Perfect Picture Book Friday: Norbert’s Big Dream

Welcome to Perfect Picture Book Friday!

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Walking into the library or a bookstore is like opening a treasure chest filled with precious jewels. But it can also be overwhelming.

If you are a parent, which books should you pick to read with your children? If you are a teacher, which books are best for your preschool, kindergarten, or early elementary grade classes? And if you are a kidlit writer, which books will help hone your skills?

I hope the books I feature here this year will help you choose.

Today’s picture book is Lori Degman’s newest one…and guess what? Tomorrow she will be our Will Write for Cookies guest! And there will be a GIVEAWAY of a BRAND NEW COPY OF THIS BOOK!

norbert-cover

NORBERT’S BIG DREAM

Written by Lori Degman

Illustrated by Marco Bucci

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press (2016)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3

Themes:

Follow your dream, teamwork

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Norbert is a pig with a dream. It doesn’t matter if the other farm animals snicker behind his back, Norbert has always dreamed of swimming the English Channel. He’s been preparing and training and finally he’s ready for the big swim! But where exactly is the English Channel?! Will Norbert have to give up on his dreams or will his friends come to the rescue after all? A sweet, funny story about dreaming big.

 Opening Lines:

“Most pigs are satisfied just rolling in the mud, or slurping slop, or snoozing in the shade. But not Norbert.”

Why I like this book:

  • The author has a fabulous way with words…the story moves forward at a wonderful pace because she knows just the right ones to use.
  • The illustrations are incredible…Norbert’s expressions clearly show the reader how he is feeling.
  • I love that Norbert follows his dream, no matter what…most of all, I love that his friends rally behind him and enable him to make his dream come true.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

  • Pull out a map with your children and find the English Channel…check out articles about the different ways people have crossed it: http://mentalfloss.com/article/19722/8-ways-cross-english-channel-without-boat
  • Talk with your children about making dreams come true. What are their dreams? What steps can they take to realize those dreams? Maybe you can mention some of the dreams or goals you had as a child…did you reach them? How? I think it is so important for children to see that there are steps one has to take to get where we want to go, whether it is to play ball at a local playground or walk on the moon.

 

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers and writers 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. I’ve been participating in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm and have a notebook filled with new story ideas already. And if you love entering writing contests, keep your eyes out for Susanna’s Valentiny Contest…she’ll be announcing it soon.

Please don’t miss tomorrow’s Will Write for Cookies Q&A with Lori Degman and the GIVEAWAY of a copy of Norbert’s Big Dream…right here!.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Seven Candles for Kwanzaa and Toy Safety for the Holidays

It’s getting to look a lot like Christmas…and Hanukkah…and Kwanzaa. And since today is Friday, I knew I had to find an appropriate picture book to spotlight and review. But first I have a little gift for you.

A few weeks ago I connected with Kay Duguay from Consumer Safety. She provided me with an infographic that gives great tips on how to save money during this holiday shopping season while making sure you buy items that are safe for your family.

safety-infographic

 

It’s really interesting that all three major winter holidays are about celebrating family and community, but everywhere you turn, vendors are selling their wares…electronic gadgets, kitchen implements, and of course, TOYS.

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Here are six tips to keep in mind as you help your children unwrap their presents. Many of these tips come from the American Academy of Ophthalmology www.eyenet.org

  1. Select only toys and gifts that are appropriate for the child’s age and maturity level.  Check the packaging for age recommendations.
  2. Avoid toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts.
  3. Check labels for the American Society for Testing and Materials(ASTM) approval to be sure toys meet national safety standards.
  4. BB, paint or pellet guns and airpower rifles are classified as firearms and make dangerous gifts in homes where there are children.  Similarly, darts and bows and arrows are also dangerous when they fall into the hands of kids.
  5. Younger children are now participating in sports such as baseball, football, hockey and soccer.  If you are giving sports equipment, make sure to include the appropriate protective headgear such as helmets and facemasks or goggles with polycarbonate lenses.
  6. A picture book, whether an older classic or one of the newer additions to bookstore shelves, is always a safe and welcome gift.  Reading the story to the child will add so much value to the gift…it costs you nothing, but means the world to the listener.

A picture book you say? Now, aren’t you impressed? Isn’t this a great lead-in to our Perfect Picture Book Friday selection?

kwanzaa

SEVEN CANDLES FOR KWANZAA

Written by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Illustrated by Brian Pinkney

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (1993)

Ages: 5 and up

Themes:

Family life, community, Kwanzaa

Synopsis:

From Amazon reviewer Gail Hudson:

Although Kwanzaa commemorates an ancient African harvest ritual, it is a relatively new holiday in North America. Seven Candles for Kwanzaa explains the origins, language, and daily themes of this warm and festive seven-day holiday. Ideas for daily Kwanzaa rituals abound. For example, on the fourth day, in honor of ujamaa (cooperative family economics), families can use the coins that they’ve saved over the year to buy a gift for the family “like a clock that chimes or a hallway mirror.” Illustrator Brian Pinkney takes on the role of storyteller with his scratchboard drawings of a family in the midst of daily Kwanzaa activities and celebrations. Each domestic scene is framed in an earth-toned border of traditional African patterns–bridging the two continents page by page. The thoughtful details and human interactions in each drawing speak to the core meaning of the holiday, that of honoring one’s family, community, and heritage.

Opening Lines:

“Kwanzaa is like a family day in the park and Thanksgiving and a birthday, all rolled into one.”

Why I like this book:

  • It’s important for young children to see themselves in the books they read…and equally important for young children to see people and cultures different from their own.
  • The author presents a clear and simple explanation of what each day of Kwanzaa represents.
  • Wonderful activities that every family can adapt to their own situation.
  • Powerful illustrations show how this holiday is all about family and community.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

The book is chock full of hands on activities for parents and children.

For more Kwanzaa activities: http://www.preschoolexpress.com/holiday-station08/kwanzaa-dec08.shtml

 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’m sending you all my very best wishes for the happiest of holidays.

And next week I’ll reveal some BIG plans I have for my blog in 2017…I can hardly wait to tell you!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR

Today we have a fabulous Perfect Picture Book Friday review.

But first…some winners! Last week I promised to give away a copy of Jessica Lawson’s middle grade mystery Nooks and Crannies.

cranberries-cover

AND THE WINNER IS…

Sherry Howard

Congratulations, Sherry…I will contact you for your mailing address.

We also had a giveaway last month for a copy of Emma Bland Smith’s Journey: The Most Famous Wolf in the West.

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AND THE WINNER IS…

Mona Pease

Congratulations, Mona…I’ll get it in the mail ASAP. No guarantees, but considering I’m in NH and you are in Maine, you might even get it in time for Christmas!

There will also be info coming soon on the voting for Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest…I will share that as soon as I get it. Did you get to read any of the entries? They are FABULOUS!

The Perfect Picture Book Friday spotlight is on one of my favorite books of 2016. And tomorrow, the award-winning author/illustrator, Duncan Tonatiuh, will be our Will Write for Cookies guest.

p-and-w

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanos

Written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh

Publisher: Abrams (2016)

Ages: 6-9 (this is the recommendation on Amazon…but I think the book is appropriate for younger AND older kids)

Themes:

Courage, loyalty, accepting others for who they are

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh reimagines one of Mexico’s cherished legends. Princess Izta had many wealthy suitors but dismissed them all. When a mere warrior, Popoca, promised to be true to her and stay always by her side, Izta fell in love. The emperor promised Popoca if he could defeat their enemy Jaguar Claw, then Popoca and Izta could wed. When Popoca was near to defeating Jaguar Claw, his opponent sent a messenger to Izta saying Popoca was dead. Izta fell into a deep sleep and, upon his return, even Popoca could not wake her. As promised Popoca stayed by her side. So two volcanoes were formed: Iztaccíhuatl, who continues to sleep, and Popocatépetl, who spews ash and smoke, trying to wake his love.

Opening Lines:

“Once upon a time, there lived a kind and beautiful princess named Izta.”

Why I like this book:

  • First of all, I not only like this book, I LOVE it. The illustrations, done in Duncan’s familiar style, are AMAZING! The text is deceptively simple…on each page, with short succinct sentences, Duncan weaves a compelling story. AND he provides us with an authentic voice, giving us the names of various objects in the Nahuatl language, which is the language the main characters would have spoken.
  • I’m a great fan of folktales…this would be a perfect first folktale for young children…courage and loyalty are two traits we want to encourage kids to develop.
  • I remember studying about those two volcanos when I was a student…how fabulous to discover there was a legend…and thanks to Duncan’s wonderful glossary in the back, now I know how to pronounce the names.
  • This book won the Pura Belpre Award which was established in 1996. It is presented to a Latino/Latina (or as Duncan would say, Latinx) writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. I love books that help multicultural children see themselves…and just as importantly, help all children learn about different peoples and cultures.

 RELATED ACTIVITIES for Parents and Teachers

  1. Find other folktale picture books and read them with your children.
  2. Pick an animal, object, or place and make up a folktale about how it came to be.
  3. Make a volcano…for quick and easy instructions go here: http://www.preschoolinspirations.com/2014/05/28/easy-baking-soda-and-vinegar-volcano-eruption-for-kids/

super-easy-volcano-eruption-for-kidsPhoto courtesy: http://www.preschoolinspirations.com

 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.

And please don’t miss tomorrow’s post when we will welcome our Will Write for Cookies guest:

DUNCAN TONATIUH

Make sure you stop by and leave a comment – you’ll be entered into the giveaway of a copy of The Princess and the Warrior. Do you have a favorite folktale from your childhood? I’d love to hear about it.

Stay safe and warm, dear friends. I’m wishing the happiest  and healthiest of holiday seasons to all of you!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Color Machine

December is here, my dear friends.  I’ve always looked forward to this time of year – the joy of holiday celebrations –  the quiet moments of reflection as I think back on what I’ve done and look ahead to what I still want to accomplish.

But it’s been a very difficult year for our country. And there is trouble in so many parts of the world. Perhaps it was meant to be that I discovered today’s Perfect Picture Book when I connected with the author’s wife. The message is one of inclusivity and love.

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THE COLOR MACHINE

Written and illustrated by A.H. Taylor

Publisher: A.H. Taylor (2016)

Ages: 4-8

Themes:

Inclusivity, working together

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

The town of Colormazoo has been turned inside out, everywhere you look there’s a scream and a shout. The Color Machine has broken down and the townspeople march to the Mayor.

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Opening Lines:

“In the town of Colormazoo

where color is very important,

shouts of riot and rumpus grew

when the Color Machine was broken.

 

Why I like this book:

  • If you are a fan of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and The Cat in the Hat, as I am, you will love this book.
  • The text is rhythmical and often rhyming…simple enough for a young child to follow along.
  • The illustrations are unique…bold yet simple line drawings.
  • I absolutely love the message – perhaps the answer to the world’s problems is for someone to break the world’s color machine – it certainly worked in the town of Colormazoo.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

Most kids love to listen to a story. But we can extend the learning by discussing and asking questions or participating in follow up activities. You and your child can:

  1. Draw a picture of a favorite character or scene from the story. Mount it on cardboard and cut into pieces to make a puzzle.
  2. Make a list of special words from the book. Older children can construct a word find puzzle.
  3. Think of a different ending.
  4. The author has made a free Kindle edition available for a limited time: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01N0K2R4Y/

 

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I hope you all have a lovely weekend. I’ll be working on my entry for Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest. If you are interested in joining in the fun, click here,

A week from Saturday, we’ll be having a special Will Write for Cookies post spotlighting author Jessica Lawson.

And the week after that, hold on to your hats for the interview with Duncan Tonatiuh and a GIVEAWAY.

And the week after that…will be Christmas Eve and my son and his family will be here from Chicago! There will be lots of cooking and baking and smiling, for sure.

PPBF: Summer in a Bowl

The third week of every month is pretty special around here. On Saturday, we’ll welcome our Will Write for Cookies author, Joan Leotta. And that means that today, we’ll be featuring one of her picture books for Perfect Picture Book Friday. If you’d like to see all of this week’s other wonderful perfect picture book reviews, please hop on over to Susanna Hill’s blog.

With the end of the summer closing in on us, I found the perfect one.

 

 summer-in-a-bowl

SUMMER IN A BOWL

Written by Joan Leotta

Illustrated by Rebecca Michael Zeissler

Published by Theaq Publishing (2016)

Age: 5-9

 Themes:  Gardening, family togetherness

 Synopsis:

From Amazon: “Summer in a Bowl” is a wonderful introduction to the joys of gardening and cooking with children. Rosa spends every Thursday helping Aunt Mary tend her garden. On this last Thursday of the season, they harvest the vegetables and cook them. Rosa finds that vegetables can be delicious and discovers a new way to preserve all of her summer fun.”

 Why I love this book:

  • I love stories that promote family togetherness
  • It reminded me of the fun my children had helping me in our big vegetable garden when they were growing up…my younger son still loves to garden…and enjoys cooking with fresh vegetables all the time

 How parents can use this book:

  • Great opportunity for intergenerational family activities
  • Perfect way to help a fussy eater expand his or her choices
  • Children will gain an appreciation for where food comes from

 Related Activities

 

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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 enjoyed the post, please share it on Facebook or Twitter or whatever social media channels you prefer.

And please do come back tomorrow for:

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

WITH

JOAN LEOTTA

AND ANOTHER BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Chrysanthemum

The summer is winding down. Even though there is still another month until the official start of fall, I feel the crispness in the air when I go out early in the morning.

With the end of the summer comes the beginning of the new school year. As a child, that was heralded by the purchase of a school outfit, a shiny pair of shoes, and brand new school supplies. Many years later, as a teacher, I busied myself with preparing the room for a new flock of kindergarteners.

Parents…you have a difficult job…helping your child adjust to a new teacher, a new class, perhaps even a new school. And today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday selection is a great story to read, especially if your child seems to be having a problem transitioning to the new situation.

chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (1991)

Ages: 3 and up

Themes:

Teasing, acceptance, self-esteem

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect—until her first day of school. “You’re named after a flower!” teases Victoria. “Let’s smell her,” says Jo. Chrysanthemum wilts. What will it take to make her blossom again?

Opening Lines:

The day she was born was the happiest day in her parents’ lives.

“She’s perfect,” said her mother.

“Absolutely perfect,” said her father.

And she was.

She was absolutely perfect.

Why I like this book:

  • Kids need help dealing with the challenges of childhood…Kevin Henkes understands this perfectly and he delivers a story that every child and every parent will be able to relate to.
  • I love that this book provides an opportunity for open communication about what might be bothering your child.

 

RELATED ACTIVITIES

 YouTube reading of Chrysanthemum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2pCR8YHszM

 Teaching guide on Kevin Henkes website: http://www.kevinhenkes.com/book/chrysanthemum-2/

 Logo final BB2 1 inch 300dpi

 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. We will be announcing the winner of the copy of Jill Esbaum’s If a T-Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party next month…and stay tuned for lots more book giveaways because there will be one with every Will Write for Cookie post. I’m SO VERY EXCITED about the line-up of authors and illustrators for the rest of the year: Joan Leotta, Sylvia Liu, Emma Bland Smith, Jessica Lawson, and on the third Saturday in December…Duncan Tonituah. Right now, I’m putting together next year’s schedule…and I can tell you that March 2017 is going to be one busy month…with Marcie Colleen spotlighting as our Will Write for Cookies author, the #50 Precious Words Contest (oh my gosh…do you think we will have another incredible turnout…will we surpass last year’s 128 entries?), and the launch of my own debut nonfiction picture book, Sweet Dreams, Sarah.

I’m eating lots of Wheaties in preparation for all of that!!!! And I sure do hope you all join me!

PPBF: Sophie’s Squash Goes to School

Perfect Picture Book Friday…hurray! I must apologize for being somewhat absent from the blogging scene these last two months. With the exciting WOW Retreat in just a couple of days (WOO-HOO!) and my surgery looming at the beginning of August, preparing for both has gobbled up my time. But I’m thrilled to feature a brand new picture book from one of my favorite authors who will be our Will Write for Cookies guest tomorrow.

Before we get to the picture book review, we have some unfinished business to take care of. Last month I promised to give away a copy of Diana Murray’s, City Shapes. I asked that you leave a comment telling your favorite city. And you did…Boston, London, New Orleans, Singapore, Louisville, Toronto, Anchorage, Vancouver, Chattanooga, Amsterdam, Sarasota, Dublin, and New York City.

AND THE WINNER IS….

JENNIFER COLE JUDD

Congratulations, Jennifer. Please contact me at viviankirkfield@gmail.com so I can get that wonderful book to you ASAP.

And now for today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday pick!

sophie squash school

Sophie’s Squash Goes to School

Written by Pat Zietlow Miller

Illustrated by Ann Wilsdorf

Publisher: Schwartz and Wade (2016)

Ages: 3 and up

Themes: First day of school, friendship

Synopsis:

From Amazon:

This charming sequel to the beloved Sophie’s Squash is the perfect antidote to the back-to-school jitters. Sophie goes to school for the first time and has no interest in making friends that aren’t squash. Here’s a gently humorous read-aloud that proves that making friends, just like growing squash, takes time.

 

On Sophie’s first day of school, nobody appreciates her two best friends, Bonnie and Baxter, baby squash that she grew in her garden. Even worse, one classmate, Steven Green, won’t leave Sophie alone. He sits by her at circle time. He plays near her during recess. And he breathes on her while she paints. Steven just wants to be friends, but Sophie isn’t interested. Still, Sophie knows that her squash friends won’t last forever. Maybe it would be nice to have some human friends after all.

Why I like this book:

  • Many children face the same issues of being attached to something they can’t bear to part with and not knowing how to reach out and make friends.
  • I love that it is a first day of school story.
  • The author does a fantastic job of engaging the listener/reader…and the illustrations marry perfectly with the text.

 

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 suggestionsIV with summaries and activities.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, dear friends and readers. And please don’t forget to come back tomorrow for:

Will Write for Cookies

With

Pat Zietlow Miller

AND A

GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!