Friday, March 25, 2022

Picture Book Friday


They All Saw A Cat by Brendan Wenzel

“The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears and paws…” and so begins the cat’s journey through a series of encounters with a diverse collection of creatures – from bee to bat, fox to flea.

 In each instance, Wenzel treats readers to an imaginative impression of what those creatures might observe from their varied points of view: a bird in flight, the blurry distortion of a fish bowl.  He also explores the emotional impact of the encounters in the frenzied red and black terror of a mouse who sees only danger and the contented cat’s smile at the touch of a child’s hand.

Wenzel uses multiple artistic styles and techniques to represent a host of responses as the cat is perceived as friend, prey, predator or a simple object of curiosity.

The language is simple with only a handful of words per page. That, combined with the repetition of the opening phrase at intervals throughout, allows even young listeners to connect with the narrative.

This 2017 Caldecott Medal Honor book would be a great introduction to a conversation about observation and perception.

Recommended for home and school libraries.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Picture Book Friday


Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

This seemingly simple story challenges readers to answer the question posed by the well-known visual illusion of duck vs rabbit. Which is it? 

The narrative flows through two voices that offer opposing arguments –

Is it a duck hiding in the swamp or a rabbit hiding in the grass?

A duck flying or a rabbit hopping?

A duck getting a drink or a rabbit cooling its ears?

Each voice tries to make a case for a particular point of view.

In the end the speakers begin to see the other’s position and discover there is no absolute “right” or “wrong” conclusion.

The answer, of course, depends on your perspective!

Rosenthal’s clever dialogue is right on point and pairs perfectly with Lichtenheld’s strong lines and bold colors. 

Here is a fun board book with a subtle message and a surprise twist at the end. Entertaining to read on its own. It has the added bonus of being a perfect conversation starter for a discussion about recognizing and respecting differing points of view.

Kindergarten-Grade 2 Recommended for home libraries.


Friday, March 11, 2022

Picture Book Friday

 Me and Ms. Too written by Laura Ruby and illustrated by Dung Ho

Young Molly can’t recall a time when family wasn’t just her and her father.  They were always together – to splash in the pool, bake treats, play at the park.

Suddenly, that all changes when he marries Molly’s favorite librarian. Ms. Blue was great at reading stories and helping find just the right book. But she doesn’t like to get wet. She’s no good at making muffins. She can’t even cut the kiwis correctly. Everything has changed!

Laura Ruby has created a thoughtful, empathetic story that is reassuring and hopeful as it reminds us that families can come in many forms. Both Molly and young readers discover that difficult as change sometimes is, it can also create wonderful opportunities.

The colorful, richly detailed illustrations pair beautifully with the text. 

For Ages 4-8.

Recommended for home and school libraries.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Picture Book Friday


There's a Dodo on the Wedding Cake – by Wade Bradford with illustrations by Kevin Hawkes

 Bradford’s gift for imaginative story telling takes readers back to the Sharemore Hotel where a wedding party becomes the victim of Mr. Snore’s well-intentioned bumbling.

Mr. Snore is hired to play his violin at a wedding, but arrives early – just in time to chase away the dodo he finds nibbling the wedding cake roses. Hilarious chaos ensues as Mr. Snore races from room to room with the cake as he’s pursued by a whacky collection of creatures – bats, boa constrictor, beavers – even a T Rex. In the end, as improbable as it seems, Mr. Snore appears to have saved the day…until Bradford surprises readers with an unexpected twist.

Hawkes piles on the laughs with his vivid drawings and bold colors. Clearly, this was a perfect combination of author and illustrator talents.

Definitely too much fun not to share.  An enjoyable read aloud or read alone for ages 4-8.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Picture Book Friday


When Nana Dances                     

The prolific Jane Yolen has teamed up with Maddison Stemple-Piatt (Jane’s first grandchild, now a successful adult) to create this delightful story illustrated by Priscilla Burris.

 Inspired perhaps by Yolen’s and Stemple-Piatt’s background in dance, the Nana in this story has a wide experience in moving to music from ballet and tap to salsa and swing. She can dance to any music and with most anything. But her best dancing happens when she shares the fun with her grandchildren.

The lively rhyming text engages readers as it celebrates the joy of dance in its many forms embodied in a diverse community of Nanas and their grandchildren. Burris’ vivid colors and bold images fill the pages with movement to mirror the buoyant language.

 A delightful read-aloud that will have children and adults smiling…and maybe even dancing, too.

Ages 4-8 Recommended for home and school libraries.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Picture Book Friday


The Seed of Compassion: Lessons from the Life and Teachings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama by His Holiness The Dalai Lama with illustrations by Bao Luu  


The Dali Lama tells a story of gentle honesty as he relates the path he traveled from childhood to present day learning the lessons and values of compassion. Born into a farming family in Tibet, his childhood was spent helping his mother with chores and watching her share the little that they had with others in need. Describing himself as an “often naughty boy” he remembers she was always kind and patient in response. It was in those early years that her example set in him the seed of compassion.

          He goes on to speak of how the creatures of the animal world have special abilities – strength, speed, acute senses – far beyond ours, but it is only humans who can learn to offer compassion to one another.  Compassion, he assures us, is a sign of strength. It is this compassion, he continues, that can bring joy to humanity through kindness and warm-heartedness.

          The Dalai Lama adds, nurturing this seed is not easy; it takes practice. And he offers some basic questions we can ask to aid us in helping compassion to grow in our life. It almost seems too easy. However, the Dali Lama knows the struggle because he has lived it. Like any other ability, we don’t always succeed in making the compassionate choice. But he reminds us, “tomorrow presents the opportunity for you to try again.”

          This lovely book addresses readers ages 4-8. The language is simple and straight forward with thoughtful attention to the comprehension and interests of its audience. Younger readers will enjoy hearing the story read aloud. Independent readers will find the story easily accessible and appealing.  Soft, warm colors in the illustrations by Bao Luu enhance the text with charming detail.

Recommended for home and school libraries.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Happy New Year 2022

 What am I celebrating at the close of 2021? So many things!

 Yes, 2021 was a challenge, but it was also a great opportunity for exploring new ways of connecting with the broad range of clients that I serve and finding innovative ways to meet their needs.  Zoom enabled me to provide seminars sponsored by the publishing house for which I consult and respond to teacher requests to visit with young scholars in their classrooms to share the tools and ideas that are fundamental for creating magic with words. I also received some lovely pictures and stories from teachers around the country to show me how they utilize my books in lessons. Such fun!

My blog and Facebook Page were indispensable in allowing me to celebrate some of my favorite authors with my many readers. And…I was treated to some wonderful books that came across my desk for me to review, which is always a delight.

So, here’s to the talented, hardworking authors I mentor, the publishers who send me their marvelous books, and the teachers, parents, and students for whom I write. I’m looking forward to spending more great times with all of you in 2022! Thanks to all of you for your tremendous support!!

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer