Friday, May 21, 2021

Picture Book Friday


Gabby Dawnay and illustrator Alex Barrow have once again teamed up to create a fourth title – If I Had An Octopus –to add to their If I Had A Dinosaur, If I Had A Sleepy Sloth, and If I Had A Unicorn series of picture books.

What would be your perfect pet? That’s the question a little girl must answer.

Dolphins are too grand. Jellyfish are too wobbly. Crabs? Nope too many claws. Our young storyteller wants a clever pet with many charms and lots of arms!

Her perfect pet is…an OCTOPUS!

Vivid colors and lively action with every turn of the page makes the case as the little girl discovers the fun of simultaneously engaging in multiple sports or creating a musical afternoon with a variety of instruments thanks to her eight-legged friend. And, of course, an octopus would be a great asset in the kitchen.

Dawney cleverly incorporates facts about the octopus into the imaginative storyline – octopuses have no bones and fit through tiny openings, they squirt ink when frightened, and they can nearly disappear thanks to their remarkable ability to camouflage themselves – making this story an ideal read for introducing a study of ocean life for young scholars ages 3 and up.

The rhyming text adds another layer of charm for reading aloud.

If I Had An Octopus would be a delightful addition to any picture book collection.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Picture Book Friday


THIS SMALL BLUE DOT, from author and illustrator Zeno Sworder, is a heartwarming story centered around a young girl’s message to her new sibling.

The little girl and the baby are both nameless and always depicted in the gray shades of pencil drawings which give them both an “every child” quality. The young narrator begins her story from the broad cosmic perspective of our solar system by pointing out the small blue dot that every human calls home, followed by our interconnectedness with the natural world. Set against strong primary-color backgrounds and bold, often over-sized crayon illustrations, the girl finds delight in the wonderful variety of life from pears to elephants.

The story takes on a more personal note as she shares some of grandfather’s wisdom about growing up and her joy in being young enough to sing, dance, and celebrate the power of her imagination.

Best of all, she discovers, is the beauty in people’s hearts no matter how different they may be and the truth that we all come from the same beginnings with the possibility to explore, dream, and find your own sense of wonder.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Nonfiction Monday


WHAT’S THE WEATHER? Is the first in the “What, Why, or Where” series of new books offered by Arbordale Publishing. Topics are explored through a collection of open-ended questions that reflect the natural curiosity of young children.

The goal of understanding weather’s causes and changes defines the mission of this book. Readers are given multiple opportunities to heighten their awareness of the various topics. Color blocked text identifies information to be read in a standard manner.  Italicized questions are posed throughout to serve as topics of discussion.   Multiple high-quality photographs on each page create opportunities for conversations and encourage children to employ observational skills. Building on those observations and conversations then enables readers to understand ways in which weather impacts their lives on a daily and seasonal basis and relate it to the world around them.

The book identifies an audience of ages 3-7. Younger readers will enjoy the strong visual impact of the images and benefit from reading with an adult or older sibling. Experienced readers will find the text engaging and will discover more information in the final section titled For Creative Minds. “Easy Weather Observations” provides a bulleted list for ways in which parents and caregivers can create opportunities for youngsters to develop organizational skills. “The Six Parts of Weather” defines basic terms that help weather forecasters describe weather such as atmospheric pressure and precipitation. “Clouds” provides labeled photographs of six cloud types. “Weather, Climate or Seasons?” defines, discusses, and illustrates those three terms that are frequently misunderstood. 

A teaching activity guide is available on

An excellent introductory STEM resource. Recommended for home, school, and library.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

                                  JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!


 From the wonderful OutWest Shopcomes a special offer and contest for adults and children!    

 Purchase an autographed copy of "Desperate Straits" and receive either a second copy Free OR select a copy of my picture book "Gracie Jane" Free for the young readers in your life. 

                                           GIVEAWAY AND CONTEST details HERE 

                                                             BOOK GIVEAWAY! 

Hermit's Rest - Arizona Territory, 1887-  

An immigrant Irish girl and a veteran lawman battle for their lives when they stand between one man's obsession and the Lost Adams gold.

 "Squires’ briskly paced romance crackles with energy thanks to well-drawn characters and settings ... Squires’ use of historical details bolsters her settings, particularly the depiction of everyday life in the Arizona Territory ... A well-developed romance wrapped in an engaging and fast-paced Western, complete with strong protagonists, colorful settings, and superb historical details."

           — Kirkus Reviews


GRACIE JANE - has a heart as big 
as the Western sky, and she's always ready to lend a helping 
hand. So, she doesn't think twice about rescuing Fifi La Rue and taking the lost pup home. After all, how much trouble could one little dog be on a great big ranch? 

It's nonstop fun and excitement when one good deed turns this cowgirl's life upside down!

"Gracie Jane" is the first title of a cowgirl series that is full of action, humor, charm, and character. Written in exciting action prose with a hit of rhyme, and fully color illustrated..." ---Midwest Book Review June 2019



Monday, November 16, 2020

Nonfiction Monday


AND THAT’S THE TOOTH by Terri Fields is an informative and entertaining look at one of the many characteristics that differentiate animals – their teeth!

A full-page color photograph of each animal is obscured by a set of clues to guide the reader in identifying a dozen animals. Mammals, reptiles, and fish such as sharks, giraffes, snakes, dolphins, and even the toothless humpback whale appear as a page turn provides the big reveal and another interesting fact. A good bit of the fun is in the photographs which succeed in capturing each animal in a toothy shot of their pearly whites.

The final discussion focuses on humans with a diagram naming each type of tooth and noting that 97 of 100 people will experience tooth decay. Although cavity prevention is not discussed, this book would offer a fun introduction to the topic of tooth care.

The book identifies an audience of ages 4-7. Younger readers will find the strong visuals appealing and enjoy trying to identify each animal through the clues. Experienced readers will discover more information in the final section titled For Creative Minds where a “All About Your Teeth” highlights human dentition.  “The Right Type of Teeth” challenges readers to determine which animals are herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores based on their teeth.

The publisher, Arbordale, offers more fun facts and downloadable educational activities at

A fun introductory STEM resource for home, school, and library.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Nonfiction Monday


RIVER OTTER’S ADVENTURE by Linda Stanek with illustrations by Shennen Bersani relates a narrative nonfiction story about a young river otter that sneaks into a zoo. The text offers a compare and contrast tale as the otter explores living like the reptiles and mammals that are encountered one after another.  She enjoys pretending to be a trunk-swinging elephant, a slippery salamander, a stalking tiger and others, but each encounter also reminds her of what she’d miss about being an otter.


The author weaves facts into the read-aloud story and expands on the factual material at the end. Colorful double-page spreads provide realistic reinforcement to this charming and educational offering for young readers ages 4-8.

 Readers will find the text engaging and will discover more information in the final section, titled For Creative Minds, where additional discussions provide a wealth of facts.

“Basic Needs and Living and Nonliving Things” reviews the various requirements that otters depend on and challenges readers to identify which things in a river otter’s habitat are living or nonliving. “North American River Otter or Sea Otter?” provides an informational chart to help readers differentiate between the two types of otters. “North American River Otter Adaptations” discusses the special ways in which otters are uniquely suited to their environment.

 The publisher, Arbordale, provides teaching activities guide at

 An excellent STEM resource for introducing young readers to otters and the concept of adaptation. Recommended for home, school, and library.

Monday, October 5, 2020

 ANIMAL HOMES by nature photographer, Mary Holland, introduces young readers to the methods in which animals construct and use their homes for shelter in this new addition to her collection of award-winning books.

Full-color closeups are underscored by age appropriate text that offers insights into the many ways in which animals build their homes. Some utilize natural materials – beavers form their lodges using branches and mud. Squirrels fashion nests of twigs, bark, leaves, and moss. Other animals like bears, woodchucks, foxes, and coyotes live in dens and tunnels underground. Insects have a variety of home building skills. Bald-faced hornets chew wood and their saliva creates a paste that dries into paper. Spittle bugs create a home fashioned from bubbles.

The book identifies an audience of ages 5-8. Younger readers will enjoy the strong visual impact of the images and benefit from reading with an adult or older sibling. Experienced readers will find the text engaging and will discover more information in the final section titled For Creative Minds where additional discussions review the many specific ways in which animals are home builders. A “Mix and Match” page challenges readers to match photos of animals with their choice of building materials.  “Which Are Animal Homes?” asks readers to identify pictures of animal dwellings. A third section provides an opportunity to pair an animal with its home.

The publisher, Arbordale, offers a teaching activity guide that is available at

An excellent STEM resource. Recommended for home, school, and library.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer