Posts Tagged ‘picture books’

Ahoy Me Hearties – Come Discover Pirate Picture Books!

Posted on September 19th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts - Say Ahoy to Pirate Picture Books

Ahoy Me Hearties – We invite you to keep readin’ on these fun pirate picture books and download our free pirate theme printables!






Pirate Picture Books

Storytime Standouts Looks at Pirate Theme Picture Books Including How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and David ShannonHow I Became a Pirate written by Melinda Long and illustrated by David Shannon
Pirate picture book published by Harcourt, Inc.

Jeremy Jacob is enjoying a day at the beach when he notices a pirate ship at anchor just off shore. His adventure begins when the pirates enlist his help as a digger. Before long he squeezes into a rowboat that is filled with unsavory characters. When Jeremy Jacob joins the crew on the ship, pirate life seems ideal – no need for “pleases” and “thank-yous”, vegetable-free meals, late nights are all great until Jeremy hopes to enjoy a bedtime story, a “tuck-in” and a kiss goodnight.

David Shannon’s distinctive illustrations lend themselves well to pirates with ruddy complexions, missing teeth, whiskers, gold earrings and scars but could be too intense for some very young children.

Adults will want to caution children that Jeremy’s decision to go with strangers is not appropriate.

How I Became a Pirate at Amazon.com

How I Became a Pirate at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts Looks at Pirate Theme Picture Books Including Pirate Pearl by Phoebe GilmanPirate Pearl written and illustrated by Phoebe Gilman
Pirate picture book published by North Winds Press a Division of Scholastic Canada

Precious Pearl grows up on board a pirate ship and she seems to bring good fortune. Bold and unconventional, she would rather give treasure away than bury it. When she boards Prince Basil’s ship she is in for a surprise. She discovers that she is a long lost princess. Before long, Pearl, Prince Basil and a crew of pirates invade her family’s castle and expose the villain who is living there.

Pearl is one of a kind – neither a typical princess nor a standard pirate. Exuberant illustrations match the tone of this fun read aloud for children aged four and up.

Pirate Pearl at Amazon.com

Pirate Pearl at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts Looks at Pirate Theme Picture Books Including The Pirates of Captain McKeeThe Pirates of Captain McKee! written by Julie Lawson and illustrated by Werner Zimmermann
Pirate picture book published by Scholastic Canada

The Pirates of Captain McKee is a rollicking adventure story that was a nominee for The 1996 Canada Council for the Arts Governor General’s Literacy Award for illustration.

When two children are warned not to go near a canoe, the warning is accompanied by a wink so they put on life jackets and climb aboard.

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.

The magical canoe takes the two children to an anchored pirate ship. The pirates nearby are intimidating and the children are frightened until they smell roasting marshmallows.

Beautiful illustrations and appealing rhyming text make this a great choice for children aged four and up.

Storytime Standouts Looks at Pirate Theme Picture Books Including Small Saul by Ashley SpiresSmall Saul Written and illustrated by Ashley Spires
Pirate picture book published by Kids Can Press

Saul is not quite tall enough to be a sailor but he knows that he is meant to sail the seven seas. He is undeterred and decided to become a pirate. He attends pirate training and earns his diploma but he has difficulty finding a pirate crew to join. Eventually he joinsThe Rusty Squid and he can’t wait to find ways to contribute. Unfortunately, his unconventional ways come to light quickly. “It didn’t take long for the other pirates to notice that something was different about Small Saul.”

A great pick for pirate fans and also a happy exploration of self acceptance.

Kids Can Press’ Storytime Activities for Small Saul

Small Saul at Amazon.com

Small Saul at Amazon.ca

Pirate Map Interlined Paper from Storytime Standouts

Storytime Standouts’ Free Pirate Theme Printables

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Pirate

Pirate theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Pirate Map

Pirate theme interlined paper for beginning writers.


Meet Author Lisa Manzione

Posted on September 18th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts interviews author Lisa Manzione





Author Website

Author Twitter account @BellaAndHarryGo

Author Facebook page

Book Series Website

The Adventures of Bella and Harry Lets Visit Maui by Lisa ManzioneTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

The latest book published is Let’s Visit Maui!. The book series is perfectly suited for ages 5-10. I am most proud of the fact the series has been very well received by parents, librarians, teachers, but most of all, children!

Let’s Visit Maui!: Adventures of Bella & Harry (The Adventures of Bella & Harry) at Amazon.com

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

It was extremely difficult to get the first book in the series published. As a matter of fact, I had one publisher tell me the books were “too educational” for US children. Once I heard that comment, I was even more determined! I found a small publisher in South Florida and the first book was published. After attending Book Expo America, I realized I could publish the books on my own. I created my own company, hired a staff, and 14 books later, we are very pleased with our success.

As far as words of encouragement…Don’t give up! If you truly believe in our product, the right opportunity will come along. It just takes time and persistence.Bella and Harry Lets Visit Athens by Lisa Manzione

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

I think the greatest joy is seeing how much children enjoy reading and learning about the world. I am just thrilled every time I speak to a youngster and they can tell me what Bella & Harry have taught them. I really love it when the child tells me they know even MORE about the cities/countries than Bella and Harry because they have done research on their own or with their classroom.

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

I believe the biggest challenge is keeping a child’s interest in a story. In the Bella and Harry series, the stories are educational. I think it is necessary to keep the story fun (which holds their attention), but to also have a significant amount of educational content which can be a huge challenge because I don’t want the book to feel like a history book.

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, the books have been published electronically through Reading Rainbow Kidz. There is an option with RRKidz…the book can be read aloud to you or you can turn that option off and read the book yourself.

The process with RR Kidz was a lot of fun! We have received tremendous feedback from readers, especially early readers who enjoy the narration option initially.

We plan to have additional e-books available in the fall, 2014.

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

If I could dine with anyone it would be James Patterson. I love his “women’s murder club”series!

Additionally, James Patterson lives in South FL and is very active in children’s literacy programs, which I just LOVE!

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I love to do library and school presentations! Generally, I read one book during the presentation, followed by a question and answer session. Those that answer the questions correctly are given a prize…sometimes another book, a Bella plush stuffed animal, back pack, etc. At the end of the presentation I give each child a book from the series that we did not read. Depending on the age of the children, sometimes I autograph the books individually as well.

As far as limitations, if I have advanced notice, there really are no limitations. If advance notice is limited, I can always Skype. In this instance, I would send the book ahead, so we can still do most of the above.

Classic Picture Book: Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola

Posted on September 16th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts features classic picture book Strega Nona by Tomie de PaolaStrega Nona written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola
Classic Picture Book originally published by Prentice-Hall, now Simon and Schuster





Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences.

– Robert Louis Stevenson

When I reflect on the picture books we shared with our young sons, Strega Nona is one that I recall with special affection. It is a story that can be enjoyed by a wide range of children (and their adult caregivers). Preschoolers who are accustomed to hearing stories read aloud will enjoy the humor, kindergarten-age and primary grade students will also be engaged by the matronly and generous “Grandma Witch” and her well-meaning but accident-prone assistant. Storytime Standouts features Strega Nona including this illustration by Tomie de Paola

Strega Nona was getting old, and she needed someone to help her keep her little house and garden, so she put up a sign in the town square.

And Big Anthony, who didn’t pay attention, went to see her.

“Anthony,” said Strega Nona, “you must sweep the house and wash the dishes. You must weed the garden and pick the vegetables. You must feed the goat and milk her. And you must fetch the water….

The one thing you must never do… is touch the pasta pot. It is very valuable and I don’t let anyone touch it!”

Adapted from Sweet Porridge (also known as The Magic Porridge Pot), children who are familiar with foreshadowing will correctly predict Big Anthony’s ‘mistake’ and will relish the problem he creates and Strega Nona’s fitting solution to it.

Highly recommended for children aged four years and up.

The story of how Strega Nona came to be – on Mr. de Paola’s website

Bright Hub Education Lesson Plan Suggestions for First Grade

Scholastic lesson plan for Strega Nona

Teacher Vision ‘Predicting’ lesson plan

White Swan Theatre study guide

Caldecott Honor Book in 1976
School Library Journal “Top 100 Picture Books”

Strega Nona at Amazon.com

Strega Nona at Amazon.ca

Strega Nona Pinterest Board

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Strega Nona an old tale retold and illustrated by Tomie de Paola on Pinterest.


Embracing Differences: Little Jimmy Says, “Same Is Lame”

Posted on September 15th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at antibullying picture book Little Jimmy Says,  Same is LameLittle Jimmy Says, “Same Is Lame” written by Jimmy Vee and illustrated by Mike Motz
Antibullying picture book about embracing differences published by Atlas Press





“What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity? Our attitude toward it. Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity.”
― J. Sidlow Baxter

in this semi-autobiographical new picture book, marketing expert, magician, author and ventriloquist Jimmy Vee explains why being different is much more interesting than living an ordinary existence.

Because I am different, it makes me feel proud. I’d rather stand out than blend in with the crowd.

Citing many examples of physical features, Vee encourages young readers to celebrate their appearance and abilities while acknowledging the fact that they are not like everybody else.

Upbeat, rhyming text and bright, colorful cartoonish illustrations depict wearing glasses, baldness, wearing braces, having a large nose, freckles, an unusual voice, being a different height than your peers and having a facial scar. Young readers, especially with encouragement from adults, are invited to think about ways differences can be exploited and can ultimately be perceived as assets.

Little Jimmy Says, “Same Is Lame” at Amazon.com

Classic Picture Book: The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Posted on September 10th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts recommends Classic Picture Book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

In honor of International Dot Day (September 15th), this week we are highlighting classic picture book, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds









Storytime Standouts Features Classic Picture Book The Dot by Peter H. ReynoldsThe Dot by Peter H. Reynolds
Classic Picture Book published by Candlewick Press

One of my favorite picture books, The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds will strike a chord with children, teens and adults who lack confidence in their ability to ‘make art.’ Vashti doesn’t believe she can draw or does not want to draw. She sits through an entire art class but does not make a mark on her sheet of paper. Vashti’s teacher is understanding and she encourage’s Vashti,

“Just make a mark and see where it takes you.”

Vashti grabbed a marker and gave the paper a good, strong jab. “There!”

Undeterred by Vashti’s reluctance, her teacher asks her to sign the page. She does sign the paper and leaves the classroom. When she returns a week later, her ‘artwork’ has been framed and is hanging near to her teacher’s desk. Upon reflection, Vashti decides that she is quite capable of improving on her first dot.

Before long, she is confidently experimenting with watercolors and larger sheets of paper. She creates an entire collection of artistic dots – every size and color.

A wonderful resource for children and adults who are reluctant to “make their mark.” The Dot and Mr. Reynold’s inspiring illustrations should not be missed.

Dot activities – from Peter H. Reynold’s website

The Dot at Amazon.com

The Dot at Amazon.ca

Our Pinterest Board for The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds on Pinterest.


International Dot Day

International Dot Day is September 15

Meet Author Illustrator Ruth Ohi

Posted on September 4th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Meet Author illustrator Ruth Ohi (photo by AnnieT)Ruth Ohi is the illustrator of over 50 children’s picture books (17 of which she is also the author). She lives in Toronto, Canada and is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design.

Her books have been selected for the Pennsylvania Centre for the Book’s “Bakers’ Dozen”, the Canadian Toy Testing Council’s “Great Books”, the Ontario Library Association’s “Best Bets” and the Toronto Public Library’s “First & Best”. They have been shortlisted for awards such as the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book, Amelia Francis Howard-Gibbons, Shining Willow, Blue Spruce and Rainforest of Reading awards.





Ruth Ohi’s Facebook page
Ruth Ohi’s website URL
Instagram: @RuthOhi
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ruthohi/

Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend created by Ruth OhiMs. Ohi’s latest published children’s book is Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend (Scholastic Canada/Sept 2014)
Genres:
Social Issues/Friendship
Social Issues/Emotions and Feelings

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it?

My hope would be that “Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend”(Fall 2014/Scholastic Canada) could be enjoyed by anyone who is a friend, would like a friend or wishes to be a friend. Fox and Squirrel’s first story, Fox and Squirrel (Scholastic Canada, Fall 2013) showed that despite their differences, the two could find enough in common to be friends. Their second story came from looking out my studio window and admiring how squirrels could hang out in the highest, teeniest tree branches and thinking, “Hm, Fox couldn’t go there.” And I wondered what if Squirrel met someone else way up high and forgot all about Fox for awhile and how that would make Fox feel.

Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend 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?

For chapter books it was Lois Darling of the Beverley Cleary original releases. She drew Ramona and Beezus in a way that was so satisfying for me. I very much empathized with Ramona about apples and marshmallows. For picture books, there are too many to list. I think the combination of artists like Leo Lionni, Maurice Sendak, Ezra Jack Keats, Dr. Suess and Robert McCloskey resonated with me because their words and pictures made me want to linger on the pages. They made me care about their characters.

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?Storytime Standouts looks at Shh! My Brother's Napping by Ruth Ohi

Making stories with pictures has always been incredibly satisfying and I’ve always loved picture books, but it wasn’t until university that I seriously considered art as a career. It just took a little while for me to realize it could be an actual full time job! My family was amazingly supportive and that was huge for me. It still is. My sister, Deb (who writes and illustrates under the name of Debbie Ridpath-Ohi) is my guru for all things internet. Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend is dedicated to my first Great Nephew, Ian who is truly a bundle of joy.

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 do have a website where I post preliminary work sketches, my portfolio, and news that made me happy. It’s also where you can find a listing of my upcoming public events, info about booking visits, activity sheets and everything you will ever need to know about my books. Hm, except where to buy them, what their ISBNs are…okay, my website needs work! I’ve also just joined Instagram where I’ll be posting personal illustration and story projects.

Oh, and I’ve made two booktrailers for “Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend”! The first is only 21 seconds and is the result of my experimenting with stop motion photography. The Second is 56 seconds and includes a snippet of a live drawing demo. I’m the one filming the live demo—it’s truly tricky drawing and taping at the same time! Both trailers can be found on my website and YouTube.


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

Just doing the work—writing, revising, scribbling, painting. Finding the perfect balance between the words and the drawings. But I honestly don’t think a picture book really comes into being until a reader finds it. Seeing or hearing about someone who enjoys the book—that’s an incredible source of pleasure for me.

Seeing students use my books or brainstorming tips for their own stories and pictures is super awesome. One of the greatest letters I’ve ever received was after a presentation from a young child, which read:
“Now I love to right.”

Clara and the Bossy by Ruth OhiIf you weren’t an author / illustrator, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

In the summers, as a teen, I’ve worked as a florist, a daycamp counselor, a city special events co-ordinator. As an adult I’ve been fortunate enough to illustrate and write full time. If I wasn’t an author/illustrator, I’d very much love to work with young people in the creative arts.

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I have enjoyed presenting to many schools, libraries, conferences and family festivals across Canada. It’s definitely one of my favourite aspects of this job—sharing words and pictures with adults and kids. And my presentations are easily adapted to suit any age group.I'd Know You Anywhere

Presentations typically include a digital slideshow demonstrating where I get my ideas from. I show character sketches, storyboards and how I draw to brainstorm new ideas. Also included are Q&A, some original artwork and an interactive drawing demonstration. The last 10-15 minutes may be a hands on workshop where participants are very keen to try a brainstorming activity that I tailor especially for that audience. I enjoy speaking one on one to as many as possible about their work during this time. Typically a school or library visit is 45-60 minutes. A maximum audience size of 120 works well for JK/SK through Grade 8. Numbers may increase for older audiences.

Shh! My Brother’s Napping is a highlight of 2014

Posted on September 2nd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Shh! My Brother's Napping by Ruth OhiShh! My Brother’s Napping written and illustrated by Ruth Ohi
Picture book published by North Winds Press An Imprint of Scholastic Canada





Read our interview with Ruth Ohi

My two children were born about 2 1/2 years apart. My older boy was always a great sleeper – he slept through the night from six weeks and had very regular naps. My second son was a completely different story. It took months and months before he slept through the night and naps were never easy and rarely of a predictable duration. Sometimes he slept for thirty minutes, sometimes he slept for two hours. Sleep was an on-going challenge and source of frustration to his weary parents. Given my experience with children napping, I was intrigued to read Shh! My Brother’s Napping.

Ruth Ohi’s picture book Shh! My Brother’s Napping is a highlight of 2014.

From cover to cover the characters ooze personality. Poor mama, she struggles through a rainstorm, carrying groceries and pushing a stroller. She holds her umbrella so it will protect her youngest child. Her older child is walking ahead, filled with energy and enthusiasm for the day. By the time the family arrives home, the baby is asleep in the stroller and his older brother warns readers that it is time to be quiet.Shh! My Brother's Napping spread

Shh! My brother’s napping.
He really needs his sleep.
He was grumbly as a grouch,
and now lies in a heap.

What follows is a charming tale of mama’s wish to prolong the nap as long as possible despite older brother’s play. Children and adults will be charmed by the illustrations and will laugh at the older brother’s lack of sensitivity – he’d like to play some makeshift drums and paint his brother’s face.

Featuring many great opportunities for youngsters to inference and make predictions, Shh! My Brother’s Napping, will be thoroughly enjoyed by parents. It would be a great gift for those who are celebrating the arrival of a second, third or fourth child.

Free Shh! My Brother’s Napping printables from Scholastic Canada

Shh! My Brother’s Napping at Amazon.com

Shh! My Brother’s Napping at Amazon.ca

Discover Classic Picture Book: No, David!

Posted on August 26th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares classic picture book No, David! by David ShannonNo, David! written and illustrated by David Shannon
Classic picture book published by Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic





I have shared No, David! with dozens of preschool age children and, without exception, this is a picture book that they understand, appreciate and relate to. David is a child who can’t seem to do anything right. Whether reaching for a cookie jar, eating dinner, taking a bath or practicing his baseball swing, David finds himself in trouble. Parenting this boy must be quite a challenge for his ever-patient mom.

For a child who has had a rough day, David is the perfect antidote – another child who gets into trouble more often than he does. For parents, there is a reminder that mistakes happen and forgiveness is divine.

A wonderful starting point for discussions about rules and good behavior, No, David! is also an opportunity for young readers to make inferences and predictions. Most children will benefit from the opportunity to witness David making poor choices and yet still sharing an affectionate hug with his mom at the end of a tough day. Beginning readers will enjoy the predictable text and the repetition.

1999 Caldecott Honor Book
National Education Association Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children
SLJ’s Top 100 Picture Books

No, David! at Amazon.com

No, David! at Amazon.ca


Our No, David! Pinterest Board

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board No, David! written and illustrated by David Shannon on Pinterest.

Classic Picture Book: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Posted on August 19th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares classic picture book, Chicka Chicka Boom BoomChicka Chicka Boom Boom written by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault, illustrated by Lois Ehlert
Classic Picture Book published by Simon & Schuster





It sounds like fun when lowercase letters A, B, and C decide to meet at the top of a tall coconut tree but the message spreads like wildfire and they are not the only letters scrambling up the tree trunk and hiding among the palm fronds. Before long, the entire lowercase alphabet is weighing down the tree branches and trunk. Slowly the heavily laden tree bends until it cannot support another thing.

Still more – W
And X Y Z!
The whole alphabet up the – Oh, no!
Chicka chicka…
BOOM! BOOM!

Two coconuts crash to the ground and then all the lower case letters are thrown from the tree and land in a twisted heap. Moments later, adults (uppercase letters) rush to the scene, embracing their offspring and offering reassurance.

Bright, distinctive, bold illustrations nicely compliment the rhythmic, repetitious text. This is a alphabet book with many possible extension activities. It belongs on every child’s bookshelf.

Kentucky Bluegrass Award for K-3 (1991),
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Nominee for Picture Book – Honor Book (1990)
School Library Journal Top 100 Picture Book
New York Public Library 100 Great Children’s Books

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom at Amazon.com

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom at Amazon.ca

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Chicka Chicka Boom Boom written by Bill Martin, Jr. and illustrated by John Archambault on Pinterest.

Some related picture books that young readers will enjoy

Classic Picture Book: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Posted on August 12th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares classic picture book The Very Hungry CaterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar written and illustrated by Eric Carle
Classic picture book first published by the World Publishing Company and subsequently published by Penguin Putnam



Beautiful, bright collage illustrations and intriguing die-cut pages complement this timeless story of a caterpillar’s remarkable transformation into a beautiful butterfly. Young children love the opportunity to poke tiny fingers through small holes as they follow the path of the caterpillar as he tries to satisfy his need for food.

Initially the caterpillar eats gorgeous, fresh fruit (apple, strawberries, pears, plums, oranges). He later turns to a pickle, salami, cheese and cake. Is it really a wonder that he eventually returns to a healthier choice, a dark green leaf?

Teachers find many ways to extend the learning with this classic picture book. Apart from talking about fresh fruit, there are opportunities to count and to learn about the days of the week. Children will thoroughly enjoy creating their own caterpillars and sampling the foods he enjoyed.

Available in many formats, my copy is a sturdy board book. A great story for children aged two years and up.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at Amazon.com

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at Amazon.ca


Follow Storytime Standouts’s board The Very Hungry Caterpillar on Pinterest.

Meet Author Lana Button

Posted on August 7th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts interviews author Lana ButtonLana Button is a children’s author, freelance writer and early childhood educator. She has enjoyed working with young children for over twenty five years. As a freelance writer, Lana has contributed to national magazines including Today’s Parent and Parents Canada. But Lana’s passion is picture books! Her first picture book, Willow’s Whispers (Kids Can Press, 2010) was nominated for a Blue Spruce Award, and a Shining Willow Award. Both the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee listed it as a ‘Best Book for Kids’. It was also listed as an Outstanding Book for Young People with Disabilities IBBY winner.



Lana’s picture book, Willow Finds a Way (Kids Can Press, 2012) was a Blue Spruce Award finalist, a Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Best Book” and was listed on Publisher’s Weekly’s ‘Bullying Resources: A Selected Listing’. Most recently, Willow Finds a Way has been shortlisted for the Rainforest of Reading Award.

Twitter account @LanaButton
Author Facebook Page
Author Website

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

Lana Button's Picture Book Willow Finds a WayWillow Finds a Way is the second book about Willow, who is the quietest child in the class. The story, which is intended for children from pre-k through primary grades, begins when Kristabelle comes to class with a list of all the children invited to her birthday party. Everyone is invited! But in order to stay on Kristabelle’s birthday list, the children must follow her every command. Willow struggles to find a way to stand up for her friends and speak up to Kristabelle. In the end Willow discovers that actions sometimes speak louder than words!

I am so very proud that Willow Finds a Way has been recognized as an anti-bullying book. Although the terms ‘bullying’ and ‘bystander’ are never used within the story, it was my hope that it would spark this type of conversation!

Read our post about Willow Finds a Way

Willow Finds a Way at Amazon.com

Willow Finds a Way 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 submitted and resubmitted my Willow’s Whispers manuscript for 6 years before finding an editor who was willing to work with me. So my strongest word of advice is- Don’t give up! And also keep in mind that ‘no’ doesn’t mean ‘no forever’ it just means ‘no, for right now’.Lana Button's picture book Willow's Whispers

I recommend to any aspiring author struggling to get that story published to find ways to get other material published, whether that be a short story in a children’s magazine or a freelance article for a magazine or local newspaper. Editors are more likely to take a chance on you if you’ve been published elsewhere before.

Writing groups and organizations can also be very helpful. I found lots of inspiration and great practical advice from the CAINSCAIP organization (check them out at www.canscaip.org) when I first started out and I still look forward to their terrific Packaging Your Imagination Workshop in Toronto every fall.

Read our post about Willow’s Whispers

Willow’s Whispers at Amazon.com

Willow’s Whispers at Amazon.ca

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

The best feedback I’ve had from my books have been conversations children have had with each other! After hearing Willow Finds a Way, a group of girls were overheard in the playground making a pact that they would be “Willows” and not be “Kristabelles”.

And at a different school a young girl nudged in front of another girl so she could be first in line. A third little girl was overheard saying, “Hey, don’t push in front of her! She hasn’t had a turn to be line leader yet. Don’t be a ‘Kristabelle’!”

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 visit children and read my books whenever the opportunity presents itself! It is one of my greatest joys!! I have visited many bookstores and libraries, and jump at the chance to visit classrooms. Scheduling weekday classroom visits has been a challenge lately, as I am currently in my own kindergarten classroom as an Early Childhood Educator, but I have made room for a few visits each school year, and have scheduled evening visits during school ‘open houses’. My favorite is when we schedule a ‘pajama party’ evening where everyone (including myself!) comes to school with pajamas and cuddly toys and we gather in the library for a story time chat!

I schedule book tours during the summer months whenever possible, and have toured throughout Ontario, into the Maritime Provinces and in different parts of the United States. I also love connecting with students and teachers through Facebook and Twitter.

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

To be able to read my story aloud to a child is my greatest accomplishment. To know that the stories have inspired others is my greatest joy! I have been so fortunate to talk with children, parents and teachers who share their experiences regarding their personal challenges in finding their own voice, or helping a child find their voice. To hear that Willow has given others inspiration to dig a little deeper, take a brave breath, and speak out for themselves has filled me with overwhelming joy!

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

I have been so very fortunate to actually meet some of my favorite Canadian children’s authors over the past few years. I found myself completely tongue tied when coming face-to-face with Paulette Bourgeois (author of the Franklin series) and was totally awestruck when trying to discuss the weather with the incredible Barbara Reid!

If I could dine with any author, it would probably be Maurice Sendak, as his Where the Wild Things Are is my all-time favorite picture book. I’d love to hear all about how he came up with such incredible characters and how he managed to create such a rich and vivid story with so few words!

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I love doing presentations!! During my 45-minute presentation I discuss the unique writing process involved in creating a picture book. I read both books and discuss the importance of speaking up and speaking out. Both books are strongly based on empathy and self-assurance and I open us discussion around ‘the bully’, ‘the bullied’, and ‘the bystander’. I live in Southern Ontario (Canada), but have presented across Ontario and into the Maritime provinces. You can contact me through my website for more information.

Anti Bullying Solution: A Bug and a Wish

Posted on July 26th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Those of you who have explored Storytime Standouts will know that we frequently write about antibullying picture books. Sad to say, we have read many more “antibullying” picture books than we have shared with our readers. The reason for this is simple: many antibullying picture books do not actually provide a realistic solution to the problem of bullying. Many antibullying picture books rely on a magical solution to bullying. Rather than empowering a victim of bullying, some books provide very little help.

A Bug and a Wish by Karen ScheuerA Bug and a Wish written by Karen Scheuer with illustrations by Kalpart
Antibullying picture book published by Strategic Book Publishing

Tyler is not happy about going to school. He rides the school bus and as he walks to it, he hopes to avoid an encounter with two bullies. Unfortunately, he does not escape their teasing and he is upset when he takes a seat next to his friend.

Danae explains to Tyler than he ought to give them a bug and a wish. Tyler thinks about Danae’s advice and he tries to interpret her words but his guesses are not correct.

Danae suggests The next time the boys tease you… Tell them, ‘It BUGS me when you tease me, and I WISH you would stop.’ Danae’s advice is simple and Tyler takes it to heart. He is ready the next time the boys tease him and he is pleasantly surprised by their response.

Cartoon-like illustrations do a reasonable job of depicting Tyler’s emotions and will appeal to some children. We like the straightforward approach to dealing with teasing. Tyler learns to speak up and to explain his point of view.

A Bug and a Wish will be most effective when used as a starting point for discussions about teasing and bullying.

A Bug and a Wish at Amazon.com

A Bug and a Wish at Amazon.ca

Meet Author Karen Scheuer

Posted on July 24th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Meet Author Karen ScheuerKaren Scheuer is a wife, mother, and teacher. She lives in Newtown, Pennsylvania, and has been married to her high-school sweetheart for 29 years. The author and her husband have a 23-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son. She enjoys calligraphy, knitting, making jewelry, traveling, reading, and never turns down an offer to dine out. She currently teaches second grade in the Council Rock School District in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Karen knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was four years old. When she was in high school, she wrote her first children’s book. She hopes to publish that book someday too. She has been teaching elementary-aged children for 25 years.

Twitter account @KarenScheuer1

Facebook page

Author Website

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

A Bug and a Wish by Karen ScheuerMy book is about teasing and bullying. Here is the summary:

When Tyler is teased by the other boys, his good friend, Danae, encourages him to give the boys A Bug and a Wish. When Tyler finds a ladybug and a dandelion seed, he is convinced that this is what Danae means. As his friend helps him learn the true meaning of her advice, Tyler soon discovers the solution to his problem.

This book teaches kids to use the “bug and a wish concept.” This subject is dear to my heart because bullying affects how children view themselves. When they view themselves poorly, it can then affect their schoolwork and home life. I hope my book, A Bug and a Wish, will help children stand up for themselves, and encourage bystanders to get involved. It’s a great read aloud for teachers to get their students to discuss this subject. It’s also a good book to read at the beginning of the school year.

A Bug and a Wish at Amazon.com

A Bug and a Wish 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 actually wrote my first children’s book in high school when I was in a “future educator” class. I am hoping to publish that book next. My husband, Bob, has encouraged me and supported me, and he is the one who suggested I should publish the book I wrote in high school, next.

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

The students in my class knew I was in the process of publishing a book this school year. I would update them when I received the illustrations, or when the cover was ready, etc. When I finally brought the finished book into school, I started to read it to them. I showed them the dedication page, and asked what authors put on that page. (I was trying to present the book as a teaching lesson). The students were all wide-eyed, but one student just put his hands on his cheeks, and excitedly screamed, “Just read it already!” It was so cute.

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?

Since this is my first children’s book, I haven’t gone on book tours yet, but I definitely want to. I did my first ever Meet and Greet book signing at a Book shop in Peddler’s Village, Bucks County, PA, on June 14th, and I was very excited. I have a Facebook page dedicated to my book, and people have posted photos of kids reading the book, and one of my friends even posted a photo of tea towels she sewed for my book signing.

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

Something unbelievable happened with my book. My son and daughter’s names are the names of the characters in the book. In the story, Tyler finds a ladybug, and puts it in his pocket because he thinks this is what Danae means by “A bug”. The day AFTER my son, Tyler, read the book, a ladybug landed on his hand! This has never happened to him in his life. He quickly took a photo of it, and sent it to me. I actually thought it was a “God thing,” and I that it was so cool!

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I would LOVE to do school library presentations, but I am currently a classroom teacher, so I cannot do that at this time. My goal is to retire from teaching in a couple years, have two published books, and then travel to schools to read my books to kids! I would definitely be interested in doing library presentations in the summer months. I live in Bucks County, PA.

The Name of your publisher Strategic Book Publishers

Classic Picture Book – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Posted on July 22nd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Classic Picture Book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad DayAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz
Classic Picture Book published by Simon & Schuster





Written in 1972, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is available in several formats (including board book). The copy that I have is a special limited edition that includes some color.

From the moment Alexander awakens until he finally falls asleep, things go wrong for him.

At home, before school, carpooling to school and while at school, it seems as though there is a conspiracy afoot: Make Alexander’s day as unpleasant as possible. Whether squished into the middle of the backseat enroute to school or comparing his lunch with those of his classmates, Alexander feels awful. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, a classic picture book

On the way downstairs the elevator door closed on my foot and while we were waiting for my mom to go get the car Anthony made me fall where it was muddy and then when I started crying because of the mud Nick said I was a crybaby and while I was punching Nick for saying crybaby my mom came back with the car and scolded me for being muddy and fighting.

I am having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I told everybody. No one even answered.

A great choice for older children, this is a classic picture book that will encourage reflection. Some of Alexander’s problems can be blamed on bad luck, others are due to poor choices. In any event, it is an opportunity for children and adults to reflect on the fact that we all experience some days that are terrible and horrible.

ALA Notable Children’s Book
George G. Stone Center Recognition of Merit
Georgia Children’s Book Award
Reading Rainbow book

Classroom activities from the Professional Development Institute

Lesson plan from Teaching Children Philosophy

Live Oak Media Activity Guide

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at Amazon.com

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at Amazon.ca

Quote from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day


Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day on Pinterest.

Meet Author Elizabeth MacLeod

Posted on July 3rd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Author Elizabeth MacLeodElizabeth MacLeod is one nosy author, which is why she loves writing non-fiction. She’s very curious about why people do what they do, and she likes sharing with kids the amazing facts and secrets she uncovers.





As a kid in Thornhill, Ontario, the idea of being a writer never crossed her mind — she figured most authors were already dead and they definitely weren’t Canadian. Besides, it was science that interested her.

But writing was already part of her life. After dinner on school nights, she and her two brothers would trudge up to their rooms, close their doors and start to do their homework — or so their parents thought. A few minutes later, a piece of paper would come sliding under her door. One of her brothers had drawn a picture, usually of some weird creature.

She really couldn’t draw (she still can’t!), so the only way she could respond was to write a short story, often about a mad scientist or space alien. she’d slip the story under her brother’s door and — well, not a lot of homework got done.

At university, she studied sciences — there was hardly any writing involved at all. After she graduated she had a number of jobs, but none of them had anything to do with writing. She wanted to be an author but she was too scared to admit it to anyone, especially herself. However, one day she gathered up her courage, phoned a newspaper and sold an article she’d written. Wow!

Soon after this she attended a publishing workshop in Banff, Alberta, which led her to a job as an editor at OWL magazine. After a few years she switched to book publishing and became an editor at Kids Can Press. Meanwhile, in her spare time she began writing non-fiction books for kids. Then she became a part-time editor and writer. Now she’s a full-time writer, working for a number of different publishers.

One of the things she especially likes about writing for kids is that she gets to investigate so many interesting topics. She’s written articles or books on subjects such as weird breeds of dogs, Marie Curie, hoaxes, the northern lights and many, many more. Did you know that some dinosaurs were as small as chickens? Or that Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, got tired of having his work interrupted by his invention?

She’s written many biographies about such people as Helen Keller, Albert Einstein and Samuel de Champlain. One of her favourite things is discovering how inventors and writers come up with their ideas. She’s written a series of biographies for readers ages 6 to 8, and one for kids aged 8 to 12.

More recently she’s written about royalty, and the mysteries and crimes that surround them. Monarchy has always fascinated her. She loves going behind the scenes with monarchs from Cleopatra to Dracula to find out just what they would do to hold onto power or protect their families. These books have also let her research forensic techniques, ranging from DNA testing to crime-scene procedures.

Secrets Underground North Americas Buried Past written by Elizabeth MacLeodTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Secrets Underground: North America’s Buried Past is for readers age 10 and up. This is a great book for anyone who likes spine-tingling mysteries and eerie surprises! I think kids will be amazed to read about these buried secrets, including the top-secret equipment that lies deep below Grand Central Terminal in New York City and the network of abandoned tunnels below Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

The book also tells about the ships that were abandoned in San Francisco harbor during the Gold Rush. I travelled to the city and found numerous plaques and displays about the forgotten, buried ships. Many people who lived in San Francisco knew nothing about the ships but I’m proud of the fact that I was able to track them down.

Secrets Underground: North America’s Buried Past at Amazon,com

Secrets Underground: North America’s Buried Past 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’ve had a different writing career from most other writers. I started as an editor at OWL Magazine, so I was on the inside of the publishing world from the beginning. The first few books I published were books that publishers asked me to write.

It can be really tough to get a publisher to accept a book proposal so I’d suggest aspiring authors prepare themselves as much as possible. Colleges and universities offer great writing courses, and so do organizations such as CANSCAIP and SCBWI. These are wonderful opportunities to meet other writers, have your proposal assessed by an expert and improve your writing.

I think it’s important for all authors, aspiring and published, to remember to never give up. If you really believe in a book idea but a publisher turns it down, revise the proposal as necessary, then send it out to another publisher. From being on the inside of the publishing world, I know there are lots of reasons why one publisher will turn down a book idea that will work very well for another publisher.

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 work at a large desk with a keyboard and good-sized computer monitor. I’ve got piles of papers and books, as well as a ceramic vase full of pens, a pewter pot holding paper clips, a grapefruit-scented candle (I read somewhere it helps with creativity) and a few other bits and pieces.

But you probably wouldn’t notice any of these things because you’d likely be focusing on our cat Cosimo. While I work, he’s usually stretched out under my desk lamp. Even on the hottest summer day, he seems to like the warmth!

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

In my presentations, I ask a lot of questions, so you’d think I’d be used to receiving some amazing answers, but kids always surprise me. I was talking once about the biographies I’ve written and telling kids about magician Harry Houdini. One boy shot up his hand and offered to share a magic trick with the group. How could I say no?The Kids Book of Canada at War by Elizabeth MacLeod

I also wrote The Kids Book of Canada at War, so I talk to students about John McCrae (author of the poem In Flanders Fields) and other brave Canadians who served in World War I and II (including my dad). I often get teary-eyed when I think of their courage and kids usually notice this. I wish I weren’t quite so emotional, but then the kids always want to share their stories about relatives who served in wartime. I guess I help them form a connection that makes them proud.

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’ve taken part in a number of book tours, in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and throughout the Maritimes. I write about such interesting people and topics, so I love sharing the incredible facts I’ve uncovered. I visit classrooms, libraries and bookstores and have also done interviews on radio and television.

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

I’d choose Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables books. I still re-read those books and I’ve written two biographies about her. Maud (as she liked to be called) had a tough life, so I’d ask her where she found her inspiration. I’d also like to know if she’s surprised that Anne is still so popular, what Maud thinks of all the books written about her and how she feels about Anne’s incredible fame in Japan.

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I’ve written a series of biographies for first readers as well as a series for 8 to 12 year olds. So I can bring some of the world’s most incredible people to life for kids of many different ages. Kids are drawn into the wonderful stories about these well-known personalities with the many photos and artifacts that I use to illustrate my talks. I ask questions, request opinions, involve students in activities, etc.

Bunny the Brave War Horse by Elizabeth MacLeodFor students up to grade 2 or 3, I can also speak about my latest picture book, Bunny the Brave War Horse (Kids Can Press). This is a World War I story and is based on a real horse and rider. I can talk about the war as well as about horses; I also discuss World War II and show artifacts that belong to my father, who was a navigator with Bomber Command in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

As well, for older students I can look at the mysteries of history and how we’ve used modern technology to solve many of them. Using images and artifacts from my books Secrets Underground, Bones Never Lie and Royal Murder, I look at historic events and show why they matter, how they affect us today and how we can learn more about them. I also explore the forensic techniques used to solve crimes and mysteries and encourage kids to consider how to use deductive reasoning and other investigative methods in their own lives.

I’ve worked as an in-house editor, so as part of my presentation, I can also talk about the publishing process, from initial idea to final book. I discuss the team of people needed to produce a book, and again show artifacts to illustrate the various steps and to involve the audience.

As well, I have given many presentations to adults. One of my most popular talks is about how to get your children’s book published, including writing the best query letters, avoiding first-timers’ mistakes, etc. Since I have worked as an in-house editor, I can provide the view point of both an insider and a freelancer. I’ve also given presentations to many teachers and librarians about why biographies are important (for instance, they’re fun, they make history come alive, they can boost self-esteem and more) and how to interest children in biographies. I can provide handouts to participants for both of these talks.

I live in Toronto and I’m very willing to discuss travelling with anyone who would like me to speak in their classroom or library.

Classic Picture Book CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type

Posted on July 1st, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts Looks at CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that TypeCLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Classic Picture Book published by Simon and Schuster





Today we are continuing our Classic Picture Book series with a look at CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type. Originally published in 2001, it is a must-read for young children.

When Farmer Brown’s cows get their hooves on an old typewriter, they put it to excellent use. They communicate with the farmer via a series of brief messages:

Dear Farmer Brown,
The barn is very cold
at night.
We’d like some electric
blankets.
Sincerely,
The Cows”

Initially Farmer Brown decides to ignore the cows’ demand but he soon discovers that the cows hold the upper ‘hand.’ The determined cows go on strike and refuse to provide milk. Before long, the hens have sided with the cows. They are also cold and they halt egg production.Storytime Standouts features CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type

Poor Farmer Brown, his frustration with the upstart farm animals is clear. His farm simply must have milk and eggs.

CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type is a fun story that helps children to gain print awareness. The reader’s attention is drawn to letters, words and print. As well, Farmer Brown’s body language is great to watch. The terrific illustrations in the story encourage children to “read between the lines.”

A 2001 Caldecott Honor Book, CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type is a not-to-be-missed book for children aged three years and up.

2001 Charlotte Zolotow Award Nominee for Highly Commended Title
2002 Vermont’s Picture Book Awards: Red Clover
A 2001 ALA Notable Children’s Book for Younger Readers
2002 Charlotte Award (New York State Reading Association)
2001 Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award for Picture Book
2001 Book Sense Book of the Year Honor Book for Children’s Illustrated

CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type at Amazon.com

CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type at Amazon.ca

CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type Teaching Resources

CPALMS – Florida State University – CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type First Grade Close Reading Lesson

Education Miami Rosenfeld Legacy Project – Introduce the Jewish value of Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue

6 By 6 Interactive Spaces Kansas Statewide Early Literacy Library Program for CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type

Theater Works USA Study Guide – includes PDF printables (matching game, wordsearch, sequencing activity)

PBS Kids – Cornerstones Lesson Guide (two week teaching unit) for CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type

Some related picture books that young readers will enjoy

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Watch CLICK CLACK MOO Cows that Type on YouTube

Wonderful Canadian Picture Books

Posted on June 28th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

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!

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

    Posted on June 24th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

    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.

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

    Posted on June 17th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

    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.

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

    Posted on June 10th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

    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.

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