PPBF: The Boy Who Lost His Bellybutton

Author: Jeanne Willis
Illustrator: Tony Ross
Publisher: Andersen Press, 1999
Age Level: Preschool-Gr.2
Themes: bellybuttons, animals, humor
Opening: Once there was a little boy who lost his bellybutton.

I found this other cover image online, and have to wonder why the subtle change? I like the coloring of the lower cover, but I like the boys expression better on the top cover. Hmmm….
Summary: (from Jeanne Willis’ website) One day a little boy loses his bellybutton, so he goes into the jungle to find it. Along the way he asks all the animals that he meets whether they have seen his bellybutton, and discovers that all of them – from zebras to warthogs – have a bellybutton of some description. When he sees the crocodile’s, however, he realizes that there is something very familiar about it. Readers will be on tenterhooks until the very last page: can the missing navel be retrieved without harm to the boy?
Why I like this book: So here I am with yet another great title from the same team from last week’s PPB (Hippospotamus). I took this to my local kid-lit crit-group, along with some other books, because I wanted to discuss voice, specifically that of a very young child. Anyway, one of the members brought her 6 yr old daughter along, and as we started discussing the books, I wanted to read it aloud for the child’s enjoyment too. I had already read it at home and really liked it, but WHILE I was reading it for this girl, I put a little more effort into MY voice, and fell in love with the story, especially the ending, ALL OVER AGAIN! Some of the things about reading aloud, especially adding pauses, that I learned from reading Mem Fox’s book, Reading magic : why reading aloud to our children will change their lives forever, really clicked while I was reading this. I need to start volunteering more in elementary classes! And look at this cute, and great big, gorilla!


Resources/Activities: great way to start a lesson/discussion on anatomy, on what a bellybutton is for, what they look like on other animals too. Play a game of Pin the Bellybutton on the Crocodile, or any other animal for that matter!
For more PPBF picks, go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – HERE


I was tagged by Catherine Johnson for “Tagging Thyme“.Thanks Catherine! I’m game!

You have to answer 11 weird questions then tag 11 people who would be willing to answer weird questions. I am grateful for weird people.

1. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten in public?

As a picky eater for a good chunk of my life, I’ve managed to wiggle out of eating a number of things! But the texture I have despised having to eat, in front of others, was a big hunk of pork fat. As an exchange student in Germany, I was advised to eat EVERYTHING on my plate. I figured no one else at the table was gonna eat that, but they did, so I did too – yuck!

2. If you had to go on an adventure, with elves, dwarves, or hobbits, who would you take and why?

I be hangin’ with ma hobbies! Come on – got to go with the funny guys, especially if they like a good brew!

3. You are at a rural retreat lodge somewhere deep in Wisconsin or Canada. You are approached by a taxidermist who hands you a stuffed badger and asks you to put it in your lap. What do you do next?

If I couldn’t save his life anymore, I’d take him home…and draw him!

4. If you were given biscotti, would you prefer it with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?

That would depend on the biscotti! Fruity with tea, chocolatey with coffee, plain with hot chocolate.

5. In your opinion, who is the funniest man or woman alive today (comedian)

Hands down – Catherine Tate! Am I bovvered?

6. If you were given thirty seconds on television to say something, what would it be?

Answer-come-lately! I’d read aloud a picture book, very quickly!

7. What is your idea of the most romantic date setting ever?

Hike. Picnic. Alone in the wilderness.

8. If you could go on one date with a movie or television star, who would it be and why?

Since this is fantasy, I’m going with Roger Livesey (or his character in I Know Where I’m Going)


Or, if I have to go with a living person, Jeremy from Flight of the Conchords

9. What is the worst song you have ever heard?

No idea.

10. If you could live anywhere else, where would it be?

Too many places, but if I had to settle, and not travel, the place has to have good food available! France, Spain, Italy?

11. Who- in your opinion- was the greatest person to ever live?

Oh dear! A great person I would love to have an all night chat with would be Ben Franklin. Can’t judge the greatest to have ever lived though!

Okay – now the following people are cordially invited to answer 11 questions and tag 11 others:

Joanna Maple

Carter Higgins

Patricia Tilton

Cathy Mealy

Sylvia Liu

Heather Newman

Penny Klosterman

Margje Ramaker

Marcie Colleen

Kathy Ellen Davis

Hannah Weight Holt


Sir PBJ: Lawn to Lawn

He’s back – Sir PBJ has been asked to have a look at LAWN TO LAWN, written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino.

Publisher: Alfred A.Knopf, 2010
Age Level: 5-8
Opening: “I can’t wait to move to our new home!” said Pearl.
Betty, Flo, Norm and Jack weren’t so sure.
They’d never even left the lawn before.
But they all loved Pearl, and where she went, they wanted to go too.


The illustrations magically take me back to the neighborhood where I grew up, and the idea of lawn ornaments coming to life felt like a fantasy about to be fulfilled. Here is Sir PBJ and his review :

Can we pass this book on to the Royal Bookshelf? Let’s see. In the publishing credit info, the summary states: ‘When their family moves away and leaves them behind, a group of lawn ornaments sets out on a dangerous trek across the country to try to find them.’ That’s what happens, but I can’t see why these ornaments want to follow the careless family that leaves them, among other things, like the map, behind. Is it because they’re leaving a Levittown and heading to Ritzy Estates on the other side of the country where HOAs prevent such adornments? As the pages turn, I can’t seem to follow a story, and by the third page I feel thrust into a new one – or not? Besides guessing that Flo is the flamingo I don’t know which ornament is which. I commend the ornaments’ comaraderie, their bravery and loyalty – but not their logic. I am also confused by the otherwise beautiful endpapers, because a number of elements never appear in the story.

I feel the ornaments need a better reason why we should wish them well trek to find Pearl. The text continuity needs smoothing out, and the title should fulfill its promise more closely – from lawn to lawn. There would be no need to bound from one geographic location to another and confuse young readers. But hark! The renderings are crisp, and the colors well-balanced and inviting. better luck next time!

Food Fight: Out on the Plains

FFparticipantbadge300pHead over to Marcie Colleen’s blog, The Write Routine to read the rules – and join in the FUN! If you don’t have a blog, relax…your participation will be needed too. The more people slinging peas and flinging Jell-o the better. See step #3 on Marcie’s page.

If you liked to add to the story below, here’s what you do:
1. Read the posted story and all of the comments that precede you.
2. Post your comment.
3. Be sure to build on and further the existing story. Your comment should flow.
4. The story should read as if it was written by one person when read from beginning to end.
5. ALSO, your comment needs to include at least one word of onomatopoeia and one thrown item of food.

*note- Your onomatopoeia must be a word that has not been used already in that story.

You can add to my story below until March 8th:

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, enough to rob them of sleep. The wind tossed the vegetables in their beds too, robbing the 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!


PPBF: Hippospotamus

Author: Jeanne Willis
Illustrator: Tony Ross
Publisher: Andersen Press USA, 2012
Age Level: 5-7
Themes: imagination, animals, story in rhyme
Opening: Hippopotamus had a spotamus…on her bottomus.
Summary: (From the flap) “It’s a  blister!” said her sister. “It’s the measles!” said Weasel. “”It’s hippopox!” said Fox. But in the end the spotamus turns out to be something hilariously unexpected!

Why I like this book: I am just discovering the marvelously vibrant art of Tony Ross, so I put this title on hold at the biblioteca, but I fell in love with Jeanne Willis’ silly sense of humor and spot-on rhymes! How can you not love Weasel’s next line: “You sat in a breezle and caught a diseasel…” It goes on, but I don’t want to spoil the fun!
Resources/Activities: make a new party game: Pin the Spot on the Hippospotamus; make a list of a rhyming words for animals (fox/socks, cat/hat, etc.); play a game listing an animal for each letter of the alphabet.
For more PPBF picks, go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – HERE