PPBF: Officer Buckle and Gloria & We Have a WINNER!

NOVEMBER is Child Safety and Protection Month. So I thought it might be a great idea, for Perfect Picture Book Friday, to review an oldie, but goodie, by Peggy Rathmann.

But first, a couple of important announcements:

  1. Hallweensie Contest Update: I hope everyone will head over to Susanna Hill’s blog this weekend…all of the Halloweensie Contest entries are available to read. And next week, Susanna will be posting the finalists…you WON’T want to miss VOTING! Just think…two opportunities to VOTE…and with the craziness that’s surrounded our nation’s Presidential race, I’m thinking that picking  your favorite Halloweensie entry will be a much more pleasant task than picking the next President of the United States.
  2. Giveaway Updatte: At the end of this post I’ll be announcing the winner of A Morning with Grandpa, the beautiful debut picture book by Sylvia Liu.
  3. Sweet Dreams, Sarah Update: I’m really excited to be part of a group of 2017 debut picture book authors…we’ve got a new website where teachers, librarians, parents, and all book-lovers will find information about the upcoming book launches, events, and other book-related activities. I encourage you to visit, follow, and fill out the survey…there will be PRIZES! And we also have a Twitter home: @PictureTheBooks…I hope you will hop over and like us.



Written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (1995)

Ages: 4-8


Safety, teamwork


From Amazon:

Officer Buckle is a roly-poly bloke, dedicated to teaching schoolchildren important safety tips, such as never put anything in your ear and never stand on a swivel chair. The problem is, Officer Buckle’s school assemblies are dull, dull, dull, and the children of Napville just sleep, sleep, sleep. That is, until Gloria the police dog is invited along! Stealthily pantomiming each safety tip behind Officer Buckle’s back, Gloria wins the children’s hearts. Meanwhile Officer Buckle assumes the cheers and laughter are all for him. As the master comedian Jerry Lewis once explained, every slapstick artist needs a straight man! Children will be highly entertained by the laugh-out-loud, adorable illustrations in this 1996 Caldecott Medal winner, while learning the value of teamwork and a pawful of nifty safety tips.

Opening Lines:

“Officer Buckle knew ore safety tips than anyone else in Napville.”

 Why I like this book:

  • This book is hilariously funny…Officer Buckle has no clue that Gloria, his dog, is creating the stir among the students…he thinks it is his brilliant presentation.
  • Wonderful illustrations mesh perfectly with the text.
  • It won the Caldecott…enough said.


  1. Talk about safety in the home…walk through the house with your child and make a list of things that need to be attended to…and then do them.
  2. More safety tips here: http://www.parentguidenews.com/Articles/NovemberBringsChildSafety PreventionMonth

Have a wonderful weekend! I’m going to really enjoy this month…did you know it is also Peanut Butter Lovers Month! But Peanut Butter isn’t the only type of nut butter you can enjoy…I’m a fan of Almond Butter and Sunflower Butter. My favorite way to eat it is slathered on apple slices. YUM! How about you? What type of nut butter is your favorite?

And next week I’ll be flying to Florida to attend my daughter’s destination wedding on St. Pete’s Beach…I’m pretty excited, as you can imagine. Can hardly keep things straight.

Oh, wait a minute…that’s right…we need to announce who won the copy of A Morning with Grandpa.



Kelly, congratulations!!! And I will contact you by email so I can get your address.

Stay tuned, dear readers…later this month we’ll be welcoming Emma Bland Smith to the Will Write for Cookies spotlight…and another giveaway…of her debut picture book, JOURNEY.


The wait is finally over! It’s time for Susanna Hill’s fabulous Halloweensie Contest.


According to the guidelines, you need to write a story for children that is 100 words or less and uses the words GHOST, SPIDER, and  MOON.

I’ve always participated in this challenge…it’s a great writing prompt that helps you come right to the point while trying to entertain kids.

Here is my entry…I hope you enjoy it. Please visit the link up on Susanna’s website so you can read the other stories. Some may be posted in the comment section of her blog for those people who don’t have their own blog. Voting will take place on November 7 and winners will be announced a couple of days after that.



Tucked in a box, Trick-or-Treat Bag slept. He dreamed of friendly ghosts, scary spiders, and a tummy full of treats.

One day, Bag’s world shook. Earthquake!

Bag felt a tug. Whoosh! Bag dangled in the air.

“It’s wrinkled,” said Sally.

“Shake it out,” said Sam.

Bag twitched.

“Don’t you want a new bag?” said Sam. “Your costume is new.”

Bag trembled.

Sally held Bag close. “My old costume was too small,” she said. “But this bag will always be just right for me.”

Bouncing to the beat of  Sally’s heart, Bag twinkled as they trick-or-treated in the Halloween moonlight.


I hope you enjoyed the story…I’ve never written one from a bag’s POV…now I can’t wait to read all of the other contest entries!

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends! And HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!






Perfect Picture Book Friday: MONSTER TRUCKS

Last weekend I attended the SCBWI ENCORE presentation at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Massachusetts. I’m thankful for kid lit friends, Mona Pease, who drove all the way from Maine, and Beth Gallagher, who picked us up and chauffeured us to the event. The fall foliage was astonishingly beautiful and the day-long conference was filled with inspiring and informative programs.

Next weekend, another book event takes place…the Keene State College Children’s Book Fair. I’m hoping to be able to go. The only problem with going to these book events is that it’s tempting to buy every book!

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection is one I actually didn’t have to buy. At our local indie bookstore’s Teacher Appreciation Week, I placed my name in a raffle bowl. And I could hardly believe my ears when the manager from Toadstool Bookshop called and informed me that I was a winner of a picture book which is perfect for this Halloween-is-around-the-corner season. To read all of this week’s Perfect Picture Book reviews, hop over to Susanna Hill’s website.



Written by Anika Denise

Illustrated by Nate Wragg

Publisher: Harper Collins (2016)

Ages: 3 and up


Courage, never give up, you don’t have to be the biggest in order to win


From Amazon:

Readers will delight in this lively read-aloud story with a clever and surprising twist at the end—perfect for Halloween and year round!

 Ready, set, go! The monster truck race is on in this frightfully delightful picture book.  On a spooky speedway, Monster Trucks moan! Monster Trucks grumble! Monster Trucks groan!

 Join Frankentruck, Zombie Truck, Ghost Truck, and more as they race to the finish line. But one of these trucks isn’t quite who you think.

Why I like this book:

  • Love the clever simple rhyme that is matched perfectly with illustrations full of kid-appeal
  • Totally a new twist on a Halloween story for children that has just the right amount of tension and suspense without being scary


  1. Let your children design their own monster trucks.
  2. Make up silly Halloween rhymes with your children…take turns with each line.
  3. Check out other great Halloween picture books here: http://childrensbooks.about.com/od/holidays/tp/halloween.html


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.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, dear friends and readers. If you enjoy writing children’s stories, don’t forgot about Susanna’s Halloweensie Contest. I’ll be posting my entry to the contest next Friday right here on my blog. But if you want to find out more about the contest, click on this link.



It’s Time for Halloweensie and Picture Book Month!

Knock, knock!

Who’s there?


Boo, who?

Don’t cry! It’s time for Susanna Hill’s 5th Annual Halloweensie Contest!

friendly jackolanternCourtesy Google Images

That’s right—the contest runs from today till Friday…so there is still plenty of time to participate. Here are some of the rules from Susanna’s post.

The Contest: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words costume, dark, and haunt.   Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!) Get it? Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people. 🙂 (And yes, I know 100 words is short but that’s part of the fun and the challenge! We got over 130 fantastic entries last year so I know you can do it!) Also, you may use the words in any form – e.g. haunt, haunts, haunted, darkness, darkening, costumed, whathaveyou 🙂 No illustration notes please!

For more details, please click here: http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2015/10/its-about-that-time.html

I love this contest—all of my previous entries have been rhyming, so I thought I would change it up a bit this year. I hope you enjoy my story. And when you finish reading it, please hop over to Susanna’s website where you will find many more Halloween tales.


Halloween Fever (99 words)


Philpot blew his nose. His eyes watered. His throat tickled. His skin flushed red with fever.

“Oh no!” he moaned. “Whoever heard of a red ghost?”

Never had Philpot missed going a-haunting on Halloween. Opening Wanda Witchner’s spell-book, he flipped to the ‘C’s’. Exploding CAKES. Flying CATS. Disappearing COLDS.

“Hocus Pocus Mucus Phlegm!”

Blink. No more watering.

Swallow. No more tickle.

Sniff. No more dripping snot. But his skin still glowed red.

“If magic won’t do the trick, I can use my imagination!”

And grabbing a white sheet as his costume, Philpot floated out into the dark night.


 I hope you enjoy my little Halloween tale…for many more incredible stories, please visit Susanna’s Halloweensie Contest page: http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-5th-annual-halloweensie-writing.html

MORE GOOD STUFF – Please keep reading!

On Friday, I mentioned that November is a great month because of the PiBoIdMo Challenge. Well, there is another awesome picture book event coming up…Picture Book Month. Organized by author and literacy advocate Dianne de las Casas, this event is supported by everyone who loves picture books. Visit her website http://picturebookmonth.com every day during November and be prepared to be inspired and informed with posts by: Sudipta Bardan-Quallen, David Biedrzycki, Paulette Bogan, Mike Curato, Matthew Gollub, Julie Gribble, Julie Hedlund, Carter Highins, Molly Idle, Joe Kulka, Jennifer Gray Olson, Kathryn Otoshi, Anne Marie Pace, Rukhsana Khan, Robin Newman, Penny Parker Klostermann, Eric Litwin, Loren Long, Deb Lund, LeUyen Pham, Matt Phelan, Stephen Shaskan, Trisha Speed Shaskan, TJ Shay, Whitney Stewart, Holly Stone-Barker, Mo Willems, Natasha Wing, Matthew Winner, and Paula Yoo.


How lucky are we to have these incredible mentors sharing their love of picture books with us!

Thank you for stopping by. Your visit is much appreciated!

Halloweensie Contest – What’s Under Your Cape

Today I have two very important things to share with you…a fabulous parent-teacher resource AND my Halloweensie Contest entry. (What is Halloweensie you ask? Please scroll to the second part of this post to find out.)

As a parent and educator, I’m always looking for ways to help kids develop a sense of self-worth. Honestly, this is one of the most critical tasks we have. Kids who respect themselves will also respect others. And when every child respects others, bullying in the schoolyards and playgrounds will disappear.

So when I found out that a friend of mine, author and long-time educator Barbara Gruener, had written a book called, “What’s Under Your Cape: Superheroes of the Character Kind” – I knew I had to tell everyone about it.


Right away in the introduction, I found a golden nugget – “Children aren’t born with good character – it develops over time. But they are hard-wired to learn, and their capacity for character is unlimited.”

Wait a minute…you mean we have to TEACH our kids things like respect and empathy and perseverance and unconditional love? You bet your sweet patootie we do. I’ll let you in on a little secret. As a new parent, even though I had been a kindergarten teacher for many years, I don’t think i truly understood that. I knew I needed to be a good role model and set rules and be consistent. But I didn’t realize that we need to teach this stuff…I kind of thought it would come naturally.

Fortunately, I guess I learned pretty quickly – but I sure wish that Barbara’s book had been around then – it would have given me concrete examples of projects to do and tools to use.

Parents have first crack at helping children build character, as well as teachers, daycare providers and other childcare facilitators. According to Barbara, “We must teach the values that we want woven into the DNA of our students’ lives through direct instruction, indirect modeling and daily reinforcement.” And this holds true for parents as well.

And what are those values? Barbara makes it easy to remember – as her book title implies, this is all about the SUPERHEROES our children can become – and her chapters (and the values) follow the letters that make up that word. A few of them are: Service, Unconditional Love, Perseverance, Empathy and Respect.

But when can educators, busy with curriculum requirements, and parents, busy with all of their responsibilities, do this? Barbara suggests that you ‘seize teachable moments throughout the day to infuse character development opportunities into your daily content.”

The book is filled with practical strategies for successfully helping children develop their superhero powers of character, using song and dance and laughter, role playing and journaling and art, school and community and global projects. Here’s an example: a student mentioned that she had taken up knitting and was really enjoying it. This blossomed into a knit-for-service project that the entire school became involved with. To date, the children have knitted and donated over 2000 caps for newborns in need. This project gained the notice of Save the Children who asked Barbara’s group to join the Caps for the Capital campaign. One of the students personally delivered some of the caps to the White House. When children become involved in activities that enable them to reach out and help others, their own characters grow by leaps and bounds!

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to help children build character. What’s under YOUR superhero’s cape?

To find out more about Barbara and her book, please visit her incredible blog, The Corner on Character.

And now, for another treat…it’s time for HALLOWEENSIE!!!!!


Thanks to Susanna Leonard Hill, there will be many superheroes revealed over the next few days…writing superheroes, that is.

Every year, Susanna hosts several holiday writing contests. Halloweensie starts TODAY!

The rules are as follows: Write a children’s story of 100 words or less, include the words ‘broomstick’, ‘pumpkin’ and ‘creak’, post the story on your blog between Monday, October 27th and Friday, October 31st and then link it up OR copy and paste it into Susanna’s Monday, October 27th post. After the contest closes, Susanna and her judges will read all the stories and choose some as finalists. And then the VOTING starts and everyone is encouraged to vote for their favorite.

There are PRIZES GALORE and it is great fun to hop around to the other blogs to read these fantastic stories.

I’ve participated for a couple of years…here is my entry for this year. I hope you enjoy it!



Miss Witch had many things.


Magic wand

Big black hat

But no one to play with.

She stirred her pot.


POOF! A furry spider appeared and scurried off.

She waved her wand.


PLUNK! A coffin materialized. The cover creaked open.

A bony skeleton jumped out and rattled down the road.

She stuck her hand into her hat –


and pulled out a…


Miss Witch zipped over Persnickety’s Pumpkin Patch.

She zoomed through Wildebeest Woods.

She zig-zagged over Cinnabar City.

Down below, she spied little witches and princesses and superheroes Trick-or-Treating.

Here I come, friends!

The End



I HOPE YOU ENJOYED MY LITTLE STORY – DON’T FORGET TO VISIT SUSANNA’S BLOG AND READ ALL OF THE WONDERFUL HALLOWEENSIE ENTRIES: http://susannahill.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-4th-annual-halloweensie-writing.html


Monday Magic for Writers

perfect picture book friday: mr tiger goes wild

I promised to give you the link to the list of finalists for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie Contest.

Originally, she had planned to have 3  or 6 finalists. There were so many participants – 79 – that she decided to pick more.

Click on this link and you’ll be able to read 12 fantastic Halloween stories and vote for the one you like the best.


PPBF: The Little Red Caboose…Building Self-Esteem in Children

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of picture book writers, illustrators, librarians and others who contribute a picture book review.  When you visit her website on Friday, in addition to finding lots of links to other wonderful picture book reviews, you will also find out the winners of the Halloweensie Contest!!!

Before we get to today’s picture book review (I’ll give you a hint…I’m back to the classic picture books), I want to reshare some links to wonderful events going on in the kidlit/picture book community.

  1. Picture Book Month: Visit the website of Dianne de Las Casas to join in the month-long celebration of PICTURE BOOKS!  Every day, a different picture book champion (author, illustrator, etc.) is guest posting…you won’t want to miss these….they will inspire you and help you remember just why you love to read and write picture books.
  2. Picture Books and Crafts for Kids: Please pass the word about this new YouTube series for parents and teachers and kids…every Sunday, I’ll be choosing a picture book to read aloud…and then I’ll do a simple related craft project.  Last week I spotlighted Yes We Can by Sam McBratney and this Sunday I will be reading The Little Red Caboose by Marian Potter and we will create a geometric-shape train picture.  Each segment will highlight a parenting problem such as setting up good bedtime routines or a children’s challenge like learning to be a good friend.
  3. I’m also teaming up with author and educator Susan Case to do a Thanksgiving Google+ Hangout/YouTube video on Monday afternoon as part of a week-long Thanksgiving celebration by parent bloggers.  Our segment, Acts of Random Kindness, will include a reading of Norman the Doorman by me and a super craft project done by Susan.
  4. PiBoIdMo:  Picture Book Idea Month is the brain-child of children’s author,Tara Lazar.  If you signed up, you are already immersed in the world of picture books…trying to come up with 30 fresh ideas for picture book manuscripts during this month.  But, even if you have not joined the challenge, please run over there…don’t walk… to read an AMAZING guest post EVERY DAY this month…these posts will instruct and educate you…as well as motivate you to write the picture book that every child will want to read over and over again.  For example, today’s post, by author Ame Dyckman, encourages us to revisit the picture books of our youth to recapture the magic we felt back then as each page turned and we eagerly anticipated the next one.

Ame’s advice conveniently leads into my Perfect Picture Book Friday pick for today.

The Little Red Caboose

Written by Marian Potter

Illustrated by Tibor Gerbely

Publisher: Golden Press (Western Publishing Company) 1953

Ages: 3 and up


Building self-esteem, believing in yourself, courage, determination, friendship

Opening lines:

“The little red caboose always came last.”


The little red caboose is attached to the end of a long train of oil cars, coal cars and flat cars.  The people who come to wave at the train are gone by the time the little red caboose passes by and the little red caboose wishes he was one of the other cars.  However, when the train almost slips down the mountain, the little red caboose saves the day!

Why do I like this book:

You recapture a ‘kinder gentler’ time as you turn the pages of this beautifully illustrated classic.  Kids love books about trains (this is the great-grandfather of the Thomas series).  The message of being disappointed in who you are and wishing you were someone else is one that children (and adults) will understand and relate to…and the joyous triumph of the little red caboose will encourage kids to believe in themselves.  I love books that help build self-esteem in children.

Related Activities:

GEOMETRIC TRAIN PICTURE (http://mamasmiles.com/geometric-shapes-train/)

You will need: One piece of light colored construction paper, several pieces of different colored construction paper, scissors, glue stick and crayons or markers.

  1. Use the light colored piece as the base.
  2. Cut small circles (wheels), squares  and rectangles and triangles (the different cars of the train).
  3. Help the child put the shapes together to form the train.
  4. Paste each piece in place.
  5. Let the child decorate the train…perhaps drawing the train number and the tracks.
  6. Hang up in a place of honor!

Another great website here with a page devoted to books about trains: http://www.readingtoknow.com/2011/06/train-picture-books.html



Young children don’t need fancy electronic gadgets…they only need a good picture book, a few simple inexpensive art supplies (like paper, crayons or markers, safety scissors and glue stick) and your positive participation.  If you are looking for a great resource that will give you 100 picture book summaries and easy matching craft and cooking activities, you can purchase a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking.  At under $20, this book makes a PERFECT gift for any parent or teacher of children ages 2-8…as well as for daycare providers and grandparents.  No batteries required…powered by a child’s imagination!

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.   This is an unbelievable resource for any parent, teacher or children’s librarian.