Posts Tagged ‘Canadian illustrator’

10 Best Picture Books – Choosing is Next to Impossible!

Posted on August 5th, 2011 by Jody

While thinking about what to pack for a mini family vacation next week, it struck me that I should come up with a list of my TOP TEN picture books. As soon as I began trying to choose, it became my TOP TWELVE.  I thought it’d be a good exercise because whenever we go away, we have to be very firm with our youngest child about what she can and cannot pack. If you have ever read Robert Munsch’s Too Much Stuff (see how I snuck an extra book in there that’s great but won’t be on my top ten twelve?) you’d have great insight into how my five year old packs. I don’t like limiting how many books our girls can bring, but if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have enough room to bring our clothes! Hopefully it’ll be a while before they figure out that I have NO limit thanks to my Kindle. But if, like them, I was stuck picking ten stories for bedtime or any other time, I wondered which ones would make my list. These are not in order by favourite because that’s just asking too much of myself.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes OliviaOlivia written and illustrated by Ian Falconer

Olivia is the funniest pig ever! She’s determined, stubborn, and highly amusing. I love the simplicity and the truth of Olivia. She’s tiring, she’s demanding, but she’s so loved. I only wish that Ian Falconer and Kevin Henkes would write a book together so that Olivia could play with Lilly (see below).

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Lilly's Purple Plastic PurseLilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

Lilly is perhaps my favorite storybook character. She perfectly encapsulates the egocentric child in such a charming, fun way. I love the way Henkes uses simple sentences in his writing to tell you so much. “Lilly loved school. She loved the pointy pencils. She loved the squeaky chalk”. I love Lilly.

The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen

I’m not sure what makes this story one of my favorite fairy tales, but it is. I love the queen piling on all of the mattresses and bedding and I love the version where the prince realizes he loves her, even if she isn’t a real princess.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Suki's KimonoSuki’s Kimono by Chieri Uegaki and Stephane Jorisch

This is a beautiful story about independence and confidence. It’s not easy for Suki to wear her kimono to school when even her sisters are wearing brand new clothes and all the kids stare at her. But she’s not afraid to be who she is and wear what she wants. I read this book, the first time, years ago and still enjoy it every time I read it to my daughters or to a class.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Paper Bag PrincessThe Paper Bag Princess written by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko

My kids love this book because Elizabeth says Ronald is a “bum”. I love it because Elizabeth is clever and strong and not only defeats the dragon but gets her happily ever after by NOT getting her happily ever after.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Hand, Hand, Fingers, ThumbHand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb written by Al Perkins and illustrated by Eric Gurney

I love the simple rhyme and rhythm of this book. To this day, whenever I cross a street and say to my kids “Hand”, they both reply “hand, fingers, thumb”. It’s delightful.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes You Are SpecialYou are Special written by Max Lucado and illustrated by Sergio Martinez

This book makes me smile every time I read it. I love the message that believing in oneself comes from inside, not from the beliefs of others. The symbolism of the stickers falling off of the Wemmicks when they stop caring about how others see them is beautiful.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Seven Silly EatersThe Seven Silly Eaters written by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Marla Frazee

This book is adorable. The pictures are fantastic and I love the pickiness of the kids. The rhyme is awesome and the chaos and love projected in the words and the pictures are realistic and amusing.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Wmberly WorriedWemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes

Just so you understand how difficult it was for me to pick only 12 favorites, I should mention that I absolutely LOVE,  LOVE,  LOVE every Kevin Henkes book I’ve ever read, including Zebra Wall, which is a novel that I didn’t even know, until last year, that he had written. Wemberly is me. She is my oldest daughter. She is every kid who hates uncertainty and is comforted by the familiar.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes The Kissing HandThe Kissing Hand written by Audrey Penn with illustrations by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak

The first time I read this story, I cried a little. Our oldest daughter was almost three when I bought it and read it to her. It was exactly what I wanted and still want for my children- to know that wherever they go and whatever they do, I love them and I’m with them.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Goodnight MoonGoodnight Moon written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd

I can recite this book word for word. I love the line “Goodnight nobody”. When our youngest daughter was born, we decorated her bedroom as the ‘great green room’. We had all of the details; “the old lady whispering hush” drawn on the wall,” two kittens and a pair of mittens”. For a border, we wrote the words of the story.  It will forever be one of my favorites.

Jody's Top Ten Picture Book list includes Guess How Much I Love YouGuess How Much I love you written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram

I loved this book even before I really understood it. I gave it to my mom before I had kids and she nodded as though she had some sage understanding of something I did not. Then I had kids and I really got it; because even though they love me to the moon, I love them to the moon and back.

There. I did it. I narrowed it down and chose twelve favorites. I’m so very proud of myself for not even mentioning Sleepy Bears by Mem Fox, Pocket Full of Kisses by Audrey Penn, every other Kevin Henkes book, or Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss. It’s probably safe to say that I, too, need strict guidelines for what I can and cannot pack.

Getting Ready to Read Plus – Day Three

Posted on July 6th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Today’s letter was ‘F’ and the theme was “Fun in the Forest.” In addition to talking about letter ‘F,’ I used characters made of felt to tell the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. After I began the story, some of the children recognized it – I was so pleased. We want young children to become familiar with traditional fables such as this one.

At the end of today’s class, we played an active game that involved “delivering mail” to Rabbit, Bear, Deer and Squirrel. It was essentially a matching activity but it drew the children’s attention to how words are alike and different and it gave them a chance to move around the room.

Today’s story was a favourite of mine:Stella, Fairy of the Forest – written & illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay

Marie-Louise Gay’s books about Sam and Stella are marvelous. This, their third adventure, Stella, Fairy of the Forest begins when Sam asks Stella about fairies. Stella knows just where to find some. She leads Sam through meadows, across a stream and into a magical forest.

This story is truly lovely especially in its treatment of the siblings’ relationship. Ms. Gay’s illustrations have a luminous quality particularly her depictions of the delightful red-head, Stella. Don’t miss it!

32 pages, Ages 2 to 5

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

Stella, Fairy of the Forest at

Stella, Fairy of the Forest at

Watch for the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s 2011 Best Books for Kids and Teens

Posted on July 1st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Canadian Children's Book Centre's 2011 Best Books for KidsThe Canadian Children’s Book Centre has just published their 35th annual guide to the best books for children and young adults. Best Books for Kids & Teens 2011 will be a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, librarians and caregivers. The guide highlights more than 325 titles for young readers (toddler to teen).

All of the titles in Best Books for Kids & Teens have been handpicked by expert committees of educators, booksellers, school and public librarians from across Canada. The reviewed materials include picture books, audio books, graphic novels, and teen fiction.

I was privileged to chair a CCBC Best Books committee in 2010 and know that committee members show great care in selecting the best new titles. I can recommend this publication without hesitation.

Best Books for Kids and Teens can be purchased at select bookstores and online.

Saluting a Canadian Picture Book Favourite: Under a Prairie Sky

Posted on June 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

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

It is nearly Canada Day (July 1) and my thoughts have turned to picture books with a decidedly “Canadian look.” This afternoon, I pulled Under a Prairie Sky off my bookshelf and spent some time enjoying the detailed, striking watercolour illustrations and the equally dramatic text. A terrific Canadian picture book read aloud for four and five year olds, Under a Prairie Sky is the story of a farm boy who aspires to be a RCMP Officer when he grows up. While harvesting wheat with his father, he is sent to find his younger brother before a storm arrives at the farm. Knowing that this is a job that will demand the detective skills of a Mounted Police Officer, he quickly changes his clothes, dons a Stetson and mounts his trusty black horse. He follows young Will’s trail through the fields and into the wild, taking in flora and fauna native to the Canadian prairies.

Under a Prairie Sky at

Under a Prairie Sky at

Canadian Picturebook Authors and Illustrators – A Patriotic Crossword Puzzle

Posted on June 26th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Here’s a fun way to celebrate Canada Day – check out our Canadian Picture Book crossword puzzle.

image of PDF icon  Canadian Picture Book Crossword

Noni Says No – picture book explores friendship, gaining confidence

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Noni Says No, a picture book about friendship and assertiveness.Noni Says No written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Genevieve Cote
Picture book about friendship published by Tundra Books

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Noni is a capable, confident young girl most of the time. She knows the alphabet forwards and back, she helps with her baby brother and she is fine when she walks to her friend’s house.

“But now, if her friend Susie asks to sleep over, Noni says yes, even though she sometimes wants to say no. If Susie asks to play with Noni’s special doll, Noni says yes. If Susie asks to borrow her favorite dress, Noni says yes. Noni absolutely, positively cannot say no.”

Noni Says No is a thoughtful examination of friendship and how, in some cases, one child’s desire to please another can come at too great a cost. Noni manages well in most situations but, for some reason, she has great difficulty saying “no” to Susie. Readers will infer that Noni is afraid to say “no” because to do so might jeopardize the friendship.

When Susie’s demands finally push Noni too far, Noni arms herself for an anticipated battle and manages to find her voice.

Genevieve Cote’s powerful illustrations depict Noni’s emotions beautifully. Without a doubt, Noni Says No readers will feel compelled to consider what it means to be a friend and how to assert one’s ideas and opinions respectfully in a friendship. The story will be enjoyed by all children four and up and will have a special resonance for those who lack confidence in social situations.

Noni Says No at

Noni Says No at

Canadian Children’s Book Centre Announces 2011 Finalists

Posted on June 14th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has announced the finalists for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, Prix TD de littérature canadienne pour l’enfance et la jeunesse, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction, Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and the John Spray Mystery Award.


Written by Alma Fullerton (Midland, ON)
Dancing Cat Books

Canadian Railroad Trilogy
Written by Gordon Lightfoot (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Ian Wallace (Brookline, MA)

The Glory Wind
Written by Valerie Sherrard (Miramichi, NB)
Fitzhenry & Whiteside

I Know Here
Written by Laurel Croza (Markham, ON)
Illustrated by Matt James (Toronto, ON)
Groundwood Books

Plain Kate
Written by Erin Bow (Kitchener, ON)
Scholastic Canada


Le chasseur de loups-marins
Written by Claire Vigneau (Sherbrooke, QC)
Illustrated by Bruce Roberts (Westmount, QC)
Éditions Les 400 coups

Devant ma maison
Written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc (Montreal, QC)
Éditions La courte échelle

La fille d’en face
Written by Linda Amyot (St-Charles-Boromée, QC)
Éditions Leméac

Oh ! la vache !
Written by Alain M. Bergeron (Victoriaville, QC), Édith Bourget (Saint-Jacques, NB),Colombe Labonté (Saint-Lambert, QC) and Guy Marchamps (Trois-Rivières, QC)
Illustrated by Caroline Merola (Montreal, QC)
Soulières éditeur

Written by Martine Audet (Montreal, QC)
Illustrated by Luc Melanson (Laval, QC)
Éditions Dominique et compagnie

MARILYN BAILLIE PICTURE BOOK AWARD ($20,000) – Sponsored by A. Charles Baillie

I Know HereWritten by Laurel Croza (Markham, ON)
Illustrated by Matt James (Toronto, ON)
Groundwood Books

In Front of My House
Written and illustrated by Marianne Dubuc (Montreal, QC)
Translated by Yvette Ghione (Toronto, ON)
Kids Can Press

Singing Away the Dark
Written by Caroline Woodward (Victoria, BC)
Illustrated by Julie Morstad (Vancouver, BC)
Simply Read Books

Written by Kyo Maclear (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (Montreal, QC)
Kids Can Press

Stanley’s Little Sister
Written by Linda Bailey (Vancouver, BC)
Illustrated by Bill Slavin (Millbrook, ON)
Kids Can Press

NORMA FLECK AWARD FOR CANADIAN CHILDREN’S NON-FICTION ($10,000) – Sponsored by the Fleck Family Foundation

Case Closed! Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science
Written by Susan Hughes (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Michael Wandelmaier (Toronto, ON)
Kids Can Press

Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be
Written and illustrated by Daniel Loxton (Victoria, BC)
Kids Can Press

Not Your Typical Book About the Environment
Written by Elin Kelsey (Pacific Grove, CA)
Illustrated by Clayton Hanmer (Toronto, ON)

Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged
Written by Jody Nyasha Warner (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Richard Rudnicki (Halifax, NS)
Groundwood Books

Watch This Space: Designing, Defending and Sharing Public Spaces
Written by Hadley Dyer (Toronto, ON)
Illustrated by Marc Ngui (Cambridge, ON)
Kids Can Press

GEOFFREY BILSON AWARD FOR HISTORICAL FICTION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE ($5,000) – Sponsored by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Bilson Endowment Fund

Exiles from the War: The War Guests Diary of Charlotte Mary Twiss(Dear Canada)
Written by Jean Little (Guelph, ON)
Scholastic Canada

Written by Marthe Jocelyn (Stratford, ON)
Tundra Books

The Glory Wind
Written by Valerie Sherrard (Miramichi, NB)
Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Queen of Hearts
Written by Martha Brooks (Winnipeg, MB)
Groundwood Books

Wild Geese
Written by Caroline Pignat (Kanata, ON)
Red Deer Press

JOHN SPRAY MYSTERY AWARD ($5,000) – Sponsored by John Spray

Written by Allan Stratton (Toronto, ON)

Dead Bird Through the Cat Door(Megabyte Mystery)
Written by Jan Markley (Calgary, AB)
Gumboot Books

The Mystery of the Cyber Bully(Marty Chan Mystery)
Written by Marty Chan (Edmonton, AB)
Thistledown Press

A Spy in the House(The Agency)
Written by Y.S. Lee (Kingston, ON)
Candlewick Press

Victim Rights(Ryan Dooley Mystery)
Written by Norah McClintock (Toronto, ON)
Red Deer Press

Pink by Nan Gregory and Luc Melanson – Simply Wonderful

Posted on June 9th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Pink by Nan Gregory and Luc MelandsonPink – written by Nan Gregory and illustrated by Luc Melanson

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

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

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

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

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

Very highly recommended, for children four and up.

Pink at

Pink at

Chocolate Lily Award Winners Announced for 2011

Posted on June 2nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Chocolate Lily Award Winners Announced for 2011

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Chocolate Lily Awards


Picture Book Category –

Winner – Fred and Pete at the Beach by Cynthia Nugent
2nd Place – Stanley’s Beauty Pageant by Linda Bailey and Bill Slavin

Chapter Book Category –

Winner – Zach and Zoe — Bully and the Beagle by Kristin Butcher
2nd Place – Goldfish Don’t Take Bubble Baths by Trina Wiebe

Novel Category

Winner – The Giant Slayer by Iain Lawrence
2nd Place – Bank Job by James Heneghan and Norma Charles

Simon With Two Left Feet – Delivers an Important Anti Bullying Message

Posted on May 24th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts reviews anti bullying picture book, Simon with Two Left FeetSimon with Two Left Feet – written by Angela K. Narth and illustrated by Heidi Vincent
Anti bullying picture book published by GWEV Publishing

Be sure to check out our page about anti-bullying picture books for children, our page about anti bullying chapter books, graphic novels and novels for children , and our Pinterest anti bullying board

Young Simon is the brunt of relentless teasing. He wants desperately to be accepted as part of his flock but he is clumsy. His awkwardness is humiliating and he worries that he won’t be able to pull his weight when the flock flies south in formation. When training begins, Simon arrives early and faces further teasing by some young geese. He retreats from the group, convinced that he has two left feet.

Simon watches the other young geese learn how to fly information and then sets off by himself. By the time he returns home, the entire flock has departed for the south. Simon is devastated, the squirrels and red-winged blackbirds are preparing for winter and the weather becomes increasingly cold. He is in a very dangerous situation especially if his pond freezes.

It is a happy reunion when one of the elder members of the flock returns to look for Simon. Old Blue is already tired from leading the flock partway and returning for him. She will not be able to lead Simon to the warmer breezes in the marshland to the south. Encouraged to take responsibility and to help Old Blue, Simon flies in the lead position, gaining confidence and eventually saving her life.

Simon with Two Left Feet offers many opportunities for discussion including the impact of teasing and bullying, the importance of finding a way to contribute to your community and how labelling can effect one’s self esteem (and assumptions).

Purchase this anti bullying book and DVD directly from the publisher: GWEV Publishing

Simon With Two Left Feet DVD (Home Use) at

Red Cedar and Stellar Book Award Winners Announced

Posted on May 22nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

The winners of the 2010/2011 Red Cedar Book Awards are:

Red Cedar and Stellar Book Award Winners including LibertadFiction Award Winner:

Libertad by Alma Fullerton

Libertad at

Libertad at

Red Cedar and Stellar Book Award Winners including Everything But the Kitchen SinkInformation Book Award Winner: Everything but the Kitchen Sink by Frieda Wishinsky and Elizabeth MacLeod

Everything but the Kitchen Sink: Weird Stuff You Didn’t Know About Food at

Everything But the Kitchen Sink at

Red Cedar and Stellar Book Award Winners including The SummoningThe winner of the 2010/2011 Stellar Book Award is: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
The Summoning (Darkest Powers, Book 1) at

The Summoning (Darkest Powers, Book 1) at

If the World Were a Village – Revealing the Diversity of our World

Posted on May 11th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at If the World Were a VillageStorytime Standouts write about If the World Were a Village

If the World Were a Village – A Book about the World’s People
written by David J. Smith and illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong

You will also be interested in our page highlighting picture books about caring for our environment, the water cycle, reducing our environmental footprint and more. Terrific resources for Earth Day and Arbor Day.

Imagine you lived in a village of one hundred people and that the village represented our entire planet. “Five of the villagers would be from Canada and the United States, three villagers would speak Russian, seventy-six would have electricity and thiry-two would breath polluted air.” Part of the Citizen Kid series of books, If the World Were a Village does a marvelous job of making difficult concepts easy-to-understand and helping young readers to become mindful and appreciative of the diverse world community.

Two page spreads explore the world’s nationalities, languages, ages, religions, food, air and water, school and work, money and possessions, energy, and health. The author’s straightforward approach enlightens and is supported with detailed endnotes. Bright, bold and detailed illustrations beg readers to pause, explore and understand the wealth of factual information represented.

A valuable resource for children five and up.

Kids Can Press Teaching guide for If the World Were a Village

If the World Were a Village – Second Edition at
If the World Were a Village – Second Edition at

Celebrate Mother’s Day with These Special Picture Books

Posted on May 3rd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Mother's Day Picture Books recommended by Storytime Standouts

Here are some lovely picture books that celebrate mom. They would be perfect for a Mother’s Day storytime.

Bearcub and Mama is recommended for Mother's Day storytime by Storytime StandoutsBearcub and Mama written by Sharon Jennings and illustrated by Melanie Watt
A picture book about the relationship between mother and child, published by Kids Can Press

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

Bearcub and Mama at

Bearcub and Mama at

Bright Red Kisses is recommended for Mother's Day storytime by Storytime Standouts Bright Red Kisses written by Teresa Toten and illustrated by Deirdre Betteridge
A picture book about Mommy getting ready for an evening out, published by Annick Press

“The air is full of tickles” and Mommy is rushing to be ready for seven o’clock. Fortunately, she has enlisted the help of her young daughter. Lotions, creams, powders, sprays and polishes help to prepare Mommy for a special night out. Beautiful language, captures the excitement and anticipation perfectly; “In the back of Mommy’s closet the fancy dresses sleep. I wake them up and shake them up. I love to watch them leap.” A delightful story to share with young children, this might be a perfect antidote for those who plead, “Please don’t go.”

Bright Red Kisses at

Bright Red Kisses at

Free Mother’s Day Theme Printables for Children – perfect for homeschool, kindergarten and classroom

As an extension activity, children will enjoy our free printable “Things You Can Learn From Mom” wordsearch

image of PDF icon  Things You Can Learn From Mom


Free printables Mother's Day Writing Paper for Kids from Storytime StandoutsInterlined paper for Mother’s Day

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Mother's Day

Mother's Day theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing Paper for Kids - Happy Mothers Day

Mother's Day-theme interlined writing paper for penmanship practise and story writing.

We think you’ll like this related post and poem

Storytime Standouts Looks at Picture Books About Moms and MotherhoodThe Reading Mother

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

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

Carol C and Tracy B each won a copy of E is for Environment

Posted on April 29th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Thank you to everyone who left comments about E is for Environment. Carol C and Tracy B each won copies of the book!

Be sure to watch for future book giveaways, guest posts and contests.

Pirate Picture Book: Ahoy Matey, Small Saul Serves Up Fun

Posted on April 20th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Arr ye looking for a fun pirate picture book, me hearty?

Storytime Standouts looks at pirate picture book, Small Saul by Ashley SpiresSmall Saul Written and illustrated by Ashley Spires
Picture Book published by Kids Can Press

Saul knows that he is meant to sail the seven seas but he’s not quite tall enough to be a sailor. The next best alternative is to become a pirate. Saul completes his pirate training and earns his diploma but is hard-pressed to find a crew to join. “Even though Saul was small, it looked like no one had room for him…” When he is finally invited to join a pirate ship calledThe Rusty Squid, he is excited to find ways to contribute. Unfortunately, it is not long before the captain and crew understand that he is not a typical pirate. “It didn’t take long for the other pirates to notice that something was different about Small Saul.” He knows how to garden and bake and is rather good at decorating. He decides to get a tattoo but bunny tattoos don’t intimidate anyone.

Great for children who love pirates and also for children who will benefit from a boost of self acceptance. Small Saul is a treasure.

Kids Can Press’ Storytime Activities for Small Saul

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.

Update June 18, 2012 Small Saul nominated for Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award

Small Saul at

Small Saul at

A Book Giveaway & Easy Green “Actions” For Families To Try Together!

Posted on April 19th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

April 22nd, 2011 is Earth Day and the perfect opportunity to discover E is For Environment Stories to Help Children Care for Their World – at Home, at School, and at Play. Written by Ian James Corlett and illustrated by R.A. Holt, E is For Environment introduces all sorts of “green” actions for children and families to embrace.

We are delighted to share this guest post by Ian James Corlett and invite you to enter our contest* and win a copy of E is for Environment

Oh Canada. Famous for toothless hockey players, ice cold water, and children’s entertainers like Raffi. This is a story that combines them all… seriously! Well, maybe not toothless hockey players, but teeth anyway!

Remember the Raffi song lyric, “We brush our teeth, chh-chh-chh-chhh… chh-chh-chh-chh-CHHH!” That was a rallying cry in our house when our kids were small. With the help of Raffi, his catchy lyrics and his substantial beard, our kids learned a great routine to keep their teeth clean. They’d turn on the tap, squeeze out waaay too much toothpaste and then stumble through scrubbing each little tooth. All the while, the tap was running, and running and running… And we all do it. Turn on the tap, start brushing our teeth, possibly even walking around the house a little while we look for socks or a towel or even plunk down on the porcelain, and all the while… woosh, woosh, woosh, the water rushes down the drain.

Now, it is awfully cute watching the kiddies learn how to keep their chompers white, but all that water going down the drain made me think. And I wondered just how much water goes down that drain… Well, it’s A LOT! Let’s assume only one person in 100 in the USA leaves the tap on while they brush (and we all know that far more than one in a hundred do it). Over the course of a year that adds up to over TWO BILLION gallons of water just going down the drain! Just from tooth-brushing!

When you stop to think about how much it costs our governments to provide clean tap water it really makes sense to conserve as much of it as we can. Not to mention that fresh water is rapidly becoming a diminishing commodity!

After I learned that, we had a family meeting and decided to implement a “turn off the tap while brushing” bylaw. It’s kind of fun too, because the young ones get to enforce the bylaw on the parents. (kids love policing mom and dad don’t they?). Just like brushing to the Raffi song, you’ll be amazed at how quickly these things become good habits with kids.

Another fun family energy-reducing action is searching for energy vampires. Energy vampires are appliances and gizmos that suck energy, mostly electricity, from your home. Did you know that all those power adapters or “wall warts” we have plugged in all over the place are robbing electricity even if nothing is connected on the other end? Yup. And all those little red lights you see on so TV’s and other gadgets are also energy vampires. So get the family together and go on a hunt! Give everyone a scrap of paper (like a junk mail envelope) and scan your whole house to find these little suckers. Of course you can’t unplug all of them (Dad needs to DVR his favorite shows!) but you’ll be amazed at how many you find that can be unplugged.

How about grocery shopping? Have you noticed just how many shopping bags are clogging up your cupboards? If that’s just at your house, There are BILLIONS clogging up oceans and land fills every year. So next time you’re shopping and the clerk asks, “Paper or Plastic” have your kids pop up and say, “NEITHER!” Put your kids in charge of remembering to bring your own reusable bags. It’ll give them a sense of responsibility and help our environment too.

Lastly, here’s an idea that is not only good for the planet, but good for our bodies too! Think about all the short trips we make every week. Like to the post office, or the grocery store or school. If it’s under a mile, walk it. Get out a map with your kids… wait, who are we kidding… search up Google Maps, and mark your house on it. Then look at all the shops and services you regularly drive to that are within a mile. Then try walking to these places instead. Especially with your kids. Walking with your kids is not only great for your health and the planet’s health (one less car) but it’s a great opportunity to bond too!

Trying these small steps (or actions) can be a lot of fun especially if you tackle them as a family. Sooner than later these actions will turn into good habits and make our world just a little bit better. Hey, maybe there’s a new Raffi tune in there… “Reduce your waste, wah-wah-wah-wah-wasste, waaa-waste a-waw-waw…” Umm. Maybe not.

IAN JAMES CORLETT is an award-winning children’s television writer and author of E Is For Ethics and the newly released, E Is For Environment. He resides in Vancouver British Columbia and Palm Springs California with his wife and two children.

*Residents of Canada can enter for a chance to win a copy of E is for Environment. Leave a comment on this post for one chance. Leave a second comment on our post about E is for Environment. Each comment will give you one entry to win. Maximum two entries per person. We will hold a random draw on Tuesday, April 26th and will contact winners by email.

E Is for Environment: Stories to Help Children Care for Their World at

E Is for Environment: Stories to Help Children Care for Their World at

E is for Environment by Ian James Corlett

Posted on April 18th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

E is for Environment – Stories to Help children Care for Their World – at Home, at School, and at Play
Written by Ian James Corlett and Illustrated by R.A. “Riley” Holt

You will also be interested in our page highlighting picture books about caring for our environment, the water cycle, reducing our environmental footprint and more. Terrific resources for Earth Day and Arbor Day.

Featuring a friendly, conversational tone, E Is for Environment: Stories to Help Children Care for Their WorldStorytime Standouts writes about E Is for Environment: Stories to Help Children Care for Their World provides a wealth of useful information for children and families.Storytime Standouts looks at E is for Environment

After hearing a presentation by Matt Hill and Steph Tait of Run for 1 Planet at their school, Elliott and Lucy are inspired to find all sorts of ways to take action to “green” their world.

Twenty-six chapters (four pages each) cover everything from carpooling to soccer games and wearing a sweater rather than turning the thermostat up to packing a litterless lunch and choosing green gifts.

Each chapter begins with a scenario that suggests an opportunity for Lucy and Eilliott to make a change. Readers are encouraged to answer a question, “What do you think Elliot’s new plan was?” and then read to see if their guesses are correct. Additional supporting information is provided, and more questions prompt readers to consider how they can apply Elliott and Lucy’s decisions to their own lives. Thought-provoking quotes enhance most of the chapters.

  • When Elliott decides to use rechargeable batteries in his favourite toy robot, we learn that rechargeable batteries have up to 28 times less impact on the environment than regular (alkaline) batteries and rechargeable batteries can be reused up to 1,000 times.
  • When the family decides to walk to the post office rather than drive, we learn that Thomas Jefferson remarked, “Of all exercises walking is the best.” and Stephen Wright said, “Anywhere is walking distance, if you have the time.”

In addition to being an inspiring resource for families, E is for Environment is ideal for primary classroom use. Reading one chapter aloud each week could be used to prompt on-going discussions and action including encouraging young researchers to explore the science behind the book.

E Is for Environment: Stories to Help Children Care for Their World at

E Is for Environment: Stories to Help Children Care for Their World at

Add this Treasure to Your Collection: Hannah’s Collections

Posted on March 31st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at Hannah's Collections by Marthe Jocelyn, a problem solving picture bookHannah’s Collections – written and illustrated by Marthe Jocelyn
Problem solving picture book published by Tundra Books

When Hannah’s teacher invites her students to bring a collection to school, Hannah finds it difficult to choose just one of her collections.

“Hannah loved to collect things. She found new treasures wherever she went.”

Striking collage illustrations take us to Hannah’s bedroom where we discover her captivating collections of stamps from around the world, sea shells, leaves, small figures, foreign coins, leftover keys and more. Soon we are admiring the 153 buttons she has grouped together by size, shape and color. Next we see the popsicle sticks she has arranged in patterns and her diverse collection of figures, standing in a line from tall to small. Hannah’s Collections will have strong appeal for any child who enjoys collecting and will most certainly encourage young children to count, compare, match and group their own treasures. Hannah’s solution to the challenge of choosing one collection to share is a fine demonstration of problem solving.

Great for classroom use, Hannah’s Collections will provide many opportunities for children to consider how items are alike and different and the many different ways we can sort a group. It could also be used to elicit a discussion about problem solving.

Hannah’s Collections at

Hannah’s Collections at

News for Canadian Authors and Illustrators from the CCBC

Posted on March 30th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre has today announced the creation of a new membership level: Professional Creators. Effective immediately, published authors, illustrators and professional storytellers, will be offered memberships for a discounted (annual) rate of $35.00.

All members receive a one-year subscription to the quarterly magazine Canadian Children’s Book News and a copy of Best Books for Kids & Teens, the CCBC’s annual selection guide. Members also receive an invitation to the Annual General Meeting each June and invitations to special events hosted by the CCBC throughout the year.

In addition, Professional Creator members will have the opportunity to be listed in the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s Author, Illustrator, and Storyteller Directory.

Woolly Foursome Finds Friends: The Baabaasheep Quartet

Posted on March 26th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks at a picture book about friendship: The Baabaasheep QuartetThe Baabaasheep Quartet – written and illustrated by Leslie Elizabeth Watts
Picture book published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside;

When four sheep retire and move to the city, they adopt a rather cosmopolitan life style – decorating a high rise apartment, attending the opera and dining out. But, they can’t seem to find a way to find new friends. Sadly, they just don’t seem to fit in with city dwellers. Part time gardening jobs are fine until the flower bed looks altogether too delicious. Even their hoof-made baby sweaters have two extra legs! One day, to their delight, they learn of an upcoming Baabaasheep Quartet contest. They feel certain that entering the contest will help them to find friends. The Baabaasheep Quartet practices every day and every where in preparation for the big event. Sure enough, their fine singing voices allow this fun tale to end on a happy note.

From that day on, the Baabaasheep Quartet was a great success…They never encountered any other singing sheep. But wherever they went, whenever they sang, they never again worried about fitting in.

Ages 4-8

Winner of the 2006 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award for Illustration
2006 Saskatchewan Young Readers’ Choice Shining Willow Award Nominee
Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award Honorable Mention in the Children’s Picture Book Category
Shining Willow nominee 2006
Canadian Children’s Book Centre Our Choice, 2006

The Baabaasheep Quartet at

The Baabaasheep Quartet at

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