Perfect Picture Book Friday: Leo the Late Bloomer…and the winner is…

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of writers who contribute a picture book review and related resources. 

But first,I want to announce the January PPP Reading Challenge picture book winner.  It was lovely to see everyone’s reading list…thank you all for sharing and taking the time (which I know is precious and in short supply) to add your comments.  And the winner is…two winners, actually…Jennifer at Toy Box Years and Milka at Perfecting Motherhood.  I’ll email you both so you can let me know where to send the books.  I’m looking forward to reading the comments this month…another picture book prize for at least one lucky commenter.

And now, on to my PPBF selection: Leo the Late Bloomer



Leo the Late Bloomer

Written by Robert Kraus

Illustrated by Jose Aruego

Publishers: HarperCollins

Ages: 3 – 7

Themes: Mastering tasks and skills, maturation

Opening: “Leo couldn’t do anything right.”


Leo, a little tiger cub, seems slow to mature.  He cannot read, write, eat neatly, draw…or even talk.  His father wonders if Leo will ever learn to do these things, but Leo’s mother tells her husband to have patience.   Will Leo’s father stop watching to see if Leo is blooming?  Does Leo ever catch up to his more accomplished animal friends?

Why do I like this book:

Children mature at different rates…and they all have unique strengths.  This is a story that encourages and gives hope to young children who may be slower at learning to tie shoelaces or zip jackets or write their name.  And perhaps it may also help those parents who worry when a child does not perform at the same level or accomplish the same things as an older brother or sister. 

The text is ultra-simple!  The glorious illustrations capture Leo’s father’s frustration and Leo’s joy with life itself.  Check out the “snowmen” that each animal builds…young children love seeing the snow-elephant, the snow-snake, the snow-bird, the snow-owl and the snow-crocodile.  Leo, of course, cannot make one and goes chasing after a rabbit.  This is a story every child and parent can relate to.

Related Activities:

Daisy Chain Necklace: great for developing fine motor coordination (this project is also suitable for any holiday…just use the traditional colors, such as red and green for Christmas, pastels for Easter, etc.)


You will need: Strips of colored construction paper (1” x 6”), markers or crayons and a glue stick.

1.      Decorate each strip as desired…flower patterns, numbers, letters, zigzags, dots, etc.

2.      Put glue on the edge of one strip.  Form a loop and press together.  Help the child count to 30.

3.      Put glue on the edge of another strip.  Thread it through the loop and press.  Count to 30 again. Now you have the beginning of the chain.

4.      Continue until there are enough links in the chain so it will fit over the child’s head and around the neck comforably.

I’ve done this project with kindergarten children and they love making each strip unique.  They also have a lot of fun counting to 30 as they press the edges together!  Of course, there are always a couple of “clever” kids who count by 5’s or 10’s to get to 30 faster…the different rates of maturation of children (like tiger cubs) in action…but their edges often don’t stay stuck!


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.

Follow-Me-Fridays: Where’s Miss Vivian


Hugo Oehmichen Im Kindergarten

Image via Wikipedia

The sun was shining brightly as I walked into Howbert Elementary School yesterday morning.  Ms. Tindell’s kindergarten was buzzing with activity and the children were excited about the special story they had been promised.

Kindergarteners are an amazing breed of children…shy, friendly, talkative, quiet, happy, sad, easy to please, hard to satisfy…sometimes all of those in just one hour!

Some of the children had heard Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus before.  One child said he had a copy at his house.  All were eager to hear the story about a little tiger that can’t read, write, draw, eat neatly or talk.  When Leo’s father asks when his son will learn to do these things, Leo’s mother tells him to have patience. 


A dozen hands shot up when I asked if anyone knew the definition of the word “patience”.   Here are some of the answers they gave me…“When you have to wait for something.”, “If you can’t go out to play right now and have to wait for later.”, “Being patient.”

When the story was over, I asked the children if they remembered what Leo had learned and again, I was impressed with how attentively they had listened to the story.

Then I showed the children my sample of the daisy chain craft project we would be making and I explained how we would be decorating each strip of construction paper before we used a glue stick to form them into links of the chain.  It is really amazing to watch young children when you give them arts and crafts supplies!  There were strips with hearts, flowers, letters, dots, stripes…each child’s chain was a unique expression of his own creativity!


It was time for me to go to the kindergarten next door for the second presentation and while the children got their coats on to go outside for recess, I said goodbye to them…several rushed up to give me a special hug and tell me how much they loved the story and craft project.  There’s no need to ask why I love doing the Show-Me-How Story-time program!

After the second presentation, I still had one more task…a very pleasant one!  Observing the second story and craft program was a student from Coronado High School who had requested an interview with me as part of a job shadow program.  This wonderful young lady has hopes of becoming a children’s book illustrator and had many questions to ask me: how do you start to write and illustrate a book, what tools do you use, how long does it take, where and how do you get your book published?  I had brought along a copy of the original mock-up I did of The Balloon Man, a picture book for toddlers and preschoolers that teaches colors.


I also brought the professional illustrations that were done for the book by my talented daughter-in-law.  I know the Coronado High School student enjoyed reading the rhyming text and seeing how the illustrations helped bring the book to life.


Some of the advice I gave her: follow your dream, keep a portfolio of your best work, check online for blogs or websites of other picture book illustrators…many of them are extremely generous and I know she will find a wealth of valuable information on them.

By the way, there’s a new review of Show Me How! by Jenny of MyLittleMe.  This is the book I use for all of my school and library programs…open it up and you have the picture book summary, parenting tip and space to record your child’s highlights on the left side…and the EASY eco-friendly craft activity and QUICK child-friendly healthful recipe on the right side. Check out the review to find out why this book is a MUST-HAVE for parents, grandparents, preschool and kindergarten teachers, daycare providers, babysitters and nannies…virtually anyone who is involved in the care of children ages 2-7.  Pick up several copies at the 50% off price…ONLY $19.95 on my website or you can purchase it on Amazon.  Make it a unique holiday gift…I’ll be happy to sign and personally inscribe each brand-new copy!


Looking for a book that creates childhood magic?  This is it!” – Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD: Clinical Director and Family Therapist