Picture Books At The Library 179

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.

Sometimes things are out of our control. That’s why I haven’t posted a ‘Picture Books At The Library’ segment in over a month. Yikes! It has to do with library budget and when orders get processed and it’s all very boring. So…while we are waiting on brand new 2019 titles to arrive (soon!), I’ve put together a roundup of 2018 picture books that you may have missed. Lots of wonderful books to seek out! With gorgeous art in all!

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FOUND: While missing her dog, a young girl finds, befriends, and cares for another lost dog. Wordless

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SOPHIE JOHNSON, UNICORN EXPERT: Sophie is so caught up in teaching others about unicorns that she fails to notice the magic right under her nose.

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I JUST LIKE YOU: A diverse group of animals show how friendship can be as simple as appreciating the critter next to you.

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LOVE, Z: While out looking for adventure, a young robot finds a message in a bottle that starts him on a quest to find out what love it.

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TWINKLE: Twinkle’s spells go from clumsy to catastrophic on her first day of fairy school.

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MOUSIE, I WILL READ TO YOU: Follow a mama mouse and her baby on the little mouse’s journey to becoming a reader.

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THE BOOK THAT JAKE BORROWED: Jake borrows a library book, drips jelly on it, and must face the consequences.

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FOX EXPLORES THE NIGHT: A fox sets off from its den to explore the neighborhood and hunt for food.

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NO BORING STORIES: A bunny wants to help the other animals write a story, but they won’t let him because bunnies are too boring.

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STEWART’S BEST PEN: Stewart and his pen Craig are best friends, so when Craig disappears, Stewart’s the one who feels lost.

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HOW TO EAT PIZZA: A slice of pizza tries to convince the narrator not to eat him. Funny!

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WOKE BABY: A woke baby is up early, raises his fists in the air, cries out for justice, and grows up to change the world.

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WHAT’S FOR BREAKFAST: While practicing his swooping, Pip the owl crash-lands in the middle of Theodore the mouse’s breakfast.

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HAROLD LOVES HIS WOOLLY HAT: Harold feels like a very special bear in his woolly hat, so when it’s stolen, he has to get it back.

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STAR IN THE JAR: When a little boy stumbles across a lost star, he decides to take care of it.

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IS THAT YOU, ELEANOR SUE: Eleanor Sue is a master of disguise, but when her mother gets in on the act, anything can happen. Pretty darn cute!

Happy Book Birthday to THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS by Lindsay Leslie

  • Title: THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS
  • Author: Lindsay Leslie
  • Illustrator: Alice Brereton
  • Publisher: Page Street Kids
  • Release Date: February 19, 2019
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Summary: This Book Is Spineless … and wary … and absolutely unadventurous, and is freaking out about what story might be on its pages. The book takes the reader on a journey of its fears, navigating the book’s possible contents together. With each page turn, the book becomes a bit braver. This multilayered book incorporates the five senses, multiple literary genres, and various book parts, with the relationship between book and reader bringing everything together.
  • Author’s Site: https://lindsayleslie.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 REMARKABLY YOU by Pat Zietlow Miller

  • Title: REMARKABLY YOU
  • Author: Pat Zietlow Miller
  • Illustrator: Patrice Barton
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Release Date: February 5, 2019
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Summary: Heartfelt and timeless, Remarkably You is an inspirational manifesto about all of the things—big or small, loud or quiet—that make us who we are. With encouraging text by Pat Zietlow Miller and exuberant illustrations by Patrice Barton, readers will delight in all the ways they can be their remarkable selves.
  • Author’s Site: www.patzietlowmiller.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 178

At The Library Too

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

Here are some 2018 titles you may have missed:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Top 21 Circulating Picture Books of 2018

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

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

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

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

Circulated 20 Times:

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

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Circulated 19 Times:

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169431

Circulated 18 Times:

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31934016

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Circulated 17 Times:

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28636545

31147194

27397446

32501059

30312820

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

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

Top 17 of 2017

Top 19 of 2016

Top 15 of 2015

Picture Books At The Library 177

At The Library Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture Books At The Library 176

At The Library Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inspiring Young Readers with Facts and Fiction by Henry Herz

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

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

Kipling

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

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

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

Squid

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

Mole

The Star-Nosed Mole (Condylura cristata)

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

Seadragon

The Leafy Seadragon (Phycodurus eques)

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

Anteater

The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)

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

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

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

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

Picture Books At The Library 175

At The Library Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

story of your name graphic

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

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

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

Laura R

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

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

Picture Books At The Library 174

At The Library Too

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture Books At The Library 173

At The Library Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture Books At The Library 172

At The Library Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture Books At The Library 171

At The Library Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Night Job

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laura R

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

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

Picture Books At The Library 170

At The Library Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture Books At The Library 169

At The Library Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture Books At The Library 168

At The Library Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture Books At The library 167

At The Library Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Picture Books At The Library 166

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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ANGEL IN BEIJING: A girl finds a white cat and takes her all over the city of Beijing on her bicycle.

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LUCY AND THE STRING: When Lucy sees a string and gives it a yank, she’s surprised by what she finds on the other end.

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HOW TO BE A LION: Leonard the lion and his friend Marianne the duck stand up for themselves against a pride of lion bullies.

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T. REX TIME MACHINE: When two hungry dinosaurs jump into a time machine, they’re transported to present day.

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NECK & NECK: Leopold the giraffe is the star of the zoo until a bobbing rival ruins everything. Funny!

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THE DRAGON AND THE NIBBLESOME KNIGHT: Mistaken identity allows two sworn enemies–a dragon and a knight–to become friends. Great art!

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A WEREWOLF NAMED OLIVER JAMES: One moonlit night, Oliver unexpectedly turns into a werewolf. Fun, and I like the use of color!

Picture Books At The Library 165

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 DOG NAMED DOUG: Doug digs miles underground, then takes a detour through the White House before digging some more. Fun and colorful!

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WHEN THE COUSINS CAME: Lila’s cousins do some things differently, but she loves when they come to visit.

 

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PRETTY KITTY: As more and more cats show up on his doorstep, an old man must decide whether or not to let them in.

 

 

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OFF & AWAY: When Jo’s father becomes ill and cannot deliver the messages in bottles, she takes on the job, even though she’s afraid of what lives in the ocean. Striking art!

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GINNY GOBLIN IS NOT ALLOWED TO OPEN THIS BOX: Ginny tries everything she can think of to reach and open a box that she’s not supposed to touch.

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MIXED: Red, Yellow, and Blue all lived in harmony until the day that Red declared that Reds are the best. Clever book combining colors and diversity!

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GOOD DOG: A little stray dog searches for a friend. Sweet!

 

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CAT WISHES: A snake grants a hungry cat three wishes after the cat spares its life.

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A BIG MOONCAKE FOR LITTLE STAR: Little Star creates the phases of the moon as she nibbles away at the mooncake. Clever!

 

Picture Books At The Library 164

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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ON GULL BEACH: A boy chases after sea gulls as they play with a star fish.

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BIG BOX LITTLE BOX: A curious cat investigates every box it can find and makes a friend along the way.

SHORTY & CLEM BLAST OFF: Clem won’t let Shorty help him build his spaceship.

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LORETTA’S GIFT: Loretta tries hard to find the perfect gift for her new baby cousin.

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PICNIC WITH OLIVER: While on a picnic, Philbert gets caught in a storm and Oliver must make a daring rescue.

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HOW TO KNIT A MONSTER: After Mrs. Sheep insults Greta Goat’s knitting, Greta knits a wolf that swallows Mrs. Sheep whole.

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I FEEL TEAL: A girl experiences many feelings, represented by colors, during the course of her day. Nice art!

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STEGOTHESAURUS: Stegothesaurus has little in common with his fellow dinosaurs until he meets an allosaurus that’s as hungry for synonyms as he is. Super cute and clever!

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GO FISH!: Goose and friends have trouble catching a fish on their fishing trip. Cute!

 

Interview Alert: Robin Newman

Today, I’m excited to feature an interview with one of my long-time kid lit pals, author Robin Newman! As many of us do in the kid lit industry, I met Robin virtually, when she became one of Frog on a Blog’s very first followers, and she has remained one ever since. She’s watched this humble space change (through at least four WordPress themes) and grow over the years, and she’s been so kind to share my posts.

Robin’s fourth book NO PEACOCKS! was recently released. And it’s the perfect time to learn more about the book, about Robin, and about the beautiful peafowl who inspired her.

peacocks Cover_FINAL

Q. I know that you were once a practicing attorney. When did you decide that writing children’s picture books was what you really wanted to do? And what do you like best about writing children’s books?

R.N. I had gone from being a miserable Workers’ Compensation attorney to editing energy and environmental treatises and journals. Both jobs helped me realize that I enjoyed writing. Around the time when I was a legal editor, I started writing short stories. My twin sister worked at John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and they sponsored one of the short story writing contests at Symphony Space. I entered and lost. Year after year. Rinse and repeat. But I was writing. After my son was born in 2006, my husband suggested I take a writing class—my first writing class. I signed up for a children’s fiction writing class and as soon as I walked in, I knew I had found my people.

I’ve always loved the creative aspects of writing. And a big part of that creativity, especially when you write for children, is trying to figure out how my writing will get young readers excited about reading and writing. (This includes my own son who is one tough customer to please.)

Q. You’ve based No Peacocks! on three real peacocks that live on the grounds of The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. How did these feathered celebrities inspire your story?

Peacock on truck

This is Harry or Jim or Jim or Harry. Harry is named for a former dean, The Very Reverend Harry H. Pritchett Jr. and Jim is named for the dean of The Cathedral, The Very Reverend Dr. James A. Kowalski.

R.N. From the moment I saw the peacocks, I knew I wanted to write about them. Every day at school drop off and pick up, I would watch them—as did my dogs, Madeleine and Cupcake, who were just as excited to see them as I was. (I wish I could say it was reciprocal for the peacocks, but they HATE dogs.)

Robins dogs

Peacocks are obviously beautiful, but they are also wonderfully quirky, stubborn, and mischievous. They are extremely protective of their food, not to mention, they’re omnivorous foodies.

White peacock

This is Phil. He’s named after Phillip Foote, the former head of The Cathedral School.

So, even though I knew I wanted to write about the peacocks, I still needed a story. One day while I was attending a meeting for the school’s book fair, one of the administrators interrupted the meeting to ask—“Did anyone leave a stroller on the porch with a sandwich? Because one of the peacocks just ate it.”—And at that glorious ah-ha moment, I knew I had my story.

Q. I’m really, really curious—are the real Phil, Jim, and Harry friendly, and can the kids who attend The Cathedral School interact with the birds?

R.N. The peacocks are extremely sociable. Either Jim or Harry loves to hang out on the school’s porch right in front of the door at pick up time making it impossible for the kids to get out unless he’s shooed away.

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The peacocks also enjoy hanging out with the kids in the schoolyard. I’ve seen them on top of the jungle gym. They also will investigate the piles of book bags in the hope of finding a snack or two. All that said, they do keep their distance from the kids. They’re definitely not pets.

Q. This is your second book illustrated by Chris Ewald, yet the books are by different publishers. How did this come about and were you able to collaborate with him on No Peacocks!?

R.N. Chris and I are both represented by the amazing Liza Fleissig at the Liza Royce Agency. When I was asked if I had any thoughts on an illustrator for No Peacocks!, I suggested Chris.

When Chris came up to New York for the Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep launch party, he met me one day at school pickup to see the birds and to get a feel for the grounds and the neighborhood. In terms of collaboration, I have made some suggestions to Chris but ultimately it’s up to Chris to decide whether he wants to use those suggestions or not.

Q. Tell us a bit about your writing life. Do you have a routine or a favorite place to write? Where do you usually find inspiration?

R.N. Everything revolves around my son’s schedule. As soon as he’s off to school, I head to my tiny office to write. Later in the day, when I hear the door open and slam shut, followed by the thud of a book bag hitting the floor, and my son’s version of “Hi Mom! I love you.” Translation: “Mom, I’m hungry. Where’s the ice cream?,” I know it’s time for me to put away my work.

Like most writers, I get inspired by books, newspaper articles, kids (especially my son!), teachers, librarians, school, cartoons, childhood memories, siblings, dogs, food, etc. In a nutshell, I get inspired by just about everything. Not until I sit down and write a draft and bring it to my critique groups, do I realize if those “ideas” are worth pursuing or not.

Q. What are your favorite childhood picture books?

R.N. Madeleine, Babar, and Pierre in The Nutshell library were some of my all-time favorite childhood books.

Q. Why do you believe picture books are important? 

R.N. Picture books (and in this category I also include board books) are a child’s entrée to reading. They help children learn about social relationships, develop language skills, understand their environment, and expose them to real and imaginary worlds that are far from their own reality. They help children better understand their feelings, conquer their fears, inspire creativity, encourage social responsibility, and hopefully help them on the path to becoming lifelong readers.

Q. Where can fans connect with you online?

R.N. Website: www.robinnewmanbooks.com 
Twitter: @robinnewmanbook
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/RobinNewmanBooks/339179099505049

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share? What’s next for Robin Newman?

R.N. I am constantly writing and revising my journey as an author. I’ve been working on the third book in my Wilcox & Griswold mystery series, and on a number of picture books. Stay tuned.

Thank you, Robin! We will definitely be watching eagerly for your next book!


Robin Newman

About Robin Newman

Robin Newman was a practicing attorney and legal editor, but she now prefers to write about witches, mice, pigs and peacocks. She is the author of the Wilcox & Griswold Mystery Series, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake and The Case of the Poached Egg, as well the picture book, Hildie Bitterpickles Needs Her Sleep, illustrated by Chris Ewald. She lives in New York with her husband, son, goldfish, and two spoiled English Cocker Spaniels, who are extremely fond of Phil, Jim, and Harry.

Picture Books At The Library 163

At The Library Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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