Perfect Picture Book Friday: NO PEACOCKS Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends!

It’s been such a wonderful week so far…reconnecting with my dear friend Jane in her home on the New Jersey shore…we’ve known each other since we were two years old and have spent the last few days talking and hugging and talking some more! On Wednesday, we walked on the boardwalk,  listened to the waves crashing on the beach. and shared food I haven’t had forever like hot dogs and pizza and fries. 

Which made me think of NO PEACOCKS!, a brand new picture book by one of  my favorite kidlit authors, Robin Newman, about a bunch of birds who want to get some variety in their diet. And thanks to the lovely Robin, we have a giveaway of a copy of this wonderful book!



Written by Robin Newman

Illustrated by Chris Ewald

Published by Sky Pony Press (September 2018)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Humor, ingenuity, food

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

Every day, Phil, Jim, and Harry are fed sunflower seeds by the staff who care for them at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. But one day, they decide they’re sick of them. They make a break for the New York City streets in search of pizza or Chinese takeout.

But everywhere they go, they’re told “No peacocks!” So they try to get an ooey, gooey, delicious meal closer to home. But how are they going to sneak into the school’s dining hall and get their wings on the school’s world-famous mac ‘n cheese? A little plotting, some stolen disguises, and help from the students, and mission mac ‘n cheese is a go! Will the peacocks finally get their mac ‘n cheese? Or will their cover be blown, forcing them to fly the coop?

Inspired by the real-life beloved, celebrity birds living on the grounds of The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and brought to the page in bold, bright style, No Peacocks!is a hilarious romp and a perfect read-aloud.

Why I like this book:

  • Kids love funny books…I love funny books…and this is a very funny book!
  • Great diversity in the school children!
  • Bold bright colors will engage kids from the first page to the last!

And here is some more info about the book, straight from the author’s mouth!

My latest book, No Peacocks! A Feathered Tale of Three Mischievous Foodies, illustrated by Chris Ewald (Sky Pony Press) flies onto bookshelves on 9/4.

Let me introduce you to some friends of mine:

This is Phil. He’s a white leucistic peafowl.

white peacock

This is Jim or Harry.

jim or harry

Or Harry or Jim. They’re your traditional blue-green peacocks.

harry or jim

Phil, Jim, and Harry reside on the grounds of The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. From the moment I saw them, I knew I wanted to write a story about them. But it wasn’t until I was attending a meeting for The Cathedral School’s book fair, when my son was a student, and someone announced—Did anyone leave a stroller on the porch with a sandwich? Because one of the peacocks just ate it—that I knew the kind of story I was going to write.

No Peacocks! is a fictional tale about Phil, Jim, and Harry’s quest to taste the school’s very famous mac ‘n cheese. With a little plotting, some stolen school uniforms, and help from the students, Mission Mac ‘n Cheese is a go! No Peacocks! is a cheesy story of friendship and teamwork, with a mild sprinkling of fowl behavior. 

Every day tour buses line up along Amsterdam Avenue from 110th Street to 112th Street to see the three celebrity peacocks and visit the cathedral (which also happens to be where Madeleine L’Engle had worked as the librarian and writer in residence).

No Peacocks! is a quintessential New York story. There may be Eloise at The Plaza Hotel on the east side of town, but there’s no doubt that the peacocks at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine are THE celebrities on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. 

WOW! Don’t you love getting a behind the scenes look at how/why a book came to be? Is this not fantastic? And just think…one lucky person is going to win a copy of this fascinating book!!! Make sure you leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway.


Peacock-Crafts-and-Activities-for-KidsPhoto courtesy:

For detailed instructions on many peacock crafts:

Here are some great learning extension activities from Robin:

activities from robin

more activities

more 2

more 3

more 4

And for more picture book reviews, please hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

I hope you will all come back tomorrow to visit with author Robin Newman who is stopping by to chat with us on Will Write for Cookies. Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway…and remember that book reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads are one of the best gifts you can give to your favorite authors.


I’m a little sad…my son was visiting from Chicago and I just dropped him off at the airport. What an awesome weekend we had…filled with fly-fishing on a picture-perfect stream, gourmet dinners and lunches…some enjoyed at local eateries and others made with the help of my son who loves to cook (and is pretty darn good at it), long walks and important talks.

Building a healthy relationship with an adult child is an on-going process.  It helps if you begin in early childhood by spending positive time with your young child and providing unconditional love.  The process continues throughout adolescence and early adulthood when you provide emotional support and friendship…but no advice unless it is specifically requested. 🙂

One of the foods my children loved when they were young was peanut butter.  On crackers, with jam or jelly on bread, spread on apple slices or celery sticks…it provides high quality nutrition and a taste most children love. 


Why purchase processed peanut butter (or other nut butters like almond or cashew) when you can easily make your own, without adding sugar, salt or preservatives?

You will need: A food processor or blender that can chop nuts, ½ lb peanuts (or other nuts such as almonds, cashews or pecans).

1.     Put the nuts in the food processor or blender.  Cover and process until the nuts are finely ground. 

2.     Add a few drops of canola oil if you want it to spread a little more easily.

3.     Spoon out your nut butter and store in an airtight container.

4.     Spread on bread, crackers, apple slices…be creative!

Looking for other simple child-friendly recipes?  Young children love to help in the kitchen.  When you participate positively with your children…whether you are reading, crafting or cooking…you build their self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a life-long parent-child bond.  If you visit my website, you can check out my parenting book that contains 100 simple healthful child-friendly cooking activities.

I hope you’ll keep in mind the Book Fair Event at the Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument, CO on Sunday, April 10th from 12-4pm.  I’ll be there, signing copies of SHOW ME HOW! BUILD YOUR CHILD’S SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH READING, CRAFTING AND COOKING, along with two other local authors.  A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Tri-Lakes Community Preschool Tuition Assistance Program.  If you are in the Denver or Colorado Springs area, please stop by.

Also, please remember the book blog tour for Read with Max the Dog…you can visit the other blogs that are hosting:  My site will be hosting on April 12th and I hope you will all stop by here for that!

Make-A-Meal Mondays: President’s Day Special

A pair of cherries from the same stalk. Prunus...

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Every four years, the citizens of the United States have the opportunity to choose a new president who will hopefully lead the country on an upward path of economic and social reform, while staying within the budget.

Every day, three times each day, moms (and sometimes dads) have the opportunity to choose a new dish to serve to their families that will hopefully provide good nutrition and good taste, while staying within the budget.

Hmmm…have you also seen the similarity between running the country and running a household? 🙂

It is true, though, that the responsibility of putting high quality, highly nutritious¸ good-tasting, affordable meals on the table is a heavy one.  I thought that since today is President’s Day, I should offer up a recipe that includes CHERRIES as one of the ingredients.

Why cherries you might ask? 

I’m sure most of you know the story of our first president, George Washington, and the incident with the cherry tree.  As it was told when I was in school, young George went out into the garden with a new hatchet and chopped down a young cherry tree.   When questioned by his father as to whether or not he did it, George replied, “I cannot tell a lie.  It was I who chopped down the cherry tree.”   His father, impressed with his young son’s honesty, did not punish him, but praised him for telling the truth.

Of course, the moral of the little tale is that we should always tell the truth…no matter what we have done or what the consequences of our actions might be.  I know this is what we teach our children…and this week I’ll be examining the topic of honesty in many of my posts.  And, if you are looking for any information or resources about President’s Day, hop over to Mirth and Motivation.  The author of that blog is the consummate researcher…a great writer and funny to boot!  And she is having a Mega-Blog Hop…if you join, you will meet a bunch of awesome bloggers!

But for now, I’d like to provide you with a recipe for lovely child-friendly fruit crisp…full of super foods…and with the option of using cherries (sometimes they are available only in season and can be quite expensive) or substituting other fruits.


You will need: 5 cups mixed fruit, washed and then sliced if necessary (peaches, plums, apricots, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, apples), ¼ cup white sugar, ¼ cup orange juice, 1 tsp lemon juice, 3 Tb flour (for the fruit), ¼ cup flour (for the topping), 2 cups rolled oats, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, ¼ cup healthy margarine softened, a greased 9×13 inch pan, and 2 large bowls.

1.     In a large bowl, gently toss fruit with white sugar, orange juice and lemon juice.

2.     Sprinkle with 3 Tb flour, toss gently again and spread in the greased pan.

3.     In another bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and the remaining flour. 

4.     Add the margarine and mix till crumbly.

5.     Sprinkle crumbly mixture over fruit.

6.     Bake 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown.

7.     Serve warm or at room temperature.

8.     Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge.

9.     Serves about 12.

This recipe has so many super foods: oats, orange juice, lemon juice, cinnamon and all of the fruits…even though it is a dessert, you can rest easy giving it to your family because it is so high in nutrition and fiber while being fairly low in added sugar and fat.  Plus, it is really simple to prepare…your young children will love to help with the measuring and mixing.  It’s only one of the 100 easy-to-make child-friendly healthful recipes you’ll find in my new parenting book, on sale now for a limited time on my website for half price!  Check it out…I think you’ll be glad you did…it takes the hassle out of planning activities with preschoolers.

I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow for Quotable Timeless Tuesdays…for an honest look at honesty.

Make-A-Meal Mondays: Valentine’s Day Special

Esther Howland Valentine, circa 1850: "We...

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Do you remember your first Valentine’s Day card?   Was it from a relative or a best-friend?  How about your first “love interest” Valentine?  Do you remember crafting Valentines when you were a child…cutting the red construction paper into heart shapes and gluing bits of ribbon or lace onto the handmade card?

The history of Valentine’s Day is clouded by various legends, but its roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration.  Pope Gelasius I made this pagan festival into a Christian feast day in 496 and he declared February 14 to be Saint Valentine’s Day.

However, it wasn’t until the 14th Century that Chaucer linked St. Valentine’s Day with romance.  In 1381, he composed a poem in honor of the engagement of Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia.  “The Parliament of Fowls” spoke of the royal engagement, the mating of fowls and St. Valentine’s Day.

By the 18th Century, gift-giving and the exchange of handmade cards had become a tradition in England.  However, it wasn’t until the 1850’s that the tradition of Valentine’s cards became widespread in the United States when Esther Howland, a native of Worcester, Massachusetts and a graduate of Mt. Holyoke, began to mass produce Valentine’s Day cards.

Do you still make your Valentine’s Day cards by hand? 

A lot of people do try to make something special to celebrate this day of love.  If you pass a bakery or candy shop, you will, no doubt, see windows and shelves filled with cakes, cookies, cupcakes and elegant confections in the shape of hearts, bows, and cupids.

For a healthier take on Valentine’s Day food, why not try this lovely HEARTS OF MOZZARELLA SALAD.  This recipe is from the SHOW ME HOW! book, which provides 100 child-friendly healthful cooking activities.  You can try it for lunch today or as a side salad for dinner.


You will need: 1 chunk of mozzarella cheese (about 1 lb), 2 Roma tomatoes, 1 Tb basis (dry or fresh), several leaves of romaine lettuce, 1 Tb balsamic vinegar, 1 Tb olive oil and 1 Tb Parmesan cheese.

1.  Cut mozzarella into 8 slices, each about ¼ inch thick.  Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter or a knife to cut each slice into a heart shape.  Put the excess cheese in a plastic bag in the fridge to save for topping on pizza, etc.

2.  Slice each tomato into 4 slices and place a tomato slice on top of each cheese heart.

3.  Arrange on a platter of lettuce leaves and sprinkle each serving with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil and Parmesan cheese.

I hope you’ll stop by tomorrow for a bunch of wonderful love quotations in Quotable Timeless Tuesday.

May you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day…filled with Sunshine (even if it is raining) and Love.

Super Foods for a Super You in 2011

This image shows a display of healthy foods on...

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Next time you are shopping in your local supermarket, think about putting some of these super foods in your cart.  Each one on the list provides important health benefits for you and your family. 

  1. Apples
  2. Avocado
  3. Beans
  4. Broccoli
  5. Carrots
  6. Cinnamon
  7. Dark Chocolate
  8. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  9. Garlic
  10. Honey
  11. Kiwi Fruit
  12. Low Fat Yogurt
  13. Oats
  14. Onions
  15. Oranges
  16. Pineapple
  17. Pomegranates
  18. Pumpkin
  19. Soy
  20. Spinach
  21. Tea
  22. Tomatoes
  23. Turkey
  24. Walnuts
  25. Wild Salmon

If some of these foods are unfamiliar, why not resolve to try a new food every week.  There are many online recipe sites you can go to: and are two excellent sites to start at.  Your local library probably has a wonderful selection of cookbooks that you can borrow for free.  Of course, there are some people who just LOVE cookbooks (like me and my sister) and enjoy collecting them because we love seeing how many ways there are to make a particular dish.   If reading this makes you smile in recognition, a trip to new and used bookstores, as well as garage or tag sales can result in finding a cookbook treasure.

How about a dinner menu that’s beautiful to look at, delicious to taste, and contains several of the super foods…so you know it will be bursting with health benefits for you and your family.  Let your children help you prepare the meal and you will reap several other benefits: fussy eaters often eat what they have helped prepare and children gain confidence and develop competence when they master kitchen tasks and skills.


You will need: 1 lb salmon fillet, 1 Tb olive oil, 1 Tb dried dill (you can substitute basil or thyme), 1 Tb honey, 1 orange

  • Wash the salmon fillet and pat dry with paper towel.
  • Mix the olive oil, honey and dill in small bowl and brush some on the salmon, reserving the rest for basting.
  • Heat the grill and place the fillet, skin side up, on the grill.
  • Grill on low for 5 minutes, turn and baste with the oil/honey/dill sauce.
  • Grill an additional 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
  • Slice the orange and use it to garnish each serving of salmon.

This should feed 4 people…add some steamed broccoli and multigrain rolls for a Super Food Extravaganza!

Tomorrow…some more reasons to serve your family Super Foods…and the best Carrot Cake recipe ever!

Baking with Preschoolers: Easy-Peasy Gluten-Free Overnight Cookies


When my children were young, one of their favorite places to be was in the kitchen, helping me prepare meals and snacks.  Even though there might have been some additional cleanup…it was definitely worth it…for me and for them.

If you are looking for a simple cookie recipe with just a few ingredients, this is it.

If you are not great at measuring ingredients and, like me, you need a recipe that is very forgiving, this is it.

Overnight Cookies

You will need: 2 egg whites, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup ground almonds, 1 cup raisins, 1 large bowl, 1 mixer, 1 greased cookie sheet.

1. Beat egg whites in bowl till stiff peaks form. (Your little ones will LOVE watching how the liquidy egg whites turn to stiff cream)

2. Add 1/4 sugar and fold in gently.

3. Add ground almonds and raisins and fold in gently.

4. Drop by tablespoonsful onto the greased cookie sheet…I use a canola oil spray.  If you want a smaller cookie, use a teaspoon.

5. Place the cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Turn off the oven and leave the cookies in at least an hour…or overnight if you wish. 

6. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen, more or less, depending on the size cookie you make.


This cookie is so easy to make and it always tastes delicious and it is so very nutritious.  Kids especially love the idea of waking up in the morning to cookies fresh out of the oven.  Because they are so healthy (and gluten free, come to think of it), you could probably let them have one or two with breakfast.

Happy New Year to All!


How to Eat Healthy This Holiday Season

This is a diagram depicting the rise of overwe...

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We’re coming into that dangerous season of overeating, oversnacking and going overboard when it comes to what we put in our mouths.  As parents, not only should we oversee what our children are eating…we should also try to be good role models.  I actually LOVE junk food…and work really hard to keep most of it out of the house because I know that if it is easily available, it will be eaten by me.   There are a few suggestions I have that work for me…I hope they work for you also.

  • Plan your weekly menus ahead of time…when we get busy as most of us are, failing to plan in this area is almost guaranteed to equal planning to fail.  Fast-food, take-out or frozen TV dinners may have their place on occasion…but if you put aside 30 minutes a week to plan some basic well-balanced meals, your family will be eating more healthfully most of the time.  This also allows you to maximize on weekly specials at your local stores.  And, it gives you more time for other things…like time to read a book or take a bubble bath.
  • Choose one morning or one afternoon or one evening a week to turn on your oven and use it to prepare casseroles, a roast chicken, baked potatoes, healthy cookies/cakes/muffins.  If you are able to put aside several hours on one day for this task, the rest of the week will be a breeze.  Refrigerate or freeze what you have prepared and you will have healthy, ready-made meals for most of the week.
  • Include your family in the planning and preparing…picky or fussy eaters often eat what they help prepare.  Children LOVE helping in the kitchen…it builds their confidence and self-esteem.
  • Think about portions…I truly believe that the large, super-sized meals that many of us eat, at home and in restaurants, are one of the largest contributing factors of childhood obesity.  Just because the cereal bowl can hold 2 or 3 cups of cereal doesn’t mean we should fill it to the top…if you read the portion size on the box of cereal, you’ll see it says 1/2 to 1 cup, depending on the type of cereal.  Dinner plates are really large…maybe you can use smaller plates when serving.
  • Remember to keep hydrated…I know that when I get busy, I forget to drink enough water…and then I think I am hungry and eat a couple of cookies, at 100 calories each, when what my body really wants is a glass of water.  With NO calories!  Also, try to nix the soda…full of empty calories and not much else except a college education for your dentist’s children.
  • Plan to have healthy snacks ready for hungry children and yourself between meals like carrot sticks and humus or apple slices and almond butter.  Again, if we don’t plan ahead, we will probably grab the first thing we see…and that might be cookies or chips.
  • If it works with your schedule, try eating 6 smaller meals, instead of the traditional 3.  When we are REALLY hungry, we tend to eat more than we should because we eat quickly and our internal hunger regulator doesn’t have time to kick in to tell us we are full.  And, on the subject of full, try to stop eating BEFORE you feel full…if you feel full, you’ve had too much.  This always happens to me when I go to an all-you-can-eat buffet…and I am never a happy camper afterwards.
  • Make sure you do allow yourself and your family some special food treats that are part of your holiday traditions or customs…denying oneself EVERYTHING we love is a sure way to feel deprived…and that often leads to overeating, oversnacking and going overboard.  I actually have a small ice-cream (made with fat-free frozen yogurt, a handful of homemade granola and a few almonds) every night after dinner.  I look forward to it and enjoy it immensely…it is my reward to myself for a good day’s work…and, so far, I haven’t had to hide the scale.