Perfect Picture Book Friday: MISSING VIOLET Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. I probably connected with the author of today’s featured book during one of the #50PreciousWords contests (which is coming up soon – March 3-5 – so please stay tuned for details). I don’t know if Kelly Swemba entered a form of MISSING VIOLET, but if she did, I’m sure it was a winner because it’s a wonderful story. The book launches on January 31 (Yup…just a few more days – but it’s available for PRE-ORDER at your local indie bookstores and Amazon). And the lovely Kelly is offering a giveaway – one lucky person is going to win a copy of MISSING VIOLET! Please make sure you leave a comment at the end of the post – and please share on your social media for extra tickets in the giveaway hat.


Written by Kelly Swemba

Illustrated by Fabiana Faiallo

Published by Beaming Books

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Loss, SEL, friendship

Synopsis: From Amazon:
Life is full of sunshine for inseparable friends Violet and Mia. Until one day, Violet leaves school sick and doesn’t get better. Without her best friend, Mia slips into a gloomy existence. As she moves through the stages of grief like the colors of a rainbow, Mia wonders if she will ever feel like herself again. When Mia reaches out to her classmates, she remembers what she loved most about Violet.

A sensitive and poignant story about the loss of a friend and experiencing the different stages of grief.

Why I Love This Book:
1. Beautifully told SEL story.
2. Illustrations truly capture the emotions of the main character and help the child reader connect.
3. I love stories that parents and teachers will also enjoy reading…this is definitely one of those.

And guess what? Author Kelly Swemba was kind enough to stop by to share a bit about her path to publication for this wonderful story!

KELLY: MISSING VIOLET follows Mia’s journey through grief after her best friend gets sick and doesn’t recover. Like the many colors in the rainbow, she experiences various emotions. I’ so grateful to Fabiana Faiallo for her vision of this story. She really poured so much into these characters and her details really bring the story alive. 

The most challenging part about this story was finding the best way to approach Violet’s death. I wanted to be very gentle with how I presented it, but also knew that I didn’t want any confusion. My wonderful editor Andrea Hall was with me every step of the way, and encouraged me to take another look at the scene. With her support and guidance, I was able to hopefully accomplish a balance of delicate truth. 

To learn more about Kelly and her books:
Kelly Swemba has been passionate about big feelings since she was little. She holds a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing, worked as a preschool intervention aide for children with autism, and is a special education secretary. She’s a member of SCBWI, 12×12, and Children’s Book Insider. Kelly lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. This is her first picture book.


Photo courtesy:
Please check out the post at this website: – there are so many activities that can help build friendships for your children. Here are a few:

  1. Write a friendship card or letter
  2. Make a friendship bracelet
  3. Friendship pictures
  4. Craft a friendship picturebook
  5. Play “Things we have in common”
  6. Make a friendship craft
  7. Go see a movie together
  8. Paint friendship rocks
  9. Write a story together

Please make sure you leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of MISSING VIOLET by Kelly Swemba. The best way we can help a favorite book become a success is to buy it, review it, share about it on social media, and request your local library purchase copies for their collection.

Happy Book Birthday: CLARINET AND TRUMPET Plus Giveaway

Please put away the scale…it’s time for CAKE and Candles and a big


Written by Melanie Ellsworth – Illustrated by John Herzog – Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

First of all…just look at that cover! Doesn’t it make you smile? And want to dance and move?

Plus, it’s a special type of picture book…it’s a SHAKER BOOK! Yes, kids can actually shake it and interact with it.

And the author, Melanie Ellsworth, stopped by to share a few words with us also about her path to publication with this book.

ME: Welcome, Melanie. I’m so happy you were able to swing by to chat!:

MELANIE: Thanks for having me on your blog, Vivian! I’m glad to celebrate CLARINET AND TRUMPET’s book birthday with you and your readers. CLARINET AND TRUMPET is one of those books that comes from “writing what you know.” I often lean towards “write what interests you” or “write what brings you joy/makes you laugh out loud,” and luckily, this book hit all those notes for me!  I have vivid childhood memories from band days in elementary school. As a clarinetist, I sat right in front of the trumpet section, which I strongly suspect enjoyed out-blasting the woodwinds. That friendly rivalry between brass and woodwinds carried on through high school, but eventually we changed our tune. We all came to understand that we were there for the music. Sure, it was fun to have a solo in our section, but it was even better when the music swelled from all the sections in the band. In CLARINET AND TRUMPET, I wanted to highlight the beauty and importance of each instrument (and individual!) but also the joy of coming together as a community for a purpose. There’s a special instrument – who shall remain secret – who helps bring Clarinet and Trumpet back to the music and to friendship. (And here’s another secret – that instrument was not part of my original manuscript.) Illustrator John Herzog did an amazing job breathing life into the instruments; you can feel all their emotions as you read the story.

ME: Truly…I can feel it just from the cover…there’s a lot of joy that emanates from that illustration!

Synopsis:  Clarinet and Trumpet have a pitch perfect friendship. But when Oboe convinces Clarinet that woodwinds should stick together, Clarinet and Trumpet’s harmonious relationship falls flat. Woodwinds and Brass face off – until music brings them back together. With pun-filled text and emotive illustrations, CLARINET AND TRUMPET honors the important role music plays in creating community.


Starred review from School Library Journal:

  • “K-Gr 4–A lyrical tour de force about individuality, friendship, and community, this humorous picture book highlights such values through musical instruments, showing how even small fractures can become deep divisions… A timely book that gently explores issues of similarity and difference, of holding on to one’s individuality while also recognizing the importance of others, this is a first purchase for all libraries.” (

“Music aficionados and pun aficionados alike will appreciate the many musical puns interspersed throughout the text.”—Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

WOW…those are awesome reviews! And we are so fortunate because Melanie and her publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, are offering a copy of the book as a giveaway. All you need to do is leave a comment…and of course, sharing the post on social media to spread the word is always appreciated – and rewarded by extra tickets in the giveaway hat.

If you don’t want to wait to see if you will be the lucky winner, CLARINET AND TRUMPET launched TODAY…so you can purchase it, review it, put it on your Goodreads Want-to-Read list, ask your local library to buy copies for their shelves, and tell friends about it.

And please come back tomorrow – that’s when I will be posting the #50PreciousWords Winners.

Cover Reveal: SHARKBOT SHALOM Plus Giveaway

One of my favorite things to do is to shout out about brand-new books that are coming out soon – and it’s always an honor to be asked to reveal the cover! I’m dancing for joy about this book – written by the lovely Jenna Waldman and illustrated by the talented Sharon Davey and published by Apples and Honey Press.


Launch Date: August 1, 2021
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