Perfect Picture Book Friday: BENFORD DRAWS A BLANK Plus Critique Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. I totally needed this book when I was a kid. I loved to draw…I had a big round cookie tin that was filled with broken crayons. I remember the day I got a new box of Crayola crayons…the big 64 color box with the SHARPENER…it was 1958 (that was the first year Crayola released the 64-crayon box with the sharpener) and I was 11 years old – and I felt like I had just gotten the best gift ever! But I didn’t have much confidence in my art – and most of the time, I colored in coloring books…allowing my creativity to be confined within the boundaries of the lines on the page. Danielle Dufayet’s newest book, BENFORD DRAWS A BLANK, is all about creativity and imagination and believing in oneself…and something many of us writers experience – not knowing where to begin! And before you begin reading this post, I want to let you know that the lovely Danielle is offering a fabulous giveaway: winner’s choice of either a signed copy of the book OR a Picture Book Critique! WOW!


Written by Danielle Dufayet

Illustrated by Katia Klein

Published by Capstone

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Imagination, be yourself, art

Synopsis: From Amazon:
Benford loves art, and his very first canvas is ready and waiting! But he can’t think of a single thing to paint. Not one! Nothing! His mind is completely BLANK! How will Benford break free from his painter’s block? Author Danielle Dufayet highlights the importance of silencing the inner critic by letting go of perfectionism and letting loose. See Benford’s final masterpiece where he adds the missing piece to get his painting “just right”.

Why I Love This Book:
1. We all get stuck – children and adults, writers and artists…I love that every child reader will be able to relate to Benford!
2. Wonderful text that takes the reader on Benford’s journey of discovery!
3. Fabulous illustrations that engage the reader and keep you turning the pages!

And guess what!!! Author Danielle Dufayet stopped by to chat and she’s sharing a little bit about the path to publication for this book…I always love to get an inside peek at the story behind the story.

DANIELLE: I was so torn as to what to paint after a long dry spell, but somehow, I started seeing blank canvases everywhere I went: once in Target just passing through the art supplies, once in my grandson’s school where they were getting ready to paint small canvases and a third time my friend called me to tell me she picked up a canvas for me at a garage sale for a really great price. All in the same day! I took it as a sign, but it did feel like blank canvases were stalking me! I definitely wanted to add that funny element to my story. I love how the illustrator gave it beady eyes!

ME: I love that, Danielle. It just goes to show how in tune we need to be with the Universe…which is always sending us ideas for stories!


Photo courtesy:

Please visit this fabulous website and read this important post about how parents can encourage the artist that lives inside of every child. One of the most important tips is: DON’T DENIGRATE YOUR OWN ARTISTIC ABILITY! (I am definitely guilty of this…even when I do a school visit…I can hear myself saying…oh, the art in my book dummy is so bad. What I think I’m doing is letting the kids know that even though I don’t draw like a professional artist, I do it anyway…but perhaps there is a better way I can say it. It’s kind of like if a parent makes a face when spinach is served…kids clue into not only what we say, but they watch what we do…and then the kid doesn’t want to eat spinach either.

Before I sign off I want to remind you all to leave a comment for a chance to win the FABULOUS giveaway of a Picture Book Critique with author Danielle Dufayet OR a signed copy of BENFORD DRAWS A BLANK. And if you share on social media (which I hope you will), you get extra tickets in the giveaway hat.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush PLUS PB Manuscript Critique Giveaway and Book Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday! Picture books are magical…especially when they are about a magical item. And Perfect Picture Book Friday posts are magical when they have DOUBLE GIVEAWAYS. Yes, author Melissa Stoller is donating both a pb manuscript critique AND a copy of her brand-new picture book! Woo-hoo!

scarlet's magic paintbrush


Written by Melissa Stoller

Ilustrated by Sandie Sonke

Published by Clear Fork/Spork (October 2018)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Creativity, be yourself, self-esteem

Opening lines: 

“Years ago, Scarlet found a magic paintbrush and everything changed.”

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

What would it be like to have a magic paintbrush?

Scarlet knows. 
She paints perfect pictures . . . until her brush disappears. 
Will she ever be
able to create another 
masterpiece without it?

Why I like this book:

  • The element of magic appeals to kids…who wouldn’t want a brush that magically draws perfect pictures?
  • I loved seeing Scarlet come to the realization that her own creativity is important.
  • The illustrations are full of color…perfect for a book about a girl who loves to paint.


Painting With Kids


Photo courtesy:

For detailed instructions for 50 painting projects:

Ask your kids, what would they draw if they had a magic paintbrush? If they could imbue any item with magical powers, what would it be and what would it do? And wouldn’t we all like to have an item that had magical powers? What item would you want to be magical?

Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in this double-your-pleasure giveaway. And, when you read Melissa’s book, don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or other review sites. Reviews are like a birthday gift to your favorite author!

And speaking of picture books, for more wonderful recommendations and activities for kids, please hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends. Safe travels if you are away from home.



Parenting Tip – How To Teach Problem Solving

What do you get when you give two seven-year olds some construction paper, markers, scissors and tape?

Parenting Tip - How To Teach Problme Solving

You get the most amazing creations! And you get happy kids!

I encourage parents to keep simple arts and crafts supplies on hand. Paper, scissors, markers and glue are imagination enablers. Kids can spend hours, happily engaged in expressing their creativity, exercising their problem solving and critical thinking skills.

Last week, my son and his family stopped by.

Knowing that my grandchildren LOVE making things, I had put a few arts and crafts supplies on the dining room table. After we visited for a while, I asked the kids if they wanted to sit down and use the materials.

Before I had even finished the sentence Continue reading