Make Learning Fun with BUSY FEET by Marcia Berneger (+ a Giveaway!)

Please welcome multi-published children’s book author Marcia Berneger to Frog on a Blog. Marcia and I were in a critique group together once upon a time. I’m thrilled that she has a new picture book coming out this month, and I get to share it with you all right here!

As a retired elementary school teacher and now a grandmother, Marcia’s no stranger to the seemingly unending supply of energy that kids have, and her book Busy Feet captures the essence of that energy so perfectly through the activities of children’s (and a few animals’) feet, following them from home to playground to beach and back home again.

Along with Marcia’s rollicking rhyme and bold illustrations by Susanna Chapman that kids are sure to love, Busy Feet incorporates a surprise element–opposites–giving this super-fun story an extra layer of “teaching without teaching.” Marcia stopped by to share more about this engaging book.

People always ask, “Wow! Where’d you come up with that idea?” I’d love to answer that Busy Feet leapt into my head when we first found out my daughter-in-law was pregnant. Or even when Ori was born. However, truth be told, the text for Busy Feet predates Ori’s birth by five years. The very first Busy Feet manuscript was penned in July 2015. The original text for this book is almost identical to the final copy. One or two simple word substitutions and one additional verse are the only changes. But, what a difference the illustrations make. Susanna Chapman splashed bright, vivid colors onto every page. My favorite page? The very last one. The kids, and the dog, are settling down for the night and the boy is pulling the chain to shut the light—with his foot! Inspired!

So where did the idea for Busy Feet come from? I taught at the elementary level for thirty-four years. My last twenty were first and second grade. I also taught in a preschool. But, again, if I’m being truthful, I retired from public school in 2013, and didn’t start teaching the preschoolers until 2020. I did read a lot of picture books to my students throughout the years. That reading, and teaching basic concepts to young children, influenced all of my writing, helping me understand what children love about books and how best to write them.

Many of my picture book ideas are generated during what is now called Storystorm. This is Tara Lazar’s challenge to writers to think up 30 different picture book ideas during the month of January. I participated back in 2014 when it was held in November and was called Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoldMo). The idea for Busy Feet came from that list. It was a title in a list of 34 random story ideas. When I reviewed the list and saw the title, a verse just popped into my head.

Feet wake up

Time to play.

Happy feet,

Out all day.

You’ll probably notice this is a simple rhyming verse. No learning here whatsoever. But, being the teacher that I am (or was), I couldn’t let it go at that. Could I make up verses that rhymed perfectly, that had, say…antonyms?

And there you have it—a learning book without a boring lesson. I made a long list of opposites that could be included in the book. Then I checked my rhyming dictionary to make a list of words that rhymed and would go with my opposites. (There are a tremendous number of words that rhyme! It was a very long list.) THEN, I listed all the adjectives that could describe feet and yet another list of different activities kids’ feet might do. Once I’d done all this research and list-making, putting together the verses was actually pretty easy. The final product: a simple rhyming book of fun kid activities that happens to incorporate opposites. Teaching, without teaching!

And the best part… Ori just turned two, the perfect age for Busy Feet. I was so excited when I first read it to him! It’s designed to be interactive, so his feet swung up and down, his toes wiggled, we ran fast, then slow… so much fun!!

Busy Feet scurries into the world on February 14, 2023. Here’s a new verse to herald in its book birthday:

Busy feet

want to play.

Just in time

For Valentine’s Day!


Marcia is generously giving away a signed copy of Busy Feet to one lucky person who comments on this blog post. Leave a comment by February 13th. I’ll choose a winner at random and connect them with Marcia. Winner must have a US mailing address. Good luck!

Marcia Berneger is an educator, speaker, and writer. She’s the author of three children’s books: a time travel chapter book, A Dreidel in Time: A New Twist on an Old Tale (Kar-Ben Publishing, 2019), and two picture books, Buster: The Little Garbage Truck (Sleeping Bear Press, 2015) and Busy Feet (Starry Forest Books, 2023).

A retired elementary school teacher of over 30 years, Marcia has developed many strategies for working with children of all ages and is passionate about writing stories that help children navigate their world. She’s available to share her expertise through live or virtual presentations.

In addition, as a Jewish author, Marcia is dedicated to highlighting the importance of diversity in publishing and children seeing themselves in the pages of the books they read. She often speaks about this topic and others for kidlit publications and organizations such as the Children’s Book Academy, the California School Library Association, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) and

Marcia lives in San Diego, California, with her husband. You can learn more about Marcia and her books at or by following her on Twitter @marciaberneger or Facebook at #marciaberneger.

Poetry Month Book Review: An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z

Title: An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z

Illustrator: Rachael Saunders

Publisher/Year: The School of Life/2021

I admit it, I don’t post about poetry very often here on the Frog. But, April is Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate than by sharing a children’s picture book filled with fun poems? And lovely illustrations, featuring adorable animals?

But An Emotional Menagerie: Feelings from A to Z by The School of Life, with amazing art by Rachael Saunders, is more than a fun read. It features 26 emotions from anger to melancholy to zeal, each one encompassing a two-page spread with a new animal and setting. The goal of the book is to help children develop emotional literacy. Some of the featured emotions are more straight forward, such as boredom, fear, or happiness. And some are more complex, such as embarrassment, insecurity, or vulnerability.

Sample from L is for Loneliness:

If Loneliness was an animal,

It would glide throughout the deep:

No ears to hear its lonely song,

No company to keep.

Children experience many different emotions, and some have difficulty expressing them properly or even articulating what they’re feeling, leaving them with another feeling–confusion. An Emotional Menagerie aims to help children understand and deal with their feelings and emotions in a healthy way.

Though the rhyme isn’t perfect in every stanza, children will still likely be engaged listeners as an adult reads them each poem. And they will definitely enjoy viewing the charming animal pictures while they listen.

My favorite spread: T is for Tranquility

During these extra-trying days, I can’t think of a better time to share a book about emotions with our kids.

20 Rhymes and 16 Illustrators! by Liz Lime

That Day in September and other Rhymes for the Times (Front and Back Covers)

I am happy to welcome author Liz Lime to Frog on a Blog. In her book That Day in September and other Rhymes for the Times (Words In The Works, LLC, 2014), each of Liz’s poems highlights a social issue or a significant historical event, or perhaps a more personal concern. Liz hopes her book will appeal to children and adults. She says, “I feel rhymes are a fun way to teach children history lessons. When children are old enough they can ask their parents questions about the rhymes and illustrations, but until that time, they can just enjoy sharing special time with their parents as they read together.” (That Day In September)  

One unique feature of the book is that it showcases 16 illustrators. In the article below, Liz speaks about her decision to use more than one illustrator and the meticulous process of matching each illustrator to a rhyme. Her enthusiasm for picture book art and artists, shines brightly through her words.

20 Rhymes and 16 Illustrators!

By Liz Lime 

At the time I was thinking about illustrators for That Day in September, Rhymes for the Times, I went to Portfolio Solutions, LLC, and there were all these brilliantly talented picture book artists.  It was suggested to me by a professional in the children’s book publishing field that perhaps the illustrations should be rendered by the same artist for a more consistent look. A consistent look throughout the book was exactly what I didn’t want! I wanted a surprise on every page, and each thought-provoking illustration accomplished that goal for me. My only regret is that I didn’t have enough rhymes to suit every artist in the agency! 

The process of matching artist to rhyme did take a while, I must say.  The artists’ own schedules played a large role in the final decision as previously contracted work had to be taken into consideration before they could commit to my book. There were many other artists that would have contributed beautiful works to the rhymes, but some of them just weren’t available for any number of reasons when I began the art-style-to-rhyme selection process.  Since they are all freelance artists, their schedules change on a daily basis.

Lynne Avril, for example is the illustrator of Harper Collins’ GreenWillow imprint’s hugely successful young Amelia Bedelia books, among many others, so Lynne was always booked up.  I had faith though, and sure enough when Lynne got a tiny break in her schedule, she took on Little Girls.  I couldn’t imagine any other than Lynne’s delightful characters for that particular rhyme, and I don’t think I’ll get much argument about that.

Not all the rhymes were that easy to match to an illustrator’s style, That Day in September was without doubt the toughest one for me. The subject matter is so sensitive and affected every American so deeply that I just had to get it right. For me, there was no room for error. The characters had to be relatable, but I felt that children should be able to distance themselves if they felt the need to do so. Winifred Barnum Newman’s elf-like creatures from her bestselling book Gumwrappers and Goggles, were perfect!  Winifred is a much-published illustrator of children’s books with a string of titles attached to her name so I knew she had the experience to carry it off.  There’s poignancy to Wini’s work that delicately tells the rhyme’s story, and that’s a quality that only her vast experience as an artist, sculptor and children’s book illustrator could have translated so well for our young readers.

Ten in a Chair was a much easier match up as I had long been a fan of Cary Pillo’s illustrated monkeys.  The expressions on the monkeys’ faces are just hilarious. Cary has captured the right blend of motion, emotion, action and reaction – this illustration always makes me smile, and again, this is where an illustrator’s experience comes to the fore.  Cary is a professional, seasoned artist with countless books to her credit; her work can also be seen in children’s magazines as well as textbooks.  It’s amazing to me that with ten monkeys to illustrate, Cary was able to capture a different expression on each face; brilliant and funny!

As you can see, I have a wild appreciation for illustrators and could go on about every single one of the artists in my book.  But my editor said 600 words was enough for now!

Pelican Bill – A Sickeningly Good Yarn!

Kids love stories about pirates. Kids also love to laugh. What’s funnier than a pirate who gets seasick? Wouldn’t your child want to read a story like that? That is exactly what children’s author Fran Sivers and illustrator Leilani Coughlan have created in their book Pelican Bill. 

But they need our help. They’ve begun a KickStarter campaign in order to raise the necessary funds they need to bring Pelican Bill and his pirate crew to life in a children’s picture book. 

Please go to their KickStarter page,, watch the short video clip, read about the project (you can even read the entire rollicking, rhyming, jolly good story), and consider supporting their campaign. If you cannot help financially, at least spread the word about this really great cause. I’m sure Fran and Leilani will appreciate any assistance you can give.

Friendly Day

Title: Friendly Day

Author: Mij Kelly

Illustrator: Charles Fuge

Publisher/Year: Barron’s/2013

Love it! That was my first thought after reading Friendly Day, a colorful, rhyming picture book that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I really like books that are happy and make me smile. Friendly Day is all about friendliness…and kindness. I’ve discovered that kindness is a theme I often incorporate into my own writing. I believe children can never read enough books about treating others with kindness, respect, and, of course, friendliness. Still, as all the experts say, you don’t want to preach in a picture book, you want to teach kids in a way that doesn’t feel like teaching, but rather entertains. And Friendly Day does just that with its joyous, frolicking rhyme that rolls off the tongue, and bold, bright, super-fun illustrations of animals interacting with one another. I’ve just got to share the wonderful opening verse:

When Cat caught Mouse, outside his house,

courageous Mouse cried, “Hey!

Put down that plate and see the date.

It’s Friendly Day today

-a day for sharing, a day for caring,

when everyone is nice,

when Frog reads Snail a fairy tale

and cats do NOT eat mice.”


This book makes me wish there really was a Friendly Day!

But maybe every day can be Friendly Day…that’s even better. 🙂

A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree

Title: A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree

Author: Colleen Monroe

Illustrator: Michael Glenn Monroe

Publisher/Year: Sleeping Bear Press/2000

A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree is a gorgeously illustrated holiday picture book told in flawless rhyme. It is sweet, magical, and heartwarming. The story is about a sad evergreen tree that has watched year after year as the trees around him are chosen to be Christmas trees. He knows it’s too late for him because he has grown too big and tall. He is heartbroken because being a Christmas tree has always been his dream. In order to cheer him, the woodland creatures find a way to show him just how much he is appreciated. This book is just beautiful in so many ways. First, look at the wonderful cover image above. From the sparkling snow, to the glowing background, to the character in the tree’s face, this picture makes you want to open the book to see more. Even the title is in the shape of a tree. And if you open the book, you won’t be disappointed. My favorite illustration depicts songbirds perched in the tree’s branches. The picture accompanies wonderful text such as this: “The first morning sun brought a wondrous sight, as icicles glimmered and captured the light. Colorful birds perched all over the pine, as beautiful as bulbs and just as fine.” Love it! Besides being visually stunning and a joy to read, the story conveys a message of friendship and caring. A Wish To Be A Christmas Tree is a must read!

Rhyme Time with Finley

Inspired by the upcoming Halloween holiday, Finley has decided to share a special poem with you. He calls it Halloween Feast.




Halloween’s a comin’,

It’s on its way.

Halloween’s a comin’,

Are you ready to play?


Do you have a costume?

Is it scary, funny, both?

Do you have a basket,

pillowcase, or tote?


We’ll hop from door to door,

Proclaiming tricks or treats,

And when the night is over,

We’ll leap home and have a feast.

Week of Reviews: Day 3

Cover image  In a recent post, I admitted that I am not a poet. I may have one or two rhyming stories in my stable, but the majority of my stories are written in prose, not verse. The author of today’s featured review, E. S. Redmond, is a poet, and an exceptional one at that. The Unruly Queen (2012, Candlewick Press) is a delightful read-aloud with humorous watercolor illustrations to match. E. S. Redmond has managed to use and to rhyme words in her story that most people would not even think of. Here’s one passage from the story: “No one was spared from the havoc she wreaked. She had fifty-two nannies in fifty-two weeks. Each one of them left feeling frazzled and freaked, with permanent headaches and hair with white streaks.” From that passage I believe you can discern what the story is about. If I had to use one word to describe this book, it would be clever.

Too Much Stuff

I’ve decided to post a silly poem I wrote many years ago about a greedy young boy. I think this was my feeble attempt at being Seussical. (Hey, I never said I was a poet.) Still, I hope you enjoy it.

Too Much Stuff (or Jo Jo the Greedy Boy)

Jo Jo said:

I want stuff, more stuff, more stuff!

Old stuff, new stuff,

Yellow and blue stuff,

What I have is not enough stuff!


Give me stuff that’s fat and stuff that’s lean,

Stuff that’s dirty and stuff that’s clean,

Hand it over before I scream!


I want stuff that’s poor and stuff that’s fair,

Stuff that’s round and stuff that’s square,

Is that too much, I don’t care!


Give me stuff that’s short and stuff that’s tall,

Stuff that’s big and stuff that’s small,

Everything, I want it all!


I want stuff that’s pointy and stuff that’s flat,

Stuff that bounces and then goes “splat”,

I’ll even take your dog and cat!


Whatever I want, I should get,

Don’t make me throw a royal fit,

I won’t stop, I’ll never quit!


I’ll throw a tantrum on the floor,

And go and slam every door,

Until you give me more, more, more!


Makes no difference what it is,

I just want it, give, give, give,

Without it I just cannot live!


Her stuff, his stuff, your stuff too,

I’ll have it all before I’m through,

And there’s nothing you can do!


Jo Jo’s stuff piled up so high,

Soon it all did touch the sky!

Then we heard an awful cry,

Where is Jo Jo?

Too bad.

Bye bye.

More Fun With Rhyme

   Here’s a little poem I wrote several years ago. See if you can figure out the answer to the riddle before you get to the end. Enjoy!



At the end of the rainbow there’s a magical place

that transcends time and compresses all space.

Do you know what’s there?

Care to venture a guess?

I’ll give you a clue,

it’s not a skirt or a dress.

It isn’t pants or underwear.

And you won’t find shorts or blouses there.

No coats, no ties, no belts, no vests.

No shoes, no hats, no suits well pressed.

What remains? Have you figured out

what’s deposited by the magical spout?

It’s a great big pile of rainbow loot 

that traveled along the rainbow chute.

It isn’t shining coins or sparkling diamond rocks.

Straight from your laundry room it’s…

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