Perfect Picture Book Friday: Insides Out plus Craft Activity

Do you ever feel you don’t have time to do anything – because you are too busy doing everything?

I’m feeling that way this month. I’m participating in Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) – reading inspiring daily posts from authors and illustrators on Tara Lazar’s blog and trying to come up with at least one sparkling spark of an idea for a new picture book story. It’s going pretty well…I’ve got way more than 15 ideas – and the month is only half over.piboidmo2014

I’m also taking Mira Reisberg’s Illustrating Children’s Picture Books because I had a crazy idea that maybe one day I might be able to illustrate my own stories!!!! Last week I had to create thumbnails for one of my stories – a kind of a storyboard with a small sketch for each scene. This week I had to develop some character sketches for my main character, a little boy who wants to catch a bug to be his pet. I’m putting my work up here to encourage every person who reads this post that it is okay to try things that are out of your comfort zone – you won’t break the world, your computer, or yourself – and you just might discover something that you love doing!

Vivian Kirkfield Character Sketches for Boy to Bug

Now, if you can all stop rolling on the floor in laughter, I can continue with our Perfect Picture Book Friday book review and craft activity.

Today I have a triple decker treat for you. Parents and teachers are always looking for picture books that do a great job helping kids develop empathy and compassion. Well, here are three unique books that use photographs of Bonobo monkeys to tell the stories. Author Anne Paris is a Clinical Psychologist and empathy expert. She is in private practice in Cincinnati, Ohio, and works with individuals and families.

insides out


Written by Dr. Anne Paris

Photography by Marian Brickner

Publisher: CreateSpace (2013)

Ages: 1-100

Themes: Empathy, compassion, feelings


Opening Lines:

“Hi there! My name is Laney. This is me and my mommy when I was a baby. I feel special and safe when my mommy holds me.

We are bonobo apes (that’s buh-noh-boh) and we are a lot like you. We just have more hair.

We like to be together and feel best when we use the empathy way. The empathy way means you try to understand each other’s feelings.”


From Amazon: Laney the bonobo introduces young children to the concept of empathy: what it is, why it’s important, and how to do it. She shows how empathy feels good, builds good family and friend relationships, and how empathy goes two ways, back and forth. Cute pictures of bonobo apes engage and delight young and old alike.
Why I like this book:

  • Simple text that explains what empathy is and how we can be empathetic
  • Incredible collection of photographs of bonobo monkeys that will engage children


How a parent can use this book:

  • Read the book with your child and talk about feelings
  • Role play different situations – if you thought a friend was mad at you, for instance, how would you feel? What could you do?


Related Activity:



At the back of the Dr. Paris’ first book is an empathy wand craft that you can help your child cut out. Here are three that are quite simple to make…all you need is a pencil and a piece of construction paper and some markers or crayons and a tiny piece of scotch tape.

  1. Let your child decide what he or she would like at the top of the wand.
  2. Draw the shape, color it in and cut it out.
  3. Use a small piece of scotch tape to attach the cutout to the pencil.
  4. Paris suggests that the child use the wand to think about how other people are feeling or when he wants others to know how he is feeling.

The other books in the Empathy Series are:

You Scared Me

From Amazon: Jenga and Laney are playing and minding their own business, when a bigger bonobo, Neeley, starts to harass them. Expressive photographs of bonobo apes illustrate how it feels to be bullied, what kids should do, and how adults can intervene effectively. The adults use empathy to help Neeley understand the reasons for her bad behavior and how she can get her wish to feel big and important in less hurtful ways. An important book in helping young children develop empathy in order to prevent bullying.

I'm different You're Different

From Amazon: Jenga the bonobo teaches a poignant lesson about using empathy to connect with others who are “different.” Ridiculously cute photographs of bonobo apes illustrate the story of Jenga and Kaleb (a bald bonobo who looks different). At first, Jenga and his friends assume Kaleb is weird. But then empathy helps them move past their assumptions and get to know him. To their surprise and delight, Kaleb is funny and talented! Jenga and his friends discover a wonderful lesson about finding the secret value in everyone, even the outcasts.

This is an amazing trio of books – and there is also a Teacher’s Manual available. To find out more about Dr. Paris and her program, please visit:


If you are looking for more great picture book suggestions, hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog where you will find a bunch more hand-picked picture book reviews with activities for you and your child. If you are a mom, teacher or librarian, please check out Susanna’s amazing Perfect Picture Book page with over 1000 categorized picture book reviews and activities.

And I hope everyone will come back tomorrow for Will Write for Cookies. Our author in the spotlight will be:


Laura is a multi-published author of picture books such as A Leaf Can Be and Water Can Be, as well as a well-spring of knowledge for writers.


31 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: Insides Out plus Craft Activity

    • Hahaha…you are kind about the pictures! And I’m sure yours would far outshine mine, Sherry! Glad you like the books. Are you participating in PiBoIdMo? I know you’ve got a lot on your plate right now.


    • Oh dear…I don’t know about that, Sandy…I still have to put up a manuscript for critique for our Goodnight Moons…and for my other critique groups as well. But thank you for the encouraging words about the faces. 🙂


    • Yay…so glad you like my ‘art’ and the bonobo books, Doris. You know, when I retired, I thought I’d have sooo much time on my hands…I am busier now than ever before…but thank you for your concern…I plan to step back from classes next year and concentrate on writing…and…maybe…illustrating. 😉 🙂 🙂


  1. Well, you sure got all those facial expressions down! Good job! And those go along with your empathy theme! This looks like a fun series with a serious topic. Kids have such a hard time with that big word. Empathy. Thanks for sharing!


    • Dogs have wonderful expressions also, Rhythm. In fact, maybe my next project should be a book about dogs and I’ll have to draw some pictures for it…if I do, I will be sure to post them. 😉 And I think dogs are very empathetic…they always seem to know how their human family is feeling. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. They sound great, Vivian and I am thrilled you are starting to draw. I am terrible at children’s faces, only now starting to practice them. That’s partly the reason I started with animals 😉 Your faces already have so much character and they all look alike. I cannot draw two the same yet. Well done, Vivian!


    • You draw VERY well, Catherine! What I see from the professional artists is that they often draw ‘loosely’ in a way I am afraid to draw…my hand wants to have too much control…even though I don’t know what I am doing. It would be better if I would just let the pencil move freely, I think. But I am really enjoying Mira’s class…so much provided in the daily lessons – not drawing per se, but about art and illustration.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Vivian. You’re too kind. Loosely is a better way of putting it than fast. I think it takes courage rather than skill to how the pencil lightly and just play. Maybe it would be useful to imagine the loose part is the creative part and the tighter control is the editing and structure. i don’t know 😉


    • Glad you enjoyed the review, Diane. And thank you thank you so much for the kind words about the drawings. 😉 I hope to get better at drawing…it’s hard not to compare myself to the other students in Mira’s class who are mostly professional artists…but I know that is not what the class is all about. Everyone is actually so kind and generous and helpful. At the webinar last night, Mira and Kristine Brogno (the co-teacher) even found some lovely things to say…as well as some excellent pointers for improvement. 🙂


  3. Great books. We need to find those. Glad you shared your sketches. Love your little boy. I enjoyed that exercise. I’m incorporating some of the facial expressions worked on in Enzo’s daily heart in his pocket. 🙂


    • Hi Stacy…I haven’t seen you lurking about much on the Illustrating FB page…some of the people seem to be there a lot…don’t know where they find the time. 🙂 The books are really lots of fun…I think Enzo would love them. 🙂


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