Sunday, February 18, 2018

ish by Peter H. Reynolds A Story For Both Kids and Adults

 - A Lesson For All Creative People -

Ramon loves to draw. You could say it’s his passion since he does it anytime and just about everywhere. But one day Ramon’s big brother looks at one of the drawings and bursts out laughing. “WHAT is THAT?” he asks. Ramon’s confidence begins to seep out of him. Will he ever discover that passion again? Losing confidence can open the door to doubt and other things that can make that door hard to close.

Cons:  None

Pros: Simple, beautiful story that both kids and adults will be able to relate to. The illustrations are just right for this book: done in watercolor, ink, and tea.

Author/ Illustrator:   Peter H. Reynolds
Publisher:  Candlewick Press, 2004
  • Approx Words: 336
  • Ages: according to the publisher / 0 and up
  • Pages: 32
Classroom Ideas

For more reviews go to Picture Book Sleuth

Saturday, February 17, 2018


#NetGalley   #SimonAndTheBig,Bad,AngryBeasts
Available April 2018

Simon handles his anger by having temper tantrums. But he is discovering that each time he has a tantrum the imaginary monster he becomes grows into something larger and more fierce. Eventually, Simon’s temper is so large that no one wants to be around him. When he realizes that life has become quite lonely, he tries to figure out how to get rid of the monsters that come out when he is angry. Can he work through his anger issues and enjoy playing with his friends again?

Cons: Like all books of this nature, the issue is handled in a simplistic manner that is not quite realistic, and I felt the ending was very abrupt and needed a few more pages, but . . . (see below).

Pros: this is a definite start to managing anger issues and adults have several pages at the back of the book with strategies for talking to children about their emotions along with various exercises they can use to cope with anger. The illustrations are just right for this book.

Author/ Illustrator:   Ian De Haes
Publisher:  Fly Away Books, April 2018
  • Ages: 4 - 8
  • Pages: 40

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

JUST LEFT OF LUCKY by Dianna Dorisi Winget

Brings About A New Understanding Of Being Homeless

Middle Grade

From the award-winning author of A Million Ways Home, comes this poignant and absorbing story of family bonds, determination and finding the courage to overcome hardship. 

Author Dianna Dorisi Winget takes us on a journey through the eyes of a 12-year-old girl, Shannon. After Shannon’s mom dies, her aunt Junie does her best to provide for both of them, but when she finds it impossible they take off to another state. A state, Aunt Junie tells her, where wages will be higher so they will be just fine. So Aunt Junie, Shannon, and Shannon’s dog Boone head for better things. But their move from Idaho to Washington doesn’t make things better. In fact, they find themselves living in Aunt Junie's car. Shannon tries desperately to hide this secret, while Aunt Junie deals with it in her own way, with alcohol. Will they ever find a way out of what appears to be a no-win situation?

Cons:  While I feel the ending is satisfying and just right for a middle grade book, it felt a little too tidy.
Pros: This is one of the best descriptive, make-you-feel-like-you’re-there, writers I’ve read. Description for the sake of naming everything in a room or exactly what each person looks like and what they are wearing doesn’t appeal to me. But this writing develops characters through their actions and you feel like you are almost experiencing what they are seeing and doing. This story kept me turning pages. I highly recommend it. And even if you aren't a dog lover, the dog in this story will win you over.

From the Author:
It was an article in my hometown newspaper about the ever increasing needs of our local food bank that really got me thinking about the topic of poverty and homelessness. It's a topic most of us don't like to think about, and yet the problem is so very real, in towns and cities large and small, in every region of the country. I started to think how difficult it would be for a child in this situation, how awkward or embarrassing it would be to have your friends find out you were homeless, and how far you might go to keep your situation a secret. I wanted to try and portray this experience in a realistic way, while still offering some hope and light. This is what I've tried to accomplish with Just Left of Lucky. The stories I heard, and the things I learned while researching this book, have forever changed my view of homelessness. I hope it might do the same for others.

From the Back Cover of the Book:
"What do you think would happen if he finds out we're living in the car?"
"He won't, bug. You worry too much."
"But what if he did? Do you think he'd tell?"
She swiped a finger around the rim of her cup. "I suppose legally he'd have to report that kind of thing, yeah." 
"They'd take me away from you," I said. "Just like they did Amber."
I waited for her to tell me I was wrong, that she'd never allow something like that to happen. But she didn't. She didn't say anything at all. Which told me I was one hundred percent right.

What is SCBWI and is it important to me as a Children's Book Writer?

One Organization That Writers and Potential Writers Should Consider

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

The SCBWI is for writers and illustrators no matter what stage they are at, published or striving to reach that goal. They provide support for all members. You might think they only provide help and information for the traditional path to publishing, but they also provide information regarding self-publishing. 
SCBWI has 20 thousand plus members and is noted for its high standards. They have workshops, webinars, podcasts. retreats, and much more. They also have numerous awards and grants.
It is a good place to get your work critiqued, join a critique group, find news about agents, and just visit with other authors. If you are a published author you can list your book in SCBWI's online bookstore. If you have a blog, you can also publish that in their blog roll, regardless of whether you have any published books. Illustrators can display their portfolio in their gallery, which offers lots of exposure since art directors and those looking for artists visit that site.

Though it can seem like a steep price to join, you immediately gain access to several helpful things. Check out these links below:

scbwi blog

Illustrator Gallery

Home Page
Why Join SCBWI?

SCBWI Frequently Asked Questions


While this may not be for everyone, it's worth taking a few minutes to explore what they have to offer.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

9 Books That Promote Discussions About Behavior

Are They Actually Misbehaving Or Are They Experiencing Growing Pains?

Bad behavior by these characters is brought on by various things. And many times the characters don't even recognize that their actions aren't the best. That's why these books are such valuable teaching aids. They offer varied topics for discussions, but at the same time, the talks don't feel like lectures since you've just read a fun book.

Below are the reviews (click on the title).

Clark the Shark Loves Christmas

Is it possible Clark has missed the Christmas gift-giving message altogether?

Eddie the Bully

There's no doubt Eddie is a bully and that most of the students stay clear of him. But what will happen when a new student is assigned to sit next to him? (Eddie does say some pretty hateful things, but it offers a wonderful opportunity to help students realize how words can really hurt.) And the illustrations are wonderful!

Melt Down

Now here's a book you will either be okay with or really not like. I was one who saw a book that helps point out how ugly and silly bad behavior can look and that parents can catch on fairly quickly to mistakes they might have made, so don't even think of repeating bad behavior.

Millie Fierce

Millie is tired of being ignored so she tries a different tactic to get attention.

My Very Own Space

Absolutely fine to want a quiet space of your own. But how you go about that can be a bit of a problem.

Not Friends

This story promotes talks about cooperation and bad behavior.

Pig the Elf

Some of the words in this book might be questionable (see my review), but it is a good story about bad behavior and greediness.

The Bad Seed

The bad seed stopped smiling, wasn’t friendly, didn’t listen, cut in line, and many other bad things. But will this bad seed ever decide to change his life?

The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish

This guy is pouty and not too happy. Like most books, this falls in several categories: Growth Mindset, Friendship, Challenges, and Christmas.

For more reviews go to Picture Book Sleuth

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A Picture Book That Adults Will Want To Read Over and Over To Kids!

Thumbs up from this reviewer!

Two blobs of gray and brown clay meet on an artist’s desk, each wondering what is going to happen to them. The gray blob is positive it will be something wonderful. And sure enough, we see pictures of the two being transformed into a wolf and owl. The owl and wolf agree they were totally bored with how long it took. But the owl thinks they look perfect! However, the wolf has other ideas, “Hey, watch this!” he says. The owl is nearly speechless and can only manage a, “Yikes!” The wolf transforms into a funny looking wolf. The owl is still flustered but says, “You definitely shouldn’t do that.” But will the owl give in to wolf’s fun game of watch-me-transform-myself? And what if the artist returns?
Cons: None
Pros: Honestly, the name and cover of this book made me keep putting it to the bottom of my books to be reviewed. Big Mistake! This book quickly won me over. The text is all dialog by the clay figures and the pictures and text are extremely creative and fun. If I had a dime for every time a picture book is called hilarious I’d be rich, so I always steer clear of that word, but I can say, this book made me laugh out loud.
Author: Dev Petty
Illustrator: Lauren Eldridge
Published by Little, Brown and Company,  2017
  • Approx Words: 357
  • Ages:  5 – 6
  • Pages: 40
Illustrations by Lauren Eldridge: “I used polymer clay, acrylic doll eyes, tinfoil, and wire to create the many shapes of the gray and brown claymates. For the props, set pieces, and so on, I used objects from around my house, such as a bulletin board and a desk lamp, to design the ‘stage’ of the story. When ready to photograph an image, I’m concerned with how something looks only from a very specific angle, so I can also use thing like squirt guns, clothes hangers, and cardboard to help me create a desired effect – – and I’m the only one who knows that they’re there.”

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

One Of My Favorite Middle Grade Authors!

Dianna Dorisi Winget

Not long ago I read a wonderful middle grade book called A Million Ways Home by Dianna Dorisi Winget. Not often will a book hook you and bring emotion in just a few pages, but that one did. I loved it from the start. So I chose another of her books to read, A Smidgen of Sky. By the first few paragraphs I was convinced it was good, but maybe not my type of book. But as I continued reading I found I really liked it. In fact, I liked it enough to read the sequel, A Sliver of Sun. Again, really good! So good that I "friended" her on Goodreads and we've visited about books and writing a few times. 

On To My News:

She now has a new book available. I have to be honest, I just got mine yesterday so I haven't read it yet. But having read her earlier books, I'm betting I won't be disappointed. 

Who better to share her new book than Dianna? 

Introducing: Just Left Of Lucky

"After several years without a new book, I'm SO excited to share my new middle grade, Just Left of Lucky. It tackles the topics of homelessness and poverty, but has lightness and hope, too ... and a dog! (A super cute one, I might add!) 

It was an article in my hometown newspaper about the ever increasing needs of our local food bank here in north Idaho that really got me thinking about the topic of poverty and homelessness. It's a subject most of us don't like to think about, and yet the problem is so very real, in towns and cities large and small, in every region of the country. I started to imagine how difficult it would be for a child in this situation, how awkward or embarrassing it would be to have your friends find out you were homeless, and how far you might go to keep your situation a secret. I wanted to try and portray this experience in a realistic way, while still offering some hope and light. This is what I've tried to accomplish with Just Left of Lucky. The stories I heard, and the things I learned while researching this book, have forever changed my view of homelessness. I hope it might do the same for others. 

Here's the summary: 

Twelve year old Shannon can't believe she's living in a car with her Aunt Junie and little dog, Boone. After all, the move from Idaho to Washington was supposed to make things better, not leave them homeless. Mortified, Shannon is desperate to keep their situation a secret--not just from the kids at school, but also from the persistent, somewhat mysterious resource officer who keeps asking questions. When Aunt Junie becomes too paralyzed with discouragement to look for a job, capable and creative Shannon takes the reins and comes up with her own plan to fix things. But before she has a chance to put it in motion, their homelessness is revealed and the worst happens--Shannon is separated not only from Aunt Junie, but from her beloved Boone, and placed in a foster home. What will happen to Shannon's plan now? How will she rescue Boone? And will her family ever be together again?"

More Great News: 

The first book I read of hers and loved so much, A Million Ways Home, proves that you can trust my good taste! :-) She actually won The Mark Twain Readers Award 2016-2017, and The William Allen White Award!

Visit her site at DiannaWinget to learn more.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Friendship, Argument, and Oops! Now What?

- So Who Is The Real Owner Of The Green Book? -


Friends Redd and Bloo have a problem when Bloo sees Redd reading what appears to be his favorite green book. Of course, like many, Redd insists it’s his book and holds on to it. “My book is green and has lots of pages! I’m 100% sure that is MY BOOK!” Bloo says. The arguing goes back and forth until a colorful hat-wearing worm snatches the book from both. Redd and Bloo can’t seem to get the worm to come out of the ground with the book. Will it be lost forever?
The story manages to unobtrusively slip in various things that make up a book: pages, letters, spine, etc.

Cons: None

Pros: This humorous story and illustrations are just right for young children. I like that it teaches cooperation and teamwork and as a side, I love that the basic parts of a book are included in the story. 
Author: Travis Foster and Ethan Long
Published by Chronicle Books, 2017
  • Approx Words: 442
  • Ages: Not Listed By Publisher
  • Pages: 56
Illustrations: The three characters were rendered digitally and separately by Travis Foster (Redd and Bookworm) and Ethan Long (Bloo). Ethan Long digitally assembled all the images into each illustration.
Teacher Guide

Picture Book Sleuth Reviews

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Picture Book Little Ones Will Want You To Read Over and Over

Will This Owl Ever Get To Sleep?

Owl settles into bed for the night with his book when he hears a noise . . . a tiny sound no louder than a whisper. He assumes that someone must be at the door. Nope. So he snuggles back in bed and tells himself, “Good night, Owl.” But he hears the same noise again. This time it seems to be coming from the cupboard, so he empties every shelf, but finds nothing. This same thing continues to happen, but as he gets more and more determined to find the source of the noise, he gets more aggressive.

Cons: Though owls sleep at night, I think lots of leeway is given to picture books. So, not really much of a “Con,” more of a mention.

Pros: Young kids will instantly fall in love with this book since they are in on what the noise is from the beginning. Kids and adults should find the ending very satisfying.

Author/Illustrator: Greg Pizzoli
Published by Disney - Hyperion, 2016
  • Approx Words: 287
  • Ages: 5 - 6
  • Pages: 48
Educator's Guide 
Fun Video by Greg Pizzoli Great To Share With Kids After Reading Good Night Owl:

For Other Great, Picture Book Reviews Check Out Picture Book Sleuth

Monday, January 22, 2018

Good Picture Book To Share With Kids This Summer

- Davy Is So Excited To Be Going On Vacation But . . . Oops! -

 #NetGalley  #Davy'sSummerVacation
Available June 5, 2018

Wendy Wildgoose shares with her rabbit friend Davy that she enjoyed a fantastic trip with her family. “We visited the Big Water. We swam, played in the sand and, and saw all kinds of new things.” Davy feels deflated since he would love to go on a trip like that but it’s unlikely that it will happen since he and his family don’t fly. But surprise, surprise, when he tells his family that he’d like to go to Big Water they agree since they’ve wanted to go there, too. Mother rabbit warns the children that it’s a very long trip to get to Big Water, but the children are fine with that. They scurry around and pack their wagon but it is VERY loaded, so loaded that Davy adds his toy rabbit and - - Crack. All four wheels break. Now What?

Cons: None

Pros:  This is a book that most parents will want to share with their children.  It is about family, working together and being satisfied with what you have, regardless of what others have or do. Beautiful illustrations and a great story.

Author: Brigitte Weninger
Illustrator: Eve Tharlet
Published by  NorthSouth Books, 2018
  • Approx Words:  
  • Ages: 4 - 8
  • Pages: 32