New Year’s Resolution 1: Acknowledge and Face Your Fears

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.

I hope your holidays were a beautiful time with family and friends. Now it’s almost the New Year…a time looking back to see what we have accomplished and looking ahead to make changes if necessary and set new goals. Our fears often hold us back…when you acknowledge and face your fears, you can move ahead. Children enjoy what is familiar and often fear changes in their lives.

My Perfect Picture Book Friday pick examines this theme.

Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport

Written Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Illustrated by Byron Barton

Publisher: MacMillan Publishing Company (1980)

Ages: 5 and up


Overcoming fears, moving, new places, travel, trying new things


From Amazon:

“I live at 165 East 95th Street, and I’m going to stay here forever.” says the young hero firmly. After all, out West nobody plays baseball because they’re too busy chasing buffaloes, and you have to ride a horse to school even if you don’t know how, and you can’t sit down because of the cactus. But his parents are moving West, and they say he has to go, too.

Once there, however, the boy doesn’t meet the Gila monsters he expected. And on the ride to his new home (by taxi, not horse) he discovers the West is neither as different nor as bad as he’d imagined.”

Why do I like this book:

Many people want to stay just where they are! And most children don’t look forward to moving to a new place that will be very different from what they were used to. This book will help any child who is facing this type of upheaval. I love the preconceived notions (mostly due to his best friend’s dire predictions) that slowly but surely are blown away as the main character travels to his new home out west with his family…and discovers that things (and people) are not all that different.

Related Activities:

In the story, the little boy worries that he will have to eat chili and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Why not have your child help you make this delicious vegetarian chili…just perfect for a cold winter’s supper! Children who help with meal preparation are more likely to try new foods.


You will need: 2 Tbs olive oil, 1 cup chopped onion, 2 Tb minced garlic, 2 cups diced tomatoes (canned or fresh), 1 cup canned red kidney beans and 1 cup pinto beans (rinse and drain the beans), ½ cup diced carrot, 2 tsp chili powder (optional), 1 Tb honey, ½ cup grated cheddar cheese, ½ cup yogurt and a large pan with a lid.

  1. Heat oil in pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions…cook a few minutes while stirring.
  3. Add garlic.
  4. Add tomatoes, beans, carrots, chili powder and honey.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Garnish each serving with grated cheese and a dollop of yogurt.
  7. Serves 6-8.
  8. Important tip: You may want to do some of the prep beforehand…such as chopping the onions and mincing the garlic…we want our young cooks to be smiling, not crying. In addition, your child can help measure and mix into a bowl…and then you can add the ingredients to the pan…we don’t want young ones near hot pans or stoves.

More resources here:


Did your children get lots of new toys this Christmas? Or did you go for a more simple approach?

Young children don’t need fancy electronic gadgets…they only need a good picture book, a few simple inexpensive art supplies (like paper, crayons or markers, safety scissors and glue stick) and your positive participation.

If you are looking for a great resource that will give you 100 picture book summaries and easy matching craft and simple cooking activities like the vegetarian chili recipe above, you can purchase a copy on Amazon of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.

show me how build your child's self-esteem, positive parental participation

At $24.95, this book makes a PERFECT gift for any parent or teacher of children ages 2-8…as well as for daycare providers and grandparents.  No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination!   Buy your copy today!

create a peaceful home,,free bookmarks,show me how build your child's self-esteem

My website is still offering free shipping AND a beautiful hand-crafted fabric bookmark…limited time only!  Offer ends December 30th!

About two years ago, a New York Times article questioned the importance of picture books and predicted that parents would be opting for chapter books for their children instead. Now a recent New York Times article seems to be debating that premise:

What are your thoughts?

33 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolution 1: Acknowledge and Face Your Fears

  1. Interesting theme and interesting Y Times article. But if you think about it, picture books and chapter books have completely different uses. My eldest loves reading chapter books on his own, and sometimes with me, but he wants me to read him picture books so I can focus on the text while he looks at the pictures. Isn’t that what picture books are for? And who said it should be one or the other? Look how popular comic books are for people of all ages. I say go with what your child wants to read, while offering without forcing. I think picturing images in your head from the text you read is a mentality issue, not a reading skill issue. When kids are ready for chapter books and less images, they know it.


  2. Excellent new year’s resolution, and what a good book to help kids think about their fears of new things, and talk about how preconceived notions can keep us from doing a lot of things. (And that chili looks yummy!)

    Thanks, Vivian!


  3. What a great book to help kids put a move in perspective. This is how we make vegetarian chili, too, but yours looks so good that suddenly I’m hungry for chili tonight. Thanks for the nudge, and Happy New Year.


    • Happy New Year to you, Marylin! I hope we will be able to get together in 2013…I still owe you a copy of Show Me How for the library here in town. I am retiring from my ‘day’ job tomorrow…whoo-hoo! So maybe we will be able to find a time that is good for both of us and have a cup of hot chocolate somewhere in town.:)


    • Happy New Year to you, Loni! It’s been an exciting year with 12×12, PPBF, PiBoIdMo. Here’s to 2013 and the continued support and encouragement from this wonderful kid lit community. 🙂
      The recipe is simple and yummy…and easy to do with kids!


  4. Yes! WE all have to face our fears for the new years don’t we? The book sounds perfect for the new kid on the block. I also featured a book like that but didn’t focus on fears. I’ll have to look it up.

    I’ve been thinking about doing a big Chili dish for us. Maybe this will be the push I’ve needed. Happy New Years, Vivian!


    • I know, Clar…submitting to editors/agents is definitely one of my fears…have you heard of Alayne Christian’s Sub Six group? We will be encouraging each other (and so far the facebook page is great…lots of people volunteering greatlinks and resources) to submit 6 picture books in 2013. If you are interested, you should check it out.  Having this amazing kid lit community is a wonderful support in all of our writing endeavors…I’m so happy to have connected with you, Clar!  


      • And me, you! It’s been great to *meet* you!

        I”ll check out that page. I hadn’t heard of it. Six books in 2013 sounds daunting to me. It takes me a long time to have one ready to submit. I don”t write everyday on one bc I also work on memoir. Maybe I should arrange my schedule to work on both everyday though. Some writers work on several ms at a time. I usually work in succession. One one day and one the next so on. how about you? what are your habits?

        Happy new year, Vivian! 🙂


        • -If I didn’t have my husband to tell me to stop, I would probably be at the computer 24 hours a day.:) Now that I won’t be ‘working’ anymore, I plan to sit down and formulate a schedule to include writing/editing/submitting picture books, blogging/reading&commenting on other blogs, promoting/marketing Show Me How, cooking/cleaning/shopping, reading for pleasure (although for me, all reading is a pleasure), traveling, spending time with my husband and family…and, of course, sleeping.:) Having a plan and a timeline for submitting will, I hope, keep me on track.:)


  5. I’ve just put the book on hold, but I must admit the title was enough of a hook.
    I’m glad you included the article: It sure gets people thinking about pushing children too quickly, but I hope it reminds parents who are following their child’s desires that picture books are not created for ‘beginners’. Among other familial and educational attributes, they are a unique experience of the senses. And considering the meager support of the arts in public education we desperately need to remember that they also teach art appreciation and inspire creative expression.


    • I think you would love this book, Erik. It’s a hilarious account of how it’s important to think and see things for yourself. The experience of moving out West, which the mc dreads, turns out to be lots of fun.  


    • Thank you so much, Jake! I thank you also for being such a wonderful inspiration to so many bloggers! Congrats on receiving the 6-star award!!!! I’m not surprised…your posts are consistently excellent.:)   


  6. I love this post for a number of reasons. Firstly the book you have reviewed is perfect for kids moving to strange places, what a great find. I also love your Chili recipe. I have never made chili so gonna copy this and try it when winter comes around. I feel hungry just looking at this post…lol. Congratulaltions on your retirement, I am so greeeeeeeeeen with envy of all the time you will have writing. Retirement age is 65yrs here and I can’t Knowing my luck they will change it two years before I reach 65 and make it 70yrs…. *headdesk* ..(it used to be 60yrs)… LOL. Again, love your post, Happy New Year, thanks Vivian!


    • As with everything in life…there are pros and cons.:)
      I don’t know what 65 is supposed to feel like…but fortunately I feel pretty good.:) So I am looking forward to enjoying the coming year…and many more, I hope!
      Enjoy the chili whenever you make it…glad you liked the book.
      A beautiful New Year to you, Diane…I feel blessed to have connected with our kid lit community…and being part of our critique group brings me lots of joy…I know we will all be submitting stuff this year!


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