Perfect Picture Book Friday: IF YOU HAD YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY ON THE MOON plus #50PreciousWords WINNERS!

Hold on to your seats, everyone! We are ready to blast off! Our Perfect Picture Book Friday story is the obvious choice for such a momentous blog post that will also contain the WINNERS of #50PreciousWords.

Most of you know that I left home on February 19 and didn’t get back until April 8. That time was spent in Sydney at the Australia/NZ SCBWI conference (which rocked!) and sightseeing through the beautiful city and its lovely beach areas. (below is a photo of Maria and me at a beach where they had the most amazing poster art graffiti – since my slogan is Nothing is Impossible if You Can Imagine It…we had to take a pic with the bottle of dreams.

viv and maria at sydney beach poster Continue reading

Perfect Picture Book Friday: YOGI: The Life, Loves, and Language of Baseball Legend Yogi Berra

Hurray! I’m back home…and it’s Friday…and you know what that means. A review of a wonderful picture book!

Before I share the review, I need to celebrate my return from an incredible round-the-world journey by announcing the winners of several giveaways (and hopefully, by Sunday, I will be able to announce the winners of the #50PreciousWords and give everyone a heads-up regarding the #50PreciousWordsforKids International Writing Challenge).

A big thank you to all of the generous authors and illustrators who have donated these books.

A double-header giveaway of Lindsay Leslie’s THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS and NOVA THE STAR EATER goes to:


A copy of HAND IN HAND by Andria Rosenbaum goes to:


A copy of LITTLE TIGER by Julie Abery goes to:


A copy of LITTLE PANDA by Julie Abery goes to:




And last, but certainly not least, a signed copy of GROWING SEASON by MaryAnn Coccoa-Leffler goes to:



And now, back to our regularly scheduled program…which is a review of a brand-new book from one of my favorite picture book authors who writes LOTS of nonfiction, Barbara Rosenstock! When I heard she had written a book about Yogi Berra, I knew I had to read it…I was born and bred in NYC…so the Yankees and the Mets were the baseball teams I would always root for. In fact, during the 1961 season, I ran home from high school to watch them play. Roger Maris was trying to break the homerun record…which he did…batting in 61 home runs that year!

Yogi cover


Maryann Coccoa-Leffler: Will Write For Cookies PLUS Giveaway


Plate of Cookies







As most of you know, one of the things I love best about this kidlit community is the connections we make. And what could be better than to have a multipublished author/illustrator who wants to critique with you and Continue reading

Perfect Picture Book Friday: GROWING SEASON Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends. And I’ve got a wonderful book to review that fits perfectly with this season of spring.



Written and illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Published by Sterling House Books (2019)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Friendship, gardening

Synopsis: From Amazon:

El and Jo are the shortest kids in class, and they’re inseparable. But what happens when Jo starts to grow? This sweet picture book explores the joys and challenges of friendship and growing up.
El and Jo are the smallest students in their class—and best friends, too, like peas in a pod. Even their names are short. But in springtime, something BIG happens: Jo starts growing like a weed, while El feels smaller every day. On the last day of school, their teacher asked every child to pick a plant to care for over the summer. All the other kids reach over El to grab their plant, and she has to take the very last one: a tiny, flowerless aster. At first, she’s disappointed. But as summer progresses, the aster begins to bloom—and so does El! Continue reading

Happy Book Birthday: GROWING SEASON Plus Giveaway

Light the candles! Get ready to sing! It’s a Happy Book Birthday for a fabulous new picture book by one of my friends and critique buddies, Maryann Coccoa-Leffler!


One of the loveliest things about being in this kidlit community is when a friend has a new book coming out. ESPECIALLY when you’ve seen the story in it’s early draft stages!GSReadingSpot

I’m so thrilled to be sharing this special day with such a special friend…today is the birthday of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH, as well! Woo-hoo!!!

And guess what??? If you leave a comment, you will be entered into the giveaway of a copy of this fabulous brand new book!

Julie Abery and I are training to the Bologna Book Fair today…and meeting up with kidlit friend Maria and fellow Storm agency teammate, Fiona. I’ll have the opportunity to connect with some of my editors…what fun! And we’ll be seeing some of the wonderful 2019 books on display…I’ll be looking for GROWING SEASON at the Sterling Books booth and my books at Creston, Holiday House, and Pomegranate.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: HAND IN HAND Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends! I can’t believe it is the end of March…my round the world adventure is winding down…I’m off to Italy in a couple of days and will be reporting to you via social media from the Bologna Book Fair.

But right now, I’m thrilled to bring you what I think will be one of the star new releases of 2019. I received a copy of this book last month and fell in love with it. Using just the right words, the author, Andria Rosenbaum, managed to write a beautiful story about the horribly difficult topic of the Holocaust and the effect it had on everyone, but especially on children.

hand in hand 2


Written by Andria Rosenbaum

Illustrated by Maya Shleifer

Published by Apples and Honey Press (2019)

Ages: 8-12

Themes: Loss, Separation, Holocaust

Synopsis: It’s wartime and when their mother goes out in search of food but doesn’t return, two young bunnies are taken to an orphanage where Lieb is adopted, leaving Ruthie behind. As they say their goodbyes, Ruthie rips a picture of them in half and gives one piece to her little brother, telling him she will never forget him.

Opening lines: “Mama had a smile sweeter than strawberries in summer. So did my little brother Leib.”

Why I love this book:

  • This is a gentle telling of a brutal story…I don’t know how Andria was able to do that – but I am going to study this book as a mentor text because she found a way to deal with a terrible topic – the Holocaust – in a way that is appropriate for children to hear.
  • The genius of the illustrator who depicted the children as bunnies – and the art is amazing – plus the words themselves, because of the various fonts used, are part of the art.
  • The language is hauntingly lyrical, yet powerful and the ending is filled with hope.

To connect with the author or find out more about her many wonderful books:
HAND IN HAND, Apples & Honey Press, Behrman House 2019
BIG SISTER, LITTLE MONSTER, Scholastic Press 2017
TRAINS DON’T SLEEP, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2017
MEG GOLDBERG ON PARADE, Kar-Ben Publishing 2015
TWO SWEET PEAS, Bebop Books, Lee & Low Inc., 2006


Make a bunny finger puppet for role playing and discussion

This is an exceptionally easy finger puppet to make…you just need a piece of paper, scissors, glue, markers. Make a few with your child and then enact the story.

Participate in The Butterfly Project:

Lesson plans for older grades:

There is also a curriculum guide for this book on the author’s website:

On the dedication page, the author provides several ideas for parents and teachers – children should be encouraged to ask questions and discuss feelings as the story is read.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has a list of various groups of people who, since World War II, have been, at one time or another, systematically  eliminated in their countries:

What can we do?  Be informed. Create an atmosphere for children of inclusivity and understanding. Teach children that if they see someone being bullied, they should not just stand by. And read books like HAND IN HAND.

Thanks to the generosity of author Andria Rosenbaum, we have a giveaway of a copy of this must-read book. Please leave a comment for your chance to win.

As always, dear friends, I’m grateful for the time you all spend here.




Perfect Picture Book Friday: THERE WAS AN OLD GATOR WHO SWALLOWED A MOTH Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. I know it looks like I am here, but I really am not! I am in Switzerland with my dear Storm teammate, Julie Abery.  Yesterday we met with a local SCBWI group and today we are going to the village of Gruyere…the home of cheese and chocolate. You can be sure I will be tasting! Tomorrow we fly to London for the weekend…I’ll be sharing photos on social media, so please stay tuned.

BUT…MEANWHILE…I am totally excited to share a brand new picture book…from fellow debut author B.J. Lee!

I guess you could say that today’s story is a retelling of a wildly popular progressive tale. But it so different, it is really new. It is truly the best of both worlds. A time-honored favorite, like an old friend. But with such a charming twist, it has become new again. And perhaps that is the key to a great book. They say there are only seven stories in the entire world…and every book is a variation. What makes each different is the voice, perspective, and flavor that the author brings to it. And B.J. Lee certainly brought all of that!  Plus, she is offering a copy of the book as a giveaway. Make sure you leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win!

there was an old gator cover


Written by B.J. Lee

Illustrated by David Opie

Published by Pelican Publishing (2019)

Ages: 5 and up

Themes: Progressive story, Florida animals

Synopsis: From Amazon:

“Gators and panthers and crabs, oh my! The classic cumulative tale There Was an Old Lady gets a Floridian flourish in this charming adaptation. Down in the southern swamps a hungry gator accidentally swallows a moth. Of course, he swallows a crab to get the moth! What will he swallow next? The gator predictably continues swallowing bigger and bigger creatures until the unexpected happens―all over the page! Along the way to its hilarious ending, the story―strengthened by the delightful illustrations―introduces readers of all ages to the many critters, both big and small, of the Florida swamp. With a familiar use of repetition and an abundance of rhythm, this silly story is perfect for read-aloud experiences.”

Why I love this book:

  • Fabulous read-aloud!
  • Love the regional flavor of the story!
  • The illustrations are perfect!
  • Meter and rhyme are delightful!


The book launch was pretty special – at a Nature Center and there was a reading, a sing-a-long, crafts, and….a gator walk with a park ranger!

Gator Day Flyer 3 10 19 final

And here’s a bit about B.J.

I am a former college music librarian turned full-time writer and poet. My debut picture book, There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth, launched on February 1, 2019 from Pelican Publishing. Additionally, I am an award-winning children’s poet with over 100 poems and stories published/forthcoming in major anthologies and magazines. Anthology credits include Construction People (Wordsong, 2019), I Am a Jigsaw (Bloomsbury, 2019), National Geographic’s Poetry of US (2018), National Geographic’s Book of Nature Poetry (2015), One Minute Till Bedtime (Little, Brown, 2016), Moonstruck (Otter-Barry, 2019), Spaced Out (Bloomsbury, 2019), Fire Burn, Cauldron Bubble (Bloomsbury, 2019) and many others. Magazine credits include Spider, Highlights, and The School Magazine. I blog at Today’s Little Ditty, where I am an authority on poetic forms.


alligator-craftsPhoto courtesy:

For detailed instructions and other ideas:

Remember friends, leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of THERE WAS AN OLD GATOR WHO SWALLOWED A MOTH by B.J. Lee. And as always, help spread the word about the books you love. Buy them, review them, ask your library to purchase them for their collection, and tell your friends about the them.

For more wonderful book reviews, please stop by Susanna Hill’s PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY.

Thank you so much for spending your precious time with me.