PPBF: The Undefeated

Author: Kwame Alexander
 Kadir Nelson
HMH, 2019
Themes: African-Americans, Children’s poetry,
OpeningGrandfather was a man of few words .

Summary:(from my library catalog) The Newbery Award-winning author of The Crossover pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree.

I like this book because: the illustrations grab you and do not let you go! So beautiful, so arresting, and the use of negative space is equally powerful. Now imagine that they not only amplify the text, but are equal to this gorgeous of endurance and spirit, of love. Still get the chills writing this post.

Resources/activities: do not wait for a specific month dedicated to African-Americans, read the stories of the figures mentioned, and beyond, throughout the year.

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

PPBF: Look Up!

Author/Illustrator: Jung Jin-Ho, translated by My Hyun Kim
Publisher: Holiday House, 2016
Age: 4-8
Themes: kindness, friendship, perception

Summary: (from my library’s catalog) .

I like this book because: of it’s simplicity! The choice of rendering in black and white allows the eye to focus so much more on the details of a unique perspective and place the reader/viewer not only in the mind but also in the body of the protagonist, a child in a wheelchair. And it’s a sweet story of how easy it can be to make a new friend too!

Resources/Activities: look at things from different heights: a stoop, a tree, the top of the stairs, or take a visit to your local parking garage, or another building that is multiple stories high, to get a sense of what it is like to look down on a scene. Now look up instead!

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

PPBF: Grandfather and the Moon

Author: Stéphanie Lapointe
Groundwood Books, 2017 (Orig. Les Editions, 2015)
Themes: grief, grandfathers, space
Opening: Grandfather was a man of few words .

Summary:(from my library catalog) Tells the story of a loving granddaughter who worries about her grandfather’s depression after the loss of her grandmother and enters a contest to travel to the moon, with unexpected results.

I like this book because: the illustrations are a perfect reflection of the mood of the concept and ideas within the text. The dreamlike, imaginative pondering of the child become visual and real – the space in which the main character enters into is inside and out. There is something mystical and magical, sad and hopeful. I hope you look for this because it is hard to pin point in words. Truly a picture book of discovery for ALL ages. I read it while waiting for a friend but my thoughts on it lingered for some time, and I am sure will continue.

Resources/activities: there are many great books on grief and we should not wait until there is a death to start talking about it with children.

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

PPBF:I’d Really Like to Eat a Child

0662347C-E88A-464D-8328-16039979D337Author: Sylviane Donnio
 Dorothée de Monfried
Random House, 2004
Themes: humorous stories, food, crocodiles
Opening: see first full spread below.

CD6512C2-93A2-4F99-AA5F-10D3209807E8Summary: (from my library catalog) One morning Achilles, a young crocodile, insists that he will eat a child that day and refuses all other food, but when he actually finds a little girl, she puts him in his place.

3E91E8A3-68FC-4C1E-925E-F4F9960EE091I like this book because: I’m actually surprised I have not recommended this title before – it’s truly one of my favorites! The title grabbed me, as I am sure it grabbed you, and I was in no way disappointed. The simplicity, the humor, the tenacious child in whom we may see ourselves. And while parents would also like to see him eat the bananas, we also cheer him on in his persistent pursuit!

53B2FBDD-5A24-4D35-A216-1D1141DEF7F6Resources/activities: read about what real crocodiles eat, where do they live, how do they differ from alligators; bake a chocolate cake – if that’s what you’d like to eat; find out how many different kinds of bananas there really are and where they come from.

3259BB1E-1F15-405D-BB3D-4AB2C87A4F44For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE.


One more for the road…though this is an alligator, of course…in underwear!


PPBF: Lola Shapes the Sky

BFD1381A-FF6F-4638-9B4B-BC13A86CEEE1Author: Wendy Greenley
 Paolo Domeniconi
Creative Editions, 2019
Themes: weather, clouds, acceptance
Opening: see photo below.

90C04E47-4D2E-4920-842B-3EDE9D37666DSummary: (from the publishers) A cloud with a mind of her own and a gift for making awe-inspiring shapes encourages her friends to go beyond their practical functions and expand their imaginative horizons.

670D23B6-75D6-414A-9C42-49007E6FCFCAI like this book because: Bias Reveal: this is the debut picture book of my longtime critique-partner Wendy Greenley! BUT, bias aside, it‘s a lovely book of self-acceptance and creativity, and was very well received by my adorable storytime gang at the bookstore! It‘s also brimming with absolutely beautiful illustrations! The kids were mesmerized!

62948B6A-5E78-48BB-A657-A14FE50F75BCResources/activities: start a kid’s chapter of The Cloud Appreciation Society – find out more HERE; learn how clouds make rain and other weather;  make umbrellas on popsicle sticks – see photos below


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



PPBF: Noah Noasaurus + Interview

1F34B122-4FF9-48A3-9F85-754FB630B9F1Author: Elaine Kiely Kearns
Colin Jack
Albert Whitman, 2019
Themes: dinosaurs, attitude, no
Opening: Noah Noasaurus woke up feeling very No.

DA2BE2B8-9587-4CCE-810D-3E1CB7BCBA54Summary: (from the publishers) Noah is in a grumpy mood and wants to be alone, but when his friends follow him around he cannot help but have fun.

9E152B12-0F96-449F-BB24-3BB8605CAA6DI like this book because: Believe it or not we had a little grumpy critter in this household at one time (it wasn’t me!) and all it took to set things in motion was a seam in a sock! And my guess is other households have seen a grump or two! And that’s perfectly okay! It was great to see that Noah’s family also gave him the space he so obviously needed, and that sometimes just sticking with a friend is all it takes for them to find their own way back to having a yabba dabba doo time.

Resources/activities: play Prehistoric People (could become a new craze!); make new labels for your toothpaste (Smilodon! 4 out of 5 dinosaurs prefer it!), some scrambled dodo eggs (minced veg for speckles), and don’t forget Jurassic toast!; discuss grumpy moods and favorite strategies for dealing with them (I like to read silly poetry!)

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


I was a lucky winner of a copy at KateFoxWrites, and Elaine not only sent me a signed copy – and a tattoo! – but also happily agreed to answer a few questions for this PPBF post!

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

My favorite part of the writing process would have to be coming up with a title. I would have to say that most of the manuscripts that I write start with a title. That doesn’t mean that the title won’t change of course, but finding a title that a really like gives me lots of inspiration to write.

Got a tip on keeping organized (or on-task!) with your writing work?

I wish I could offer a golden nugget of wisdom on this but the truth is- I am all over the place when it comes to keeping my writing organized. I have learned to save every 7th or so draft that has had a major revision as a new doc with the title and a number. But sometimes I forget so even that doesn’t always work for me. Do you know one that you can teach me?

How do you refuel when your creativity-tank is running low?

When I feel like I am running on empty I watch Pixar movies. I drive my kids crazy because I have seen MONSTERS INC, TOY STORY (all of them) and FINDING NEMO more times than they have! Watching those movies usually will pull me right out of my creativity funk.

Name an un-related skill you have that in some way helps writing picture books?

What a good question! (I had to really think about this one.) The only thing I can think of is that in addition to my education degrees, I also have a degree in marketing. In college I originally wanted to go into advertising, so I took a lot of business courses in marketing and business. It wasn’t useful when I abandoned the idea and became an elementary school teacher, but now I think I really scrub my picture book ideas to see if they are marketable before I even begin writing a new manuscript. So I guess it wasn’t a waste of time after all!

One-for-fun: a favorite thing about spring?

I love finding the very first crocus coming up in my yard. They are so persistent and strong and tiny, I usually find one popping up right through a patch of leftover snow. When I see it I always feel very hopeful!

Thank you, Elaine for sharing a bit about your process – and I do have an organizing tip for you: leaving piles of paper in very neat stacks that line up with the sides of your desk can give you an undeserved but nifty sense of accomplishment when all else fails!


You can follow Elaine on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

ELAINE KIELY KEARNS  writes picture book and middle grade stories. Armed with a master’s degree in education, she scours the internet for information about children’s writing for the website she founded, KidLit411.com. Her picture book NOAH NOASAURUS (Albert Whitman) illustrated by Colin Jack is available anywhere books are sold. She lives in New York with a menagerie of animals but sadly, not one dinosaur. Find her online at elainekielykearns.com  She is represented by Linda Epstein of the Emerald City Literary Agency.


PPBF: Playdate + Interview!

86EBD916-ED38-433B-BBCA-A0560652D8C9Author: Maryann Macdonald
Rahele Jomepour Bell
Albert Whitman, 2019
Themes: opposites, rhyming stories
Opening: Me. You. One. Two.

Summary: (from the publishers) A picture book with minimal text and maximum impact, as portrayed through both the well-chosen words and the fun-filled, evocative illustrations.

I like this book because: this is a perfect read for storytime with a simple rhythm and delightfully engaging, bright, and cheerful illustrations. Young children love seeing familiar scenes like finding a friend to play with, and listening to the back and forth of words and concepts they already know.

4D5360BC-C144-44C9-9334-9B50F2983DF3Resources/activities: give children a musical instrument to hold while reading and allow them to add to the melodious nature of the story; read more books featuring opposites, like Karen’s Opposites, or Double Take; make a playdate, read the story, and act out the fun featured in the book! 

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

5C1ACE67-37AB-4CBB-9D5C-2269C3498306Rahele was gracious enough to send me the book herself, including the promotional cards (above) AND to answer a few questions (with sketches!) for the post!

What is your favorite task in the book-making process?

For me the most exciting and favorite part of the book making is coming with the ideas for the cover! It is that moment you are sure that your book is coming together, and it feels like a real book!

For Playdate we (Me, Art director, the editor) worked on the cover before starting to make illustrations for the interior pages! It was great because it helped me to understand the story concept a little bit more. So the characters of the book came out when I made the final cover for the PLAYDATE book!

Rick DeMonico sent me the mock up for the cover and I put my sketch on it and sent it back to him! After discussing with the editor, we came with this critic that the children look a little bit older than what we want them be!

Here is the first sketch for the PLAYDATE cover (the book title still was not finalized)


Then again, I came with another sketch-idea for the book cover and it’s this one:

6A1A5AB2-03AC-4221-B25F-0B112173C51BThen Rick wrote back to me and said “ Rahele, We like the direction of the dress up sketch. Our comments are as follows. Delete the surrounding details like the banner, the car, butterfly. We want the book to be all about the kids. If they are outside the grass should be simplified. Please keep the dog though! We would like to switch out one of the girls for a boy.

So, This is what I came with these two sketches for the cover, following their comments. And BANG!!! The one with 1 boy, 1 girl and the dog which is leading the parade was confirmed and I went right to the color stage and did a little bit changes for the final and the one that now is the the cover of the PLAYDATE was approved by the publisher!

Rick is a wonderful art director and I would love to thank him for all I have learned from him!


1D131621-35D1-4CF2-906A-0F4EEF1C67A8940EC50D-EEF3-4D46-AE00-8C7D41195BD1This photo is a screen shot from @booksfordiversity page on Instagram.

One tip on keeping organized or on-task with illustration work?

For me putting the sketches up on the wall helps me to stay focused on the project and this helps me to keep also organized! And knowing what the next step is to go feels good too. I can also see how much work I have done and how many more I have to do and get them done on time!

What do you do when you feel your creativity-tank is running low?

I make ugly work when I feel I am not creative enough to make art I can show people! But the good thing about making ugly art is I always find new things in it! Like finding new texture, new color pallet or pattern I can use in my better work! So basically, making an ugly work is playing with color and texture without thinking of making something beautiful!?

Name an un-related skill you have that in some way helps with your work making picture books.

Collecting my favorite items that later on I bring them into illustrations unconsciously like seeing some specific leaves with interesting form that I had been collecting them from long time ago!

One-for-fun: a favorite scent?

I have a lot of favorite scent but one of my most favorite one is geranium and the scent coming out when the leaves are touched! It reminds me of my grandma’s house and the little fountain in the middle of the yard with geranium flowers around of it!

Thank you, Rahele for sharing a bit about your process – I especially like that geraniums remind you of your grandmother. I never got to meet either of mine, so details like these are special, even if it’s not bout my own. Discover more about Rahele’s artwork on her website – HERE; follow her on Instagram – HERE or twitter – HERE

Women’s History Month Illustration Challenge


Lois Lenski, The Little Airplane

Not sure I should be calling it a challenge, as I am the only one who participated (ha!), but it IS a challenge to replicate another person’s artwork and add a character of your own (#alligatorinserted) into the image. Every day for a month! A great exercise, but more importantly it’s been a real pleasure introducing others to the work of female illustrators in children’s literature. I am posting each of the pieces this year, including links to help you learn more about each of these fabulous creators in kidlit! Thanks for coming along for the ride! You can see them all on my instagram page, and even quicker in an album on my fb-artist-page.



Jill McElmurry, Pirate Princess


Anne Wilsdorf, Charlotte


Jan Brett, The Mitten


Elsa Beskow, Thumbelina


Trina Schart Hyman, Little Red Riding Hood


Molly Bang, Ten, Nine, Eight


Wanda Gag, Millions of Cats


Esphyr Slobodkina, Caps For Sale


Cecily Mary Barker, Flower Fairies


Margaret Bloy Graham, Harry the Dirty Dog


Barbara Lehman, The Secret Box ?


Britta Teckentrup, Little Mouse and the Red Wall


Sara Varon, Odd Duck


Sarah Bowie, We’re Going to the Zoo


Rashin Kheiriyeh, The Two Parrots


Peggy Rathmann, Bootsie Barker Bites


Judith Kerr, The Tiger Who Came to Tea


Eva Eriksson, Max’s Wagon


Cyd Moore, I Love You, Stinkyface


Yuyi Morales, Nino Wrestles the World


Églantine Ceulemans, Lasco de la grote


Molly Idle, Flora and the Flamingo


Julie Flett, We All Count


Magdalena Matoso, Clap, Clap!


Dorothée de Monfried, Shh! I’m Sleeping


Tor Freeman, Showtime for Billie and Coco


Jen Corace, Telephone


Mini Grey, Bad Bunnies’ Magic Show

More links to some of my favorite female children’s literature illustrators (slides featured on my instagram page!) to follow – just click on their name below:

Marie La France, Lillian HobanCarson Ellis, Judy Schachner, Melissa Sweet,

Wendy Wahman, Alison Friend, Iza Trapani, Sang Miao, Shadra Strickland,

Jessixa Bagley, Qin Leng, Laura James, Caitriona Sweeney, Sheena Dempsey,

Robyn Kahukiwa, Eva Muggenthaler, Briony May Smith, Esther Gomez Madrid,

Evangelina Prieto López, Maria Wernicke, Gunnella, Catherine Zarip, Helen Hancocks,

Maria Jönsson, Dorothea Warren Fox, Wendy Wahman, Anne Hunter





PPBF: Tell Me a Mitzi

One more book celebrating women in children’s literature for the Women’s History Month in 2019!


Author: Lore Segel
Harriet Pincus
Dover, 2017, orig. published by FSG in 1970
Themes: siblings, families, city life
Opening: “Tell me a story,” said Martha. Once upon a time (said her mother) There was a Mitzi.

58FC025C-CC40-43EF-BCC8-56C7DF5C3101Summary: (from my library catalog) Three household adventures in the life of Mitzi include an intended trip to grandmother’s, sharing a family cold, and reversing the President’s motorcade..

6477939B-0E91-41EC-A0C9-CB2E88E24CE8I like this book because: it transported me back to my own childhood, growing up just outside of New York City! And considering the pub date, it’s likely that the best librarian in the world, Mrs. Nienburg, read it to us in school. And she would have because it’s well written and funny! I love a book that pushes you to read pout loud from the get go, makes you want to ‘act’ it out in the telling, give it an amplifier. There are not very many of those that do it so well.

C4FF408B-E49D-478E-9FBA-06912E0067E7Resources/activities: kids love to hear family stories, things they can’t remember themselves, but are fully aware that they exist! Share them! Listen! Take the time and allow kids in a group to share theirs – because, as Simone Weil once said, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

E32B942C-CEE0-4A26-9A03-22EC6A4D39DEFor more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE.


PPBF: Super Manny Cleans Up!

EC9BDDF8-4ECB-4D25-A366-5356CBF6A0CFAuthor: Kelly DiPucchio
Stephanie Graegin
Atheneum, 2018
Age: 4
Themes: environment, friendship, apathy
Opening: Every weekend, Manny and Gertie put on their capes and saved the planet from danger.

A309CACC-2D14-4FCB-B643-14150E603FFDSummary: (from my library catalog) Manny and his friend Gertie join forces to clean up their local park–because every superhero needs a planet worth saving.

BA37D3A7-7694-4ABF-84E6-CA9FB060AD79I like this book because: it has such an important and urgent message for kids, that they too can be engaged and do something important or even just something they are passionate about, despite being ‘just’ a kid. The illustrations are warm and endearing, and are unique in the ability to distinguish between the real and imaginary world without skipping a beat.

F3AB9615-A300-4550-AE79-036D31F7DB4AResources/activities: Start a clean-up/trash pick-up action in your community, even just around the house or school; discuss responsibility towards others, the environment and what issues bother you right now. What can you do about them?

725649DD-A12A-415B-8650-7FCEDF27204BFor more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE.