Perfect Picture Book Friday: SECRET SECRET AGENT GUY Plus PB Critique Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. I’m so excited to turn the spotlight on this new book written by the talented Kira Bigwood and illustrated by the wonderful Celia Krampien. And please make sure you leave a comment because Kira is providing an amazing opportunity for all of you writers…a Picture Book Critique Giveaway!

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Project 365: Perfect Picture Book Friday – Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready For Bed?

 Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready For Bed

Written and illustrated by Barney Saltzman

Publishers: Candlewick Press

Ages 2 – 7


Mastering tasks and skills, bedtime routines and father­-son relationships.


“Cornelius P. Mud, do you know what time it is?”


It’s bedtime at the Mud household.  Cornelius’ father asks if he is ready for bed.  Cornelius answers “yes” to each of his father’s questions.  Did you put your pajamas on?  Did you feed your fish?  Did you brush your teeth? The hilarious illustrations reveal  that Cornelius and his father have different ideas about what constitutes getting ready for bed.  Should he really be feeding his fish chocolate chip cookies?  And wait till you see what he puts on his toothbrush.  (Hint: it’s NOT toothpaste)  But the most important thing Cornelius needs to remember is that his father truly loves him.

Why do I like this book:

This is a story that every parent and child can relate to.  Many parents have trouble establishing bedtime routines.  And most young children LOVE to procrastinate and put off going to bed.  During my Show Me How Story-time programs, the kindergarten children can’t wait to talk about what is wrong with Cornelius’ pajama choice.  They love counting the pile of books that Cornelius has chosen for his father to read…nineteen!  And they gasp with horror as they watch Cornelius put chocolate chip cookies in the fish bowl.  The book is funny and a joy to read and listen to…but it also encourages children to think about what activities they need to perform as they get ready for their own bedtimes while sending a beautiful message about a father’s love for his son.

Related Activities:

No Tick-Tock Clock (From Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking)


Telling time is an important skill that young children need to learn…even in these days of digital clocks.  Here is a simple clock with movable hands that a young child can make and set to a special time…lunchtime, playdate time or bedtime. 

You will need: 1 dark piece of construction paper, 1 circle cut from light construction paper (about 6 inches in diameter), 1 metal paper fastener, 2 “hands” cut from dark construction paper, marker or crayon, glue stick.

1.      Poke a hole in the center of the construction paper circle.

2.      Write the numbers in the correct order around the inside edge of the circle…draw the 12, 3, 6 and 9 first…then fill in the other numbers.  If the children are doing the numbers themselves, this will help them leave enough space for the rest of the numbers.

3.      Glue the circle onto the center of the larger piece of construction paper.

4.      Poke through the center hole and also the two “hands” and attach the hands with the metal paper fastener.  The hands should be able to turn.

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.

Bedtime…Routines, Rituals and Can I Have One More Glass of Water, Please!!!

Woman reads as baby sleeps

Image by National Media Museum via Flickr

I can remember wanting to stay up later when I was a child.  And when my children were small, each had their own way of trying to put off going to bed.  So I’m sure that many parents today have the same problem…some things just don’t change.



Unfortunately, I can’t give you any guarantees, but I can offer a few simple steps that worked for me.

1.    Provide a balanced and harmonious day…children need to get outside to play if the weather permits…fresh air and physical activity are essential.  Indoor play can include arts and crafts, music and rhythms (put on your favorite CD while you and your child dust and dance through the house), puzzles and stories.  Just make sure there is a balance of activities during the day.  A child who is just sitting around watching TV all day will definitely NOT be ready to go to sleep.

2.    As bedtime approaches, have a plan that includes making sure all toys are picked up and put away, bath time or washing up, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, reading a story, singing a goodnight song, prayers, etc…whatever routines, rituals or bed-time traditions are right for your family.  The crucial tip here is to BE CONSISTENT!

3.    Have a positive attitude towards going to bed…it is NOT a punishment, but a necessary part of living, just like eating and breathing.  During restful sleep, our bodies heal themselves and our minds can dream.  Be matter-of-fact and give your child a heads-up as the bed-time countdown approaches.

Because of my passion for picture book stories, I’m always ready to recommend one to help children deal with the challenges they face.  If going to bed is a problem in your home, perhaps you can read the following book with your child and make a batch of overnight cookies together.


written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg

          It’s time for bed and Cornelius’ father asks him the questions which we all ask our children at bedtime.  Have you put away your toys?  Have you used the bathroom?  Have you brushed your teeth?  Have you put on your pajamas?

          Although the little pig answers each question with a “yes”, the charming illustrations show that he and his father have different ideas about what needs to be done in order to get ready for bed.  Cornelius’ understanding father accepts his son’s somewhat strange routine and makes sure that he doesn’t forget the most important thing…a loving hug from him.

          Young children want very much to become independent and, although they may put their pajamas on backwards, we need to encourage them to learn to do things by themselves.  Of course, parents need to supervise some tasks; we don’t want them swallowing the whole tube of toothpaste or emptying the entire box of fish food into the aquarium.  However, praise for good effort encourages a child to keep trying and, as your child masters each task and skill, his self-esteem grows.


This recipe is unique because the cookies remain in the oven overnight and are ready in the morning…perhaps your child can have one with breakfast as a special treat…the egg whites, raisins and chopped nuts provide high quality nutrition.

You will need: 2 egg whites, ¼ cup sugar, 1 cup finely ground almonds, 1 cup raisins, cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil and sprayed with canola oil, electric mixer and a large bowl.

1.    Beat the egg whites with the mixer until stiff peaks form.

2.    Add sugar and mix gently with a spoon.

3.    Fold in nuts and raisins.

4.    Drop the mixture by the teaspoonful onto the prepared cookie sheet (if you want larger cookies, you can use a bigger spoon).

5.    Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.  Turn the oven off.

6.    Remove the cookies from the oven in the morning (you can actually take them out after an hour…if you like softer cookies).

7.    Store in an airtight container.

This child-friendly healthful recipe is only one of the one hundred that appear in SHOW ME HOW!  BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING.

Stop by tomorrow for a few more thoughts about the importance of a restful sleep (especially for harried moms and dads) AND an eco-friendly craft project to make bed-time the right time for your child.