PPBF: Bad Apple

Author/Illustrator: Edward Hemingway
Publisher: G.P.Putnam’s Sons, 2013
Genre: fiction
Themes: apples, worms, friendship
Age Level: 3 to 5yrs
Opening: Mac was a good apple.
Synopsis: (From the publisher) When Mac, an apple, meets Will, a worm, they become fast friends, teaching each other games and even finishing each other’s sentences. But apples aren’t supposed to like worms, and Mac gets called “rotten” and “bad apple.” At first, Mac doesn’t know what to do–it’s never easy standing up to bullies–but after a lonely day without Will, Mac decides he’d rather be a bad apple with Will than a sad apple without.
Why I like it: I picked this off the hold’s shelf (yes, my second home), and sat under the perfect-shade-of-blue sky of a fall day in Colorado. If you can read this under the same conditions, do so. The pictures reflected my reality. And how could anyone resist the main character’s big seedy eyes! A cute fellow smack in the middle of an ideal setting with plenty of crisp wit to keep the pages turning! Read this outside and you might have the same luck: as I turned the last page, a very small patron walked by and said, “Hi. What’s your name?” His was James. And this little worm invited me home to watch movies. Next time I’ll take him up on the offer – of friendship!
Resource/Activity: Apple activities: picking, bobbing, peeling, cider making, baking – you name it! Have children discuss unlikely friendships, and what they might offer that could differ from ones they already know. Great for first graders learning about seeds, orchards and insects – beneficial and not. And in the art room: discuss complimentary colors and harmonies.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! If I don’t reply soon, it’s because I’ll be attending the RMC-SCBWI conference in Golden, CO this weekend!
For more PPBF picks and teacher/parent resources and activities, go to the list on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – HERE

PPBF: Isabella’s Garden and a WINNER


click to enlarge

Author: Glenda Milllard
Rebecca Cool
Candlewick Press, 2009 (First US edition 2012)

  • Age: 3-7
  • Themes: gardening

Opening: This is the soil, all dark and deep, in Isabella’s garden. These are the seeds that sleep in the soil, all dark and deep, in Isabella’s garden.
Summary: (Provided by publisher) “In Isabella’s garden, amazing things come from the tiniest of seeds as they bloom and flourish and make way for a whole new season of growth.”


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Why I Like This Book: It’s bright, cheery illustrations have a fair-tale quality to them, enough to pick this off the shelf, but I was really attracted to the lyrical word play tip-toes on the tongue! Read this aloud: “But despite what the mantis begged of the moon, winter comes swiftly and silent and soon.” Note how the softness of the alliteration holds your hurry back and gently releases the words from your lips. Ahhhh!

Look at this fantastic resource/activity: coloring sheets from the artist! Or create a garden image collage from magazines or fabric scraps. What ever you do – read this ALOUD! I have been trying my hand at simulating another piece of book illustration recently, with a simple app on my tablet. I attempted a quick sketch from one of the pages in this book – sooo much harder than I though, but a lot of fun, especially with the colors.


And now for the WINNER of my FIRST EVER GIVEAWAY:

Each name was scribbled in graphite, with great care, on precisely folded and torn paper (I didn’t go to art school for nothing!), yet no trees came to harm as I selected prime quality used hold slips from my very own stash! And now . . . *enough with the drumroll, Erik, I can hear it all the way over here!*

A signed copy of Mr. Tiger Goes Wild goes to…


Thanks to all 40 participants! That was fun! I may just have to do it again – soon!

For more Perfect Picture Book Picks and teacher/parent resources, go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – HERE 



He’s done it! Erik Weibel, my friend and fellow 12×12 Challenge participant has published his first book!


Book description: “For years the evil villain Wintergreen had tried to destroy super crime-stopper, Tomato and his sidekick, Pea, and take over planet Oarg. In a plan gone wrong, Wintergreen traps himself along with his arch-nemesis in a runaway rocket ship that crashes on a strange planet called “EAR-TH”. Now these perennial enemies must learn to work together to survive the dangers on this strange world. Hungry birds, enormous snakes and the giant inhabitants of EAR-TH stand between this brawling bunch of aliens and finding a way home.”

5 Questions for Erik:

From what I understand you are a very active young man. You practice martial arts, you cook, you write a column for your local paper, you belong to a book club for boys, you review books for your own blog, and you spend a considerable chunk of time beating the required reading requirements for school. And I suppose I haven’t even covered it all! How on Ear-th do you find the time to write, let alone a novel?

One thing is that I really don’t play video games or watch TV (not that we don’t have them, I just like to do other things more (like read and write)). Writing for the newspaper and for my blog are things I really enjoy doing. My newspaper column is once a month so I have a whole month to write that and I have cut down my blog posts to 3 times a week. I used to post more, but it was taking too much time. I find time to write by writing whenever I have the time! I usually write in the early mornings or after school and on weekends. Over the summer I write a bunch of reviews ahead of time. Like right now I have 2 months-worth ready to go!

I’ve been told I’m a very fast reader. To prove that point, I already beat my school reading requirements for the whole year on the 2nd day of school. And on the 4th day of school, I got enough points to get the highest reward possible from our school (getting your name on a plaque) with 204 points.

It took me 3 years to write The Adventure of Tomato and Pea so it didn’t happen all at once. I had to do a lot of editing and re-writing so I had to work on it when I could. I think that’s why it took me so long to write it.

Can you tell us how you met the characters Tomato and Pea? 


My Uncle Dave (Dave Costella) made two stuffed toys (I included a picture of them) and told me they were named Tomato and Pea (I think he named them after the color of the fabric he made them out of). Dave gave me the toys and asked me if I could write a story about them (I am always making up stories). I was nine years old at the time. Dave told me he didn’t care what the story was about, to just use my imagination. I decided that Tomato and Pea are aliens that live on planet Oarg (and no they are not vegetables). They are Smidges (the inhabitants of Oarg) and stand about 5 inches tall. Tomato is Oarg’s greatest hero. Tomato and Pea work for Oarg’s Law Enforcement Agency (O.L.E.).

What enticed you to write about them?

I love Sci-Fi so it was a no-brainer that the book would be about aliens. I couldn’t wait to get writing.

My original story was about 500 words long. When I showed it to Dave, he made up some more characters that I could write about (including a bad guy, because Heroes need a bad guy).

I kept adding to the story because it was so fun to write about. I added more and more to the plot and tried to give more personality to the characters. I love writing twists into plots and I decided that the twist in this book is that all the Smidges end up on EAR-TH. Once I came up with that, it opened a whole new section I could write about.

In school (in fourth grade) I had a project where I had to make a product and develop a business and do a presentation on it. I decided my product would be my book and I wrote more to the story to make it a great product that someone would want to buy (it was about 5000 words at that point – oh, and I got an “A” on my project  ).

I won a critique of my MS on Julie Hedlund’s blog and I sent her the first 10 pages of it (I was very nervous about having an author read my story, but she was SUPER nice). I used Ms. Hedlund’s comments to help me improve my book and really develop the characters. Author Michelle Isenhoff helped me edit the book. She gave me all sorts of advice about proper grammar, character development and she really cheered me on for two years to write my story down. I really appreciate all the help she gave me.

I entered the pitch for my book in Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Would You Read It Wednesday” and my pitch won! I was able to have the pitch critiqued by an actual editor – Erin Molta! Between Ms. Molta’s, Ms. Hill’s and the commenters on Ms. Hill’s blog, I had a ton of great advice on how to make the book better!

Finally, I had a 9000-word early chapter book that I feel really good about.

Hand drawn by the author himself, know what I’m sayin’? Yeah – this illo rocks!

How did you decide to publish the book yourself? 

I did try to traditionally publish my book (not that I ever expected to get an agent/publisher). I wanted to go through the steps and learn about it. It was a great learning experience! I did try to get a publishing agent, but no one took an 11-year-old middle-schooler seriously (I couldn’t even get a rejection letter). Then I tried to get a traditional publishing house to read my MS without an agent and finally I got what I was waiting for – my first rejection letter! It started “Dear Author” – hey that’s ME – an AUTHOR! I have the letter hanging in my room.

I never really thought that my book would be traditionally published but I am really proud of the book I wrote and it is a fun and silly story that I think some kids would enjoy so I decided to try self-publishing it.

What is cool is that some of my friends look at the book and they are thinking “I can do that too.” It would be awesome if my book got other kids to write.

Now for something of a more personal nature, I hope you don’t mind my asking: If you were a vegetable, which would you be? 

I would be a carrot, because I love Carrot Cake, or maybe a zucchini, because I adore Zucchini Bread, but then I could be a Brussels-Sprout because practically no one likes them, so there’s a good chance I wouldn’t get eaten… As you can see, this is a hard question.

I LOVE Brussel sprouts! I’d be honored to make your acquaintance on a plate! Haha! And now a little something for you, from me – a character drawing of my favorite – PEA! I cropped it so you can use it as an avatar should you feel so inclined! Thanks for stopping by on your tour, Erik the Great!


To read reviews and other interviews with Erik the Great check out the blog tour posts:

September 8 Erik’s blog http://thiskidreviewsbooks.com/ – cover reveal and announce blog tour

September 9 Michelle Isenhoff’s blog – Book review

September 10 KidLit Reviews – Book review

September 11 Mother Daughter Book Reviews – Book review

                       The Story Reading Ape – Guest post by me (Erik)

September 12 Catherine Johnson’s Blog – Book review

September 13 Julie Grasso’s Blog – Book review

By Word of Beth – Book review and giveaway

September 14 Diane Tulloch’s blog – Book review

September 15 Picture Books Help Kids Soar – Book review

September 16 Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – Interview – Q&A with Commenters and giveaway

September 17 Reading with Rhythm – Book Review

September 18 Julie Rowan-Zoch’s blog – Interview

September 19 Dr. Nana Plum’s (AKA Dr. Niamh Clune) – Book Review in rhyme 😀

September 20 S.W. Lothian’s blog – Book review


Look for your copy here:

International Dot Day – September 15th


Millions of people around the world are celebrating creativity today. It all started with a teacher, naturally!

From the dotclub.org: “Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot on September 15, 2009. The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe.”

I’ve made my mark above, but I like stories! So I asked, who is crying and why? I added lines to complete my thoughts – let’s call it a rough draft!


For more information on how you can participate, click on the image below

Check out what’s going on over at KidLitFrenzy

and be inspired on celebridot’s pinterest board – HERE

Front Range Flooding: What I saw


I hoped for it. It rained.


And rained. And rained.


I worried. Lost sleep. But what did I see?


Not much.


Honestly. Yes, I followed posts and watched aerial videos.


I cannot begin to fathom the reach of devastation.


But in my garden, it just rained.




Should you care to view the local damage : Aerial Tour

Rescue efforts, Big Thompson Canyon

PPBF: Mr.Tiger Goes Wild and a GIVEAWAY!

In honor of Perfect Picture Book Friday revving up another season today, I’m having my FIRST EVER


Win a signed copy! Leave a comment (until 9/19) and I’ll put your name in the hat (looks a lot like Mr.Tiger’s!)

Author/Illustrator: Peter Brown Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013 Age Level: 3-6 Themes: tigers, animals, etiquette, city/town life, self-actualization Opening: Everyone was perfectly fine with the way things were. Everyone but Mr. Tiger. Summary: (From Amazon) Are you bored with being so proper? Do you want to have more fun? Mr. Tiger knows exactly how you feel. So he decides to go wild. But does he go too far? From Caldecott Honor artist Peter Brown comes a story that shows there’s a time and place for everything…even going wild.


Why I like it: It’s beautiful! You’ll have to check the cover under the jacket (notice the texture) too, but everything down to the endpapers, the color use, the graphic down-paring, the use of negative space – is well designed. During the read-aloud I attended on Peter Brown’s book tour, (if you live near NY – go to the PARTY) he explained his own difficulties sitting still in the classroom as a young child, longing to be wild and free, naturally. I can’t believe I didn’t ask if he too stripped himself – of the confines – and ran for the woods!


12xers with Peter Brown at the Tattered Cover, Denver (me, second from left) Resources/Activities: Have children talk about natural animal behaviors they are aware of: stalking, hunting, protecting, team-working, etc.; Discuss the use of color in the book and why the author/illustrator may have made the choices he did; Make your own book the Peter Brown way I’d also like to suggest two pairings for Mr.Tiger Goes Wild below. (See my critique group’s PB & J picture book picks HEREinspired by B&N’s – Books Made Better When Read Together)

And in honor of creatures everywhere, bored of behaving, AND to celebrate Roald Dahl’s birthday, I’d like to suggest one more:  More Perfect Picture Book Friday picks on Susanna Hill’s blogHERE Mr.Tiger Goes Wild trailer for Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/mpd/permalink/m3LR4ZEDXVLRAG/ref=ent_fb_link

PPBF: I Dare You Not To Yawn


Author: Hélène Boudreau
Serge Bloch
Candlewick Press, 2013

Age Level: 4-8

Opening: Yawns are sneaky. They can creep up on you when you least expect them.
Summary: (Excerpt from my library catalog) A comical cautionary tale for bedtime-resistant youngsters which challenges them to avoid yawning, from a dozing dog and a cuddly blanket to endearing baby orangutans who stretch out long arms for a nighttime hug.

Why I Like This Book: Boudreau has taken a very simple premise and concocted an inviting (Ha! Not me! I won’t do it!) exercise – yep, exercise, in what it would take to keep yourself from loosing the bet, but you do – in reading this you are doomed to drowsy depths despite the engrossing, energetic linework of Serge Bloch. Read it and risk it – I dare you!

Next week I’ll be joining the community of PPBF reviewers linked together on Susanna Hill’s site – a fantastic resource for teachers and parents!