PPBF: Noah Noasaurus + Interview

1F34B122-4FF9-48A3-9F85-754FB630B9F1Author: Elaine Kiely Kearns
Colin Jack
Albert Whitman, 2019
Themes: dinosaurs, attitude, no
Opening: Noah Noasaurus woke up feeling very No.

DA2BE2B8-9587-4CCE-810D-3E1CB7BCBA54Summary: (from the publishers) Noah is in a grumpy mood and wants to be alone, but when his friends follow him around he cannot help but have fun.

9E152B12-0F96-449F-BB24-3BB8605CAA6DI like this book because: Believe it or not we had a little grumpy critter in this household at one time (it wasn’t me!) and all it took to set things in motion was a seam in a sock! And my guess is other households have seen a grump or two! And that’s perfectly okay! It was great to see that Noah’s family also gave him the space he so obviously needed, and that sometimes just sticking with a friend is all it takes for them to find their own way back to having a yabba dabba doo time.

Resources/activities: play Prehistoric People (could become a new craze!); make new labels for your toothpaste (Smilodon! 4 out of 5 dinosaurs prefer it!), some scrambled dodo eggs (minced veg for speckles), and don’t forget Jurassic toast!; discuss grumpy moods and favorite strategies for dealing with them (I like to read silly poetry!)

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


I was a lucky winner of a copy at KateFoxWrites, and Elaine not only sent me a signed copy – and a tattoo! – but also happily agreed to answer a few questions for this PPBF post!

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

My favorite part of the writing process would have to be coming up with a title. I would have to say that most of the manuscripts that I write start with a title. That doesn’t mean that the title won’t change of course, but finding a title that a really like gives me lots of inspiration to write.

Got a tip on keeping organized (or on-task!) with your writing work?

I wish I could offer a golden nugget of wisdom on this but the truth is- I am all over the place when it comes to keeping my writing organized. I have learned to save every 7th or so draft that has had a major revision as a new doc with the title and a number. But sometimes I forget so even that doesn’t always work for me. Do you know one that you can teach me?

How do you refuel when your creativity-tank is running low?

When I feel like I am running on empty I watch Pixar movies. I drive my kids crazy because I have seen MONSTERS INC, TOY STORY (all of them) and FINDING NEMO more times than they have! Watching those movies usually will pull me right out of my creativity funk.

Name an un-related skill you have that in some way helps writing picture books?

What a good question! (I had to really think about this one.) The only thing I can think of is that in addition to my education degrees, I also have a degree in marketing. In college I originally wanted to go into advertising, so I took a lot of business courses in marketing and business. It wasn’t useful when I abandoned the idea and became an elementary school teacher, but now I think I really scrub my picture book ideas to see if they are marketable before I even begin writing a new manuscript. So I guess it wasn’t a waste of time after all!

One-for-fun: a favorite thing about spring?

I love finding the very first crocus coming up in my yard. They are so persistent and strong and tiny, I usually find one popping up right through a patch of leftover snow. When I see it I always feel very hopeful!

Thank you, Elaine for sharing a bit about your process – and I do have an organizing tip for you: leaving piles of paper in very neat stacks that line up with the sides of your desk can give you an undeserved but nifty sense of accomplishment when all else fails!


You can follow Elaine on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

ELAINE KIELY KEARNS  writes picture book and middle grade stories. Armed with a master’s degree in education, she scours the internet for information about children’s writing for the website she founded, KidLit411.com. Her picture book NOAH NOASAURUS (Albert Whitman) illustrated by Colin Jack is available anywhere books are sold. She lives in New York with a menagerie of animals but sadly, not one dinosaur. Find her online at elainekielykearns.com  She is represented by Linda Epstein of the Emerald City Literary Agency.


PPBF: Playdate + Interview!

86EBD916-ED38-433B-BBCA-A0560652D8C9Author: Maryann Macdonald
Rahele Jomepour Bell
Albert Whitman, 2019
Themes: opposites, rhyming stories
Opening: Me. You. One. Two.

Summary: (from the publishers) A picture book with minimal text and maximum impact, as portrayed through both the well-chosen words and the fun-filled, evocative illustrations.

I like this book because: this is a perfect read for storytime with a simple rhythm and delightfully engaging, bright, and cheerful illustrations. Young children love seeing familiar scenes like finding a friend to play with, and listening to the back and forth of words and concepts they already know.

4D5360BC-C144-44C9-9334-9B50F2983DF3Resources/activities: give children a musical instrument to hold while reading and allow them to add to the melodious nature of the story; read more books featuring opposites, like Karen’s Opposites, or Double Take; make a playdate, read the story, and act out the fun featured in the book! 

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

5C1ACE67-37AB-4CBB-9D5C-2269C3498306Rahele was gracious enough to send me the book herself, including the promotional cards (above) AND to answer a few questions (with sketches!) for the post!

What is your favorite task in the book-making process?

For me the most exciting and favorite part of the book making is coming with the ideas for the cover! It is that moment you are sure that your book is coming together, and it feels like a real book!

For Playdate we (Me, Art director, the editor) worked on the cover before starting to make illustrations for the interior pages! It was great because it helped me to understand the story concept a little bit more. So the characters of the book came out when I made the final cover for the PLAYDATE book!

Rick DeMonico sent me the mock up for the cover and I put my sketch on it and sent it back to him! After discussing with the editor, we came with this critic that the children look a little bit older than what we want them be!

Here is the first sketch for the PLAYDATE cover (the book title still was not finalized)


Then again, I came with another sketch-idea for the book cover and it’s this one:

6A1A5AB2-03AC-4221-B25F-0B112173C51BThen Rick wrote back to me and said “ Rahele, We like the direction of the dress up sketch. Our comments are as follows. Delete the surrounding details like the banner, the car, butterfly. We want the book to be all about the kids. If they are outside the grass should be simplified. Please keep the dog though! We would like to switch out one of the girls for a boy.

So, This is what I came with these two sketches for the cover, following their comments. And BANG!!! The one with 1 boy, 1 girl and the dog which is leading the parade was confirmed and I went right to the color stage and did a little bit changes for the final and the one that now is the the cover of the PLAYDATE was approved by the publisher!

Rick is a wonderful art director and I would love to thank him for all I have learned from him!


1D131621-35D1-4CF2-906A-0F4EEF1C67A8940EC50D-EEF3-4D46-AE00-8C7D41195BD1This photo is a screen shot from @booksfordiversity page on Instagram.

One tip on keeping organized or on-task with illustration work?

For me putting the sketches up on the wall helps me to stay focused on the project and this helps me to keep also organized! And knowing what the next step is to go feels good too. I can also see how much work I have done and how many more I have to do and get them done on time!

What do you do when you feel your creativity-tank is running low?

I make ugly work when I feel I am not creative enough to make art I can show people! But the good thing about making ugly art is I always find new things in it! Like finding new texture, new color pallet or pattern I can use in my better work! So basically, making an ugly work is playing with color and texture without thinking of making something beautiful!?

Name an un-related skill you have that in some way helps with your work making picture books.

Collecting my favorite items that later on I bring them into illustrations unconsciously like seeing some specific leaves with interesting form that I had been collecting them from long time ago!

One-for-fun: a favorite scent?

I have a lot of favorite scent but one of my most favorite one is geranium and the scent coming out when the leaves are touched! It reminds me of my grandma’s house and the little fountain in the middle of the yard with geranium flowers around of it!

Thank you, Rahele for sharing a bit about your process – I especially like that geraniums remind you of your grandmother. I never got to meet either of mine, so details like these are special, even if it’s not bout my own. Discover more about Rahele’s artwork on her website – HERE; follow her on Instagram – HERE or twitter – HERE

Women’s History Month Illustration Challenge


Lois Lenski, The Little Airplane

Not sure I should be calling it a challenge, as I am the only one who participated (ha!), but it IS a challenge to replicate another person’s artwork and add a character of your own (#alligatorinserted) into the image. Every day for a month! A great exercise, but more importantly it’s been a real pleasure introducing others to the work of female illustrators in children’s literature. I am posting each of the pieces this year, including links to help you learn more about each of these fabulous creators in kidlit! Thanks for coming along for the ride! You can see them all on my instagram page, and even quicker in an album on my fb-artist-page.



Jill McElmurry, Pirate Princess


Anne Wilsdorf, Charlotte


Jan Brett, The Mitten


Elsa Beskow, Thumbelina


Trina Schart Hyman, Little Red Riding Hood


Molly Bang, Ten, Nine, Eight


Wanda Gag, Millions of Cats


Esphyr Slobodkina, Caps For Sale


Cecily Mary Barker, Flower Fairies


Margaret Bloy Graham, Harry the Dirty Dog


Barbara Lehman, The Secret Box ?


Britta Teckentrup, Little Mouse and the Red Wall


Sara Varon, Odd Duck


Sarah Bowie, We’re Going to the Zoo


Rashin Kheiriyeh, The Two Parrots


Peggy Rathmann, Bootsie Barker Bites


Judith Kerr, The Tiger Who Came to Tea


Eva Eriksson, Max’s Wagon


Cyd Moore, I Love You, Stinkyface


Yuyi Morales, Nino Wrestles the World


Églantine Ceulemans, Lasco de la grote


Molly Idle, Flora and the Flamingo


Julie Flett, We All Count


Magdalena Matoso, Clap, Clap!


Dorothée de Monfried, Shh! I’m Sleeping


Tor Freeman, Showtime for Billie and Coco


Jen Corace, Telephone


Mini Grey, Bad Bunnies’ Magic Show

More links to some of my favorite female children’s literature illustrators (slides featured on my instagram page!) to follow – just click on their name below:

Marie La France, Lillian HobanCarson Ellis, Judy Schachner, Melissa Sweet,

Wendy Wahman, Alison Friend, Iza Trapani, Sang Miao, Shadra Strickland,

Jessixa Bagley, Qin Leng, Laura James, Caitriona Sweeney, Sheena Dempsey,

Robyn Kahukiwa, Eva Muggenthaler, Briony May Smith, Esther Gomez Madrid,

Evangelina Prieto López, Maria Wernicke, Gunnella, Catherine Zarip, Helen Hancocks,

Maria Jönsson, Dorothea Warren Fox, Wendy Wahman, Anne Hunter





PPBF: Tell Me a Mitzi

One more book celebrating women in children’s literature for the Women’s History Month in 2019!


Author: Lore Segel
Harriet Pincus
Dover, 2017, orig. published by FSG in 1970
Themes: siblings, families, city life
Opening: “Tell me a story,” said Martha. Once upon a time (said her mother) There was a Mitzi.

58FC025C-CC40-43EF-BCC8-56C7DF5C3101Summary: (from my library catalog) Three household adventures in the life of Mitzi include an intended trip to grandmother’s, sharing a family cold, and reversing the President’s motorcade..

6477939B-0E91-41EC-A0C9-CB2E88E24CE8I like this book because: it transported me back to my own childhood, growing up just outside of New York City! And considering the pub date, it’s likely that the best librarian in the world, Mrs. Nienburg, read it to us in school. And she would have because it’s well written and funny! I love a book that pushes you to read pout loud from the get go, makes you want to ‘act’ it out in the telling, give it an amplifier. There are not very many of those that do it so well.

C4FF408B-E49D-478E-9FBA-06912E0067E7Resources/activities: kids love to hear family stories, things they can’t remember themselves, but are fully aware that they exist! Share them! Listen! Take the time and allow kids in a group to share theirs – because, as Simone Weil once said, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

E32B942C-CEE0-4A26-9A03-22EC6A4D39DEFor more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE.


PPBF: Super Manny Cleans Up!

EC9BDDF8-4ECB-4D25-A366-5356CBF6A0CFAuthor: Kelly DiPucchio
Stephanie Graegin
Atheneum, 2018
Age: 4
Themes: environment, friendship, apathy
Opening: Every weekend, Manny and Gertie put on their capes and saved the planet from danger.

A309CACC-2D14-4FCB-B643-14150E603FFDSummary: (from my library catalog) Manny and his friend Gertie join forces to clean up their local park–because every superhero needs a planet worth saving.

BA37D3A7-7694-4ABF-84E6-CA9FB060AD79I like this book because: it has such an important and urgent message for kids, that they too can be engaged and do something important or even just something they are passionate about, despite being ‘just’ a kid. The illustrations are warm and endearing, and are unique in the ability to distinguish between the real and imaginary world without skipping a beat.

F3AB9615-A300-4550-AE79-036D31F7DB4AResources/activities: Start a clean-up/trash pick-up action in your community, even just around the house or school; discuss responsibility towards others, the environment and what issues bother you right now. What can you do about them?

725649DD-A12A-415B-8650-7FCEDF27204BFor more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog  HERE.


PPBF: Backyard Fairies

5DECD977-B09B-4521-ACB1-275FB8862EBFAuthor/Illustrator: Phoebe Wahl
Publisher: Knopf, 2018
Age: 3-7
Themes: stories in rhyme, fairies, gardens
Opening: Have you ever found, while out on your own…a tiny, magical somebody’s home?

35815E14-A32E-47A2-8F04-24EF7A4FFAB1Summary: (from my library’s catalog) A girl searches for fairies in her backyard and the woods beyond, following little clues and traces of magic. Fairies and other magical creatures can be found on every page, hidden among the flowers, trees and pebbles. But although readers can see them, the girl keeps searching, just one step behind… In the end, it is clear (both to the girl and readers) that there is magic all around, even when it’s hidden in plain sight.

7058DB3F-6DB5-481D-B5FE-D52E897A7274I like this book because: after a blizzard on Wednesday (they called it a bomb cyclone – it was bad, I don’t mean to joke!), I realized that I am more than ready for lush grean foliage and the magic of finding ANYTHING in my backyard! Already a big fan of Wahl’s art, I did not need convincing, but this is a very sweet story of discovery – and a perfect read, any time!

9417C055-B345-4153-8BFD-B58F66004C04Resources/Activities: build a fairy garden, a house, a spot in your own yard, and if you don’t have a yard of your own, build one in a public space. And if weather does not yet allow you to get started, design one!

D194DFD2-9AB9-4F9E-A3A6-5D2CF8D01681For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE


PPBF: Good Night Sleep Tight

1AD97AD2-0B67-4980-88A3-D467A87ADBF4Author/Illustrator: Kristina Andres
Publisher: Gecko Press, 2018; orig. publ. In German in 2017, Nun schlaft mal schön!
Age: 4-8
Themes: bedtime stories, friendship
Opening: Fox and Rabbit lived quite far away, in a bright little house beyond the molehills.

B83C858D-B94A-4F03-A1A3-BD21CAA9B23CSummary: (from my library’s catalog) Heartwarming stories of friendship, fun and going to bed” – That was tooo short…but still true!

EB85F831-04A4-44D5-9AF9-14E7B0BB4FD8I like this book because: it‘s so cute! I need to invite another 5 year old for a read-in. I say ‘another’ because on the inside I am still 5! Just wanna hug all these characters too! Also celebrating female bookmakers this Women’s History Month! See my illustration celebrations on Instagram – HERE

7E6009FB-31DA-418E-9670-93ADC074564DResources/Activities: Don’t wait for the other 5 yr old to come over, just READ. Make a fort – yes, even if you are an adult. Include a sturdy lamp or excellent flashlight, a few fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, and your favorite beverage with cookies (milk for me!).EC16E73C-4DCE-4DEA-8954-6AA46FC86DECFor more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE


PPBF: Edwardo the Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide World

9C10149F-AE67-43EA-883D-A4ED40AED3C2Author/Illustrator: John Burningham
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006
Age: 4-8
Themes: behavior, interpersonal relationships
Opening: Edwardo was an ordinary boy.

E90E46B7-C90B-4F5C-B7E7-B3F027A1FF4DSummary: (from my library’s catalog) Each time he does something a little bit bad, Edwardo is told that he is very bad and soon his behavior is awful, but when he accidentally does good things and is complimented, he becomes much, much nicer.

4F216E12-1C56-4F28-A75A-D89562408B06I like this book because: it‘s a good reminder for us all, and unfortunately we need reminders. I was really lucky to be able to attend (for free through my library) a talk called, An Open Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Close, with Dr. Steve Robbins. And in the very same vein this book addresses our biases, how easily we form them, adapt to other people‘s biases and how easily we can change them – if we make the effort. Every elementary classroom should have this book and others like it. Also, the author, one of my favorites, recently passed away, and I am rereading as much of his work as I can get a hold of. RIP, John Burningham.

BB966D8F-88D0-4E0B-967A-4DCEAF26952FResources/Activities: do yourself a favor and read more Burningham, like The Shopping Basket, or Would You Rather, or perhaps one of the books I mention in this post about Burningham

B57BBA4D-9C9D-4DFF-AD6F-561D9A79C057For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE


PPBF: Harold Snipperpot’s Best Disaster Ever

29E7344E-406B-4FDC-B643-40D76A24DE5AAuthor/Illustrator: Beatrice Alemagna
Publisher: Harper, 2019
Age: 4-8
Themes: birthdays, parties, animals
Opening: Some days feel like complete disasters. You feel turned upside down, and it seems impossible anything good can happen.

307EA56D-8553-4693-989B-D0EDFEDCCDCESummary: (from my library’s catalog) Lonely seven-year-old Harold Phillip Snipperpot is excited when his parents, not known for their affection, throw him a birthday party attended exclusively by animals, but things take a turn when his guests start destroying the house, forcing Harold to try and save his party from calamity with surprising results.

3307DA77-1AE4-4CFC-AA4A-282642D8369AI like this book because: I love the underlying theme: sometimes unimaginable disaster can spark positive change. Adults are far more frightened of change or the unknown than children are, and I love how this book bursts through to prove it! Oh, and by the way, the illustrations are exquisite.

0C816DEE-7765-4083-8D87-30F499BE2EEEResources/Activities: Watch this interview with Beatrice Alemagna; discuss experiences where one may have thought the worst had happen while going through it, yet some outcome or change might have had positive aspects – like missing a bus and therefore an important appointment, but bumping into an old friend because you missed the bus!; visit the zoo for a ‘safe’ encounter with animals spotted in this book; think about what kind of animals you would like to invite to your own birthday!

3A0B7762-EB15-4FA4-8552-D997C39760E3For more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE

PPBF: Beyond the Fence

AD8F2CE1-E5A7-44CC-B708-D7321C65E257Author/Illustrator: Maria Gulemetova
Publisher: Kane Miller, 2018
Age: Child’s Play Int’l., 3-8
Themes: pigs, friendship, freedom
Opening: Thomas talked a lot. And Piggy had to listen.

C89384BB-173F-4F4D-8CB1-F261D7F2C879Summary: (from my library’s catalog) Piggy and Thomas live in a large house. Thomas knows exactly what Piggy needs until a chance meeting with a wild pig changes everything: Piggy finds out what lies beyond the fence.

2CC3231D-5DFE-48EB-A345-C73647D171F6I like this book because: there are so many picturebooks about the importance and joy of friendship, but this book takes us beyond. What happens when friendship disappoints, saddens, and hurts us. It touched my heart profoundly, and I wanted to share it as close to valentine‘s day as possible, because not all relationships deserve to be celebrated.

A5CE1D35-A664-4F97-A743-00C4DACF5510Resources/Activities: discuss what is important in a friendship and what is not, do friendships take work and why? What makes a good friend? Look around and let your friends know you care and appreciate them.

D3996A8B-1214-47B0-8D21-1FECEB96C20BFor more Perfect Picture Book Friday picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE