Posts Tagged ‘metaphorical picture book’

Explore Gender Stereotypes and Dysphoria with these Picture Books

Posted on September 26th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

Explore Gender Stereotypes and Dysphoria with these Picture Books

Picture books that explore gender stereotypes –

We have done our best to include stories that feature boys and girls enjoying activities that might be traditionally be labelled “feminine” or “masculine.”

As well, you will find picture books that can be used to provoke discussion about stereotypes and acceptance and others that specifically address gender identity and gender dysphoria.

We want to share valuable resources for children, families, teachers and librarians. If you would like to suggest additional picture books, please email or leave a comment. Thank you.

10,000 Dresses is a picture book that Challenges Gender Stereotypes

10,000 Dresses written by Marcus Ewert and illustrated by Rex Ray
Picture book that explores gender identity and stereotypes published by Triangle Square

When Bailey dreams, her thoughts turn to dresses and how wonderful it would be to try each one of them on. She imagines one dress made of crystals and another made of lilies, roses and honeysuckles. When Bailey tells her mom, dad and brother of her dreams and her wish to have dresses like the ones in her dreams, they each dismiss her and remind her that she is a boy and boys don’t wear dresses!

Fortunately, Bailey runs away from her house and her family’s closed minds. At the end of her block, she meets an older girl who wants to create dresses but lacks creative inspiration. Together, Bailey and Laurel design dresses that, “show us OURSELVES.

10,000 Dresses is on the 2009 American Library Association Rainbow Book List and was found to be “exceptional and highly recommended.”

10,000 Dresses at Amazon.com

10,000 Dresses at Amazon.ca


Storytime Standouts shares picture books that examine gender stereotypes including Henry Holton Takes the IceHenry Holton Takes the Ice written by Sandra Bradley and illustrated by Sara Palacios
Children’s book about individuality and following one’s dream published by Dial Books for Young Readers

Henry’s family LOVES hockey! His sister plays, his parents play, his cousins play and everyone assumes that Henry will play hockey too. Henry does learn to skate but his unconventional style is not quite right for the sport. Holding a stick doesn’t feel good. Henry prefers to twist, turn and sway on the ice rather than bodycheck an opponent.

When Henry gets a chance to see a local ice dancing club at the arena, he decides that is where he belongs. Henry’s grandmother is the first family member to accept his choice but others soon follow and celebrate his goal of becoming an ice dancer.

As someone who has spent quite a lot of time in hockey rinks, I found it surprising to see Henry on the ice without hockey gloves and a helmet. It is disappointing to think that Henry had to “bench himself” for weeks in order to be heard. A solid reminder that respect for individuality and personal preferences is paramount – even with young children.

A Glossary of Hockey Terms is included.

A somewhat predictable storyline, Henry Holton Takes the Ice is best-suited to children aged 5 and up.

Henry Holton Takes the Ice at Amazon.com

Henry Holton Takes the Ice at Amazon.ca


I Am Jazz is a picture book about Gender Dysphoria

I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings with pictures by Shelagh McNicholas

Biographical picture book about a child with Gender Dysphoria published by Dial Books for Young Readers

For long as Jazz can remember, she has loved pink and dancing and makeup and mermaids. She likes to pretend that she is a “pop star.” She has friends who are girls and they love to do things together but Jazz knows that she has “a girl brain but a boy body. This is called transgender.”

Her family thought of Jazz as a boy but she insisted that was not right. Eventually, Jazz and her parents go to a doctor and the doctor explains that Jazz is transgender.

With coaching, Jazz’s teachers and coaches ensure that Jazz is treated like other girls. Jazz acknowledges that some classmates tease her but she takes comfort in the friendships she shares and she embraces being different.

I Am Jazz is on the 2015 American Library Association Rainbow Book List.

I Am Jazz at Amazon.com

I Am Jazz at Amazon.ca


Introducing Teddy is a picture book about gender fluidity and friendship

Introducing Teddy written by Jessica Walton and illustrated by Dougal MacPherson

Picture book about friendship and gender fluidity published by Bloomsbury

Thomas the Teddy and Errol spend time together every day. Errol pulls Thomas in his wagon, Errol and Thomas plant seeds together and they sit together in a treehouse.

One day, Errol notices that Thomas seems withdrawn.

Thomas has something he needs to say but he worries that he might upset Errol. He feels that he could lose his friend if he is truthful. Errol assures Thomas that their friendship will withstand the news, whatever it is.

“Thomas the Teddy took a deep breath. “I need to be myself, Errol. In my heart, I have always known that I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy.”

Errol reassures Tilly that she will always be a friend and the two of them get back to fun and games with a third friend. Ava likes building robots and rides a scooter.

A lovely story that is suitable for very young children, unlike some of the other picture books we write about, Introducing Teddy does not have characters who tease or berate the character for transitioning from male to female.

Introducing Teddy is on the 2017 American Library Association Rainbow List

Introducing Teddy at Amazon.com

Introducing Teddy at Amazon.ca


Jacob's New Dress is a picture book about non traditional ways to express oneself as a boy

Jacob’s New Dress written by Sarah and Ian Hoffman and illustrated by Chris Case

Picture book about gender nonconformity published Albert Whitman and Company

Jacob loves the dress-up corner at preschool and can’t wait to wear the pretty pink dress when he plays with his friends. A classmate does not approve of Jacob’s choice and suggests that Jacob choose something more masculine.

“The dress-up corner is where we come to use our imaginations,” Ms. Wilson said. “You can be a dinosaur, a princess, a farmer — anything!”

After school, Jacob talks with his mother and she reassures him that boys can, indeed, wear dresses. Jacob tries on a favorite Halloween costume but wants a less special dress to wear to school.

The following day, Jacob appears in a dress-like outfit he has made himself, using a bath towel. It does not make it through the school day so Jacob and his mom set about sewing a dress together.

Bright, bold illustrations effectively depict Jacob’s emotions and especially exhuberant excitement when able to express himself freely. A lovely picture book to share at home or in a classroom setting.

Jacob’s New Dress at Amazon.com

Jacob’s New Dress at Amazon.ca


Picture books that challenge stereotypes including Katie Morag and the Dancing ClassKatie Morag and the Dancing Class written and illustrated by Mairi Hedderwick
Picture book about individuality published by Transworld Publishers

Katie Morag & the Dancing Class is a delightful picture book from Mairi Hedderwick. Set in Scotland, it has been decided that the Isle of Struay children will benefit from dancing classes. Despite the efforts of her two grandmas, Katie Morag has more interesting things to do than learn ballet. Much to Granma Mainland’s dismay, Katie prefers wellies to ballet slippers and never manages to arrive at her ballet class on time.

One Saturday morning, Katie misses the entire class, arriving just as The Big Boy Cousins begin their tap dance class. As those who know Katie might suspect, she is more inclined toward tap dancing than ballet and before long Grannie Island is rummaging in her cupboards for metal tacks.

Katie Morag has long been a favorite in our household. We first met her in Katie Morag Delivers the Mail and have enjoyed her many adventures and misadventures very much. There is a gentleness to the stories and a wonderful sense of community. In this book, the contrast between the two grandmas (Granma Mainland and Grannie Island) is highlighted. Of course, both want what is best for Katie but it is Grannie Island who understands her best.

Katie Morag and the Dancing Class at Amazon.com

Katie Morag and the Dancing Class at Amazon.ca


Challenge Gender Stereotypes with picture book Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine DressMorris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress written by Christine Baldacchino and illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Picture book that examines gender stereotypes published by Groundwood Books

Probably my favorite picture book on this list, Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress is beautifully illustrated and uses onomatopoeia to describe the sounds Morris hears when he chooses to wear a tangerine dress from the dress-up center at school.

He likes the noises the dress makes-
swish, swish, swish when he walks and crinkle, crinkle, crinkle when he sits down.

He takes turns wearing all the different shoes, but his most favorite ones go click, click, click across the floor.

Morris hears the taunts of his classmates and he would like to join in their activities but he remains true to himself and, eventually wins them over.

Beautifully written and illustrated, Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress shares an important message about acceptance that should be shared widely.

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress is on the 2015 American Library Association Rainbow Book List.

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress at Amazon.com

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress at Amazon.ca


My Princess Boy written by Cheryl Kilodavis and illustrated by Suzanne De Simone explores gender identityMy Princess Boy written by Cheryl Kilodavis and illustrated by Suzanne De Simone
Picture book about gender identity, social acceptance and unconditional love published by Simon and Schuster

What happens if a young boy loves to dress up in pink and sparkles? In a dress and a tiara? In a pretty ballet costume? In this boy’s family, his preferences are celebrated and respected. Mom, Dad and his older brother are all accustomed to having him choose to wear jewellery and to wear clothing that most will think of as feminine. Outside of home and close friendships, the world may not be as accepting for example, he has been stared at when shopping and trick-or-treating.

Young readers are encouraged to think about what might happen at school and how they might react if a classmate or friend wanted to make unconventional choices.

My Princess Boy has faced some criticism because all of the faces lack features and, although we are told that he likes pretty things,” the main character does not smile, nor do his family or friends.

The concept of acceptance and unconditional love is an excellent one but I do wonder if having the central character older than four years might have been a better choice. I can well-imagine four-year-olds being puzzled by why a Halloween costume is an issue. The Dress-Up Centre at my sons’ preschool was not particularly focused on gender stereotypes and Halloween costumes for four-year-olds are pretty much “anything goes.”

My Princess Boy website

My Princess Boy at Amazon.com

My Princess Boy at Amazon.ca


Picture books that challenge stereotypes including The Only Boy in Ballet ClassThe Only Boy in Ballet Class – written by Denise Gruska and illustrated by Amy Wummer
Picture book that explores stereotypes published by Gibbs Smith

Tucker loves to dance and especially likes ballet.

“It feels right to him. Like breathing.”

His unconventional passion for dance means that his classmates view him as weird and he is generally the last person chosen for team sports. Rather than joining other boys for football practice, he rushes to a dance class. Enroute, he endures teasing but, once he arrives at the studio, his heart swells and he feels pride in accomplishment.

At home, Tucker’s mom is very supportive of his involvement in ballet, “I don’t like that you love to dance. I love that you love to dance!”

A visiting uncle is not nearly as compassionate. He thinks Tucker ought to play football.

An afternoon ballet recital is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate his love of ballet, as Tucker takes on the role of a prince during a performance. Tucker’s mom and sisters are delighted with the show. Unconvinced, Uncle Frank remains committed to the merits of more ‘manly’ sports.

While walking home from the recital with his family, a member of the neighborhood football team spots Tucker and asks, “Hey, Twinkle Toes, wanna play football?” With Uncle Frank at his side, Tucker is hard-pressed to say, ‘no.’ Before long he is wearing a football jersey and helmet and suddenly finds himself involved in an important play during a championship game.

“In the point of a toe, he was on the shoulders of every boy who had ever made fun of him, and they were carrying him across the field chanting, “Tuck-er! Tuck-er! Tuck-er” Even Uncle Frank was dancing.” A “magical” solution to being accepted is perhaps not quite as strong a statement as we may have hoped for, ballet remains Tucker’s joy and he is shocked but pleased when a group of football players decides to join his ballet class.

The Only Boy in Ballet Class website

Best suited for children aged five and up.

The Only Boy in Ballet Class at Amazon.com

The Only Boy in Ballet Class at Amazon.ca


Challenge Gender Stereotypes with picture book Red: A Crayon's StoryRed: A Crayon’s Story written and illustrated by Michael Hall
Metaphorical Picture Book published by Greenwillow Books

Wrapped in crimson paper and labelled, “Red,” something just isn’t right. When Red mixes with Yellow, instead of creating something orange, they produce a big green mess. Red’s family members have opinions and the other art supplies want to help but adding masking tape, snipping his label and sharpening his tip don’t change a thing.

It is only when Red meets Berry that he is encouraged to express his blueness. It is not long until his true color and qualities are celebrated by family and friends.

An excellent resource for provoking discussion about labels and how categorizing a child (or adult) as shy, learning disabled, athletic, musical, gifted, hyperactive, masculine or feminine can limit their potential and disrespect their unique qualities, preferences and attributes.

Red: A Crayon’s Story is a metaphorical story that, with guidance will prompt reflection and critical thinking about labels by (older) children and adults.

Red: A Crayon’s Story is on the 2016 American Library Association Rainbow Book List

Red: A Crayon’s Story at Amazon.com

Red: A Crayon’s Story at Amazon.ca


Sparkle Boy is a picture book that looks at gender stereotypes and fluiditySparkle Boy written by Leslea Newman and illustrated by Maria Mola

Picture book about a boy who likes things that sparkle published by Lee and Low Books Inc.

Casey knows exactly what he likes and he is sufficiently confident to ask for it. He watches and admires his sister, Jessie when she wears a shimmery skirt. Casey wants to wear a skirt too and his mama hesitates at first but soon gives him one to wear. Next, Casey is drawn to  his sister’s beautiful nail polish. Before too long, his father is painting his son’s finger nails.  Finally Casey’s grandmother comes for a visit and she gives one of her bracelets to Jessie to wear. Casey wants one too and Grandma gives him one.

Sparkle Boy beautifully depicts the unconditional and non-judgemental love of a Casey’s parents and grandmother. Casey’s sister, Jesse is not quite ready to accept her brother’s personal choices until he is publicly ridiculed. Then, Jesse’s love and acceptance is beautifully portrayed.

A glowing picture book that encourages self-expression and embraces respect for all.

Sparkle Boy at Amazon.com

Sparkle Boy at Amazon.ca


William's Doll Challenges Gender StereotypesWilliam’s Doll written by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by William Pène Du Bois
Classic picture book that challenges gender stereotypes published by Harper & Row

Although William’s Doll has faced some criticism due to illustrations that appear “dated,” the message in Ms. Zolotow’s story remains timely. When William explains that he would like to have a doll to cherish, his dad, his older brother and his brother’s friend each respond negatively. His father gives him traditionally “masculine” toys, including a train set and a basketball. William’s brother thinks playing with a doll is “creepy” and his brother’s friend calls him a “sissy.”

When William’s grandmother comes to visit, he shows her that he can play basketball well and he can play with trains but neither will replace the doll that he hopes for. William’s grandmother understands how important this is to him and buys him one at a store. Her unconditional love and acceptance is exactly what William needs.

A lovely message to share with young children, my only concern is that William will still have to deal with older children who name-call and a father who is determined to have his son play with “boy” toys. These would both be important issues to explore after reading this thought-provoking classic picture book.

William’s Doll at Amazon.com

William’s Doll at Amazon.ca


Resources

12 Things Every Gender Nonconforming Child Wants You to Know   by Kira Walton and published on Read it Forward

American Psychology Association – Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity

Gender Diverse and Trans-Gender Children from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Please make time to explore further –
Our Collection of Quotes about Diversity and Tolerance for Kids
Children’s Books About Asperger Syndrome and Autism
Children’s Books About Family Diversity
Children’s Books About Individuality
Looking at Princesses in Picture Books
Celebrating Grandparents and Family Diversity


Children’s Books about Anger, Grumpiness and Bad Moods

Posted on October 13th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts shares picture books about anger and bad moods


Picture books to help a child understand and cope with anger

When my youngest son was very young, he was frequently impacted by the negative effects of artificial food dyes. Sadly, we did not realize what was happening with him for quite some time. For years, we were puzzled by apparently random bouts of anger that were, in fact, a result of eating or drinking a trigger food,beverage or even medication.

Thankfully, we did eventually figure out what was happening and the instances of uncontrolled anger pretty much disappeared. Along the way though, we used picture books to help our children understand anger and give them techniques for managing frustration and bad moods.

Please leave a comment and let me know about your favorite books for exploring this theme.


Children's book about anger and being in a bad moodBad Mood Bear written by John Richardson
Small format picture book about feeling angry published by Red Fox a division of Random House

When my children were young, we had a wonderful collection of Red Fox Mini Treasures. These were small-format picture books from many well-known, accomplished children’s book authors and illustrators. One of our favorite Red Fox Mini Treasure books was Bad Mood Bear. If one of my sons had a rough day, reading this story was one way to help him understand and learn to manage strong emotions, including anger. In addition to depicting a tough day, Bad Mood Bear also shows that the opportunity to feel and behave better may be just a short nap away.

You may not be able to find a new copy of this picture book but I did not want to leave it off my list of children’s books about anger.

Bear mooched around, kicking stones and growling. A fly buzzed around his nose
‘Buzz off!’ screamed Bear, flapping his arms around in a temper.

Bad Mood Bear (Mini Treasure)

Bad Mood Bear (Mini Treasure) at Amazon.ca


Picture books about anger and bad moods including Finn Throws a FitFinn Throws a Fit! written by David Elliott and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
Picture book about a child’s temper tantrum published by Candlewick Press

Usually, Finn is happy and loving but when Finn is upset, everybody in the household suffers. Using thunder, lightning, flooding, hurricane winds, blizzard conditions and an earthquake to describe Finn’s outburst, Finn Throws a Fit! will delight young readers and their parents.

With no explanation given for the upset, there is a good opportunity for an adult to ask probing questions such as,
Why do you think Finn was upset?”
“How did Finn’s parents and dog feel when Finn was upset?”
“What could Finn do next time he is upset?”

Finn Throws a Fit! at Amazon.com

Finn Throws a Fit! at Amazon.ca


Children's Book About Anger and Feeling GrumpyGrumpy Bird written and illustrated by Jeremy Tankard
Children’s Book About Anger and Feeling Grumpy published by Scholastic

This is a picture book about anger and grumpiness that I have read dozens, if not hundreds of times. It is a book that I shared over and over again with a child that I helped to overcome a speech delay. The delightful, repetitious text was exactly what I needed to prompt dialogic reading

He was too grumpy to eat.
He was too grumpy to play.
In fact, he was too grumpy to fly.
“Looks like I’m walking today,” said Bird.

I arrived for each appointment with a briefcase filled with picture books, puzzles, games and other activities. More often than not, Grumpy Bird was selected by my student and we enjoyed reading about Grumpy Bird spending time with friends (even if he was not enthusiastic about their company) and, eventually finding himself transformed into a happy, social creature.

Grumpy Bird at Amazon.com

Grumpy Bird at Amazon.ca


Picture book about being angry How Do Dinosaurs Say I'M MAD?How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague
Picture book about expressing anger and frustration published by Blue Sky Press an imprint of Scholastic

Part of the How Do Dinosaurs series of picture books, this story not only describes behaviours that might happen when a child is angry, it also suggests ways for a child (or dinosaur) to deal with angry feelings.

he counts up to ten,
then after a time out,
breathes calmly…
and then…
he cleans up his mess

Dinosaur fans will love the detailed endpapers and the notations within the book that identify the species of each of the dinosaurs.

Some readers have commented that it is unfortunate that the dinosaurs do begin by behaving badly. Their behavior includes ripping books, throwing a mug, kicking and defiance. We agree with these observations but, unlike several books about anger, grumpiness and bad moods, this book did include suggestions for managing strong emotions.

How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? at Amazon.com

How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? at Amazon.ca


Childrens books about anger, The Day Leo Said I Hate You
The Day Leo Said I Hate You written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Molly Bang
Picture book about emotions and anger published by Little, Brown and Company

When young children feel anger, it can be a frightening experience for them. They may be completely overcome by frustration and may be unable to control their words.

Here we meet Leo, a little boy who has been told, “No” more times than he can count. His mommy doesn’t want him to roll tomatoes across the floor and she doesn’t want him to drop string beans into the fishbowl.

Leo announces that he hates “No.” Mommy calmly says that she understands his feelings but, “There are some things you just should not do.” Leo decides that his bedroom is the best place to be but, when he begins drawing on the wall, his mommy is certain to be annoyed and it is not long until he cannot contain his emotions any longer. He shouts, “I HATE YOU.”

Strong, bold Photoshop illustrations are sure to resonate with children who have felt overpowering emotions.

A valuable resource for families, The Day Leo Said I Hate You! is a reassuring story of enduring love – even when it has been a very long and extremely emotional day.

The Day Leo Said I Hate You! at Amazon.com

The Day Leo Said I Hate You! at Amazon.ca


I'm So Grumpy written and illustrated by Hans WilhelmI’m So Grumpy! written and illustrated by Hans Wilhelm
Beginning Reader Story About Being in a Bad Mood published by Scholastic

Beginning readers are sure to enjoy this simple story about Noodles’ bad mood. He doesn’t like his food, he doesn’t want to go for a walk. He wishes that everyone would leave him alone. Repetitive text and appealing illustrations will support young readers as they enjoy this fun story and the thrill of reading independently.

There are a total of 32 books about Noodles that are perfect for new readers. Check out this page of resources, including posters and a teacher’s guide.

I’m So Grumpy at Amazon.com

I’m So Grumpy at Amazon.ca



Meet Author Darla Woodley (Interview)

Posted on October 13th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts interviews children’s book author Kelly Santana-Banks
Storytime Standouts interviews D Woodley author of  Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything is Darla Woodley’s first book. Darla is a self-proclaimed shutterbug, with her camera never far from arm’s reach and a goal of capturing the many activities of her two boys, she is always on the lookout for how to capture magical moments. Many of these special moments are recorded in this book.

AuthorTwitter account @RedAnything

Instagram redsockswithanything

Facebook page www.facebook.com/RedSocksGoWithAbsolutelyAnything

Author Website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?
My book is entitled Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything. It is a Children’s Picture Book but I actually think it is a good read for all ages. Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything is based around our family tradition of wearing red socks as an unspoken method of support and encouragement for friends, family or anyone that may just need a lift in spirit. The story sees the character going through a number of “firsts” and intimidating moments and shows the reader that sometimes words are just not needed to show that someone is thinking of you or cheering you on. The main character’s gender is ambiguous on purpose so as to allow the reader to develop a more personal connection to the story. Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything

I am most proud of the impact that the story has on its readers. I love hearing how someone is heading out to purchase a pair of red socks for themselves and/or their family members. I am especially thrilled when a reader tells me that they are looking forward to initiating their own unspoken method of support and tradition based around the idea of red socks.

Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything at Amazon.com

Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything 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 am not sure if I would say it was difficult to publish my first book. Challenging? Yes, definitely challenging. I chose the self-published route and being new to the book industry I found myself constantly on the computer or my phone doing research. I cannot tell you how many links I emailed myself to read and check on and how many tabs were open on my desktop at once on a regular basis. I was extremely fortunate to have a few connections that I could contact, bounce questions off of and verify information that I had found through research. The entire process can be a rather lengthy one when opting the self-published route as there are many services, options and research that should be done to ensure that you end up with an end product suitable to your standards.

To aspiring authors/illustrators I would suggest that they do their research regarding the publishing process and what it takes to ensure that you end up with a polished and very professional book. I would also explain how it is a never-ending process of promotion and self-promotion. For a new author it is a constant challenge to get your name out there in the literary world.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
I have such great memories and experiences of sharing Red Socks with children. They are such a wonderful and inspiring group to share the story with!

I have shared the story with children in grades 1 through to grade 6 and was very pleasantly surprised at the comments and discussions with the grade 6 individuals. I wasn’t sure if they were going to be too “big” for the story but they were an awesome group of kids with insightful questions and comments. With that particular group I have great memories:
– I had a couple of girls approach me and tell me about a book they are writing together and how they were inspired to keep their project going and not give up.
– One child came up and told me how great he thought the story was and then secretly handed me a piece of his favorite gum by way of a handshake. He then gave me a wink to confirm the passing of the forbidden gum. (we were all sitting in the library)
– Another child was so inspired by the story that he suggested that they have a wall in the school dedicated to Red Socks displaying the book’s lines “I feel strong. I am ready. I can do anything.” I am so proud of him as he later inspired so many others at a local track competition with his determination to run and finish in a relay match.

I always have fond memories of visiting and reading with the younger grades. I experienced my first “heckler” when I was reading to a grade 2 class and she was in the front row asking me why the socks were not blue. I love the little discussions (that sometimes turn into battles) when I ask the class if they think the protagonist is a boy or a girl. I enjoy the fact that we get off course during the reading as our discussions take a different direction at times when they all want to share their version of the character’s experience.

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 use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a website) in an effort to stay connected with readers and those who might be interested in learning more about Red Socks. I have done a few book signings and look forward to doing more. (The book signings are something that I need to push myself to do as I am usually very much a “behind-the-scenes” type of person.) I do thoroughly enjoy visiting classrooms and look forward to those in the coming school year.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?
I am a first time author so it is so very thrilling to see the book displayed in a bookstore or to hear from someone else that they spotted Red Socks in a bookstore. My greatest pleasure is having someone tell me that they enjoyed the story and are looking forward to initiating their own tradition based on the idea of Red Socks. I have it set up so that when books are purchased an additional copy is printed and then donated to a local school, charity and/or organization that can benefit from the message within the story. I am so happy to say that books have been sent to Australia, Maui, England, Northern Ireland, Toronto, various States, Saskatchewan, BC and throughout Alberta so far.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?
Being a first time author and one that is self-published, the biggest challenge is actually getting the word out about the story. The entire experience is new to me and full of challenges and unknowns and I find myself constantly having to do research regarding the industry and push myself out of my comfort level at times in an effort to bring Red Socks to new readers. I am thankful though as this challenge offers me an opportunity to be an example to my two boys of how one should never give up and always be willing to put themselves out there.

I wanted to love this book – The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

Posted on July 18th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian RobinsonThe Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade written by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian Robinson
Antibullying Picture Book published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons: An Imprint of Penguin Group (USA)

You’ve really got to love a recording artist who has a very popular kids’ CD titled, Meltdown! and another called Not Naptime. The album titles alone are enough to bring a smile to a weary parent’s face. So, I wanted to think that The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade was terrific.

And, I do think it is a good book but, there are ways it could have been better.

Sally McCabe is both young and small. She is in the lowest grade at her school and she is the smallest child in the class. Kudos to the illustrator for depicting a racially diverse group of children in the classroom and at the playground. It would have been excellent to see similar diversity in terms of mobility (perhaps one child in a wheelchair or using crutches, for example).Illustration from The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

Sally is unusually observant. She notices a kite that is tangled in a tree and she notices that the janitor’s ring has twenty-seven keys. Unfortunately, this is where my evaluation of the book begins to drop: one illustration of the janitor’s ring only shows seven keys and another shows five keys. I completely understand that twenty seven may have been essential to the rhyme BUT the illustrations should be true to the story. If the ring has twenty seven keys – the illustration of the ring should show us each one of them! Young children will pick up on this sort of disparity. They will want to know where the other twenty or twenty two keys are and the omission will detract from the important antibullying message the author is attempting to share.

When a bully pushes Sally’s classmate, the story tells us that he begins to cry but in the illustration, he is dry-eyed. These seemingly minor disparities really do make a difference and discerning young readers will notice them.

Adults may understand the (metaphorical) significance of wildflowers tipping toward light and cats meeting together in a parking lot but I doubt that, without guidance, young children will see any connection between the cats or the flowers and Sally’s story.

Essentially, Sally, observes bullying on the playground, in the hallway at school, in the classroom and in the school cafeteria. Eventually, she speaks up. She announces, “I’m tired of seeing this terrible stuff. Stop hurting each other! This is enough!”

This prompts all of Sally’s classmates and school staff members to point their fingers in the air in solidarity. Soon the school is a much more harmonious place. A somewhat “magical solution” to bullying? Yes, but, this is story that could be used to initiate discussions about bullying and social responsibility.

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade at Amazon.com

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade at Amazon.ca


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

Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid

Posted on November 24th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart


Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid.Picture a Tree – written and illustrated by Barbara Reid
Picture book about trees published by North Winds Press, an imprint of Scholastic Canada


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.



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

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

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

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

Update June 19, 2012 – Picture a Tree has been nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award

Picture a Tree at Amazon.com

Picture a Tree at Amazon.ca

Note, this is one of several YouTube videos that feature Barbara Reid and her artwork. Check her website or YouTube for additional resources.

Kathryn Otashi’s One is an Enlightened Look at Bullying. Don’t Miss It!

Posted on February 17th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

One is an Enlightened Look at BullyingOne written and illustrated by Kathryn Otashi
Anti bullying picturebook published by KO Kids 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

“Red was a hot head. He liked to pick on Blue, “Red is a great color,” he’d say. “Red is hot. Blue is not.” Then Blue would feel bad about being Blue.”

Red is a loud, brash bully while Blue is a quiet, introspective color. When Red relentlessly picks on him, Yellow, Green, Purple and Orange witness the unkind words and are sympathetic to Blue but they fail to act. The don’t tell Red to stop the abuse. When none of the colors speak up for their friend, Red is emboldened. He grows larger and larger until all of the colors are afraid of him. Thankfully, a newcomer appears, “with bold strokes and squared corners…One stood up straight like an arrow and said, “No.”

Featuring bold, dramatic illustrations and a deceptively simple storyline, One delivers a terrific anti-bullying message. A great read aloud, One offers many opportunities for discussion and the inspiring illustrations will encourage artists young and old.

One at Amazon.com

One at Amazon.ca


Spork Provides a Shining Celebration of Diversity and Individuality

Posted on January 7th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Spork, a picture book about diversity and individualityStorytime Standouts shares Spork, a picture book about diversity and individualityStorytime Standouts shares Spork, a picture book about diversity and individuality written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Picture book about family diversity published by Kids Can Press





“Spork was neither spoon nor fork…but a bit of both.” Offering a refreshing and original celebration of individuality, Spork is a thoughtful yet fun look at a youngster who doesn’t look quite like mum or dad. In Spork’s kitchen abode, there are forks, knives and spoons – they each know their places and ‘mixing’ is quite rare. Sparkling illustrations and clever writing encourage the reader to feel empathy for a different sort of kitchen utensil who aspires to be spoonish or forkish but can’t quite manage either.

When The Messy One is plunked in a nearby highchair one day, needing something a little different, there is no better tool for the task at hand.

Very good fun, will be enjoyed by utensils of every colour, size and shape, aged four and up.

Spork is one of Kirkus Reviews’ 2010 Best Children’s Books

Spork at Amazon.com

Spork at Amazon.ca

You may also be interested in our page titled “Diversity.” We highlight picture books and chapter books that celebrate and inform readers about human diversity including learning disabilities, physical disabilities, allergies, single parent families, interracial families, same sex parents, aging, death and more.

Don’t miss our page of quotes about diversity.




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