Perfect Picture Book Friday: Dot.

Are you ready Perfect Picture Book Friday?

I am!

I found a book that our kids these days can definitely relate to. And since I’m writing a book about a boy who wants to play on his tablet more than anything else, I’m using it as a template text.



Written by Randi Zuckerberg

Illustrated by Joe Berger

Publisher: Harper (2013)

Ages: 2-7

Themes: Life balance, electronics devices


Opening Lines:

“This is Dot. She knows a lot. She knows how to tap, to touch, to tweet, to tag.



From Amazon:

Dot’s a spunky little girl well versed in electronic devices. Dot knows a lot. She knows how to tap . . . to swipe . . . to share . . . and she pays little attention to anything else, until one day Dot sets off on an interactive adventure with the world surrounding her. Dot’s tech-savvy expertise, mingled with her resourceful imagination, proves Dot really does know lots and lots.


Why I like this book:

  • Young kids will just about be able to read this by themselves.
  • Simple language combines with bold fun illustrations
  • Love the message of life balance – there is a place for electronic devices, but we mustn’t forget that kids need outdoor activities as well.


How a parent can use this book:

  • Wonderful read aloud
  • Great book to encourage listening and literacy skills
  • Encourage discussion about enjoying all types of activities




Getting kids outside is really important. They need the fresh air and the large muscle movement that is hard to allow in the house. While you are outside with them, why not go on a leaf hunt. There will soon be plenty of leaves to collect. See how many different types you can find.

You will need: Piece of construction paper or cardboard, glue stick, leaves.

  1. Collect different size, shape and color leaves. (that’s a whole other lesson in categorizing)
  2. Let your child arrange the leaves on the paper.
  3. Glue each leaf in place.
  4. Hang up in a place of honor.

Does your child have a bulletin board or place where he can display his creative work? Even a fridge will work…all you need are some magnets.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope you all have a beautiful weekend.

If you are looking for more picture book reviews and activities, please stop by Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog:

Ana Crespo: Will Write for Cookies








It seems like as soon as I moved from Colorado, I discovered it was a state FILLED with awesome authors. Today’s Will Write for Cookies guest is one of those. I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet her while I lived there, but I am ultra-excited that she is going to be one of the faculty members at the WOW Retreat next July. And I’ll be there also!

Ana Crespo creates stories for kids.  She is the author of THE SOCK THIEF and the recently released JP AND THE GIANT OCTOPUS and JP AND THE POLKA-DOTTED ALIENS.  Ana loves road trips almost as much as she loves writing and reading.  She and her family have traveled over 25,000 miles by car throughout the United States, visiting a total of 35 states (more to come). Ana is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but lives by the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her family.

I’m excited to welcome Ana. She’s got a lot to share with us so let’s get started.


ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?



They were Brazilian authors and illustrators.  My favorite of all is Ziraldo.  He’s probably the most successful cartoonist in Brazil and wrote over 100 children’s books, including ‘O Menino Maluquinho’ (The Little Crazy Boy) and ‘Flicts’.  Flicts is the book I loved the most as a child.



ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?



I think it would be everything I know now.  When I first started I knew absolutely nothing.  I knew nothing about the market or even about simple things such as word count.  In fact, I have some embarrassing stories from my very first SCBWI conference, but I don’t think I am ready to share them yet, so I will leave you wondering.  If I had to pick something specific, I would say I wish I were more aware of the relationship between illustrations and words when I first started.  I find adding illustrator notes is a fine art on its own. (One I’m a long way from mastering.)



ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?



I write everything on a computer and hardly ever use paper.  When I have a sudden inspiration, I look for paper and pen, but who can ever find a pen? So, I started using my phone.  Some of my best ideas were first written down on the ‘Memo’ app.  It works well.  At home, I usually work sitting on the couch with the TV on, not exactly watching it, but enjoying the background noise of Scandal, the TV series.


ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?


I like to write during the day, when the kids are away and the house is quiet (except for Scandal, of course).  However, I will write at any time the muse speaks and that means writing in the middle of the night sometimes.



ME: Why do you write for children?



My initial motivation to start writing for children was a lack of Brazilian or Brazilian-American characters in the American children’s literature.  At least, I always had a hard time finding picture books featuring Brazil/Brazilians, except for a few books on Pelé.  That’s why I wrote The Sock Thief and a few other manuscripts portraying Brazilian characters.  Now, I write for children because I simply can’t stop.  I love it.  Of course, seeing a few more Brazilians in American books is always a plus.

ME: Ana, do you have any other tips or thoughts you’d like to share with everyone?


The best advice I have is to keep writing, keep reading, and keep LISTENING.  That’s right.  Listening is essential in a couple of ways.  It’s essential when you read your story aloud and try to figure out if the rhythm is there.  And it’s essential when it comes to critiques.  Certainly, you don’t have to follow every single suggestion your critique partners give you, but it’s crucial that you LISTEN to them and actually consider them.  When I was an Academic Advisor I used to tell my students that it’s easier to spot the careers you don’t like than the ones you do.  The fact is that knowing what you don’t want (and why) is just as important as knowing what you want (and why).  The suggestions you choose NOT to follow, will help you shape your story and understand what your goal is.  Of course, to be able to really LISTEN, you also need to be OPEN-MINDED, which happens to be great practice for when your manuscript is sold.


WOW…this has been fantastic…please join me in thanking Ana for sharing her heart and soul with us.

If you’d like to connect with her and learn more about her books:  You may also like her Facebook page at or follow her on Twitter at

And now, for a very sweet ending…a very sweet recipe from Ana.

recipe pic

Brigadeiros are very common in Brazil.  You won’t find a birthday party or a wedding that doesn’t have brigadeiro.  When my daughter was about eight, we started a recipe book as a way to connect more.  One of the things we made together was brigadeiro.  Here is the recipe out of my daughter’s own recipe book (with a few tiny modifications):




3 tablespoons of butter


2 cans of condensed milk


8 tablespoons of chocolate powder


Chocolate sprinkles (or sugar)




How to Make It:


Put the butter, the condensed milk, and the chocolate powder in a pan.  Use low heat.  Steer continuously until the mixture is thick enough that when you steer it, you can see the bottom of the pan (this may take around 20min).  Remove the pan from the heat.


Now, you have a few options.


  1. The most time-consuming option is to let the mixture cool down in the fridge and roll the brigadeiros, In this case, you should spread some butter on your hand (to avoid having the brigadeiro stick to it) and make 0.75-inch brigadeiro balls.  Then, you should roll the brigadeiro ball on the sprinkles and place it in a small cupcake-like paper-baking cup.  The brigadeiro is ready.  (I’m not sure where you can find those little paper cups.  Mine came from Brazil.)




  1. The other option would be to place the hot mixture in a small cup (expresso cups or shot glasses, for example).  Place the sprinkles on top of the mixture in each cup to make it look beautiful.  Put the cups in the fridge and let it cool down.  The brigadeiro is ready.


I’m definitely going to give this dessert a try!

Do you like to have your kids help prepare meals? Even little ones can do something, right? Bringing kids into the kitchen is a way to connect, as Ana said. And it’s also a way to help kids learn about the food they eat. More importantly, helping kids develop a skill like cooking also helps develop their self-esteem. Kids need to feel useful and capable…and cooking is an important life skill.

That’s why I used cooking activities in my Show Me How program. Which reminds me, I promised to give away a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking to one of the newest subscribers of my email mail list.


Rita Antoinette

Thank you so much, Rita! I’ll be contacting you by email.

And thank you to all of my subscribers. Your loyalty is much appreciated.

I hope everyone has a beautiful weekend – stay safe and read lots of books! I’m on a mission to read some of the middle grade and young adult books I missed. Just finished The Miraculous Journey of Eduard Tulane (oh my gosh…the most wonderful book ever) and The Ocean at the End of the Lane (so well written…I couldn’t put it down). And now I’m reading Howl’s Moving Castle.

What’s on your reading shelf this week?

Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Sock Thief

As lovely as summer is, fall in New England is definitely glorious. And there is something special about getting back to the routines. Kids are back in school and little ones at home need activities…what could be better than reading a Perfect Picture Book?

Today I’m thrilled to feature a story by tomorrow’s Will Write for Cookies author, Ana Crespo. It’s sweet, it’s funny, it multicultural—who could ask for more?



Written by Ana Crespo

Illustrated by Nana Gonzalez

Publisher: Albert Whitman (2015)

Ages: 3-8

Themes: Problem solving, creativity


Opening Lines:

“In a small Brazilian town, Felipe leaves home earlier than usual. He walks a long way to school.”


From Amazon:

“Brazilian boy Felipe doesn’t have a soccer ball. So, when it’s his turn to take one to school, he uses a little bit of creativity… and a few socks. Felipe is the sock thief, but finding socks is not that easy and the neighborhood pets make it even harder. “Au, au, au!” a dog barks in Portuguese. Felipe wonders if he’ll play soccer with his friends today or if he will be caught by a tattle-tale parrot? Along the way, Felipe leaves delicious mangoes in exchange for the socks he steals. After he swipes each pair, he twists and turns them into an ever-growing soccer ball. At the end of the day, he returns each pair of socks with a note to say thank you.”


Why I like this book:

  • Simply wonderful text
  • Engaging illustrations
  • Appeals to a child’s sense of humor
  • Multicultural


How a parent can use this book:

  • Wonderful read aloud
  • Great opportunity to talk about problem solving – you could even play a game with your child…what would you do if…?



Related Activity:

Paper Bag Bean Bag Toss

Purple-pompom-paperbag-125Photo courtesy:

I couldn’t find a picture of bean bags decorated like soccer balls, but it wouldn’t be difficult to use black marker or crayons on a white lunch bag. And filling them with socks instead of beans would be fun for kids to do.

For exact instructions, please go here:

For more awesome picture book reviews and activities, don’t miss Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.

And please please please don’t forget to come back tomorrow to meet and greet our Will Write for Cookies guest:


She’s got a lot to share…including a yummy Brazilian dessert!

See you tomorrow! We’ll also be announcing the email subscriber winner of a copy of Show Me How!

#PPBF: Miss Nelson is Missing

I’m so happy to be back, participating in Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up. I hope you will hop over and check out the many other fabulous book reviews and activities on her website.

Schools are back in session – my grandson started first grade and I know he is going to have a great year. He has developed a great love for books and reading and…oh yes…Monopoly! It’s been a wonderful game that encourages reading, math, learning to be a graceful winner and loser, and how to strategize. I can’t say enough good things about it.

In honor of teachers and students everywhere, I’m reviewing a classic from when my own children were little.

miss nelson is missing


Written by Harry Allard

Illustrated by James Marshall

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin for Young Readers

Ages: 4-8

Themes: School, humor, appropriate behavior


Opening Lines:

“The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving again. Spitballs stuck to the ceiling. Paper planes whizzed through the air. They were the worst behaved class in the whole school.”



From Amazon:

The students don’t proffer a shred of respect for their good-natured teacher Miss Nelson, but when the witchy substitute Miss Viola Swamp appears on the scene, they start to regret their own wicked ways…and just who is Miss Viola Swamp? A back-to-school perennial!



Why I like this book:

  • Hilariously funny for parent and child!
  • Cartoon-like illustrations kids can relate to!
  • The perfect ending!

How a parent can use this book:

  • Great way to help a child see the results of inappropriate behavior!
  • See if your child can solve the mystery. Can he find the clues?


IMG_1929Photo courtesy:

  1. For the younger crowd (ages 2 and 3): play a game of What’s Missing. You will need a paper bag and several small items like a whistle, keys, a spoon, and an apple. Show your child all of the items. Put them in the bag. Then have your child close his eyes and you remove one of the items. See if your child can guess which item is missing from the bag. Then let him put his hand in the bag and feel the items that are left…can he guess now?
  2. For the older crowd (ages 4 and 5): Draw a face on a paper plate. On a separate paper, draw a mustache, eye glasses, a different nose. Cut those out and then let your child change how the face looks by adding or taking away the ‘disguise’. Use your imagination, and your child’s, to think of more disguises the face could have. For lots more paper plate crafts, check out:



We’ll be announcing the winner of the School Starts Soon giveaway next week. You still have time to sign up for my email list and get an entry to win a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.

Click on this link:

book pic from wordpress blog

This is a great book for any parent, grandparent, day care provider or early childhood education teacher – chock full of hundreds of fun-filled quick and easy activities for young kids. If you are already subscribed, you can get an entry by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media. Just leave a comment, telling me where you shared…and for every share, you get another entry!

I’m ending my blog post today with a prayer for all those who were affected by 9/11. I hope they have found peace and hope and love.