Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Basics Of Writing a Picture Book

So, How Hard Can It Be To Create A Picture Book?

I used to be among those who thought creating a picture book would be easy-peazy.  After all, I'd written chapter books and had them published.

But the more I review picture books, the more I'm learning that I was wrong. One of the things I thought when reviewing was, "What!" how did that get published? (And I still occasionally wonder.) But I'm also discovering some very good books. In fact, many more books are good than my What? books. To be fair, many of my not-so-good books are reviewed highly by readers. Which proves writing is a very subjective art, like most creative efforts. And by reviewing lots and lots of books (over 90 in less than two months) I'm understanding why some books are successful.

What Makes a Picture Book Successful

There are many sites out there with great information, but I will list a few that offer simple but helpful advice.

One More Thing

What I have noticed in reviewing so many picture books is that some things that were once frowned upon are making a come-back. Rhyming text is used in several of the books I've reviewed, while once it wasn't encouraged. What I'm also noticing is that most of the books are Character Driven.

Good Luck With Your Writing Endeavor

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Picture Book Detective That May Be Overlooking A Clue!

- A Story That's Sure To Make Kids Hoot With Laughter -

Whobert Whover classifies himself as a detective that tries to keep “his neck of the woods safe.” While checking out the woods he comes upon Perry the possum . . . lying very still. So what’s a detective to do but claim, “Poor Perry! I will find out who, who done it!” So looking for clues is a start since a good detective always finds a clue. And a good detective finds an eyewitness and follows the getaway trail. Will Whobert Whoever succeed, or is it possible he’s overlooking a few things?

Cons: None

Pros: The illustrations are extremely cute. In fact, to really appreciate them I think you’ll need to read this book several times to see all the details. Kids will love to look for the things Whobert seems to be overlooking. But this detective owl never quits, no matter the evidence (or lack of it), the overlooked clues, and the suspects’ denials.  I would rate this book high on my list of favorites.

Author: Jason Gallaher
Illustrations: Jess Pauwels
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017
  • Approx Words: 359
  • Ages: 4 - 6
  • Pages: 40

Classroom Activities For Whobert Whoever Owl Detective

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Older Picture Book That's Worth Reviewing

- So Who Is In Charge While Farmer Brown Is Vacationing? -

Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type introduced us to Farmer Brown’s animals that communicate to humans through written messages. In this book, Farmer Brown is going on vacation and leaving his brother in charge of the farm. Instructions are left by Farmer Brown to his brother. “Just follow my instructions and everything will be fine. But keep an eye on Duck. He’s trouble.” But can Duck and the animals be trusted? When Farmer Brown’s brother picks up the note he reads, “Tuesday night is pizza night (not the frozen kind!) The hens prefer Anchovies. Is it possible that Wednesday is bath day for the pigs and that they are to be bathed in a bubble bath and dried with Farmer Brown’s towels?  Oh, oh! In the distance can be heard Giggle, giggle, cluck.
Cons: None
Pros: The illustrations and story will have kids and adults laughing. Author Doreen Cronin and illustrator Betsy Lewin team up to create a great book.
Author: Doreen Cronin
Illustrator: Betsy Lewin
Published by Simon & Schuster, 2002
  • Approx Words: 310
  • Ages: 3 - 8
  • Pages: 32
Giggle, Giggle, Quack Discussion Guide

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Books That Promote Discussions

These books are posted in my Acceptance favorites for various reasons. Some are about accepting others, some are about trying to gain acceptance. But they all offer fun stories and characters who open the door to discussions because of things they do in the book.

You will find reviews for these books on Picture Book Sleuth.

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Snowbear - Picture Book Review

 -A Magical Story of Two Children and a Snowbear -

Iggy and Martina wake up to a snow-covered yard. Mom tells them to, “Make a snowman if you want. But be careful because the hill is too steep and slippery.” They attempt to build a snowman, but it ends up looking more like a snowbear. After finishing the snowbear Iggy suggests they slide down the hill. Though Martina is concerned because they were told its slippery they both hop on the sled and ss----llll----iiii----dddd----eee down the hill. It seems they are never going to stop. But at the bottom of the hill, they hear a scary sound. And the hill is much too slippery and steep to hurriedly climb back up. Oh, oh!
  • Cons: None
  • Pros: The illustrations are very complimentary to this magical snow story. A great book to read on a snowy winter day.
Author: Sean Taylor
Illustrator: Claire Alexander
Published by Quarto Publishing Group - word & pictures, 2017

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Giraffe Meets Bird

- A fun book that kids and adults should love to read over and over -

An egg hatches high in a nest. A nest that Giraffe can easily see because it's his tree. At least one that he claims as his. They are both excited to see each other. Giraffe loves to see bird grow. Bird loves trying new things. Bird grows quickly and soon learns how to make Giraffe angry and annoyed. Because each claims the tree Bird’s feathers are ruffled if Giraffe tells him what to do. And Giraffe becomes peeved when Bird makes a fuss. It doesn’t take long for Giraffe and Bird to find it hard to share the tree. But one afternoon Bird flutter plops to the ground. Giraffe is just fine to have Bird leave his tree. Bird is thrilled to have an adventure, but wonders how he will get back in the tree. Giraffe notices Bird is quiet. And just then there is a strange noise in the tall grass. Will danger cause them to work together?

Cons: None

Pros: The story shows that relationships are hard work. And despite some problems, true friends will be there for each other. The illustrations are so cute that both adults and children should find this book a real keeper.
Author/Illustrator: Rebecca Bender
Published by Pajama Press, 2015
  • Approx Words:  336
  • Ages: 2 - 5
  • Pages: 32
Giraffe Meets Bird Extra Content

Enjoy This Book Trailer:

Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Awesome (For Me!) New Year's Resolution

So What's Your Resolution for 2018?

What better time to start a new resolution? Over two and a half years go I felt something not so good going on in my lower back. Hoping to take the easy fix, and truth be told to avoid the dreaded MRI, I made my way to lots of massage and physical therapy appointments. But, alas, ended up having major back surgery, then blood clots, followed by the same back surgery due to complications. Who would have guessed? I had a crazy long recovery that meant I had to abandon my blog and writing for a couple years. 


I'm now back to my desk and what I love. But I'm finding one more problem. This excited person is sitting at the computer too long. And all of the news I've been seeing indicates that sitting too long anywhere is detrimental to health. Oops!

My Resolution

Now to my resolution. I've downloaded a new app called Break Reminder. When I turn this app on it reminds me every 25 minutes to take a break. The break consists of five minutes. But if you get back earlier you just need to hit I'm back and it will start your 25 minutes again. If you prefer different times set, that is extremely easy to change. When my 25 minutes sitting time is up and I have a five-minute break I usually go up and down stairs or other activity that requires more than standing, but even standing is helpful.

Yesterday when I was choosing an app I tried to look at reviews and pick something very simple since that was all I needed. But the best thing is for you to pick an app that works for your needs. Just move! And remember the importance of not sitting for long periods.

Make The Leap To Have A New And Better Year
Happy New Year - May the Coming Year Be Full Of Joy!


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Max And Bird - Book Review

     Max, the cat, and Bird both want to be friends, but Max thinks it will be best if he chases Bird first, since that’s what kittens do. After catching Bird, he might eat him (since that's what kittens do). Bird doesn't hesitate to let him know that he doesn’t like being chased and he’s far too young to be a snack. So young, in fact, that he hasn’t even learned to fly. Max isn’t convinced so easily. “But it’s a rule of nature. Birds get chased by kittens.” Again Bird has an answer. "But friends don’t eat each other up!" This is lots to think about, so the two sit and ponder what to do. Finally, Bird comes up with an idea. “Friends have fun together and help each other out . . .  If you teach me how to fly, then we’ll talk about the chasing . . . and all that other stuff. OK?” After shaking on what seems to be a fair deal, Max proceeds to teach Bird the principles of flight. “Well, Bird, first of all, you . . . er . . . What you do is . . . Well . . . ahem,” coughed Max. “I don’t think I know how to fly either.” So where do they begin? The library, of course. Don’t libraries have an answer for everything?
Will Bird ever learn how to fly? And what will Max decide about chasing and having Bird as a snack?

Cons: I'm not sure if I'm a fan of the illustrations of Max and Bird.

Pros: Such a fun story about compromise, teamwork, and friendship. The text size and words seem just right for children learning to read (see example below). Most adults won't mind reading it over and over and little ones will love to hear it.

Author/Illustrator: Ed Vere
Published by Sourcebooks, Jabberwocky, 2016
  • Approx Words: 565
  • Ages: 2-5
  • Pages: 32

Thursday, December 21, 2017

7 Sites To Help The Potential Blogger

A blog is such a great way to share thoughts, ideas, information and to even serve as a therapeutic tool for letting off steam. As an example, when yet another of my publishers closed their doors I felt like throwing my hands up. For some, it’s extremely easy to get published. I guess that’s why I flinch when I see things like, “You can be anything you want to be.” No, you can attempt to be anything you want to be. Even if I really desire to be a chemist, I will never be one, since the concept is like science fiction to me. My brain doesn’t work that way. I guess my point is that you can be the very best singer, but you’re going to have to have some breaks, a little luck, and of course we already stated talent. No music coach is going to make that happen. The desire on your part is certainly good but isn’t enough to always make your dreams come true. So what better way of sharing my thoughts than a blog?

I am posting seven sites to help you start that all important blog. The first 4 are instructions for more difficult setups, full-fledged websites that are hosted. These offer more options but do charge for hosting. (Beware if you read anything that says these sites take only a few minutes to create. I have made two, and for non-techy people, or limited techy, they take hours.) See earlier post on this blog regarding setting up my new website

1. The Write Life

2. Blog Starter

3. Website SetUp

4. Blogging Basics 101

As you can see, this blog is on Blogger. It still takes time, but nothing compared to the ones that need a web host. Blogger, Wordpress (there are several options on Wordpress), and several others offer free sites.

5. WordPress

6. Google Blogger

7. Other Blogger Options

Monday, December 18, 2017

Bob, Not Bob - book review

-Bob Has The Worst Cold Ever!-
Little Louie isn’t so little that he needs his mom every minute, or is he? In Bob, Not Bob! when Louie gets sick with a cold he would be happy if his mom checked on him every three minutes, or so. But as he feels worse and worse and as his cold progresses he has a problem. When he calls for his mom, it comes out as bob. Unfortunately, his dog is named Bob, and Bob is more than happy to come running. The next day Little Louie is even sicker. His lips are chapped and his eyes gunked. And to his disappointment having a stuffy nose is causing more than just the word Mom to be misunderstood. But will his mom be able to sense what Louie needs?
Cons: None
Pros: The book is to be read as though the reader has the worst cold ever. The story should please a classroom of children, or an individual child (especially one with a cold). Even parents will be tickled at the slobbering dog who misunderstands Louie as well as their own memories and experiences with children.
Illustrator: Matthew Cordell
Published by Disney – Hyperion, 2017
  • Word Count: Approx 475
  • Ages: 4 – 7 years
  • Grades: PK – K
  • Pages: 40
Activity Guide by Liz Garton Scanlon : Click Here