Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends. And this book is definitely a Perfect Picture Book! I love it so much…and the author/illustrator, Fiona Halliday, that I’m featuring her and her book THREE times. And that doesn’t happen very often! Last week a Will Write for Cookies post. On Tuesday, a Happy Book Birthday post. And today, a Perfect Picture Book Friday post. Please remember there will be a giveaway of a copy of the beautiful book, so don’t forget to leave a comment on the blog.
Authors, illustrators, and publishing company publicity departments often reach out to bloggers to see if they can feature upcoming picture books. I try to do as many as I can – because I LOVE reading them and I LOVE sharing them with parents, librarians, teachers, and all of my kidlit friends. Sometimes I get a chance to read them to my six-year old granddaughter over Skype…and, when she asks me to read the book again and again and again, I know we’ve got a winner.
That’s what happened with today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection. Sophie absolutely loves I AM A THIEF…and I think you will also. PLUS, the author and publisher are donating a copy of the book as a giveaway AND…the illustrator is offering a picture book manuscript CRITIQUE to one lucky winner. Make sure you leave a comment at the end.
But before we get to the review, we have a giveaway to announce. Continue reading
Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends!
Today’s picture book is so darn relatable for kids – in fact, it stirs memories of my own. I’ll bet lots of you can remember family gatherings and wanting to sit at the ‘big’ table. Well, author Pj McIlvaine has tapped into those memories to create a story that is sure to strike a chord with everyone who reads it. And the lovely Pj is offering not one, but TWO Picture Book Manuscript Critiques as a giveaway!!!! So please make sure you leave a comment.
LITTLE LENA AND THE BIG TABLE
Written by PJ McIlvaine
Illustrated by Leila Nabih
Published by Big Belly Books (2019)
Themes: Growing up, family
Synopsis: From Amazon
Little Lena has her heart set to sit at the big table. But every year her family tells her she’s just not big enough. Little Lena is determined to show everyone how big she is.
Why I love this book:
- Sweet story about something most kids will be able to relate to
- Charming illustrations with a hint of Mary Engelbreit
- I think this will be a favorite at all holiday times and family gatherings
Make a Placemat
Kids love creating! They love cutting! They love pasting! And these placemats can be designed for any holiday or occasion. All you need: a sheet of paper, two sheets of wax paper for each placemat, pictures cut from magazines, catalogs, old greeting cards, glue, scissors. To make: cut pictures and glue in place on sheet of paper. Lay paper on one piece of wax paper which is about an inch wider and longer than the decorated paper and cover with the other piece of wax paper. The next step must be done by an adult! Press a hot iron over the wax paper…the wax paper sheets will stick together all around the edges and will form a lovely waterproof placemat. For more detailed instructions and directions for other placemats: https://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/placematsartscraftideaskids.html
And as much as kids love creating, they love feeling useful even more. Give your children’s self-esteem a boost by including them in the planning of your next family event. They can help with the shopping and with the food prep and with getting the house ready. Feeling useful and needed builds self-worth.
With the summer upon us, some things slow down while others speed up. Please don’t be too busy to take a few minutes to review a favorite book or recommend it to a friend or to your local library…other than buying the book (which is also a lovely thing to do), those are the best ways we can help our favorite authors!
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I will be away in Massachusetts, cheering my son and son-in-law as they compete in the Tough Mudder. Here’s a photo from last year’s event.
Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends!
The summer is winding down. School has already started for some kids. And I’m thrilled to feature a picture book today that belongs in every preschool and early elementary classroom.
When I grew up, most kids I knew came from two parent families…a mom and a dad…and often, it was the dad who went out to earn money while the mom stayed home and took care of the children. But these days, there has been a tremendous shift in that cookie-cutter type family. We desperately need more books that portray the various family units that exist. Thanks to author Sara O’Leary and illustrator Qin Leng, we have the perfect one!
A FAMILY IS A FAMILY IS A FAMILY
Written by Sara O’Leary
Illustrated by Qin Leng
Published by Groundwood Books (2016)
Themes: families, diversity
“We were talking about families at school. The teacher asked us what we thought made our family special. I went last because I wasn’t sure what to say. My family is not like everybody else’s.”
When a teacher asks the children in her class to think about what makes their families special, the answers are all different in many ways — but the same in the one way that matters most of all.
One child is worried that her family is just too different to explain, but listens as her classmates talk about what makes their families special. One is raised by a grandmother, and another has two dads. One is full of stepsiblings, and another has a new baby.
As one by one, her classmates describe who they live with and who loves them — family of every shape, size and every kind of relation — the child realizes that as long as her family is full of caring people, her family is special.
Why I like this book:
- Talk about diversity. Not only do we find a varied array of family units…we also find characters of all sizes, shapes, and colors!
- Very simple text will appeal to young listeners and early readers!
- The illustrations are fabulous!
Popsicle Stick Puppets
Photo courtesy: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com
What a super bunch of Popsicle crafts for kids here! Take your pick of several that highlight the family. Why not help your child make a puppet for each member of the family and role play various situations. Let the fun begin!
You will need: Popsicle sticks, markets, scissors, glue, photos of family members or construction paper to draw your own pictures.
For detailed instructions: http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/58976/childrens-crafts-with-popsicle-sticks
Dear readers, thanks to author Sara and her publisher, Groundwood Books, we will have a giveaway of a copy of A FAMILY IS A FAMILY IS A FAMILY. (U.S. or Canadian addresses only). Please make sure you leave a comment to be entered. If you get to read the book, remember that reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads are the best gift you can give to an author. I just posted my review of the book on Amazon.
And hurry back tomorrow for a super Will Write for Cookies Q&A with author Sara O’Leary who is sharing awesome insights and an AMAZING Ginger Shortbread recipe with us…and oh, how I LOVE ginger!
Have a safe and happy weekend!
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
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
- Let your children design their own monster trucks.
- Make up silly Halloween rhymes with your children…take turns with each line.
- 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.
WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
When I was new to this kid lit community, several names appeared frequently in blog post comments and writing challenges. These people seemed to have a confidence…a sense of knowing what they were doing. They were helpful, generous, and they made me feel so welcome. Sylvia Liu was one of those special people.
Sylvia Liu is an environmental attorney turned author and illustrator. Her debut picture book as an author, A MORNING WITH GRANDPA, illustrated by Christina Forshay (Lee & Low Books 2016) was the 2013 Lee & Low New Voices Award winner. She is inspired by her family, oceans, cephalopods, aliens, penguins, and more. Visit her website at http://www.enjoyingplanetearth.com. She is the co-founder of the kid lit resource website, www.Kidlit411.com.
So, dear readers, now you know a little bit about Sylvia…and, by the end of this interview, hopefully you will know more.
Sylvia…I’m thrilled to welcome you to Picture Books Help Kids Soar! I want to remind everyone that there will be a giveaway of a copy of Sylvia’s brand-new book, Mornings with Grandpa, which I reviewed yesterday for Perfect Picture Book Friday. To be entered into the giveaway, please leave a comment at the end and share something you loved doing with a grandparent or something you enjoy doing with your grandchildren.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
Even though English wasn’t my first language (Chinese was), my mom took my sister and me to the library all the time to check out books. I don’t remember specific picture books I loved (other than the Dr. Seuss), but I fell deeply in love with stories like CHARLOTTE’S WEB (E.B. White), A WRINKLE IN TIME (Madeleine L’Engle), WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS (Wilson Rawls), and THE MIXED UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER (E.L. Konigsberg). I stumbled across Andre Norton’s science fiction stories and that turned me onto a whole world of sci-fi and fantasy (Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Lloyd Alexander, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Frank Herbert).
ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?
I wish I had found a critique group sooner, though if I had, I wouldn’t have found my wonderful current group. I spent a lot of time writing and revising with little outside feedback, which resulted in a slow start and lots of wheel spinning.
ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?
I usually write at my computer in my study, but I keep a sketchbook in my purse. I jot notes, random musings, and first drafts in the sketchbook. I sometimes write in my Notes app on my phone while waiting at one of my girls’ sports practices.
ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?
Usually, I spend at least a morning or an afternoon each day on creative pursuits, whether writing or illustrating. Sometimes I will go days without writing because I’m focused on illustrating, while other days, it’s the reverse.
E: Why do you write for children?
To spread the love – to help other children discover the love of reading that I enjoyed as a child.
ME: Sylvia, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that writers might want to hear.
My advice to writers has been said by many, but I’ll reiterate: read, read, and read some more. Write from your heart. Learn the craft. Connect with other writers. Never give up!
Wow…thank you so very much, Sylvia. Each one of your tips for writers would make an excellent poster to hang up for inspiration!
And here’s something else that will give many of you some inspiration for those left-over bananas that no one will eat…Sylvia’s recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
This is quick and easy recipe that takes 30-35 minutes to make from start to finish.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 or 1½ bananas, the riper the better
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (substitute ½ cup of chopped walnuts if you prefer)
Makes 12 muffins
Preheat oven 400 degrees
- In a small bowl, mix the wet ingredients together: egg (lightly beaten with fork), bananas (mashed), milk, and oil.
- In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir together until just moistened. Do not overmix.
- Add the chocolate chips and mix in.
- Grease a muffin pan or use cupcake cups in a muffin pan. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.
- Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Yum! I will definitely be making these!
To connect with Sylvia or to find out more about her book or her art (yes…Sylvia is an illustrator as well as an author:
Please don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Sylvia’s new picture book. Just tell us something special you remember doing with a grandparent or something you love to do with your grandchildren. And if you are able to share the post on social media, more people will be inspired by Sylvia and get a chance to win a book.
I hope you all have a beautiful weekend…I’m off to Gardner, MA for an SCBWI ENCORE writing workshop program with Mona Pease and Beth Gallagher.
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.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner – I’m thankful to be closer to family and those I love. This year, my daughter and I will share the joy of cooking the family meal together.
My picture book choice echoes that theme.
LITTLE PIG JOINS THE BAND
Written and illustrated by David Hyde Costello
Publisher: Charlesbridge (2011)
Ages: 4 and up
Self-esteem, family togetherness
“Sometimes Little Pig did not like being little, or even being called Little Pig.”
From Amazon: “Little pig has trouble keeping up with his older–and bigger –brothers and sisters. When they get out Grandpa’s old marching-band instruments, Little Pig is too little to play any of them. But when the disorganized band has a pig-pile mishap Continue reading