Perfect Picture Book Friday: SALAMANDER SKY Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday!

One of the first bloggers I connected with many years ago was already a published author. Her blog, Non-Toxic Kids, was near and dear to my heart. So when I discovered she had a picture book debut earlier this year, I knew I wanted to feature it here. And author Katy has graciously agreed to host a giveaway – she has several books and I’m not sure which one she will send the winner – don’t you love surprises!!!!

salamander sky

SALAMANDER SKY

Written by Katy Farber

Illustrated by Meg Sodano Continue reading

Perfect Picture Book Friday: AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends. Here is another book I’ve been anxious to spotlight…ever since I read an early draft of it during a manuscript exchange with one of my critique buddies. It’s actually just hot off the press as you’ll see by the publication date below. I am so darn excited for the talented Beth Anderson…and you’ll get to meet her tomorrow when she stops by to chat on Will Write for Cookies. Plus she’s graciously agreed to do a giveaway…so make sure you leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of her debut picture book, AN INCOVENIENT ALPHABET: Ben Franklin & Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution.

inconvenient alphabet

AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET: BEN FRANKLIN & NOAH WEBSTER’S SPELLING REVOLUTION

Written by Beth Anderson

Illustrated by Elizabeth Buddeley

Published by Simon and Schuster (September 25, 2018)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: American history, spelling, humor

Synopsis: From Amazon:

Delightful, relatable, and eye-catchingly illustrated.”School Library Journal
Deelytful and iloominaating for noo and seesuned reeders alyk.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Thought-provoking and entertaining.” —School Library Connection
“Engaging…A comprehensible, lively read.” —Publishers Weekly

Do you ever wish English was eez-ee-yer to spell? Ben Franklin and Noah Webster did! Debut author Beth Anderson and the New York Times bestselling illustrator of I Dissent, Elizabeth Baddeley, tell the story of two patriots and their attempt to revolutionize the English alphabet.

Once upon a revolutionary time, two great American patriots tried to make life easier. They knew how hard it was to spell words in English. They knew that sounds didn’t match letters. They knew that the problem was an inconvenient English alphabet.

In 1786, Ben Franklin, at age eighty, and Noah Webster, twenty-eight, teamed up. Their goal? Make English easier to read and write. But even for great thinkers, what seems easy can turn out to be hard.

Children today will be delighted to learn that when they “sound out” words, they are doing eg-zakt-lee what Ben and Noah wanted.

Why I like this book:

  • I love books that bring history alive – especially little known stories like this one. Why didn’t they have books like this when I was a kid?
  • The text is fabulous…punny and funny and shows a great depth of research on the part of Beth Anderson, the author. 
  • Illustrator Elizabeth Baddeley’s work is absolutely breathtaking! Bold! Hilarious! And totally Spot On! Kids are going to LOVE this book and so will teachers, librarians, and parents!
  • Wonderfully informative author’s note at the end of the book.
  • PLUS…there is also a super cool CURRICULUM GUIDE for teachers and school librarians who want to extend the learning experience after reading AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

letter a, letter b, letter c, letter dPhoto courtesy: https://www.123homeschool4me.com/2017/01/26-alphabet-crafts_20.html

There are crafts here from A to Z. For detailed instructions: https://www.123homeschool4me.com/2017/01/26-alphabet-crafts_20.html

For more wonderful picture book reviews and activities for kids, please hop over to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post where lots of lovers of picture books congregrate.

I hope you all have a super weekend. The fall foliage is in full swing in New England and I hope, wherever you are, you are getting out to enjoy your days. Please don’t forget to leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of the book…when you read the book, don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads…and please do come back tomorrow to chat with Beth on Will Write for Cookies.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: MOTH AND WASP, SOIL AND OCEAN

Hello dear friends! I hope you haven’t given up on me. With a March 1st deadline, I’ve been writing and revising for the past three weeks. I’m happy to say that four of the manuscripts for the compilation book are already on the editor’s desk. I have one more ready to go, another almost there, a third that needs a bit more research, and a fourth…well…let’s just say that one is still a rough draft. 

January was also Tara Lazar’s STORYSTORM challenge and I now have a notebook with 30+ new story ideas. If you didn’t get a chance to hop over to read my post, you can click here. I shared how I got ideas for all of the books that are now under contract – and a few that are out on submission. If you are writing with the view to getting traditionally published, I urge you to read Jane Yolen’s post – I am always inspired by her words.

Speaking of being inspired…our Perfect Picture Book Friday selection does exactly that! The text by award-winning author Sigrid Schmalzer is glorious and the illustrations by debut picture book illustrator Melanie Linden Chan are incredible!

moth and wasp soil and ocean

MOTH AND WASP, SOIL AND OCEAN: Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu Zhelong’s Work for Sustainable Farming

Written by Sigrid Schmalzer

Illustrated by Melanie Linden Chan

Published by Tilbury House Publishers (2018)

Ages: 6-9

Themes: Sustainable farming, Chinese culture, conservation

Why I like this book:

  • A true gem of history that will inspire adults and kids
  • A beautiful diverse story that will help children get a better picture of life in other places and times
  • Incredible illustrations from debut picture book illustrator Melanie Linden Chan…just incredible!
  • I love the message of sustainable farming!

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Plant Seeds

plants14Photo courtesy: https://www.prekinders.com/category/themes/plants-seeds/

One of the favorite activities of my kinders was planting seeds. They loved getting their hands in the soil, pressing the small beans, peas, or other seeds with their fingers. Best of all, the loved watching the little green sprouts push up and flourish. For detailed instructions, go here: https://www.prekinders.com/category/themes/plants-seeds/

For more wonderful picture book reviews, please go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog. And for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up, go here.

And while you are there, why not check out her Valentiny Contest that starts soon!

And last, but definitely not least, if you’d like to get a peek at the 2018 Debut Picture Books, please visit the Epic Eighteens website.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend. Stay warm or stay cool, whichever you prefer.

 

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: LET THE CHILDREN MARCH

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. I missed last week, so we have some giveaways to award before we get to the special book featured today.

From author Nancy Churnin – a copy of CHARLIE TAKES HIS SHOT. And the winner is…

Julie LaCombe

From author/illustrator Jeanette Bradley – a copy of LOVE, MAMA. And the winner is…

Suzy Leopold

From author Kerri Kokias – a PICTURE BOOK MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUE. And the winner is…

Kaye Baillie

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! 

I’m so excited about the coming year…so many fabulous picture books are debuting…and I hope to share many of them with you. 

let the children march

LET THE CHILDREN MARCH

Written by Monica Clark-Robinson

Illustrated by Frank Robinson

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers (2018)

Ages: 6-9

Themes: Civil Rights, segregation

Synopsis: 

From Amazon:

I couldn’t play on the same playground as the white kids. 
I couldn’t go to their schools.  
I couldn’t drink from their water fountains.  
There were so many things I couldn’t do. 
In 1963 Birmingham, Alabama, thousands of African American children volunteered to march for their civil rights after hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. They protested the laws that kept black people separate from white people. Facing fear, hate, and danger, these children used their voices to change the world. Frank Morrison’s emotive oil-on-canvas paintings bring this historical event to life,
while Monica Clark-Robinson’s moving and poetic words document this remarkable time. 
Why I like this book:
  • I love stories that inspire children to become doers as well as dreamers.
  • I love books that bring history alive for young readers.
  • I love illustrations that capture our attention…and our hearts.
  • I love when the partnership of author and illustrator works as it does so beautifully in this book.
  • No doubt about it…this is a 5-STAR picture book…don’t miss it!

RELATED ACTIVITIES

handprint bigPhoto courtesy: http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/kidscraftsactivitiesblog

Martin Luther King Day may have passed, but it’s never to late to celebrate diversity. Kids will love tracing their hand prints. For a classroom, why not have kids trace as many hand prints as there are kids and decorate them. Then kids can trade, so each child has a wreath made from hand prints of the entire class.

For detailed instructions: http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/kidscraftsactivitiesblog/2012/01/how-to-make-a-colored-hands-wreath-for-martin-luther-king-day/

Thank you all for stopping by…I appreciate your time and your company! I’ve been less active on social media because I’ve been writing and revising…but I’ve been keeping up with STORYSTORM. Each day, another author shares how they get ideas for stories. My notebook is filling up and I’m so excited about that. I’m also excited because on January 25th, it will be my turn to share my thoughts with everyone. I hope you’ll all stop by Tara’s blog to say hello!

And for more perfect picture book reviews, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog where all lovers of picture books join her Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: SNOW SISTERS plus Critique Giveaway

What a totally perfect day for a totally perfect picture book entitled SNOW SISTERS

Yes, here in New Hampshire, we are in the middle of a BLIZZARD! It’s actually lovely if you don’t have to go anywhere and have plenty of food and water and power to heat your home and keep the internet going.

And the lovely Kerri Kokias, author of Snow Sisters, has graciously offered a picture book manuscript critique as a giveaway. Woo-hoo! And tomorrow, Kerri will be stopping by to chat and share a delicious recipe for hot cocoa! MMMMM…whose got the marshmallows?

SnowSistersLargeCover

SNOW SISTERS

Written by Kerri Kokias

Illustrated by Teagan White

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers (2018)

Ages: 3-7

Themes: Sisters, friendship, being yourself

Synopsis:

From Amazon: Just like snowflakes, no two sisters are alike, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work together to make the perfect snow day! A heartwarming sibling story from the illustrator of That’s Me Loving You.

When snowflakes fall, two sisters react very differently. One is excited and the other is wary. The first sister spends the morning outdoors, playing until she’s all tuckered out. Meanwhile, the second sister stays indoors, becoming ever more curious about the drifts outside. Soon, they switch places, and spend the second half of the day retracing each other’s footsteps. But each sister puts her own unique spin on activities like sledding, baking and building.


The simple mirrored text is spare and lovely, and each spread is split to show what each sister is doing independently–until at last they come together in the sweet, satisfying conclusion. LeUyen Pham’s Big Sister, Little Sister meets Kate Messner’s Over and Under the Snow.

Why I like this book:

  • I have a sister and remember well our differences, but I also remember how we found ways to come together

  • I love how each sister goes her own way, but in the end, they show how much they love each other

  • Wonderful illustrations and perfect pacing of the text will engage children from the first page to the last.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

30-ways-to-make-a-snowflake-2Photo courtesy:https://handsonaswegrow.com

Make a snowflake craft: for detailed instructions on any of these beautiful snowflakes: https://handsonaswegrow.com/make-snowflake-crafts/

For lots of fun when summer comes, why not fill a plastic container with clean snowballs and put it in the freezer. On a hot summer day, go out with the kids and throw snowballs. Just make sure they aren’t too hard. If they are, you can make a game of tossing them into a bucket. 

Thank you so much for spending your precious time here. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the picture book manuscript critique giveaway…and definitely pop in tomorrow for the Q&A with Kerri Kokias.

The 2018 books are coming in fast and furious and I hope to review lots of them this year! Please remember that authors need reviews and shout outs…I’m off to write an Amazon review right now.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: A BOOK OF BRIDGES – FROM HERE TO THERE – AND ME TO YOU

HAPPY PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY, DEAR FRIENDS!

2017 is winding down…it’s been a whirlwind for sure. And here are some numbers to prove it:

# of blog posts in 2017: 112

# of followers (blog/Twitter/Facebook) : 4000

# of views: 44,565

# of picture book reviews: 56

# of giveaways: 96

# of picture book manuscripts written: 12+

# of book deals done: 3

Phew! 

Right now, I’m participating in Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas…a challenge that is inspiring and helpful as we move ahead to a new year – and you can still sign up – Julie will send you emails for the days you missed.

I also urge all writers and illustrators to join in with Tara Lazar’s Storystorm…a month-long challenge starting January 1st that will help you brainstorm new story ideas.

And what’s up for today? One of the most beautiful and relevant books of 2017…a book that will hopefully encourage this divided world to come together in love. To find out more whyconnecting is important, check out Cheryl Keely’s 12×12 featured author post from January of this year.

a book of bridges cover

Written by Cheryl Keely

Illustrated by Celia Krampien

Published by Sleeping Bear Press (2017)

Ages: 5-8

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

Bridges are some of the most fascinating structures in our landscape, and they come in all forms. From towering suspension bridges to humble stone crossings, this book visits them all in sweet, bouncing text with expository sidebars. But while bridges can be quite grand, this reminds us that their main purpose is bringing people together. This is perfect for budding architects, as well as readers who can relate to having loved ones who live far away.

Why I like this book:

Please read the Publishers Weekly review and you will know why:

Keely makes her children s book debut with a contemplative exploration of bridges, citing real-life examples, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Peru s Puente de Piedra, and more metaphorical ones, including the arches created by backbends and rainbows. The straightforward central narrative ( Some bridges join country to country, making a big world seem smaller ) is supplemented by facts and details about the specific bridges that appear in Krampien s artwork ( The Three Countries Bridge at the borders of France, Germany, and Switzerland only truly connects France to Germany. But Switzerland is only a hop, skip, and a yodel away! ). In her first picture book, Krampien uses a fresh, contemporary cartooning style to create expansive panoramas that showcase the bridges sizes and spans, as well the activity of the humans and animals they serve particularly in the wildlife bridges of Banff National Park, which allow bears, wolves, and other creatures to cross highways safely. Keely s tender closing example of the bridge formed through the simple act of holding hands cements the message of togetherness and connection that bridges (of all kinds) make possible.

To order a copy or leave a review for A BOOK OF BRIDGES go here.

 

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

If you live near a bridge that can be walked across, take a field trip and do it.

Make a paper bridge that can hold lots of pennies! For detailed directions and to read comments by kids who constructed one: http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/sci/paperbridge.html

paperbridge Photo courtesy: http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/sci/paperbridge.html

 

Dear friends…thank you for spending time with me this year…I’m wishing all of you a Happy and Healthy New Year! Please come back on Monday and Tuesday for special Book Birthday posts and Giveaways!

 

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: MARTI’S SONG FOR FREEDOM

The year is winding down, dear friends. It’s been a whirlwind of political upheaval, natural disasters, and global unrest. But here in picturebookland, at Picture Books Help Kids Soar, we’ve tried to keep our eyes and hearts on beautiful books that will educate, entertain, and inspire our children!

I’m thrilled to say that my blog made Feedspot’s Top 100 Children’s Book Blogs…that means the world to me because it means that people are finding value in my posts and I’m truly honored to see my name in a list with bloggers I have long admired and respected: https://blog.feedspot.com/childrens_book_blogs/

Today, for Perfect Picture Book Friday, I want to shine a light on MARTI’S SONG OF FREEDOM by debut author Emma Otheguy. It came out earlier this year, but I missed doing a review and it is so special for so many reasons, I knew I had to share it before the year was over.

martis song for freedomMARTI’S SONG FOR FREEDOM

Written by Emma Otheguy

Illustrated by Beatriz Vidal

Bilingual translation by Adriana Dominguez

Ages: 7-10

Themes: justice, political activism

Synopsis: 

From Booklist: Cuban poet and political activist José Martí witnessed an injustice at a young age and gave his life trying to right that wrong. He opposed slavery in Cuba and knew that the only way to end it would be to free Cuba from Spain s rule. Cuban American author Otheguy illuminates the life of a young man endeavoring to make a difference through affecting bilingual verses, which make Cuba s complicated history with slavery and colonialism accessible to young readers. By incorporating excerpts of Marti s writing into the narration, Otheguy introduces a new generation of readers to an important champion of human rights. Vidal s gouache artwork captures the beauty and the injustice of which Martí wrote, showcasing his country s vibrant colors, as in the pinks and oranges of the sunset, and illustrating the harsh treatment of enslaved Africans, who are shown performing backbreaking labor in sugarcane fields. Dominguez s excellent Spanish translation makes Martí s story available to a wide audience, and the text offers significant additional information via an afterword on Cuba s history, a selected bibliography, and excerpts from Martí s Versos Sencillos. Otheguy and Vidal tell a timely story that will inspire many to fight for equality and sings songs for freedom. 

Why I like this book:

  • I’m a fan of nonfiction picture books…what a fabulous vehicle to help young kids see history come alive
  • This was a story I did not know much about – and I love the poetry and bilingual format
  • Author and illustrator combined their talents perfectly

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

american-flagPhoto courtesy: http://www.dltk-kids.com

  1. Make a Flag: to make the flag of a different country, find a picture online and copy the correct colors and design.

For detailed instructions for the American flag: http://www.dltk-kids.com/usa/flag-day.htm

     2. Talk about freedom…what does it mean to live in a country where you are free?

3. Write topics on slips of paper and pick one to write a poem about.

This really was a stellar year for brilliant picture books. To check out many more of them, please go to www.PicturetheBooks2017.wordpress.com

To give your favorite authors and illustrators the best gift, why not post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other review sites.

It’s been a fabulous year for me as well…nothing officially announced yet, but I just signed one book contract, will be signing another before the end of the year, and just waiting on the third contract to arrive. I can’t thank my agent, my critique buddies, and all of my friends and family enough for their unfailing support and encouragement. I hope to be able to share more details soon!

And I’d like to pass along a link to a wonderful mentorship opportunity. Writing with the Stars could be the jumpstart you need to get your manuscript where it needs to be: http://beckytarabooks.com/wwts-contest/

I’m wishing all of you a happy holiday season…if you are traveling,  please be safe. If you are home, I hope you are surrounded by friends and family. And I thank you for spending some of your precious time with me.