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Picture Book Look

The Adventures of BEEKLE the Unimaginary Friend

Beekle is the story of an unimaginary friend who doesn’t have a child. He waits and waits, but still, no one imagines him. Tired of waiting, Beekle sets off on a journey to find where he truly belongs. Using strength and courage, he makes his way to the real world. Now the question becomes. . .how to find his child?

Looking here and looking there, Beekle finally arrives at a park surrounded by children running and jumping. He is very hopeful he will find a friend, his friend, soon.

The day wanes, and still no friend. But suddenly, as luck would have it, a piece of paper is blown into the tree where Beekle is waiting, and soon, he meets his friend!

The story of Beekle is timeless. The book speaks to our desire for companionship and community. It shows littles that although things don’t always go the way we imagine, they do go, and sometimes they even turn out better than we had imagined.

Dan Santat is the author/illustrator, and this is his third book for children. His artwork is darling. I especially love Alice’s facial expressions, Beekle’s crown (which is taped together like all crowns) and his little shape! Cute, cute!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Wish You More

This is a sweet book full of encouragement and inspiration. I love the message conveyed by both the text and the delightful pictures.

“I wish you more tippy-toes than deep,” one page reads, while a little fellow stands (on his tippy-toes) in chin deep water. What child hasn’t, at some time, had the experience of drifting a bit too far out, only to realize they need to bounce quickly back to the shallow end?

Or, “I wish you more umbrella than rain.” The accompanying illustration shows mostly bright blue rain coming down upon a little person holding a red umbrella. All of the space under the umbrella is white to show there is no rain falling on the child. Darling!

Amy Krouse Rosenthal (whoisamy.com) is the author and Tom Lichtenheld (tomlichtenheld.com) is the illustrator. Together they have created many award winning, best selling children’s books, but I haven’t had the pleasure of getting my hands on any of those just yet. Please check out each of their websites! So, so sweet and F-U-N!

I mentioned on Instagram last night that I Wish You More would make a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift. It’s going to be my go-to Valentine’s gift this year! Simple and heartfelt, with a radiating sense of hope and love. What more could someone wish for on Valentine’s Day, or any day? Except maybe chocolate. . .

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Beyond the Pond

Beyond the Pond is author-illustrator Joseph Kuefler’s debut picture book, (Balzer + Bray) and it is delightful! Ernest D. is a little fellow who lives in an ordinary house in an ordinary town. One day he decides to explore the depths of his pond, and in so doing, he finds an exceptional world – one that has been there all the time!

I love this book because Mr. Kuefler is the author-illustrator, and I think it’s an awe-inspiring work of art when an author can take exactly what is in his (or her) heart and mind, and bring it to life on paper. This book is full of something (text and pictures) that I as a parent think is too often missing in our kids today. . .imagination.

I don’t want to give too much of the story away, but I do want to say that Ernest D. wouldn’t have had the experiences he did had he stayed indoors playing PS4 or Xbox One. I am also not going to turn this into a review for Last Child in the Woods, (Richard Louv) except to say that our children need more books like Beyond the Pond and more friends like Ernest D. Friends who will explore the woods with them. Friends who will wade into the coolness of the creek, and dangle smelly pieces of raw hot dog into the water for some unwitting crawdad to grab. Friends who will spend warm, summer evenings chasing fireflies and searching for toads while the only sound filling the night is that of crickets.

Thank you Mr. Kuefler for encouraging children everywhere to use their imagination to look past the ordinary, to see what is truly there. . .Maybe if more children did this, they, like Ernest D., would see that just beyond the ordinary is something, well, exceptional.

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In a Village by the Sea

This picture book reminded me of something very important. I had heard a lot of buzz about it and so I was excited to snag a copy. I read through it, and, as I often do, I asked my teen daughter to read it also. We love sharing all kinds of books with each other, but since picture books are my favorite, I often ask her to read whatever it is I’m reading so we can then discuss our various observations.

I read the book, gathered my thoughts, and then asked my daughter to read it as well. What each of us took away from the book was tremendously different, and it was then that I was reminded that a good picture book must be savored. As one might savor the pleasure of a decadent dessert, it must not be rushed, or much will be missed.

The joy of this book comes in the artwork. It comes in the simple, repetitive text that is comforting in the way that one is able to anticipate the next line and is satisfied to see it appear upon turning the page. The joy comes in the continuity of the dog being present on nearly every page. It comes in relating to the warmth and love evoked by the combination of words and images, and it comes in the playfulness of the cricket, who we first meet on the title page. . .and if we are not rushing, we will notice he has something like a scroll in his hands and two screws sitting idly by. What are those for, you wonder.

Yes, there are many “lessons” available in In a Village by the Sea. For my midwest American family, we see a way of life not familiar to us, (coastal) as well as a different culture (Vietnamese). But there are many ways in which the book showcases our similarities. . .the father going off to work, the family waiting expectantly for his return,  and the love that is felt when we see him return home safely to the family he loves so much.

I encourage you to read In a Village by the Sea with a little one on your lap if possible. My guess would be that he or she will notice every bit of the magic that is woven through this lovely picture book. And remember, slow down and experience the book through eyes of wonder.

 

 

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Good Night, Gorilla

ALA Notable Children’s Book (1994), Good Night, Gorilla is such a fun read! Almost wordless, the story revolves around sneaky Gorilla, who manages to get all of his zoo friends home with him for the night. Mrs. Zookeeper isn’t a bit impressed, and she takes it upon herself to personally escort all the animals back to their cages. Do they stay locked up for the night? And what about Mr. Zookeeper?

A super sweet book, Good Night, Gorilla is one of those laugh out loud board books enjoyed by children and adults alike. The illustrations truly tell the unspoken story as Gorilla invites the reader into his secret. Peggy Rathmann is both author and illustrator of this and several other children’s books. She can be found peggyrathmann.com.

This is one of the special books our family shared many times over when the children were younger, and now we are giving the fun adventure to a new little one, my nephew’s baby, who was born today. Enjoy!

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Poppleton in Winter

One of our family’s absolute favorite authors is Cynthia Rylant. Her wit and ease with which we relate to the story lines in her books keeps us all laughing.

Ms. Rylant is an amazing writer, with many books to her credit. She has written multiple series, with everything from toddler books to picture books to early readers to chapter books to middle grade books to poetry books. Truly there is something here for everyone.

Since I am a fan of reading “seasonally,” I find myself gravitating toward snowy, winter themed books right now. Soon, I will be searching for books on Martin Luther King, Jr. and shortly thereafter, books about Ground Hog’s Day. You get the idea.

Poppleton in Winter is one of my perennial favorites. Again, part of a series, the book is broken down into three different chapter/stories involving Poppleton, a quite amiable fellow, along with his friends Cherry Sue, Hudson and Fillmore.

Each chapter is its own story, and all involve friendship, caring for others and working together as some of the overarching themes. More about Ms. Rylant and her books can be found on her website cynthiarylant.com.

 

 

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The Lady with the Alligator Purse

This is an exciting time over here, as my nephew and his wife will be having their first baby (boy) in the next three-four days. I will then be a Grand-Aunt. Is there such a thing? Hmmm, anyway, gifts are in order of course, and what would we get the new arrival but books!

I have purchased three so far, and the one I’m sharing with you today is author/illustrator Nadine Bernard Westcott’s The Lady with the Alligator Purse. This book has been a favorite in our family for y-e-a-r-s! It’s part of the Sing-Along Stories Series edited by Mary Ann Hoberman, and published by Little Brown & Company under their LB kids imprint.

Miss Lucy’s baby, Tiny Tim, drinks up all the bath water and eats up all the soap! What’s a mama to do, but call the doctor, nurse and of course, the lady with the alligator purse!

My kids still love this one, and they’re in high school! They get it from me, I’m sure. I simply love the philosophy the lady with the alligator purse lives by. No penicillin or castor oil recommendation from her. No sir!

Ms. Westcott has 100 books (illustrated) in print and she’s still drawing! She also has an amazing Etsy shop! I’m in so much trouble. Check out her Dogs Shop Paris dish towel and you’ll see what I mean. So colorful and fun!

 

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Picture Book Review Blog

We are smack dab in the middle of the holidays, and this seems to be the general time in which I decide to wade out into new creative waters, if you will.

Last Christmas, I transitioned from creating edible art (read decorated sugar cookies) to creating works of art, such as drawings and paintings. I did a good job of staying creative, if not of blogging about it, until August, when we sold our home and moved. Since then, it’s been a continual battle to find time for art, and art hasn’t been very good at winning any of those battles.

So here we are. Again. At Christmas. It’s time for my annual “self inflicted creative challenge” apparently. And I’m up for it. As a matter of fact, this little creative nugget has been one I’ve danced around for about five years. It’s amazing because it combines several things I love- reading picture books, writing and putting something of value “out there” for others.

I had the idea of reviewing picture books while still home schooling several years ago. I thought it would be a neat way to engage my two kiddos in reading and writing and I though we could have fun along the way, because who doesn’t have fun with picture books? If you don’t, then this isn’t going to be a blog for you and I seriously question your sense of taste. I digress. Anyway, I even had a name for the blog-to-be; For Kids by Kids. But, ideas have a way of slipping through our fingers and before you know it, you are off on a different path, taking on different challenges.

But my love for picture books hasn’t faded and my desire to read as many as I can continues to grow, as does my desire to write picture books. And they always say the best way to become a good writer is to be an avid reader. To model your writing after good writing. To see into the piece and notice how it is put together and why. So, once again I’m thinking of that as yet nonexistant picture book review blog that has been on my mind for years.

I have a few kinks to work out, such as how I would go about obtaining the books to review and exactly what parameters would need to be put into place to even begin to undertake such a blog, but I’ve made the decision to dust off that old dream and see what I might be able to do with it in 2016.

Here’s hoping your 2015 was filled with creativity, and that 2016 brings more of the same.

 

 

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A Day in the Life Of

Wow, it’s almost summer. I am nearly half way through my year of living intentionally as a creative.

So I figure now is a great time to look back at what I’ve been doing, and the things I’ve learned. Well, I learned that I suck at posting faithfully. Maybe that will be next year’s goal, lol. But I’ve learned a lot of other things so far this year, too.

Like how I enjoy drawing, especially simple line drawing. Thanks Lisa Congdon. I’ve learned that I like to play with watercolors and that some things turn out so well I can’t believe I did them, but others look strangely similar to what my five year old self would have done!

I’ve learned that it’s okay to work on a painting over and over until you get it right, and that “right” is what’s in your heart and mind that you want to share with others. I’ve learned that patience will take you farther than impatience will, when speaking about art, and I now see that all those lessons on patience were for a reason.

I learned that there is a big, wide art world out there filled with numerous supplies and processes, all available to explore. But I came back home, if you will, to the creative art medium that I first started with several years ago. . .Writing. I learned that I still love writing and not only that, but that writing can be combined with drawing to create illustrations!

I have written a (another) manuscript. A picture book for children and I am especially excited about it. I want to share it with the world. Pretty big goal right? Well, it has a special place in my heart because of the back story involved, and I can see where the story could play a very special part in the lives of children and families everywhere.

My hope is to be able to send it out to a local publishing house in the next week or two. My next hope is that, even though they aren’t into picture books, they would still want to acquire it! As more develops on this, I will try to post about it. Ha! As if. Really, I will sing from the rooftops when the book finds a home. Now there’s a sight you wouldn’t want to miss. Lol.

Stay tumed for more developments and let me know what you are doing to sharpen your creative skills.

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Dresses.Up.Now

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