PPBF: Stretchy and Beanie

Author/Illustrator: Judy Schachner
Publisher: Dial, 2021
Themes: cats, pets, stories in rhyme

Opening: When the McHandsome Clan met the McBrights, each kid got a cat, so it worked out just right.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) An independent cat and his young owner learn to appreciate the independence and enthusiasm of the other.

I picked this book because: The rhyme is a delightful read-aloud and this is the kind of book I would have poured over as a kid, picking out my own favorite cat, or favorite cat expression, and looking to see which other McBright child seemed most like me. I would swear up and down that I would have been a better cat owner, but truth be told: I also stuck a kitty or two in a drawer too many! Just like Beanie and the other kids, I would have loved to have had a kitty of my very own. The illustrations are jam packed with wonderful little details (check out Beanie’s shoe choices!), cheerful colors and loads of humor and energy!

Resources/activities: check out Judy Schachner’s IG account and have a look at her handmade stretchy-accordion cats and make your own; read Stretchy McHandsome; learn about best practices with a new pet – cat or other!; make your own cat tail, or headband ears like Beanie’s.

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

PPBF: Magic Candies

Author/Illustrator: Heena Baek
Translated by: Sophie Bowman
Publisher: Amazon Crossing Kids, 2021
Themes: candy, magic, imagination

Opening: I play on my own.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Tong Tong could never have imagined what everyone around him was thinking. But when he gets hold of some magic candies, suddenly there are voices everywhere. He can hear how his couch feels, what upsets his dog, that his demanding dad loves him. He even gets to catch up with his dead grandmother. It turns out, these voices in Tong Tongs life have A LOT to say! Is Tong Tong ready to hear it? At turns funny, weird, and heartfelt, this imaginative picture book from award-winning Korean author Heena Baek will take readers along on Tong Tongs journey as he goes from lonely to brave.

I picked this book because: The amazing illustration on the cover caught my eye, and the interior art does not disappoint! I love the concept of magic candy, where each candy takes the main character and how he even learns to manipulate the magic – and make the most of it! Very sweet and it left me wanting more, so I made the most of it and imagined what I might hear with a few such candies!

Resources/activities: Do what I did, and imagine what you might hear with magic candies. Draw what they might look like. Maybe investigate how to make your own candies or lollipops – and share with friends! Read another book from Korean illustrator Heena Baek: Moon Pops, Owl Kids, 2021

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

PPBF: Gemma and the Giant Girl

Author: Sara O’Leary
 Marie Lafrance
Publisher: Tundra, 2021
Themes: dolls, dollhouses, giants

Opening: Gemma lived in a very nice little house and had a very nice little life.

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Gemma lives a nice little life in a nice little house where things have been the same forever and ever. She wonders if she will ever grow up, or if she will always be her Momma and Poppa’s little girl. And then one day something happens that shakes up everything. Is Gemma’s little world about to get a whole lot bigger?

I picked this book because: because I will always pick up a book illustrated by Marie Lafrance! I find the most attractive quality of her art is that I always feel transported to another, very elegant world. BUT to the story: it feels simple, but it’s an adventure that unfolds with perspective, change, and adaptation. I love picture books whose ideas linger for a good while in my head, like sucking on a lemon drop. And now I wish I had my old dollhouse back!

Resources/activities: read other books that feature dollhouses, like This is My Dollhouse, by Giselle Potter; peruse Pinterest HERE for inspiration; make your own shoebox dollhouse.

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

PPBF: Raj’s Rule

Author: Lana Button
 Hatem Aly
Publisher: Owlkids, 2020
Themes: restrooms, fear, school

Opening: (see image above)

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Raj has one steadfast rule: NEVER USE THE BATHROOM AT SCHOOL! Of course, it can be challenging to follow this rule. After all, sometimes, a person’s gotta go! So Raj has come up with a series of how-to rules to help him “hold it” — avoid all liquids; stay very still at recess; squeeze your knees tight, stay away from funny friends who might make you laugh too hard, and at all costs, avoid sneezing. But, inevitably, Raj ends up accidentally breaking his own rule with a big “Ahh-choo!” Then has has to use the school bathroom, and he realizes that it’s not so bad after all. So he lets go of his old rules, and now he can drink from the fountain, enjoy his juice box, play at the water table, laugh at Kyle’s jokes, and even stay to play after school! Raj’s new rule: Just go when you need to! Ahhhhh.

I picked this book because: I liked the eye-catching cover, and I had a child who had the same rule! I wish we had had this book to open up a discussion and for my child to be able to identify and relate to even a fictional character to feel better about their own feelings. The illustrations and bright and engaging, and there is enough humor in the book to put reader’s at ease discussing what might be a difficult subject. And Raj is ADORABLE! Hope we see more of him!

Resources/activities: talk about similar rules kids might have had when they started school that have since changed – or not! Discuss such fears, why we might have them, is it okay to feel that way, are there other ways kids have overcome their fears, how might we be able to help friends with their fears?

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

PPBF: Mr. Bear and the Ghost

Author: Chizuko Kuratomi
 Kozo Kakimoto
Publisher: Macdonald, 1984(orig.,1983)
Themes: bears, ghosts, rabbits

Opening: Something was wrong in Rabbit Town.

Summary: (could not find a synopsis ANYWHERE online!) Mr. Bear is asked to stay the night at the Carrot Funfair because it appears to be haunted – and finds there is some truth to their fears!

I picked this book because: I am a fan of the Mr. Bear books and though the story is not particularly “peppy” by today’s standards, the illustrations are as fresh and marvelous as ever! All of their books are a delight and this one might be just the right kind of ghost story for little ones at this time of year! Just look at the atmosphere Kakimoto creates!

Resources/activities: read other Mr. Bear titles you might be able to find at your library: here is a sampling, but I believe there are 16 or 17 in all. Make a colorful windchime with old keys – see image below.

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

PPBF: The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle

Author: Rumer Godden
 Mairi Hedderwick
Publisher: Viking, 1970(Illustrations,1972)
Themes: simple living, folk tale, wishes

Opening: Once upon a time there was an old woman who lived in a vinegar bottle.* (read the book to find out what is meant by a “vinegar bottle”.)

Summary: (from my library catalog) In this British variant of a traditional tale, an ungrateful woman who complains constantly about her house is granted increasingly grandiose wishes by a fairy.

I picked this book because: As some of you know, it is not commonplace for me to choose a picture book with a lot of text! But I was soooo intrigued by the title! And I enjoyed sinking in to a wonderful writer’s voice and retelling of an old folk tale. As we head into colder months I think this might be just the ticket for sharing while waiting for something delicious to come out of the oven! Enjoy!

Resources/activities: read other titles for children from Rumer Godden; consider and discuss the kind of home you occupy, does it fit your needs, too big or too small? If you had a few wishes, what might you wish for? Do you know if someone you love has a wish you might fulfill? Draw the items you think you need to be content – how much space do you need?

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

PPBF: Some Dinosaurs Are Small

Authors and Illustrator: Charlotte Voake
Publisher: Candlewick, 2020
Themes: dinosaurs, size-perception

Opening: Some dinosaurs are small.

Summary: (from my library catalog) Presents the story of three big, fast, thieving dinosaurs hungrily encountering a slower dino who uses his smaller teeth to eat fruit and leaves.

I picked this book because: i’m still working on a dinosaur manuscript! It’s important to know what is new on the market as well as which ones have become classics. And this one is SO adorable! perfect read-aloud for toddlers and perfect if the adult reader is hoping for a hug at the end! The artwork is bright, with bold lines, humor and quite satisfying for a few details that take a little time to notice (my favorite kind!).

Resources/activities: read companion books that deal with size perception to open up discussions with slightly older toddlers, like Not Little, by Maya Myers and Hyewon Yum. For budding artists, place well-defined (large plastic) toy dinosaurs at the edge casting a strong shadow onto the paper to trace the shadow and color!

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

PPBF: How to Help a Pumpkin Grow

Author/Illustrator: Ashley Wolff
 Beach Lane, 2021
: pumpkins, animals, gardening

Age Level: 2-6
see image 2 below

Synopsis: (from my library catalog) Dog is planting a garden, doing all he can to help his pumpkins grow: protecting them from snow, weeding and watering their patch, and keeping them safe from barnyard creatures who might eat the sprouts! But are Crow, Rabbit, Duck, and Goat really out to destroy the garden? Or are they new friends hoping to pitch in and help the pumpkins thrive?

I picked this book because: of the vibrant artwork: the rich palette, the masterful lighting and use of contrast, and beautifully rendered characters and scenery. And because it’s almost Halloween and this would be an absolutely delightful read-aloud if only I were still doing storytime! Blast Covid!

Resource/Activity: it may be too late to plant seeds this season, but not too early to plan for the next! Map out together where the best spot might be, be sure to have it cleared for planting, but cover with leaves to provide nutrients and moisture (I live in semi-arid dessert territory!). Learn about the different kinds of seeds and order ahead! Also, read Halloween companion books: HERE is a great list in PW.

For more links to posts on Perfect Picture Books and resources, visit Susanna Hill’s blog every Friday.

PPBF: Regina is NOT a Little Dinosaur

Author/Illustrator: Andrea Zuill
 Schwartz & Wade, 2021
: dinosaurs, hunting, mother-child

Age Level: 3-7
see image 2 below

Synopsis: from my library’s catalog: Regina, a young dinosaur who is convinced she is ready to hunt for her own food, sneaks away from Mama, but soon finds she has much to learn about hunting.

Why I am recommending this book again: because Regina is so darn cute! Zuill does such a fine job with facial and body expression and as a parent, I’ve seen all of it! (I have at least one very expressive child!) What is also exciting as I’m working on a story with dinosaurs myself 😉 It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, and the characters are identifiable! PPB!

Resource/Activity: look into identifying the different kinds of dinos depicted in the story; did those dinosaurs all live in the same period? What do we know about each one’s habits? Which one’s bones may have been found nearest to your location? Museum trip possible? Have fun!

For more links to posts on Perfect Picture Books and resources, visit Susanna Hill’s blog every Friday.

PPBF: Elliot

Author: Julie Pearson
 Manon Gauthier
Publisher: Pajama Press, 2016
Themes: orphans, foster parents, rabbits

Opening: see image below.

Summary: (from my library catalog) Elliot’s parents do not know how to take care of him. As Elliot moves from one foster home to another, his visits with his real parents leave him anxious and conflicted about where he wants to be. At last he finds stability with a new adoptive family.

I picked this book because: I liked the cover. That’s why I picked it up. I like it because it’s a story I was not expecting, an important story, gently told, of the experience of Elliot “a playful little boy who was full of life.” Afterward I looked for other reviews, and was astonished how Elliot was perceived by some reviewers, as possibly suffering from some behavioral disorder. Why? Because he cried when he was hungry, yelled when he was upset, and sometimes even misbehaved? I’ve never known a child to not show those natural forms of communication. In any case, I thought that was another reason to chose Elliot for PPBF, not just for it’s beautiful, seemingly simple, playful – and full of life! – illustrations!

Resources/activities! so much to talk about! Here is a website I found from a foster parent should you need assistance. And just like last week, draw or make collages to help deal with feeling that may arise in the discussions. Look for more titles beautifully illustrated by Manon Gauthier .

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.