About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever - Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (PomegranateKids, PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books); MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books); FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Jan 19, 2021); PEDAL, BALANCE, STEER: Annie Londonderry, First Woman to Bike Around the World (Cawkins Creek/Boyds Mills & Kane, Spring 2023) picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my young grandson.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: LULU & ZOEY: A Sister Story Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus for a couple of weeks…but now I’m back with three weeks in a row of AWESOME Perfect Picture Book Friday posts. And today’s is extra special because the author is one of my dearest critique buddies, Carrie Finison who is such a sweetheart – she’s offering a giveaway of a copy of LULU & ZOEY to one lucky blog follower!

LULU & ZOEY: A Sister Story

Written by Carrie Finison

Illustrated by Brittany Jackson

Published by Running Press Kids

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Siblings, respect, getting along

Synopsis: From Amazon:
Sometimes Lulu wants to play, but her big sister Zoey doesn’t. Sometimes Zoey tries to share, but Lulu won’t. Sometimes, it is HARD to get along with a sister! But, sometimes, sisters come together and create something wonderful. This charming story follows the adventures of Lulu and Zoey as they navigate the ups and downs of sisterhood and find there is room in their hearts for each other.

Why I Love This Book:
1. I’ve got a big sister…and I really related to all of the moments of sibling interaction in this story!

2. The rhyme is so well done – this is a fabulous read-aloud – and kids will want to hear it over and over!

3. The illustrations are spot-on perfect – I love the diversity – and the action and emotion that is evident in each spread!

And here’s a lovely review from Kirkus:
Readers with siblings will surely find echoes of themselves in both characters and take comfort in the fact that the story ends happily. However much these sisters might disagree or get on each other’s nerves, they will always find room in their hearts for each other.



Photo courtesy: https://pin.it/bmBtMKh

I found this sibling craft activity on Jessi Shatley’s Pinterest board. With just paper and either finger paint or tempera paint, you can help your children create this adorable owl picture…and I think you could probably do other animal scenes as well with handprints (or even footprints)…fish swimming in a goldfish bowl or under the sea, dinosaurs, dragons – just let your children’s imaginations run free.

Please make sure you leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway. And don’t forget that the best way to ensure the success of a book that you love (like THIS one!) is to buy it, review it, tell friends about it, and ask your local library to purchase it for their shelves.

For a signed copy of LULU & ZOEY: A Sister Story, please use link below to order from Belmont Books (Carrie’s local store). Request a signed copy and any personalization (e.g. child’s name) in the Order Comments field.https://www.belmontbooks.com/book/9780762473984

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I’m in Chicago – again – I guess it’s like my second home. I’m spending time with my sister and helping her go through stuff. But I’ll have my computer with me and will keep in touch with all things kid-lit.

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.