Archive for June, 2014

Wonderful Canadian Picture Books

Posted on June 28th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books

I couldn’t possibly create a list of Top Ten Canadian Picture Books or Even Favorite Canadian Picture Books – there are far too many wonderful Canadian picture books to consider.

For this list, I selected great Canadian picture books for a read aloud setting – perhaps circle time in a classroom or storytime in a library. All of the authors are Canadian. In a couple of instances the illustrators are not.

Many of these authors and illustrators have created several wonderful books for children. We invite you to use this list as an introduction to wonderful Canadian Picture Books





Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Bearcub and MamaBearcub and Mama written by Sharon Jennings and illustrated by Mélanie Watt
Canadian Picture Book about the relationship between mother and child published by Kids Can Press

Rich, warm, luminous illustrations enhance the story of a young cub and his mama. As the cub grows, he gains independence and gets separated from his loving, supportive and encouraging mother. Thankfully, he remembers the lessons she taught him and returns, through a snowstorm, to their cave. When he awakens in the morning, she is right there beside him. A lovely and reassuring story, best suited for preschool children.

Bearcub and Mama at Amazon.com

Bearcub and Mama at Amazon.ca

Also by Mélanie Watt – Scaredy Squirrel and Chester’s Masterpiece. Also by Sharon Jennings – No Monsters Here

Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including The Blue Hippopotamus
The Blue Hippopotamus – written by Phoebe Gilman and illustrated by Joanne Fitgerald
Canadian picture book published by Scholastic Canada

A finalist for the 2007 Governor General’s Literary Awards, The Blue Hippopotamus is the story of a little hippo who falls in love with the Pharoah’s daughter. When he comes to the sad realization that the young girl will not love a hippo, he seeks the help of a magician and is changed into a clay toy. His love for the girl endures for many years and, when he observes her loneliness as a young woman, he unselfishly wishes for her happiness. His generosity is magically rewarded and he is once again transformed.

Blue Hippopotamus at Amazon.com

Blue Hippopotamus at Amazon.ca

Also by Phoebe Gilman – Jillian Jiggs and Something From Nothing. Also by Joanne Fitzgerald – Yum! Yum!!: Delicious Nursery Rhymes

Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Ella  May and the Wishing StoneElla May and the Wishing Stone written by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Geneviève Côté
Canadian picture book about friendship, problem solving published by Tundra Books

While on a trip to the beach, Ella May is fortunate to find an extra special stone – a stone that has a white line all around it. Certain that her extra special stone has the power to grant wishes, Ella May decides that her first wish should be to show the stone to all of her friends. Before long, Ella May’s friends have gathered ’round her, hoping to touch the magical stone. When Ella May refuses to let them hold it, they decide to find their own special stones. Although the children find all sorts of interesting stones, none is equal to Ella May’s.

  • “You’re not nice,” Manuel said. He put his stone in his pocket and tromped down the sidewalk to his own house.
  • Ella May watched him go, “Hey,” she said, “I wanted Manuel to go home and he did. Thank you again, wishing stone.”
  • Unable to find their own wishing stones, Ella’s friends come up with a creative but short-lived solution to the problem. Unfortunately, nothing resolves the conflict amongst the children; Ella May wants to be the only person with a wishing stone and she wants to keep her friends. The other children are resentful of the stone and of Ella May.

    When Ella May finally realizes that having a wishing stone is not nearly as special as having friends, the stage is set for a happy and imaginative solution that reunites the group.

    A great choice for children aged four and up, Ella May and the Wishing Stone is a (32 page) story that invites readers to think about what it means to be a friend, how best to share treasured items and imaginative ways to solve problems.

    Note – illustrations and children’s names depict a racially diverse group of friends.

    Ella May and the Wishing Stone at Amazon.com

    Ella May and the Wishing Stone at Amazon.ca

    Also by Cary Fagan – Book of Big Brothers and My New Shirt. Also by Geneviève Côté – What Elephant?

    Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including The Hockey TreeThe Hockey Tree written by David Ward and illustrated by Brian Deines
    Canadian picture book published by Scholastic Canada

    This is a favourite wintertime picture book that beautifully captures a Canadian winter day. Set in Saskatchewan, Owen and Holly are excited because Humboldt Lake has finally frozen over and it is a perfect morning for a spirited game of pond hockey. The two children are excited to drive to the lake with their dad and before long their skates are laced and the three are laughing and playing together. Unfortunately, just as the family starts to talk about taking a break and enjoying a mug of steaming hot chocolate, Holly smacks at the puck and it flies across the frozen lake and into an ice fishing hole.

    The children are terribly disappointed that they’ve lost their puck and assume that the game will have to end. Dad is not quite so willing to concede. He helps Owen and Holly to find a fallen poplar tree near the lake. Once a suitable tree is found, dad saws a piece from the trunk to create a wooden puck and the hockey game resumes.

    Brian Deines’ luminous illustrations include icy cold winter scenes that are made warm by his depiction of the joy of playing a favourite sport with friends and family.

    A lovely book to share with young children, this is one of my favourite wintertime picture books.

    The Hockey Tree at Amazon.com

    The Hockey Tree at Amazon.ca

    Also by David Ward – One Hockey Night. Also by Brian Deines – Camping and Bear on the Train

    Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including I Want My Hat BackI Want My Hat Back written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
    Canadian Picture Book published by Candlewick Press

    Poor Bear, he has lost his pointy, red hat. He searches the forest, politely asking, “Have you seen my hat?” He meets Fox, Frog, Rabbit, Turtle, and Snake. None has seen his hat. Bear is bereft and despondent. He frets that his hat is gone forever.

    When Deer finally asks, “What does your hat look like?” Bear remembers something important.

    Picture book, I Want My Hat Back is a breath of fresh air with a hint of mystery and a touch of revenge.

    Best suited to older readers, adults and children (aged five and up) will thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to “read between the lines” and enjoy Klassen’s gallows humor.

    Would I read it to a group of three year olds? “Maybe not.” Would I read it to a group of jaded six year olds who think they know all there is to know about picture books? “You betcha!”

    Storytime kit from Candlewick Press – includes I Want My Hat Back activities.

    I Want My Hat Back at Amazon.com

    I Want My Hat Back at Amazon.ca

    Also by Jon Klassen – This is Not My Hat and Cat’s Night Out

    Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including The Imaginary GardenThe Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher
    Canadian Picture Book published by Kids Can Press

    Theo is blessed to have a very special relationship with her grandfather, Poppa. When Poppa moves into an apartment, they decide to create an imaginary garden on his balcony. The first Saturday of spring is marked by the arrival of a giant, blank canvas. Before long, Poppa and Theo have created a long stone wall and beautiful blue sky. Soon they have added beautiful spring flowers to their masterpiece. When Poppa leaves for a holiday, Theo worries about tending their special garden by herself. With gentleness and love, Poppa assures her that she will know what will nurture their imaginary garden. This lovely picture book would be a great gift for a special Grandpa.

    The Imaginary Garden at Amazon.com

    The Imaginary Garden at Amazon.ca

    Also by Andrew Larsen – In the Tree House

    Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including The Paper Bag Princess The Paperbag Princess written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko
    Canadian picture book published by Annick Press

    Princess Elizabeth is betrothed to Prince Ronald when a large dragon destroys her kingdom, including all of her clothing. Wearing nothing but a paper bag, the very resourceful Princess Elizabeth sets out to rescue her fiancé. When Elizabeth finds the dragon’s cave, she challenges the dragon to prove that he can burn up five forests with just one firey breath. The flattered dragon not only burns up forests, he also flies around the world until exhausted.

    Once the dragon is well and truly asleep, Elizabeth finds Prince Ronald who is not nearly as grateful as he ought to be. He is unimpressed with her hair and unimpressed with her clothing and he’d rather she looked like a princess.

    A delightful story that depicts the princess as rescuer and the prince as a shallow ingrate, The Paperbag Princess is a great resource for exploring stereotypes.

    The Paper Bag Princess at Amazon.com

    The Paper Bag Princess at Amazon.ca

    Also by Robert Munsch – Love You Forever, We Share Everything and many other books. Also by Michael Matchenko – Mortimer and I Have to Go!

    Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Picture a TreePicture a Tree – written and illustrated by Barbara Reid
    Canadian picture book published by North Winds Press, an imprint of Scholastic Canada

    Marvelous Plasticine illustrations may initially distract young readers from the thought-provoking text in Picture a Tree. Using a combination of Plasticine and paint, Ms. Reid has created beautiful, richly detailed images of trees and the variety of people living, working and playing near them.

    Readers are encouraged to notice how trees, whether enormous or freshly planted, change through the year, how various creatures dwell in trees and how the life cycle of a tree can be viewed metaphorically. A variety of perspectives are also shown as Ms. Reid illustrates shadows of trees, more than one reflection and the view from above a forest of trees.

    You may see a drawing on the sky. A game of dress-up. The first drops of colour then all the art supplies at once.

    Simply beautiful, Picture a Tree is sure to inspire young artists and encourage environmental awareness. It is suitable for children aged four and up.

    Picture a Tree at Amazon.com

    Picture a Tree at Amazon.ca

    Also by Barbara Reid – The Subway Mouse, The Night Before Christmas, Perfect Snow, Sing a Song of Mother Goose

    Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Pink by Nan Gregory and Luc MelandsonPink – written by Nan Gregory and illustrated by Luc Melanson
    Canadian Picture book published by Groundwood Books

    We’ve all seen them, “The Pinks,” Vivi calls them, but not out loud. Every day at school they parade their glory – from hair bows to tippy toes, every shade of perfect pink.”

    Poor Vivi would love to be just like “The Pinks.” Her rather ordinary world is not at all pink. She lives, with her blue collar parents and her baby brother, in a brown working class world that leaves her yearning. Her parents are not unaware of her desire to be a “Pink,” they have had their share of disappointments but they have found ways to accept and live within their means.

    One day, when Vivi is running an errand for her mom, she discovers the ultimate pink treasure. She sees a beautiful doll, dressed in a cascading pink bridal gown. It is displayed prominently in the window of an exclusive neighbourhood shop. Vivi feels she must have it so she does chores and small jobs all winter to earn money. She saves and saves in order to buy the beautiful doll. She is certain that having the spectacular doll will enable her to live like the wealthy “Pink” girls she sees at school.

    Pink is a marvelous story that is both poignant and thoughtful. Vivi wants so much to be a “Pink” and her young heart is filled to bursting with desire for the doll. When Vivi witnesses one of the “Pinks” leaving the store with “her” doll, she is heartbroken but ultimately enriched by the experience.

    It would have been so easy to create a magical happy ending and have Vivi’s world become a pink one. Thankfully, Ms. Gregory understands that life is not always fair and that if we take time to look, beauty (and especially pink) is all around us. When sharing this thoughtful story with a child, be sure to take note of Mr. Melanson’s illustrations and especially his masterful depictions of Vivi’s emotions.

    Very highly recommended, for children four and up.

    Pink at Amazon.com

    Pink at Amazon.ca

    Also by Nan Gregory – How Smudge Came Also by Luc Melanson – Book of Big Brothers

    Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including The Pirates of Captain McKeeThe Pirates of Captain McKee! written by Julie Lawson and illustrated by Werner Zimmermann
    Canadian Picture Book published by Scholastic Canada

    Originally published as Whatever You Do, Don’t Go Near that Canoe, The Pirates of Captain McKee is a rollicking adventure story that will have broad appeal to young children, especially those who love pirates.

    A nominee for The 1996 Canada Council for the Arts Governor General’s Literacy Award for illustration, The Pirates of Captain McKee tells the story of two children, a brother and sister, who are warned not to go near a canoe. The warning, given by Captain Kelsey McKee, is accompanied by a wink so the children are undeterred. They don lifejackets and climb into the canoe. Before long they find themselves well away from the dock.

    Through fast-running currents, through slow-rolling tides,
    Far into the fading light,
    Through sun flecks and sunset, through dusk’s purple haze,
    The canoe sped into the night.

    Although returning to the safety of home seems a great idea, the children are not in control. The magical canoe is deciding their course. Just before dawn, the canoe and the children approach a pirate ship at anchor and many, many intimidating pirates onshore. The pirates recognize the canoe and decide to teach the children a lesson. Frightened about their predicament, the children fear the worst until they notice a “marvellous smell… There’s marshmallows roasting round here!”

    Gorgeous illustrations and delightful rhyming text make this a wonderful read aloud for children aged four and up.

    The Pirates of Captain McKee at Amazon.com

    The Pirates of Captain McKee at Amazon.ca

    Also by Julie Lawson – The Klondike Cat, Emma and the Silk Train Also by Werner Zimmerman – Pippin the Christmas Pig and Snow Day

    Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Stella Fairy of the ForestStella, Fairy of the Forest – written & illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
    Canadian Picture book published by Groundwood Books

    Marie-Louise Gay’s picture books about Sam and Stella are marvelous. This, their third adventure, begins when Sam asks Stella about fairies. Stella knows just where to find some. She leads Sam on a pleasant walk through gorgeous meadows, across a sparkling stream and into a magical forest.

    This Stella and Sam story is truly lovely especially in its treatment of the siblings’ relationship. Sam, who is nervous, clearly looks up to his confident older sister and Stella is more than happy to share her knowledge of the outdoors and all things magical with her younger brother.

    Ms. Gay’s distinctive illustrations have a luminous quality, particularly her depictions of the delightful red-head heroine, Stella. Don’t miss it!

    32 pages and suitable for children aged three and up. Stella, Fairy of the Forest is well- suited to circle time and could be used as part of a preschool or kindergarten Family or Forest theme.

    Marie Louise Gay’s website includes printable stickers, colouring sheets, posters and bookmarks

    Stella, Fairy of the Forest at Amazon.com

    Stella, Fairy of the Forest at Amazon.ca

    Also by Marie-Louise Gay – On My Island and Caramba

    Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including A Sack Full of FeathersA Sack Full of Feathers
    Written by Debby Waldman and illustrated by Cindy Revell
    Canadian Picture Book published by Orca Book Publishers

    Young Yankel is a storyteller. He overhears bits of news at his father’s store and excitedly shares the gossip throughout the village.

    One day a wise rabbi gives Yankel a job; he is to put one feather on each doorstep in the village. Puzzled, Yankel willingly distributes the feathers even as gusts of wind send some flying.

    When the rabbi subsequently asks Yankel to collect all the feathers and return them to the sack, Yankel comes to understand the danger of gossip.

    A delightful folktale is retold in A Sack Full of Feathers with engaging illustrations and warmth.

    A Sack Full of Feathers at Amazon.com

    Sack Full of Feathers at Amazon.ca

    Also by Debby Waldman and Cindy Revell – Clever Rachel

    Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Timmerman was HereTimmerman Was Here written by Colleen Sydor and illustrated by Nicolas Debon
    Canadian Picture Book published by Tundra Books

    Timmerman Was Here is written from the perspective of a young girl. We share her nervousness as a stranger arrives at her home. The stranger moves into a bedroom, recently vacated by the girl’s grandfather who has gone to live in a residence for seniors. The young girl is not happy about the stranger’s arrival but as she watches and interacts with him, she discovers a gentle heart. When the stranger is discovered walking the neighbourhood at night (with a spade and a burlap sack), gossip abounds. The neighbours speculate that he could be a bank robber or responsible for the death of a cat.

    Timmerman Was Here is a lovely, thought-provoking picture book that encourages the reader to rethink assumptions and stereotypes. Highly recommended.

    Suggested for children 4 – 8

    Timmerman Was Here at Amazon.com

    Timmerman Was Here at Amazon.ca

    Also by Nicolas Debon A Brave Soldier and Thing-Thing

    Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including Under a Prairie SkyUnder a Prairie Sky written by Anne Laurel Carter and illustrated by Alan and Lea Daniel
    Canadian picture book published by Orca Book Publishers

    Under a Prairie Sky features detailed, striking watercolour illustrations and the equally dramatic text. A terrific Canadian picture book read aloud for four and five year olds, Under a Prairie Sky is the story of a farm boy who aspires to be a RCMP Officer when he grows up. While harvesting wheat with his father, he is sent to find his younger brother before a storm arrives at the farm. Knowing that this is a job that will demand the detective skills of a Mounted Police Officer, he quickly changes his clothes, dons a Stetson and mounts his trusty black horse. He follows young Will’s trail through the fields and into the wild, taking in flora and fauna native to the Canadian prairies.

    Under a Prairie Sky at Amazon.com

    Under a Prairie Sky at Amazon.ca

    Also from Anne Laurel Carter – The F Team and Tall in the Saddle Also from Alan and Lea Daniel – The Best Figure Skater in the Whold Wide World

    Storytime Standouts Looks at Wonderful Canadian Picture Books including You're Mean Lily JeanYou’re Mean, Lily Jean written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
    Canadian Picture Book published by North Winds Press, an imprint of Scholastic Canada

    You’re Mean, Lily Jean tells the story of a new girl who moves into the neighbourhood. Lily Jean is the same age as Sandy and is domineering and a braggart. She joins Sandy and her younger sister Carly for a couple of playdates. Lily Jean does not want Carly to be a part of their imaginary games and each time the three girls play together, Lily Jean dictates what they will play and how they will play. She gives the younger sister, Carly, the less desirable “parts” in their imaginary world. Lily Jean and Sandy are the king and queen, Carly is told to be the dog. Lily and Sandy are cowgirls, Carly is told to be the cow. “She did not want to moo or eat grass, but Lily Jean said she had to if she wanted to play. So she did.”

    Lily Jean’s smug appearance and Carly’s bitter disappointment are depicted beautifully by Ms. Denton. Readers will cheer for Carly when Sandy decides she would prefer to play with her younger sister than with an overbearing bully.

    You’re Mean Lily Jean is best suited to children four and up. It offers many opportunities for children to consider each girl’s perspective and ways to resolve difficult social situations.

    You’re Mean, Lily Jean at Amazon.com

    You’re Mean, Lily Jean at Amazon.ca

    Also from Frieda Wishinsky – Oonga Boonga, Give Maggie a Chance and Please, Louise!

    Meet Author Crystal Vaagen

    Posted on June 26th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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    Storytime Standouts' Interview with Author Crystal VaagenCrystal Vaagen is an educator and author of the children’s book, Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero. In her free time, she likes to read French poetry, go on nature hikes, and bake cookies. Her latest project includes writing the second book in the Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero series which will be published this year.





    Twitter account: @robbiezero
    Facebook page:
    Website URL

    Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?
    Robbie Zero Supergirl Hero written by Crystal VaagenMy latest published book is Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero. It’s an anti-bullying book and the first published book in the “Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero” series. The book is about a girl, Robbie Zero, who gets constantly picked on by a classmate named Tommy, but when Tommy needs help, it is Robbie Zero who ends up saving the day. It’s a book about turning situations that are negative into something positive and about empowerment. It also delves into the psychology of why some people are bullies. Children of all ages should read it and as well as their parents. It is important to start a conversation about issues that children face at school. What I am most proud of is when my book is read to children in classrooms and they can relate with the characters. I’m also pleased when I hear people tell me how much it meant to read it to their families and how it started a discussion that might not have otherwise taken place.

    Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero at Amazon.com

    Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero at Amazon.ca

    Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favorite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?
    I have a few authors/illustrators that resonated with me. Peggy Parish (author of Amelia Bedelia) was a favorite in my youth. I always thought her stories were funny because of the constant play on words (i.e. draw the draperies where the phrase was taken literally by Amelia). Looking back, her books were very well-written. Misunderstandings are a part of everyday life and her books allow her readers to get involved, something I try to create with “Robbie Zero” books. One illustrator/writer who I have always admired is Charles Schulz. I’d have to say he’s my all-time favorite. I connected with his work because the themes were adult like, characters didn’t have to talk to make a statement, and there were no adults ever shown, to my knowledge, in any of his comic strips.

    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 first time I ever wrote anything was in 2nd grade. I had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Fields, who allowed us to create. She basically told us that we could put on plays for the class when our work was finished. Inspired, I went home and wrote a small play, grabbed a few classmates to help with the characters, and we put on a fabulous play. I thanked her recently for allowing us to use our imagination, when I happened to met her some 30+ years later.

    I wrote my first book when I was nine years old, which I thought was fun. It’s still sitting in a box somewhere. It was about the Lewis and Clark expedition because I was fascinated by how two people could change the face of the nation. It was a small book. In my high school years, I wrote for the school newspaper. After I graduated high school, I ran into my journalism teacher and told her how imperative it is in the real world to know how to write and communicate effectively. She asked me to come back and speak to her class. I never did for some reason. I wish I would have. I kept my writing on the backburner, writing mostly poetry, but decided that there needs to more morally themed children’s books available.

    Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
    I have donated Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero to a few schools, especially when I find out that they have limited access and cannot afford them. There was one school in Mobile, AL that received my book. A 5th grade teacher read it to her class and said that some students in her class “wanted to cry because they felt bad” for one of the characters. I didn’t know how to react. The topic of bullying is touchy, but it needs to be discussed. I felt like the story reached her kids, but felt bad that they wanted to cry. It IS a feel good book, after all.

    What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?
    I like to share my experiences to help others. When you go through things in life, sometimes you wonder, “Why me? Why is this happening?” But when you look back, you realize that it was a lesson learned. This is what I hope to bring to my books, not to necessarily prevent someone from experiencing the issue, but to help them overcome the issue.

    Have any of your books been published electronically? If so, what was that process like? What sort of feedback have you had from readers?
    Yes, Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero has been published electronically. The process was easy. Before even writing the book, I watched a video on how to publish it via Amazon, and basically taught myself everything else on other publishing pages. When you have the curiosity to learn, you can do almost anything. The feedback I have received from readers and fans is great. Most people find it easy to download a book on their ipad, iphone or pc. I have been asked by a few people to print my books because there are those who like to actually hold a book. It is something I am still considering, but the demand is not as high as it is for books published digitally, it seems. We’ll see.

    If You Give a Mouse a Cookie – Classic Picture Book Fun

    Posted on June 24th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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    If You Give a Mouse a Cookie Classic Picture Book Fun from Storytime StandoutsIf You Give a Mouse a Cookie written by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond
    Classic Picture Book published by Harper Collins Publishers





    When I explained to my family that I am writing a series of posts about classic picture books, my youngest son told me that I must include If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and my husband immediately added that he always enjoyed reading it aloud.

    If you sit down outside your house to enjoy a chocolate chip cookie and if a mouse in blue coveralls should appear you will, of course, be tempted to share the treats. It won’t be long ’til you are headed into the house to satisfy your guest’s need for a glass of milk. It is almost impossible for a mouse to drink from a tall glass so he’ll ask for a straw and then a napkin (to eliminate a milk mustache).Storytime Standouts features Classic Picture Book,  If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

    Delightful illustrations enhance this wonderful, circular story and add extra “inside jokes” that children will enjoy. Who could imagine that when the mouse decides to trim his hair he will find so much to cut and scatter around the otherwise neat and tidy bathroom? The young boy whose generosity led to an ongoing “make work project” is kept running as his small companion’s demands continue.

    Great fun for children aged four years and up.

    Mouse Cookie Books website

    If You Give a Mouse a Cookie at Amazon.com

    If You Give A Mouse A Cookie at Amazon.ca


    Follow Storytime Standouts’s board If You Give a Mouse a Cookie on Pinterest.

    Meet Author Illustrator Alisha M. Risen-Kent

    Posted on June 20th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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    Author Illustrator Alisha M Risen-KentAlisha M. Risen-Kent is working toward her BA of Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. She lives at home with her four children and cat in Texas where she loves working in her garden. Her passions are reading, writing, drawing, and photography and she often creates the artwork for her books.





    She is an avid player of Dungeons & Dragons© and she comes up with most of her story ideas from the campaigns she plays in. She also loves Renaissance festivals where she can dress up as the characters she creates. She’s an advocate for conservation efforts, volunteering where she can to help rehabilitate injured animals and she donates to good causes. She is also strong in her faith and she believes that God has a plan for everything.

    Author Twitter Account @Skydancer792007
    Facebook page
    Website

    Timber's Gambit by Alisha M. Risen-KentTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?
    My latest book is about a grey wolf named Timber who decides to leave his pack and find one of his own. On his journey his meets friends, and foes, including an annoying coyote who becomes a priceless friend, an old badger that keeps him from starving, and a she-wolf who completes his pack. During his journey he faces many challenges, including human hunters. After being shot, he is rescued by wolf conservationist who eventually returns him home. While this book, as well as the rest in the Nature’s Guardians series is targeted at children 8-12, readers of all ages can enjoy this coming of age story. Each book contains a section on conservation that talks about where I gathered my information, the current plight of endangered species, such as the American grey wolf, and how readers can help. I have several things I am proud of: One, the illustrations; Two, how I was able to capture the true essence of the wolf while allowing children to “be” the wolf; and Three, the connections I made while doing my research, such as the Wolf Conservation Center.

    Timber’s Gambit: A Nature’s Guardian Novel: Book Two at Amazon.com

    Timber’s Gambit: A Nature’s Guardian Novel: Book Two at Amazon.ca

    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 knew I wanted to be a writer from the moment I could read. Despite the odds, and my family and friends discouraging me, I persevered. I wanted to tell stories and did so whether they had publishing potential or not. In fact, most of my short stories can be found for free on websites like FictionPress.com and DevianArt. Many people have inspired me along the way, to include friends (mostly D&D partners or fellow writers from DeviantArt) and published writers, like Margaret Weis and Stephenie Meyer.

    Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
    Children are the most interesting people on the planet. They are like sponges that soak up everything around them. When I read to children, I accompany the story with a collectible plush, a wolf in Timber’s case. Children’s eyes light up when they see that animal and are able to associate it with the story. I remember at my first book signing, I had a two year old sitting in the audience. At the time, I was reading my first book, Haji’s Fight for Freedom, and I had a plush falcon that made noise when you squeezed it. That little boy took the falcon and squeezed it the entire time. In the end, I let him keep it.Haji's Flight for Freedom by Alisha M. Risen-Kent

    How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?
    I stay connected with my readers in several ways. One: most of them are local. Two: A have a website a website and social media site. I’m also very active on DeviantArt and FictionPress. Three: I make donations for every child who buys a collection set and, since I keep their information, I am able to inform them when new books are available. I also have book signings and readings at schools and libraries.

    What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?
    My biggest enjoyment of being a writer/illustrator is the joy I bring to readers of all ages. That’s why I submit most of my writing on free sites. In my Nature’s Guardians series, it is my goal to do what I can to help conservationist protect our wildlife. My greatest pleasure is being able to make those donations.

    What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?
    My biggest challenge is finding a publisher or agent. Because of the importance of my topic, I didn’t want to wait to find someone willing to publish my book. However, I am still on the lookout while bringing my books to the most readers I can.

    We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a Classic Picture Book

    Posted on June 17th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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    Storytime Standouts Presents We're Going on a Bear Hunt a Classic Picture BookWe’re Going on a Bear Hunt written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
    Classic Picture Book published by Walker Books





    Dad and four children head out for adventure in this classic picture book for preschool-age children. Based on a traditional campers’ chant, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt is simply wonderful. Ms. Oxenbury’s illustrations alternate between black and white drawings and gorgeous watercolor paintings. The effect is spectacular, highlighting the repetitive text and onomatopoeia.

    Tension builds as the young explorers encounter a grassy field, a river, mud, a forest and snow before they arrive at a cave.We’re Going on a Bear Hunt spread

    “Uh-oh! A cave!
    A narrow gloomy cave.
    We can’t go over it.
    We can’t go under it.
    Oh no!
    We’ve got to go through it!”

    Winner of the 1989 Smarties Book Prize, this is a classic picture book that will be enjoyed by children aged three years and up. It is available in many formats including Board Book, Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, Big Book and Jigsaw Book.

    We’re Going on a Bear Hunt at Amazon.com

    We’re Going on a Bear Hunt at Amazon.ca

    Free Printable traditional campers’ chant

    image of PDF icon  We're Going on a Bear Hunt

    Predictable text, rhyming and opportunities for dramatic play make this chant a favorite with children.

    Lesson Plans

    Lesson Plan from Scholastic

    Lesson Plan from Teaching Ideas

    Lesson plan from Walker Books


    Follow Storytime Standouts’s board We’re Going on a Bear Hunt on Pinterest.

    Meet Author and Painter Claudine Gueh Yanting

    Posted on June 12th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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    Claudine Gueh YantingClaudine Gueh writes about children stumbling into the circus at night, rowing out into thrashing streams, and transforming into sea monsters, none of which has physically happened to her. She appreciates characters and stories with layers, written lyrically with a down-to-earth tone. Her favorite children’s literature authors include Karen Hesse and Sharon Creech.

    Claudine’s works have been called “gloriously bittersweet,” “brilliantly creative,” and which show “the power of a child’s heart.” They have received 5-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, and Little Orchid’s Sea Monster Trouble has also been nominated for the Global Ebook Award.

    Besides writing and painting, Claudine tutors Korean and Singaporean kids, and blogs about children’s books over at her small, warm house ~ CarryUsOff Books.





    Twitter account – @CarryUsOffBooks
    Facebook page
    Author Website

    Little Orchid's Sea Monster Trouble by Claudine Gueh YantingTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

    Little Orchid’s Sea Monster Trouble is a middle-grade story about a girl trying to prove to her Ma that she hasn’t been spouting nonsense – that the Giant Cuttlefish really exists. Yet when she finally meets the giant face-to-face, Little Orchid isn’t brave enough to save it from being killed for dinner. That night, she finds boils all over her body, and her fingers stretched into creature-like arms. With an unexpected storm approaching, and without a proper goodbye to her family, Little Orchid must now leave home and start a new life as the Giant Cuttlefish …

    I think mothers should read this. I think daughters should also read it. I hope all children who secretly think they aren’t brave enough, and those who secretly wish they are, will read this, and discover surprising things about themselves.

    I’m very proud of how the story has turned out, how Little Orchid’s voice has remained authentic. And I’m proud to include the three paintings (and the cover) I’ve done for this ebook.

    Little Orchid’s Sea Monster Trouble at Amazon.com

    Little Orchid’s Sea Monster Trouble 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?

    My sisters and I always had an Enid Blyton book around. It was that sense of imagination and the permission to go on grand adventures and meeting kind or nasty creatures that kept us hooked. We would talk about the stories and play-pretend ~ from fantasy stories to her boarding school series. Enid Blyton played a great part in our childhood!

    How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

    I have a website and a blog featuring picture books, middle-grade fiction and picture-quote inspirations, so those two are my main connections with readers. Social media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook have also been relatively effective for staying in touch with followers and welcoming potential readers. I recently wrapped up a children’s book giveaway hop and that was refreshing. As for book tours and classroom visits, I haven’t tried them.My Clearest Me by Claudine Gueh Yanting

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

    The joy ~ I get to do something I truly love, and this lifetime hasn’t been wasted. The biggest joy is in telling the stories as honestly as I can and hearing how they have stirred something in readers. My greatest pleasure has, for long, been from stories (books, films and recollections from family).

    If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

    Besides being a writer, I am a private tutor in Singapore. I teach English to local and Korean kids. If I weren’t any of those, I’d like to be a detective seeking justice for children. (Yea, I’m a bit of a crime show-fan.)

    Does music play a part in your writing/illustrating? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

    Oh yes, I love having a bit of music around when I write or paint. It’s either contemporary piano pieces or acoustic folk music.

    Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? A Classic, Must-Read Picture Book

    Posted on June 10th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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    Our goal with this new ‘Tuesday’ series is to introduce wonderful, classic picture books that are readily available in community libraries, in classrooms and in school libraries. We hope this on-going series will help families to discover outstanding stories and illustrations that have stood the test of time. We also hope that, through this series, young children and their caregivers will discover the joys of the read aloud experience.

    Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? A Classic Must-Read Picture BookBrown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? written by Bill Martin Jr and illustrated by Eric Carle
    Classic, Must-Read Picture Book published by Henry Holt and Company





    Gorgeous, bold tissue paper collage illustrations and simple rhyming text will have broad appeal for infants, toddlers and preschool-age children. It will not be long before youngsters will know the text from beginning to (satisfying) end. For some children, this will be the first book they ‘read.’

    Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a picture book that provides opportunities for young children to learn about colors and animal names while gaining phonemic awareness. The repetitive and predictable text includes some alliteration.

    Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? was named one of School Library Journal’s Top 100 Picture Books.

    Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? at Amazon.com

    Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? at Amazon.ca

    Some related picture books that young readers will enjoy

    Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? – read by (author) Bill Martin Jr.

    Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? – with musical accompaniament

    – lyrics refer to “a mother looking at us.”

    Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? on Pinterest.

    The Busiest Street in Town – Community & Social Responsibility

    Posted on June 6th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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    The Busiest Street in Town - A Picture Book that Looks at Social Responsibility The Busiest Street in Town written by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Sarah McMenemy
    A Picture Book that Looks at Community and Social Responsibility published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers





    Agatha May Walker and Eulalie Scruggs have known each other for a very long time. Friends since infancy, they live across the street from each other and are now both gray-haired. Observant children will notice that their neighborhood has changed dramatically since their youth. Whereas their street was once a tree-lined place where children could play, it is now choked with relentless traffic. It is very difficult to cross – even when one is carrying gingersnaps for a neighbor.Building Community in The Busiest Street in Town

    Agatha decides that it is time to take a stand – or more accurately – a seat. She moves her wingback chair into the middle of the noisy, smog-filled street and sits amid the trucks, motorcycles and cars. She begins to hand out gingersnaps. Soon Eulalie joins her. She brings her Parcheesi game and suddenly neighbors appear and Rushmore Boulevard is transformed into a place where children play and neighbors chat.

    Beautiful flowers are planted, a street party is held and the neighbors create a vibrant small community.

    Vivid water color illustrations highlight the dramatic changes on Rushmore Street. Instead of a sooty, grey thoroughfare, it is friendly, neighborhood that is crowded with pedestrians.

    Recommended for children aged four and up. Take time to ‘read’ the endpapers. They tell part of the story.

    An Indie Next Pick

    The Busiest Street in Town at Amazon.com

    The Busiest Street in Town at Amazon.ca


    Meet Author Michael Betcherman

    Posted on June 5th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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    Storytime Standouts introduces author Michael BetchermanMichael Betcherman is an award-winning author and screenwriter. He has numerous writing credits in both dramatic and documentary television, including several episodes of the popular CBC drama, Street Legal. He is also the author/creator of The Daughters of Freya and Suzanne, two groundbreaking online novels that were highly praised by numerous publications, including The Globe and Mail and The (U.K.) Guardian.

    Michael has written two young adult mystery novels, Breakaway and Face-Off, both published by Penguin Canada. Breakaway was short-listed for the John Spray Mystery Award.




    Author Facebook page
    Author Twitter account @MBetcherman

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

    My latest book is Face-Off, a Young Adult mystery published this February.

    Here’s a brief synopsis:

    Storytime Standouts profiles Michael Betcherman, the author of Faceoff17 year-old Alex Petrovic came to Canada with his mother when he was an infant, after his father was murdered during a civil war in their home country in Eastern Europe.
    He is playing goal for Team B.C. in an international hockey tournament against a team from the old country. After the game, he shakes hands with the opposing goalie, Stefan Divac, and finds himself staring at his identical double. His heart tells him Stefan is his brother but his brain tells him that can’t be – until his mother sees Stefan, and faints dead away.

    Stefan had been with the boys’ father when he was murdered, and all these years Alex’s mother believed he was dead as well. Only now does she find out that he was rescued and raised by another family.

    All his life, Alex has felt a part of him was missing, and when Stefan comes to live with him and his mother in Vancouver in order to pursue his hockey career, it seems like a fairy tale come true – until sibling rivalry rears its ugly head. When Stefan proves to be a better goalie than Alex, Alex’s life goes off the rails.

    As Alex struggles with his personal demons, he and his brother get caught up in a mystery involving the two war criminals from their home country who were responsible for tearing their family apart.

    I think the book has wide appeal. Although the background is hockey, readers don’t have to be hockey fans to enjoy it. There’s a very strong female character, Lara, who is Alex’s love interest, and a competitive kick boxer who plays a major role in the mystery. She is feisty and fearless and funny, and reminds me of my daughter. She’s probably the character I’d most want to hang out with.

    Face-Off at Amazon.com

    Face-Off at Amazon.ca

    Michael’s first book, Breakaway was a finalist for the 2012 John Spray Mystery AwardBreakaway by Michael Betcherman

    Breakaway at Amazon.com

    Breakaway at Amazon.ca

    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 extraordinarily lucky with my first YA novel, Breakaway. Everything came together relatively easily – if one discounts the time and effort it took to actually write the book, and the years I spent honing my craft.

    Once the book was finished, I decided to look for an agent. That can be difficult these days – many agents aren’t accepting new clients – but the first agent I contacted agreed to represent me. She sent the book to five of the top publishers in Canada and a couple of months later Penguin offered me a two-book deal. I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

    I’ve got three pieces of advice for aspiring authors:
    Number one: Make sure your book is as good as you can possibly make it before you send it out it into the world. Agents and publishers will only look at it once. I think it’s helpful to have friends and colleagues whose opinions you respect read the book before you submit it anywhere, but keep in mind this cautionary note from Neil Gaiman: “When people tell you that something in the book doesn’t work for them, they are usually right. When they tell you how to fix it, they are always wrong.”

    Number two: Write about something that touches you, something you care about. Our emotions are what make us unique. If you write about something you feel strongly about, you will write something that’s powerful and that will move your audience.

    Number three: Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. I wish I’d learned that lesson a lot earlier in life.

    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 process look like?

    I work at home most of the time but that can get isolating, so I often go to a neighbourhood cafe for a couple of hours in the afternoon for a change of scenery – and to reassure myself that I’m not alone in the universe. In either place I alternate between staring off into space and tapping away on my laptop. Fortunately, as my writing process has evolved, I’m increasingly doing more of the latter than the former.

    Everybody has to find the process that works best for them. Basically what I try to do is get the first draft out as quickly as possible, and then trust the creative process, trust that my imagination will find solutions for the problems that inevitably arise.

    When I first started writing, I tried to have the whole story worked out before I started in on the actual manuscript. That’s probably because I’m a bit of a control freak. But it didn’t take long to realize that didn’t work. Everything would inevitably change once I started writing the manuscript which meant that I was wasting a lot of time trying to work things out in advance.

    The main reason was that my characters hadn’t taken shape yet. Writers often say that at some point their characters take over, as if they were real individuals with wills of their own. I wouldn’t put it this way but what does happen, or at least what happens for me, is that as soon as I put my characters in a specific situation, it gives my imagination something concrete to think about, and I come up with all sorts of possibilities that I could never come up with when I was thinking about the story more abstractly.

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

    Last year I did a book signing at a boys’ hockey tournament. Getting boys to read is a real problem, and the parents were generally keener about the book than their sons. One man dragged his son over to the table. After I told them what the book was about, the father turned to his son and asked, somewhat plaintively, “Do you think you’d read this?” The boy thought it over for a few moments. “I’d start it,” he said finally, “but I wouldn’t finish it.”

    Cracked me right up, but it underlines how difficult it is get boys to read. (By the way, the boy’s dad bought the book for him. I never did find out if he finished it.)

    What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?

    This may sound strange, but I think one of the biggest challenges is to write a compelling synopsis for your book. You may have written the greatest book in the world but an agent or a publisher won’t even read it unless they’re captivated by the synopsis. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to write. You have to distill your manuscript into a few short paragraphs that convey the plot, the main characters, the conflicts and the themes. I spent eight hours working on a ten-sentence synopsis for Breakaway. It was the most useful eight hours I ever spent. The agent I sent it to got right back to me, said she found the synopsis intriguing and that she had put my manuscript at the top of her reading pile.

    If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

    I always wanted to be a writer, but I came to it rather circuitously. I started out my working career as an entertainment lawyer and eventually became a consultant to the CBC series, Street Legal. Through that connection, I got the opportunity to write an episode of the show. The producer liked it, and hired me to several more, which gave me the encouragement I needed to give up law and write full-time.

    I spent many years writing for television. I also wrote a couple of screenplays and two online novels. I had never thought about writing for young adults, but one day a few years ago I woke up with the idea that became Breakaway – a story about a boy whose father has been wrongly convicted of murder. I sat down and wrote 15 pages in less than an hour, something that had never happened to me before but which told me I was onto a good thing.

    I love writing for this age group. It’s not about flowery language or description which I’ve never been keen on, it’s about telling a good story about characters people will care about.

    Do you do school or library presentations?

    I enjoy doing presentations at schools. I like to talk about writing, and the writing process, based on my personal experience, so the best fit for me is a senior grade (11 or 12) writing class where the students are interested in becoming writers.

    I live in Toronto (Canada), so that’s the most convenient locale but would be prepared to go elsewhere.

    Harry the Dirty Dog – A Classic Picture Book You Won’t Want to Miss

    Posted on June 3rd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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    Harry the Dirty Dog - A Classic Picture Book Recommended by Storytime StandoutsHarry the Dirty Dog written by Gene Zion and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham




    Harry the Dirty Dog was first published in 1956. It is the story of a strong-willed, adventurous dog who does not want to be bathed. He is so determined to avoid the bath that he takes the scrubbing brush and buries it in his backyard. Once the brush is hidden, he hits the road. Harry the Dirty Dog bathtub spread

    Not one to shy away from dirt, this charming white dog with black spots is soon visiting a construction site, playing near a rail yard, romping through water pipes and climbing onto piles of dirt. Everywhere Harry goes, there are opportunities for him to get dirty and, when he arrives home, he is so dirty that his family does not recognize him. He has become a black dog with white spots. Fortunately, while roaming, Harry has had a change of heart. He is keen to jump into the bath and to be back home, surrounded by his loving family.

    A classic picture book for preschool-age children, Harry the Dirty Dog is the first of four stories about this endearing pup. Children will also be happy to read Harry by the Sea, No Roses for Harry and Harry and the Lady Next Door.

    The National Education Association named the book one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.”

    Harry the Dirty Dog at Amazon.com

    Harry The Dirty Dog at Amazon.ca

    Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Harry the Dirty Dog on Pinterest.

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