Perfect Picture Book Friday: LITTLE LENA AND THE BIG TABLE Plus Double-Header PB Manuscript Critique Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends!

Today’s picture book is so darn relatable for kids – in fact, it stirs memories of my own. I’ll bet lots of you can remember family gatherings and wanting to sit at the ‘big’ table. Well, author Pj McIlvaine has tapped into those memories to create a story that is sure to strike a chord with everyone who reads it. And the lovely Pj is offering not one, but TWO Picture Book Manuscript Critiques as a giveaway!!!! So please make sure you leave a comment.



Written by PJ McIlvaine

Illustrated by Leila Nabih

Published by Big Belly Books (2019)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Growing up, family

Synopsis: From Amazon

Little Lena has her heart set to sit at the big table. But every year her family tells her she’s just not big enough. Little Lena is determined to show everyone how big she is.

Why I love this book:

  • Sweet story about something most kids will be able to relate to
  • Charming illustrations with a hint of Mary Engelbreit
  • I think this will be a favorite at all holiday times and family gatherings


Make a Placemat

pic-cutout-placematPhoto courtesy:

Kids love creating! They love cutting! They love pasting! And these placemats can be designed for any holiday or occasion. All you need: a sheet of paper, two sheets of wax paper for each placemat, pictures cut from magazines, catalogs, old greeting cards, glue, scissors. To make: cut pictures and glue in place on sheet of paper. Lay paper on one piece of wax paper which is about an inch wider and longer than the decorated paper and cover with the other piece of wax paper. The next step must be done by an adult!  Press a hot iron over the wax paper…the wax paper sheets will stick together all around the edges and will form a lovely waterproof placemat. For more detailed instructions and directions for other placemats:

And as much as kids love creating, they love feeling useful even more. Give your children’s self-esteem a boost by including them in the planning of your next family event. They can help with the shopping and with the food prep and with getting the house ready. Feeling useful and needed builds self-worth.

With the summer upon us, some things slow down while others speed up. Please don’t be too busy to take a few minutes to review a favorite book or recommend it to a friend or to your local library…other than buying the book (which is also a lovely thing to do), those are the best ways we can help our favorite authors!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I will be away in Massachusetts, cheering my son and son-in-law as they compete in the Tough Mudder. Here’s a  photo from last year’s event.

tough mudder hand in air

49 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday: LITTLE LENA AND THE BIG TABLE Plus Double-Header PB Manuscript Critique Giveaway

  1. This book is so relatable. It’s this type of child life experience that makes us smile and enjoy when reading to kids. Congratulations PJ and thank you Vivian.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Graduations PJ and thank you Vivian! This looks like another book I will have to add to my bookshelf! Thank you for sharing! I remember I always wanted to do the adult parts of crafts by myself when I was a kid!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Perfect Picture Book Friday: LITTLE LENA AND THE BIG TABLE Plus Double-Header PB Manuscript Critique Giveaway | PJ McIlvaine

  4. I remember the big table from family gatherings and how happy I was when I didn’t have to sit at the kid’s table anymore! Looking forward to reading LITTLE LENA AND THE BIG TABLE . . . congratulations to PJ and Leila!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Congrats, PJ! Y’all are absolutely right when it comes to children feeling useful and needed. Such an important part of growing up. I always loved the kid’s table–the conversation was (and sometimes still is!) so much more exciting than the boring adult table! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This looks like such a fun book for any holiday or big family gathering. I love the universality of it. Best of luck with it! I can’t wait to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations, PJ! I will add this book to my list. It definitely has a universal theme of a child wanting to do something but being told s/he’s “not big enough.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. AH, memories of the kids’ tables. Because there were always so many cousins, we had more than one. The older kids always wanted to elbow out the younger ones, but the adults insisted that we “mix” to keep the younger ones in line. Not sure that always worked, LOL. This books looks and sounds so sweet. Congrats to PJ!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congratulations!!! This sounds like a fun book…my mother’s name was Lena and she loved to sit at the table and eat! Every time I see this book cover or title, I think of my mother and her stupendous appetite!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a great picture book topic. Many kids want to feel big. And the illustrations are adorable. Congratulations! I sent in a request for the book today 🤞.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks everyone for your kind comments and best wishes. The inspiration for LENA was my big brother Mikey, who made my life miserable at the kid’s table. Although tragically he’s no longer with us, I’m sure he’d get a kick out of it. And for those interested in purchasing, the book is available at Amazon.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. No cousins, so no kids’ table…always wanted one, though. Guess the grass is always greener. Looks like a sweet book! Congrats, PJ, and thank you for the generous critique giveaway.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Little Lena is bursting with personality on the cover alone. I remember that big table feeling. the darnedest thing is that then you keep getting new younger cousins and you just end up stuck at the kids table forever. I didn’t graduate until I was 31 — it took having my own child to move up!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I do remember wanting to sit at the ‘big’ table. In fact, I probably spent the first twenty years of my life wanting to be older, taller, faster etc. I am the youngest of three siblings and will always be ‘the baby’.How funny that this book is published by Big Belly Books. That made me smile. It sounds and looks like a nice book. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This book looks adorable, and it’s something many kids (and former kids) can relate to. It’s also a topic I believe hasn’t been written about before. Good thinking on your part, P.J. Congrats on your new book!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: Sunday Post: Book Pre-order Campaigns & Giveaways Galore – 6/30/19 – Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  17. I grew up an only child with no extended family in the same state, so I didn’t get the “kid’s table” experience, but I am THRILLED that my kids have a huge close-knit family through their dad. They will get the privilege of large family gatherings and the ritual of the kid’s table-to-big-table transition and MAYBE appreciate it when they get to my age. But I’m sure anyone who has felt small will appreciate this book. Congratulations on your book birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

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