#PPBF: G.G. Rock Climbs

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday.

I am doing a review of a chapter book for ages 6-10. I know that many parents are moving towards chapter books as their children begin reading on their own. And, although I believe that picture books are wonderful for elementary grades even when kids are reading themselves (for so many reasons), I also know that great chapter books continue the engagement of young readers with the world of books. My favorites were Little Women, Black Beauty and ALL of the Nancy Drew series. And, if G.G. Rock Climbs by Marty Mokler Banks had been around then, I know I would not have been able to put it down.



Written by Marty Mokler Banks

Photo Illustrations by Alisa Mokler Harper

Publisher: Switch Monkey Press (2014)

Ages: 6-10 (But I was totally engaged!)


Friendship, self-esteem/self-confidence, overcoming challenges, rock climbing

Opening Lines:

“Does your mom let you have cake? With thick creamy frosting. And little flowers on top?

Well. My mom does not!

Oh, all right. Maybe on special occasions. But it seems like never. Mom says sugar is Not Good for a Healthy Body.


So when I first opened Stinky Sarah’s birthday party invitation, I immediately thought: CAKE! I get CAKE!”



From Amazon:

Eight-year-old G.G. climbs all over stuff—from the couch in her apartment to the boulders at the park. So when she’s invited to Stinky Sarah’s birthday party at Rock Star climbing gym, G.G.’s up the wall in no time. G.G. likes it so much, she and her friend, Isaac, take a rock climbing class. When they head outside, things are suddenly more difficult. Can G.G. brave those steep rock faces up Zoo Canyon?

Why I like this book:

  • Well-written, exciting page-turner that will keep kids engaged from the first page to the last
  • Love the photo-illustrations – placed at just the right points in the story – really connects you to the story and the characters
  • Great message about friendship, facing and overcoming fears, the importance of challenging ourselves

How a parent can use this book:

  • Read it with your child – great opportunity to talk about things your child would like to do but maybe is afraid to try
  • Talk about how Isaac and G.G. supported and encouraged each other


The book is available on Amazon.

If you’d like to connect with Marty Banks (she the co-coordinator of southern Colorado SCBWI) or learn more about her other books, please visit her website: http://www.martymoklerbanks.com/

Or her blog where she reviews all things chapter book: Chapter Book Chat

Related Activity:

Why not visit a local gym or play center that has a rock climbing wall for kids?


Photo courtesy: http://www.ssww.com

For AMAZING crafts and activities using rocks, stones and pebbles, please visit: http://www.kidactivities.net/post/ideas-with-stones-and-rocks-for-kids.aspx

If you are looking for more wonderful book reviews, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog. 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, because today is my grandson’s sixth birthday, here’s a yummy birthday cake – please help yourselves to a BIG slice!

5th bday

#PPBF: Hoot and Holler – A Story About Friendship

Today is Friday – I have a children’s book review to add to the Perfect Picture Book resource list that author Susanna Leonard Hill is building on her blog. For more wonderful reviews from authors, educators and others who contributed today, please go here.

reading with Jeremy

I spent the most delightful morning at my grandson’s Kindercare kindergarten class. We had made a book together – he drew the pictures and told me what to write. Then he told his teacher that he wanted his grandma to come in to read the book to his friends. The teacher was thrilled (another pair of hands is always appreciated in a classroom filled with active kids)…and today was the day. Jeremy could hardly wait to get to school…in the car, he told me that he was a gazillion and trillion excited.

Of course I had a ball – and read a whole bunch of picture books with them in addition to the book Jeremy had made. It’s always fascinating to observe the interactions amongst the kids – friends one moment and arch-enemies the next.

So I decided to bring a book to you that addresses the topic of friendship…and with Valentine’s Day just two weeks away, it seems very appropriate.


Hoot and Holler

Written by Alan Brown

Illustrated by Rimantas Rolia

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (2001)

Ages: 3 and up


Friendship, expressing emotions, overcoming fears


Holler, a big owl, and Hoot, a little owl, played together every night in the woods.  They were both shy, and Continue reading

Perfect Picture Book Fridays: Gift-Bear for the King


Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of writers who contribute a picture book review and related resources. 

Self-esteem has six basic components.  Today’s picture book selection addresses all of them: Mastering tasks and skills, valuing one’s own strengths and qualities, feeling loved and appreciated, learning to express one’s feelings, acknowledging and coping with fears and accepting and loving oneself.    I know that parents and teachers will enjoy the simple eco-friendly craft project at the end of my review. 

The main character of the story loves singing and Wednesday’s guest post was from Daria, a talented musician who travels around the globe, sharing her passion for music with young children.  I hope everyone will check out her post and visit her amazing websites!  She provided us with several great musical instrument-making crafts and is giving away a wonderful poster that celebrates music around the world.



A Gift-Bear for the King

Written by Carl Memling

Illustrated by Lillian Hoban

Publishers: E.P. Dutton & Co (1966)

Ages: 2 – 8


Mastering tasks and skills, dealing with disappointment, overcoming adversity, helping others, friendship


“There was once an old man and an old woman who lived in a hut in the forest.  They were very poor, but they had a little bear cub for a friend.”


A very talented bear-cub is sent as a birthday gift for the king by a loving old couple.  As the bear-cub travels to reach the king, he meets and helps many people.  When he finally arrives at the palace, the king’s birthday is long over and the guards lock him up in the dungeon because he is so late.  While in his prison cell, the bear-cub sings a sad and beautiful song about his travels.  Will the bear-cub spend the rest of his days in the dungeon?  Does the king ever find out about his special present?  What will happen to the old couple?

Why do I like this book

The foundations of our self-esteem are laid in the first five years of life…I love picture books that celebrate any of the six components that help a child develop a positive self-image…and this book addresses all six!  Gift-Bear for the King was my oldest son’s favorite story…we both knew it by heart by the time he was four.  Gift-Bear could sing, stand on his front paws and wash the dishes…he was always ready to help those in need.  Young children will be singing along with the refrain before you turn the last page. 

The illustrations, in Lillian Hoban’s inimitable style, are charming.

Related Activities:

There is a lovely crown craft activity here

There are quite a few crowns and other hat-making craft activities here.

There are excellent step-by-step crown-making instructions with photos here.


The crown you help your child make can be as simple or as fancy as you like.  The picture is from a kit you can buy from Oriental Trading Company.  I included it to show you how ornate you can make the crown…but your child will enjoy wearing a simple one also.

 You will need: Construction paper, buttons or sequins (optional) crayons or markers, glue, scissors.

1.      Cut strips of construction paper and measure to fit your child’s head.  Piece together with glue if necessary.

2.      Cut a zig-zag along the top edge.  You can make it fancy like the one above or just simple.

3.      Let your child decorate with crayons and/or markers.

4.      If you wish, add “jewels” cut from different colored construction paper…or buttons…or sequins.  Glue into place and let dry.

5.      Fit the decorated crown strip to your child’s head and glue the two ends together.

6.      Important tip: Most of you are too young to remember one of the first “reality” shows, Queen for a Day, where an ordinary woman was featured and given prizes and made to feel very special.  Perhaps your child can be Queen or King for a Day in your home…helping choose the dinner menu, picking the family game that will be played.  Feeling loved, valued and appreciated is such an important element in building self-esteem…children who are confident are less likely to be victims of bullying.

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

Blogger Awards and Some Random Thoughts About Me

Wow!  Three blogger awards from Elizabeth at Mirth and Motivation…thank you so much…she is an inspiration to all who read her posts and connect with her.  If I were marooned on a desert island and could only read the posts of one blogger, hers would be the one!

According to Elizabeth, I’m supposed to list seven random things about myself, so here goes. 🙂

1.   I’m really careful about what I eat during the day, but in the evening, I reward myself with a mini ice-cream sundae and then a BIG bowl of air-popped popcorn.

2.   I love the sound of the washing machine, dryer and dishwasher all going at the same time…my husband HATES the noise, but for me it says, “Stuff is getting done!”

3.   When my children were young and wanted to give me flowers as a gift but they had no money to spend, I would go to the store with them and have them point out the bunch of flowers they would choose.  I would go over and smell them.   Then I would hug and kiss the kids and tell them, “Thank you, I love them.”

4.   I’m not good at going places I’ve never been…I have to print out the directions on MapQuest…both going there and coming back…otherwise I will probably get lost.

5.   When I was a child, I would go to the library and take out so many books, you could hardly see me behind the stack of books as I walked home.  I would read them one after another and then go back and get more.  I guess I haven’t changed. 🙂

6.   I was a very fussy eater when I was young…when my family would go to the Chinese restaurant, it cost my parents 25 cents for my empty plate on which I piled white rice and crispy noodles.

7.   I’d rather make several right turns and go out of my way a bit to avoid making a left where there is lots of on-coming traffic and no light.

So, there are seven random things about myself…hope you enjoyed them.  Did you laugh at some…or roll your eyes…or perhaps nod your head in agreement or recognition.  Do let me know. 🙂

What’s In Your Child’s Bookcase Wordy Wednesday: YES WE CAN! and the Versatile Blogger Award :)

Illustration of Peter Rabbit with his family, ...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been a most wonderful week so far!  I want to share some good news before I review the picture book I choose for today’s post.

Of course, every coin has a flip side…and I guess we all decide which side of the coin we will focus on.  Sunday afternoon, I pulled my back out and was in quite a lot of pain.  No, that is NOT the good news. 🙂  Then, on Tuesday, I went to my doctor who did an adjustment of my back (OUCH!) and when I went to the parking lot to get in my car, I noticed I had a flat tire!  No, that is still NOT the good news. 🙂

The GOOD news is that one of my fellow bloggers, Eliz of Mirth and Motivation presented me with the Versatile Blogger Award…an honor coming from the best blogger I know out there.    She asks that I pass along the “good vibrations” to other great bloggers out there…so many of them were on her list already. 🙂  But, when I get back from my trip to the east coast, I will try to send it out to some of the people whose blogs are so very helpful to so many.  

The other GOOD news is that Jamie of Avant Garde Parenting selected me as Parent of the Week and I’ve posted that button on my sidebar.  You can click on her link to read the article.

Oh yes, and there is still more good news!  I leave on Friday for New Hampshire to spend a LONG weekend with my daughter and her family…I am really excited to see them…I know my 2 ½ year-old grandson has grown so much since I saw him in October.  I’m excited to be reading, crafting and cooking with him and I’ll definitely try to do a post while I’m there…but, if you don’t hear from me for a few days, you’ll know why.

This week, I’ve been concentrating on the theme of companionship and, in SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING, I found the perfect picture book to review, Yes We Can! by Sam McBratney.


Written by Sam McBratney

 Illustrated by Charles Fuge

Little Roo, Country Mouse and Quacker Duck start to make a giant pile of leaves, but stop to rest.  While they are resting, they start making fun of each other for what they don’t do well.  Roo’s mother suggests that each show what they CAN do best.  Little Roo jumps over a log.  Quacker Duck floats on a puddle.  Country Mouse chases and catches his own tail.  The friends agree that each one is special and has unique talents and qualities.

Little Roo’s mother found a creative way to teach her son and his friends to appreciate their own special talents without envying those of others.  Being a good friend and companion does not always come naturally.  As parents, we need to encourage our children to value their own strengths and qualities, as well as the strengths and qualities of others.  We make a start by recognizing their uniqueness and by supporting their creativity, even if it veers in a different direction from ours.

If you are looking for 99 other MUST READ picture books, please visit my website where you can purchase a copy of SHOW ME HOW!…a unique resource that pinpoints and summarizes 100 picture books every young child should hear and provides a matching craft project and cooking activity for each recommended title.  Leave a comment here about why you would like to win the Crafty Easter Basket for your preschooler or fill out the contact form on my website.  At 50% off the cover price, this MUST HAVE BOOK is now a CAN HAVE BOOK.

Quotable Timeless Tuesdays: COMPANIONSHIP

Portada del Viaje del Parnaso, de Cervantes

Image via Wikipedia

“Tell me thy company and I will tell thee what thou art.”Miguel de Cervantes (whose famous book…that every student taking 4th year Spanish has to read…details the travels of an old man with his faithful companion)

As infants, our companions were our mothers and fathers and older siblings.

“Without love, what are we worth?  Eighty-nine cents!  Eighty-nine cents worth of chemicals, walking around lonely.”Benjamin Franklin

As children, our world expanded to include friends, classmates, teachers and relatives.

“We have lived and loved together.

Through many changing years,

We have shared each other’s gladness,

And wept each other’s tears.” – Charles Jefferys

As adults, we often choose someone to be our life-long companion.

“To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.”Mark Twain

But whether it is a long-standing marriage or a friendship between children, it is the companionship that is the foundation of the relationship.

“Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat.”Joanne Woodward

My husband and I have been married over 43 years, and I can tell you that a sense of humor is so important in a marriage or in any relationship between two people, be they husband and wife or parent and child.

“The first duty of love is to listen.”Paul Tillich

Listening is one of the cornerstones in the Positive Parental Participation approach to parenting.  Young children have a lot to say and they need to be heard.  When we listen, we validate their self-worth and help build their self-esteem.

To find 99 more gentle parenting tips like the one above, visit my website and check out my parenting book on sale till April 9th.  This shortcut for busy parents lays out a simple, easy-to-use program of books to read and fun-filled educational activities.  This is a MUST HAVE book…and the 50% off sale makes it a CAN HAVE book!  SPECIAL BONUS: Purchase a book for an automatic entry to win a selection of craft supplies for your preschooler or you can leave a comment on this post to tell me why you’d like to win the prize…please make sure you leave your email so I can contact you if you are the winner.  Winner will be announced April 10th.

Please stop by tomorrow for What’s In Your Child’s Bookcase Wordy Wednesday.

What’s In Your Child’s Bookcase Wordy Wednesday: HOOT AND HOLLER

A sketch titled "Owls of the Yosemite Reg...

Image via Wikipedia

Friendship…something human beings cannot live without.

Today’s story recommendation is about friends who learn the importance of voicing their feelings about each other.


Written by Alan Brown

Illustrated by Rimantas Rolia

Holler, a big owl, and Hoot, a little owl, played together every night in the woods.  They were both shy, and neither friend spoke of how he felt about the other.  A storm separated the two owls and each worried that he would never find his best friend.  A wise old owl advised Holler to call out loudly for Hoot.  Although Holler was very shy and had never been able to raise his voice, he found the courage to call very loudly…and Hoot heard him!  They found each other and were overjoyed and were finally able to express their feelings of love.

How difficult it is to express one’s feelings sometimes!  We can help our children by being good role models…don’t wait for a special occasion to tell your child that you love him.  Children need to know they are loved every day of their lives.   And, although the verbal confirmation of your love is important, you need to show your child as well…with Positive Parental Participation!

Yesterday’s Quotable Timeless Tuesday’s post was all about friendship…but I saved one for today because it fit so perfectly with the story of Hoot and Holler and not telling our friends how we feel about them.

“Do not save your loving speeches,

For your friends till they are dead.

Do not write them on their tombstones,

Speak them rather now instead.”Anna Cummins

In the same way, please don’t save your praise and loving words for your children…speak them every day.  The tragic events in Japan give voice to our awareness that each day is precious and tomorrow is not guaranteed.

For more gentle parenting tips and 99 other picture book recommendations, please visit my website where you can pick up a copy of SHOW ME HOW! at half-price AND enter to win a FREE Crafty Easter Basket filled with craft supplies for your preschooler.

Please stop by tomorrow for Healthy Habit Thursdays.