Perfect Picture Book Friday: Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush PLUS PB Manuscript Critique Giveaway and Book Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday! Picture books are magical…especially when they are about a magical item. And Perfect Picture Book Friday posts are magical when they have DOUBLE GIVEAWAYS. Yes, author Melissa Stoller is donating both a pb manuscript critique AND a copy of her brand-new picture book! Woo-hoo!

scarlet's magic paintbrush


Written by Melissa Stoller

Ilustrated by Sandie Sonke

Published by Clear Fork/Spork (October 2018)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Creativity, be yourself, self-esteem

Opening lines: 

“Years ago, Scarlet found a magic paintbrush and everything changed.”

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

What would it be like to have a magic paintbrush?

Scarlet knows. 
She paints perfect pictures . . . until her brush disappears. 
Will she ever be
able to create another 
masterpiece without it?

Why I like this book:

  • The element of magic appeals to kids…who wouldn’t want a brush that magically draws perfect pictures?
  • I loved seeing Scarlet come to the realization that her own creativity is important.
  • The illustrations are full of color…perfect for a book about a girl who loves to paint.


Painting With Kids


Photo courtesy:

For detailed instructions for 50 painting projects:

Ask your kids, what would they draw if they had a magic paintbrush? If they could imbue any item with magical powers, what would it be and what would it do? And wouldn’t we all like to have an item that had magical powers? What item would you want to be magical?

Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in this double-your-pleasure giveaway. And, when you read Melissa’s book, don’t forget to leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or other review sites. Reviews are like a birthday gift to your favorite author!

And speaking of picture books, for more wonderful recommendations and activities for kids, please hop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends. Safe travels if you are away from home.




I’m sure nobody will be surprised that one of my favorite activities is reading picture books. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s even more fun when the book is written by someone I know…someone I’ve met in person. Today’s Perfect Picture Book is one of those! Author Nancy Churnin has DONE IT AGAIN! She is on a roll with her fabulous nonfiction picture book biographies!

irving berlin

Written by Nancy Churnin

Illustrated by James Rey Sanchez

Published by Creston Books (May 2018)

Ages: 6-9

Themes: Music, The American Dream, Believe in yourself

Synopsis: From Amazon:

Irving Berlin came to the United States as a refugee from Tsarist Russia, escaping a pogrom that destroyed his village. Growing up on the streets of the lower East Side, the rhythms of jazz and blues inspired his own song-writing career. Starting with his first big hit, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, Berlin created the soundtrack for American life with his catchy tunes and irresistible lyrics. With “God Bless America,” he sang his thanks to the country which had given him a home and a chance to express his creative vision.

Why I like this book:

  • Inspiring story of overcoming the odds
  • The text sings, just like the songs Irving Berlin wrote
  • Amazing illustrations have rhythm and movement


12-flag-crafts-for-kids-fbPhoto courtesy:

With Flag Day and the 4th of July just around the corner, here is a wonderful selection of crafts for kids! Irving Berlin was so proud to be an American…you can help your kids create something to help celebrate these important holidays.

For detailed instructions:

And for a very detailed review of Nancy’s book, there’s a wonderful blog post at Books My Kids Read:

For more picture book reviews, please hop over to Susanna Hill’s resource list of over 1000 picture book reviews. And for today’s rainbow array of picture book reviews from some of our favorite kitliters, click here.

Thank you, dear friends, for stopping by. If you are traveling this weekend, please be safe. But wherever you are, if you have children, take time to read them a picture book. And if you don’t have kids, read one anyway!


Perfect Picture Book Friday: DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE Plus Giveaway

They say that time flies when you are having fun. I guess I must be having the most fun in the world because I can’t believe that it is Friday already!

It’s a special day here on Picture Books Help Kids Soar because we are part of Laura Sassi’s book blog tour for her brand-new picture book, DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE. So, it will be no surprise that I am featuring it today! And guess what? Laura is graciously offering a copy of this AWESOME book to one lucky winner!


Written by Laura Sassi

Illustrated by Rebecca Gerlings

Published by Sterling Children’s Books (2018)

Ages: 3 and up

Themes: Cooperation and teamwork

Synopsis: From Amazon:

Tra la la la! Can an opera house mouse and a disrespectful diva make beautiful music together? Maybe . . . if she learns some manners!
Fernando loves Mozart, Puccini, and Strauss, and lending a paw at the old opera house. Unfortunately, diva Delores wants no help from a mouse. She craves glamour and spotlights and praise—and she’s getting her chance to take center stage. But it’s all going wrong; she’s missing her entrance and flubbing her song. Fernando can save her—but only if Delores behaves. Will Delores hit a sour note? Or will she team up with Fernando . . . and bring down the house?

Why I like this book?

  • Laura Sassi’s spot on rhyme is delightful!
  • Rebecca Gerlings’ illustrations and use of the words as part of the art are masterful!
  • I love the message of cooperation and teamwork.
  • And the glitter on the cover ROCKS!!!!


FanCraftPin2Photo courtesy:

Make a Japanese Paper Fan

On the cover, Diva Delores has a feather fan. But kids can make a beautiful Japanese paper fan with just paper, Popsicle sticks, glue, and markers/crayons. And for those Divas in your house, why not add a bit of GLITTER. Detailed instructions here:

Here is the line up for author Laura Sassi’s book blog tour…why not visit a few stops:



Dear friends, please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of DIVA DELORES. Please don’t forget to come back tomorrow when author Laura Sassi stops by to chat and share a yummy cookie recipe. AND, please don’t forget to give your favorite authors some book love by leaving reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other book sites. It will make all the difference!

For more wonderful picture book reviews, please hop over to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Hither, Thither and Yon Save Christmas – A Holiday Contest Story

Polar Express

My grandson spent the weekend with his mom at the North Pole, riding the Polar Express and meeting Santa. Tuesday, we’ll be putting up the tree and getting ready for a welcome visit from my son and his family who are flying in from Chicago to spend a few days with us for Christmas.

I hope all of you are able to get into the spirit of the season…no matter whether you celebrate one of the winter holidays or not. Our backyard is a snow-covered wonderland – there is a special hush that falls in the woods when there is snow on the ground.

Today I have a special treat for you – well, I hope it will be a treat. My friend, children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill, is holding her famous annual Holiday Contest. All week, writers can post a holiday story for children on their blog and link it to her post or they can add their story to the comment section if they don’t have a blog of their own.

hoilday contest 4

Rule rundown: 350 words or less, kid-friendly (for children under 12), story must include some weather event that impacts the holiday.

At the end of the week, Susanna and her assistants will pick some of the stories and put up a poll where you can go and vote for the one you think is the best. There are great prizes…the quality of the stories is incredible…I hope if you are not participating, you will visit some of the blogs and read the entries.

My story is about three musicians, Hither (a mouse who plays acoustic guitar), Thither (a jazz-funk drumming toad) and Yon (a swan who plays classical violin). When a tornado rips through the town of Delight, will their music be able to soothe the savage storm?

tornado_noaaPhoto courtesy: (This is a GREAT science site for parents, teachers and kids!)


Hither, Thither and Yon Save Christmas – (303 words)

Have you heard about Hither and Thither and Yon,

a mouse and a toad and an elegant swan,

who battle with music one dark Christmas night

in the midst of a storm in the town of Delight?


Hither and Thither love Club Razzmatazz

and evenings of improvisational jazz.

Guitar on his shoulder, and drums at her hips,

they be-bop along with a song on their lips.


And Yon, he is headed the opposite way.

His violin sings at the Swan Lake ballet.

Each night the whole audience rise to their feet.

“Encore!” they all clamor. “Please maestro, repeat!”


The wind whips and whistles – a dust-cloud appears.

It whirls and it swirls and it deafens the ears.

And Hither and Thither turn up the wrong street.

They enter the ballet with toe-tapping feet.


Around the next corner at Club Razzmatazz

the jazz band is missing some guitar pizzazz.

Again the wind howls and rumbles and roars

and Yon and his fiddle explode through the doors.


As Hither plays jazz funk and Thither, the blues,

the dancers don taps on their soft ballet shoes.

At Club Razzmatazz, things are going quite well

as Yon and the band are beginning to jell.


But outside the spiral of wind picks up steam,

rip stripping the roofs – “Help!” the dancers all scream.

The storm is a monster – a villain – a beast

gobbling gaily wrapped gifts like a fine Christmas feast.


But Hither’s guitar strums a soft lullaby,

and Thither’s drum whisks with a hush and a sigh,

and answering back is Yon’s sweet violin.

Soon the twister starts losing its devilish spin.


The town has been rescued, and Christmas is saved,

and good boys and girls who all year have behaved

get tickets to Hither and Thither and Yon,

now appearing on Broadway in “MOUSE, TOAD AND SWAN.

The End

Ta-Da! I hope you enjoyed that.

Logo final BB2 1 inch 300dpi

And I hope you sign up for my newsletter so I can send you the Anti-Bullying Toolkit Guide for Kids: Everyone who subscribes will be entered into a raffle for a copy of my parent-teacher resource book, Show Me How! The winner will be announced in the first blog post of the year.

Stay warm! Eat chocolate! Read books!

On Music: The Shorthand of Emotion…

Even when Elizabeth of Mirth and Motivation says she is writing a short post, her efforts far surpass most of mine.  I’ve been following her blog for a year…when I can only read one post…hers is the one I pick.  Her photography is beautiful…her words are meaningful…her research is top-notch!

Do you like music…Elizabeth provides us with some of the best. 


On Music: The Shorthand of Emotion….

I hope you all have a beautiful weekend.  I’ll be catching up on your comments for the reading challenge and for Perfect Picture Book Fridays. 

Have you joined the 2012 Positive Parental Participation Challenge?  Please take a few minutes and read with your child…it’s a small investment of time…with big rewards.