Pencil-mania by Stephanie Ward

Please welcome picture book author Stephanie Ward to Frog on a Blog. Stephanie is the author of Arabella and the Magic Pencil, which recently celebrated its book birthday. She’s also the author of Wally The Warm-Weather Penguin, an adorable book I reviewed a few years ago.

Stephanie’s here to share five terrific pencil-themed picture books, perfect for back-to-school time. Take a look!


by Stephanie Ward

The new school year is upon us and students are rushing back to their classrooms with shiny new supplies. So there’s no better time to take a moment to appreciate all the amazing writing instruments in those backpacks.

One of the first books I loved was Harold and the Purple Crayon. How amazing would it be to be able to draw whatever you need at the instant you need it?

Then, there was Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings – a children’s book series turned into a television program about a boy with a magic chalkboard that he entered into every day. Awesome!

Recently, of course, crayons have become a sensation when they went on strike (The Day the Crayons Quit) and eventually came back (The Day the Crayons Came Home).

But in 2019, the mighty pencil – and its often antagonistic eraser – is finally getting its moment.

When Pencil Met Eraser

Written by Karen Kilpatrick and Luis O. Ramos, Jr.

Illustrated by German Blanco 

Ever wonder why there’s a little pink eraser on every pencil? Find out in this picture book that tells the true story of how Pencil and Eraser became the best of friends. When Pencil draws on the pages of this book, Eraser erases parts of Pencil’s work, and the book itself becomes a canvas for their different takes on creativity–until the two discover their artwork is even better when they work together. 

Linus the Little Yellow Pencil

Written and illustrated by Scott Magoon

Linus and his eraser, Ernie, don’t always see eye to eye. But with the family art show drawing near, these two will have to sharpen their collaboration to make something neither one could do on their own!

The Pencil

Written by Susan Avingaq and Maren Vsetula

Illustrated by Charlene Chua

Susan and her sister, Rebecca, love watching their mother write letters to people in other camps. Their mother has one precious pencil, and she keeps it safe in her box for special things. One afternoon, Anaana leaves the iglu to help a neighbour, and Susan, Rebecca, and their brother Peter are left with their father. They play all their regular games but are soon out of things to do-until Ataata brings out the pencil!

Pencil’s Perfect Picture

Written by Jodi McKay

Illustrated by Juliana Motzko

Pencil is trying to draw the perfect picture for his dad. So, he asks his friends Brush, Pastel, Marker, Crayon, and Chalk what makes their art perfect. But they each have a different answer. How will Pencil be able to create his own perfect picture?

Arabella and the Magic Pencil

Written by Stephanie Ward

Illustrated by Shaney Hyde

Arabella is a beloved only child who has a picture perfect life until her brother, Avery, arrives. While she loves him, it’s sometimes hard to like him. She spends her days creating marvelous things with her magic pencil and ignoring him. But when Avery spoils a proper tea party, Arabella erases him from her life. Oops! How can she get him back? 

My own book, Arabella and the Magic Pencil, was inspired by the humble pencil. Way back in eighth grade, my English teacher asked us to write a creative story. I looked down and saw a pencil on my desk and wrote about a girl whose magic pencil made everything she drew become real and everything she erased disappear forever. Today, that story sits alongside a slew of creative books about all the wonderful things a pencil (and eraser) can do.

“I believe that the combination of pencil and memory creates a kind of practical magic…” 
― Stephen King, The Green Mile

Stephanie Ward is the author of Arabella and the Magic Pencil, illustrated by Shaney Hyde, published by EK Books in September 2019. Her next picture book is due for release in 2020 (stay tuned for details!). After many years in marketing, Stephanie now spends her time writing sweet, silly and sidesplitting stories for children. To find out more about her bookish activities, visit

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:

Hopping Back Into The Classroom by Alexandria LaFaye

Hey, everyone, it’s almost time for the kids to go back to school! If you’re a parent or a teacher, you already know that, huh? And you probably already know that there are lots of picture books that feature schools. But do you know how to choose the best ones to share?

Multi-published author and educator Alexandria LaFaye stopped by to offer her thoughts on finding the perfect picture books that will help your child navigate a new school year. Be sure to read to the end for a very special giveaway!

Hopping Back into the Classroom:
A Look at Some Great School-Centered Books to Kick off the New School Year

Kid Pic

Many kids are itching to get back to school to see their friends, get to know their new teachers, head out to recess, and use those new school supplies—oh and there’s the school work too. Books are a big part of making the beginning of school a great success. The books teachers read help ease kids back into the routine of things or introduce new students to the way things work. For some kids, these books are an essential part of helping them get through their first day jitters.

A Few Great School-Centered Books

My favorite book in this genre is I Love You All Day Long, written by Francesca Rusackas and illustrated by Priscilla Burris, because it reassures preschoolers and kindergarteners that starting school will be a wonderful adventure and that their parent’s love will sustain them all day long. 


This year, Priscilla offers a wonderful solo addition to the genre with  Hello School, which shows kids how to face their first day jitters while bringing them into a wonderfully diverse and kid-centric classroom. 


Ryan T. Higgins takes a hilarious turn at the first day of school scenario with the wonderful We Don’t Eat Our Classmates. Who wouldn’t love a book with a description that starts, ‘It’s the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can’t wait to meet her classmates. But it’s hard to make human friends when they’re so darn delicious!’


The “Secret” Formula for a Great School-Centered Book

When creating or selecting school-centered books, it’s essential that they realistically represent the diversity of a classroom, address a child’s emotions in a way that is embedded in the story, and remain true to how a child sees the world, and offer a curriculum-rich environment.  It’s also wonderful if the book includes a unique and stereotype-free view of teachers, librarians, and school staff. Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series lampoons the dangers of staff stereotyping to hilarious effect.

No Frogs in School

This fall, I’m throwing my own backpack into the classroom (aka hat into the ring) with No Frogs in School. The story centers around Bartholomew Botts’ love for pets, hoppy pets, hairy pets, and scaly pets too. He loves them so much that he has to bring one to school each day. His classroom guests create havoc, making things tough for Bartholomew’s exasperated teacher, Mr. Patanoose.

In creating this story, I worked to embed the curriculum into the story in a kid-centric way by doing things like having the frog-toting Bartholomew contemplate the complexities of color combining.  As he learns that mixing green and yellow makes blue, he wonders how frogs get to be different colors.

Eglantine Ceulemans’ illustrations are fantastic because the class she’s drawn reflects the diversity of the characters I created and the room she’s rendered is so full of wonderful enrichment elements. Not to mention, the quirky kid antics she’s included. It’s because of her amazing artwork that Kirkus said that “each page lends itself to an energetic seek-and-find storytime that promises new discoveries upon multiple reads.”

In the story, I also tried to defy teaching stereotypes by featuring a talented male teacher in an early elementary classroom.  The final feature of my book that reflects my vision of a great book for school-aged children is that Bartholomew is from a multi-ethnic family, like so many kids today who don’t often see their families reflected in the books they read.


Classroom Library Building Book Giveaway

To celebrate students, teachers, and the need for inclusive classroom libraries, I’m offering a giveaway of 31 books for a K-2 classroom, including a signed copy of NO FROGS IN SCHOOL.

If you’d like to enter to win, you can visit my Facebook community Sylvanocity and check out the pinned post. I’ll be reviewing books from the giveaway each day in August, so that interested teachers can see the books they might win. The contest runs Aug 1-30th. This collection would be a nice expansion or foundation for an inclusive classroom, which would be a great welcome back to school present for any K-2 teacher.

Care to Host a School Visit with A. LaFaye?

Speaking of schools, I LOVE to visit schools and inspire kids to be life-long readers, to follow their talents, to learn to love writing and revision, and to value every member of their school community.  Here’s a sneak peek at A School Visit with A. LaFaye.

I hope you’ll share your favorite school-centered books in the comments below.  Let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to hear from you!

A LaFaye

A. LaFaye


For more information about Alexandria LaFaye and her books, please visit her website: