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1. 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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2. 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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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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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6. 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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7. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Mathilda And The Orange Balloon

Would someone please tell me how it got to be Friday?

Seriously!  Where did this week go?  I am still somewhere back around midday Monday...

But since the rest of the world seems to agree that it's Friday, let's have a Perfect Picture Book, shall we?

Title: Mathilda And The Orange Balloon
Written By: Randall de Seve
Illustrated By: Jen Corace
Balzer & Bray, Feb. 2010, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-7

Themes/Topics: imagination, be yourself/individuality

Opening: "Mathilda's world was small.  Here's what was in it: Green grass.  Green barn.  Gray skies.  Gray stones.  Gray sheep."

Brief Synopsis: Mathilda lives in a small, familiar world, which is all very nice, until one day she spies an orange balloon.  She is captivated, and she believes that she can be an orange balloon too!

Links To Resources: Preschool lesson plan for the color orange; learning activities for the color orange; preschool lesson plan for sheep; pair this book with other sheep books like Sheep In A Jeep by Nancy Shaw and discuss how the sheep in the books are alike and different; pair this book with other imagination books like Harold And The Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson and discuss how Mathilda uses her imagination compared to how Harold uses his.

Why I Like This Book: This book is just darling!  Mathilda is so delightful, so cheerful, so optimistic and imaginative and determined.  "What is a balloon?" she asks, and when the others answer that it is round and it flies, Mathilda (who is a gray sheep) shows them that she too is round and can fly.  "What is orange?" she asks, and when the others answer that it is fierce like a tiger, warm like wool, and happy, she shows them that she is all those things too.  The art and the text are simple and sweet, and the message that you can be anything you want if you believe in yourself is one that is near and dear to my heart (since it is the same message that Punxsutawney Phyllis has :))  And I just have to share my favorite line from the story when Mathilda first catches sight of the orange balloon: "Mathilda had never seen anything so magnificent." :)

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

PPBF bloggers, please be sure to leave your post-specific links in the list below so we can all come visit you and enjoy your selections for this week!

Have a great weekend, everyone!  I guess we will all be working on writing our fairy tales... wink wink nudge nudge... right??? :) (For March Madness Writing Contest guidelines go HERE.)


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8. Perfect Picture Book Friday - Sparky

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

It's been a couple weeks!

What with the March Madness Writing Contest and all the long posts for the finalists and the winners, etc., I think we could all use a break.  So today I'm going to do my best to be brief :)

I hope you all enjoy this picture book as much as I do :)

Title: Sparky
Written By: Jenny Offill
Illustrated By: Chris Appelhans
Schwartz & Wade Books, March 2014, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: age 3-8

Themes/Topics: pets, being yourself

Opening: "I wanted a pet. A bird or a bunny or a trained seal.  My mother said no to the bird.  No to the bunny. No no no to the trained seal."

Brief Synopsis: A little girl's mother says she can have any pet she wants as long as it doesn't need to be walked or bathed or fed.  So the little girl finds just the pet to fit the requirements... A sloth... whom she names Sparky :)

Here the girl plays with Sparky and introduces us to Mary Potts

Links To Resources: Talk about what makes a good pet; discuss the pros and cons of various pets, 10 Popular Small Pets, Best Pets For Kids slideshow, Rainforest Classroom Activities, read with "Slowly, slowly, slowly," said the Sloth by Eric Carle, or perhaps with other picture books about more boisterous pets for comparison.

Why I Like This Book: I love Sparky.  He's so cute!  And so sleepy and slow :)  And I admire any child who can come up with a pet that doesn't break the rules of not needing to be walked or bathed or fed.  The girl tries to play games with Sparky, but with the exception of Statues he's not much good at them.  In response to annoying Mary Potts from across the street she tries to teach him tricks to show what a good pet he is.  But aside from excelling at playing dead he's not much good at that either.  But you know what? She doesn't care.  For her, Sparky is "it" :)  And what a nice message that pets can just be loved for who they are.

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

How'd I do?  Brief enough? :)

PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come see what you picked and make our library lists for the weekend :)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! :)


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9. 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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10. 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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11. 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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12. 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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13. 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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14. 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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15. Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Giving Tree

For this week’s Perfect Picture Book Friday I chose the Shel Silverstein Classic, The Giving Tree.

 

 

 

 

Title:  The Giving Tree

Author/Illustrator: Shel Silverstein

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (1964)

Ages: 7 and up (the Publisher has it listed for 10+)

Themes:  Growing up, cause and effect, friendship, giving, acceptance

Synopsis:

  Once there was a tree

And she loved a little boy.

And every day the boy would come

And he would gather her leaves

and make them

into crowns

and play king of the forest.

This is a delightful tale of the friendship and love of a little boy and his beloved tree. The tree is always there for the boy, all through out his years. It is a story of love and friendship told in the perfect way that Shel Silverstein was known for.

From the publisher:  Once there was a little tree … and she loved a little boy.

So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk … and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave.

This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.

Activities:

Shel Silverstein.com has a wonderful collection of activities, downloadables and even an app!

Unique teaching resources.com has some great ideas on using the book in the classroom

The Web English Teacher has some lesson plans

Easy Fun School is a

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16. Perfect Picture Book Fridays: John Philip Duck

The book I chose is a historical fiction book about a boy, music and ducks, John Philip Duck by Patricia Polacco.

Title:  John Philip Duck

Author/Illustrator: Patricia Polacco

Publisher: Philomel Books (Division of Penguin Young Readers)

Ages: 5 & up

Themes: animals, arts, biography, bravery, cause & effect, creativity, diversity, culture, helping others

Opening and Synopsis: 

Edward was a sweet boy who lived with his family on a small farm

just outside of Memphis in the foothills of Tennessee. Times were hard.

There was a depression on and money was hard to come by.

Even though Edward was just a kid, he and his father worked at the same hotel in Memphis.

During the work week they stayed at the hotel, but on the weekends they both went home.

From the book jacket: When young Edward first brought his tiny wild duck to the grand hotel where he worked with his pa, his only thought was to keep it hidden. After all, he just needed a warm place for his little pet to stay during the day. Everyone helped to keep his secret.

Until one day, when Mr. Schutt, the blustery hotel manager, discovered the duck swimming in the lobby fountain! Surprised but not defeated, Edward showed Mr. Schutt how his duck could perform, even march to a John Philip Sousa tune. Maybe Edward could train other ducks to do the same. All he needed was Mr. Schutt’s okay-but could he get it in time to save John Philip Duck?

Activities:

Go on Itunes and Spotify and listen to some John Philip Sousa music.

Visit online the Peabody Hotel in Memphis

Coloring pages of ducks

Patricia has some neat activities and free bookmarks at her website

Try a discussion with kids on tricks your favorite pets do. Do any of them like music?

What’s your favorite genre of music? Why?

What I liked about this book:  Even though it is historical fiction, this story felt so real to me. It was fun to find out that th

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17. Perfect Picture Book Fridays – Corduroy

 

My pick for this week’s Perfect Picture Book Friday is a classic favorite “Corduroy” by Don Freeman.

 

 

 

 

Title: Corduroy Author/Illustrator: Don Freeman Publisher: The Viking Press a division of Penguin Books (1968) Scholastic Inc.

Ages: 3-7

Synopsis/Opening:

Corduroy is a bear who once lived in the toy department of a big store.

Day after day he waited with all of the other animals

and dolls for somebody to come along and take him home.

This book is about a little toy bear named Corduroy. He longs for a home of his own and a child to love him. He thinks that maybe it’s the missing button on his overalls. So he goes on an adventure inside the store to find a new button. It’s a sweet story of the longing for being loved and belonging somewhere.

From the publisher, Scholastic:  Don Freeman’s classic character, Corduroy, continues to stir the hearts and imagination of children and adults around the world. Published thirty years ago, this children’s book, in which a bear leaves the safety of his department store shelf in order to do almost anything to be adopted by a little girl, is one of the most endearing… and enduring in existence. Instilling the theme of hope and compassion, there’s no doubt that this beloved picture book will continue to be a favorite for each new generation awaiting to have their own “Corduroy” experience.

Born in San Diego, California, Freeman moved to New York City in the 1940′s to study art while making a living as a jazz trumpeter. He died in 1978, leaving his beloved audience with a treasury of classic children’s stories. Corduroy is a story that all children can relate to.

Themes:  Adventure, belonging, kindness/compassion/generosity, emotions, exploration, friendship, hope, love

Activities:

United Teaching Discoveries has a number of fun activities and guides

Scholastic has a teacher’s guide and activities

An idea for a home project would be to find an old toy and fix it up. Sew new clothes or find new clothes for it. Patch up the places it is worn.

Coloring Pages for Corduroy:

Twisty Noodle

Scribd

thefirstschool.ws

 

 

Why I love this book:  Well, besides the adorable illustrations, one can’t help but feel sadness for this little bear. We’ve all had favorite toys we’ve cast aside. Whenever I go to a store and see a sad little stuffed bear I always think of Corduroy. And yes, sometimes I do buy it Add a Comment

18. Perfect Picture Book Friday – Hi Cat!

My pick this week for Perfect Picture Book Fridays is a book one of my favorite author/illustrators, Ezra Jack Keats

Title: Hi, Cat!

Author: Ezra Jack Keats

Publisher: Macmillan Company (1970) Viking Juvenile (1999)

Ages: 3 and up

Themes: Appreciation/Gratitude, Animals, Accidents, Conflict/Resolution

Synopsis:  Archie goes to meet his friend Peter (Remember The Snowy Day?)so they can put on a street show for the neighborhood. On his way, he meets a stray cat. The cat ends up following Archie to the show. It proceeds to mess up all of Archie’s plans. But Archie doesn’t get mad. He accepts what happens and sees that the cat just really likes him.

Opening:  On his way to meet Peter, Archie saw someone new on the block:

“Hi, cat,” he said as he walked by.

From the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation:

Archie is walking down the street eating an ice cream cone. It’s a beautiful day, and he is on his way to meet his best friend Peter. Suddenly stopped by a newcomer to his neighborhood, Archie says, “Hi, cat!” The cat sits, looks him up and down, and purrs. It turns out to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Keats’s vibrant palette brings this humorous, fast-paced story to life.

Activities:

Make your own backyard theater – Here’s some free kids scripts

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation has a wonderful list of resources for educators

PBS Kids has a lists of plays for kids to have fun with

Adopt a kitty of your own! Petfinder.org or locate the nearest Humane Society in your area and visit or foster a pet!

Why I like this book:  I love Ezra Jack Keats of simple storytelling. He lets the reader “fill in the blanks”. I also enjoy his style of illustration. Every book of his that I have read I have loved. He knew how to interpret life in an urban environment and make it interesting and engaging for the reader, no matter what age.

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are a weekly blog event where participants review some of their favo

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19. Perfect Picture Book Fridays – Petunia

Hooray! It’s Fall and time for the weekly blog event Perfect Picture Book Fridays! Each week, author Susanna Hill hosts the event on her blog. To view more of the reviews of wonderful picture books, please go there! This week I am reviewing a fun classic, Petunia by Roger Duvoisin:

Title: Petunia

Author/Illustrator: Roger Duvoisin (1950 Alfred A. Knopf)

Suitable for ages: 4 and up

Themes: Affecting others, animals, cause and effect, confidence, reading

Opening/Synopsis:

In the meadow, early one morning, Petunia, the silly goose, went strolling.

She ate a bug here, clipped off a clover leaf there, and she picked at the dewdrops on the goldenrod leaves.

Then, suddenly, she saw something she had never seen before in the meadow, what was it?

This is the opening of a calamity of errors in which a farm goose finds a book and thinks that holding it will make her wiser. The farm animals start to believe it also and fall again and again for her words of “wisdom”.

Links to resources:

Coloring pages at 123coloring

Learning about the Goose on Animal Planet

Printable book about numbers and birds at Enchanted Learning

IlluStory- make your own story kit at Amazon

Teacher’s guide for Petunia (tv episode but can be used for book) at New Hampshire Public Television

Why I like this book:  I love stories that have a grander message. This one’s message is that just holding a book does not make someone wise, it is reading that counts. The author shows us time and again how the animals ask this silly goose for advice only to have something negative happen to them because of her unwise answer. This strong message about reading is a good rule of thumb for everyone, adults included. I loved the comedic value of the story also. The antics of the goose allowed for some fun illustrations that children will love.

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are a weekly blog event where participants review some of their favorite picture books. The posts are compiled on author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website. They are categorized by theme to help parents, educators and readers find the perfect picture book easily. To learn more, please visit Susanna’s site where you will find the complete PPBF’s library.

 



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20. Perfect Picture Book Fridays: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush

 

I am adding the book, The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush retold and illustrated by Tomie de Paola to the Perfect Picture Book Fridays List.

 

 

Title: The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush

Author/Illustrator: Tomie de Paola

Publisher: Puffin 1996

Ages: 4 and Up

Themes: Be Yourself, Special Talents, Self-Esteem/Self-Worth, Self-Acceptance, Nature, History

Opening/Synopsis:

“Many years ago when the People traveled the Plains and lived in a circle of teepees, there was a boy who was smaller than the rest of the children in the tribe. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t keep up with the other boys who were always riding, running, shooting their bows, and wrestling to prove their strength. Sometimes his mother and father worried for him.

This folk tale is a retold legend of how the wildflower, The Indian Paintbrush, came to be on the plains of North America. It is the tale of a Native American boy, Little Gopher, who is small and longs to be a warrior. His path leads different than others however. Little Gopher has a Dream Vision in which he is told to paint on buckskin the deeds of the warriors and the legends of the tribe. He longs to be a great hero to the tribe, and eventually he succeeds, but not in the way of the warrior as he thought.

The colorful illustrations accentuate the authenticity of a tale that encourages children to follow a different drummer. – Children’s Book Review Service.

The humanity expressed in this story illustrates the value of perseverance and of the endurance of effort that will bring its reward – School Library Journal (starred review).

Activities:

The Nebraska DOT has a roadside wildflower guide to download if you plan on traveling through the plains states.

Pinterest has a Wildflowers board of the Midwest

Here is what an Indian Paintbrush plant looks like

The US Forest Service has some coloring pages for wildflowers

Classroom/Home activity:  Discover what native wildflowers are located in the child’s own state. Pick one flower to research. Draw a picture of the flower.

Why I like this book: 

This book touched my heart because it is about a child who is different from everyone else around them. It is how this child overcame adversity to walk their own path in life. Tomie de Paola is one of my favorite author & illustrators who has a way of telling a complex story in a way that children can understand. His illustrations are delightful and fun, making the book even more engaging to children. Tomie writes at the end of the book that he is retelling this legend that was first published in 1965 in an article for Austin American-Statesman by Ruth D. Isley. It is now collected in the book, Texas Wildflowers, Stories and Legends.

 

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are a weekly blog event where participants review some of their favorite picture books. The posts are compiled on author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website. They are categorized by theme to help parents, educators and readers find the perfect picture book easily. To learn more, please visit Susanna’s site where you will find the complete PPBF’s library.

*November is Picture Book Month!  Read *Share *Celebrate!

 



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21. Perfect Picturebook Fridays – When Dinosaurs Came With Everything

Hello everyone! The Fall term of college is over, and I now have some time to do some Perfect Picture Book reviews! Yay! To view more of today’s PPBF’s, please visit author (and founder of PPBF) Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.

Title: When Dinosaurs Came With Everything
Author: Elise Broach
Illustrator: David Small
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster). (2007)
Ages: 3 and Up
Themes: Adventure, Animals, Cause & Effect, Cleaning Up, Conflict Resolution, Consequences, Dinosaurs, Family, Fantasy, Fun, Humor, Imagination, Parenting, Perspective, Problem Solving, Positivity
Opening/Synopsis:
Friday is errand day. My mom goes on boring errands, and I have to go with her. And this Friday seemed like every other Friday…until we got to the bakery. A sign above the donuts read: “Buy a Dozen Get a Dinosaur”.

Inside book jacket:  Get what?! Free what?! Dinosaurs? Just when a little boy thinks he is going to die of boeredom from running errands with his mom, the most remarkable, the most stupendous thing happens. He discovers that on this day, and this day only, stores everywhere are giving away a very special treat with any purchase. No, not the usual lollipop or sticker. Something bigger. Much, MUCH bigger. It’s a dream come true, except…what exactly do you do with these Jurassic treats? And how do you convince Mom to let you keep them?

Reviews:

“Broach and Caldecott Medalist Small’s deadpan delivery of a delectably over-the-top premise makes this tall-format picture book a virtually guaranteed crowd pleaser… Packs an outsize helping of humor.”
– Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“What if one day every merchant in town offered up, and indeed, insisted that shoppers take home a live dinosaur (free) with every purchase? That’s what happens to a boy and his mother in this sweet, absurd story that unfolds very much like a dream.”
– Kirkus, Starred Review

“Enticing, useful, and wish-fulfilling, this has ‘firm favorite’ written all over it, especially if you invite the audience to bring their own, presumably toy, dinosaurs.”
– Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books, Starred Review

Activities:

Printable Coloring Sheets from Simon & Schuster

Dinosaur Quiz

Lesson Plans for Grades K-5 at Discovery.com

Videos from National Geographic Dinosaur 101

Awards this book has won:

• TIME MAGAZINE, #1 CHILDREN’S BOOK OF 2007
• AN ALA NOTABLE BOOK
• E.B. WHITE READ ALOUD AWARD, ASSOCIATION OF BOOKSELLERS FOR CHILDREN
• A JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD SELECTION, 2007

What I liked about this book:  I liked how this book started ordinary, then took a turn for the unusual! I liked how it was told from a kids perspective. The book also had a theme of turning a negative into a positive concerning the Mom’s attitude about pet dinosaurs. The illustrations were lively and fun. This book won the E.B. White Read Aloud Award and I can see why. Each turn of the page offers more craziness as kids everywhere on that day, and that day only get dinosaurs!

 

Geena Davis read this book at the White House Easter Egg Roll in 2011:


Perfect Picture Book Fridays are a weekly blog event where participants review some of their favorite picture books. The posts are compiled on author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website. They are categorized by theme to help parents, educators and readers find the perfect picture book easily. To learn more, please visit Susanna’s site where you will find the complete PPBF’s library.

 

 

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22. Perfect Picture Book Fridays – Over in the Arctic

This week for Perfect Picture Book Fridays I chose the book Over in the Arctic: Where the Cold Wind Blows by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Jill Dubin.

 


Title:  Over in the Arctic- Where The Cold Wind Blows

Author:  Marianne Berkes

Illustrated:  Jill Dubin

Publisher: Dawn Publications 2008

Ages: 3 and up

Themes:  Nature, Animals, Counting

Publishers summary:  A counting book in rhyme presents various Arctic animals and their offspring, from a mother polar bear and her “little cub one” to an old father wolf and his “little pups ten”. Includes related facts and activities.

Opening/Synopsis:

Over in the Arctic

Where the cold waters run,

Lived a mother polar bear

And her little cub one.

“Roll,” said the mother.

“I roll,” said the one.

So they rolled on the ice

Where the cold waters run.

Awards:

Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Gold Award
2009 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award Finalist
Winner of the 2008 IParenting Media Greatest Product Award

Activities:

There are quite a few ideas and activities in the back of the book! It was really neat to see a publisher take the time and space to add activities from both the author and illustrator. There also is a sheet of music to use along with the book.

The Alaska Sea Life Center offers a .pdf curriculum download of the life cycle of Salmon

This book would be great for an art or music lesson.

What I liked about this book:  I loved the familiar rhyme of this book (“Over in the meadow”). I enjoyed how the author used the terms for each of the young animals. This would be helpful when teaching children about animal family groups and basic counting. The artwork was created in collage format that was fun and interesting. Each page will captivate a child when reading aloud. I love picture books that are both entertaining and educational. They make a great resource for engaging a child in learning.

Here is a video of “Cookie” the little penguin at the Cincinnati Zoo. Isn’t Cookie adorable?

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are a weekly blog event where participants review some of their favorite picture books. The posts are compiled on author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website. They are categorized by theme to help parents, educators and readers find the perfect picture book easily. To learn more, please visit Susanna’s site where you will find the complete PPBF’s library.

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23. Perfect Picture Book Fridays – My Uncle Emily

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday book is about the nephew of the popular poet, Emily Dickinson and the special relationship they had.

TitleMy Uncle Emily

AuthorJane Yolen IllustratorNancy Carpenter

Publisher – Philomel Books (Penguin Young Readers Group)

Year 2009 Ages

Synopsis – This is a semi fictional tale told from the perspective of poet Emily Dickinson’s nephew. It is a warm tale of love, telling the truth, adversity, and loyalty. The classic style of the art pulls you back into time, where the special relationship between an Aunt and a boy is revealed.

Themes – love, telling the truth, adversity, family, loyalty, history.

Activities -

Emily Dickinson museum’s kids page http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/for%20kids

Emily Dickinson museum’s fun & games page http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/fun_and_games

Poetry lessons for kids http://www.poetry4kids.com/blog/lessons/poetry-writing-lessons/

What I liked about this book – Since I now live in Amherst, MA I have become very aware of Emily Dickinson and the impact she has had on her fans. When we went to the cemetery in which she is buried, we found numerous people at her grave site. Upon reaching it, we saw that many people had left tokens, pencils & pens, tablets, small notes with writing on them, and poems. It was very touching. The community here also has a poetry week in which a couple of the days she is honored. I think this book is a wonderful way to introduce children to this interesting and talented poet.

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are a weekly blog event where participants review some of their favorite picture books. The posts are compiled on author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website. They are categorized by theme to help parents, educators and readers find the perfect picture book easily. To learn more, please visit Susanna’s site where you will find the complete PPBF’s library.

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24. Perfect Picture Book Friday - The Girl Who Heard Colors PLUS A Contest Announcement!

Boy, oh, boy are we going to have tons of fun today!

(Which is good because we're back in sub-zero temperatures around here and I might get cranky about that if not for all the fun! :))

First of all, it's Perfect Picture Book Friday, and what's not to love about that?

Second of all, we have a winner of today's book from our meet the author post on Monday!  (You can see the post HERE if you missed it.)

Finally, someone around here, who clearly cannot be left unsupervised for a second!, has been hatching a hare-brained scheme, and I suppose it's about time I let you in on it :)  But first - our perfect picture book!

Title: The Girl Who Heard Colors
Written By: Marie Harris
Illustrated By: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Nancy Paulsen Books, September 2013, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: synesthesia, differences, acceptance, perception, five senses

Opening: "Jillian loved the world with all her five senses.  She loved the tickling touch of her bunny's whiskers on her cheek.  She loved the taste of warm maple syrup on waffles."

Brief Synopsis: When Jillian hears a dog barking, she sees red.  When she rings her bike bell, she sees silver.  The wind in the pines is soft gray, and the rain, light purple.  Jillian has synesthesia - a way of perceiving that causes sound to have color.  But when the kids at school tease her, suddenly it doesn't feel like such a great thing to have.  It takes a special teacher to help them all see it for the gift it is.

Links To Resources: The back of the book has information about synesthesia.  Neuroscience For Kids has information about synesthesia as well as a test you can try.  Science News For Students also has a lot of information.  HERE is a test to see if you might be a synesthete.  Talk about what it would be like to hear colors or taste sounds.  Are there times when experiencing the world like that would be an advantage?  A disadvantage?

Why I Like This Book: I always like books that encourage acceptance and tolerance.  There is too much variety in the world for any one way to be the "right" way to be or believe or perceive.  So I like this book for that reason.  But it's also a beautifully written story that any child who has ever felt different will relate to.  The language is poetic (not surprising since it was written by a New Hampshire poet laureate :).)  And synesthesia itself is absolutely fascinating.  I finished this book and found myself wishing I could be a synesthete for a day, just to see how cool it would be to experience the world that way!

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

The next item on our agenda of excitement today is to let you know who won the book so generously donated by Marie.  Random.org has chosen our winner and it is Tracy Campbell!  Woo-hoo, Tracy!  Come on down!  Your prize is a signed copy of THE GIRL WHO HEARD COLORS!  Please email me with your address (which I probably have but can't find! :)) and I'll get it right out to you!

And now, one last item before we all head off for the weekend....

It's been a long winter.

We've had a lot of snow, and more is coming Sunday into Monday (according to the local weatherman who seriously needs to be replaced by a new weatherman with better news!)

It's been bitterly cold, day after day, for weeks on end.

The icicles have icicles!

I think it's time for some fun!

And it seems to me, we haven't had a writing contest in nearly 3 months...

SO, boys and girls, hold onto your hats, because we're taking Hare-Brained Scheme to a whole new level!

Announcing

The March Madness Writing Contest!

The Contest: Write a children's story, in poetry or prose, maximum 350 words, that is a fractured fairy tale.  Feel free to add a theme of spring, or mix in one of the spring holidays if you like - St. Patrick's Day, April Fools Day, Easter or Passover, Arbor Day, Earth Day...  Have fun with it !  The madder* the better! :)
*as in wild and wacky, not angry :)

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Thursday March 20 at 12:01 AM EST and Monday March 24 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official  post which will go up on my blog on Thursday March 20 (no PPBF March 21!) and remain up through Wednesday March 26 (no new post on Monday March 24, no WYRI on March 26).  If you don't have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my March 20th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I'll post your entry for you!)

The Judge:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to five (or possibly a couple more :)) finalists which will be posted here on Thursday March 27 for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at 5PM EST on March 30 and the winner will be announced on Monday March 31.

The Prizes!:  I'm still working on the prize(s).  I'm hoping to have something knock-your-socks-off great to offer... I think I do... we'll see.  Stay tuned :)  But I wanted you all to have time to get to work on your stories so I went ahead and posted the contest rules without the prizes.

Now.  The really hare-brained part of all this is that it will be followed by a related Illustrator Contest in April!!! (to be announced and elaborated on later! :))

I know!!!

That kind of excitement bowls you right over, don't it? :)

And with that, I wish you a lovely time perusing the rest of today's perfect picture books!  PPBF bloggers, please leave your post-specific links in the list below.

Have a great weekend, everyone!!!  (And fire up those thinking caps!)


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25. Perfect Picture Book Friday - JJ The American Street Dog

Well, it's Friday, and guess what?  It's still zero!

Every morning I wake up all hopeful that today will be warmer.  The light is coming earlier (well, at least until daylight savings times throws a monkey wrench in that on Saturday night :)), and the angle of the light says spring is coming.  The robins are incurably optimistic.  But every morning I walk downstairs and check the thermometer and it's still COLD.

The novelty has worn off.

I've forgotten what grass looks like.

But it is March!  Time is on our side!  And to help us throw off the winter doldrums, we have the amazing March Madness Writing Contest to distract us, with the fantastic first prize of a read and critique by Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary!  So I hope you're all busily concocting stories :)

Chins up, everyone!  It's technically less than 2 weeks until spring AND the contest fun! :)

And now, how about a Perfect Picture Book or two or twenty to get us through the weekend?


Title: JJ The American Street Dog And How He Came To Live At Our House
Written By: Diane Rose-Solomon
Illustrated By: Rachel Cellinese
SOP3 Publishing, 2012, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: responsibility, pets, rescue animals

Opening: "Since as long as I can remember, I've wanted a dog.  At night, I dream about dogs.  Little dogs with floppy ears and short legs. Big dogs with pointy ears and long legs. There are brown dogs, tan dogs and spotted all over dogs. Some are even pink and green. But those dogs are just in my dreams."

Brief Synopsis: Maya has always wanted a dog.  When her Uncle Jerry finds a stray, it looks like maybe her dream will come true.  But what if his owner comes to claim him?  Maya learns a lot about stray dogs and about what it is to care for a pet of her own.

Links To Resources: talk about caring for pets, discuss responsibility and what that means in relation to taking care of an animal, talk about making thoughtful decisions, Bookmaking Activity, free downloadable worksheets for individual grades, Animal Welfare Lessons from the ASPCA, some animal rescue information at the back of the book.

Why I Like This Book: Well, you guys all know I love dogs, and that both my dogs are rescues, so this is a topic near and dear to my heart.  The story is entertaining and serves to get across a lot of information to help kids understand why dogs may be homeless and how they can help.  Although this is a fictional story, the information presented within it is true.  Lots of kids want pets, or think they do, so a story like this can be helpful in promoting discussion of exactly what is involved and expected.

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

PPBF bloggers, please be sure to leave your post-specific links in the list below so we can all come visit you (since it's still too cold to spend much time outside!)

Have a great weekend, everyone!!! :)

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