Perfect Picture Book Friday: GROWING SEASON Plus Giveaway

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, my friends. And I’ve got a wonderful book to review that fits perfectly with this season of spring.

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GROWING SEASON

Written and illustrated by Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Published by Sterling House Books (2019)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Friendship, gardening

Synopsis: From Amazon:

El and Jo are the shortest kids in class, and they’re inseparable. But what happens when Jo starts to grow? This sweet picture book explores the joys and challenges of friendship and growing up.
 
El and Jo are the smallest students in their class—and best friends, too, like peas in a pod. Even their names are short. But in springtime, something BIG happens: Jo starts growing like a weed, while El feels smaller every day. On the last day of school, their teacher asked every child to pick a plant to care for over the summer. All the other kids reach over El to grab their plant, and she has to take the very last one: a tiny, flowerless aster. At first, she’s disappointed. But as summer progresses, the aster begins to bloom—and so does El! Continue reading

Happy Book Birthday: GROWING SEASON Plus Giveaway

Light the candles! Get ready to sing! It’s a Happy Book Birthday for a fabulous new picture book by one of my friends and critique buddies, Maryann Coccoa-Leffler!

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One of the loveliest things about being in this kidlit community is when a friend has a new book coming out. ESPECIALLY when you’ve seen the story in it’s early draft stages!GSReadingSpot

I’m so thrilled to be sharing this special day with such a special friend…today is the birthday of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH, as well! Woo-hoo!!!

And guess what??? If you leave a comment, you will be entered into the giveaway of a copy of this fabulous brand new book!

Julie Abery and I are training to the Bologna Book Fair today…and meeting up with kidlit friend Maria and fellow Storm agency teammate, Fiona. I’ll have the opportunity to connect with some of my editors…what fun! And we’ll be seeing some of the wonderful 2019 books on display…I’ll be looking for GROWING SEASON at the Sterling Books booth and my books at Creston, Holiday House, and Pomegranate.

Happy Book Birthday: NO FROGS IN SCHOOL Plus GIVEAWAYS

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday, dear NO FROGS IN SCHOOL Happy Birthday to you!

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NO FROGS IN SCHOOL

Written by Alexandria LaFaye

Illustrated by Egalitine Ceulemans

Published by Sterling Children’s Books (August 7, 2018)

Ages: 4-7

Themes: Pets, humor, working together

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

“Bartholomew Botts loves pets—but his teacher, Mr. Patanoose, says No Frogs in School! So what will happen when Bartholomew’s beloved creatures meet up with Mr. Patanoose’s rules? Lots of FUN!
 
Hoppy pets, hairy pets, scaly pets: Bartholomew Botts loves them all. And he doesn’t want to go to school without one. Unfortunately, when Bartholomew brings his brand-new frog to class, his teacher, Mr. Patanoose, declares: No frogs in school! How will Bartholomew keep his animal friends close at hand . . . and follow Mr. Patanoose’s rules, too? Illustrated with energetic and humorous artwork, this back-to-school story will be a favorite with every animal-loving kid!”

As a former kindergarten teacher, I love school stories…and this one is hilarious! The art work is so engaging and the text is filled with humor and will have every teacher and parent nodding their heads and kids will be rolling on the floor as Mr. Patanoose tries to restore order to his classroom.

The author, Alexandria LaFaye, is one of my Storm teammates…so I am doubly excited to help her celebrate her book’s launch. And because it is a book birthday, we need to have presents, right?

Alexandria’s publisher sent me a copy of NO FROGS IN SCHOOL and one lucky person is going to receive that as my book birthday gift. Just leave a comment on this blog post to be entered.

Plus there is chance to win another book birthday gift that is for K-2 teachers. Imagine a teacher starting the school year with THIRTY new books! WOW! Alexandria is hosting this giveaway on her Facebook page. She says:

Please help me spread the word about this book giveaway to help K-2 teachers building-expand their inclusive classroom libraries. Thanks.

It’s time for a great giveaway of 31 books for a K-2 classroom, including a signed copy of NO FROGS IN SCHOOL by A. LaFaye Kirkus says, “each page lends itself to an energetic seek-and-find storytime that promises new discoveries upon multiple reads.” See the rules in the comments below or visit Sylanocity and check out the pinned post athttps://bit.ly/2vs8fuq. I’ll be reviewing books from the giveaway each day in August. The contest runs Aug 1-30th. #kidlit #bookgiveaway#NoFrogs #TeachersRule #Diversity #Equity Sterling Publishing

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So dear friends, please share this if you know any teachers or school librarians…and don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway for NO FROGS IN SCHOOL And please remember that the best present you can give to your favorite author is to:
  • Buy a copy of their book
  • Ask your local library to purchase a copy for their collection
  • Tell your friends about the book
  • Post a review on Amazon or other review sites

I hope you enjoy the rest of your week. And stop by on Friday and Saturday when a dear writer friend of mine, Emilie Boon, will be in the house.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: SELFIE SEBASTIAN and A CAMPFIRE TAIL plus GIVEAWAY

I had a lovely surprise the other day. I received two beautiful picture books in the mail. Written by author Sarah Glenn Marsh, they are bright and bold and so much fun. I knew I had to share them with you today. One is about taking selfies. How awesome is that! And the other is about camping and finding the courage to be a real friend. And because my bookshelves are overflowing, I plan to give both of these away. So please make sure you leave a comment. And don’t hop off until you scroll through the entire post BECAUSE after the picture book review, I’ll be giving everyone a heads up about #50PreciousWordsforKids which is COMING ON MONDAY!!!

SELFIE SEBASTIAN

Written by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Illustrated by Florence Weister

Published by Sterling Children’s Books (2018)

Ages: 5-8

Themes: Friendship, travel

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

You can’t take the perfect selfie if you’re all by yourself.
Sebastian is one handsome fox—and he really, really loves to take selfies. But somehow, no matter how camera-ready he is, his pictures always lack a certain something. And he can’t put his paw on exactly what. So Sebastian sets off on an elaborate quest to take the perfect selfie, dashing from a glamorous red carpet in Hollywood to the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon. He even zooms to the Moon! Still, none of Sebastian’s photos make him happy. Could it be that the secret to his special selfie is right where he started . . . at home, with his friends?

Why I like this book:

  • I loved the relevant theme of taking a selfie…even young kids want to do it.
  • I enjoyed the travel/geography layer to the story – kids will love to guess where Sebastian is.
  • GREAT illustrations – the front and back covers are amazing!

A CAMPFIRE TAIL

Written by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Illustrated by Ana Gomez

Published by Sterling Children’s Books (May 1, 2018)

Ages: 4 and up

Themes: Friendship, courage, camping

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

Ever been stuck with a friend who’s totally uncool—and worried that it will rub off on you?
Welcome to Camp Wildwood! It’s Dragon’s first day, and his buddy would LIKE to show him a good time. But Dragon doesn’t seem to fit in with the boys and girls. He overturns the boat, ruins the puppet show, and even sets the tent on fire. Then, just as his buddy is about to give up, Dragon comes through in a pinch. This sweet, funny picture book teaches an important lesson about the true meaning of friendship—and in accepting the strengths and weaknesses of others.

Why I like this book:

  • I love friendship stories!
  • The illustrations are fantastic…just love the main character!
  • Text is full of heart and humor…great combination for a picture book!

Activities for both stories: 

  • Make a list of how to be a good friend.
  • Take selfies with friends and create an album of friendship.
  • Role play with your kids…different scenarios where being a good friend might be difficult.

Please don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. If you’d like to see more picture book reviews, please go to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture book Friday link up. And remember the best gift we can give the authors of our favorite stories is to buy their book or ask the library to order their book or write a review on Amazon or other book review sites.

And now, dear friends, a few words about #50PreciousWordsforKids! Last year, I hosted an international writing challenge for kid writers in grades K-6. I invited them to create a story for children in 50 words or less. #50PreciousWordsforKids drew participants from 15 states and 4 foreign countries. What amazed me was the incredible creativity that was unleashed by the restrictive word limit. Click here to see the stories from last year’s challenge.

MAGIC HAPPENS WHEN YOU MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT!

As a former kindergarten teacher, I’ve always been on a mission to help kids become lovers of books and reading. What a thrill it was to invite them to become their own storytellers!

This writing challenge is ALL-INCLUSIVE and INTERNATIONAL!

#50PreciousWordsforKids coincides with Children’s Book Week, April 30-May 6. Every child in grades K-6 is invited to participate. Teachers can have each child write a story of 50 words or less…then the teacher and/or class will choose one story to submit. Last year, some classes formed teams and wrote collaborative stories – that is totally fine. Parents who homeschool their children can submit one story per child. The official #50PreciousWordsforKids post will go live on Monday morning!

Here are the guidelines.

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  •  Each child, grade K-6, writes a story of 50 words or less.
  • Title not included in word count.
  • Story must have a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Happy or sad, silly or serious, true or make-believe.
  • Teachers/students choose one story to submit per class.
  • Homeschooling parents submit one story per child.
  • Please email story to: viviankirkfield@gmail.com by May 7 at 11:59pm.
  • Stories post on my blog: viviankirkfield.com on May 11.
  • Teacher/parent receives a certificate to copy and present to each child who wrote a story.
  • Giveaway of seven mini-Skype author classroom visits.

 Questions? Contact me at viviankirkfield@gmail.com

I’m asking all of you who have connections with elementary schools or homeschooling families in any state and any country to please spread the word. Last year, I contacted the Children’s Book Council and they agree – it’s a perfect activity for Children’s Book Week. Click here to read last year’s stories.

The challenge runs April 30-May 6 and the stories need to be emailed to me: viviankirkfield@gmail.com by 11:59pm Eastern Standard Time on Monday, May 7th. I’ll post those stories on Friday, May 11th. Teachers and parents will receive a certificate that can be copied and personalized with the name of each child who participated. And there will be mini-Skype author classroom visits randomly awarded—one per grade level if I get enough volunteers. 

Let’s help our kids stretch and grow their imaginations.

Which brings me to the next request…I still need volunteers to do mini-Skype author or illustrator visits. If you would like to donate a mini-Skype author or illustrator visit, please contact me ASAP either by email or on FB or Twitter. It’s a wonderful way to connect with our audience of parents, teachers, and kids!

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Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

LAURA SASSI: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

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INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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LAURA SASSI

We are so very fortunate to have generous mentors like today’s Will Write for Cookies guest. I’ve been a fan of Laura Sassi for years. Her website is a treasure trove of information and resources for parents, teachers, and writers. So, I was thrilled when she agreed to stop by and chat with us today.

Laura Sassi has a passion for telling humorous stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, 2014) and GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, 2015), DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling, 2018), and LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018) She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children, and a black Cockapoo named Sophie.

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Welcome, Laura! It’s wonderful to have you here. I know everyone is excited to get to know you a little better. 
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child? 

Laura: I loved reading as a child and my all-time favorite author was Madeleine L’Engle. I loved her writing so much that as a twelve year-old— in quick succession – I read every book she’d written up to that point.  And now, with the recent release of the A Wrinkle In Time movie, I’m enjoying rereading that book – which was the first book of hers I ever read – with my daughter. We just finished it last week and it’s as marvelous as I remember.  Continue reading

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!

DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE

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!!!!

RELATED ACTIVITIES:

FanCraftPin2Photo courtesy: https://thecraftyclassroom.com

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: https://thecraftyclassroom.com/crafts/japan-crafts-for-kids/japan-paper-fan-craft/

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

DIVA DELORES BLOG TOUR FLYER pdf

 

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!


An Interview with CAP’N REX AND HIS CLEVER CREW and more

 Ahoy there, mateys!

I’m so happy you’ve come aboard today because we’ve got a treasure chest of awesomeness in store for you…all thanks to Henry Herz, author of the brand-new pirate picture book, CAP’N REX AND HIS CLEVER CREW. First a book review…then a Q&A with Captain Rex and his clever crew, .and then links where you can find yummy pirate recipes and fun stuff to do

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Written by Henry L. Herz

Illustrated by Benjamin Shipper

Published by Sterling Children’s Books (August 2017)

Opening Lines:

Captain Rex and his dinosaur pirates sailed the seven seas.

Synopsis

Captain Rex and his dinosaur pirates sail the seven seas in search of buried treasure. But whenever they hit an obstacle—like a giant shark or pea-soup fog—the crew members are quick to say they can’t overcome. To this, Captain Rex always glares with teeth bared and says, “CAN’T YE?” And, somehow, the crew always comes up with a clever solution. This delightful story highlights the value of one’s creativity and determination in tough situations. It will encourage kids everywhere to think and say, “I can!”

Why I like this book:

  • Just the right amount of piratey language
  • Great read aloud
  • Bold colorful and quirky illustrations that will keep a child turning the pages
  • Wonderful combination of humor and heart

What others are saying about this book:

“Arrr, if ye be lookin’ for a rollicking read about pirate treasure and persistence, REX marks the spot.”
Molly Idle, Caldecott Honoree author/illustrator of TEA REX
“A darling book about problem solving and utilizing arrr! gifts. And the gorgeous illustrations are a treasure. Pure gold!”
Sherri Duskey Rinker, NY Times bestselling author of MIGHTY, MIGHTY CONSTRUCTION SITE
“This story will certainly thrill the pirate in your house. Through humor and ingenuity we learn that anything is possible!”
Barney Saltzberg, NY Times bestselling author/illustrator of BEAUTIFUL OOPS!
“Pirates, dinosaurs, a voyage to a volcano? Well, shiver me timbers! There be surprise and rollicking adventure within these gorgeous pages. CAP’N REX gives readers a taste of pirate etiquette in this see-worthy treasure.”
Pat Cummings, Coretta Scott King Award winning author/illustrator of MY MAMA NEEDS ME
“Cap’n Rex and his jaunty crew take us on a jolly journey, fraught with perilous adventures. Sticking together and using their wits to overcome obstacles at every treacherous turn, these dino heroes are destined to rake in their fabulous bounty. Gorgeous textures and sumptuous-shaped illustrations help make this book a delight for any young pirate.”
Joe Cepeda, Pura Belpre Honoree author/illustrator of I, FREDDY
“A clever yarn about overcoming obstacles that will have little buccaneers chanting “Can’t ye!” even after the last page has been turned.”
Corey Rosen Schwartz, author of NINJA RED RIDING HOOD
To find out more about author Henry L. Herz:
 
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So hold onto your hats, me hardies…now that you’ve got a little background on this story, I know you are anxious to meet my special guests, the four characters from CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW. We’re sitting in a park, because we cannot all fit inside my house. And really, you don’t want dinosaurs sitting on your furniture.
ME: Hello there! Thank you all for being here (and for not eating me).

 

Cap’n Rex: 

It’s arrr pleasure to be here, lassie. We can spare a few moments before we must resume sailing the seven seas in search of buried booty. Our frigate is double parked at the yacht club.

ME: Can you tell me what it’s like to be characters in a picture book?

 

Kyle (the ankylosaurus): I like the colors that the illustrator used to draw me. I like how the author shows me as strong and brave. But, as a crewman, I always have to follow the captain’s orders.

 

Cap’n Rex: Aye, as it should be, laddy! I know what’s best fer ye!

 

Terry (the pterodactyl): I like that we get to wear clothes – it can get cold out on the high seas. I like that the author lets me fly. Sometimes when there are obstacles, the best way around them is to go over them.

 

ME: Speaking of obstacles, what is the theme of CAP’N REX & HIS CLEVER CREW?

 

Pat (the apatosaurus): Hmmm. I couldn’t say.

 

Cap’n Rex: Can’t ye? (note: Rex is glaring at Pat with teeth bared)

 

Pat:Oh, well, I guess the lesson of the story is that if you are persistent and think outside the box, you can solve pretty much any problem.

 

Cap’n Rex: Aye, yer a clever lass. It’s amazin’ what a powerful creativity stimulant the threat of being eaten can be.

 

Pat:Persistence is a particularly potent property for pirates to possess.

 

Cap’n Rex: Belay that alliteration!

 

MR: Let’s move on. How was the book title chosen?

 

Kyle: The origin of this story was the idea that if kids like pirates and they like dinosaurs (and who could blame ’em), then kids’d REALLY like a story that combined both. Sort of a literary Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. In fact, the author was going to write about dinosaur SPACE pirates. Can you imagine us sailin’ the stars?

 

Terry:That’s flying too high, even for me. Luckily, the author’s critique partners said that was mashing up too many things. So, we sail a frigate, not a spaceship. And did you notice how our ship is shaped like a giant triceratops head?

 

Cap’n Rex:None of ye arrr answering the lass’s question! The original title was going to be DINOSAUR PIRATES. As the artwork was being finalized, the author discovered that another book was coming out with that very title. So, at my (humble) suggestion, the author changed the name to better reflect the story (and to include me name).

 

ME: Where can people find out more about you?

 

Pat: The author’s website at www.henryherz.com be full o’ free fun features…

 

Cap’n Rex: BELAY THAT ALLITERATION!

 

Pat: including a downloadable study guide, a book trailer video…

 

Cap’n Rex:I cut a fine figure.

 

Pat:and chestfuls of information about famous pirates, pirate language, ships, recipes, movies, activities and jokes. 

 

Kyle: There’s also a Goodreads Giveaway right now where readers can enter to win a free copy of the book.

 

Terry: And in September through December, readers will have a chance to win original signed art from the illustrator!

 

Cap’n Rex: Well, the tides are shifting. We must take arrr leave.

And

ME Thank you for visiting! And safe journey!!!!!

Oh my gosh! Do you believe that, dear readers? A Q&A with a bunch of pirate dinosaurs…now THAT is a first on Picture Books Help Kids Soar!

And here’s another first…we’ve got to catch up on some giveaways. A week ago,

we interveiwed Moose the dog and Maria Gianferrari offered a copy of HELLO GOODBYE DOG…and the winner is:

JANE HEITMAN HEALY

Then, we had a book review of Susanna Hill’s newest picture book, THE ROAD THAT TRUCKS BUILT…and the winner is…

ANDREA MACK

And then we had a book birthday for Lisa Amstutz’ APPLESAUCE DAY…and the winner is…

MONA PEASE

I’ll be contacting all of you to arrange for ythe shipment of your books!

 

Thank you so much, dear friends. Your faithful comments really mean a lot to me and to our guests. Plus I’m grateful for all of the social media shares on Facebook and Twitter! Please don’t forget that Amazon and Goodreads reviews are needed by authors…take a few minutes and review this or one of your other favorite books!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and please excuse any typos that I didn’t catch…my vision is still somewhat blurry.