Abstract Adventures

Haven’t done landscape sketching in a long time, but venturing into Rocky Mountain Nat’l. Park loosened things up a bit for me. Blustery but beautiful day, and Evi brought along an extra stool, so I enjoyed capturing views with a camera and with a pencil. The fibers inspired the lines, and away I flew (sorry about the crappy scan!).

PPBF: Bringing Down The Moon

Sorry this is out a little early!


Title: Bringing Down the Moon

Author: Jonathon Emmett

Illustrator: Vanessa Cabban

Publisher’s Info: Candlewick, 2001

Age Level: 2-5

Genre: fiction picture book

Themes: moles, moon, animals

“Hot diggety!” exclaimed Mole as he burrowed out of the ground one night. “Whatever’s that?”

Mole is so taken with the beauty of the moon that he tries to get it from the sky, but eventually learns to appreciate it where it is.

From Candlewick: A lyrical text and cozy woodland illustrations portray this mole on a mission with gentle humor and charm.

Activity: A writing prompt idea inspired by the tags for this post: Would you have put a mole together with a moon? Think about an animal and add another noun, starting with the same letter, that might not normally be associated with the animal. Examples: turtle and the tundra, rabbit and a rowboat, sloth and a slot machine. Now that gives me an idea!

See Susanna Hill Leonard’s blog for the Perfect Picture Books List of reviews.

WIX: Yolki-Palki!

This Russian expression of surprise, dispatched in dismay or pleasure,  translates as ‘fir trees and sticks’.

Instead might say ‘holy cow’, ‘gee whiz’ or even ‘yowza’ – a corruption of ‘yes, sir’ first used in minstrel shows. Or text OMG.

Germans might also refer to the Almighty with the corruption Meine Guete – my goodness – or Ach Du lieber … an abbreviated reference: Oh, Dear… in heaven.

Dissection of a Puppet

Snoozing amongst the anemones.

A fellow 12x12er (Hi Pamela!) asked how I made the Phyllis puppet (recent post: Howdy Phyllis!).  Since I wanted to do a little mending after her turbulent tour of Fort Collins, Phyllis had nothing against it!

I make grocery totes from old sweaters and used a leftover sleeve, a few buttons and embroidery strength thread to mold the body. No pattern, just feel my way, undo stitches if I don’t like the grimace – obviously very skilled work! Snips of leftovers for the ears, long folded strips for arms and stitched felt hands/gloves. No need to stitch open edges since the sweater has been through the wash – gotta love felt!

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

"Phyllis! We use napkins here!"

Wash and blow

Next, a look over to the clothing donation bag revealed a tank top, now fashioned into the t-shirt, and for the green overalls I checked my stash of Christmas wrap. We wrap all presents with fabric, which makes for a very tidy fold-up job after all the excitement! Another button on the front, surrounded with stitched yellow petals and VOILA!

Mad at Mommy

Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: Mad at Mommy

Author/Illustrator: Komako Sakai

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2000

Ages: 3-6, 40 pages

Opening lines: Mommy, I-I-I AM SO MAD AT YOU!

This little bunny needs to dig deep and share hurt feelings and pose new threats, but finds he is safe to do so.

Simple, charming illustrations play with soft pastels and strong contrast.

Resource for home or classroom:

The PIE Approach: Parents can effectively teach their children to manage their emotions by helping them to process, identify and appropriately express their emotions.

W.I.X.: Spin a Yarn

Still a beautifully figurative way to convey the telling of a tale. Too bad I don’t hear it used much. This could have German roots : Seemannsgarn spinnen, to spin a sailor’s twine was tedious, mundane work and certainly lent itself to storytelling. The word yarn alone stands in for a long story. According to Wikipedia, in Australia, and particularly among Aborigines, it has become a verb, to talk: Yarnin.

*Rufus F. Zogbaum (1849-1925), oil on canvas, depicted from a photograph taken aboard the U.S.S. Mohican in 1888.

Howdy Phyllis!

RED CARPET WELCOME for Punxsutawney Phyllis! Back in Colorado, she has come to see why so many find Fort Collins is a great place to live. According to  a friend who measures snow for a living (those guys in atmospheric research sure do some funny things!), we have a plethora of groovy cloud formations! Weather: partly cloudy, 66F. Winds from the West at 5 to 10 mph.

Children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill has sent her book APRIL FOOL, PHYLLIS!, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, to circumnavigate the globe! Finding out that Phyllis planned a stop here is what got me out of my comfort zone and into the blogging world.


Punxsatawney Phyllis has caught wind of winter’s last joke:  a blizzard on April Fool’s Day. She hails from a long line of pranksters, and they are not falling for it when Phyllis wants to cancel the groundhog’s annual Treasure Hunt. Her prediction proves her right, but she uses her smarts to avoid the worst and safely steers everyone back home .

There are plenty of practical jokes and scavenger riddles for young readers to solve themselves, and the last page includes useful tidbits: April Fool’s Day origins and traditions celebrated around the world. Ebbeler’s richly textured illustrations express a great deal of joy and chaos – and plenty of extra jokes hidden in plain sight! Perfect for this holiday at winter’s end, as well as Groundhog Day, and an appealing addition to weather-related themes in the classroom.

Click on (most of) the pictures for more info!

After a kaffee-klatsch with friends in our favorite non-profit coffee house, Everyday Joe's (she shared a hot chocolate with my son Aaron - with whipped cream of course!),

Phyllis wanted to try on colorful party-fare at Life of the Party.

And ask Kelly what's playing at the Lyric Cinema and Cafe - too bad we just missed the free matinee for kids!

It took a bit of coaxing but Phyllis did share her slice of chocolate cake with orange butter cream frosting with almonds at Little Bird Bakeshop, where she was even allowed to get a closer look at all the goodies!

Phyllis really enjoyed bumping into a friend in Old Town, where any passer by can tickle the keys of one of many Pianos about Town, part of the city's Art in Public Places project.

Olivia and I took Phyllis to view Horsetooth Rock, our famous local landmark. She wasn't up for hiking to the top as she seems to suffer from altitude sickness (almost a mile above sea level in town.

We got 'caught' by the freight train that runs right through town, but Phyllis loved watching all the wagons go by!

She was also thrilled to see her 'place' in our library.

And who would of thought Phyllis likes to climb trees too!

Take a chance on Phyllis – I’m sure glad we did!

Jim: A Cautionary Tale


Title: Jim, Who Ran Away from His Nurse, and Was Eaten by a Lion

Author: Hilaire Belloc

Illustrator: Mini Grey

Publisher’s Info: Random House, 2009

Age Level: 7-9 yrs

Genre: fiction picture book

Themes: behavior, zoo visit

There was a boy whose name was Jim: His friends were very good to him. They gave him tea, and cakes, and jam, and slices of delicious ham, and chocolate with pink inside, and little tricycles to ride, and read him stories through and through, and even took him to the zoo.

First written in 1907, this classic tale of a boy who ran off from his nurse and was gobbled up by the zoo lion. Updated with dynamic illustrations by Mini Grey.

See Susanna Hill Leonard’s blog for the Perfect Picture Books List of reviews.