PPBF: The Country Bunny

Author: Du Bose Heyward
Illustrator: Marjorie Flack
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, 1939,1967
Age Level: 4-8
Themes: Easter, rabbits
Opening: We hear of the Easter Bunny who comes each Easter Day before sunrise to bring eggs for boys and girls, so we think there is only one. But this is not so.
Summary: To the surprise of many, the little country cottontail becomes one of the special Easter bunnies even though she has twenty-one children of her very own. (You go, girl!)

Why I like this book: This story is about a new Easter bunny, one of five that deliver the eggs. No, not really. It’s the story of a simple little girl determined to achieve her dream. She plans well, and with patience and wisdom earns the chance to prove herself  – and her bravery. On the back of my edition there is a quote: It’s difficult to believe that this very modern feminist tale was originally written in 1939…A gem of a fantasy. – Learning. But is it so very difficult? I am certain there were women as wise, patient and brave as Little Cottontail Mother (like my grandmother) for Heyward to use as a role model . But maybe there were not as many wise or brave publishers. Oh, and by the way, the illustrations are AWESOME!
Resources/Activities: check out the art projects, performance, and writing activities from April Sanders, eHow contributor – HERE; read  another classic, The Story About Ping which Marjorie Flack wrote, but was illustrated by Kurt Wiese.

Read a New Yorker article on The Country Bunny’s history HERE

For more PPBF picks, go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – HERE

Stampler Sampler!

I am very happy to be part of the Picture Book Blog Tour for Ann Redisch Stampler. One of her previous picture books is already a favorite: The Rooster Prince of Breslov, Clarion, 2010. Ann also writes young adult fiction – click HERE to read about her book Where It Began, Simon Pulse,  2012.

Ann prefers to read printed books – and she likes anything chocolate. Read more about the author in an interview at Shelf-Employed.

You can also enter to win the following books – click here: A rafflecopter giveaway


Title: The Wooden Sword
Author: Ann Redisch Stampler (click on the name to find all her PB titles)
Illustrator: Carol Liddiment
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company, 2012
Age Level: 5-8yrs
Themes: folklore, Afghanistan, rulers (Shah), Jews
Summary: (from the publisher) Disguised in servant’s clothes, an Afghani shah slips out of his palace to learn more about his people. When he encounters a poor Jewish shoemaker full of faith that everything will turn out just as it should, the shah grows curious. Vowing that no harm will befall the poor man, he decides to test that faith, only to find that the shoemaker’s cheerful optimism cannot be shaken. But the biggest challenge of the poor man’s life is yet to come!

What do I think? I love a good folktale, and this delight is new to me (hint for the lovely librarians at my library: time to put the folktales-rack back!). The Wooden Sword puts the reader through a range of emotions. Every time the shah pushes this poor servant, the reader is filled with worry and wonder, and each time pleasantly amazed at the servant’s courage and strength…and wit! The illustrations add so much about Jewish and Afghani culture to the story, that I know it will raise interesting questions from young readers. I almost wish an object-identification-map were included for some of the spreads!


The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street_tn

Title: The Cats on Ben Yehuda Street
Author: Ann Redisch Stampler
Illustrator: Francesca Carabelli
Publisher: Kar-Ben Publishing, 2013
Age Level: 4-8yrs
Themes: cats, ailurophobia, Tel-Aviv
Summary: (from the publisher) There are lots of cats on Ben Yehuda Street, but it is the friendship between a little grey cat with a pink collar and a fluffy white stray cat that brings two lonely neighbors together.

What do I think? Unfortunately I am still waiting to review this book – hurry up Ms.Postperson! The smiling cat illustrations (and look at those tails!) on the cover would be enough for me to pick this one up. I was intrigued by the setting too, having once hosted an exchange student from Tel-Aviv (Hi Miki!) when I was in high school. Should it arrive today, you can bet I’ll revise this post within the hour! Fingers crossed! IT”S HERE! Thanks, Ms. Postperson! This is a sweet story of neighbors reaching out in their own way, in their own time. Did I mention all the cats? “Free cats, fat cats, living-on-the-sidewalk cats.” The illustrator paints life into the characters and setting with good use of texture and layers. As in The Wooden Sword, a few symbols of the character’s culture are shown, like the hamsa amulet hanging in Mr. Modiano’s apartment. And I got to learn a little Hebrew too, as Mr. Modiano says, “Lo, lo, lo.” Always.

For those of you new to the tour, here’s the schedule:
Mon – March 18 – Alyson at Kid Lit Frenzy
Tue – March 19 – Alethea at Read Now Sleep Later
Wed – March 20 – Gail at Nightengail Art
Thu – March 21 – Danielle at There’s a Book
Fri – March 22 – Wendy at Noodling with Words
Sat – March 23 – The Cats on Ben Yehuda Launch Party at Children’s Book World, Los Angeles
Mon – March 25 – Julie Rowan-Zoch
Tue – March 26 – Joanna at Miss Marple’s Musings
Wed – March 27 – Niki at Daydream Reader
Thu – March 28 – Cynthia at Teaching in Cute Shoes
Fri – March 29 – Colby at Sharpread

Here are some links to purchase, but I hope you will ask at your local independent bookseller first!

Wooden Sword:
Cats on Ben Yehuda:

PPBF: Mr. Zinger’s Hat

Author: Cary Fagan
Illustrator: Dušan Petričić
Publisher: Tundra Books, 2012
Age Level: 4-6
Themes: children, storytelling, sharing, imagination
Opening: Every day after school, Leo took his ball into the courtyard. He threw the ball high into the air. It would hit the brick wall and bounce back, and Leo would try to catch it.
Summary: (from the publisher) This is the story of a bored little boy, who meets a man, and together they build a story. This story within a story is charming and changes both their lives… and quite possibly the readers as well.
Why I like this book: I picked up the book because I am a big fan of Petričić, and though his lively watercolors are mesmerizing, this time I fell for the story – and consequently put a bunch of Fagan”s books on my list. And the character of Mr. Zinger – I was captivated by his capacity for sharing, and ability to pull stories out of a hat, or a small boy for that matter! Anyone out there telling stories will fall for this one!


terrible scan – sorry!

Resources/Activities: read these story-telling activity ideas for kids, on Kids Activities Blog.
For more PPBF picks, go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – HERE


This story is my entry for the  In Just Spring Contest let me know what you think. The challenge: write a children’s story, in poetry or prose, maximum 350 words. The only other requirement is that the last line must be “[Character Name] knew Spring was really here!” or “[Character Name] knew Spring was here at last!”

Just before winter’s frost could nip his rabbit nose, Mr. Poppenfuss planted bulbs in his garden.

Winter lasted a long time, even for rabbits.

On long winter nights he pictured the globe-shaped bulbs nestled in the soil.

On short winter days he imagined green leaves poking through patches of late snow.

But the days did grow longer. Newborn bunnies cried in their dens. Chickadees whistled. Nuthatches honked tiny tin horns. Woodpeckers hammered against hollow branches. Spring would soon be here.

Catkins, covered in fine, grayish fur, flowered on pussy willow branches.

One after another, Mr. Poppenfuss’ daffodils rose from their short stems.

Every new day he examined every golden bloom.

One evening, he grazed on tender greens in a nearby meadow.  When he returned, he found many of his beloved daffadown dillies had been plucked!

“Oh, dear!” he cried.

In the morning he called on his neighbors.

“Mrs. Pockets, have you by chance…”

“Happy Spring!” winked Mrs. Pockets. “Do come in. Look at the lovely daffodils my Billy brought me.”

“Why, yes, they are quite lovely,” he noted.

Billy peeked out from behind his mother, with a rather long face.

“Billy, would you come to visit me? I’d like to show you something.”

“Of course he’ll come,” answered Mrs. Pockets. “Run along, Billy. Now.”

All the way to Mr.Poppenfuss’ house they were quiet.

Finally, Billy piped up, but before he could speak, Mr. Poppenfuss stopped him.

“My boy, I am very happy to share my golden treasure, but I would like to be asked first.”

Pirate treasure? Is that what you wanted to show me?” asked Billy with a melon-sized grin.

“My daffadown dillies are my spring treasure. When they bloom I am rich as a king.”

“I’m awfully sorry. I didn’t mean to steal your treasure. I wanted to surprise Mother.”

“Shall we take her on a walk, then? We could look for more spring treasures, like new yellow willow leaves, soft red maple buds, robins hopping about. Maybe even a rainbow?”

Billy’s smile shone like the sun. Mr. Poppenfuss knew Spring was really here.

The London Eye rises above daffodils blooming in the sun in London March 19, 2011. (Reuters/Luke MacGregor)

To read the other entries hop over HERE.

For Renn in the STAR WARD

This post is for you, Renn. But let me explain a bit about what’s going on right now to any one else reading this: Renn is five years old and a Padawan, or Jedi in training. He is being tested. And it has not been easy. This post is one of many meant to help Renn bide the time (and hopefully make you smile, Renn!) while doctors try their best to locate the cause of his epileptic seizures – in his brain. If you’d like to learn more, you can join the blog at The Brain Of A Jedi, or the Face Book Group at Purple Day. And you can find out what other creative, generous and caring people are scheming for Renn this week on Susanna’s blog – here

Everyone out there, even in galaxies far, far away, please keep your fingers crossed for Renn!

I hope your parents plan to share Schoolhouse Rock with you – soon!

These were carved by Steve Thompson – click on the photo to read about him. I would not recommend trying this until you are a bit older, and definitely not without parental supervision. I think he used a scalpel (ask the doctors in the STAR WARD what those are!)

This is only part 1 of 3 videos, you can watch the rest on you tube. I’m sorry about the quality – but if you have never seen this, you might enjoy it anyhow!

If you click on the photo above, you will come to a site that features all kinds of art inspired by Star Wars. The photo below is from that site too. You should know there are a lot of people out there, JUST LIKE YOU who LOVE Star Wars!

And now for my contribution – inspired by you, probably one of the bravest kids ever – in the STAR WARD!


Or in any galaxy!

(Renn: If you want an image with a better resolution for printing, you just let me know! Anything for you and your family!)





O, how shall I find that post I have read

Its memory adrift inside of my head

I trudge through the bookmarks, each folder and file

Search interweb taglines, spun mile upon mile

*Inspired by last night’s beautiful snow storm

Food Fight Over, Out on the Plains!

Check out all the completed  Food Fight entries on Marcie Colleen’s blog, The Write Routine.

 Food Fight-sticker75%

Out on the plains, stranded in a sea of buffalo grass, lived a farmer and her husband. Running behind their house, was a skinny sliver of a river. The couple used its water to wet their throats and grow fruit and vegetables.

And grow they did! Strawberries and raspberries, brussel sprouts and broccoli, nectarines and tangerines, lettuces and radishes, cabbages, carrots, and more.

One night the wind rolled over the plains, and whistled through the keyhole. It rattled the windowpanes and tossed the couple in their bed, and robbed them of their sleep. The wind tossed the vegetables in their beds too, robbing their scent and sweeping it out over the plains.

The sun was high in the sky before it roused them. They had not heard the munching and crunching in the garden. The couple caught a glimpse of white tails squeezing out between the fence posts, and the sight in the garden knocked their sleeping caps clear off.

“Best to keep guard tonight, dear,” the farmer said to the husband. “We should work in shifts.”

The husband took the first shift. He sat smack in the middle of the tomato patch and waited. The first fuzzy fellow to peek his nose through the fence slats got what he was looking for – but not in his mouth!


“Whoop! I got him,” cheered the husband.

But underneath all that tomato splatter the animal chewed.


Then SPIT! SPAT! Vegetable purée flew from the fuzzy fellow’s mouth and pegged…

the farmer’s husband SPLAT in the kisser.

He doubled over and crawled into the strawberry patch grabbing a fistful of strawberries SQUISH.

The juice dribbled down his shirt and jeans. He took aim at his target. SMASH! The farmer’s husband leaped with joy. “Got that dang varmint!”

SLURP, the critter licked his fur, swallowed and purred, which sent the husband into a dance of rage. The farmer rushed out of the farmhouse to find out what all the kerfuffle was about. Seeing her husband’s shirt soaked in red, she freaked and started lobbing cabbages like a pro footballer. KERPOW!

But the bunny was the head of the Fluffy Dodge Ball Team. He caught the cabbage and took a bite, staring down the farmer with menacing eyes. The farmer’s goat had wandered over now. He was the only one allowed to throw things at the farmer! He hoisted a pumpkin in his horns and chucked it at the bunnies. Poof! Orange fur balls flew in the air.

With a huge PLOP, those orange bunnies did drop, like harvest moons, into a pig’s trough of slop. They sputtered and bobbed, in the green, gooey glob, struggling to get back in the game.

But the pigs were fascinated as they nosed the rabbits down to watch them pop back up in the drink. “Corn cobs are what this stew needs,” said a pudgy pink porker as he scooped up cobs with his snout and SPLASHED them upon the bobbing bunnies.

But back into the game they got. Hiding behind a large pumpkin, the bunnies discussed their tactics. A full-court press was needed. On the count of three with carrots, tomatoes and peppers in hand, the bunnies jumped up and threw. A barrage of vegetables landed Kir-Plat, Splach, Swap on the farmer, her husband and the goat.

They fell backward into a recently upturned patch of earth where the onions grew. Hoping that cut onions would make those bunny eyes water, the Farmer and her husband spilt a few, CRUNCH, and swung them under the pumpkin leaves.

TUMBLE-TUMBLE, but the onions fell short, rolling under the pumpkin leaves. The EFFECT was different though! It worked like a gas bomb! The bunnies couldn’t see through their tears, so when the 3 small bunnies threw their food, it hit the BIGGEST bunny! THUNK! HUNK! TUNK! The Farmer and her husband cheered, sending more onions to get the job under control…

The bunnies retreated, temporarily stymied, but not defeated. UGH, groaned one. WAHH, cried the other. SHUSH, said the third. “It’s time to be smart,” he said. “Why don’t we lay a trap? We’re great diggers, so let’s dig a giant hole to lure them in, and then we’ll bombard them with their produce.”

“We know what to do,” one of the bunnies shouted. “Follow me.” He ran into the barn, jumped on the tractor and turned the key.

RRRRRUMMM, RRRRUUUUUMMMM, the engine roared as another bunny pressed the gas pedal.

A third bunny shifted the gears while the first bunny grabbed the steering wheel.

The farmer said, “Oh my.” The farmer’s wife said, “Golly.”

The bunnies drove the tractor out of the barn and drove it in circles digging a bigger and bigger hole.

But as too many cooks can spoil the broth, so can too many  bunnies driving a tractor spoil the fight! The tractor tipped, spilling out the critters in a pile of giggles. And  giggling is contagious. All the animals joined in, including the farmer and her husband. Bwahaha! Chortle! Hee, hee! Guffaw! Hackigigigi! Hyuk, ho, hoo! Snigger! Snort! Teehee!  They just couldn’t stay mad while  laughing so hard! The couple looked into each other’s eyes and they knew. It sure would be nice to laugh more often, so they decided to plant for themselves – and for their friends, and were no longer … stranded in a sea of buffalo grass!


The alternating bold and regular fonts distinguish between the ‘throws’. The only changes made to the added comments were to keep the farmer’s ‘pants’ on the right spouse, because SHE is the farmer in this story!

Special thanks to all that read the story and threw hard: Susanna, Catherine, Jen, Penny, Donna, Heather, Patricia T., Joanna, Lauri, Patricia N., Gretchen, Sarah, Erik, Sylvia, Robb and Marcie – for bringing us all together in this fun-filled community building kerfuffle!