Picture Book Review and Activity: IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU

Hello friends!

A few weeks ago, we celebrated a book birthday for IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU. There was a Q&A with author Rosie Pova. And a fun giveaway of a teddy bear and swag package.

Today we’ll review that wonderful picture book to honor Mother’s Day which is just around the corner, because the book is all about Willy Bear and the deep love his mama has for him.

 cover if I were you


Written by: Rosie Pova

Illustrated by Philip Martineau

Publisher: Spork (2017)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 2


Mother-child love, curiosity


From Amazon:

Mom, if I weren’t here, what would you do?” Willy starts a conversation with Mama Bear while he’s on the move, acting like a natural youngster. In a series of simple and direct questions, the bear cub seeks and receives his mother’s reassurance of love and security as the two take a walk in the forest. Mama Bear uses imagery of the forest to communicate her feelings to her cub.

Why I like this book:

  • A perfect book to reassure young children that their parents will always love them.
  • Wonderful read-aloud!
  • Lyrical language combines with lovely illustrations that speak of gentleness and safety.

There is also a short trailer for the book right here.


paper plate bear

Paper Plate Bear

You all know how much I love paper plate crafts for kids. And Rosie loves them also. This craft idea is from her!

You will need: 1 paper plate (colored if you have it, otherwise you can use markers or crayons or paint), construction paper or felt (depending on what you have and how you want the bear to feel), glue, scissors, markers to add the details, googly eyes if you have them.

  1. Cut paper or felt for the face, muzzle, nose, ears, and eyes.
  2. Glue onto the plate.
  3. Add details with the marker or crayon.

I know how busy parents are these days…but kids really love doing stuff like this. Cutting out shapes and gluing googly eyes on a paper plate is more than just about crafting something to hang up…it’s about crafting a lasting relationship with your child.

We build lasting relationships with our friends also. The NESCBWI conference in Springfield, Massachusetts was a perfect opportunity to do just that.  It was great seeing old friends and making new ones. The presentations and workshops were incredible. I attended a revision workshop with Harold Underdown, founder of The Purple Crayon, that I know is going to make me a better critique partner. I listened to a program given by Candlewick editor Carter Hasewaga entitled Failure that was uplifting and encouraging. One of the highlights was the thirty minutes I spent chatting with Jane Yolen during my stint as a volunteer in the AskAMentor Round Table session. OMG! I thought I had lots of energy and passion for what I do. But she puts me to shame. And she is almost ten years older. Maybe one day, when I grow up, I can be just like her.

Thank you so much for hanging out here today. See you all at the end of the week for a Perfect Picture Book Friday review of one of Tara Lazar’s new books!

Marty Mokler Banks: Will Write for Cookies








My initial connection with the writing community back in 2010 was with today’s featured author. As one of the Colorado Springs SCBWI leaders, Marty welcomed me warmly and made me feel at home. More than that, she made me feel I had a right to call myself a writer.

Marty Mokler Banks is a children’s author and freelance travel writer. She has published five books and writes a blog on children’s chapter books,

I’m so happy to have her here to share her thoughts with us.

Welcome, Marty!

ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?



I went to Catholic schools where the Arts weren’t promoted too heavily. “Art class” was an hour on Fridays when the math teacher let us use colored markers to make graphs, all with straight lines from our rulers! My dad loved to read Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey books, but I don’t remember anyone else in the house reading. They do now, but since I have five older brothers, my mom was probably too tired and my brothers were busy getting in trouble. I remember I owned and loved a copy of Clifford the Big Red Dog. I had a set of Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library, with four tiny books in a box. That was special and I read each one a zillion times. Even then I recognized the excellent illustrations. And in about fourth grade I discovered the transporting qualities of a good book through the middle grade novel The Raft. Continue reading

Jane Yolen – Will Write for Cookies






JANEPhoto ©2014 Heidi E.Y. Stemple


Anyone who is active in the kid lit community is familiar with today’s Will Write for Cookies guest of honor. In fact, anyone who loves picture books has probably read several of the over 300 books she has written. Not only is she extremely talented and prolific, she is also one of the most generous and supportive mentors you will ever meet. You can imagine how thrilled I was when Jane agreed to share some of her thoughts here.

Thank you so much, Jane. You always have so much going on in your life, both personally and professionally, so we won’t waste any time. I know everyone is anxious to find out more about you.

ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?


  1. Andrew Lang, whom I thought wrote the Color Fairy Books, all twelve of them, only I have recently (as in the last couple of years) come to understand that his wife did all the work. But as he was the well-known folklorist and jack of many genres–this was Edwardian times in England–the publisher used his name.2. Louisa May Alcott–everything she wrote but especially Little Women and Under the Lilacs.3. James Thurber, a toss up between Thirteen Clocks and The White Deer. (And if you make me make a choice, I will have to slit you from your guggle to your zatch.) It didn’t hurt that he was a friend of my dad’s.4. Also I adored my parents’ copy of the illustrated Rubiyat of Omar Kayyham, probably more for the pictures than the poetry, to be honest.5. As many Wizard of Oz books as I could get my hands on.6. And every single dog and horse book every written for kids!!!



ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?

JANE: That editors may like my work but it was a mistake to become best friends with them since in the end, they work for a publisher and have to side with where their pay check comes from. When I saw the second (I think it is) Godfather movie and the good fellas are taking one of the Don’s men out to shoot him, in the car one turns to him and says, “I like you, but this is just business.” I think of that when an editor gets overruled on buying one of my books or keeping it in print.



ME: Where do you like to write: inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?

JANE: On my lap top wherever I am sitting at the time. Mostly either in bed first thing in the morning (5 a.m.-ish) or in the tv room since I can no longer (bad back) sit at a desk.
ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write when the muse speaks?

JANE: I work every day, usually about 4-6 hours. Though when things are going well, I may work for ten straight. But not all of that is fingers on the keys. A lot is thinking time, smelling the roses time, watching the birds, watching a tv show or movie. Or day dreaming.

ME: Why do you write for children?

1. Why not?

2. Inside I am still a child. Outside I am an old woman. This split personality works well for me.

3. Children are the greatest audience, and the most honest. They don’t like a story, they start playing with a toy, throw the book across the room, walk away from the storyteller, fall asleep withouot apology. They like a book, it’s “Another chapter. . . please.”



ME: Please feel free to share any tips that will help aspiring writers/illustrators.

My mantra is “Butt in the chair, heart on the page.” Also, “Stop talking about the book/story/poem/factual piece/lyrics/memoir you’re going to write when you find the time. There is no Time Fairy hiding bits of time for you to discover. The only way to write is. . .to sit down and do it. Everything else is a fantasy.” 


This has been fantastic, Jane! I love your down-to-earth, commonsense approach to writing. I especially appreciate your realistic take on time-management – yes, ‘there is no Time Fairy hiding bits of time for you to discover. The only way to write is…to sit down and do it’…that is the truth, Jane!


And now Jane is sharing with us a VERY special recipe – it appears in How Do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies.

RECIPEPhoto ©2014 Heidi E.Y. Stemple

It looks like the bottom of the recipe photo got cut off – I believe the last lines are: Bake for 9-12 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove pan and cool a few minutes before taking the cookies off. Store in air-tight container.

Please join me in thanking Jane for taking the spotlight today! We are so fortunate to have generous mentors like her, who share their expertise and experience with us.


To learn more about Jane and her incredible books, please visit her website: http://janeyolen.com/

And the winner is…Awards, awards and more awards!

We all need a break now and then.  I just got back from an amazing week in Chicago…total rest and relaxation provided by my son and daughter-in-law.

Many bloggers I know are stepping back a little from their posting schedule…renewing and refreshing themselves with family time and/or vacations near and far.

I, too, have been less active with the business of blogging…but today I wanted to catch up on several awards that have been passed along to me over the last few months.  I also want to announce the winner of the Lap-Time Song and Play Book by Jane Yolen that I am giving away in honor of my 300th blog post.

Let me first thank:

1.  Future Flying Saucers for the Mrs. Sparkly’s Ten Commandments Award


The “Mrs. Sparkly’s Ten Commandments Award” has to do with a woman of the same name, known for being very elegant and having high expectations, and who is committed to maintaining integrity, good manners and behavior, as well as a rich sense of humor.

Future Flying Saucers is a homeschooling SAHM now…but she had a career in education before…her story is inspiring…I hope you will pay her a visit.   I’m honored with this award…not sure about the elegant part…but I do have high expectations and I am definitely committed to maintaining integrity, good manners and behavior…and I can laugh at myself and try to see the lighter, humorous side of life, especially when things aren’t going well.

2.  Dawn at Tales of the Motherhood for the Good Apple Award.


Dawn has an amazing blog…her home is a veritable United Nations…take a look-see…I know you will enjoy it.  As with most blogging awards, there are all kinds of rules…answer a bunch of questions and then nominate others and provide them with questions they need to answer…but it’s summer…and I don’t want to give anyone more work and stress.

3.  Milka at Perfecting Motherhood for the ABC Award.


If you love reading and think it is an important activity for children, please stop over at Perfecting Motherhood!  Milka is an amazing mother who encourages reading by reading to her children every day, by having books available all the time (her children probably think the library is just an extension of their home because they are there so often) and by being seen reading (she is always recommending books that she has read).  The requirement of the ABC Award (Awesome Blog Content) is to describe yourself using every letter of the alphabet…I seriously doubt anyone wants to know that much about me, but in my post on Sunday, I will recommend twenty-six picture books (from A to Z) for great summer reading.

4.  Marcy at Orples for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.


Marcy is a talented children’s picture book author and illustrator.  Her Orples picture book series is charming and each book presents a lesson to be learned.   Please pay a call to her website and check out her lovely books.  I hope I can live up to this award…perhaps my passion for reading picture books with children will inspire other parents…and my love of writing picture books will encourage others who dream of publishing their work.

One of the rules of all of these awards is to nominate others to receive them.  There are dozens and dozens of bloggers whose posts I love reading who deserve all of these awards.  Many of them probably have some of them already.   Because it is summer…and I don’t want to put pressure on anyone…I’m going to list a baker’s dozen (13) of blogs that I encourage everyone to visit…and pass along the honor of all four awards to them…but I hope none of the thirteen will feel compelled to post about it now.  This list of bloggers is an international one…enjoy! 

  1. Barbara at Spanish4Kiddos
  2. Julie at Write Up My Life
  3. Susanna at Susanna Leonard Hill
  4. Darshana at Flowering Minds
  5. Patricia at Children’s Books Heal
  6. Joanna at Miss Marple’s Musings
  7. Jake at Time after Time
  8. Clar at Clarbojahn’s Blog
  9. Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way
  10. Elizabeth at Mirth and Motivation
  11. Marylin at Things I Want to Tell My Mother
  12. Barb at Plate Spinning 101
  13. Milka at Perfecting Motherhood

Thank you for your patience.  You all definitely deserve something sweet and good to eat.


Yes, I’m sure Jeremy will share some of his ice-cream cone with you as well!

And now…the winner of the 300th post giveaway is…

Hannah Holt at Lightbulb Books…Congratulations!!!!


Hannah, please email me at vivian@positiveparentalparticipation.com and I’ll get that lovely book in the mail to you. 😉

I’ll be posting the Summer Reading List from A to Z on Sunday…hope you’ll all come back to check it out.