Picture Books At The Library 196

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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LULA AND THE SEA MONSTER: Lula’s family must leave their beloved house on the beach, but Bean, a tiny creature she rescued from a seagull doesn’t want her to go.
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THE KING OF KINDERGARTEN: A young boy, full of confidence on his first day of kindergarten, has a great day.
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PAINT IT OUT!: Horse wants to paint a mural, but Buggy says they need a plan. Easy Reader
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THE PAWED PIPER: A girl longs for a cat, so she lays a trail leading to her room, and in the morning she’s surprised to find more than sixty-seven furry friends.
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ONE DARK BIRD: A single starling is joined by hundreds more, and together they dance across the sky. Rhyme
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LEILA IN SAFFRON: Shy and unsure of herself, Leila seeks out the characteristics that make up her unique identity, and finds reasons to feel proud of who she is.
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TRAINS RUN!: A celebration of all types of trains, from how they run to the sounds they make. Rhyme
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MY BIG BAD MONSTER: A girl learns to overcome the monster of self-doubt with a little creativity and the help of some friends.
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BUNNY IN THE MIDDLE: Celebrates the ups and downs of being a middle child, especially being not too small for the big stuff and not too big for the small stuff.
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I AM A TIGER: Mouse believes he’s a tiger and convinces the other animals he’s one, too, until a real tiger shows up.
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LITTLE RED READING HOOD AND THE MISREAD WOLF: When Little Red Reading Hood sets off to take her sick grandmother a treat, she meets a wolf who’s after something else she’s carrying in her basket.
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LET’S SCARE BEAR: Mouse, Fox, Snake, and Spider try to frighten Bear, the biggest, loudest, bravest, strongest–and possibly trickiest–animal in the forest.

Les Pyjamasques: A Sneaky Way to Get Your Children Interested in Learning French by Leslie Van Zee

Do you have a child who loves to watch the popular animated series PJ Masks? When you visit the library, does your child insist on checking out the PJ Masks picture books, every time? You know what I’m talking about–those small, thin, paperback books that take words and pictures directly from the TV series.

There are a lot of books like that-that were created from a popular children’s television series. But! What if I told you that in the case of PJ Masks, it was the TV series that came from books? No, not the paperbacks I mentioned earlier, but rather, a French book series called Les Pyjamasques. I didn’t know that, you might be thinking. Neither did I, until children’s author Leslie Van Zee shared that interesting bit of info with me. And now, Leslie is here to share more about Les Pyjamasques with you.

Les Pyjamasques: A Sneaky Way to Get Your Children Interested in Learning French

by Leslie Van Zee

Hello, fellow Frog on a Blog Readers! As both an aspiring children’s author and a mom of two preschoolers, I’m an avid fan of picture books. But I also am a working mom, and I confess that my kids get a big dose of video time in addition to reading time.

To assuage my parental guilt over this, I try to at least monitor the programs they are consuming. In doing so I end up getting attached to some of the programs almost as much as my kids do. One of the series that we like in our house is the PJ Masks.

For those who aren’t familiar with them, the PJ Masks are a trio of preschool-aged children who acquire superpowers when they don their special pajamas. Then they go out into the night to thwart the plans of their mischievous arch-rivals.

My kids, ages 5 and 3, love the series. That said, I still would much rather have my little ones reading books, so I went looking to see if there were any picture books based on the series.

Lo and behold, the show is actually based on a series of picture books called Les Pyjamasques that have been popular in France for more than a decade.

Created by author-illustrator Romuald Racioppo, there are 25 books in the series, starting with Les Pyjamasques et le Grogarou (2007) and going all the way up to Les Pyjamasques et la momie d’Apophis, Tome II (2019).

All of the characters in the tv series are drawn from characters in the books, though the names are a little different. The main protagonists are:

  • Connor/Catboy from the tv series is known in the books as Yoyo by night.
  • Greg/Gekko is known as Gluglu by night.
  • Amaya/Owlette is known as Bibou by night, and in the earliest stories was actually a boy.

It is a shame that none of the Les Pyjamasques books have been translated into English, because they really are delightful. The illustrations are rich and full of detail and energy – much more painterly and organic in style than the cartoon series. The plots of each book are far less formulaic as well, and as a result share much more imaginative scenes and scenarios.

I also like that in the books the line between good and bad is more fluid. For example, in one story the Pyjamasques try to stop a gang of archrivals from breaking into a candy machine but then decide that they also want to eat candy and end up sharing the candy all together. I can’t help but adore these little quirks of realism. Yes, it’s good to encourage good morals and teamwork, but the tv series sometimes gets a little preachy about it.

To give you an idea of what the books are like, here is a review of the third book, Les Pyjamasques et Lilifée. Having since read all of the books online, I think this is a good representative of the series.

Synopsis:

It’s a snowy night and a fairy-like creature named Lilifée is descending from the sky to make artistic creations with snow. 

She is dainty and cultured, in contrast to the boisterous capers of the three masked little boys who intrude upon her scene.

Who are these masked acrobats of the night? They are Les Pyjamasques: Bibou, Gluglu and Yoyo (who are all three boys in the earliest books).

They are all captivated by her beauty and start vying for her attention. When their antics and one upmanship send a volley of snowballs at Lillifee’s snowman, it comes to life and climbs out of the snowbank to chase them.

Being Lillifee’s creation, however, the snowman is not as dangerous as he looks and just wants to present her with a lovely snow flower. This is the right way to win her favor, the Pyjamasques learn.

My thoughts:

As with all the books, there are some very imaginative concepts here. I like the fact that Lilifée’s snowman is a copy of one of the giant head statues from Easter Island, and that the whole body is underneath it in the snow. The characters are very engaging, one can’t help but smile at their antics. The plot is well-paced for 3- to 5-year-olds, and the little twist at the end is very cute.

I’m not at all fluent in French, so I can’t speak much to the quality of Romuald’s prose. But it strikes me as very authentically French, such as in little details like Lilifée dismissing the Pyjamasque’s snowmen as works of bad taste.

I would encourage even non-French-fluent parents to consider hunting down a copy of one of these books. It is a great way to give your kids some exposure to a foreign language.

I have probably an intermediate-level understanding of French, and with that and handy Google Translate, I am able to figure out the gist of things well enough to satisfy my little ones, as evidenced by regular requests for these books at bedtime.

If you are interested in learning more about this series, there is a great deal of info collected in a wiki here at Fandom.com. You can order the books via Amazon.fr or from the publisher’s website: Gallimard-Jeunesse.

 

Leslie Van Zee is a mom, children’s author and former euphoniumist who lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay area. By day she develops corporate communications designed to resonate with grown up audiences, and by night she crafts stories to settle her kids in to bed that often get them too wound up to sleep. She loves fusion jazz, podcasts, and singing silly songs while doing housework. Visit her blog stories.leslievanzee.com for more book reviews, original stories and thoughts on balancing work and parenting.

Thank you for stopping by, Leslie! This was so interesting, and I especially like the original illustrations by Romuald Racioppo. Lovely!

Happy Book Birthday to TRUCKER AND TRAIN by Hannah Stark!

  • Title: TRUCKER AND TRAIN
  • Author: Hannah Stark
  • Illustrator: Bob Kolar
  • Publisher: Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin
  • Release Date: August 6, 2019
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Summary: Trucker, the big rig, loves to rule the road with his size, strength, and mighty horn. The other vehicles swerve and shake as Trucker blasts past, expecting them to follow along in awe. Then Trucker meets the louder, stronger, and kinder Train. He sees how the other vehicles gleam and swoon when Train is around. And he wonders, Why don’t they ever gleam at me?Trucker just wants Train to go away . . . until a broken railroad crossing signal changes everything. Can Trucker use his size and strength for the good of his fellow vehicles before it’s too late?
  • Author’s Site: www.hannahcarinastark.com

Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.

Picture Books At The Library 195

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.

Three rhymers, one wordless, and nine perfect prose picture books make up this week’s lovely list. Enjoy!

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ME, TOMA AND THE CONCRETE GARDEN: When Vincent goes to stay with his aunt in the city for the summer, he meets a new friend, and together they transform a community.
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SUMMER: As the burning hot sun hangs in the sky, the grassland animals fight over a small bit of shelter under a tree.
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PAPA PUT A MAN ON THE MOON: Marthanne’s whole community is excited about the moon landing, and she is especially proud because her father helped create the fabric for the astronauts’ spacesuits.
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DADDY-SITTING: A girl enjoys taking care of her father through a day of ordinary activities, and encouraging him to be anything he wants when he grows up.
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UNICORN DAY: The unicorns are celebrating their favorite day of the year, but when a non-magical party goer is revealed, everything comes to a screeching halt. Rhyme
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JASPER & OLLIE: Jasper, an impatient fox, and Ollie, a slow-moving sloth, race to the pool on a summer day.
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MY NAME ISN’T OOF!: The first time Warren, a fledgling bird, leaves the nest, he falls straight to the ground, and his fellow forest dwellers all have advice to share.
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NEVER TRUMPET WITH A CRUMPET: After the Queen accidentally sends a party invitation to the zoo, she tries her best to teach her rowdy guests manners. Rhyme
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MAYA AND THE LOST CAT: After Maya helps a cat find its way home, she discovers it’s difficult to say goodbye.
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THE FISHERMAN & THE WHALE: When a fisherman and his son encounter a whale entangled in fishing line, they do what they can to help. Wordless
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BEAR’S BOOK: After his book falls apart, Bear decides to write his own story, but he can’t come up with any ideas.
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CHIP AND CURLY: When Curly springs into town, Chip worries that his dream to win Spud City’s annual sack race will be mashed.
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A FATHER’S LOVE: Throughout the animal kingdom and within snug houses, fathers express love for their children in their own unique ways. Rhyme

Stories That Remind Kids Your Difference May Be What The World Is Waiting For by Nancy Churnin

I realized recently that I don’t feature nonfiction picture books or picture book biographies as often as I do fiction picture books here on the Frog. I have a pretty good excuse. Fiction picture books are what I mostly write and, therefore, what I mostly read. So, it makes sense that fiction is what I would mostly share.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of spectacular and inspiring nonfiction picture books, including biographies, out there. Today, I’m thrilled to welcome award winning author Nancy Churnin! Her wonderful books are all about “outsiders, people that the kids don’t know that I hope will inspire them — people who are different or think differently and find that it’s their different experience or different way of thinking that helps them achieve their dreams and make the world a better place for others.”

Read on for more on this important topic and to meet the inspirational people in Nancy’s books!

Stories That Remind Kids Your Difference May Be What The World Is Waiting For

by Nancy Churnin

After selling eight picture book biographies – six published, two due out in 2020 – it strikes me that the common experience all these diverse subjects share is that they felt different, which leaves them at the start of their journey feeling as if they don’t belong.

Ultimately, through their journey they learn that their difference is their strength – the gift that they bring to the world that makes it more inclusive, that opens the door for others and, ultimately, makes their lives and everyone else’s better.

Nancy at Jones Elementary School

The truth of it is, as I tell kids on school visits, is that we are all different. Some of us (I remember feeling this way) go through periods where we wonder if we are aliens, because we feel as if we’re wired so differently from everyone else.

Even identical twins are not 100% identical. Too often we waste time being self-conscious about those differences – wishing for straight or curly hair, to be bigger or smaller, to have some admired one’s speed, skills, talent in a particular area.

But ultimately, if we embrace rather than agonize over our differences – whether they’re physical or emotional or even a different way of thinking or processing the world – we may find that we have the missing ingredient that the world needs.

In The William Hoy Story, How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game, kids learn about a Deaf child who was told he couldn’t play baseball because he was Deaf and couldn’t hear the umpire’s calls. The key to William’s story is that his Deafness isn’t a disability. In the book, as in life, William is proud of being Deaf.

Image from The William Hoy Story, How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game

Ultimately, William gets the idea of teaching the umpires his language, sign language, for safe and out so he can play the game he loves. Sign language helps break down a wall between the Deaf and the hearing and it makes the game better for everyone because now, even the farthest member of the crowd can see the signs.

It gives me an excuse to teach kids a few simple signs, too, which is always a hit.

In Manjhi Moves a Mountain, we have an ordinary laborer, who sees things differently and is willing to act on his vision to make it come true. Where his neighbors see an impenetrable 300-foot mountain between them and the well-to-do village where there is a school, doctors, work in the fields and markets for food, he envisions a road that cuts through the mountain, making the path easier for everyone.

Image from Manjhi Moves a Mountain

People laugh at him when he trades his only possessions, three goats, for a worn hammer and chisel and starts chiseling the mountain. Twenty-two years later, when the path is completed, they recognize and applaud his heroism, while children see how important it is to hold fast to your dreams and persist in pursuing them even if others tell you they’re unattainable.

Like William Hoy and Manjhi, Charlie Sifford, the hero of Charlie Takes His Shot, How Charlie Sifford Broke the Color Barrier in Golf, has an unlikely dream. Charlie grows up in the segregated America of the 1930s-1950s where African Americans were not allowed to play on the PGA Tour. The color of his skin makes him different among golfers. At the same time he knows that he has the opportunity, if he persists, to open the door to make the game possible for everyone to play just as his friend, Jackie Robinson did for everyone who wanted to play Major League Baseball.

Image from Charlie Takes His Shot, How Charlie Sifford Broke the Color Barrier in Golf

Later, in the back matter, kids will learn that Charlie Sifford was the one who opened the door that golf superstar Tiger Woods walked through. I also like to share with kids that Tiger Woods named one of his children Charlie in his honor.

In Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing, Irving Berlin didn’t excel at school. But he had the unusual ability to process the world through sounds. And nothing could stop him from writing the music he heard in his head and pounded in his heart. He was an immigrant, he grew up in poverty and he never learned to read music. He taught himself to pick out tunes on an old piano. Later, he hired a pianist to write the notes for the music in his head.

Image from Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing

He used his gifts not only to enrich America musically, by creating songs we still love today, but by dedicating royalties of “God Bless America” to the children of his beloved country by designating them for the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.

Charlotte of The Queen and the First Christmas Tree was a queen, but what I emphasize in the book is how she was a royal who was different from other royals. She didn’t like dressing up or going to fancy balls. Instead, she loved taking care of children and helping her garden grow. She not only became the first royal who made charitable giving part of royal duties, she introduced the first Christmas tree to England in an effort to delight 100 children attending a party at Windsor Castle in 1800.

Image from The Queen and the First Christmas Tree

And now, my new book, Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank, tells the parallel stories of two people of different genders, races, religions and countries who were born in the same year, 1929, and whose hearts beat with the same hope for a better, kinder world where “all babies would be seen as beautiful. As all babies are.”

Both Martin and Anne lived in a world filled with hate, anger, fear and unfairness, but they had a different view of what the world could be. They used their words to articulate a vision of love and opportunity for all. And while both were taken from us before their time, in this year, which would have marked their 90th birthdays, their words, vision and heart continue to inspire.

Image from Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank

It’s my hope that kids who feel different, who worry that no one gets them, who feel like outsiders, will find kindred spirits in these books that celebrate our differences as the very thing that propel humans as a group further along in our journey toward the light.


Nancy Churnin is the author of eight picture book biographies, including The William Hoy Story, on several state reading lists; Irving Berlin, a Sydney Taylor Notable, Manjhi Moves a Mountain, a 2018 South Asia Book Award and Anne Izard Storytellers Choice winner, plus two Social Studies Notables, two Silver Eureka Award winners, a Mighty Girl listing and more. The former theater critic for The Dallas Morning News and Los Angeles Times San Diego Edition, she’s now a full-time children’s book author and peace negotiator between her dog and cats. A member of the Nonfiction Ninjas, SCBWI and 12X12, she lives in North Texas.

For more about Nancy Churnin and her books, visit:

Facebook: Nancy Churnin Children’s Books
Twitter: @nchurnin
http://www.nancychurnin.com

And look for Beautiful Shades of Brown, the Art of Laura Wheeler Waring coming in February 2020!

Image from Beautiful Shades of Brown, the Art of Laura Wheeler Waring

Nancy, thank you so much for stopping by Frog on a Blog! Not only are your books inspiring for young readers, but you, too, are an inspiration to children’s book authors, like me!

Picture Books At The Library 194

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.

So many different art styles! Love it!

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NOW WHAT?: A sleepy puppy makes a bed out of blocks just in time to take a nap.
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MANGO MOON: A young girl whose father was deported remembers the last night they spent on the porch together looking at the mango moon.
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RABBIT NINJA: A young rabbit imagines how much easier life would be if he were a ninja.
MY SHOES AND I: As a boy travels with his papa from El Salvador to the U.S., his new shoes help distract him from the long and difficult journey. Bilingual
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SIGN OFF: Road sign figures come to life and work together to greet a new day. Wordless
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BUTTERFLIES ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL: When the first day of school arrives, Rosie’s belly hurts and her mother tells her it’s butterflies dancing in her stomach.
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THIS IS MY ROOM!: JoJo’s first night in her own room is interrupted by a lion, a bear, and a tiger.
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CYRIL AND PAT: Cyril and Pat have lots of adventures and fun together, but none of the other park animals think Cyril should be friends with Pat because Pat is a rat. Rhyme
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SOCK STORY: When Phil and Dale, a pair of socks, get separated in the wash, they must face the prospect of life on their own.
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SEA GLASS SUMMER: On a visit to his grandmother’s seaside cottage, Thomas explores the beach with his grandfather’s magnifying glass, discovers sea glass, and imagines the long ago time from which the sea glass may have come.
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WHAT KIND OF CAR DOES A T. REX DRIVE?: Uncle Otto is a used car salesman who, with the help of his niece and nephew, finds the perfect vehicles for his dinosaur customers.
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I AM A WOLF: A dog who insists she is a wolf finds the perfect home with a young girl who sees past her prickly personality.
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OGILVY: When Ogilvy discovers that in this new town only bunnies in dresses play ball and knit socks while only bunnies in sweaters make art and climb rocks, Ogilvy finds a way to do it all. Rhyme
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TROPICAL TERRY: Terry longs to be flashy and fancy like the other tropical fish, so he fashions himself a costume, but soon learns it’s better being himself.

Picture Books At The Library 193

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.
There’s a whole lot of adorableness in this batch of picture books! 🙂
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NOVA THE STAR EATER: When Nova the Star Eater gobbles up Earth’s sun, one little girl has an idea to save the day.
Goliath: The Boy Who Was Different
GOLIATH: Much larger than everyone else, and feeling lonely and out of place, Goliath leaves home in search of others like him.
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SEAGULL & SEA DRAGON: A seagull flies through the sky and a sea dragon swims through the ocean, each wondering about the other’s home.
WHEN PENCIL MET ERASER: Pencil likes his drawings just the way they are, so when Eraser alters them, he’s not happy.
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FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON: A girl is accidentally left behind on a field trip to the moon and makes some new friends. Wordless
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THE LAST PEACH: Two bugs argue over whether or not to eat the last peach of the season.
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MY LITTLE CHICK: Lena loves chickens and is determined to help hatch an egg, but must learn patience along the way.

Picture Books At The Library 192

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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PENCIL’S PERFECT PICTURE: Pencil wants to create the perfect picture for his dad, but he doesn’t know what it takes to make it perfect.
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THE TIDE: A young girl, who loves her grandpa very much, worries about his forgetfulness and whether he’ll forget her one day.
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GONDRA’S TREASURE: Gondra, a little dragon, celebrates her uniqueness while talking with her parents about differences between her father’s homeland in the East and her mother’s in the West. Clever concept!
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ELENA’S SHELLS: Elena loves collecting shells, but when a hermit crab decides to move into one, she’s not happy. Cute!
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GOOD NIGHT, WIND: After working hard through the fall and winter, Wind is ready for a nap, but everywhere he goes to rest, he’s turned away. Amazing art!
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THE THREE VIKINGS: On their daring trip to Valhalla, three vikings, even the littlest one, use their skills in different ways.
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MOMMY SAYANG: When Aleeya’s mom becomes sick, Aleeya worries, but then she finds the perfect way to help her get better.
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BIKES FOR SALE: Maurice and Lotta, two bike riders whose paths never cross, become friends after both of their bikes are wrecked.
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WHEN A TREE GROWS: When Moose rubs his antlers against the tree where Squirrel built his nest, he sets off a chain of comic catastrophes.
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AMY IS FAMOUS: Amy loves being the superstar of her class, but when a new girl comes to school and becomes the new superstar, Amy is jealous.

Picture Books At The Library 191

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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HAND IN HAND: Separated from her mother and her brother, Ruthi struggles to find hope and carry on with her life.
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BEDTIME FOR LITTLE BULLDOZER: Little Bulldozer was ready for bed, but he wasn’t sleepy, even after reading to his stuffed animals, getting nice and cozy, and having a drink of oil.
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IN A MINUTE, MAMA BEAR: Mama Bear tries to hustle her cub through the days activities, but Bella insists on going her own pace and showing Mama the value in slowing down. Rhyme
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LAWRENCE IN THE FALL: While on a hike through the woods with his father, Lawrence the fox discovers the beauty of nature and finds the perfect thing to collect.
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LAMBSLIDE: A flock of lambs mishears the word “landslide” as “lambslide” and begins a campaign to have one built for them on the farm.
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SADIE AND THE SILVER SHOES: After Sadie loses one of her new silver shoes, she meets a new friend, Ellie, and discovers that Ellie has a shoe that matches hers.
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NOBODY HUGS A CACTUS: Hank, a cactus who is as prickly on the inside as he is on the outside, decides he wants a hug. Most adorable cactus ever!
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BEING EDIE IS HARD TODAY: A sensitive girl imagines transforming herself into different animals to help manage her intense emotions during difficult situations at school.
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GARGANTUA JR.: Gargantua Jr. wants to protect Earth from space robots and giant asteroids, just like his mom, but he’s too little.
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DOG VS. ULTRA DOG: Tuffy the dog worries that his boy Tim will soon replace him with Ultra Dog, a superhero dog whom Tuffy can’t compete with.
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MITZVAH PIZZA: During her weekly fun day out with Daddy, Missy meets a new friend and learns she can buy pizza for people who can’t afford a slice.

Picture Books At The Library 190

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 LIBRARY: A boy learns to love reading again with the help of two enchanted lions, Patience and Fortitude.
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FERGAL AND THE BAD TEMPER: Fergal the dragon has a fiery temper, especially when others tell him what to do, or when thing’s aren’t fair.
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A KITE FOR MOON: Using a kite as stationery, a young boy makes a promise to one day visit the moon.
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TEDDY: The almost-true story of a president, a cartoonist, a toymaker, and a bear, and the creation of the world-famous teddy bear.
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PUP 681: A tiny sea otter pup is rescued after being washed ashore and learns that sometimes family can be just one person who loves you.
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JUST LIKE MY BROTHER: Little Giraffe proves her courage during a game of hide-and-seek with her older brother.
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MY ISLAND: A girl with a vivid imagination sings, shares, and dreams with her animal friends.
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A NEW HOME: In a shared voice, a boy moving from New York City to Mexico City and a girl moving from Mexico City to New York City express their fears about leaving home to live in a new and unfamiliar place.
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AFRICVILLE: A young girl visits Africville, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and all the stories she’s heard from her family come to mind.
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MY FOREST IS GREEN: Using different artistic mediums like collage, photography, and paint, a young artist creatively depicts the many shapes, colors, and textures of his natural surroundings.

Picture Books At The Library 189

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 TWIN IS TO HUG: A celebration of the ups and downs of being a twin. Rhyme
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THE SECRET CAT: Lucy yearns for a pet, so when a mysterious cat named Silvring appears one night, Lucy follow her on an amazing adventure.
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BUG: Bug loves insects, not math, but maybe insects can help Bug pass her math test.
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KARATE KAKAPO: Kakapo’s ready for her black belt test, but when it’s time to do a flying kick, there’s a problem, kakapos can’t fly.
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THE TALLEST TREE HOUSE: Fairies Mip and Pip have a contest to see who can build the tallest tree house the fastest, but when a gust of wind blows through the forest, one fairy’s tree house is in trouble.
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RAJ AND THE BEST DAY EVER!: Raj is sure he will have the worst day ever when Dad forgets his wallet at home and they can’t do any of the things they had planned.
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HOW I LEARNED TO FALL OUT OF TREES: Roger and Adelia have been best friends for many years, so when it’s time for Adelia to move away, she plans a special parting gift for Roger to help him cope.
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GEORGIA’S TERRIFIC, COLORIFIC EXPERIMENT: In order to become a great scientist, Georgia must create her own, unique experiment, but her family can’t help because they’re all artists, not scientists.
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SHHH! I’M READING!: When pirates, penguins, and aliens arrive and invite Bella on an adventure, she tells them all to sit quietly and wait because she’s reading.
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DANCE, DOLPHIN, DANCE: A playful dolphin dances through the kelp forest, but when a shark gives chase, the dolphin must swim for its life.

Picture Books At The Library 188

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.

I’m a bit behind in my posting, but hopefully you’ll find some titles here that you haven’t yet read. More coming soon!

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MIRA’S CURLY HAIR: Mira doesn’t like her very curly hair until she discovers something wonderful about her mother’s beautiful hair.

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OTTO AND PIO: A strange creature is left on Otto the squirrel’s doorstep, and he does his best to care for it even though it keeps growing larger.

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GOODBYE, SCHOOL: Franny finds a way to say goodbye to the school she loves on the last day of class.

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BABYMOON: First-time parents spend time together bonding with their new born baby.

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STUBBY: Based on the true story of a brave little stray dog that accompanied a soldier all the way to the front lines during WWI.

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RUBY’S SWORD: Ruby wants to play with her older brothers, but they always leave her out of their games, until she starts to build her own castle. Love the art!

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I WILL BE FIERCE: A girl conquers her fears on her first day of school just like a fierce warrior off on an adventure.

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VACATION FOR DEXTER: Dexter the dinosaur helps his best friend Jack to be brave on their first plane ride.

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GROWING SEASON: When El’s best friend Jo suddenly has a growth spurt, leaving El as the smallest student in her class, she begins to feel smaller every day. Sweet story and illustrations!

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ERNESTINE’S MILKY WAY: When Mama gives Ernestine a special job–to carry two jars of milk down yonder to Mrs. Ramsey and her children, Ernestine knows she can do it.

Show Me How! with Vivian Kirkfield and Sweet Dreams, Sarah

Folks, we’re back with another wonderful Show Me How! post from kidlit author and friend Vivian Kirkfield. This post is number three in Vivian’s three-part Frog on a Blog series, in which she shares a summary of one of her picture books, followed by a Positive Parental Participation Note, then a craft, and finally, a recipe, just like she does in her book Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking. (For more information about Show Me How! and to read my review, click HERE.)

Two weeks ago, we showcased Pippa’s Passover Plate. Last week, we talked Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book.

Today, I’m excited to feature the picture book biography Sweet Dreams, Sarah!

But first, let’s hear a little about the book’s journey to publication.

Sweet Dreams Sarah: The Journey

I am so thrilled to have another opportunity to share a little bit more about my journey to publication. I’m blessed to have five book deals…with five different publishing houses…with five different editors…with five different illustrators…and of course, each of the manuscripts is different.

I wrote Sweet Dreams, Sarah in July 2014, the month after I took an online class in writing nonfiction picture books. I’d always been a fan of nonfiction….as a child, I read the Encyclopedia Britannica for fun. 😊 The teacher of that class encouraged us to surf the internet to find interesting topics…the first this…the first that. And I found Sarah E. Goode, one of the first African American women to get a U.S. Patent. I researched…there was almost nothing about her – and that spurred me on to dig for more because it makes me so sad when someone back in history does something amazing and they are forgotten…or worse, never even recognized in their own time.

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Image from Sweet Dreams, Sarah

Reaching out to librarians (HURRAY FOR LIBRARIANS!) and checking census records, I was able to amass enough information to write a story. And here is the process I used to refine it. I gave it to a few critique buddies. Then I revised based on their feedback. I sent it to Rate Your Story. It got an ‘8’. ☹ I revised as per their feedback and gave it to more critique buddies and revised based on that. And sent it to Rate Your Story. It got a ‘3’. Then I revised again and sent it to more critique buddies and polished based on their thoughts. And entered it in the Rate Your Story annual contest, won second place, and knew I had a strong story that I could send out to agents and editors. Which I did. It was Sweet Dreams, Sarah that garnered interest from four different agents. I signed with Essie White of Storm Literary Agency in late 2015, she sent it out immediately, and we had a book deal before the end of the year.

But every book has its own journey, right? Some are quick out of the gate and then slow to be published. Others take time to find the right home and then everything is golden from then on. The journey to publication for this book fell into the former category. There were many frustrations for me as the author because I felt an obligation to honor the subject of my story and I felt responsible to make sure the book was authentic and true. It was a long haul, but I’m happy to say we now have a beautiful book that is getting excellent feedback from the major reviewers. And I’ll be presenting it to four elementary schools and a bookstore in the Chicago area (where Sarah lived and worked and had her store) next week!

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SHOW ME HOW!: Sweet Dreams, Sarah

SUMMARY: With freedom in her pocket and hope in her heart, former slave Sarah E. Goode comes north to Chicago. She opens a furniture store, but after listening to her customers, she realizes that much of the furniture sold is too boxy, too bulky, too big for their cramped living conditions. And then, Sarah not only builds a unique cabinet bed that saves space, but she also applies for a patent. Remember, this is 1885, a time when most women don’t even own anything, much less a patent. They can’t vote and many times, they don’t control their own wages. But Sarah was a trailblazer and her courage and ingenuity will inspire young children today.

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Image from Sweet Dreams, Sarah

*Positive Parental Participation Note: We all have hopes and dreams – and young children are no different. We can encourage kids by listening to them and by respecting their thoughts. We all need a cheering committee and parents are a child’s biggest fans. Is your child interested in art, science, math, sports, nature, reading, or maybe carpentry, like Sarah? Join together in activities that validate your children and their passions.

CRAFT ACTIVITY: Make a Build Your Dream into Reality” Chart

There are many simple woodworking crafts to be found in books or online and I hope you will check those out to try with your children so they can be builders like Sarah.

But here’s an idea that may help your children build their dreams into reality.

  1. Talk about dreams. What are their dreams? A trip to Disneyland? A camping weekend with friends? A room make-over? Becoming a cartoonist or a major league baseball player?
  2. Make a chart on a piece of poster board or paper. Detailed instructions are here: https://www.imom.com/printable/brilliant-goals-chart-for-kids/#.XOxSbIhKg2w
  3. List the steps to get to the goal. Your children may have to do research to find out what steps they need to take. Earn money for the trip? Clear out clutter for the make-over. Take art classes/join a team/practice for the life goals?
  4. As the weeks pass by, check progress on the chart together.
  5. Goals can change…and we can have more than one goal.

COOKING ACTIVITY: OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES

I don’t know if Sarah E. Goode ever made oatmeal raisin cookies for her children, but I know I did. And I also know that oats were an important staple in Chicago, and the Quaker Oats Company still has a factory in Illinois that produces granola bars and cereals.

For a detailed ingredient list and instructions, please go to: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/10264/oatmeal-raisin-cookies-i/

I’ve made these and they are GREAT! I hope you all get to try them also.

Thank you so much, Lauri, for having me…it was fun stopping by Frog on a Blog. And now I’m off to prepare my presentation for four schools in the Chicago area next week. I’ll also be at the Andersons Bookstore in La Grange on Saturday, June 8 at 11am, reading Sweet Dreams, Sarah. But before I fly off to Chicago, I have a bookstore event in Dedham, MA at Peter Reynolds’ Blue Bunny Bookstore…it’s on Saturday, June 1st at 1pm…I hope if your readers are in either area, they’ll bring the kiddos and stop in for a story and a craft activity…and the kids will get a free Otters activity book.

If you’re going to be in the Chicago or Dedham, MA areas while Vivian is there, I highly recommend you stop in to see her. You won’t be disappointed!

Thanks so much, Vivian, for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with us here at Frog on a Blog, not once, but three times! We are lucky indeed. 🙂

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

 

Show Me How! with Vivian Kirkfield and Four Otters Toboggan

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

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

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

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

DOUBLE UGH!

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

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

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

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

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

CRAFT ACTIVITY: Make Animal Finger Puppets

All you need is a piece of paper, a pair of scissors, glue, and markers or crayons. For detailed instructions: http://www.auntannie.com/Puppets/ConeFinger/

For simpler instructions:

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

COOKING ACTIVITY: TRAIL MIX

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

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

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

Easy-peasy for kids to help make!

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

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

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

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

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

Picture Books At The Library 187

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pippas Passover Plate cover

SHOW ME HOW!: Pippa’s Passover Plate

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

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

CRAFT ACTIVITY: Make a Seder Plate

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Photo courtesy: PJLibrary.org

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

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

COOKING ACTIVITY: MATZO BALLS 

(Recipes courtesy of illustrator Jill Weber)

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

Makes about 18 medium sized matzo balls.

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

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

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MATZO BALL SOUP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture Books At The Library 186

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Whimsical World Of Bilingual Books by Derek Taylor Kent

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

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

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

The Whimsical World of Bilingual Books

By Derek Taylor Kent

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

derek book collage new book copy

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

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

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

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

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

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

from book

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

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

Doggy Claus Cover Cropped Correct

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

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

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

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

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

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

Derek and Sheri2

Derek, Sheri and Zander

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

Picture Books At The Library 185

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Happy Book Birthday to GREETINGS! by Raven Howell!

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

Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.

Picture Books At The Library 184

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

A Debut Author’s View Of The First Month

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

Laura signing with woman

Laura signing at the Boulder Public Library

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

Laura with friends

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

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

Laura with others

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

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

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

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

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

Laura with girls

Laura with former students sisters Valentina and Valerie

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

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

Laura signing girl in purple

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

Find Laura on Twitter @ljrwritenow and at her website LauraRoettigerBooks.com.

Picture Books At The Library 183

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Book Birthday to WONDER WALK by Ilham Alam!

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


Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.

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

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


Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.