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.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer