Posts Tagged ‘picture books’

Wrapping up the year… 2014 best books for middle grades

Posted on December 26th, 2014 by Jody

Best Books 2014 - 1prncs shares her favorite titles for middle grade readersI always say this but I can’t believe it’s the end of another year. How? Especially since so many of the days seemed so very, very long. Trying to remember what I did yesterday is painful, but I’m going to attempt to recap the best books I’ve read in 2014.







Middle Grade/ Young Adult

2014 best books for middle grades including The Shadow ThroneThe Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The final book in a trilogy that captivated not only my whole class, but me. A book I’ve recommended countless times. The main character is one that everyone can identify with in some way. The action is gripping as Sage/Jaron shows readers what being courageous really means.

The Shadow Throne: Book 3 of The Ascendance Trilogy at Amazon.com

The Shadow Throne: Book 3 of The Ascendance Trilogy at Amazon.ca

My True Love Gave to MeMidnights by Rainbow Rowell

I should be honest and tell you that this author could write a to-do list on a paper towel and I would love it. There is something about every one of her books that grabs me so strongly, I have to remind myself that, she doesn’t actually know me, but somehow, she gets me. And then I remind myself that she doesn’t actually write her books just for me. Elenor and Park is in our elementary library but I think the subject matter is above grade six. However, this is one of those reads that would delight an early middle school reader as much as it did me. It’s a beautiful and sweet short story.

It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins

A new author for me that I discovered because she edited the collection of short holiday stories in which Midnight was the first. Aimed at teens and up, it was just absolutely delightful to read.

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories at Amazon.com

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories at Amazon,ca

2014 best books for middle grades including Will Grayson, Will GraysonWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green

I can’t read Fault in Our Stars. I know my limits, I read within them. However, I’ve read just about everything else he’s published. This one is my favourite by him. It’s an excellent teen read that speaks to acceptance, diversity, adversity, and the amazing relationships that can stem from being in the same place at the same time.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson at Amazon.com

Will Grayson, Will Grayson at Amazon.ca

2014 best books for middle grades Including Are You There God? It's Me MargaretAre you there God, it’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume

I re read this for the first time in many, many years. I wanted to read it with my daughter and I was so pleased she enjoyed it as much as I did, both then and now. If there was a “what’s it like to become a teenage girl” book award, this would be it.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret at Amazon.com

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret at Amazon.ca

2014 best books for middle grades including Hook’s Revenge by Heidi SchulzHook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz

This is a fun book with quirky characters that made the students laugh. Determined to avenge her father’s death, Jocelyn sets out on an adventure that teaches her as much about herself as it does about her past.

Hook’s Revenge, Book 1 at Amazon.com

Hook’s Revenge, Book 1 Hook’s Revenge at Amazon.ca

2014 best books for middle grades including Dork DiariesDork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell

I started reading these with my daughter this last year. They are laugh out loud funny and so easy to connect with. Nikki is a great character and the teen drama she faces, and how she deals with it, is authentic.

Dork Diaries Box Set (Book 1-3) at Amazon.com

Dork Diaries Box Set (Book 1-3): Dork Diaries at Amazon.ca

2014 best books for middle grades Including Sisters by Raina TelgemeierSisters by Raina Telgemeier

My 11 year old read this first and then I read it with my 8 year old. It’s funny and cute and true to life in that, it’s not always easy being a family. But, when you need them, they’re there.

Sisters at Amazon.com

Sisters at Amazon.ca

2014 best books for middle grades Including FrindleFrindle by Andrew Clements

This is an awesome book. I read it with my 8 year old and it made me laugh even as it opened the door to great conversations with her. The main character makes up a new word for what we call a “pen”. A great read about the power of words and how they impact our actions.

Frindle at Amazon.com

Frindle at Amazon.ca

2014 best books for middle grades Including Wonder Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I haven’t even finished this book but I can tell you without one tiny hint of doubt that it will be one of the best reads ever. Not just this year.

Wonder at Amazon.com

Wonder at Amazon.ca

Picture Books

(contrary to some beliefs, these are not only for small children)

2014 best books for middle grades including This Plus ThatThis plus That: Life’s little equations by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace

A sweet and fun read with adorable pictures that highlights math vocabulary even as it shows kids how things are connected. Me+ Writing= Happy.

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

2014 best books for middle grades Including Those ShoesThose Shoes by Maribeth Beolts

This one was read to me and I have to say, I still love being read to. This is a great one to open kids eyes to the power of empathy and giving.

Those Shoes at Amazon.com

Those Shoes at Amazon.ca

The Invisible Boy by Trudy LudwigThe Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton

This story is a little bittersweet. You feel bad for the little boy with no friends, but love the fact that he’s okay in his own little world. Also worth noting, the color comes as friendship brightens his life which is beautiful, literally and figuratively.

The Invisible Boy at Amazon.com

The Invisible Boy at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts suggests The Very Inappropriate Word written by Jim Tobin and illustrated by Dave CoverlyThe very inappropriate word by Jim Tobin and Dave Coverly

Full of great vocabulary, this book is funny. I’ve read it several times and it’s a great way to get kids to look at the power of words and language.

The Very Inappropriate Word at Amazon.com

The Very Inappropriate Word at Amazon.ca

What Do You Do with an Idea?What do you do with an idea? by Kobi Yamada and Mae Besom

My school librarian shared this book with me and it is such a tangible idea to show how when your brain gets locked on an idea, sometimes you have to go with it.

What Do You Do With an Idea? at Amazon.com

What Do You Do with an Idea? at Amazon.ca

Books I can’t wait to read in 2015

Fish in a TreeFish in a Tree – Linda Mullaly Hunt

The name is part of one of my favourite quotes so of course I’m drawn to it. That and the fact that her book One for the Murphys was one of my favourite reads of 2013.

Mark of the ThiefMark of the Thief – Jennifer A. Nielsen

I think I need to read this one on my own before with my class. When I read the Ascendance Trilogy, I got so hooked that we might have missed some math lessons.

 

What are some of your favorite kids reads this year? Anything you’re looking forward to? Also, in an openly shameless bid for self-promotion, I hope to one day make it onto one of your favorite lists. Either with the adult books I have coming out in 2015 or with the picture book, SWEET DREAM SISTERS, that will be available in 2016. Have a very, Happy well-read 2015.

 

Extra Yarn written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen

Posted on December 2nd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Extra Yarn written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen is the first in our series of posts looking at the 2013 Caldecott Medal and Honor Books

Storytime Standouts Reviews Extra Yarn written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon KlassenExtra Yarn written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen
2013 Caldecott Honor Book published by Balzer & Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers





When young Annabelle finds a box of yarn and knitting needles, she begins by knitting herself a colorful sweater. Once the sweater is finished, she looks for friends and neighbors to outfit in warm wool creations. It is not long before she transforms her dreary, wintry grey town into a cheery, cozy world using the apparently endless supply of yarn. When an archduke arrives and offers to buy the magical box and its contents, Annabelle refuses him. He decides that he must have it and sends robbers to get the box from her. Extra Yarn spread

A fascinating fairy tale that explores generosity and community, Extra Yarn is best suited to children aged four years and up. Fans of Jon Klassen will enjoy spotting some of his trademark characters wearing Annabelle’s cozy gifts.

2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award

Extra Yarn at Amazon.com

Extra Yarn at Amazon.ca

A Look at the 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal Award Winner and Honor Books

Posted on October 16th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts Shares Wonderful Choices for Beginning Readers








The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli 2014  Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal Award WinnerThe Watermelon Seed written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli
Picture book for beginning readers published by Disney Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group



When a charming and exuberant crocodile explains that he loves watermelon, we are utterly convinced,

Ever since I was a teeny, tiny baby cocodile, it’s been my favorite.
CHOMP! SLURP! CHOMP!

While enthusiastically devouring his favorite fruit, the crocodile accidentally ingests a seed, his imagination runs wild and he assumes a variety of terrible outcomes.

Repetitive text, limited use of long vowel words and very good supporting illustrations make this a great choice for beginning readers.

The Watermelon Seed at Amazon.com

The Watermelon Seed at Amazon.ca



Ball by Mary Sullivan a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookBall written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan
Picture book for beginning readers published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children



There is little doubt that this dog loves his small, red ball. From the moment he wakes up, he is focused on only one thing: playing with the ball. He especially loves when the ball is thrown by a young girl but when she leaves for school there is no one available to throw it.

This is a terrific picture book that relies heavily on the illustrations for the narrative. Apart from one repeated word (ball) it could be classified as a wordless picture book.

It will be thoroughly enjoyed by dog lovers and young children – especially those who are eager for an opportunity to read independently.

Ball at Amazon.com

Ball at Amazon.ca



A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookA Big Guy Took My Ball written and illustrated by Mo Willems
Series for beginning readers published by Hyperion Books for Children



This charming story will remind readers that appearances can be deceiving and perspective is everything! Gerald and Piggie’s friendship is solid and Gerald is more than willing to stand up for Piggie when her ball is taken by a big guy.

Delightful illustrations will appeal to young readers as they effectively portray a range of emotions. The text is perfect for children who are beginning to read – lots of repetition and very few long vowel words.

A Big Guy Took My Ball! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) at Amazon.com

A Big Guy Took My Ball! at Amazon.ca

Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes a 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor BookPenny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes
Generously illustrated chapter book series for beginning readers published by Greenwillow Books An Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers



It truly is a treat to read such a beautifully-written chapter book for beginning readers. Kevin Henkes has created a new character: Penny. She is a young mouse with a sense of right and wrong. In this book, she is out with her sister when she “finds” a beautiful blue marble. She excitedly puts it into her pocket and later wonders if she did the right thing.

Lovely, full color illustrations and a thought-provoking dilemma make this a great choice for newly independent readers.

Penny and Her Marble at Amazon.com

Penny And Her Marble at Amazon.ca


Classic Picture Book: Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes

Posted on October 15th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes created and illustrated by James Dean, story by Eric LitwinPete the Cat I Love My White Shoes created and illustrated by James Dean, story by Eric Litwin
Picture book published by Harper Collins Children’s Books





Light, breezy, rhythmic and upbeat, Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes shares a message of resilience that will appeal to children and adults. Pete begins his day with bright, white new shoes. When he steps onto a pile of strawberries, his shoes turn red and, when he encounters blueberries, his shoes turn blue. Regardless of what poor Pete has to walk through, he maintains his happy outlook. Very popular with young children who enjoy learning and singing about colors, Pete also has a message for older children and adults:

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” Helen Keller

An excellent choice for young readers who will benefit from the repetitive and predictable text, Pete’s coolness is oh so groovy!

Harper Collins Publishers’ Pete the Cat downloads (including songs)

I Can Read Pete the Cat (free downloads)

School Library Journal’s Top 100 Picture Books
2013 Morning Calm Award Medal, International Schools of South Korea
2013 Best Picture Book, Colorado Children’s Book Award
2013 Best Picture Book, North Carolina Children’s Book Award
2012 Center for the Book at the New Hampshire State Library – Ladybug Picture Book Award
2011 ReadKiddoRead award for Best Illustrated Books
2011 Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award
2010 25 Books All Young Georgians Should Read

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes at Amazon.com

Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes at Amazon.ca

Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes on YouTube

Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes Pinterest Board

Follow Storytime Standouts’s board Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes created and illustrated by James Dean, story by Eric Litwin on Pinterest.


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 Children’s Book 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 Children’s Book Author and 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 infer 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 Wonderful 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

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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

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Some related picture books that young readers will enjoy

An Outstanding 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


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Meet Children’s Book 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 by Karen Scheuer

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 Children’s Book 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

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is a Classic!

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


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Meet Children’s Book 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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