspiration behind her new book DEREK THE FLYING DODO.

DEREK THE FLYING DODO is my first children’s book that has just been published! It is an exciting adventure story for 5-7 year olds about friendship, having the courage to be different, and never giving up on your dreams. Since my book has been published, two questions that I have been asked regularly is why did I do it, and what was my inspiration?

Derek cover

So why did I decide to publish a book? Well, since having my two sons, bedtime reading has always been a precious moment in our day. We all get to wind down and lose ourselves in wonderful and magical children’s books and stories we make up together.

Picture books such as Spinderella, Hello Mr Dodo!, Little Dinosaur’s Big Adventure, and Marmaduke the Very Different Dragon have all got important messages about friendship and having the courage to be different. All the illustrations in these picture books are vibrant and colourful and are great at drawing in young readers! In addition, the adventures that the characters share in those books are truly magical. Just over a year ago my boys said I should write one of our stories down, so I decided, why not.

Inspiration has come from past and present experiences, which have shaped my story one way or another. Whilst I have been living in London for over 17 years, I was born and brought up on the paradise island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. The Dodo was native to this island and famous for its inability to fly (as well as being extinct!). It has always fascinated me, but growing up, there were hardly any children’s books about this bird. So naturally, when I first decided to write a book, I wanted to base my main character on the Dodo. Even though there are now some picture books on the dodo, the theme has generally been around extinction of the bird or the fact that it can’t fly.

However, I wanted to bring a little bit of magic and fantasy to my readers – hence making Derek the Dodo fly!

flying dodo

The locations in my book were also heavily influenced by my upbringing in Mauritius. Growing up, I was incredibly lucky to be surrounded by Mauritius’ natural beauty. The luscious white sandy beaches, crystal blue water, dense rainforest, and some of the most beautiful botanical gardens gave me the perfect inspiration when writing my book. I was immediately drawn to my childhood memories, all the places I spent so much time in and where some of my best memories still are. Mark Twain very rightfully summed it up when he said “Mauritius was made first and then heaven, heaven being copied after Mauritius”!

Mauritius illo

The themes of friendship, having the courage to be different, and dreaming the impossible were influenced by my 6 year old who was assessed as Gifted a few years ago. When he first started school, he was very different to his peers and struggled to connect to other children. However, he always knew he was different and very readily and strongly embraced that.

So there you have it, why I wrote my book and what my inspiration was. My hope now is that children reading my book will be transported into this magical story and share the thrilling ride with this wonderfully unique Dodo, and, just for a little bit, dream that the impossible can happen!

Vanee A photo

Vanee Apoolingum was born and raised on the paradise island of Mauritius. Growing up in exotic surroundings plus childhood stories about the flightless dodo provided her with the inspiration for Derek the Flying Dodo.

For the past 17 years she has swapped warmer climates for the milder (and wetter) weather of London. In her very limited spare time, thanks to her two young boys, she enjoys reading, writing and baking with her children.

Random Pic Of Cuteness: Writing Prompt #8

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!

Girl in snow

*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 173

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.

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CAPTAIN RAPTOR AND THE PERILOUS PLANET: Captain Raptor and his crew rush to help rescue scientists who are trapped on an unstable planet with a volcano about to erupt.

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OUR CELEBRACION!: A rain shower does not dampen a Latino family’s enjoyment of their town’s parade and summer celebration.

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SWEET DREAMING: Molly’s mother imagines stories to lull her to sleep, from swooping birds to a quiet beach, and soon one of them falls asleep.

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THE HOUSE OF LOST AND FOUND: A neighbor boy asks Niles, a lonely old man, to look after his plant while he’s away. Beautifully illustrated!

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THE SNOWFLAKE MISTAKE: Princess Ellie is left in charge of the magical snowflake machine.

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SING TO THE MOON: A young Ugandan boy and his grandfather have fun together on a rainy day.

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COUNTING DINOS: Join a gang of dinosaurs as they go from one to ten and learn to see their world in a new way. Fun and colorful read aloud!

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CRAFTY LLAMA: Llama likes to knit while she thinks, but Beaver will only make something if it’s useful.

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ALL ARE WELCOME: In one very special school, diversity is celebrated and songs, stories, and talents are shared. Awesome message!

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HIKING DAY: Going on a hike for the very first time is an adventure for one young girl.

Picture Books At The Library 172

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.

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LORRAINE, THE GIRL WHO SANG THE STORM AWAY: When Pa Paw and Lorraine’s instruments come up missing during a fearsome storm, Lorraine finds the music inside herself to get them through.   

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A KISS FOR AKARAKA: A girl spends time with her father who playfully includes his daughter’s imaginary friend Akaraka. Lovely art!

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ZOLA’S ELEPHANT: A girl hesitates to initiate friendship with her new neighbor Zola because she imagines Zola is busy with her elephant friend. Beautifully illustrated and unique!

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HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS: A mischievous squid steals clothes from the other animals until they fight back, leaving him with two long arms in the process. 

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MAX AND THE SUPERHEROES: Max is crazy about superheroes, especially Megapower, who is someone very special to him.

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QUIET: Two children learn from their grandfather how to be quiet and still and appreciate the world around them.

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A VERY LATE STORY: After several creatures show up and realize they’re in a book, they decide to wait for their story to begin.

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A GOOD DAY FOR DUCKS: A brother and sister play outside on a rainy day.

Picture Books At The Library 171

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.

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THE NIGHT BOX: When a boy opens the Night Box, darkness swoops out, taking light’s place, and night flows freely until morning comes to replace it again.

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TAKE YOUR OCTOPUS TO SCHOOL DAY: Tired of being second best, Sam is determined to “win” at show-and-tell, especially on Take Your Octopus To School Day.

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JOSIE’S LOST TOOTH: Josie finally loses a baby tooth, but when she for-real loses it, she needs a substitute tooth to leave for the Tooth Fairy.

SCAREDY BEAR: A brave little bunny goes in search of the scary creature known as the Big Hairy.

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GOOD MORNING, NEIGHBOR: A group of animals goes in search of the ingredients needed to make a cake.

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WILD ORCA: A girl named Mia hopes she will catch a glimpse of Granny, the oldest orca, during Orca Sing in the San Juan Islands.

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FAST ASLEEP IN A LITTLE VILLAGE IN ISRAEL: Various sounds keep Mrs. Strauss awake, but when the first rain of the season comes, it quiets everything else.

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NIGHT JOB: When the sun sets, a boy helps his dad clean the school.

 

 

Book Review MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS: A Teacher And Writer’s Perspective by Laura Roettiger

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Everything about the book Maximillian Villainous (Running Press Kids, 2018) made me know it was going to be a hit at school. To be honest, I was excited to find this book at the library and I knew my enthusiasm would add to their interest. The title alone captured the imagination of the children who wanted to know more about this villainous monster. But wait, Max isn’t a villain! And right away, the author had us engaging with the main character.

The class of second and third graders may not know about the rule of three, expertly employed by author Margaret Chiu Greanias, but they sure appreciated the way it was woven into the story. The three tasks for Max: “1. Steal something 2. Make someone cry 3. Gain fame by being devious” are cleverly highlighted in the illustrations so that children focused on the list. We even compared it to the classroom rules, which was fun and another way to interact with the story. Of course, the students explained the tasks were the opposite of what they should be, demonstrating that the author and illustrator did a great job engaging the readers early in the story.

As a picture book writer, I’ve been studying different aspects of craft and I know how important page turns are. This book is a model of page turns done well. I’d like to mention two excellent examples. The first that attracted attention (read children needed to chime in with their predictions) involved the bunnies digging in the Sandman’s stash of magic sleeping dust. Many of the children knew what would come next. The other is when Max has an idea, complete with the villainous “Mua-ha-Ha!” This was definitely the class’s favorite part of the book (read everyone was making the sound and believed Max was turning into a villain like the rest of his family.) Well played, Margaret!

The illustrations (by Lesley Breen Withrow) in Maximillian Villainous are fantastic. They are colorful, full of wonderful detail, but not too busy, and whimsical, matching the tone of the story. Even the way the Illustrations were laid out on the pages and the use of signs and notes created a high level of interest for the children and for me.

This book definitely earns 5 stars from me because it’s got humor and heart on every page. Additionally, it allowed for a fun reading lesson learning about problem and solution in a story where they weren’t as obvious as in many books. This helped me know what the children understood and which ones needed more help. It is more proof that picture books are excellent vehicles for learning.

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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 LauraRoettigerBooks.com.

CNY Literary Festival

Library Logo

The Community Library of DeWitt & Jamesville is hosting its 1st CNY Literary Festival on Friday, November 30 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm.

• Meet more than 30 local authors
• Author readings from select works
• Book signings
• Light refreshments
• Giveaways

Join me for a celebration of local authors and participate in a community experience that encourages the love of reading, writing, and the value of literacy in our community. The event is for all ages, with 38 authors of fiction, narrative nonfiction, and children’s books looking forward to chatting with you. (psst! Bruce Coville is scheduled to appear!)

With Christmas just around the corner, there’s sure to be a book to suit the taste of everyone on your list!

The Community Library of DeWitt & Jamesville is conveniently located at 5110 Jamesville Road, a short distance from 481 Exit 2. The Library’s CNY Literary Festival is generously sponsored by Community Bank N.A., DeWitt Office.

As an employee of the Library, I’ll be working at the festival, as well as participating as an author. I hope to see you there, too! 🙂

Random Pic Of Cuteness: Writing Prompt #7

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!

Frog

*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 170

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.

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GIRAFFE PROBLEMS: A giraffe goes on and on about how awful his neck is until he meets another animal who needs his help.

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HOW TO BE A T. REX: When Sal grows up, she’s going to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex because being human can be a real drag.

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HEY, WALL: Armed with pencils, paints, dreams, and Grandma Addy’s memories of how beautiful the neighborhood once was, Angel and others paint the cold, empty wall.

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THIS IS A CIRCLE: Circles and squares are introduced as a most unusual group of friends sings, sails, huffs, and puffs. Fun!

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A DOG NAMED HAKU: During a Hindu festival in Kathmandu, Nepal, brothers Alu and Bhalu search for a dog they can honor with food and gratitude.

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ERASER: Eraser is tired of cleaning up everyone else’s mistakes and wants to create instead.

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AN UNLIKELY BALLERINA: A small, frail girl with wobbly legs and turned-out toes becomes the first Jewish prima ballerina assoluta in history.

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CROW NOT CROW: A girl accompanies her father for the first time on a birding expedition and learns how to identify several birds.

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THE REMEMBER BALLOONS: James has a bunch of balloons, each of which holds a special memory, but he notices that as his grandfather ages, he loses balloons, while James gains new ones.

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KITTEN AND THE NIGHT WATCHMAN: Being a night watchman is a lonely job, especially when you’re away from your family.

Laura’s Book Reviews: Catalina and the King’s Wall AND Mela and the Elephant

Please welcome author and teacher (and Frog on a Blog follower) Laura Roettiger! Laura is the author of the forthcoming picture book Aliana Reaches for the Moon. She’s also a mentor for reading and writing at a STEM school in Colorado. She likes to use books in pairs or threes to encourage her students to make connections by comparing and contrasting them.

Today, Laura shares two books that celebrate kindness in very different ways.

I love the idea of reviewing two or more books on the same theme together. And books on kindness are some of my favorites. But what makes Laura’s reviews really special is that she’s shared the books with her students and has based her reviews, partially, on their responses to the books. As she says, “It’s an authentic way to talk about the books.” I’m thrilled to have Laura as a reviewer on Frog on a Blog!


As a teacher and curriculum developer, I don’t think of books in isolation. We always ask our students to “make connections.” In the younger grades, we ask students to make text to text, text to self, and text to world connections.

As a picture book writer, I’ve been studying picture books this year. Many, I’ve discovered on this blog (Frog on a Blog)! I like to think of how books relate to each other or something happening in the classroom or larger world.

Two books I really enjoyed this year are Catalina and the King’s Wall (Eifrig Publishing, 2018) by Patty Costello (ill. by Diane Cojocaru), and Mela and the Elephant (Sleeping Bear Press, 2018) by Dow Phumiruk Ng (ill. by Ziyue Chen). On the surface, they are very different books; one is like a many layered cake, while the other is beautifully simple. I like sharing two seemingly different books and asking my students to find similarities.

Catalina, a baker, needs to outsmart the king who wants to build a wall to keep out foreigners. (Yes, there is a political undertone, and according to the author, this was the inspiration for her book.) Lucky for Catalina, the King has a sweet tooth and she is able to use this weakness to her advantage. The illustrations are vibrant and children will be charmed by the abundance of colors, baked goods, and a tiny mouse who can be found on each page. The lessons of inclusion and acceptance are woven throughout, but the overarching theme of kindness is what my second and third graders took note of.

Mela is a little girl who wants to go on an adventure down the river without her little brother. A simple, negative exchange between them at the beginning allows the reader to anticipate what will happen when Mela gets lost and needs help. This Thai folktale is a more obvious story of kindness, but is in no way preachy, and the students were easily able to relate to Mela. The illustrations are also charming, but simpler, to match the story.

Personally, I give each of these books 5 stars because they both work as a good combination of text and illustration, telling compelling stories that work for a variety of ages.

Laura RLaura 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 LauraRoettigerBooks.com.

Keep an eye out for Aliana Reaches for the Moon, available February 19, 2019! 

Picture Books At The Library 169

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.

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FRANKENBUNNY: After Spencer discovers his big brothers’ stories about Frankenbunny aren’t true, he hatches a plan to teach his brothers a lesson.

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HARRISON P. SPADER, PERSONAL SPACE INVADER: Harrison loves life and wants to share his joy with everyone, but first he needs to learn about personal space.

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GIRLS CAN DO ANYTHING: Every different type of girl is celebrated, because each girl is unique.

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THE ONLY WAY IS BADGER: Badger wants everyone to be more like him, and when they’re not, he sends them away to the other side of the wall.

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GRANDMOTHER’S VISIT: Grace receives one final visit from her grandmother after she’s passed away.

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BUSINESS PIG: One little pig is passed up for adoption, no matter how many charts he presents or resumes he hands out. Adorable!

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THIS IS MY EYE: Join a young girl as she explores the shapes, colors, patterns, people, and perspectives of her beloved city.

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THE BUNNY BAND: When Livinia the badger threatens to turn her garden thief into stew, the bunny pleads for his life, promising a rich reward if she lets him go.

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HOW TO FEED YOUR PARENTS: Matilda’s parents are picky eaters, so Matilda decides that if she wants to try something new, she’ll have to cook it herself.

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THANK YOU, OMU!: When the aroma of Omu’s homemade stew fills the air, her neighbors arrive, one by one, for a taste until all is gone except for her generous spirit.

Picture Books At The Library 168

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.

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HENRI’S HATS: Henri does not know that his Grand-Papa has gone on grand adventures until he discovers a trunk full of the most amazing hats.

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HECTOR’S FAVORITE PLACE: Hector worries about everything that could go wrong if he left his house.

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HEY, HEY, HAY!: Celebrate farming, family, machines, and hard work while you learn how hay is made.

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ATTACK OF THE 50-FOOT FLUFFY: When Claire and her stuffed rabbit Fluffy become very, very angry, watch out!

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ELLA & MONKEY AT SEA: Ella and her best friend Monkey do not want to board a ship and leave behind their home in Holland.

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LENA’S SHOES ARE NERVOUS: Lena must find a way to convince her shoes not to be nervous about the first day of school.

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AND THERE WAS EVENING, AND THERE WAS MORNING: Tells the story of how God created the world, describing six days of work fashioning everything from seas and clouds to animals and people, to finally resting on Shabbat.

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THE DAY WAR CAME: A young girl, displaced by war, must fight for survival until help finally comes.

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MAPPING SAM: Where does Sam go when her people are tucked in bed and she slips out into the beckoning world?

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IF YOU’RE GOING TO A MARCH: A first introduction to what you’ll need and what you’ll see and do if you’re going to participate in a march.

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ADRIAN SIMCOX DOES NOT HAVE A HORSE: Chloe gets angry when her classmate Adrian claims to have a horse.

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THE DRESS AND THE GIRL: A girl loses her dress when she leaves her Greek island home and immigrates to America.

Picture Books At The library 167

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.

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NEON LEON: Leon can’t change color like the other chameleons and longs for a place to blend in.

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WE LOVE DINOSAURS: Dinosaurs of all shapes, sizes, and colors are loved by kids.

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BULLY: When a selfish bullfrog takes over a lily pond, the other residents decide to unite and take action. Love the cover!

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STERLING, BEST DOG EVER: A little dog pretends to be a fork and other household things in order to find and keep a home. Adorable!

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BRAVE ENOUGH FOR TWO: With Hoot by her side, Olive sets off on an adventure, even though she’s not brave. Excellent art!

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TAKE A HIKE, MILES AND SPIKE: Miles and Spike take a hike through the forest, destroying the habitat as they go and rudely dismissing the forest creatures. Clever word play, and I like the colors!

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TINY LITTLE ROCKET: A rocket takes a trip through the solar system, past the sun, and narrowly misses a meteor before returning to Earth. Striking art!

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TESSA TAKES WING: Tessa plays and flies around her room while the rest of the family is asleep. Sweet!