Happy Book Birthday: SOME DADDIES Plus PB Critique Giveaway

I always have a smile on my face when a new book launches! It’s kind of like a baby shower, right? And today we are singing happy birthday to a very special book baby, written by the lovely Carol Gordon Ekster and illustrated by Javiera Maclean Alvarez and published by Beaming Books! And guess what? Carol is offering a PB CRITIQUE as a giveaway! Make sure you read the end of the blog post to check out how to enter for a chance to win.

Here’s a little bit about the book from the Amazon sales page:
Every daddy is different–and that makes them even more special!

“Some daddies teach you about the world. Others attend tea parties. Some help turn blankets into forts. Others hold you steady while you pedal.”

This rollicking showcase of daddies celebrates the incredible diversity of modern fathers. The inclusive cast of characters–including a two-dad family, a single dad, and a stay-at-home dad–highlights the bond between daddy and child as they play, learn, comfort, and laugh their way through everyday life. This open-hearted ode to fatherhood will give readers new appreciation for how their own fathers and father-figures shine in their own unique ways.

Some Daddies is the perfect gift for a new dad, Father’s Day, or any occasion for parents and educators to read with their kids. Carol Gordon Ekster’s playful text is illustrated with the quirky, colorful artwork of Javiera Maclean Alvarez, making this picture book a wonderful read-aloud.

I’m so in love with the amazing diversity of the illustrations – and the text is so much fun that kids will want to hear this story over and over.

And the lovely Carol was kind enough to stop by with a few words about a challenge she encountered on the path to publication for this book – get your box of tissues ready, folks:
CAROL: I know many authors have challenges along the way…it was delayed a year because of covid, and it was dedicated to my elderly dad, so I was disappointed when it was delayed because his health was declining. He passed away in 2021 and did not get to see the book, but he did know about the deal. He was SOME daddy! 

ME: Oh dear…I am so sorry to hear that you weren’t able to put a copy of the book into his hands, Carol. But I’m glad he knew about the deal…and you are celebrating his life with this story! What a tribute!

And here is a lovely trailer for the book:

The book is available in bookstores TODAY!!!! And remember – the way to support your favorite books and ensure that publishers will keep creating ones just like them is to:
* Buy them
* Review them
* Ask local libraries to purchase copies for their collection
*Tell friends about them

And just a note about something coming up tomorrow…I’ll be chatting on #ReadYourWorld Instagram Live at 3pm ET…I hope some of you will tune in – and hopefully I’ll figure out how to connect!

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Please make sure to leave a comment and then share this post on Twitter or Facebook or any other social media to be entered in the giveaway…and, and if you tag a friend or two or three, you will get extra tickets in the giveaway hat!

SANDRA V. FEDER: Will Write for Cookies Plus Giveaway


Plate of Cookies




Portrait by illustrator Rahele Jomepour Bell

Sometimes a publisher or publicist reaches out to ask if I’d like to help spread the word about an upcoming book. I can’t always say yes, but when the book is a wonderful SEL story like ANGRY ME, I definitely want to tell everyone about it and the people who created it. And when author Sandra V. Feder said she’d be willing to chat with us about her writing journey, I was thrilled!

ME: Welcome, Sandra! We’re so glad you could be here. I know everyone would like to find out more about you – and so would I.
Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?

SANDRA: I loved the work of Robert McCloskey. His Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal are both classics of storytelling and illustration. And I loved Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. I love how the child in the story draws what’s in his
imagination, including finding his way back to his bed.

ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?

SANDRA: I wish I had known to listen more. I’ve always been a writer — first a newspaper reporter and later in my life a children’s book author. I’ve loved playing with words and thinking about text. Now that I’m more experienced, I better understand that for all types of
writing it helps to have a good ear. I have learned to listen more to the world — to
dialects, words, cadences, and lyricism. Now, how the words sound together, is as
important to me as anything else. Listening also helps me to hear when something is
working and when it’s not.

ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?

SANDRA: I learned early in life to compose on a computer and that’s still what I do. I do both my composing and editing on my laptop. I usually work in one of my grown daughter’s
bedrooms, that’s now become an office. I have it decorated with framed illustrations from
my picture books. Being reminded of how talented illustrators brought my words to life is
very inspiring.

ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?

SANDRA: I’m definitely a “when-the-muse-strikes” type of writer. I will often walk around
with an idea for a book in my head for a week or two, before putting anything into
writing. Sometimes I’ll have an idea but not the story. I carry the idea with me and
then see what other things I encounter that fit into or become part of that idea.
For me, it’s a bit like a puzzle. Here’s the idea I want to explore. What are the
supporting story, characters, setting, metaphors that I need? Sometimes those
come to me in bits and pieces.

ME: Why do you write for children?

SANDRA: I write for children because I think there’s something sacred about helping children discover the world of reading and storytelling. I loved stories when I was a child —
losing myself in an imaginary world. I thought it would be wonderful to try to providethat for children. I also love being a mother and loved seeing my own daughters discover
new characters and new ideas through books. As a mother, I know it can be challenging
for both parents and children to navigate childhood fears, emotions, and worries. I hope
my books can help prompt good conversations at home, in the classroom, or in the

ME: Also, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear.

SANDRA: For aspiring writers:
Find a good critique group — preferably with people a little more experienced
than you are. Learn the craft and gather your writing peers and those who will
champion your work. Being a writer involves lots of ups and downs, many of
them solitary. Finding people who can go through it with you is very helpful.

For parents, educators, librarians:
Thank you for all you do to honor our children’s emotional intelligence and to help them navigate childhood by reading to and with them!

What fabulous advice, Sandra! You are certainly celebrating children and acknowledging who they are with all of your books. And I know you have a special recipe to share with us that is a celebration in itself…one of my favs…CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE!!!!

SANDRA: I used to make this chocolate chip cake for my children’s birthdays. We’d always
decorate it in fun ways. It became so popular with them and their friends that soon I was
being asked to make it for other kids’ birthday celebrations as well. It’s an easy recipe
and has no butter or eggs. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cake
(A Feder Family Favorite)

1 ½ cups white flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 cup cold water
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a
separate bowl, stir together the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water. Mix and pour the liquid
over the dry ingredients. Stir well to combine.
Pour the batter into a greased 8-by-8-inch pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the
top. Bake for 35 minutes.
Optional: Frost with your favorite frosting.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! If you are at a library, please request ANGRY ME and other wonderful books that we feature here on Picture Books Help Kids Soar. Requesting a book at a library is one way to support your favorite authors and illustrators. Other ways are to purchase the book, review the book, and tell friends about it. And please don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to WIN a copy of this wonderful SEL book thanks to the generous publisher, Groundwood Books.

Perfect Picture Book Friday (even though it is only Wednesday): VIOLET AND HER CRUMBS – A Gluten-Free Adventure Plus BOOK GIVEAWAY

At the start of this month, I had the best of intentions to step back a bit from blogging. With a deadline for responding to editorial comments on the book we signed in January (illustrator is on board and we will hopefully be announcing in PW soon) and with a decision needed on cover sketches for PEDAL, BALANCE, STEER: Annie Londonderry, The First Woman to Cycle Around the World…and with the #PBChat Mentorship coming up…and with my desire to actually write a new story…I thought I’d refrain from writing blog posts for a while.

But here I am for Perfect Picture Book Friday (and two days early because I pressed PUBLISH a bit too quickly)- and the reason is that today’s book is AMAZING! When I heard that the dynamic duo of author Abigail Rayner and illustrator Molly Ruttan had teamed up again (after I AM A THIEF, one of my all-time favorite picture books!), I knew I had to emerge from my planned sabbatical!

VIOLET AND THE CRUMBS: A Gluten-Free Adventure

Written by Abigail Rayner

Illustrated by Molly Ruttan

Published by NorthSouth Books (2022)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Food allergies, courage, creativity

Synopsis: From Amazon:
Success has never tasted so good!
The dynamic duo of I Am a Thief by Abigail Rayner (author) and Molly Ruttan (illustrator) have created a new picture book sure to spark conversations about this timely issue.

Violet used to love birthday parties, but now that she has celiac disease, she’s not allowed to eat pizza, cake, or anything else with gluten. Violet feels alone until she discovers that some animals have dietary restrictions as well. While standing up for her animal friends, she realizes she can do the same for herself. And when it’s time to celebrate Violet’s birthday, there isn’t a single gluten-containing crumb in sight! 

Filled with pluck and humor, this informative story provides a great opportunity to discuss this increasingly common condition with children who have celiac disease and gluten-intolerance as well as those who know people who have it and are seeking to learn more about it.  

This book has been approved by the Celiac Disease Foundation.

Why I love this book:
1. This is such an important topic…and author Abigail Rayner got right to the heart of it – she acknowledges how difficult it is for children with celiac disease (and this would hold true for kids with all sort of food allergies and intolerances). She shows how sad the main character feels being left out of fun celebrations and how dangerous it is for kids when people aren’t careful about how food is served. And best of all, she offers a plan of action to empower the child and make the situation better.
2. The text by Abigail Rayner is masterful…filled with heart and humor! And so much important information.
3. Illustrator Molly Ruttan does a fabulous job of imparting a personality to the gluten crumbs – and her art is engaging, emotional, and entertaining. This is a story that kids will want to read again and again – discovering wonderful new details with every page turn.

And we are so lucky. Illustrator Molly Ruttan stopped by to share a bit about her journey with this book:

MOLLY: Often when I’m in the thick of working on a book, my real life starts to echo the book! When I was working on a book dummy about a pigeon and some parrots, a pigeon arrived at our door and walked in. He was wearing a tag, and while we waited for his owners to come get him, he modeled for me! Soon after that a flock of parrots landed in the tree outside my studio window. When I was working on I Am a Thief!, my first book with Abigail Rayner, every time I went out I saw people wearing black & white stripes. When I was working on my author/illustrated book The Stray, about a family who finds an alien critter, I went to a UFO conference in the Joshua Tree desert and was one of 100 people that witnessed a mass sighting! For this book, it was Violet’s outfit. As I started creating the final art for this book, the entire country shut down because of the pandemic. While I was designing her superhero suit— which she created to protect herself from the crumbs at school— a cry for PPE went out across the country. Maybe my next book should be about winning the lottery! 

WOW…I love that story, Molly! Thank you so much for sharing it.
And if you all want to find out more about Molly:
Website: http://www.mollyruttan.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/molly.ruttan
Twitter: https://twitter.com/molly_ruttan
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mollyillo/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmS4WTZgoc_jRhhRC3DV-Cg

And you can find out more about author Abigail Rayer here: https://www.abiraynerwrites.com/


Photo courtesy: https://teachingmama.org/7-gluten-free-play-recipes/

You know all of those awesome recipes for creating play-dough and other stuff for kids? Some of those recipes may contain gluten…and others were prepared on surfaces where gluten may be hiding in crevices. Teachingmama.org to the rescue! Take a look…and have fun! https://teachingmama.org/7-gluten-free-play-recipes/

The illustrator has created fabulous end papers, filled with information about gluten and other grains and starches and flours that can be used as substitutes. The author has included back matter about celiac disease. All in all, this is a must-have story for libraries, schools, and home bookshelves. We can help by asking our local library to purchase copies and by telling friends about it and of course, by reviewing it and buying a copy ourselves. And because of the generosity of the lovely people at NorthSouth Books, there is a brand-new copy being offered as a giveaway – please leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win (maybe you can tell us about any food issues that you or your family face) – and please make sure you share this post on your social media channels.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.