Monday, December 11, 2023

Nonfiction Monday


A Stone Is a Story by Barnard Booth with illustrations by Marc Martin offers young readers an absorbing introduction to geology.

Booth imagines a stone’s journey from its birth as magma through a wide variety of environmental experiences—dragged by a glacier, ground to sand, deposited as sediment, buried deep within the earth, transformed, uplifted, until finally it’s held in a curious youngster’s hand. The tale is told against the backdrop of earth’s evolutionary history from primordial seas to the time of dinosaurs, the ice age, and on to present day.

Straight-forward vocabulary and simple sentences make the content easily accessible. The narrative is followed by a more detailed discussion of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks that includes a glossary of terms. The author also provides a URL for additional resources.

Martin’s richly colored illustrations create a dramatic atmosphere for the powerful forces at work throughout…then shifts to a more subtle tone on the final double-page spread as it reflects a moment of unexpected playfulness that is a perfect conclusion to this tale.

 I can easily imagine this book serving as an entertaining and thought-provoking introduction to the study of geology with children.

 Ages 5-8

Recommended for home and school libraries.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Picture Book Friday

How Does Santa Go Down the Chimney? by Mac Barnett with illustrations by Jon Klassen.

Barnett tackles this mystery with ingenuity and humor as he proposes a series of scenarios. Head first? Feet first? Can Santa body morph—shrinking or stretching like taffy? And what if there is no chimney? Would a faucet do the trick? Or perhaps he can slide under the door or slip through the mail slot.

Once he’s inside—what about navigating in the dark and dealing with the family dog? There’s a wealth of creativity and fun here as we follow Santa through his holiday routine of leaving presents and enjoying snacks.

The narrative voice perfectly brings to mind the endless imaginings that children are capable of and sets the stage for some wonderfully inspired conversations with young readers.

In the end, Barnett concedes he really doesn’t know how Santa manages his extraordinary challenge. But that’s okay. What matters is that Santa finds a way.

Klassen’s illustrations are a perfect pairing with the text adding an extra level of understated absurdity to enrich every page. 

Ages 4-8. 

Highly recommended for home and school libraries. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2023



Books are always a happy surprise!

Here are some fun children’s picture books by some of my favorite authors

(and a few by yours truly) for you to consider.

Click on the titles to go to Amazon to learn more or buy books.

Click on the author's name to visit their website.

The Father Goose Treasury of Poetry

Charles Ghigna, known to his fans as Father Goose®, is a master at creating poetry for children. Lively, thoughtful, nurturing—his language speaks directly to young readers. This anthology collects 101 of his most delightful works in a fabulous collection of poems celebrating the natural world.  (Ages 5-9)


The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires  

He can run from the rancher's wife, he can dash past the javalinas and he can giddy-up right by the cattle grazing on the mesa.  But what happens when he meets a coyote sleeping in the sun? A lively Western version of the classic read-aloud tale. Named the Arizona Governor's 2007 First Grade Book with a special edition of 100,000 copies distributed to every first grader in the state. (Ages 4-8)


Ten Cuddly Pandas by Paula D. Golden 

This is an engaging countdown quest built around subtraction. Ten pandas go on a playful journey through the mountains of China where curiosity lures each into an adventure until only one remains. Written in rhyme, this story introduces young readers to simple subtraction word problems with matching numerical equations. (Ages 3-5)


Hot Dog by Doug Salati 

This 2023 Caldecott Medal Winner is an energetic romp with a little dog who’s had enough of city crowds, sizzling sidewalks, and blistering skies. When he decides enough is enough and refuses to take another step, his owner comes to his rescue with a fabulous trip to the beach. Vividly colored illustrations filled with and bold movement are paired with a clever narrative. (Ages 2-7)

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! Here's some wild West fun from award-winning author, Janet Squires (Ages 4-8)

Bear SaysThanks by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman. 

Bear is bored!!! Until…his woodland friends arrive one-by-one with tasty treats. But Bear’s cupboard is bare and he has nothing to share. That’s when his friends remind him that the gathering isn’t just about the food. It’s about their friendship and the delightful stories Bear can tell. Chapman's charming illustrations fill each page with warmth and movement.


Just Like Gulliver by Janet Squires 

Dive into the adventures of a young groundhog who is frightened of his shadow until a fun-filled journey through the woods and farms surrounding his burrow allows him to discover his courage on Groundhog Day. An author's note provides factual information about Groundhogs. (Ages 4-8)


I Am NOT A Scaredy-Cat by Paula D. Golden 

Here is a playful look at the way in which children boldly confront common fears — darkness, creatures, or sounds — and an acknowledgement that no matter how brave we are — we each have fears to face. An Author's Note at the end provides thoughtful questions for opening conversations about fears. (Ages 4-8)


Gray Fox in the Moonlight

Isaac Peterson takes readers on a nighttime trek as Gray Fox leads the audience through her world of forest and stream and makes note of the beauty around her. The gentle fall of autumn leaves, the starry sky, the moonlit branches, and her reflection in the river are all worthy of her notice. But she cannot remain long in thought. A powerful call draws her home to care for her hidden kits as the sun rises. (Ages 2-8)

Monday, December 4, 2023

Nonfiction Monday


A Book of Dogs (and other canines) by Katie Viggers offers young readers and entertaining and informative look at canines—familiar and exotic.


An introduction reminds readers that while all dogs are canines; not all canines are dogs. In fact, there are 30 species ranging from those we keep as pets to wolves, coyotes, jackals, foxes and wild dogs.

 Pet dogs receive the most attention in six double-page spreads that discuss breeds by group: Working, Herding, Hound, Sporting, Toy, and Terriers. These are six of the seven groups recognized by the American Kennel Club. I’m curious as to why the author omitted the non-sporting group which includes the easily recognized poodle, bulldog, Dalmatian, and other breeds that readers would find less-familiar.

 The second half of the book addresses several other interesting topics. First there’s a exploration of wild canines with a look at representative species like gray wolf, arctic wolf, black-backed jackal, and coyote. The author features 9 of the 30 breeds of fox and devotes attention to wild dogs—dingo, African painted dog and others. She also offers a humorous look at racoon dogs vs racoons, and reminds the audience not to be confused by the term prairie dog.

 The book concludes with a variety of useful topics. There’s information on the importance of the many different jobs dogs perform for people such as rescue or therapy and service in the military. The many different ways in which dogs communicate through body language and vocalization receives thoughtful attention. Agility training receives a nod and the book closes with a map showing the general ranges of wild canines.

The language is both informative and the conversational tone makes it an easy read. The illustrations utilize sidebars, and colored text boxes to hold reader attention and provide visual interest.

 For ages 4-6.

Recommended as an introduction to the subject for young readers. 

Friday, December 1, 2023

Picture Book Friday

Author and illustrator Mo Willems celebrates the holiday season with his unique take on Santa’s special night with DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE SLEIGH!


Yes, pigeon is back with a new goal in mind. And why not? After all, pigeon knows the drill—eat cookies, wrap presents, drop down a chimney—how hard can it be? As it turns out—it’s lot harder than pigeon thought.


Pigeon’s problems make for hilarious fun as Willems employs his signature silliness and over-the-top graphics to delight his audience.

For ages 4-7

Recommended for your holiday bookshelf.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Nonfiction Monday

Thank a Farmer by author Maria Gianferrari with illustrations by Monica Mikai is a celebration of the many ways farmers provide for our communities. Wheat, milk, vegetables, fruits, and wool are obvious choices for attention, but that's only the beginning!


Gianferrari takes the content to a new level by providing clear details about many of the varied elements essential to the process of growing and harvesting nature’s bounty. The narrative is informative for children and adults. Double-page spreads illustrate how tree shakers collect cherries, delves into peanut picking, shows both the mechanized cultivation of rice, and the hand harvesting of wild rice. Readers can explore mushroom culture and the tapping of maple trees for syrup.

In addition, the author illuminates new farming methods such as rooftop gardens and hydro-aero-aquaponics being employed in cities, schools, and backyards.

Mikai’s vividly colored and detailed illustrations are rich in detail to perfectly compliment the text.

For readers 4-8.

Highly recommended for home and school libraries. 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Picture Book Friday

BEAR SAYS THANKSanother delightful Bear Book from the wonderfully talented Karma Wilson (author) and Jane Chapman (illustrator) is my share for today.

All alone in his cave on a windy day, good-hearted Bear is bored!!! Until…his woodland friends arrive one-by-one with tasty treats. Mouse brings pie. Rabbit has muffins. With each addition, Bear says, “Thanks.” Soon the cave is full of friends and delicious foods to share.

But Bear is sad. His cupboard is bare and he has nothing to contribute. That’s when his friends remind him that the gathering isn’t just about the food. It’s about their friendship and the delightful stories Bear can tell.

Wilson’s talent for storytelling through the use of rhyme is perfectly on display. The word choice and rhythm make the narrative a comfortable read-aloud experience and keep the storyline moving along.

Chapman’s charming illustrations fill each page with warmth and movement. Fun details provide interesting talking points.

For ages 2-5.

Recommended for home and library shelves. 

Thursday, November 23, 2023


Thanksgiving . . .

It's not just about the beauty of the season . . .

Or the delicious food in abundance . . .

It's about the family and friends who share these blessings with us.

Today I'm thankful for...

·                  A family that respects and supports my need to write.

 ·                  Friends who cheerfully read my work and provide thoughtful comments.

·                  and Fans who read my books and ask for more.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2023



CELEBRATE with your favorite Gingerbread Cookie. Here’s mine—

THE GINGERBREAD COWBOY -- can run from the rancher's wife, he can dash past the javalinas and he can giddyup right by the cattle grazing on the mesa.  But what happens when he meets a coyote sleeping in the sun?

The Gingerbread Cowboy was the 2007 Arizona Governor’s First Grade Book. A special edition of 100,000 copies was distributed to every first grader in the state.

Here are a handful of reviews:

5.0 out of 5 stars "super” Reviewed in France on May 5, 2021


Five Stars  "A great contrast to the traditional English version. Used it in KS1."    —Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 2, 2015

"A delightful, infectiously cheerful, Southwestern rendition of a familiar story. Phrases used to describe biscuits, such as "plump as pillows, soft as clouds and tasty as a big Texas Barbecue," just roll off the tongue ..." The lively text demands to be read aloud ... A fresh version of an old favorite."
 — School Library Journal, August, 2006

"Sure to delight youngsters, as well as introduce them to the flora, fauna and geography of the west ... A welcome change of setting for the Gingerbread Man, sure to find a spot on the library shelf."
— Kirkus Reviews, July, 2006


Monday, November 20, 2023

Nonfiction Monday


From Author/Illustrator Rob HodgsonWhen Moon Became the Moon


Moon shares the story of her origin and her many aspects in a lively conversational narrative. The light-hearted text succeeds in imparting an abundance of scientific detail in language that is easily accessible to youthful audiences.

 The content is organized into brief chapters featuring colorful, cartoon-style illustrations that offer visual emphasis for the narrative points. The entire book employs an entertaining and whimsical tone that is evident even in the chapter headings where Hodgson inserts a chapter 5 ½ into the list. Chapters 1-5 ½ take a chronological look at Sun, Earth, Baby Moon, Orbit, Craters, and Moon Today. Chapters 6-11 explore a variety of lunar features titled: Light, Moon Phases, Moon Helps Earth, Solar Eclipse, Visitors, and The Future.

 For ages 3-5.

 Recommended for aspiring young astronomers at home and in classrooms.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Picture Book Friday

WONDER WALKERSA Caldicott Honor book by Micha Archer is a thoughtful invitation to explore the marvels of nature.

A young girl and boy set out on a “wonder walk” that is filled with questions. Is the sun the world’s light bulb? Do mountains have bones? Are trees the sky’s legs? Their trek takes them from meadow to mountain, river to sea shore.

The short sentences carry a single focus reminiscent of a child’s inquisitive voice. This minimalist language invites readers to focus on the fascinating details of the illustrations composed of a medley of intricately patterned papers in rich colors. The visual complexity and movement is an excellent contrast with the brief text.

Archer has captured the essence of a childhood that is filled with one “why?” after another. This charming book could easily inspire young audiences to ask a host of their own questions—or better yet, pursue their own nature explorations.

Additionally, the illustrations could provide a model for readers to create their own collages of varied materials.

For ages 3-7

Recommended for home and school libraries.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Picture Book Friday


“The world is full of little hearts. Each one a sign of love. Some are found upon the ground. Some are up above.”

This opening stanza from LITTLE HEARTS by Charles Ghigna sets forth the gentle tone and thoughtful mood for the delightful story that follows four adorable animal friends in their exploration of nature. A map on the end paper at the back of the book conveniently maps their day-long trek through varied environments from Sand Bay to Clover Corner.

The rhyming stanzas invite readers to join the young adventurers as they attempt to find and identify as many hearts as possible. And the opportunities are many—from Redbud Hill to Emma’s orchard, Blue Hills to Swan Lake and a myriad of localities in between. 

The pastel water color illustrations by Jacqueline East are an inspired reflection of the text. Some of the hearts are clearly evident like the seashells or clouds—perfect for very young observers to find. Others are subtle—a heart created out the paired images of a rock and its reflection in a puddle or the tiny wings of bees—to encourage readers to take their time and truly see all the varied elements on the page. East’s imaginative eye for shapes found in the variety of nature’s offerings will have readers discovering new depths with each reading.

The lilting rhythm and melodic voice of LITTLE HEARTS makes for easy listening and enhances its appeal as a read aloud story for youngsters from 3-6.

I can easily imagine a story time followed by a nature walk where the listeners are encouraged to indulge their curiosity, discover their own “little hearts” and learn to marvel at the amazing natural world that surrounds us.

As an educator, I can envision a simple map that we follow and then mark with our various “discoveries” at the end of our journey.

Highly Recommended for home and school libraries.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Nonfiction Monday


The Gifts of Africa: How a Continent and Its People Changed the World by Jeff Pearce is a wonderful look at the history and cultures of Africa.

Pearce takes readers from the ancient nomadic people who eventually populated the Nile valley and gave rise to Egypt—to the feudal kingdoms that rivaled Europe in the Middle Ages—to the modern era of African countries that are an intricate part of the global political and economic community.

Chapter One, Building Blocks, sets the tone by reminding the audience that as early as 8000 BCE, “Africans were already fishing, farming, and making pottery.” A thoughtful discussion shows how nomadic people eventually created a foundation not only for Egypt, but other kingdoms – Nubian, Assyrian, and others as well.

It’s beyond the scope of this review to examine the wealth of material chapter by chapter, but I’ll note a couple that I found personally compelling.

Chapter Five, Church and State…of Mind was a fascinating study of Ethiopia, its history of Christianity, and its interaction with other faiths.

Chapter Seven, Immortal Queens, was a chapter I couldn’t put down. The European slave trade opens the chapter, but the content places the focus on the resistance offered by African rulers—information that is often missing in the “Africans sold themselves” rationale. The portrait of Njinga, warrior queen of Ndongo, is a vivid depiction of her confrontations with Portugal’s Governor, Joāo Correira de Sousa that threatened to bring down Portugal’s entire colonial system.

This 512-page study is divided into 21 chapters prefaced by an introduction you don’t want to skip. A Comparative Chronology highlights events in Africa alongside Europe, Near East, Asia and the U.S. from 4.4 million years ago through 2021.

The book is completed by Acknowledgements, Notes providing numbered sources referenced chapter by chapter, a 22-page Selected Bibliography, and an Index.

Pearce’s enthusiasm for his topic and the thorough scholarship makes for an engrossing page-turning read. My curiosity drove me along, but I discovered that reading in small increments created wonderful opportunities to thoughtfully consider the material and reflect on the information in depth.

Highly recommended!

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer