Posts Tagged ‘children’s book’

Introducing Malcolm Harris, author of The Golden Crown, a Shubby and the Mammacs Adventure

Posted on July 16th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Malcolm Harris has written two books, The Golden Crown, a Shubby and the Mammacs Adventure, a junior edition of his children’s picture book and a memoir titled, A Mere Mortal.

Author Malcolm Harris

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

My parents bought me very few books, so I have no recall of any author impacting upon me at that age. My inspiration has been my daughter, now 30, who provided the idea for my first children’s picture book when she was 3 years of age.

Who is your favorite author now? Why do you connect with this particular author and his/her work?

I thoroughly enjoy reading Michael Palin’s diaries. I also read a lot of memoirs recommended on We Love Memoirs group on Facebook. Palin is both intelligent and humorous.

Author website

Twitter: @malharrisauthor

Facebook page

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

Like everyone else, it took me an age to approach countless agencies. I decided on self-publication. I don’t feel that this has hindered my success such as it is, but it does mean you have a lot of self-promotion to do if you want to make your book a success.

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

Most of my contact comes through Facebook and my website. I belong to several Facebook groups, in particular, We Love Memoirs. This is a group of like-minded readers and authors, and touted as the friendliest group on Facebook. I was about to conduct a library talk when covid intervened.

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

Well, I am a retired local authority officer, so work is now hobby-based. I love photography, and publish the occasional picture through Shutterstock, having had a studio in the dim and distant past. I also worked on commercial radio and took part in several stage shows and plays. My book, A Mere Mortal, tells the story in full!

The Golden Crown, a Shubby and the Mammacs Adventure by Malcolm Harris

Who do you think should read The Golden Crown, a Shubby and the Mammacs Adventure? What are you most proud of? 

My children’s book is aimed at infants between the ages of 2 and 4, written simply is easy to follow language and super coloured illustrations.

The original version of Shubby and the Mammacs is aimed at 4 to 7-year-olds as a night-time reader and aid to first self-reading.

SHUBBY AND THE MAMMACS: The Golden Crown at Amazon.com

SHUBBY AND THE MAMMACS: The Golden Crown at Atmazon.ca

Discover a diverse selection of Children’s Picture Books About Ramadan

Posted on May 18th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Picture Books About Ramadan recommended by Storytime Standouts

These children’s books offer an opportunity for children and adults to learn about the rituals and traditions associated with the observance of Ramadan.

For someone not familiar with Ramadan, it is interesting to read all of the stories and notice how they are alike and different (eating dates is mentioned in two of the picture books, for example. Likewise, looking at the illustrations we can find some colors are more prominent than others.)

Night of the Moon A Musline Holiday Story is a picture book about Ramadan

Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Julie Paschkis

Picture book about Ramadan published by Chronicle Kids

Yasmeen is a seven-year-old Pakistani-American girl who learns that the crescent moon outside her bedroom window symbolizes a new month in the Islamic calendar. Yasmeen falls asleep, eagerly anticipating the special foods, the new clothes, the celebrations and the gifts that are part of the observance of Ramadan.

Yasmeen is happy when her teacher leads a discussion about Ramadan and she is able to explain fasting to her classmates. She learns more at home when her family eats dates and drinks milk after sunset and before enjoying a delicious dinner together.

Later in the month, Yasmeen attends a special dinner with extended family and helps to prepare food for sharing at the family’s Mosque.

Throughout Night of the Moon, Yasmeen watches the night sky and how our view of the moon changes over the course of a month. Gorgeous, rich illustrations beautifully match the tone of the story. We experience the young girl’s joy in learning about and experiencing Ramadan with her family and friends.

Author’s notes and a glossary provide additional information for readers including definitions and a pronunciation guide for some of the vocabulary introduced by the author.

Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story at Amazon.com

Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story at Amazon.ca

A Party in Ramadan is a picture book about Ramadan written by Asma Mogin-Uddin and illustrated by Laura Jacobsen

A Party in Ramadan written by Asma Mobin-Uddin and illustrated by Laura Jacobsen

Picture book about Ramadan published by Boyds Mills Press

Leena is excited to be invited to her friend’s birthday party. There is going to be a pony to ride and cake to eat. Unfortunately, the party is on the same day that her aunt will be visiting her family and sharing in their iftar dinner.

Leena is confident that she can attend the party with her friends but not eat cake or have anything to drink. She reassures her mother that she can manage but feels embarrassed when her mom explains fasting to the party host.

Leena’s friends are supportive of her and one of them even offers to skip eating cake. Leena assures her that is not necessary While the others eat, Leena starts to feel tired and headachey. She looks forward to going home and eventually falls asleep at the party.

Leena wakes up at home and is happy to help prepare the dates and is excited to enjoy dinner with her family and her aunt. She is proud that she was able to manage the party and resist eating or drinking with her friends.

An extensive Author’s Note provides additional information about Ramadan and why and how women and girls wear a Hijab.

A Party in Ramadan at Amazon.com

A Party in Ramadan at Amazon.ca

Ramadhan and Eid-Ul-Fitr written and illustrated by Azra Jessa is a picture book about Ramadhan

Ramadhan* and Eid-Ul-Fitr written and illustrated by Azra Jessa

Picture book about Ramadan and Eid-Ul-Fitr published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, Inc

An Inspiration for young authors and illustrators, Azra Jessa was just eight years old when she wrote this story. She used “Paint” to create the illustrations. She writes in first-person and explains that Muslims follow the lunar calendar and that during the month of Ramadhan*, Muslims fast and do not eat or drink during the day. She writes that during Ramadhan* Muslims help others, and focus on kind words.

Azra also describes how her family celebrates the day of Eid with new clothing, prayers, a charitable donation, visits with friends and family and delicious food.

An afternote provides information about Child Aid International

*Ms. Jessa uses a different spelling for “Ramadhan” than what is used in the other picture books.

Ramadhan and Eid-ul-Fitr at Amazon.com

Ramadhan and Eid-ul-Fitr at Amazon.ca

Ramadan Moon written by Na’ima B Robert and illustrated by Shirin Adl

Picture book about Ramadan published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Intriguing, rich collage illustrations are a highlight of this picture book about Ramadan and the rituals and celebrations associated with it. A five-person family watches for a sliver of moon to appear, knowing that Muslims around the globe share their excitement for “The Month of Mercy.”

During the day we keep busy with all sorts of good deeds: Our voices flow with the words of God In unplanned harmonies.

Ramadan Moon At Amazon.com

Ramadan Moon at Amazon.ca

Children’s Books to help explain our pandemic

Posted on April 25th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares free, downloadable books to help explain a pandemic to children.

Free picture book downloads for parents and caregivers who are trying to explain the current pandemic and the need for social distancing to children.

It is important to note that all of these picture books are meant to be read aloud and discussed with children by a parent, teacher or caregiver. These stories are not intended for children to read independently. We strongly recommend that adults read the books before sharing them with a child.

We will update this article as more books are published digitally. Please contact us or leave a comment if you are aware of books that should be included. Thank you.

I will be Patient... written and illustrated by Jose Fraguso

I Will Be Patient written and illustrated by José Fragoso

Advisor: Dr. Castrejón, Gregorio Marañón Hospital, Madrid.

Picture book to help explain a pandemic published digitally and free of charge by NubeOcho.

#IWillBePatient

Also available in Spanish.

Appropriate for preschool children, I Will Be Patient shares a reassuring message that healthcare workers and scientists are working hard to help us. Briefly acknowledging “armchair quarterbacks” who complain, the author quickly transitions to positive, child-appropriate messaging about how each one of us can make a difference.

  • Washing hands
  • Physical distancing
  • Staying home
  • Staying in contact with family members, especially grandparents
  • Doing homework

Bright, colorful illustrations are a highlight of this story for young children. Sharing factual information and a message of hope and encouragement, we especially liked the frothing handwashing bubbles and the (eventual) return to the fun and friends found at playgrounds around the world.

Download a copy of I Will Be Patient from the publisher’s website here


Coronavirus A Book for Children will help parents explain a pandemic to children.

Coronavirus A Book for Children written by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson and Nia Roberts and illustrated by Axel Scheffler

Consultant: Professor Graham Medley Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Picture book to help explain a pandemic published digitally and free of charge by Nosy Crow

Listen to the audiobook, read by Hugh Bonneville

Appropriate to share with children aged 5 years and up, Coronavirus A Book for Children provides detailed information about how viruses are spread, symptoms experienced by people who are infected by a coronavirus, why people are worried about the disease and why we need to physical distance.

Detailed, engaging illustrations feature a racially diverse community and individuals with mobility impairments.

Extensive afternotes provide additional resources for children and adults.

Download a copy of Coronavirus A Book for Children from the publisher’s website here


The Mystery of the Missing Soap written by Geeta Dharmarajan and illustrated by Suddhasattwa Basu and Charbak Dipta

Picture book to encourage hand-washing during a pandemic published digitally and free of charge by Katha. Katha is based in India and serves children and their families who are living in poverty.

Katha uses a framework of “THINK, ASK, DISCUSS, ACT and ACTION.” (TADAA) to share important information and to foster learning.

Suitable for late primary and older children, the book includes instructions for making soap using reetha berries. Afternotes provide facts about Coronavirus and handwashing.

The Mystery of the Missing Soap has been published in five languages: English, Hindi, Tamil, Marathi and Assamese.

Read a copy of The Mystery of the Missing Soap and/or download a copy here.


My Hero is You was developed by the (UNICEF) Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, and supported by global, regional and country-based experts, in addition to parents, caregivers, teachers and children in 104 countries. It was illustrated by Helen Patuck

Picture book to help explain a pandemic published digitally and free of charge by IASC

Also available in Arabic, Chinese French, Russian, and Spanish

Appropriate to share with children aged six and older, My Hero is You is a metaphorical picture book that sees Sara discover ways to make a positive difference while travelling to destinations around the world on the back of a dragon.

“Remember our story. You can keep those you love safe by washing your hands and staying home. I am never far away. You can always be with me when you go to your safe place.” “You are my hero,” she whispered. “You are my hero too, Sara. You are a hero to all those who love you,” he said.

from My Hero is You

My Download a copy of My Hero is You or read it online.


Right now, I am Fine written by Dr Daniela Own and illustrated by Bulce Baycik

Right Now, I am Fine written by Dr. Daniela Owen and illustrated by Gülce Baycik

Picture book to help children manage anxious thoughts published digitally and free of charge on the author’s blog

#rightnowIamfine

A narrated copy is available on YouTube and an accompanying coloring book is also available for download

Written specifically for children who are experiencing worries, fears, discomfort, or nagging thoughts during challenging times, Right Now, I am Fine will give children (and adults) very specific steps to take when experiencing troubling emotions, especially anxiety.

Simple, straightforward language and easily-implemented suggestions make the ideas shared in this picture book accessible to children of all ages. We can almost hear the author’s soothing voice and recommendations, helping us to cope with our worries and fears.

“It is important to remind ourselves that we are fine, right now.”

Dr. Daniela Owen

Download a Copy of Right Now, I am Fine


A Kids Book About Covid-19 by Malia Jones

a kids book about COVID-19 written by Dr. Malia Jones

Children’s book to help explain Covid-19 published digitally and free of charge by A Kids Book About, Inc.

Dr. Malia Jones is a social epidemiologist

Also available in Spanish

a kids book about COVID-19 relies on text and graphics to share information and is best suited to children aged 5 years and up. It includes a thoughtful, reassuring introduction for parents, a fact sheet and recommendations for follow-up questions and discussion.

We especially liked the author’s reference to “cocooning” and encouraging children to about other creatures that live (for a while) in a cocoon. Families who choose to print a kids book about COVID-19 could suggest that children color it as an extension activity.

This book publisher requires an email address.

Request a link to download/print a kids book about COVID-19 here.

LIVE with epidemiologist Malia Jones

Ask your COVID questions to Dr. Malia Jones of Dear Pandemic! Get Malia's FREE e-book, A Kids Book About COVID-19, here: akidsbookabout.com/pages/covid-19To play with the computer models from this chat, head to: ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/For at-home hands-on STEM activities, download our NEW Lesson Plans:sciencewithsophie.com/guides

Posted by Science With Sophie on Tuesday, April 7, 2020


Talking about COVID-19 with young children

Talking About Corona Virus-19 with Young Children prepared by UNICEF LACRO Early Childhood Development team and reviewed by the Health, Child Protection, and Education in Emergencies areas

Illustrated by Sol Diaz

Available in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

An interactive book that includes cut and paste activities and an opportunity to draw or have an adult scribe. The content in Talking About Corona Virus-19 with Young Children is most appropriate for preschool-age children.

Choose your preferred language and download Talking About Corona Virus-19 with Young Children here


The Big Alone written by Alex Avendaño and illustrated by Jan Avendaño

Picture book about physical distancing and feeling lonely published digitally and without charge on the sisters’ website

Available in English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog

#TheBigAlone

An absolute delight, The Big Alone captures the loneliness and sadness experienced by children and adults who are physical distancing. Charming, black and white digital illustrations beautifully convey emotions through facial expressions, especially eyes.

The realization that being physically separate does not have to mean “alone,” is uplifting and inspiring.

Download The Big Alone here


Oaky and the Virus by Athol Williams and Taryn Lock is a picture book about staying well during the CoronaVirus pandemic

Oaky and the Virus written by Athol Williams and illustrated by Taryn Lock

Children’s book to help explain viruses published digitally and free of charge by Theart Press

#OakyFun

Theart Press is a South African publisher specialising in inspirational books. All book profits go to READ to RISE which is a non-profit organization that promotes youth literacy in South Africa.

​Oaky and Oaket are brother and sister. They love to play with their friends. When a virus threatens their community, they are determined to stay well. They can’t trap the virus because it is too small to see. Instead, they learn a song that reminds them to wash their hands, wear a mask and stay home. They are both disappointed that they can’t see their friends but they resolve to read, play with toys and bake a cake.

Suitable for preschool-age children, Oaky and the Virus is part of a series of books about Oaky and Oaket. Afternotes include questions about the story and ways to extend learning.

Download a copy of Oaky and the Virus here


Easter Fun in Picture Books

Posted on April 7th, 2020 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts shares Easter-theme picture books for children.

Easter is the perfect to time add new picture books to a child’s library. Matching stories to seasons and holidays creates opportunities for children to make connections with family celebrations — and maybe even some festive baking! Today we are sharing three fun picture books for children who celebrate Easter to enjoy.

Storytime Standouts shares Easter-theme picture books including Eggs, Eggs!

Eggs, Eggs! A Lift-the-Flap Boardbook created by Salina Yoon

Easter Lift-the-Flap Board Book published by Price Stern Sloan an imprint of Penguin Random House

A twelve-page board book that includes four sturdy flaps and concludes with a fold-out. This is a story for very young children. We follow Molly, Pete and Kate as they search for Easter eggs.

Young readers will enjoy the bright, colorful illustrations, feeling textures on the cover and on some of the pages while peeking behind the flaps to discover baskets, rabbits, eggs and more.

When one child is unsuccessful in her hunt, the others pool their sweet treats and demonstrate a positive message about sharing.

Best for very young children, the board book is larger than some so it is suitable for small group settings.

Eggs, Eggs! at Amazon.com

Eggs, Eggs! at Amazon.ca
Storytime Standouts shares Easter-theme picture books for children including The Gingerbread Bunny

The Gingerbread Bunny written and illustrated by Jonathan Allen

Easter Lift-the Flap Picture Book published by Picture Corgi an imprint of Random House Children’s Books

When a Little Old Woman and a Little Old Man bake a yummy gingerbread bunny and decorate it with chocolate, they can’t wait to taste it. They put it near a window to cool but, before they get a chance to taste it, the gingerbread bunny escapes out an open window and triggers a merry chase.

Catch me? Ha ha! That’s really funny! You can’t catch me, I’m the GINGERBREAD BUNNY!

Soon the Little Old Woman, the Little Old Man, Farmer Smith’s cats, Mrs. McBride’s dogs, Lady Fanshawe’s chickens, and Reverend Pugh’s pigs chase the Gingerbread Bunny through the village, to a river and an apparently helpful Fox.

A good choice for 4-6-year-olds, The Gingerbread Bunny is quite true to the traditional Gingerbread Man tale so children will be able to make comparisons with other stories. Charming illustrations include 8 flaps that conceal what is happening behind a door, inside farm gates and in the tall grass near the river. We especially noticed and appreciated the (drawn and watercolored) facial expressions of the gingerbread bunny and his pursuers. Look for shock, determination, teasing, charm and, ultimately, denial.

The Gingerbread Bunny at Amazon.com

The Gingerbread Bunny at Amazon.ca

Bake some gingerbread bunny cookies to enjoy with this story
Storytime Standouts shares Easter-theme picture books including It's the Easter Beagles, Charlie Brown

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown created by Charles M. Schulz

Easter Picture Book published by Simon Spotlight an imprint of Simon and Schuster

The always popular Peanuts gang celebrates Easter. Peppermint Patty and Marcie do their best to decorate Easter eggs, without much success. Sally needs new shoes for the special day and Linus is happily confident that the Easter Beagle will deliver special treats on Easter Day. Meanwhile, Lucy is focussing on her plan for a can’t-fail Easter egg hunt and Charlie Brown predicts disappointment.

True-to-character, this is a story that will be best enjoyed by children who are familiar with, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and/or A Charlie Brown Christmas.

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown at Amazon.com

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown at Amazon.ca

Click Here to Explore All Easter Theme Printables and Picture Books

Meet Picture Book Author James Littlejohn (Interview)

Posted on January 12th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

Photo of picture book author James Littlejohn

Today it is our pleasure to introduce picture book author, James Littlejohn. He is the author of B is for Baller

You can connect with James here…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jameslittlejuan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littlejohnbooks
Publisher: Triumph Books

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of? James Littlejohn's B is for Baller

My book is “B is for Baller.” It’s a must for parents who love basketball and want to pass that love of the game along to their kids. I’m most proud hearing from parents who’ve told me it’s sparked conversations with their kids about players they grew up watching.

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?

Too many favorites to name, but Roald Dahl stands out. Loved the humor in his work.

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

We successfully launched “B is for Baller” on Kickstarter before finding a publisher, and I think the positive response we got from crowdfunding helped the publisher see its potential.
That said, “B is for Baller” wasn’t my first, second or third book — those ones still haven’t been published and likely never will be. So yes, it is difficult! If becoming an author or illustrator is an aspiration of yours, I think you have to accept that rejection is inevitable. There are too many talented people, and too few opportunities, for everyone to succeed at once.

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

I enjoy the creative process — coming up with new ideas and seeing those ideas come to life on the page is really satisfying.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author?

Other than finding a publisher… probably trying to write your own bio.

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

I work full-time as a writer at an advertising agency. Keeps me creatively engaged, but also requires me to think a lot about marketing — skills I need and use often making and selling books.

B is for Baller: The Ultimate Basketball Alphabet at Amazon.com

B is for Baller: The Ultimate Basketball Alphabet at Amazon.ca

James is available for school or library presentations. He is based in Los Angeles.

Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth!

Posted on October 22nd, 2018 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts writes about Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My ToothUnlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth! written and illustrated by Mo Willems
Generously illustrated book for beginning readers published by Hyperion Books for Children

I have hosted a Little Free Library (LFL) outside my home for the past four years. My LFL is limited to children’s books. Recently, one of my neighbors has been adding brand new books(!) to it fairly often. Recently, he or she left a copy of hot-off-the-press Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth!

A terrific follow-up to Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie series, this is a book that will have great appeal for new readers. Bright, bold, graphic illustrations and fun, expressive text combine to tell the story of a search for a squirrel’s missing tooth.

When a team of enthusiastic squirrels needs to fact-check, Research Rodent adds background information about teeth to an otherwise silly story. Boys and girls who are at about a grade 1 or 2 level will enjoy the “inside” joke about a tooth that has been lost. The Table of Contents, irreverent endpapers that identify each of the squirrels by name and the antics of the furry-tailed characters make for a great fun.

Follow this link to our free Squirrel Theme printables and picture book suggestions.

I Lost My Tooth! (Unlimited Squirrels) at Amazon.com

I Lost My Tooth! (Unlimited Squirrels) at Amazon.ca

Storytime Standouts interviews author Michael Samulak

Posted on September 29th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts interviews Michael SamulakMichael Samulak has almost twenty years of experience teaching, mentoring, and engaging youth both in and outside of the classroom. Mr. Samulak visits schools, learning centers, and daycares to read and present his stories and world adventures. His goal is to inspire youth to dream big. Michael’s teaching and classroom experience help him to fill his award-winning picture books with fun opportunities for learning.

Michael resides in the City of Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and four children.

He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Michigan State University (’96) and finished his Master’s in Education at Cleveland State University (’12). He has been working as a full-time youth minister and educator for close to 20 years.

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?

A Wonderful Day! is my latest picture book about going to the zoo. This is actually my first traditionally published title and I am so excited to be able to share it with everyone! It is an early reader, great for emerging readers, or those who are working toward fluency and need that extra support from a fun book that can reinforce those early sight words and phonics skills that they have been working on.A Wonderful Day! by Michael Samulak

I generally recommend a target audience to be 3-6 years old, but as many of the educators and parents will tell you, this totally depends on your reader. My nephew is 2 and he loves to make all the animal sounds as he flips excitedly through the pages. My brother sent me a picture of him sneaking a read after he had “thought” he put him to bed. He was “reading” under the covers, flashlight and all. I couldn’t have been more happy to see someone getting that kind of joy from one of my books.

I am probably most proud of the way the book has been put together with little learning moments laced throughout the manuscript. Besides being written with a gender-neutral text, you also have a good amount of questions and statements that can be thought-provoking and interactive. This kind of anticipatory exercise is very important for young readers as they are learning and beginning to understand that text has meaning. I love that the book helps young readers make text-to-self-reflections; putting their own experiences and prior knowledge front and center while reading in order to develop and expand the whole experience of reading. We all do this as accomplished readers, and generally forget that somewhere along the line we were helped to understand and realize that reading is so much more than decoding and applying the known rules of phonics.

A Wonderful Day! was recently Awarded the Gold Medal for Children’s Picture Books (Animals) by the Mom’s Choice Awards.

A Wonderful Day! at Amazon.com

A Wonderful Day! at Amazon.ca

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

This would have to be when I would ask my mom if I could stay home from Jr. High school, maybe about 6th or 7th grade so I could keep working on my first chapter book.

I think that it is safe to say that I still consider myself to be a work-in-progress, and so it is crazy to think that my books can now be found in libraries, schools, and peoples’ homes.

For those still-aspiring writers I always have the same words, “Don’t ever give up!” That choice has a guaranteed outcome. Don’t stop. Keep going, keep writing, keep up the inquiring: There is story that you have that the world needs to read. Keep putting yourself and your work out there and it will happen, even if it seems that things are tough or impossible, as long as you are moving and working on your dream, something can happen.

A is for Africa by Michael Samulak

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

Generally speaking, one of my five children climbing on my back or sitting in my lap. Don’t get me wrong; I love all of the kids. They are a big source of inspirations for many of my books, so I can’t complain, but finding that quality, uninterrupted time is tough.

I am always writing, or at least thinking about writing. My note app on my phone is filled with bits and pieces, lines, thoughts: unpublished titles, I’m always trying to think of what may be a good title for a book. I think that has replaced a lot of my early days of notebooks, scrap paper, napkins from a dinner table, whatever was there really: Crayon, pencil, that piece of fruit my daughter had finished with…whatever worked to get that word down before it was gone. I’m sure some out there can relate.

I suppose once it is time put all of those bits and pieces into something “final” that I then print out or send to an actual human being, my laptop and a local coffee shop are where I land. But, the process, yeah, that’s a lot messy for me.

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

What hasn’t happened? Tears, fears, in appropriate laughing; farting, burping, teasing, and a lot of smiles and wide-eye stares that keep me coming back for more.

I love reading my work and interacting with the children at schools and learning centers the most. I think it is the father and educator parts of me. I have come to expect the unexpected and it is this color and variety of the trip that make it so worthwhile.

If I had to pick one particular event I am particularly found of, it would be that one I often remember this one time when I visited one schools and one of the students in the sea of faces piped up matter-of-factly after I held up my book, “Hey! I have that book at home! I love that book! Oh Boy!, this is gonna be awesome.” I had to take a moment to hold back the tears on that one. It was one of the first times that I really felt accomplished as an author: Like my dreams of being able to write for children were coming true.

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?

Everything goes when it comes to connecting, networking, and staying engaged with readers. So, yes to all!

I love to network and feel that it is so important to staying relevant to my audience. I often will bring “finished” works to the schools and classrooms that I visit to get fresh feed back from the audience that I feel matters most – the one that I am writing for. I try to stay active on social media platforms, but since I write for a younger audience, like, they aren’t quite there yet when it comes to literacy fluency, let alone responding to a FaceBook post; I generally am reaching out and interacting with parents, other writers, educators, etc. on those platforms. With that in mind, I am generally looking for opportunities related to a visit or to network, or generally showing off my beautiful family and our recent life adventures together.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author?

Juggling work, family, wife, kids — oh yeah, and then there is writing. I would have to say time – quality time to get to the end part of that process of writing in order to cross that finished line where an actual tangible piece is produced that then can be reworked, critiqued, rejected, reworked again…really, do I need to go on.

I know others may have other struggles, and I’m not at all saying that those aren’t real or deep, but for myself it would have to be finding the time to “gett’er done”.

“Just keep swimming” often does become my own encouraging theme song on those days when I feel like throwing in the towel. And so I try to just keep moving, even if it is just one sentence or phrase that I can work on; not even finish per say, but to mark progress. Yes, seeing progress helps to keep me going and eventually cross that finish line.

When I go to schools or libraries I love to read my picture books and share my inspirations and experiences that they are based on. Generally speaking, this makes for great laughs as I share my adventures with my children. I also have brought back some native items from Africa and do a sort of “Show and Tell”. The kids love to see and feel these native artifacts. The African Drum is usually the biggest “hit”.

Learning Fun with Pumpkins! Picture Books and Free Printables

Posted on October 20th, 2015 by Carolyn Hart


Pumpkin patch theme picture books and printables for homeschool and kindergarten


We live very near to several pumpkin patches. At this time of year, the leaves have died away to reveal gorgeous orange fruit. If you and your family have an opportunity to trudge through muddy fields to select just the right pumpkin, be sure to extend your child’s learning with pumpkin theme picture books and printables.





The Biggest Pumpkin Ever written by Steven Kroll and illustrated by Jeni Bassett is recommended in Storytime Standouts Pumpkin Patch ThemeThe Biggest Pumpkin Ever written by Steven Kroll and illustrated by Jeni Bassett
Preschool picture book about growing pumpkins published by Cartwheel Books, a Division of Scholastic

Clayton and Desmond each fall in love with the same pumpkin and are soon working night and day to water and fertilize it. Before long, it is absolutely enormous! One night, as they work to protect the pumpkin from frost, the two young mice meet and discover that they have both been working on the same pumpkin project. Before long, it is time for a pumpkin contest and, together, the new friends enlist the help of dozens of field mice to transport the pumpkin into town.

With only a brief reference to carving a smiling jack-o-lantern face, this story is primarily about caring for the growing pumpkin, discovering a new friend and working cooperatively together. The Biggest Pumpkin Ever is a great opportunity to explore the life cycle of a pumpkin. It will be enjoyed by preschool, kindergarten and early primary age children.

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever at Amazon.com

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever at Amazon.ca


Storytime Standouts shares a children's board book about a pumpkinDuck & Goose Find a Pumpkin written and illustrated by Tad Hills
Board Book published by schwartz & wade books and imprint of Penguin Random House

Gorgeous oil paint illustrations in rich Fall colors are a highlight of this book for very young children. Tad Hills (sometimes with Lauren Savage) has written and illustrated an engaging series of books about Duck and Goose. In this story, when Duck and Goose see their friend with a large pumpkin, they decide to find one for themselves. They look EVERYWHERE! It is only when their friend asks if they have looked in the pumpkin patch that they find what they are looking for.

This is a fun and appealing story that young children will especially enjoy before or after a trip to the pumpkin patch. There’s lots of opportunity for vocabulary development and co-‘reading.’

Duck & Goose, Find a Pumpkin (Oversized Board Book) at Amazon.com

Duck & Goose, Find a Pumpkin at Amazon.ca


Pumpkin Town written by Katie McKay and illustrated by Pablo BernasconiPumpkin Town written by Katie McKay and illustrated by Pablo Bernasconi
Preschool picture book about growing pumpkins published by HMH Books for Young Readers

José’s family grows pumpkins and usually they are very careful to only grow the best. One day José and his five brothers discard some ‘lesser’ seeds carelessly. The seeds are blown into town and land on straw roofs and in soil. When spring arrives, the seeds began to grow. Soon intrusive vines push through windows and heavy pumpkins threaten to drop out of trees and off rooftops. José and his family are blissfully unaware of the problem until the brothers venture into town.

Acknowledging their mistake, the boys set about harvesting the pumpkins and returning the town to normal. Observant readers will accurately predict the impact of rewarding the brothers’ hard work by giving them watermelons to eat.

Very good fun for preschool, kindergarten and early primary age children. No reference to Halloween.

Pumpkin Town! Or, Nothing Is Better and Worse Than Pumpkins at Amazon.com

Pumpkin Town! Or, Nothing Is Better and Worse Than Pumpkins at Amazon.ca


Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins written by Dianne Ochiltree and illustrated by Anne-Sophie LanquetinSixteen Runaway Pumpkins
Rhyming, counting picture book about harvesting pumpkins written by Dianne Ochiltree and illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin

Sam Raccoon is confident when she heads out to the pumpkin patch. She pulls a large blue wagon behind her and she is soon filling it with big, lumpy pumpkins. At last the wagon is stacked with sixteen bright orange pumpkins that wiggle and wobble as she pulls it down the bumpy road. Soon, the pumpkins tumble out of the wagon and roll and bounce down the hill to the farmhouse.

Sam runs after the tumbling pumpkins and is disappointed when some are cracked but Grandpa knows exactly what to do with cracked pumpkins. The family gets to work and soon enjoy a delicious dessert.

Engaging illustrations, rollicking rhymes and the chance to count along will have great appeal for preschool, kindergarten and early primary age children.

Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins at Amazon.com

Sixteen Runaway Pumpkins at Amazon.ca


Pumpkin Theme Free Printables

image of PDF icon  Five Little Pumpkins

Use as a action chant or a felt board story

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Pumpkin

Fall theme interlined paper with pumpkins for beginning writers.


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

Classic Picture Book: Go Away Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley

Posted on September 23rd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

 

Storytime Standouts shares classic picture book Go Away Big Green Monster! by Ed EmberleyGo Away Big Green Monster! written and illustrated by Ed Emberley
Die Cut Classic picture book published by Hachette Book Group




Bold colors and clever die cuts highlight this simple, classic picture book for children aged three years and up. When we first meet Big Green Monster, we see only his large yellow eyes. A turn-of-the-page later and we are staring at his large nose and his eyes. Enthusiastic children will “read” along as white teeth, small ears, purple hair, and green face are added to the monster’s visage.

But… YOU DON’T SCARE ME!
So, GO AWAY, scraggly purple hair…
.

A happy conclusion allows youngsters to ensure the monster disappears as quickly as he arrived. Great fun for all and a good opportunity to extend the learning by exploring colors and descriptive words.

Lesson plan from UNC School of Education – Describing Words

Read Write Think lesson plan

Scholastic Reading Club lesson plan

SMART Exchange lesson

Go Away, Big Green Monster! at Amazon.com

Go Away, Big Green Monster! at Amazon.ca

Check our Pinterest Board for Teaching Ideas and Ways to Extend Learning for Go Away, Big Green Monster!



Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? A Classic 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.

An Alphabet Book for Every Child! Highlighting ABC Books for Kids

Posted on May 28th, 2007 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts Suggests Alphabet Books for Preschool


Having alphabet books available for your children, is one way to make your home literacy-friendly.

Today I will look at five diverse alphabet books. Just looking at the titles and cover art of the books gives us a hint of the broad range of style and content that alphabet books can encompass.

Storytime Standouts writes about alphabet book, Do Your ABCs Little Brown Bear

Do Your ABC’s, Little Brown Bear written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Margie Moore
Alphabet Book for preschoolers published by Puffin; Reprint edition

Beginning with Do Your ABC’s, Little Brown Bear we discover a way to help a child learn her alphabet. On a walk with Papa, Little Brown Bear looks for things that begin with each letter of the alphabet. I enjoyed the sweet interaction between Papa and Little Brown Bear. It is hard to imagine any family sharing the book without embarking on their own alphabet exploration. Appropriate for children aged three and up.

Do Your ABC’s, Little Brown Bear at Amazon.com

Do Your ABC’s Little Brown Bear at Amazon.ca


Storytime Standouts writes about alphabet book, Northern Lights A to Z

Northern Lights A to Z written and illustrated by Mindy Dwyer
Alphabet Book for kindergarten published by Sasquatch Books

Northern Lights A to Z will appeal mainly to older children (aged five and up) particularly those who have a special interest in the night sky or legends. Beautifully illustrated, the author seamlessly mixes science and myths and shares her knowledge in an engaging, accessible format. I can still remember the emotions I felt when I saw the aurora borealis. This special alphabet book captures the extraordinary experience beautifully.


Northern Lights A to Z at Amazon.com

Northern Lights A to Z at Amazon.ca


Storytime Standouts writes about alphabet book, A is for Africa

A Is for Africa written by Ifeoma Onyefulu
Alphabet Book for kindergarten published by Puffin; Reprint edition

A Is for Africa features gorgeous photographs of people and things found in south-eastern Nigeria. Best for children aged five and up, I was struck by the author’s respectful tone and the way her photographs draw us into the atmosphere in the community. Although written in an alphabet book format, one can easily imagine an older child using this book to learn about life in an African village.


A Is for Africa at Amazon.com

A is for Africa at Amazon.ca


Storytime Standouts writes about alphabet book, C is for Caboose

C is for Caboose written and illustrated by Traci N. Todd
Alphabet Book published by Chronicle Books

When my boys were young, books about trucks and trains were very much “top of the charts” as far as they were concerned. C Is for Caboose features a mix of bright, bold illustrations and archival photographs. This will appeal most to children who are already fascinated by rail travel and enjoy historical photographs.


C Is for Caboose: Riding the Rails from A to Z at Amazon.com

C is for Caboose: Riding the Rails from A to Z at Amazon.ca


Storytime Standouts writes about alphabet book, Stargazer's Alphabet

Stargazer’s Alphabet Night-Sky Wonders from A to Z written by John Farrell
Alphabet Book for primary grades published by Boyds Mills Press

For older children (aged six and up), Stargazer’s Alphabet is “out of this world.” Featuring fabulous photographs of the Milky Way, Jupiter, Mars and more, this book uses a terrific format to its best advantage. Large pages each feature a rhyme: “V is for Venus, a lovely dazzling disk”, a factual paragraph plus photos, maps and diagrams. Great for families where the youngest child can enjoy the rhyming text and older children (and adults) can read detailed explanations. Featuring a glossary and the author’s thoughts on space, the breadth of the material covered will make this a valuable family resource for many years.


Stargazers Alphabet at Amazon.com

Stargazer’s Alphabet at Amazon.ca



Some more information we’ve shared about learning the alphabet and alphabet books

Special Alphabet Books
Learning letter activities, games, printables, and alphabet picture books
Clothespin Letter Match is an easy-to-make alphabet matching activity from Storytime Standouts



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