PPBF: Ding Dong! Gorilla!

WAIT! SHAMELESS INTERRUPTION. I’m chillin’ in the spotlight over at KID-LIT 411 todayHERE.

Author: Michelle Robinson
Illustrator: Leonie Lord
Publisher: Peachtree, 2013, first published in GB, by Orchard Books, 2013
Age: 3 – 8yrs
Themes: excuses, gorillas, pizza
Opening: You know we ordered a pizza? A GREAT BIG one with extra cheese? Well. I’m afraid I have some BAD news…
Summary: (from SLJ) After a gorilla shows up at the door, a boy has the wildest night of his life. Unfortunately, he then must explain to his family about crayon on the walls, toys and piles of dirty clothes all over the house, and a broken window and vase. And that’s not even the bad news! When the delivery boy arrives with dinner, the gorilla scares him away and then eats all of the pizza. Soon after, the animal slips discreetly out the door, too, leaving the boy to explain the situation, and his family with a messy house and nothing to eat.

Why I like this book: IT’S FUNNY! And not just the text: the illustrations are right up my alley, with bold strokes simple textures and great use of basic color schemes, and I enjoyed the spare use of ‘ornamental’ fonts – simple and not distracting. I can’t say all of the dialogue was age specific (no, I don’t know any kids who say ‘overexcited’), but the fun trumps any hiccups!

Resources/Activities: discuss excuses a child or adult may have used to avoid trouble (like having to go to the bathroom, so I could spit out all those mushy peas!); below is a page to color downloaded from the author’s page – HERE

For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks and parent/teacher resources go to Susanna Hill’s blog – HERE

PPBF: The Pet Project

Author: Lisa Wheeler
Illustrator: Zachariah Ohora (interview – HERE )
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013
Age: 4 – 8 yrs
Themes: pets, animals, stories in rhyme
Opening: Warning! If you’re the type who oohs and aahs at furry faces, precious paws, the words ahead may be alarming: Animals aren’t always charming.
Summary: (from Amazon) Embark on a methodical, meticulous, and hilarious quest for the perfect pet in this wickedly witty cautionary collection of pet poems.

I like this book because… the rhymes are fun, the bold high-contrast illustrations too, but what I really like that this picture book is that it promotes the scientific method, which, in the words of the OED is “a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.” Yeah. That. And living close to a university (3 blocks) that has a fantabulous outreach program for science I can’t be happier to find a picture book that may enkindle a wee scientist!


Resources/Activities: Did you know babies are born scientists? ReadTHIS from the National Science Foundation; or this article on Science in Early Childhood Classroomscheck out Hannah Weight Holt’s AMAZING crafts for kids at Lightbulb Books blog, like this one on earth’s layers.

For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

Punxsutawney Phyllis – at it again!



Just once I would appreciate

No fans that stand around and wait

while I decide the season’s fate.

It’s not the crowd, the peeps are great.

It’s just that I anticipate

a bit of gas from what I ate.

It’s that time of year again, and Catherine, my word and art slinging partner, and I have come together to remind groundhog fans to go read one of our favorite holiday books:

If you are interested in purchasing this book, or APRIL FOOL, PHYLLIS, please consider a purchase that will help a big-hearted bookseller in dire need, Scott Meyer – read all about this extraordinary man and his story, and how you can help HERE. If you’re in a rush today – go directly to his site: http://www.merrittbooks.com/

Phyllis is a globe trotter – check out her world tour HERE

Don’t forget to check out the pics from her visit right here in Fort Collins!

PPBF: Hooray for Bread

Author: Allan Ahlberg
Illustrator: Bruce Ingman
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2013
Age: 3 – 7 yrs
Themes: bread, stories in rhyme
Opening: This is the tale of a loaf of bread, from the day it was born in a baker’s oven, baking hot on a cold and frosty morn.

Bread Dreams

Summary: A day in the life of a loaf of bread that is baked early in the morning and enjoyed slice by slice by the baker and his wife as well as their son, a dog, ducks, fish, birds, and finally a tiny mouse that nibbles up the last crumbs. “A book to read for breakfast. A book to read in bed. A tasty tale sold slice by slice. Hooray, hooray …for bread!”

Why I like this book: As I have enjoyed this duo’s other books, Runaway Dinner and The Pencil, so I jumped right in on this delightful romp around the kitchen. I like the simple, light-hearted illustrations with a warm hue – mmm, like fresh baked!

Resources/Activities: Bake some bread of course! Find an easy recipe HERE; If you can’t bake in a classroom, why not bring in a few loaves to share: have ‘tea, a drink with jam and bread’ (and play DoReMi in the background! Wink at Beth Stilborn!); talk about what we like to eat on bread, with bread, and why it is an important staple of the American diet.

For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE:

PPBF: Something Big

Author: Sylvie Neeman
Illustrator: Ingrid Godon
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books, 2013; Originally published under the title Quelque Chose de Grand by La Joie de Lire in Geneva, Switzerland, 2012.
Age: 4 – 8yrs
Themes: size perception, child-parent relationships, beaches
Opening: “I’m upset says the little one”, licking his jam-covered fingers. “What are you upset about?” asks the big one anxiously. “I’m upset that I’m little because I want to do something big.”
Summary: (from the publisher) “A big one and a little one talk together. The little one is upset because he wants to do something big even though he is still small. They go for a walk along the beach. There something both surprising and big happens.”

I like this book because: the cover illustration sold me. Yeah, I’m gullible like that. I love the story’s quiet conversation, and how the simple illustrations reflect how a child’s ideas are as easily built as they are changed, but beautiful and worthy at the same time. Brings back memories of  winter strolls on the beach too.

Resources/Activities: This would make a great conversation starter on the subject of size and what we imagine can or cannot be done as a small person; Read an NYT review HERE; or an interview with the illustrator – HERE

For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

Count Downton 1*

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Julian Fellowes,  creator and writer of Downton Abbey, King of Soaps! Thank you to all those who have tuned in for the count down, your support has been very much appreciated. I’ve created an extra page to make a scroll down of all the images easy in one go. Cheers!

Enjoy Season 4! For more info go to the PBS link – HERE

Count Downton 2* and PPBF: A Child’s Calendar


For your coloring pleasure: Rose MacClare (Lily James) looking so very innocent.

Author: John Updike
Illustrator: Trina Schart Hyman
Publisher: Original text: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965; New edition: Holiday House, 1999/2002
Age: found three: at 3, 4, 5, and up
Themes: American children’s poetry, months
Opening: January: The days are short,/ The sun a spark/ Hung thin between/ The dark and dark.
Summary: (Excerpt from my library catalog) A collection of twelve poems describing the activities in a child’s life and the changes in the weather as the year moves from January to December. A Caldecott Honor Book.

Why I like this book: 
Resources/Activities: Click HERE to view the illustrations for the original printing in 1965, by Nancy Eckholm Burkert; learn songs about days of the week or months – HERE


For more Perfect Picture Book selections, go to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog – HERE

Count Downton 3*

Count Downton_05(1)

Dr. Clarkson (David Robb), is Scottish, and I can’t think of Scotland without the fond memory of Gavin Maxwell’s book, Ring of Bright Water, which was made into a delightful movie by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna. The book is marvelous, and I became fan enough to read a few of his other books (anyone local is free to borrow what I’ve got), and it’s a wonder I haven’t planned a trip to his old stomping grounds. You might be interested in  someone who did, and their accounts,  HERE. In any case, you’ll understand why I had to draw him as an otter.