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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: perfect picture book fridays, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Baby Blue Cat Who Said No

My Perfect Picture Book is below - I promise! :) - I just have a little explanation for it first.

As some of you may know, I teach an online picture book writing class.

This week, we got into a discussion about subjectivity.

As a writer, how do you know if your story will appeal to agents, editors, and readers (both the adults who will read your picture book aloud and the children who will listen)?

There are some basic rules of thumb: your story should have a beginning, middle and end (i.e. actually BE a story), it should have an engaging character and/or plot, it should strike an emotional note of some kind, and it's best not to write about inappropriate subjects, use foul language, glorify violence etc... - pretty much common sense :)

But beyond a certain point, there's really no way to tell for sure who is going to like what.  If it appeals to you, if it touches a chord in your heart, if it highlights a truth in your life, chances are it will do that for other people too.  But there will always be at least one person out there who can find something to criticize.  And I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean it in a comforting way.  You can't please everyone, so write the best story you can and likely you'll please someone.  Probably lots of someones :)

My Perfect Picture Book choice for today is a case in point - an older book, beloved by many (me and my children included!) - that received the following review:

"Line drawings that look like doodles of cute kittens in gray, orange, white, and blue cannot save this lame tale of a contrary kitten... This is a story of manipulation at its worst. The language is flat, especially when read aloud. This reviewer says ``NO!''" Marianne Pilla, formerly at Allard K. Lowenstein Library of Long Beach, N.Y. Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Ouch!

But I don't find it manipulative.  I find it an endearing and true-to-life example of the way toddlers behave - naughty one moment, full of remorse the next, right back to their own agenda the minute after that, but not mean-spirited or malicious in their intent.

Subjectivity :)

I hope you like this book as much as the people in my house do! :)

Title: The Baby Blue Cat Who Said No
Written & Illustrated By: Ainslie Pryor
Re-issue March 1988, Viking Juvenile, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: behavior (contrariness), humor

Opening: "Have you heard the story of the Baby Blue Cat who said No?
Once there was a Mama Cat and her four baby cats.
Baby Orange Cat,
Baby White Cat,
Baby Striped Cat, and
Baby Blue Cat.
Mama Cat loved all of her baby cats very much."

Brief Synopsis: Baby Orange Cat, Baby White Cat and Baby Striped Cat all behave the way little kittens should, but Baby Blue Cat is feeling ornery.  No matter what his Mama asks, he says, "No!"  But when he pushes his Mama too far, he apologizes and behaves... until his contrariness gets the better of him again :)

Links To Resources: Teaching Children A VocabularyFor Emotions; make cards with different emotions pictured and/or written  - e.g. a smiley face and/or HAPPY - and play emotion charades by letting kids pick a card and act out the emotions for the rest of the class or family and see if the observers can guess; talk about behavior - have you ever refused to do something just to be difficult? Do you sometimes do bad things and then feel sorry? Talk about how to say you're sorry - resource HERE.

Why I Like This Book:  The "flat language" :) is fun to read aloud.  (Years later, we still use the phrase "and here's your delicious cupcake, YUM YUM" :) )  The "line drawings that look like doodles" :) are cute and engaging (right down to the smile on the fish sandwich :))  But mostly, anyone who has ever spent 3 minutes around a toddler will recognize and appreciate Baby Blue Cat's desire to have some control, and some opportunity to be independent of his mother and siblings.  As I mentioned above, he's naughty, but when he goes too far he's genuinely remorseful.  Mama Cat loves her baby cats very much, and it is clear that Baby Blue Cat loves his Mama Cat too :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you and see your fabulous picks for this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!!


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2. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Step Gently Out

Happy First Day of Spring!!!

Pay no attention to the fact that it's freezing cold and snowing!

SPRING is officially HERE!

We should definitely celebrate with spring-colored cake!  Help yourselves :)

Lemon Cake with Lavender Icing -
pretty AND delicious :)
In celebration of spring and getting outdoors, I have such a beautiful, beautiful book to share with you!  I hope you'll love it as much as I do!

Step Gently Out
Written By: Helen Frost
Photography By: Rick Lieder
Candlewick, March 2012, Fiction

Themes/Topics: nature, insects, taking time to look closely, poetry

Suitable For: ages 2-7

Opening: "Step gently out,/ be still, and watch a single blade of grass."

Brief Synopsis: (From the Booklist starred review) "Nature’s miracles are often small and hard to capture, but in a syncopated harmony of text and image, Frost and Lieder manage to depict tiny moments as seen through a bugs-eye-view of the world... Moving from day to night, the poem makes for a soothing bedtime lullaby that includes a reminder to children about the book’s small creatures: "In song and dance / and stillness, / they share the world / with you.""

Links To Resources: the back of the book includes lots of information on all the insects pictured - a resource all in itself.  In addition, here are some Insect Coloring Pages.  Try taking some photographs of your own.  Try writing a short poem about an insect.

Why I Like This Book:  I am always in favor of books that encourage kids to go outside and look closely at the real world around them, really observe it, think about it, be part of it.  I'm not an insect lover per se :), but this book is amazingly beautiful.  I cannot stress enough how absolutely exquisite the photography is.  Such detail!  I wish I could share every page, but that would probably be frowned upon :)  Here's one more little sample:


It's breathtaking, isn't it? and I think kids and adults alike will thoroughly enjoy looking at it, especially in combination with the poetic text which is as gorgeous in it's imagery as the photography is.  This book is a feast for eyes and ears and hearts!

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!   And now everyone go out and enjoy Spring!  Just, if you live in my neck of the woods, put on your jacket... your hat... your snow boots... your scarf... your mittens... and then go frolic :)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! :)


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3. Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Bear Ate Your Sandwich

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

You will probably be able to tell instantly by my selection and suggested activities that I am dreaming of spring on this sub-zero day!  This book is so fun - I hope you'll enjoy it!

Title: The Bear Ate Your Sandwich
Written & Illustrated By: Julia Sarcone-Roach
Knopf Books For Young Readers, January 2015, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: humor, mischief, story-telling/tall tale, journey, unreliable narrator

Opening: "By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich.  But you may not know how it happened.  So let me tell you.  It all started with the bear."

Brief Synopsis: A bear in search of breakfast falls asleep in the back of a berry truck and ends up in the city.  After exploring his surroundings, he ends up in the park... near an unattended sandwich.  "Your beautiful and delicious sandwich.  All alone."  After the sandwich, it's back to the familiar forest for bear.  But the story has a twist at the end that's as delicious as the sandwich!



Links To Resources: Facts About Bears; Fun Sandwich Recipes For Kids; 50+ Fun Kids' Picnic Ideas; the narrator in this story is completely unreliable - try making up stories of your own with an unreliable narrator who doesn't give himself away until the very end!

Why I Like This Book: Such a fun story!  The bear is so sweet and funny and sympathetic, going along just doing what bears do - eating, sleeping, exploring.  Meanwhile, something entirely different is going on.  The narrator is just leading you down the primrose path, casual as you please, and it's not until the very end you realize you can't believe a word he says! :)  You will have to read the story to find out what REALLY happened to the sandwich :)  The art is gorgeous - lush and colorful and filled with fun details... and a clue :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  And if you live anywhere near me, stay warm! :)


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4. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Finding Spring

Look at that!  It's Perfect Picture Book Friday again!

And just in time, too!

In keeping with my theme for this week (you know, the one where I insist that spring is coming in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary :)) I have the perfect book!

Title: Finding Spring
Written & Illustrated By: Carin Berger
Greenwillow Books, January 2015, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8 (though I think a lot of 3 year olds would love it too :))

Themes/Topics: seasons (Spring), animals (bears), perseverance, patience

Opening: "The forest was growing cold.  Mama said that soon it would be time to sleep, but all Maurice could think about was his first spring."

Brief Synopsis: Mama bear says it's time to sleep, but all Maurice can think about is spring.  So when Mama goes to sleep, Maurice sets out to find it.  He has never seen spring, however, so he's not really sure where to look or even what he's looking for!

Links To Resources: take a nature walk and look for signs of spring; make up a list of signs of spring and check them off as they appear - is spring here yet?; How To Make A Diorama (video); Diorama Crafts For Kids; try making your own diorama about spring; make paper flowers; how to make tissue paper flowers (video)

Why I Like This Book: Every child on earth understands impatience - how hard waiting is, and how much more fun to take action!  Maurice is not deterred in the slightest by the fact that he doesn't actually know what spring is.  He just looks until he knows he's found it.  And he can tell he's found it because it's the most magical thing he's ever seen!  Just wait until you see what it is (and no, I'm not telling! :))  The book is illustrated with dioramas and cut-paper collages and is just gorgeous - a feast for the eyes of kids and grown-ups alike.  A perfect choice for those of us currently longing for spring :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you and see what delights you've chosen for us this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  It will be March by the time it's over! :)


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5. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond Between A Soldier & His Service Dog

Well, guess what?

After a (very!) brief foray into the 20s, we're back to zero degrees!  But at least it's not (currently) snowing :)  And it's not BELOW zero!  It's important to keep sight of silver linings :)

Thank goodness for Perfect Picture Book Fridays, where we can enjoy lots of great titles and ignore the weather!

My choice for today is on a more serious topic, but the book is well written - on a level that kids can understand and appreciate without it being scary/upsetting in any way - and I hope you'll enjoy it and find it a useful addition to your libraries.


Title: Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond Between A Soldier And His Service Dog

Written By: Luis Carlos Montalvan & Bret Witter

Photographs By: Dan Dion

Roaring Brook Press, May 2014, Nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: service/therapy animals, military life, photographic book, love, nonfiction

Opening: "In the morning, every morning, my friend Luis wakes up to . . .   this."


Brief Synopsis: After tours in Iraq left him wounded and distressed, Captain Luis Montalvan returned home to a life he was no longer comfortable living.  He reached a point where he was afraid to leave his apartment.  But a service dog named Tuesday changed everything for him.  Tuesday helps Luis with daily tasks, and he calms and comforts Luis by always being there for him.  Tuesday has made it possible for Luis to live a rewarding life.

Links To Resources: Facts About Service Dogs for Kids; Wayside Elementary Schools Special Needs Awareness Program (SNAP) (video); discuss how animals make you feel and what they do for you.


Why I Like This Book:  Every day, men and women risk their lives overseas for our freedom and way of life.  When they return home, it is often difficult to readjust, and to carry on with a life so at odds with what they've seen and survived.  This book gives kids a glimpse of the difficulties a soldier might face upon coming home at an appropriate and accessible level.  It also shows how the love and care of a therapy animal has the power to change a life.  It's written from the point of view of the dog, which makes it friendly and non-threatening.  For kids who have a relative or family friend who is a veteran, this book could be very helpful in understanding what they might be going through and in opening a discussion.  For any child, this book can encourage empathy and understanding.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  I can't wait to see what books you're sharing this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!  Maybe Springing forward will give Mother Nature the hint! :)


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6. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Soon

I seriously do not know where this week has gone!  Wasn't it just Sunday afternoon?!

And here it is Perfect Picture Book Friday again!  Where does the time go?  I think there's a time thief around here somewhere.  I'm going to have someone look into that at once.  I can't afford to be having entire weeks stolen right out from under me! :)

But for right now, I have the cutest, sweetest book to share with you.  I dare you not to fall in love with this baby elephant :)  His name is Raju... in case you were wondering :)

Title: Soon
Written By: Timothy Knapman
Illustrated By: Patrick Benson
Candlewick Press, February 2015, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 2-5

Themes/Topics: patience, family relationship (mother/son), adventure, bedtime

Opening: "Very early one morning, Raju and his mother set out on a great adventure.  It was cold and dark.  They walked for a long time.  "When can we go home again?" asked Raju.  "Soon," said his mother."

Brief Synopsis:  A little elephant and his mother go on an adventure which the little elephant is not sure about.  "When can we go home?" he keeps asking.  But when the adventure is complete, all he wants to know is, "When can we go again?"

Links To Resources: discuss what you think the qualities of an adventure are, and what you would like to do for an adventure; talk about ways that your mom and/or dad makes you feel safe; go on an adventure walk; make up your own adventure story.

Why I Like This Book:  First and foremost, oh! I love the art!  Soft pastel colors, the cutest baby elephant you ever saw, and such expression in the elephants' faces and body language.  The story is sweet and tender, the mother leading her baby on a special outing, keeping him safe from every danger along the way (crocodiles, snakes, tigers) and in so doing teaching him how to keep himself safe.  In the same vein as The Camel Who Took A Walk (1967) (reviewed HERE for PPBF), there's not a lot of rootin' tootin' action, but the story is just lovely, and perfect for bedtime.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you and see what wonderful books you've chosen this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


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7. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Leaf Man

Wahoo!  It's Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Is there anything more fun for a picture book writer or illustrator, a parent, a teacher, or a child then the prospect of diving into a pile of great picture books?

I didn't think so :)

Unless maybe it's the prospect of diving into a pile of great picture books with a cup of hot chocolate near to hand (though not quite near enough to get kicked over during the diving :))

I have a gorgeous book to share with you today.  Get ready to have your breath taken away by this thing of beauty! :)

Title: Leaf Man
Written & Illustrated By: Lois Ehlert
Harcourt, September 2005, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: seasons (autumn), nature, imagination

Opening: "Leaf Man used to live near me, in a pile of leaves.  But yesterday the wind blew Leaf Man away."

Brief Synopsis: From the publisher: "Fall has come, the wind is gusting, and Leaf Man is on the move. Is he drifting east, over the marsh and ducks and geese? Or is he heading west, above the orchards, prairie meadows, and spotted cows? No one's quite sure, but this much is certain: A Leaf Man's got to go where the wind blows."

Links To Resources: Teacher's Guide (Harcourt); Lesson Plan (Scholastic);  the jacket flaps of the book are covered with "mystery leaves" - pictures of the leaves with a hint about where they come from so children can try to guess/identify them; the endpapers of the book show examples of many types of leaves, pictured and labeled; go on a leaf walk and collect leaves of your own - how many different kinds can you find? how many colors and shapes?; make a leaf collage, or a pencil rubbing of a leaf, or any kind of leaf art.

Why I Like This Book: If you've spent any time at all on Perfect Picture Books, you'll know that 99.99 times out of 100, I choose books because I love the words or the story.  This is one time when I chose a perfect picture book for the art.  It also has a whimsical story :), but it's the art that sells this book.  It's simply gorgeous.  The illustrations are made from actual fall leaves.  The pages are cut and layered in the shapes of hills.  Each page pictures its subject made out of leaves, for example, on the page where perhaps Leaf Man flew over the turkey, there is a turkey crafted from fall leaves.   The colors are vibrant, and both the story and the art allow children to fancifully imagine all that a leaf might do as it blows before the wind.  The whole book sings autumn - it's just lovely!

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  I can't wait to see your picks for this week!

With Thanksgiving coming along in less than a week, are you hosting or visiting?  Which do you prefer?  I'm hosting this year, but I'm really happy to do either... as long as I don't have to travel too far :)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! :)

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8. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Star Bright: A Christmas Story

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

I'm excited that it's December and we finally get to share holiday books :)  I have such a sweet book for today!  In past years, I have stuck to books like Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree which, though about Christmas, are not at all religious.  The book I've chosen today veers a little closer to the traditional story of Christmas but it's so beautifully done that I think it's appropriate for everyone, regardless of religion or belief.  I hope you get a chance to read it!

Title: Star Bright: A Christmas Story
Written By: Alison McGhee
Illustrated By: Peter H. Reynolds
Atheneum Books For Young Readers, September 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Christmas, the nativity, giving/generosity

Opening: "It was the end of December, and a baby was soon to be born.  A baby!  In the heavens, angels turned light with joy."

Brief Synopsis: An extra special baby is coming and the newest angel wants to give a present.  But what can she give?  Wind is the sky's gift.  Rain is the clouds' gift.  Music is the gift of the songbirds. But when the little angel sees three lost travelers, she knows exactly what to give - the best gift of all!

Links To Resources: share the story of the nativity no matter your personal religion or beliefs - it's good for kids to know about things that are deeply important to others as well as to themselves and you can share the story of Hanukah etc. too; talk about gifts - what makes a good gift? does it have to be big, extravagant, expensive? what makes a gift really matter to someone?  what kinds of gifts do you like to give and receive?  Make these sugar cookies RECIPE HERE in the shapes of Christmas trees, stars, or whatever else you like :) Make paper stars INSTRUCTIONS HERE; make paper snowflakes INSTRUCTIONS HERE

Why I Like This Book: You know me - I love sweet stories :)  And this is one of those stories that tugs at your heartstrings just enough to make it memorable without being overdone.  But what I really love about this book is the creative way it spins the story of the nativity, so that you get the basic idea without anything overtly religious - and that's quite a feat to have pulled off!  On one level, this is simply a story about a child who wants to give a wonderful gift but doesn't know what she can offer, and how many children have felt like that?  Her creative solution will inspire young readers to think up their own creative solutions - when it comes to gifts, what can they give that only they can give?  And the art is by Peter H. Reynolds.  Enough said :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a great weekend, everybody!  See you Monday for the Holiday Contest!!!  (For which I have still not written my sample... or even really started thinking about it... details, details :))


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9. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Maple & Willow Together

Whoopee!  It's the first Perfect Picture Book Friday of 2015!

Isn't it wonderful to look forward to all the books we're going to share this year?  Think of all the new titles that will come out!  Sadly, mine will not be one of them, as it has been pushed back to Summer 2016, but that just gives me something special to look forward to next year :)

I have a lovely book to share today, one that those of you who have just spent a couple weeks with all your kids home for the holidays may find especially appropriate :)

Title: Maple & Willow Together
Written & Illustrated By: Lori Nichols
Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin, November 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: sibling relationships, family, fighting/making up

Opening: "Maple and her little sister, Willow, were always together.  It was hard to remember a time when the girls weren't together.  In fact, their parents even wondered if the girls had their own language.  And in a way, they did."



Brief Synopsis: Maple and Willow do everything together, which works out just fine most of the time.  But sometimes big sisters can be bossy, and sometimes little sisters want to do things their own way, and sometimes that leads to trouble.  In the end, though, Maple and Willow would rather be together than apart :)




Links To Resources: Story Hour Activity Kit from Lori Nichols, and here's the trailer: (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXhe9jvpVds in case it doesn't embed properly! :))


Why I Like This Book: Although Joanna beat me to reviewing Maple for PPBF, I am a huge fan. This book is the sequel, and it's equally sweet and touching - a spot-on glimpse of sibling relationships.  The description and depiction of Maple and Willow's time together is lovely and evocative - very true to childhood.  When they inevitably get into a fight (because really, would you believe a sibling relationship where they never fought? :)) their anger and hurt are clear.  But it doesn't take much time apart before they're longing for each other's company again, the fight over and forgotten.  For any child who has a sibling, this is a nicely done reminder that arguments are normal, that it's okay to be mad sometimes, and that ultimately it's wonderful to have a sibling to be with. (P.S. I just realized that Joanna also beat me to reviewing this one, so apologies for duplicating!)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  I can't wait to see what's on your favorites list this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! :)


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10. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Blue On Blue

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

There's nothing like days on end of temperatures in the single digits to make me think about summer :)  So today's book is about a summer thunderstorm which clears off into a starry night.  I hope you'll enjoy this pretty, pretty book!

Title: Blue On Blue
Written By: Dianne White
Illustrated By: Beth Krommes
Beach Lane Books, December 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: publisher says 5-8, I think younger would enjoy too.

Themes/Topics: poetry, weather (thunderstorms), nature, colors

Opening: "Cotton clouds.  Morning light.  Blue on blue.  White on white.  Singing, swinging outdoor play.  White on blue on sunny day."

Brief Synopsis: This lovely book shows both the course of a family's day on a New England farm from morning through bedtime, and the change of weather from a sunny morning, through darkening clouds, to rain and thunder, and finally clearing skies, sunset, and a "silver night."


Links To Resources: Color Lesson Plans (Marble Art, Beautiful Butterfly Prints, Awesome Octopus, Trying Out Art); make your own scratchboards; Weather for Kids.  You could also make your own art projects based on the descriptions in the story (e.g. cotton clouds on blue sky).

Why I Like This Book: This is such a lovely book!  The story is simple, but poetic.  It takes you through a child's day, and includes elements of color, weather, and life on a New England farm (including animals :)). The day starts out sunny, but a storm comes up.  The child hides under the covers during the worst of the storm, but after the rain stops, the child, the puppy, and the little piggies have a wonderful time in the mud :)  The story finishes with a bath outside for the puppy, and a bath inside for the child, and sweet dreams under a starry night.  The lyrical, rhyming language is fun to read aloud, and the rhythm of the language mimics the rhythm of rain dripping, then pounding, then lightening, and finally stopping.  The scratchboard and watercolor art, done by Caldecott Medalist Beth Krommes, is absolutely gorgeous.  I encourage you to check this one out!


For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  I can't wait to see what you've chosen this week!

Have a great weekend, everyone!!! :)


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11. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Snoozefest

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, everyone!

I have a delightful book to share with you today which is not about a groundhog.  But speaking of groundhogs (did you see how smoothly I slipped that in there? :)) if you missed yesterday's Special Edition Post (which you easily might have because I almost never post on Thursdays so why would you think to check?) about Phyllis's Birthday Bonanza (which you definitely will NOT want to miss!), hop on over and check it out HERE!  Join the fun and spread the word! :)

Now then.  Today's book.  Which is not about a groundhog.  But IS about a sloth :)

Title: Snoozefest
Written By: Samantha Berger
Illustrated By: Kristyna Litten
Dial, January 2015, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-5

Themes/Topics: bedtime, sleep, animals (sloths), language fun (rhyme and inventive vocabulary)

Opening: "In the center of Snoozeville, dwells the wee one, the sleepiest sloth, Snuggleford Cuddlebun.  Now, that sloth can sleep, for a month at a go. The few times she rises, she moves in slo-mo."

Brief Synopsis:  It's time for the annual Snoozefest at the Nuzzledome, an arena festival that celebrates sleep.  All the best sleepers attend.  Snuggleford Cuddlebun settles into a hammock with her blanket and pillow, her favorite stuffed animal and her best bedtime book, and a snack of milk and honey, ready to enjoy the show.  But will she?

Links To Resources: the author makes up some wonderful words in this story - what kind of words can you make up that sound just right to describe something you like to do (like sleeping, sledding, riding a bicycle, or any other activity)?; have your own snoozefest - make your room super comfy for sleeping, choose bedtimes stories, music, snacks, stuffed animals, pajamas and anything else that makes bedtime cozy for you.  You can even write up and decorate your own snoozefest program.  Have a lullaby sing-along and your own pajama fashion show!

Why I Like This Book:  How can you not love a book about a snoozefest that takes place at the Nuzzledome?  The text is full of delightful made-up words like "snoozillions" and "wumphiest" (as in "wumphiest, comfiest, coziest things" :))  There are designer pajamas by Diane Von Firstinbed and Louis Futon.  The snack vendors sell milk and honey.  The bands, with names like Chamomile Rage and the Nocturnal Nesters, play lullabies!  And everyone brings their nightlight from home :)  Adult readers will enjoy the spoof of music festivals.  The whole over-the-top celebration of bedtime is just flat out fun!  But you'll have to read it to find out what Snuggleford's experience of the show is :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you and see what kind of amazingly wonderful entertaining books you chose this week.  It's supposed to snow... a good weekend to stock up on library books and spend the day reading :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!!! :)


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12. Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Name Jar

Happy Friday, Everyone!

What a crazy week, huh?  All I can say is, no one in my neck of the woods is going to pay any attention to whatever the weather person says next!

But they better listen up to the Weather Hog!

That's right!  Only 3 more days until GROUNDHOG DAY!  And you know what THAT means, right?

PHYLLICELEBRATION!!!

Some awesome Phyllis-lovers have already put together their poems for Phyllis, ready for Monday's special post, but if you haven't heard about it and want to join in, hop over HERE.

And now, for today's Perfect Picture Book which has nothing whatsoever to do with Groundhog Day, winter, snowpocalypses, etc. but is still an excellent book which I highly recommend! :)

Title: The Name Jar
Written & Illustrated By: Yangsook Choi
Dragonfly Books, 2001, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: acceptance/tolerance, fitting in, feeling different, multicultural diversity (Korean-American), being the new kid, names

Opening: "Through the school bus window, Unhei looked out at the strange buildings and houses on the way to her new school.  It was her first day, and she was both nervous and excited."

Brief Synopsis: Unhei's (pronounced Yoon-hye) first encounter with her American schoolmates leaves her feeling uncertain about her name, and different from everyone else.  Her name is difficult to pronounce.  Kids make fun of it.  It sets her apart.  How much easier to be Amanda, Laura, or Suzy!  So when she enters her new classroom, she tells the teacher she hasn't chosen her name yet - she'll let him know next week.  All through the week, her classmates fill a name jar with suggestions they think she might like.  But in the end, she is not Amanda, Laura or Suzy.  She is Unhei.  And she comes to realize just how special that is.

Links To Resources: Classroom Activities for The Name Jar; teaching tolerance with The Name Jar; more teaching resources for The Name Jar; make your own Name Jar.

Why I Like This Book:  This book is beautifully written, clearly communicating Unhei's acute agony over having a name that's different from everyone else's which is just the tip of the iceberg of being and feeling different.  She just wants to fit in.  But she also loves her Korean family, the Korean market that feels like a little piece of home in this strange new world, and her Korean heritage.  She knows the history of her name - how her grandmother and mother went to a name master specially to get the perfect name for her - Unhei, which means "grace."  She doesn't want to let go of that.  It takes a special friend to help her see that Unhei is who she is and should be.  A great choice for any child who is having trouble fitting in, or to help children have more understanding of a friend or classmate who might feel that way.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a great weekend, everyone, and GET READY FOR GROUNDHOG DAY!  WOO HOO! :)


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13. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Lost Cat

Well, I don't know where the week went, but here we are at Friday again!

Friday is a really excellent day.  It means we're about to get a weekend, and it means a list of Perfect Picture Books to enjoy over that weekend - an unbeatable combination!  All we need to make it true perfection is a nice chocolatey snack to go along with our picture books and our weekend :)

I had another book in mind for today.  Based on the jacket copy I thought I'd love it.  But when I read it my reaction could only be described as meh (not what you want for a Perfect Picture Book!) and then I read this one and loved it start to finish, so there was really no contest.  Preconceived idea out, awesome surprise book in :)  I hope you like it too :)

Title: Lost Cat
Written & Illustrated By: C. Roger Mader
Houghton Mifflin Books For Children, October 2013, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: journey, pets, love (person/pet)

Opening: "Ever since Slipper was a tiny kitten, she'd lived with a little old lady in a little old house in a little old town."

Brief Synopsis: Slipper has always lived happily with Mrs. Fluffy Slippers, but when Mrs. Fluffy Slippers moves, Slipper accidentally gets left behind in the commotion.  Slippers searches for a new home, but not just any home will do - it has to be the right one.  Will she find a new family she can adopt?

Links To Resources: Washington Children's Choice Award Activities (scroll about 1/2 way down the pdf); Fun Facts About Cats; How To Draw A Cat video; learn to draw a cat step-by-step guide.



Why I Like This Book: First and foremost, I love the art!  Soft pastels that render that beautiful kitty so life-like!  Her expressions are perfect, especially her fright at High Tops, her polite pleading with Miss Shiny Shoes, and her bliss on the last two pages.  And the cat's-eye-view perspective is wonderful.  The story is a sweet one with both humorous and poignant moments.  I love that all the people in the story are named for their footwear - which is what Slippers sees of them first :)  And most of all, I love that this lost cat story has a happy ending :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you and see what wonderful books you've chosen this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! :)


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14. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Slugs In Love (one more time :))

Woo hoo!  It's Perfect Picture Book Friday!

And not just ANY Perfect Picture Book Friday, mind you, but the one that's the day before Valentine's Day!

This is great!, I thought gleefully to myself last week.  Surely there are a plethora - a PLETHORA, I say -  of fantabulous Valentine's books that have been waiting all year for this day - THEIR day - the one time they can rightfully be shared!  I did a small jig in anticipation.

But day after day has gone by as I've searched for a great Valentine's Day book to share, and good golly if I haven't been just flat-out underwhelemed by titles I was hoping would knock my socks off!  (I myself have written two Valentine's books: A Valentine For Phyllis, which apparently failed to knock Holiday House's socks off since they declined the opportunity to publish it, and Be Mine, which left my agent's socks drooping around her ankles because, as she said, it's so hard to sell books that are only holiday books, so my efforts have been underwhelming too!  Oh, plus I mustn't forget my dreadful entry in the Valentine's Contest of 2012 - a "story" that just proves that with a low enough word count requirement I can barely make sense! :)  But we seem to have gotten off on a tangent here... and by "we" I mean would you guys please stop asking about my Valentine stories? Sheesh! We're here for Perfect Picture Books!)

Anyway, it would be morally wrong to post a book for Perfect Picture Books that I did not consider Perfect just so I could post a Valentine's Day book.  So instead, I will repost one of my favorite love books.

I am downright tingly with excitement because it is arguably one of the best love stories ever.  Are you ready?  It involves slugs.  What's not to love? :)

Slugs In Love
Written By: Susan Pearson
Illustrated By: Kevin O'Malley
Marshall Cavendish Children's Books, November 2006, Fiction
Suitable For: ages 4-8
Themes/Topics: love, friendship, perseverance, humor, Valentines Day
Opening:  "Marylou loved everything about Herbie - how his slime trail glistened in the dark, how he could stretch himself thin to squeeze inside the cellar window, how he always found the juiciest tomato.  Though she never spoke a single word to him - she was too shy - she thought about Herbie every morning and every night and most of the hours in between.

On Monday, while she grazed in the strawberry patch, Herbie filled her mind and a love poem filled her heart.  She wrote it in slime on the watering can."

Brief Synopsis:  (From Publishers Weekly) "Herbie keeps finding Marylou's poems, etched in slug slime and full of devotion, but Marylou keeps missing the longing letters he writes in return.  While she watches his every move, he can't find anyone who knows where she is so he can meet her."  How will the "slime-crossed" lovers ever meet?

Links To Resources:  Cool Facts About SlugsDoorknob ValentineFinger Puppet Valentine - (and with a little ingenuity, the last two could incorporate slugs! :))  Kids could make up their own poems like Herbie and Marylou.

Why I Like This Book:  It's sweet and it's funny.  It's maybe not technically a Valentines Day book (as in, it's not about Valentines Day) but it is about love/friendship on a level that I think kids can relate to.  Because Marylou and Herbie can't seem to connect, there's the added fun of rooting for the heroes. And the art complements the story perfectly.  It's so wonderful - really, I think it takes a genius to make slugs look so expressive :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Happy Valentine's Weekend, everyone!  May you all revel in hearts, flowers, and chocolate - especially chocolate :)


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15. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Extraordinary Jane

Woo-hoo!  It's Friday!

Doesn't Friday just automatically make you happy?

I think Fridays are just a little bit magic and have an advantage over the other days of the week :)

My plan for this weekend includes baking birthday cake for my step-daughter and babysitting for my granddaughters so she and her husband can have a little much-deserved-no-kids-couple-time.  Lucky me - I totally win out!  I see acorn and stick collecting, painting, play-doh, sidewalk chalk, tea parties, hide-and-seek, and being a pony in my weekend :)

And I'm thinking I will share this book - my PPBF pick for this week - because it is so cute and sweet!

Title: Extraordinary Jane
Written & Illustrated By: Hannah E. Harrison
Dial, February 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: being yourself

Opening: "Jane was ordinary in a world that was extraordinary."

Brief Synopsis: Jane is a little dog who lives at the circus.  She's not graceful like her mother, mighty like her father, daring like her brothers, or fearless like her sisters.  She's just Jane.  But you don't have to be graceful or mighty or daring or fearless to be special.

Links To Resources: together with your child or class, make a list of things you think everyone would agree are extraordinary, like being brave or strong.  Do you have any of those qualities? Does your child or the members of your class?  Talk about what extraordinary really means.  Make a new list of things that could be considered extraordinary, like helping an elderly neighbor take out the recycling, or being kind to the new kid in class.  Who has these qualities?  Talk about what makes you like people - probably things like they're nice, or they make you laugh.  Can those things be considered special?  What can you do today to make the world a better place just by being you?  Would pair nicely with Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson.





Why I Like This Book: This is one of those delightfully simple and sweet books that I just love!  Let's face it - lots of us feel ordinary.  So many kids can relate to the idea of worrying that they might not measure up in today's world of high expectations.  This sweet story reminds us - kids, parents, and teachers alike - that we are all extraordinary in our own way, and that we are all special to somebody.  The art is bright and colorful.  Some of the spreads are humorous (in particular the balancing ball incident  and the page after it :)) and the last one is guaranteed to make you say "Aww!" :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

So what are you all planning for this weekend (besides a trip to the library to read all the great books that are sure to show up on this week's PPBF list)?

PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific links on the list below so we can all come visit and make our library lists :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!!! :)


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16. Perfect Picture Book Friday - E-I-E-I-O How Old MacDonald Got His Farm [with a Little Help from a Hen]

Happy Friday, Folks!

While I was writing up this post, my ever-vigilant dogs suddenly roused themselves from a sound sleep to bark and snarl and hurl themselves at the french doors that look out on the back yard.  Assuming such behavior could only mean an invasion of some type, I went to investigate.  Was the bear up from his long winter's nap?  Had a pack of hungry coyotes dared to breech The Perimeter?  Were we being attacked by giant meatball-headed spaghetti people from Mars?

Shockingly, no!

Here was the cause of the alarm:

One of last year's babies, looking a little scruffy in between
winter and spring coats
My dogs take their duty as Protectresses of the Family Homestead a little too seriously sometimes :)

I did not let them out.  I figured this little miss could use some green grass after the long winter.  So she snacked and the Protectresses sulked and I went back to writing this post.

This is just a little sample of the kind of action-packed, emotionally-charged, wild and crazy life we live up here on Blueberry Hill :)

Although Tuesday night's snow is still melting, I insist on believing it is spring and I have a fun, spring-appropriate title to share with you all today which is especially fitting in view of the wildlife on my lawn that makes this place feel like a farm (of sorts :))!  (And no jokes about the funny farm! :))

Title: E-I-E-I-O How old MacDonald Got His Farm [with a Little Help from a Hen]
Written By: Judy Sierra
Illustrated By: Matthew Myers
Candlewick, February 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: composting, gardening, perseverance, innovation

Opening: "Old MacDonald had a house E-I-E-I-O!  Around that house there was a yard MOW MOW MOW MOW MOW!  MacDonald said, "I love my yard, but mowing grass is mighty hard."  So off he went to get a goat E-I-E-I-O!"

Brief Synopsis: In case anyone was wondering how Old MacDonald got his farm, it all started with too much mowing.  Old MacDonald's solution? Get a goat.  But the goat only ate the edges and then chewed a hole in MacDonald's hedges.  Luckily, a smart little red hen came along and taught Old MacDonald a thing or two about sustainable farming :)


Links To Resources: Do The Rot Thing: A Teacher's Guide To Compost Activities, all about Worms, Recycling and Composting, How To Plant Seeds With Kids

Why I Like This Book:  I always love new twists on familiar stories.  Judy Sierra has taken Old MacDonald to a whole new level.  The story is humorous (and so is the art - be sure to read the hen's diplomas and all the picket signs :)) and young readers will learn about composting and growing a garden right along with Old MacDonald.  This is a great story for spring, and a wonderfully fun way to introduce kids to the concept of green farming.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF peeps, please leave your post-specific links in the list below so we can all come see what fabulous books you've chosen this week!  And to all who celebrate, Happy Easter and a belated Happy Passover.

Have a great weekend, everyone!!! :)


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17. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Charlie The Ranch Dog

Hurray!  It's Perfect Picture Book Friday!

And how nice to be back after 2 weeks off for the illustration contest!

I hope you will like today's book as much as I do :)


Title: Charlie The Ranch Dog
Written By: Ree Drummond
Illustrated By: Diane deGroat
HarperCollins, April 2011, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: jobs/careers, working, perception, animals (dogs)

Opening: "Oh, hello.  My name is Charlie. I live in the country.  I'm a ranch dog."

Brief Synopsis: Charlie is a ranch dog.  He fixes fences, works in the garden, and helps his family out on the range.  A ranch dog's work is never done!  Or is it?

Links To Resources: Charlie Maze, and recipe for Charlie's favorite lasagna; Lesson Plans for Charlie (please scroll down until you see the book title); a fun look at the creation of Charlie; interview with the illustrator; YouTube read aloud of the story by the author.

Why I Like This Book: Well, for starters, you know how I love dog books :)  And this one is so much fun I really can't help myself :)  Charlie says he fixes fences, gardens, and helps his family out on the range, but in fact his friend Suzie is the one who does all the work while Charlie naps, and naps some more, and indulges his love of bacon :)  He does manage to help for real at the end - but I won't tell you how, that would be spoiling it!  Kids will enjoy the contradiction between words and illustrations, and also love that there is a chipmunk hidden on every page.  This is not an action-packed thrill ride, but it's sweet and cute and funny :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers, please be sure to leave your post specific link in the list below so we can all come rave over your picks for this week and then descend on our local libraries!

Oh, and before we go, Happy Mother's Day to all the moms among you! :)  If your house is like my house, it's just possible that no one will offer to vacuum, do laundry, and cook on Sunday so that you can loll about eating bonbons on the couch, so here's a little Mom's day treat just for you :)





Now go have a wonderful weekend! :)


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18. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Cock-a-Doodle Oops! PLUS A Giveaway!!!

Thank goodness it's Friday!

I've been waiting for MONTHS to share this book with you (because I was lucky enough to get an advance copy), and it's finally officially out, so I can finally post it for Perfect Picture Book Friday!

Not only that, but I have a signed copy to give away to one lucky commenter!  All you have to do is bake me cookies er tell me and Lori which farm animal you are and why in the comments :)

I, for example, would be the horse because I am beautiful and graceful and I can run like the wind...

*snort*

Yeah, I didn't think anyone would buy that :)  I can't even sell it to myself :)  But I do really love horses - that should count for something!

If it's too hard to think of yourself as a farm animal on Friday morning at the end of a long week, you can just tell us who you'd like the book for.  That will be less sporting and some people might judge you for wimping out, but not me!  Nosirreebob!  I will not think any less of you if you don't have the gumption to declare to the world that you belong in the donkey shed!

Title: Cock-a-Doodle Oops!
Written By: Lori Degman
Illustrated By: Deborah Zemke
Creston Books, May 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: friendship, helping others, jobs, animals (farm)

Opening: "Farmer McPeeper was such a deep sleeper;
not even an earthquake could shake him.
A poke or a pinch wouldn't budge him an inch,
'cause only his rooster could wake him."

Brief Synopsis: Poor Rooster!  He's tired of getting up so early every morning!  What he needs is a vacation.  Leaving the other animals in charge, Rooster heads for the beach.  Animal after animal tries their best, but no one can wake Farmer McPeeper.  Rooster's return is greeted with relief, but he's caught a cold.  How will they ever get the sleepy Farmer up now?

Links To Resources: Teacher's Guide to Cock-A-Doodle Oops,  Farm animal coloring pages, classroom activities to learn about volunteers, emergency animal rescue, what do I want to be when I grow up, workers and the work they do.  Talk about jobs kids are familiar with and what kind of skills are necessary to do those jobs, or what personality traits would be helpful.  Talk about friendship and what kinds of things friends might do for each other.  Enjoy the YouTube video where Marissa Moss reads the story aloud HERE.

Why I Like This Book:  This book is fun from start to finish!  The rhyme is expertly written, catchy, and fun to read aloud.  The attempts of the various animals to wake the sleeping farmer are hilarious, and kids will enjoy calling out the different crows - cock-a-doodle moo, cock-a-doodle baa, etc.  The illustrations are bright and colorful and a perfect match for the story.  When Rooster returns from his vacation with a cold, the animals have to come up with an inventive solution to get the farmer out of bed.  When at last the farmer is up, he delivers a surprise ending that is clever and funny... but I can't say what it is here because that would be telling :)  Just mosey on out and get yourself a copy.  You won't be sorry.  It's delightful :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Lori and I were going to do a little interview or something to go along with this post, but it appears we didn't quite get our act together in time.  I don't know how that happened.  I am the epitome of organization.  Ask anyone.  And please ignore the rapidly increasing length of my nose :)

So anyway, at the very least, here's Lori :)

Lori Degman is a teacher of Deaf/Hard of Hearing students by day and a writer of picture books by night, weekend and school holiday. She lives in a northern suburb of Chicago with her husband and two dogs. Her debut picture book, 1 Zany Zoo was the winner of the Cheerios New Author Contest and a mini version was distributed inside 2.2 million boxes of Cheerios. The hardcover was published by Simon & Schuster in 2010. Ms. Degman's second picture book, Cock-a-Doodle Oops! was released by Creston Books on May 13th.


You can also see a wonderful interview with her over at Laura Sassi's HERE, another review of Cock-A-Doodle Oops at Sue Morris's HERE, and another terrific interview at Carrie Brown's HERE.

Now then, my little chickens, get thee to the comments and tell us which farm animal you are and why (or just tell us who you'd like the book for), and one lucky commenter will get a signed copy of this fabulous book!

OR...

Ooh!  How 'bout this?

If you REALLY want to impress us, you can write your own crowing line!  Examples from Lori's book are:
Her cock-a-doodle-cluck didn't have any pluck
His cock-a-doodle-bleeeeat just couldn't compete
Her cock-a-doodle-whoooooooo just didn't ring true
What kind of rhyming crow can you think up for the farmyard animal of your choice??? :)

Please leave your comment by Sunday May 18 at 5 PM EDT and then random.org will choose the winner and I will announce it on Monday.

PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you and see what treasures you have to share this week!

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!!! :)


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19. Perfect Picture Book Friday - This Is A Moose

My goodness what a busy week that was!  I can't believe it's Friday again already!

I didn't manage to finish even half the work I hoped to get done, but I did get to go on a particularly wonderful school visit.  Look at the lovely displays they made to welcome me:



So bright and cheery, aren't they?  And lots and lots of my favorite characters :)

I was hoping to have a picture with the kids in it, but I didn't get it in time.  Trust me - they were terrific, and super cute too :)

But now, it is time for a Perfect Picture Book!  This is such a fun one!  If you haven't had a chance to see it, trot right over to the library.  It will make you laugh :)

Title: This Is A Moose
Written By: Richard T. Morris
Illustrated By: Tom Lichtenheld
Little Brown & Company, May 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: being yourself, imagination, perseverance

Opening: "This is the Mighty Moose.  His father is a moose.  His mother is a moose.  This moose wants to be an astronaut. CUT!"

Brief Synopsis: Billy Waddler is making a film.  A film about a moose.  At least, it's supposed to be about a moose.  But this moose simply will not conform to Billy's idea of what a moose should be.  In fact, no one in this book is behaving the way they're supposed to.  What's a filmmaker to do?

Links To Resources:  Fun facts about moose;  Classroom activities about moose, including a hands-and-feet moose poster and a make-your-own moose with moving parts; Moose coloring pages; Moose maze (there are other animal mazes, too); read and compare with Morris The Moose Goes To School by Bernard Wiseman; ask your kids or students what they want to be when they grow up.



Why I Like This Book:  This book is colorful, engaging, and funny.  The filmmaker is single-minded in his mission, and the other characters consistently frustrate him with their non-conformity, resulting in some great comedy :)  The story is about characters who refuse to be pigeon-holed into stereotypical roles, and it carries the messages that you should be yourself no matter what, and that no one person's vision is more important than another's.  The art is fabulous and includes many fun details that kids will enjoy exploring.  I dare you not to love this book :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific links in the list below so we can all come visit you and see what delights you chose this week!

Have a GREAT Memorial Day weekend, everyone, and enjoy the day off Monday while we celebrate  and give thanks for the brave men and women who gave the last full measure of devotion for their country.  Although summer won't really begin for another month, Memorial Day always seems like the moment it arrives, so happy summer, everyone! :)


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20. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Red Sings From Treetops

Happy Friday Everyone!!!

Guess what?

Next week is the 100th Perfect Picture Book Week!

Can you believe it?

We should probably have a party.

Except...

Next Friday - only one week from right this very second - the day of the 100th Perfect Picture Book post - is when I leave for the SCBWI conference I'm teaching at.

Teaching GROWNUPS!  IN REAL LIFE not online!

(Can you say petrified? :))

I am finishing the pile of critiques.  I am trying to prepare my workshop in a way that will hopefully sound coherent and give the participants a fun and meaningful experience.  I'm also winding up my May online class and starting my June one.  My children are arriving home from college which necessitates driving to pick up, loading and unloading cars, masses of laundry, and packing things away for the summer.  Oh, and I'm babysitting for my granddaughters on Sunday and in charge of the barn chores until my friend gets back from her mini break.  All good things in every way, but I'm feeling a little like I just don't have enough time in the day!

So I'm not sure if I'm going to manage to plan a party.

And you will also have to (please!) forgive me for recycling a Perfect Picture Book today!

I don't feel bad too about it, though, because this book is one of my all-time favorites.  I use it as an example of beautiful language in my class, and if you haven't had a chance to read it you're truly missing out.  Get thee to the library right quick!


Red Sings From Treetops: A Year In Colors
Written By: Joyce Sidman
Illustrated By: Pamela Zagarenski
Houghton Mifflin Books For Children, April 2009, Fiction

Suitable For: ages 5 and up

Themes: Colors, Seasons, Poetry

Opening:
"In SPRING,
Red sings from treetops:
cheer-cheer-cheer,
each note dropping
like a cherry
into my ear.

Red turns
the maples feathery,
sprouts in rhubarb spears;
Red squirms on the road after rain."

(Don't you just love that?  Can't you just hear that cardinal singing and see the worms wiggling on the pavement?)

Brief Synopsis:  From the jacket: "Color comes alive in this whimsical, innovative book."  That pretty much sums it up!

Links To ResourcesJunior Library Guild Activity GuidePoem StartersReaders Guide

Why I Like This Book:  I love the lyrical language of this book.  The author was so creative in her thinking - the way she describes the colors makes you see, feel, hear, touch, and taste Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.  The art is exquisite and perfectly suited to the poetry.  How can you not love lines like,
"Green waits
in the hearts of trees,
feeling
the earth
turn."

I hope you'll get a chance to read this book, linger over the language, enjoy the images it evokes, maybe challenge yourself or your children to come up with your own descriptions!

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

I want to take this opportunity to let you all know that PPBF will be going on hiatus for the summer as usual.  I am open to popular opinion as to whether next Friday (June 6) or the following Friday (June 13) will be the last day.  As I said, I will not be here next Friday.  Princess Blue Kitty (my car for those of you who don't know her) and I will be on the road to the aforementioned SCBWI conference.  But y'all can carry on and I'll catch up after the weekend.  Assuming I survive :)  Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments.  As for a party, I guess we could maybe have it a week late...???

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come see what delights you have in store for us this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! :)



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21. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Oops

Hi Everyone!

Happy Friday!

As you all know, I am shuffling off to Buffalo to the SCBWI conference.  And it's finally happened.  I have run out of time.

Does anyone here realize how long it takes to try to turn a perfectly good online course into a one day workshop?  Sheesh!  I had no idea!  And shockingly (because you all know how organized I am and how good I am at estimating time :)) I underestimated how much time I'd need.  I've been nose-to-the-grindstone for days, and when I realized at 11:45 PM that I'd forgotten it was Thursday and hadn't done a Perfect Picture Book I was too zombified to come up with a decent plan.

So here is my indecent plan :)

I am posting the list, packing up Princess Blue Kitty, and hitting the road!

Please wish me luck.  I'm not at all sure I can do this.  There's a reason writers are perfectly happy writing in the kitchen with their dogs where they don't have to be outgoing and brave!

Hopefully I will see you Monday with the last installment of Clarike Bowman-Jahn's book tour for Edmund Pickle Chin!

And even though today is technically the 100th Perfect Picture Book Friday, we will celebrate next week with our last PPBF post before the summer hiatus!

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! :)


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22. 100 Weeks Of Perfect Picture Books! (Celebrated In The 101st Week!) - I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo! PLUS PRIZES!

WOO-HOO!!!

Can you believe it?

In spite of the fact that Perfect Picture Books goes on vacation every summer, we are now celebrating the 100th week of Perfect Picture Book Fridays!  (Just in time to go on summer vacation again :))

100 weeks of fabulous picture books with resources of all kinds to make them easy for parents and teachers to use at home and in the classroom!

100 weeks of highly recommended books listed alphabetically and by theme to make it easy for gift-givers to find the perfect picture book for that special little someone!

100 weeks of perfect examples that we, as writers, can study and learn from!

To date, we have picture books listed in 226 themes/categories.

And we have - get this! - 2055 Perfect Picture Books on our list!!!

(Or, we would if I ever got caught up updating!  Which is on my to-do list for this summer along with about a million other things :))

For those of you who haven't noticed yet (because I haven't announced it because I'm not finished with it :)), Perfect Picture Books is now on Pinterest.  I'm hoping it will make it easier to search.  But it's a work in progress and far from complete!  If you want to check it out, here's the link: http://www.pinterest.com/susannaleonard/

So really, after all the hard work you guys have put in, all the wonderful picture books and resources that are now available to teachers, parents, writers, and gift-givers everywhere, I think we should celebrate!!!

First, we need cake (obviously!) :)


Next, we need streamers. . .

. . . confetti. . .

. . . and balloons!

And last but not least, we need prizes for all the amazing bloggers who have contributed so devotedly week after week to this effort!  So let's do today's Perfect Picture Book, and hopefully by then I will have thought up a plan.  I'll meet you down below after you're done reading about this delightful book!

Title: I Am Cow, Hear Me Moo!
Written By: Jill Esbaum
Illustrated By: Gus Gordon
Dial (Penguin Group), May 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: honesty, courage, animals

Opening: "Nadine was a truly remarkable cow.
There was nothing she feared - so she claimed, anyhow.
"Not lightning?" asked Starla.  "Loud noises? A rat?"
"I'm not scared," Nadine boasted, "of any of that."
"The woods?" asked Annette.  "'Cause that place scares me stiff."
"Not me," bragged Nadine with a proud little sniff.
"As a matter of fact, just to prove it, let's go!"
(She was certain her meek-hearted friends would say no.)

Brief Synopsis: Nadine boasts that she isn't afraid of anything!  When her friends call her bluff, she learns that sometimes acting brave can make you feel brave... and sometimes it can't!  And when she's hailed as a hero for saving her friends, she has the choice to 'fess up and admit she was just as scared as they were or let her friends believe what they want.  Which do you think Nadine chooses? :)

Links To Resources: this book will give parents and teachers a great opportunity to have discussions about what courage is, and what makes a person brave.  Is it not being afraid? Or is it going forward in spite of your fear?  It will also give an opportunity to talk about honesty.  Is is okay to lie if it ends up being the truth?  Is it okay to let people believe something good about you even if it's not exactly deserved?  Talk with kids about things they're afraid of.  What do they think could make them feel braver?  Ask kids if they've ever lied about something and gotten caught?  How did they feel?  Classroom Activities: Honesty, Classroom Activities: Courage.


Why I Like This Book:  Nadine is so full of herself, so spunky and fun, and so believable because haven't we all met kids (or adults :)) who can bluster their way through just about anything?!  Kids will relate to this confident bovine who pretends not to be scared of the Deep. Dark. Woods. only to discover that she really isn't afraid... until the sun goes down!  Things unravel a bit (I don't want to spoil it :)) but she ends up saving her friends (completely by accident) and is hailed as a brave hero... an illusion she chooses not to discourage :)  The art is lively and entertaining, and the story is fun and full of humor!

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

So.  About those prizes!  Since we're celebrating Perfect Picture Books, I'd like to give away a few :)  I wish I could give everyone a prize, but I have yet to become one of those authors who makes millions of dollars :)  Instead, I've chosen a few books that have been widely well-received that I hope you guys might want to win:

Journey by Aaron Becker (Candlewick)
Mr. Wuffles by David Weisner (Clarion)
Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt, illus. by Matthew Forsythe (Simon & Schuster)
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli (Disney/Hyperion)
On A Beam Of Light: A Story Of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, illus. by Vladimir Radunsky (Chronicle)
Mitchell Goes Bowling by Hallie Durand, illus. by Tony Fucile (Candlewick)
The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illus. by Jon Klassen (Little, Brown)
This Is The Rope: A Story Of The Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by James Ransome (Nancy Paulsen Books)
Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, illus. by Christian Robinson (Atheneum)

+1 - If you'd like to win one of these fabulous books, please leave a comment below.
+1 - If you follow the Perfect Picture Books Pinterest Board, you'll get an additional chance to win (if you already follow, please remind me, if you don't already follow, there's no time like the present :))  http://www.pinterest.com/susannaleonard/
+5 - If you've posted 50 or more Perfect Picture Books on your blog over the course of the past 100 weeks, tell me that and I'll give you 5 additional chances to win!  (Scout's Honor - I don't have time to count! - but I think I know who qualifies :))

(And if there's a book your particularly hope to win or one that you already own, feel free to let me know.)

Please leave your comments/follow the Pinterest Board/let me know if you've posted 50 or more PPBs etc. by Sunday June 15 at 5 PM EDT.  Names will be entered the appropriate number of times into random.org and 9 winners will be randomly chosen and matched with the books.

My deepest thanks to all the bloggers who have supported this effort so whole-heartedly, and to all the readers who come by to share our love of picture books every week!  Perfect Picture Books would not exist without you!

And maybe we'll have another celebration/giveaway in September when we start up again because I'd really like to spread the word about PPBF but now is a dumb time since we're about to go on Summer Vacation! :)

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you one last time before summer!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and I look forward to hearing from you all in the comments!!! :)


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23. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Goodnight, Ark PLUS A Giveaway!!!

Dzoo dzoo-doo dzoo dzoo dzoo dzooooo!!!

(That's me playing my kazoo in celebration.  You didn't know I was a kazoo virtuoso, did you?  Just another of my many talents.  I am also a whiz at removing toothpaste "mints" from the sink :))

Welcome back to another year of Perfect Picture Book Fridays!

I am so looking forward to all the new picture books we're going to share!

Parents, teachers, readers, and writers take note!  There will be something for everyone to enjoy and learn from :)

I am thrilled to be presenting a wonderful book for the 2014-2015 PPBF kick-off, written by none other than your friend and mine, Laura Sassi.  Since this is part of her blog tour, we are fortunate to have her here with us today, sharing her thoughts on the illustrations and how parents and teachers can engage their kids through them.  She and her publisher, Zonderkidz, are also generously offering a giveaway, so one lucky reader will win a copy of this delightful book! (U.S. residents only - street address, no P.O. box - publisher's stipulation.)  Laura's thoughts and the giveaway will appear below the book listing.

Title: Goodnight, Ark
Written By: Laura Sassi
Illustrated By: Jane Chapman
Zonderkidz, August 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8 (according to publisher, but I think ages 2-3 would enjoy it too :))

Themes/Topics: animals, bedtime, fear (of thunderstorms), language fun (rhyme, onomatopoeia)

Opening: "Beds are ready.
Food is stored.
Noah hollers,
"All aboard!"
Guests rush forward.
Furry, scaled,
woolly, feathered,
swishy-tailed."

Brief Synopsis: Two by two, the animals board Noah's ark.  They're supposed to settle down and go to sleep... but the heavy rain, thunder and lightning frighten them, so two by two they climb in bed with Noah!  How much can one bed take? And will anybody get any sleep?

Links To Resources: talk about onomatopoetic words - what onomatopoetic words can kids think up?  Words for eating sounds? Engine noises? Musical sounds?; Noah's Ark coloring page #1Noah's Ark coloring page #2; talk about the bible story of Noah's ark - how is it like GOODNIGHT, ARK and how is it different?; talk about fears - is anyone afraid of storms?  What other things are frightening?  What can you do to feel safe and secure when you're frightened?; the animals are described as "furry, scaled, woolly, feathered, swishy-tailed" - what animals can you think of that are furry? scaled? etc.; please see Laura's thoughts below on ways to use the illustrations; here's the link to book trailer (in case it doesn't load properly here :)) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRsc-pKmKwM




Why I Like This Book: This is a delightful story - an entertaining, clever, child-friendly twist on the original Noah's ark.  The text is the perfect length for young attention spans.  The rhyme is filled with fun onomatopoetic words that kids will enjoy joining in with.  The art is bright, colorful and engaging, filled with small details that will keep young listeners busy.  But possibly my favorite thing is the skunks who have a whole story of their own going on in the illustrations.  Start looking for them in the 4th spread and watch what happens :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

The Importance of Illustration - Thoughts From Laura Sassi
(A lesson for writers, and an opportunity for parents, teachers, and kids :))

Author Laura Sassi
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One of the basic rules of picture book writing is that writers need to let the illustrations tell part of the story. I understood this in principle, but it wasn’t until I saw Jane Chapman’s delightful illustrations for GOODNIGHT, ARK that it really hit home. I mean, WOW! Her illustrations truly show that principle in action and are a great reminder for me, that as a writer, I should curb any lingering tendency to over-describe or over-prescribe my texts and let the illustrators do their jobs.  

Here, then, are some great examples of how Jane used illustration to add humor and even extra plot details to GOODNIGHT, ARK. You’ll have to look carefully, for they are subtly sprinkled throughout her rich and colorful spreads:
1.Extra Animals: In addition to the key players, Jane adds extra animal guests.  I found nine extra pairs. Can you?
2. Extra (funny!)provisions: The text makes no mention of specific provisions, leaving lots of room for Jane to add humorous extras like the canned cat food that rolls across the floor on the tippiest page in the story.  It took me several reads to notice them! What other funny provisions do you see?
3. Underwear!: Every child I’ve read my story to has howled at Jane’s humorous inclusion of polka-dotted boxers quietly hanging on the line to dry.  We’ve also chuckled over the toothbrush. Both nice touches, I would never have thought of. What other humorous extras can you find?
4. Extra Plot Layer:  I don’t want to give away the most exciting part, but a certain pair of creatures is instrumental in restoring balance on the ark. In her illustrations, Jane brings out the personality of this pair in a darling way, even hinting through their gestures that they planned the whole stinky thing.  I LOVE that extra layering! 

Thanks, Laura!  To see the other stops on Laura's blog tour (6 completed, 4 upcoming) please click HERE for the links.


And now for the giveaway!  All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment telling us something funny about bedtime: a favorite trick for getting kids to bed? an unusual bedtime routine? something kids won't sleep without? some clever way kids try to get out of bedtime?  Anything fun and bedtime-related.  Bonus point if it includes an animal in some way :)

My example (which does not include animals except as occasional topics of discussion) is that when my son was little, he was never ready for sleep when he got in bed.  Instead, he had what he called his "thinking time" which inevitably (Every. Night!) involved him getting up numerous times and coming to ask me such can't-wait questions as, "How much is infinity?", "Where does wind come from?", "How many teeth does a tyrannosaurus rex have?", and "Why is it called the Milky Way?"  To which I would respond knowledgeably, "Uh......." :)

Please leave your comment by Sunday September 14 at 5 PM EDT.  A winner will be chosen at random and announced next week.  One note: the publisher stipulates that the winner must reside in the U.S. and have a street address, not a PO box, so please let us know if you're commenting just for fun and are not eligible.

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  Hurray!  Can't wait!!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!


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24. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Little Blue Truck

Phew!

I don't know about you, but I'm glad it's Friday!  This week has been long and busy!  I'm plumb tuckered out!  (That's Little House On The Prairie speak for "tired" :))

Today's character is not plumb tuckered out, though.  He is busy and helpful :)

Title: Little Blue Truck
Written By: Alice Schertle
Illustrated By: Jill McElmurry
Harcourt Children's Books, 2008, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: friendship, helping, animals

Opening: "Horn went "BEEP!"
Engine purred.
Friendliest sounds
you ever heard.

Little Blue Truck
came down the road.
"BEEP!" said Blue
to a big green toad."

Brief Synopsis: A friendly Little Blue Truck drives down a country road, beeping hello to everyone he passes - a toad, a sheep, a cow, a piggy, etc.  All is well until a self-important dump truck comes along, shouldering everyone out of the way.  When the dump truck gets mired in the mud, it's up to Little Blue and his animal friends to help out even though the dump truck hadn't been very nice to them.

Links To Resources: draw and color in your own Little Blue Truck (or truck of any color of your choosing :)) and add in any animals that YOU would like to include in your journey; talk about what it means to be a friend; talk about the importance of helping others, even if they don't help you; K-5 Teaching Guide to Being Friends

Why I Like This Book:  This is a cute, fun book that will entertain toddlers through young elementary schoolers.  The beginning has lots of fun animals sounds to join in on and practice, and the rhythm of the text mimics the rhythm of the Little Blue Truck bounding down the road.   The end has a nice message about friendship and helping others.  The pictures are cute and friendly and warm - perfect for this lively little book :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Apropos of nothing, Linda Boyden (who always posts awesome stuff!) posted a picture on FB a few days ago of a bear charging down the middle of a road.  The picture said, "Not a runner?  Now you are!" (I'd post it here, but I'd probably be breaking every copyright rule in the book!)  Anyway, I had to laugh, because I saw the picture yesterday, and then this morning when I was out "running" with my dogs, guess who we saw?  THE BEAR!  We were all pretty surprised.  There was a lot of barking (Scout) and pleading (me saying, "Scouty, PLEASE!  Leave that bear alone and come HERE RIGHT NOW!") and lumbering off into the bushes thank goodness (the bear), but golly, that'll get the ole heart pounding at 6 AM!

So I know that has nothing whatsoever to do with Perfect Picture Book Friday or the book I'm sharing today, but I had to tell SOMEONE! :)

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! :)


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25. Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Very Best Pumpkin

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Guess what?

We got snow last night!

Have you had your first snow yet this year?

I'm afraid I wasn't ready with a book about snow, but I do have a lovely story of fall and friendship to share today :)

Title: The Very Best Pumpkin
Written By: Mark Kimball Moulton
Illustrated By: Karen Hillard Good
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, August 2010, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: friendship, seasons (autumn), nature/gardening (pumpkins)

Opening: "Down a winding country lane and over a rolling hill you'll find Pumpkin Hollow Farm, where a young boy named Peter lives with his grandparents, Mimi and Papa."

Brief Synopsis: While caring for pumpkins on his grandparents' farm, Peter discovers a little lonely one all off by itself.  He takes special care of it, and it grows into a beautiful perfect pumpkin.  Will he save it for himself?  Or give it to someone special?


Links To Resources: the back of the book has "Peter's Guide To Growing Your Own Very Best Pumpkin"; easy recipe for pumpkin bread; Jack-O-Lantern and Pumpkin Coloring Pages; go for a walk and look for signs of autumn; talk about how to make a friend

Why I Like This Book: The story is simple, sweet, and very appealing.  Peter tends the pumpkins while Meg, brand new to the neighborhood and given to sitting alone and reading, keeps an interested (but distant) eye on the proceedings.  When Meg comes to the pumpkin farm to pick a pumpkin, she can't find the right one... until Peter leads her out to his special pumpkin (which he has carefully saved, knowing she has been there watching) and gives it to her - the beginning of a beautiful friendship.  The art is warm, and inviting - full of charm and homey details.  All around, a comforting and cozy read.  And you get to learn a little something about growing pumpkins as an added bonus :)

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Before we all go off to read everyone's wonderful selections for the week, I want to thank you all for your kind and supportive comments on Wednesday.  Such thoughtfulness and friendship truly make dealing with rejection easier, and your kindness meant so much to me.  And I just want you to know that I didn't write that post with the intent of getting sympathy - I wanted to share the things that matter to me, the things I love about my writing life, along with the reality of this path we've chosen.  I wanted other writers not to feel alone on their hard days because we all have them.  And I wanted people to know that rejection can happen at any stage in your writing career - it's not just for those who are new to the publishing world!  It just goes with the territory.  And maybe the rejections help us savor the acceptances just that much more, the disappointments making the joy that much sweeter. All that said, I very much appreciated your sympathy and feel lucky to have such friends! :)  And I hope any of you who gets an acceptance will come over here and shout it from the rooftops so we can all celebrate with you! :)

Oh!  And one more thing!  On Monday (good lord willing and the creek don't rise!) I will have a special post to share with y'all!  It's something good... something exciting... something full of potential goodies... so you won't want to miss it!  Come right over when you wake up on Monday!!!

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! :)


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