Archive for May, 2014

Meet Author Frieda Wishinsky

Posted on May 29th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Frieda Wishinsky AuthorFrieda Wishinsky is the author of over sixty books. She writes picture books, chapter books, novels and non-fiction and is the author of the popular Canadian Flyer Adventures. Her books have been translated into many languages and have been nominated or won many awards internationally. JENNIFER JONES WON’T LEAVE ME ALONE won three English Children’s Choice awards and PLEASE, LOUISE! won the prestigious Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award. EACH ONE SPECIAL was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award (Text) in 1998. Frieda loves speaking to kids and adults about the writing process and the joy of reading.





Author website
Author Facebook page

Ms. Wishinky’s latest book is A HISTORY OF JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING, non-fiction for grades 3 and up. She co-wrote it with Elizabeth MacLeod.
Published by Kids Can Press

A History of Just About Everything by Frieda Wishinsky and Elizabeth MacLeodTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

My latest book, A HISTORY OF JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING was the biggest project I ever worked on and I didn’t even write it alone. Elizabeth MacLeod and I co-wrote the book and luckily we had an excellent editor, Val Wyatt who helped us organize our huge topic. I think our approach is a dynamic way of presenting history. We show how everything is linked and how events from the past ripple forward. We wrote the book in a conversational, easy-to-understand and fast-paced style. Both kids and adults tell us they enjoy the book (and learn a lot along the way).

A History of Just About Everything at Amazon.com

A History of Just About Everything at Amazon.ca

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like?

I love writing in coffee shops. Maybe that’s because I grew up in New York City and like the hum and buzz behind me as I write. I also write at home in my office overlooking tall evergreens but I’m most creative when I’m out. I write by hand with a pencil (hooray for erasers) and then transfer the text to the computer. I revise by hand and then it’s back to the computer. I like to get feedback for my work and ask wise, honest yet supportive readers for their comments. Then I listen to what they say. I may not use everything, or change everything but I listen.Please, Louise! written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Marie Louise Gay

What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

I love hearing, reading and making up stories. Stories keep us connected to each other, help us through tough times and let us know that we’re not alone. I enjoy writing in many genres, although I especially love picture books. It’s an exciting challenge to say so much in so few words. I believe that the best picture books are for readers of any age. (I read picture books all the time)

I also believe that non-fiction should be presented as a story. After all, history is the story of everyone’s past.

I have fun visiting schools, meeting teachers and librarians and my fellow authors. Book people are wonderful!

Have any of your books been published electronically? If so, what was that process like? What sort of feedback have you had from readers?

You're Mean, Lily Jean written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Kady MacDonald DentonA bunch of my books have been published electronically, especially my Orca titles. I find I still sell way more books the old fashioned paper way. Maybe it’s the genre I write in. I don’t know.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

Top of my list would be my dear friend, Phoebe Gilman. I wish she were here to talk to and share work with again. I miss her. She always had insightful yet supportive comments. And I would have loved to meet William Steig. I love that he began writing kids books late in life. His writing and art are funny and so “true”.

Our reviews of some of Ms. Wishinky’s books:
Canadian Flyer Adventure Series
You’re Mean, Lily JeanCanadian Flyer -  Beware Pirates Frieda Wishinsky

Do you do school or library presentations?

I do many school, library and conference presentations all over Canada and beyond. I love sharing writing ideas and books with kids and adults. My background in teaching and educational writing has been invaluable in connecting with kids, teachers and the curriculum. My talks are lively, interactive and curriculum-linked.
I’ve also taught writing workshops and courses for kids and adults and offer one-to-one manuscript evaluations.

Me + cute book = really happy

Posted on May 24th, 2014 by Jody

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this plus that Life's Little Equations by Amy K. RosenthalThis plus That: Life’s Little Equations written by Amy K. Rosenthal and illustrated by Jen Corace
Picture book published by Harper Collins Children’s Books





One of the cutest picture books I’ve read, and now in my favorites pile, is This plus That: Life’s little equations . This adorable book was introduced to me by Adrienne Gear (who knows all the good books) at a workshop. My students (and my children) know that I have a serious love of picture books. I love the way they share morals and lessons in less words than you’d imagine possible. This book not only uses the combination of pictures and words to share a number of sweet life lessons it does so in the form of equations. An example of one is book + chair = cozy. That one is on the back of the book. In the opening of the book, before the story starts, she uses Amy+ Rosenthal= author. It’s just such a cute way to break down a number of things: how things work together to add up or take away from something. How adding things together makes them more. How the four operations are used in a completely different context than we’re used to. How, really, life is full of simple equations that either do or do not work. This is a great classroom read or at home read. It’s a book that offers many teaching opportunities. We created Mother’s Day cards that used equations to add up what made each student’s mom. Some of them were pretty funny. This plus that is an excellent example of how in life, and in books, sometimes, less is more.

This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations at Amazon.com

This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations at Amazon.ca

Read our post about Amy K. Rosenthal’s Exclamation Mark

Storytime Standouts looks at Exclamation Mark by  Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld




Terrific Picture Books About Fathers and Fatherhood

Posted on May 23rd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts Recommends Picture Books About Fathers and Fatherhood



Some of our favorite picture books about fathers and fatherhood together with free printables and a link to our Father’s Day board on Pinterest.











Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and StepfathersDad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers written by Kelly Bennett and illustrated by Paul Meisel
Picture book about fathers published by Candlewick Press



Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers is the story of the two special men in a young girl’s life. Outwardly they are very different. They wear different clothes and they have different hobbies but, there are also similarities between the two men. Both teach the girl to how to cook and both enjoy music.

Pop is bald. Dad is not.
Dad is tall. Pop is not.
Dad wears suits. Pop wears boots.
Pop takes pictures. Dad takes naps.

This breezy, happy look at a family that includes both a ‘Dad’ and a ‘Pop’ celebrates differences and commonalities. A good choice for children aged four years and up.

Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers at Amazon.com

Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers at Amazon.ca

Daddy Hugs 123 is included in Storytime Standouts Terrific Picture Books About Fathers and FatherhoodDaddy Hugs 123 written and illustrated by Karen Katz
Counting book about an infant and her father published by Margaret K. McElderry Books



Bright, cheery illustrations depict a baby girl and her father. As the day unfolds, they share all sorts of affectionate, happy moments.

One “I’m so glad you’re my baby!” hug. Two teeny, tiny finger hugs. Three pat and burp the baby hugs.”

A great choice for infants and toddlers, Daddy Hugs 1 2 3 is all the more special because it shows a dad who takes responsibility for all aspects of his daughter’s care.

Daddy Hugs 123 at Amazon.com

Daddy Hugs 123 at Amazon.ca

Every Friday is included in Storytime Standouts Terrific Picture Books About Fathers and FatherhoodEvery Friday written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
Picture book about a boy’s relationship with his father published by Henry Holt and Company


Such a lovely story – an excellent choice for preschool storytime or a bedtime story. Each Friday, a young boy and his dad leave their city apartment and walk through the bustling streets. They walk past shops and building sites, people rushing to work and people who are already going about their business.

Everyone is rushing, but we’re taking our time. We get friendly waves and we give them right back.”

Eventually they arrive at a familiar diner. They sit together in a booth, enjoy breakfast, chat and watch the world go by. Their happy relationship and joy in being each other’s company is clear and very endearing.

Every Friday at Amazon.com

Every Friday at Amazon.ca

I’d Know You AnywhereI’d Know You Anywhere written by Hazel Hutchins and illustrated by Ruth Ohi
Picture book about a child’s relationship with his father published by Annick Press Ltd



This story is especially suitable for a Dad’s Day at preschool or for celebrating Father’s Day. Young Jeremy attempts to hide amongst the toys in his bedroom. Daddy finds Jeremy and reassures him that he would know him anywhere and in any form. The father-son game continues as Jeremy imagines wonderful hiding places and disguises. He could disguise himself and hide near a creek or in the ocean or up in the sky…

If I became a sheep
upon a mountainside,
one of many thousand sheep,
a woolly, moving tide-
If I became a sheep,
would you know me then?

Daddy reassures his son that no matter where Jeremy might hide, he would find him.

Reminiscent of The Runaway Bunny, I’d Know You Anywhere concludes with Daddy and Jeremy disguising themselves and sneeking up on mom.

Ruth Ohi’s illustrations do a lovely job of depicting the playful relationship between father and son. The story is best suited to very young children, aged two and up.

I’d Know You Anywhere at Amazon.com

I’d Know You Anywhere at Amazon.ca

Little Boy written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Peter H. ReynoldsLittle Boy written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Picture book about a father and his appreciation for his son published by Simon Says Kids


A lovely picture book, Little Boy is a celebration of play and a reminder – especially for adults – that small moments can have great meaning and impact. We watch from morning until night as a young boy plays with his dog, enjoys time in the out-of-doors, has fun with a large cardboard box, helps with cooking, plays with his toys and spends time with his dad.

Little boy, so much depends on a blue mixing bowl,
a ball in the goal,
the tree that fell,
that wet-dog smell, and…
your big cardboard box.

Note,although the adult male in the illustrations is not specifically named, we assume he is the boy’s father.

Little Boy is a great gift book for expectant parents and also dads. Do take time to enjoy Peter H. Reynolds’ illustrations. Each page tells a story and children will enjoy watching for the boy’s toy robot and his yellow cup as they accompany him throughout the day.

Little Boy at Amazon.com

Little Boy at Amazon.ca





My Father Knows the Names of Things written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Stephane JorischMy Father Knows the Names of Things written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
Picture book about a boy’s relationship with his father published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers



A happy celebration of the relationship between a boy and his father. It is clear that the pair enjoys spending time together and they have fun adventures – flying in a small airplane, snorkeling, riding bikes, painting and studying insects. All the while, the boy is learning from his father.

My father knows the names of things,
Each different sort of bell that rings,
And stones,
And knows the names of planets,
Stars,
And even human bones.

Mr. Jorisch’s joyful illustrations capture emotions and the the pair’s close relationship. Will be enjoyed by children aged four years and up.

My Father Knows the Names of Things at Amazon.com

My Father Knows the Names of Things at Amazon.ca

Owl Moon is included in Storytime Standouts Terrific Picture Books About Fathers and Fatherhood
Owl Moon – written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr
Picture book published by Philomel



In 1988 the Caldecott Medal was awarded to Owl Moon. A special 20th anniversary edition is now available and provides an opportunity to discover the picture book’s wonderful, timeless magic.

It is very late at night when a father and his young daughter venture into the cold. They are seeking a glimpse of a great horned owl. The companions walk together silently and eagerly under an Owl Moon.

Beautifully illustrated, this is a remarkable book that will be enjoyed by the entire family. The depiction of the young girl’s excitement will no doubt inspire parents to bend their bedtime rules and enjoy a moonlit, late night walk.

Owl Moon at Amazon.com

Owl Moon at Amazon.ca

Some Dads... written and illustrated by Nick BlandSome Dads… written and illustrated by Nick Bland
Picture book about fathers published by Scholastic



In his cheery tribute to fathers, Nick Bland depicts all sorts of animal parents exuberantly interacting with their offspring. We laugh at an over-protective elephant papa who fills a swimming pool with life rings and a mischievous sheep who can’t resist throwing a water balloon at his child.

Readers, both young and old, will enjoy the playful rhyming and the jubilant illustrations. Some Dads… is an excellent choice for Father’s Day or Dads’ Day at preschool, delivering a fun and affectionate message about diversity and unconditional love.

Some dads like strolling.
And some dads rock ‘n rolling.
And some dads just love the outdoors.

Well suited to children aged two and up.

Some Dads… at Amazon.com

Some Dads… at Amazon.ca

The Very Best Daddy of All written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Leslie WuThe Very Best Daddy of All written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Leslie Wu
Picture book about fathers published by Aladdin Paperbacks, Simon & Schuster



Beautiful pastel illustrations are the highlight of this tribute to animal fathers and their offspring. Children will enjoy looking at a variety of male mammals, amphibians and birds as they feed, groom, house, protect and play with their offspring.

Some tuck you in, safe and warm, when the sun’s about to go.
And my daddy… haven’t you guessed? From all of the daddies, tall or small, mine is the best, the very best, the very best daddy of all.

Great for children aged two years and up.

The Very Best Daddy of All (Classic Board Books) at Amazon.com

The Very Best Daddy of All at Amazon.ca

What Does Daddy Do? written and illustrated by Rachel BrightWhat Does Daddy Do? written and illustrated by Rachel Bright
Picture book about a girl’s questions about her father published by Puffin



An energetic, colorful and imaginative look at what Daisy’s dad does when he is at work and she is at school and playing with her friends.

“My daddy is an explorer!” said Daisy.
“Is he?” said Evie.
“Yes, he is!” said Daisy. “He climbs to highest of high-up places because he has mountains of paperwork to get on top of.”

Best suited to children aged four and up, older children will have fun with the author/illustrator’s treatment of Daisy’s interpretation of Daddy’s job description.

Note, onomatopoeia (Nee Nar, Nee Nar, Nee Nar / Boom Boom) is featured.

What Does Daddy Do? at Amazon.com

What Does Daddy Do? at Amazon.ca






Free printable Father's Day Writing Paper for Kids

Free Father’s Day Printables for Children

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Step 3 – Choose from any of our 250 free downloads, including these free Father’s Day printables.


image of PDF icon  Father's Day Word Search

image of PDF icon  Father's Day Interlined Paper

image of PDF icon  Father's Day Golf Interlined Paper

image of PDF icon  Father's Day #1 Dad Interlined Paper

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Father’s Day for Preschool and Kindergarten on Pinterest.

Meet Author and Storyteller Joan Marie Galat

Posted on May 22nd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts introduces Joan Marie Galat author and storytellerAlthough she started making books at the age of nine, Joan Marie Galat wasn’t published until the age of 12, when she became a paid weekly newspaper columnist. Today she is an award-winning and best selling author.

Joan shares her love of the stars in the Dot to Dot in the Sky series, which combines the science of the night sky with the ancient myths that give constellations and planets their names. Her first title, Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories in the Stars, became a best seller within six weeks of its release.

Joan’s books for children explore astronomy, ancient myths and legends, light pollution, history, and nature. She writes fiction and non-fiction, including two books for Scholastic classified as “info-fiction fantasy story.” A prolific writer for all ages and relentless promoter of reading, Joan loves to use storytelling to connect with audiences. A highlight in her career involved presenting Korean translations of her books at an international book fair in Seoul.

Joan operates MoonDot Media, a communications business offering writing and editing solutions in broadcast, print, and multi-media. She is the contributing editor of a quarterly magazine called The Advocate. Her freelance jobs have encompassed writing radio and video scripts, an Internet cartoon, exhibit text, speechwriting, and much more.


Author Website
Author Facebook page
Author/Storyteller Twitter Account @joanmariegalat

The Discovery of Longitude Joan Marie GalatTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?
My most recently published children’s book is The Discovery of Longitude, illustrated by Wes Lowe.

The story explores human struggle—something anyone can relate to. It offers all the elements of a great story: a challenge, hero, and conflict, followed by justice. Discovering how to measure longitude changed the world, in part because it created time zones. I’m proud to have taken a complicated subject and made it understandable and interesting to young readers.

The Discovery of Longitude is a picture book, intended for ages five and up. However, its story will interest anyone unfamiliar with the dangers of ocean travel before people knew how to determine their east-west location at sea.

The Discovery of Longitude at Amazon.com

The Discovery of Longitude at Amazon.ca

I’m excited to share that I have a number of new titles scheduled for release in 2014 and 2015:
Dark Matters—Nature’s reaction to light pollution (Red Deer Press)
Branching Out: How trees are part of our world (Owlkids)
Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories of the Aurora (Whitecap Books)
Dot to Dot in the Sky, Stories of the Sun (Whitecap Books)
Cloud to Cloud in the Sky, Weather Science and Mythology from Around the World (Whitecap Books)

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

It took several years to get my first book published. When Dot to Dot in the Sky—Stories in the Stars was released, I was enormously pleased. The path to publishing taught me that it’s not enough to have interesting, well-expressed ideas. It’s also necessary to understand how the publishing industry operates.

I applied myself to understanding the needs of publishers and that helped me. Today I teach a workshop to aspiring authors called The Business of Getting Published. I also offer one-on-one consulting (virtual or in-person) to help people realize their writing goals.Dod to Dot Stories in the Stars Joan Marie Galat

My advice to aspiring authors:

1. Read current books in the genre you wish to be published. Analyze why award-winning titles are effective.
2. Remember that writing is about rewriting. Never submit your first draft.
3. Take rejection in stride and persevere. You only need to find one editor who likes your idea.

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

I wanted to be an author since first falling in love with stories as a young child. Because I liked books so much, I wanted to make my own. At age 12, I was lucky to become a weekly newspaper columnist. I thank my father for always taking me to the library and my mother who is a fine proofreader. She surely saved me from having my early errors become public!

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?

Sharing my books with children is an extremely rewarding part of this career. Young children are unfailingly honest, so it means everything when they tell you they like your books. After a recent astronomy presentation at an elementary school, a child came up afterwards to look at my books, and said, “This is the best day ever!”

School and library presentations

Joan Marie Galat offers school and library presentations, writing workshops, and residencies, including virtual presentations via Skype. She’s willing to travel to any location, budget permitting. Please contact her (see above) about funding possibilities.

Dot to Dot in the Sky Literacy
– Author presentations that build reading and writing skills

When it comes to helping students find the joy in reading and writing, the sky’s the limit for astronomy author, Joan Marie Galat. In a lively presentation that blends facts, storytelling, and writing tips, Joan launches reluctant readers into books.

Students of all ages find it hard to resist the lure of astronaut food, exploding stars, and black holes—topics that fascinate kids. Joan also intrigues young writers with ancient myths and her story of becoming a paid columnist at age 12. By the end of the presentation kids will be heading to the library to take out books.

Meet Author Illustrator Patricia Storms

Posted on May 15th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts Profile of Patricia StormsPatricia Storms is an award-winning editorial cartoonist and author/illustrator of children’s books and humour books. Her cartoons have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers including Reader’s Digest, The Town Crier, The National Post, The London Times, The London Evening Standard, The Chronicle of Higher Education and Canadian Notes and Queries. Her newest picture book, Never Let You Go (Scholastic Canada, 2013) has been described as “profound” with “exuberant illustrations”, and has been published in numerous languages. She lives in Toronto, Ontario with her husband and two fat cats in a cozy old house full to the brim with books.




Author website
Author Facebook page
Author/illustrator Twitter Account: @stormsy

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Storytime Standouts looks at Never Let You Go by Patricia StormsMy latest picture book is Never Let You Go, written and illustrated by myself, published by Scholastic Canada. A description of the book:
“ In this warm, funny book, an adorable penguin learns that Mom or Dad “will never let you go.” Safely assured by the steadfast love of a parent, the little penguin can begin to explore its world bit by bit — draw a picture, chase the stars, even throw a tantrum — secure in the knowledge that a doting parent is always waiting in the wings.

Tender but never cloying, Never Let You Go gives a great, warm hug, followed by an encouraging pat as it sets up young readers to take their first big steps on the path to growing up. This story is destined to be a favourite read-aloud for parents and children alike, as the simple but powerful message of enduring love and support is one little readers will take to heart.”

I think everyone should read it! I know young ones enjoy the bright funny pictures (and who can resist a cute purple penguin?); I also know that adults are very drawn to the story because it makes them think of their relationship with their child or grandchild. I’m quite proud of this book because it’s the first time I really ‘opened up my heart’ so to speak, in my professional work. I’m also very please with how the art turned out. I pushed myself to improve my colours, and I tried some new techniques, and I think it worked out quite well!

Read what Storytime Standouts said about Never Let You Go and see a video of Patricia sharing the book.

Never Let You Go at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

I was probably most drawn to Maurice Sendak, but not ‘Where the Wild things Are’. I was totally in love with his Nustshell LibraryChicken Soup with Rice, One was Johnny, Alligators All Around and Pierre. The stories are very well-written and clever. And the art is so rich and warm. As an adult, I’ve discovered the early work of Sendak (titles like A Hole is to Dig, Kenny’s Window, The Moon Jumpers, Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present and Charlotte and the White Horse). I am totally in love with this period of his career. Dare I say it? I think his early work is much more appealing than Where the Wild Things Are.

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?
If I really think about it, it wasn’t that difficult for me initially getting published. I entered this bizarre world at a time when the internet & blogging was new. I was far too scared to show my art to an art director in person (who likes rejection? Nobody). It was much easier to just put one’s art online and get rejected in a less direct way. Fortunately for me, various art directors liked my work, and I was quite busy doing a variety of illustration – magazine gags, greeting cards, editorial cartoons, book cover illustration and yes, children’s book illustration.

Patricia Storms illustrated (humor book) Good Granny Bad GrannyI would suggest to aspiring authors/illustrators to persist, persist, persist. Work hard at figuring out who you are and what you like. Be careful who you listen to regarding your dreams. If you are near people who are mocking your desires, or being very harsh & cruel regarding your work, get away from them. Constructive criticism is worthwhile, but stay away from those who maliciously cut you down.

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?
The Pirate and the Penguin by Patricia StormsI had wanted to write & illustrate books ever since I was a teenager. But I had no clue back then how to make it a profession, and I struggled a great deal with confidence issues. When I was in my early 20s I was fortunate to encounter a very kind cartoonist by the name of Steven Toth who really encouraged me and helped me on my creative path. I’ll be forever grateful to him.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
Well, with my latest book, Never Let You Go, it’s not the response of children that has surprised me – it’s the response of adults. On numerous occasions when I’ve watched various adults read Never Let You Go for the first time, they have started to cry. Last year I put one of my pieces from the book (the page with the Southern Lights, known as Aurora Australis) in an art show, and I actually witnessed someone crying, just from looking at my art! I’ve never had that sort of response from my art before. It’s quite an odd and humbling feeling, I must say.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?
Creating something that comes from inside me, and seeing it become a real live book is a pretty amazing feeling, I must say. It does feel really great to be in alone in a room and drawing. It also feels pretty wonderful to see people young & not-so-young enjoying my books – seeing them laugh, ask questions, cry, and also seeing young kids being inspired to their own art once they encounter my books.

Do you do school or library presentations?
Yes, I do school presentations. I can present grades K-12. For Kindergarten I keep things simple – half hour session showing how to draw animals using basic shapes like circles, squares, triangles. I can also do a slide presentation of my new book, Never Let You Go, and then show the little ones how to draw penguins. Grades 1-5 I do an interactive ‘Create a Character’ gig, getting audience to give me ideas on how to draw eyes, nose, hair, etc for a character. After character is made I create a short story for the group to illustrate, introducing them to concepts like characters, setting & action. Grades 4-8 I do a slide presentation of my work, focusing mainly on creating a book cover for a publisher. Near the end of the presentation I provide the group with ideas for creating their own book cover. For grades 9-12 I present a picture book writing workshop, discussing trends in picture book publishing, and then near the end of the workshop I present some short writing exercise for the class to work on.

Picture Books About Moms and Motherhood

Posted on May 10th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts Looks at Picture Books About Moms and Motherhood

So many ways to explore the special bond between a mother and child. Just like My Mum is playful, Mama, Do You Love Me? is informative, The Best Gifts is supportive, The Runaway Bunny is reassuring and Mom and Me is revealing…













Storytime Standouts looks at Picture Books About Moms including The Best GiftsThe Best Gifts written by Marsha Furchuk Skrypuch and illustrated by Elly MacKay
Picture book about family life including breastfeeding published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside



This circular story begins with a joyous celebration. Family and friends visit a couple and their newborn baby, bringing gifts and celebrating the baby’s arrival. Once the guests leave,

Sara’s mother opened her nightgown and drew her daughter near. Sara was wrapped in love and a light scent of sandalwood as the warmth of her mother’s milk swirled in her mouth and filled her tiny stomach. She fell into a happy sleep.

In the years that follow, there are many celebrations – Sara’s fifth birthday, her graduation and her wedding day. On each occasion, the reader is reminded that the best gifts are (like breastfeeding) those than cannot be bought and that quiet moments with family create very special bonds.

The Best Gifts is appropriate for children aged four years and up. Although it clearly shares a pro-breast feeding message, Ms Mackay’s illustrations also show us fathers who are very involved with child rearing and supportive of breast feeding.

Afternotes include breast feeding resources for families

The Best Gifts at Amazon.com

The Best Gifts at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts features Picture Books About Moms including Just Like My Mum David Melling Just Like My Mum written and illustrated by David Melling
Picture book about a lion cub and his mum published by Hodder Children’s Books



An engaging, fun picture book about the similarities between a lion cub and his mum. Young children will relate to the cub and his experiences from morning until nighttime. Adults will appreciate mum’s occasional impatience and her preference for dry games.

“When I’m bored my mum doesn’t like it. She says, ‘Why don’t you do something?’ But when I do something… she says, ‘Just sit still for five minutes!”

Delightful illustration make this good fun for children aged three and up.

Just Like My Mum at Amazon.com

Just Like My Mum at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts looks at picture books about Moms including Mama, Do You Love Me?Mama, Do You Love Me? written by Barbara M. Joosse and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
Picture book about a mother’s unconditional love published by Chronicle Books



In this best-selling, award winning picture book, a young girl asks ‘Mama, do you love me?’ Her mother promptly replies, ‘yes‘ but the girl is not satisfied. She wants to know ‘how much?’, ‘how long?’ and ‘what if?’ Gorgeous, rich illustrations of Arctic animals and features of Inuit culture contribute to this exceptional story of a mother’s love.

A detailed glossary provides additional background information that will be of interest to older children

ABC Choices for Children
American Bookseller, “Pick of the Lists”
Children’s Book of the Month Club, Main Selection
Golden Kite Award, Society of Writers and Illustrators
Parents, “Best Books of the Year”

Mama, Do You Love Me? at Amazon.com

Mama, Do You Love Me? at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts looks at picture books about Moms including Mom and MeMom and Me by Marla Stewart Konrad
Picture book about moms, part of World Vision Early Readers series published by Tundra Books



The World Vision Early Readers series features minimal text and striking photographs from Romania, Uganda, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Pakistan, Cambodia, Vietnam. Mom and Me depicts young children being cared for by their mothers including mealtimes, bathing, going to school, doing chores and homework and sharing affectionate quiet time.

The simple text is intended for beginning readers but I imagine this used to inspire discussions about diversity and universality in a (preschool or kindergarten) classroom setting.

Mom and Me at Amazon.com

Mom and Me at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts looks at picture books about Moms including The Runaway Bunny written by Margaret Wise BrownThe Runaway Bunny written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd



A classic picture book for very young children, The Runaway Bunny is the story of a little bunny who decides that he wants to run away from home. We don’t know what it is that has upset him but clearly he is seeking reassurance from his parent. His loving and steadfast Mother assures him that no matter where he might run and hide, she will follow and find him.

“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”

If you run after me,” said the little bunny, “I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you.”

Featuring colorful painterly sas well as pen and ink illustrations, this is a story that every young child should know.

The Runaway Bunny at Amazon.com

The Runaway Bunny at Amazon.ca

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Meet Author Margriet Ruurs

Posted on May 8th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Margriet Ruurs Author Profile StorytimeStandouts.com
Margriet Ruurs lives on Salt Spring Island (in British Columbia) and is the author of 30 books for children. With a Master of Education degree from Simon Fraser University, she teaches writing workshops at elementary schools across North America. Recipient of the Presidential Award for Reading & Technology of the International Reading Association, she has conducted writing workshops in Lahore, Pakistan and author visits to International Schools around the world.




Margriet writes a regular column for Canadian Teacher Magazine, as well as freelance articles for Reading Today, the magazine of IRA.

She is a popular speaker at conferences, including many State Reading Conferences, National Service Learning Conference, East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools, IRA National and Regional Conferences, Vancouver International Writers’ Festival and others. She conducts school visits throughout the school year, sharing her love of reading and writing with thousands of students and teachers. “I love to use my imagination,” she says, “but also to research and write nonfiction books.”

Emmas Eggs written by Margriet Ruurs and illustrated by Barbara Spurll Several of her books have won awards, including the Storytellers World Award Honor Title for Emma’s Eggs and short listings for the Mr. Christie Award of Excellence, the Shining Willow and the Chocolate Lily, Blue Spruce, Utah Information Book Award and National Crown Award. My Librarian is a Camel was awarded Teacher’s Choice Award and named IRA’s Notable Book for Global Awareness.My Librarian is a Camel Margriet Ruurs

Many of Margriet’s books reflect her interest in the natural environment: A Mountain Alphabet, When We Go Camping, Wild Babies, Logan’s Lake and In My Backyard. She also likes humour as shown in Virtual Maniac, Silly & Serious Poems for Kids and Ms. Bee’s Magical Bookcase.

Margriet currently runs Between The Covers, a booklovers’ B & B on Salt Spring Island where the rooms are full of books. She also initiated and manages Kidswwwrite Magazine, an online magazine in which she publishes stories and poems written by kids. The ezine is used by young authors all over the world. In June, Margriet will be receiving an Honorary Fellowship of Okanagan University College for her work on this popular website.

Author website
Author Facebook Page
Author Twitter Account: @margrietruurs

Amazing Animals written by Margriet Ruurs and illustrated by W. Allan HancockTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?
Amazing Animals is a fun and interesting picture book for curious kids. It is full of mind blowing facts that made me say ‘wow’! I used all those wow factors to encourage kids to appreciate nature, and to conduct their own research into amazing animals. I love the art work done by Allan Hancock, whose paintings almost look like photos. I’m proud of the research I had to do to find so many interesting tidbits.

Amazing Animals: The Remarkable Things That Creatures Do at Amazon.com

Amazing Animals: The Remarkable Things That Creatures Do at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?
I grew up in The Netherlands and immigrated to Canada as an adult, so I grew up on very different books. Many North American books don’t work in Europe when translated, and visa versa. I find it interesting how different books reflect different cultures. I grew up on the writing of Dutch author Annie M. G. Schmidt. Every child in Holland knew her name and her work. She wrote beautiful novels, but also hilarious picture books and engaging poetry. Her work was performed on radio and TV as musicals, movies, and TV shows. We sang her songs and quoted her stories. What intrigued me, even as a young child, was her power with words. I was enthralled with the fact that she could get us all to recite the same poems or sing the same words. I marveled at her play with language, puns, double meanings and the magic which she wove into her writing. She was so versatile. Roll into one our Canadian Robert Munsch, Pierre Berton and Leonard Cohen and you would get close to her skills. I loved her humor, her wicked way with words and her skills as a storyteller.

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?
I was so lucky in getting my first books published. The very first one was when I still lived in The Netherlands. I was working in a primate center, raising baby chimpanzees. Of course, their photos were adorable and the stories were interesting. I put them together and my very first book was accepted by the very first publisher to whom I showed it. Then I immigrated to Canada and had to learn speaking and writing in English. I lived in the Yukon when my own two children were growing up. I wrote a funny story for them about a purple cat called Fireweed. Again, the first Canadian publisher to whom I showed the story, decided to publish it. I had two books!

After that it got harder and I had my first rejections.

Now I have 30 books and realize that each one has to be able to stand on its own legs. Each one is still a challenge, none a given to be accepted. I am excited about my two upcoming books with Kids Can Press: one about Families Around the World, the next about Schooldays Around the World. Doing a lot of traveling, these global stories are close to my heart.

And I am especially excited about my new book with Pajama Press: A Brush Full of Colour will be the picture book biography of Canadian painter Ted Harrison. When we lived in the Yukon, Ted was a good friend and my children ‘painted’ with him. I am thrilled that I was able to write his interesting story. It promises to be a beautiful book.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
I conduct many author visits to schools around the world. I enjoy sharing my books but also stories on how I get ideas and how kids can be inspired to write their own stories and poems. Often I see that this works as an eye opener for kids. They realize that they can write about simple things and their own experiences. It’s fun to see how they get ideas to create their own stories. I also love talking to parents, who often don’t realize the importance of modeling the joy of reading and reading aloud to children even if those are old enough to read by themselves. I am passionate about the importance f promoting reading and sharing books with children. But having shared my books for many years, with thousands of kids, my biggest thrill is reading books with my own 2 and 4 year old grandsons. They devour books and it was very cool to see them select my stories as some of their favorites! A whole new reason to keep writing!

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from? and what are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?
I love being a storyteller on paper. I like to use my imagination to dream up stories, but I also love researching any topic in which I am interested. To tell you the truth, I think that I am still a kid at heart: curious and always saying ‘what if..’. I love the variety and being able to stay home to write. But I also love the days when I get to travel and talk to children in Ladysmith or Toronto or Shanghai.

At the same time, what I like most about being a writer is also what poses the biggest challenges: being able to afford being a writer because royalties don’t pay the bills. So I do lots of school visits and conference presentations in order to be able to stay home and write at other times. It is hard to be disciplined and to write all the time. I do a lot of rewriting and editing while I travel. And I have to make sure that I spend enough time at working on my writing when I really want to be outside, working in the garden or playing with my grandsons!

Never Let You Go by Patricia Storms Celebrates the Special Bond Between Parent and Child

Posted on May 6th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts looks at Never Let You Go by Patricia StormsNever Let You Go written and illustrated by Patricia Storms
Picture book celebrating love between an adult and a child published by Scholastic Canada





I’ll be honest, I completely underestimated Never Let You Go when I first viewed the cover art. I assumed (wrongly) that it would be a treacly story about a mother’s love for her child. When I took time to carefully read the story and appreciate the playful illustrations, I discovered that this is indeed a special picture book that will be treasured by children and their adult caregivers.

Readers may assume that Never Let You Go is about a mother’s love for her child but one could argue that it could also be interpreted as a portrayal of a father’s love or a grandparent’s love. The beauty of the author’s words is that the affection shared by the adult penguin and the young penguin makes no reference to gender or relationship. The story will ‘work’ for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. It will work for single parent families or families where the primary caregiver is not a parent.

Spread from Never Let You Go by Patricia Storms

Initially the adult penguin reassures the youngster, I will care for you, and treasure you always. And I will never let you go. But soon we discover, there will be times when the adult will give the child space to safely explore the world and gain independence. The adult won’t be there when nature calls or if the child is quietly working on a project. With humor, we discover that the adult prefers to grant space when the child has a tantrum and that the adult will visit with other adults while the boisterous young friends play together nearby.

Recommended for children aged three years and up, bright, bold illustrations and breezy, affirming text make this a great read aloud for small groups.

Never Let You Go at Amazon.ca

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