PPBF: The Stray Dog

Author/Illustrator: Marc Simont (from a true story by Reiko Sassa)
 Scholastic, Inc,
Age Level: 3-7
Themes: dogs, pets, family outings
Opening: It was a great day for a picnic.
Summary: (From my library catalog) A family befriends a stray dog, names him Willy, and decides to keep him.

Why I like it: That was some summary from my library! Luckily the illustrations stole my heart from the start, even before the book had a lovely Caldecott Honor sticker on it. The story itself is simple, not quirky, not a mold breaker, but is what I would have wished for as a child: find a stray, and have my parents eventually melt down and want to keep it too. And Simont treats the art as if it were a memory, soft, sweet and tender. A hugable.

You probably remember Simont’s illustrations from the Nate the Great books written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, but if you don’t GO READ THEM! They’re not technically picture books, but they are perfect! Or maybe another book – he illustrated over a hundred! You can read another I reviewed HERE.


Peanut Butter and Jelly Picture Book Pairings

Inspired by this post on the B&N blog: Books Made Better When Read Together, my online writer’s critique group decided to come up with a few of our own – for picture books, which you can see and read about HERE on Marcie Colleen’s blog, The Write Routine.

My contributions:


Big, Bad Bunny written by Fran Billingsley, illustrated by G.Brian Karas, Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books, 2008


and The Black Rabbit, created by Philippa Leathers, Candlewick Press, 2013


And the second pairing:


Owl Babies, written by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson, Candlewick, 1992


and Little Lost Owl, created by Chris Haughton, Candlewick, 2010


PPBF: The Elements of Style, illustrated


Author: William Strunk Jr., E.B. Whiite
Illustrator: Maira Kalman

The Penguin Press, 2005
Opening: hello. (Yes, you read right. The inside cover actually and simply greets the reader. I do not consider this a trifle. It sets the mood for what is to come.)
Summary: (Excerpt from my library catalog) An enhanced edition of the classic writing manual features humorous art by a popular children’s book illustrator and New Yorker cover artist, in a volume that provides visual and whimsical embellishments to the original instructive text.


Why I Like This Book: Given, it’s a text I have read numerous times, but I feel lucky to have finally noticed and been interested enough in how anyone would tackle illustrating a book on a book of do’s and don’ts, that I would not have considered illustratable, let alone Maira Kalman.  Why would anyone bother? Well, I am grateful Maira Kalman did! I picked it up form the hold shelf (as you see above, no sleeve), thinking, yeah, right, I wanted to see this, and left it on the side table for days. When I’d read through my stack of picture books, and wasn’t excited enough about any to review it as a Perfect Picture Book, I picked it up – and found it! Perfect! I was three pages in before I slammed the cover in excitement! Yes, because I immediately thought this is going to be so great that I wanted to order my own copy and experience it the first time in full, knowing it is mine to keep.

Related posts:

Maira Kalman on Walking as a Creative Device and the Difference Between Thinking and Feeling

Maira Kalman’s Dream Place

‘Elements of Style’ Goes Beyond Words

PPBF: For Just One Day

Author:Laura Leuck
Marc Boutavant
Chronicle Books, 2009
Age Level: pre-school and up
Themes: imagination, animals, stories in rhyme
Opening: For just one day, I’d like to be a busy, buzzing bumble-   BEE! The flowers would belong to me, if I could be a bumble bee.
Summary: (Excerpt from Publisher’s Weekly) Schoolchildren imagine themselves as chimps, whales and butterflies in this fantasy. The layout builds suspense, with ellipses preceding each page turn.


Totally fell for the endpapers, half pictured above. Not something I say often.


And these cute critters and kiddies make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But I like this book because of the sweet rhymes and repetition, with just enough page-turning suspense that I enjoyed every one!

PPBF: Junket is Nice

Author/Illustrator: Dorothy Kunhardt, author of Pat the Bunny
 The New York Review of Books, released 2013, copyright 1932, renewed 1961 (72 pages)
Age Level: 3-7
Themes: desserts, riddles
Opening: Once there was an old man with a red beard and red slippers. He was sitting at a table eating out of a big red bowl. He was eating junket out of the big red bowl. The old man ate and ate  and ate. More junket and more junket and more junket and more junket until at last people began to be very much surprised at how much junket he was eating and they began to tell their friends about him because he seemed to be such a very hungry old man. So people and their friends began coming to look at the old man eating his junket.
Summary: (From my library catalog) All the world puzzles over what an old man with a red beard and red slippers thinks about while eating an enormous bowl of a custard-like treat, but it is a little boy on a tricycle who solves the riddle.

Why I like it: At first it may seem a long book of simple nonsense, well, it is, but it is as addictive as the junket the old man is eating! As I put this one down, I believe I skipped away with a gentle swinging rhythm and the lilt of the old man’s final words in my ears! “Oh my oh my” – what more could one ask for in a book?

But what IS junket? A soft cheesy sort of custard – find out more in this article on epicurious.com HERE

I found this online labeled as a Danish dessert: