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!

Perfect Picture Book Friday Review and Craft Activity: Mrs. McBee Leaves Room 3 PLUS Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, dear friends. This is a very special time of year, when two of the world’s major religions celebrate important holidays…I wish everyone who celebrates a Happy Passover and a Happy Easter. If only the people of the world could come together like our incredible kid lit community does.

To add to the celebrations, we have books to give away. THREE OF THEM!

Last week, Linda Whalen offered to give away a copy of her wonderful debut picture book, LITTLE RED ROLLS AWAY.book cover



Congratulations, Sherry! Please contact me so I can get your mailing information to Linda.

We also have a copy of LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL to award thanks to author/illustrator Patricia Keeler. lizzie-and-lou-seal-cover



Splish-splash! What fun. Congrats, Virginia! Let’s connect so Patricia can send you your prize.

And last, but certainly not least, author Rosie Pova is gifting a teddy bear and swag package to celebrate the book birthday of IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU. swag giveaway



Hurray! Zara, we will connect so that Rosie can send your prize.

I also wanted to ask everyone to continue to spread the word about the #50PreciousWordsforKids Writing Challenge. logoHand the flyer to teachers you know – post it on homeschool forums – we want to enable as many children as possible to participate because Magic Happens When You Make Every Word Count.

Today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday also has a giveaway…so don’t forget to leave a comment. And shout outs on social media are always appreciated by the author!

book cover 1


Written by Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan

Illustrated by Grace Zong

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers (2017)

Ages: Preschool – Grade 3


Saying goodbye, dealing with change, working together, diversity


From Amazon:

Join the children of Room 3 and Mrs. McBee as they find their own ways of helping each other get ready to leave and say good-bye. It’s not just the end of the school year at Mayflower Elementary. It’s time to say goodbye to Mrs. McBee, who is leaving the school. Jamaika, William, and the other kids in Room 3 have to figure out a special way to celebrate their beloved teacher. But everyone has a different idea. How can they arrive at an agreement? Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan brings readers an amusing and touching story about transitions and the importance of observing them. With Grace Zong’s charming illustrations, the distinct cast of lively characters comes to life on the page.

Why I like this book:

  • As a former teacher, what’s not to love about a book that tells how kids are trying to do something nice for their teacher?
  • I also love seeing how the diverse characters and personalities find their own ways to say goodbye…and especially how Mrs. McBee helps each of them feel special. The author did a masterful job showing us this.
  • Great illustrations…full of color and emotion…they really help us connect with the characters.

One of the best ways we can help authors, other than buying a copy of their receives a certain number of reviews (30 or perhaps 50), Amazon gives a bit of marketing/promotion help. Click here for the Amazon link to today’s Perfect Picture Book.

I know that Gretchen appreciates every review the book receives.


Make a School or Classroom Craft

cardboard-crafts-for-kidsPhoto courtesy: http://mollymoocrafts.com/back-school-crafts-shoebox-school/

Young kids really love doing crafts. And the time they spend with a parent, cutting, coloring, creating…that is time that is well spent! It’s why I included 100 quick and easy craft activities in the parent-teacher book I wrote years ago. Why not grab an old shoe box or small shipping carton and build a school with your kids?

You will need: 1 box (shoe box, USPS priority box, even a large cereal box), construction paper or gift wrap or any paper that will cover the box OR you can paint it OR you can cover it with brown shipping tape, scissors, markers, glue.

  1. Cover the box as you and your child desire.
  2. Cut windows and doors
  3. Use markers or crayons to add details.

You can also create a classroom using a shoebox turned on its side. Line the ‘walls’ with wrapping paper as wallpaper. Cut pictures of furniture and people from magazines to glue in place.

For more great online crafts: http://mollymoocrafts.com/back-school-crafts-shoebox-school/

Another activity: Teachers work so hard for our children. Why not sit down with your child to write a thank you note to include with the end of year gift. I can guarantee the teacher will treasure that note long after the flowers die or the candy is eaten. I know I still have notes from the children I taught.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friends…don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of MRS. MCBEE LEAVES ROOM 3…and please come back tomorrow for:


Will Write for Cookies

Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan

_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.

Happy Book Birthday to IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU



cover if I were you

I caught up with author Rosie Pova to see if she would be willing to share her amazing writing journey…and she said YES!  And even though it is the birthday of her brand-new picture book, IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU, Rosie is giving the presents! She’s put together a wonderful SWAG bag AND a sweet TEDDY BEAR. One lucky person will win this. To be entered, please leave a comment below and connect with Rosie on Twitter (@RosiePOV).

bear giveaway

Here’s a little background on Rosie. She is a children’s author, poet, wife and a mama bear of three. Ever since childhood, Rosie has been fascinated with the power of words. Her passion for writing took her on a long journey of discovery, learning, and growth, through many ups and downs, but she is grateful for all her experiences.

With her books, Rosie dreams of inviting many readers into her make-believe worlds, hoping to touch them with her words.

headshot final

 Welcome to Picture Books Help Kids Soar, Rosie!

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


I grew up in Bulgaria during the communist regime and as far as I remember, children’s literature was somewhat limited. We mostly read folktales. I did have one of those old-fashioned records of Cinderella, translated in Bulgarian, and I was obsessed with that tale. I listened to it over and over.

Other favorites, also translated in Bulgarian, were One Thousand and One Nights as well as the Brothers Grimm collection.

But, I am now slowly trying to catch up and read older picture books and classics–that people who grew up here are familiar with–while keeping up with the new releases.

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


That I needed to read a lot more, learn about the market, and invest in my craft. I wish I knew about SCBWI sooner, what a critique group was, and how to find and join a good one. Those are some of the things that took me years to figure out the hard way!

ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?


I like to write both in a notebook with a pen or pencil and in bed on my laptop. I almost always carry a small notebook in my purse as well and have drafted stories in my car while waiting to pick up kids from school or activities. But I’d write any place, any way!

ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?


I am definitely not a morning person but in the past, I’ve forced myself to write very early in the day if that was the only quiet, uninterrupted time I could find. Having three kids and a day job. I would set my alarm for 5 a.m. and work on a project for a couple of hours.

Nowadays, I get on my laptop as soon as I send the kids out to school and work until it’s time to pick them up, then in the evening, continue late into the night. As I write this, it’s 11:10 p.m.

ME: Why do you write for children?


First and foremost, I really enjoy it. And if I made a child laugh or feel something while reading my words miles and miles away, that’s awesome! But also, there’s something humbling and magical in the possibility of being able to–even for a brief moment–influence and help shape a person’s outlook  through their early experience with books.

ME: Rosie, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, and librarians might want to hear.


For writers, my advice is to work hard but don’t be stubborn. Flexibility is important–learning how to let go, readjust and strategize are crucial in this business. But also, be open-minded, educate yourself enough to know when and how to apply the above. And the way to do that is by seeking help from peers and industry professionals, joining the community (SCBWI, 12 x 12, StoryStorm, ReFoReMo, Kidlit411 etc.), interacting and making connections. Read, attend conferences and workshops, write, write, write.

I used to think, oh, I’ll surely figure it all out on my own. Don’t make that mistake and waste years going in circles and learning the hard way. Today, do something new for your writing that you haven’t done yet.

I encourage parents to read to their kids and favor getting books in their hands over video game remotes.

Educators and librarians, the work you do is of such tremendous importance, it blows my mind! I applaud you and wish that great appreciation gets to you in every shape and form!

Rosie…I know everyone thanks you for your insights. And especially for the beautiful picture book that will become a favorite with young children.

Each time I do a Q&A with an author or an illustrator, I gain a valuable takeaway. Do you want to know what that is today?


 To find out more about Rosie, please visit her at www.rosiejpova.com

IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU is available on Amazon or request a copy at your favorite Indie bookstore.


swag giveaway

Dear readers, don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the drawing for the wonderful prize package!

 And guess what? There is another book birthday tomorrow! I hope you’ll all be back to meet author/illustrator Patricia Keeler and her new picture book, LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL.

Thank you for spending your precious time with us!