PPBF: Scrappy the Pup

ScrappyCoverAuthor: John Ciardi
Illustrator: Jane Miller
Publisher: J. B. Lippincott, 1960
Ages: 3-8yrs
Themes: stories in rhyme, watchdogs, farmers
Opening: This is the story of Scrappy the Pup, Who slept so hard he just couldn’t wake up.
Summary: (from my library catalog) Here is a Poem about Scrappy the pup who was supposed to be a watchdog. What Scrappy really liked to do was eat and sleep, and once he was asleep nothing could arouse him-not thunder, rain, guns, nor anything else – until his owner, a farmer, broke Scrappy’s dinner plate.Scrappy2

I like this book because: the rhyme is sublime! I am a late bloomer when it comes to poetry, but I know a good ‘un when I read it! I saw the author mentioned in an interview with illustrator Moira Swiatkowski on Joanna Marple’s blog HERE. I put a bunch of his books on hold and am totally in love! As I told a friend, I feel like I’m being pushed on a swing while reading this. No need to take my word, read the three consecutive pages posted here. I enjoyed the simplistic and loose illustration style, and feel it works well with the rhythm of the story.Scrappy3

Resources/activities: read more of John Ciardi’s collections for children; read Renée LaTulippe’s Ciardi post with Lee Bennet Hopkins at No Water River HEREwrite a poem!Scrappy4

For more PPBF selections including resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: HERE

PPBF: Eine Kleine Dickmadam


A Little Fat Madam: Funny Rhymes for Children (my direct translation!)
Illustrator: Franz Zauleck
Publisher: LieV, 2010; originally published 1979
Ages: 3-6yrs
Themes: funny rhymes in German


Opening: “Eine kleine Dickmadam reiste mit der Eisenbahn; Eisenbahne krachte, Dickmadame lachte, lachte bis der Schaffner kam und sie mit zur Wache nahm.”

EineKleineDM3Summary: board book with funny rhymes for children.

EineKleineDM4I bought this book because: my daughter planned a visit to the Leipzig Biook Fair while I stayed with her in Germany. I planned to purchase a select few that I could fit in my wee suitcase. This one has pretty edgy illustrations for a 36 year old book! Sure, I enjoy rhymes, and hope to read this to a child someday, but I bought this last Friday for ME!

EineKleineDM5Resources/activities: though it may seem odd to read a few German rhymes to English speaking preschoolers, I think it would be fun for them to listen for the sounds/words that rhyme and try and guess what the rhyme is about from the pictures. Not a bad way to spark interest in learning a foreign language!

Also tempted to purchase, from Zauleck

For more PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) titles, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: susannahill.blogspot.com

From the same stand at the Leipziger Buchmesse:



PPBF: Some Bugs

BugsCoverAuthor: Angela DiTerlizzi
Illustrator: Brendan Wenzel
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2014
Ages: 4-8yrs
Themes: stories in rhyme, insects
Opening: Some bugs sting. Some bugs bite. Some bugs stink. And some bugs fight.
Summary: (from my library catalog) From butterflies and moths to crickets and cicadas, a rhyming exploration of backyard-bug behavior.

BugsTitle I like this book because: it features simple, spot on rhyme. Not too tight – just right! Bright, mixed-media collage illustrations are engaging and vibrant – makes you want to jump up for spring! (Which I hope has sprung when I return from the old country!)

BugsButterfResources/activities: get out your magnifying glasses, turn over leaves, rocks, mulch – you’ll be surprised to see what you can find. Draw or take photos, create a class collage. Do this at repeated intervals throughout the year and gain a better sense of what otherwise remains a hidden environment.

BugsMelonHeading out on a search for picture books on foreign soil, so I won’t be PPBF-ing (or checking out everyone else’s posts – sorry!) until after mid-March. Until then keep up with the PPBF posts and parent/teacher resources you can find on Susanna Hill’s blog – HERE

Booklove Bloghop and a PPBF Giveaway?


Yup! The GIVEAWAY: this signed book – one of three that I stood on line for outside in February for SEVEN hours. Totally worth it!!! My local indie-bookseller, Old Firehouse Books tempted its customers with a challenge: the most copies of The Ocean at the End of the Lane sold by one of five chosen indies will be the lucky host of a Neil Gaiman visit! AND WE DID IT! A shout out to all the wonderful people I chilled with – literally! And the amazing staff and volunteers that made the event FUN! Leave the number of minutes it would take for you to WALK to the nearest seller of milk in your neighborhood in a comment below by Feb 15th-12amEST to win!


Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrator: Skottie Young
Publisher: Harper Collins, 2013
Ages: 8-12yrs
Themes: adventure stories, fathers, space and time
Opening: There was only orange juice in the fridge. Nothing else that you could put on cereal, unless you think that ketchup or mayonnaise or pickle juice would be nice on your Toastios, which I do not, and neither did my little sister, although she has eaten some pretty weird things in her day, like mushrooms in chocolate.
Summary: (from my library catalog) While picking up milk for his children’s cereal, a father is abducted by aliens and finds himself on a wild adventure through time and space.


I like this book because: it’s funny! I know, by definition, it is not a picture book, but there are pictures on every spread but one, AND I had to share it!

Resources/activities: go out for milk (or pickle juice if that’s what you’re into!) and think up your own adventure as you walk! I can walk to my neighborhood grocery store in 17 minutes – how long would it take you to get to your nearest seller of milk? Leave your answer in a comment below for a chance to win the signed copy of Fortunately, the Milk.

H, J and K

H, J and K: Seven hours

For more PPBF selections including resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: HERE


Booklove picks: I didn’t have to choose books that friends wrote, but I am lucky that I can!!! Click each for a quick review on goodreads







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Carrie Finison came up with the LOVE-ly idea to spread the booklove! Wanna show some booklove too? Check out the instructions on Penny Parker Klosterman’s post HERE. Be sure to include the adorable badge designed by Dana Carey. Dana is a writer and illustrator who is Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI France, and also one of the co-leaders of Sub It Club.



Thinking about Visual Thinking

…and character development. By sketching, doodling, drawing every day (thanks to SkADaMo challenges with Linda Silvestri and Alison Kipnis Hertz’s Doodle Day fb group) I have become aware that a lot of my creative process does not take place in my head, but though visual communication with my hand. Sound crazy to anyone? The shape of one curve often interests me enough to change the way I’m drawing a character from the visual I had in my head. Often ‘accidents’ happen that are more appealing than what I was attempting. I thought I’d share an example – how I came upon an alpaca while trying to draw a dog!

PQradade Dog_03(2)-1So here was one attempt at a dog, utilizing black so that I could concentrate more on the shape and how it was working for me. It wasn’t. Do I want this dog to have more anthropomorphic qualities? Should he be able to stand on two legs? Hold on to it, but create a new file.

PQradade Dog_04-1Fun lines, but this did NOT look like a dog to me! Nope! Next…

PQradade Dog_05-1Now I have really taken a departure form the canine world! but now I see something quite different, a different species altogether…’follow your nose, Julie’…another file!

PQradade Dog_06-1Now I see, it’s an alpaca! But so stiff! I’ll play, and add color too…

PQradade Dog_07(1)-1

No dog created, but I found this delightful creature! So I allow myself to write a crappy story draft, and draw crappy sketches – a workable piece could be in the next file!

PPBF- Cybils Awards Finalist: Shh! We Have a Plan


Shh1This selection is one of seven finalists for fiction picture books, and I am a participating judge for round 2. Which means I have to read them. Tough work, huh? For information on the Cybils Awards, click HERE

Author/Illustrator: Chris Haughton
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2014
Ages: 3-7yrs (according to Amazon, but I think the younger in the range would enjoy it more)
Themes: trapping, birds, compassion, observation
Opening: Look! a bird
Summary: (from Amazon) Four friends creep through the woods, and what do they spot? An exquisite bird high in a tree! “Hello birdie,” waves one. “Shh! We have a plan,” hush the others. They stealthily make their advance, nets in the air. Ready one, ready two, ready three, and go! But as one comically foiled plan follows another, it soon becomes clear that their quiet, observant companion, hand outstretched, has a far better idea.

Shh2I like this book because: it is both humorous and deep. On reading it again I realized an extra layer, that beyond there being more ways to accomplish a task, there are more ways to interact with your environment. The illustrations, as you see, are bold and bright, which stand in glorious juxtaposition to the quiet message midst the humor and excitement. The illustrations have much more to surprise you with than I am willing to spoil by sharing! Check it out!

Shh3Resources/activities: great companion read when discussing problem-solving, opposing viewpoints or respect for nature; use in the art room when discussing use of warm and cold colors; make torn-paper pictures using complimentary colors.

For more PPBF selections including resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: HERE



Phyllis’ First Decade


Spring visit in Colorado – we both love anemones!

On February 2nd, Groundhog Day 2015, Susanna is having a party in celebration of Phyllis’s 10th Anniversary, the official Phyllis’s Birthday Bonanza HERE. Phyllis wants would like to hear sweet words of adoration (10 yr old girl? Yep, that’s about when it starts!), and who am I not to oblige (with a little inspiration from Will)?

Phyllis in her birthday suit, checking for black raspberry flowers.

Phyllis in her birthday suit, checking for black raspberry flowers.

Shall I compare thee to a winter storm?

Thou art more lively and more boisterous.

Rough winds do shake the feeble boughs of gray,

And winter’s lease hath all too long a date.

Sometimes (not enough!) the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his pale complexion dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or sudden changing course, is trimmed;

But thy wearisome winter will not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,

Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade (Ha! What shade?),

When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st.

     So long as men can’t breathe, and noses drip,

     So long lives this, and this gives life to quip.

I know, Phyllis – better keep my day job! Happy 10th!

Haven’t read Phyllis’s books? Click on the images below to go direct to the source!

PPBF – Cybils Awards Finalist: Knock Knock

Knock1This selection is one of seven finalists for fiction picture books, and I am a participating judge for round 2. Which means I have to read them. Tough work, huh? For information on the Cybils Awards, click HERE

Author: Daniel Beaty
Illustrator: Bryan Collier
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2014
Ages: 3-6yrs (according to Amazon, but, again, I think it’s for older children)
Themes: fathers and sons, separation, diverse books
Opening: Every morning I play a game with my father. He goes KNOCK KNOCK on my door, and I pretend to be asleep till he gets right next to my bed.
Summary: (from the publisher) A boy wakes up one morning to find his father gone. At first, he feels lost. But his father has left him a letter filled with advice to guide him through the times he cannot be there.

Knock2I like this book because: it’s powerful and beautiful, both in the writing and the illustrations. For a variety of reasons many children have to deal with separation from or the absence of a parent, and this selection deals with incarceration, though it’s not mentioned. I believe it would make a good addition to classroom shelves, helping kids understand and navigate the difficulties some are forced to deal with and to encourage hope. The multi-layered mixed-media illustrations are rich and warm, and invite the reader to take time to see there are often more layers to life’s complexities if we take a closer look.

Knock3Resources/activities: check out this pinterest board on building self-esteem.

For more PPBF selections including resources and activities, go to Susanna Hill’s blog: HERE