Mr. Squirrel and the Moon

Mr. Squirrel and the Moon

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

Mr. Squirrel and the Moon
Author and Illustrator Sebastian Meschenmoser
North-South Books, Inc.
January 2015
First published in Germany under the title Herr Eichborn und der Mond (2006)
Suitable for: ages 2-5
Theme/Topic: Misunderstanding, Worry

Opening Spread: The book opens with two wordless spreads. The third spread: “One morning Mr. Squirrel woke up because the moon had fallen onto his tree.”

Brief Synopsis: from Barnes And Noble:  When Mr. Squirrel awakens to find that the moon has landed on his tree, he frantically tries to get rid of it before someone suspects him of stealing it and puts him in jail. But when he rolls the moon off of his tree, it’s gets stuck on Mrs. Hedgehog’s bristles and when the billy-goat arrives and butts it with his horns . . . Will the moon ever be the same again? Sebastian Meschenmoser’s hilarious illustrations and rollicking tale will be a bedtime favorite.

Resources: I really had hoped North-South Books had a resource for this, but I didn’t see one. I found this article on PBS about Talking with Kids About News. There are a number of books about worry to read and consider the journey the child character takes and the resolution.  Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. Found by Salina Yoon also involves a bit of worry and misunderstanding.

Why I like this book: While I understand this selection is not perfect for everyone, I really enjoyed this book. Enzo enjoyed it the first time, and my laughter at asking him “do you know what it means to be in jail?” may have influenced him.
Poor Mr. Squirrel frets over the “moon” at his house … “If someone came looking for it now and found it … here, with him … they would think he was the thief. He’d be arrested and thrown into prison ….” The page turn reveals a spread of the inmate crafting and the poor squirrel in a prison uniform.
The reviews are good for this book. It was a Top Ten Indie Next Pick book in January.

Here’s one quote from the Barnes and Noble listing:

“As this book proves, squirrels, jail sequences, and edible heavenly bodies make for picture book gold. Delicious…if I had my way every Caldecott would go to Sebastian Meschmenmoser, regardless of citizenship or whether or not he has a book out in a given year.”-Fuse #8 Production/School Library Journal, Elizabeth Bird

Yes. Squirrels, jail sequences, and cheese are a magical mixture.
I know. I know. In many ways you think, “But, Stacy this doesn’t sound like a children’s book.”
But, it is.
The animal antics are enough to make any reader laugh. And, as Enzo said to me later. “Silly squirrel. It was just cheese.”
If you can find it, read it. I’ve recommended this book to several people and found myself babbling to picture book friends, a picture book editor, and a librarian about the “cumulative toilet scene.” I know. It sounds crazy, but like any great picture book it’s perfect when it all mixes together.
For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.

The Halloweensie contest was a lot of fun. Gilda’s Zombie Fix received an honorable mention for Great Kid Appeal. I knew tooting was a good direction.

The contest is always a lot of fun. Read all about the winners here. Enjoy the week.

Penguin’s Big Adventure

Penguin’s Big Adventure

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

Penguin’s Big Adventure
Author/Illustrator Salina Yoon
Bloomsbury, 2015
Suitable for: ages 4-8
Theme/Topic: Exploration, Friendship

Opening Spread: One day, Penguin had a big idea.
He wanted to do something no penguin had ever done.
He wanted to be the first penguin ever to set foot on the North Pole.

Brief Synopsis: (from back cover) When Penguin decides to visit the North Pole, he discovers that new places can be scary— but sometimes all it takes to feel right at home is a friendly face!

Resources: Exploration lesson plans. Create an adventure map for an “expedition” — consider visiting an unexplored part of your city or neighborhood. If your child is not in school, create a map to your child’s future school and visit the playground. Think about the items Penguin packs in his backpack. Create your own exploration backpack and fill it with supplies you’ll need for an upcoming adventure. (We always pack emergency snacks in our backpacks.) There are activity books for the Penguin and Pincone and Penguin and Pumpkin books.

Why I Like This Book: Penguin’s adventures have continued in a big way since Penguin and Pincone A Friendship Story. This is the fifth book in the series and I remain in love with Penguin. As with each book, Penguin finds a new friend. We meet Polar Bear in this book. My favorite line of the book is “No, but one might be coming in!” You’ll have to read the book to see who said it. Ever since Cathy introduced me to Penguin, I have been hooked.

For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.

Stormy Night

Stormy Night

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

Stormy Night
Author and Illustrator Salina Yoon
Bloomsbury, January 6, 2015
Suitable for ages: 3-6
Theme/Topic: Fear, Comfort

Opening Spread: One Stormy night, Bear couldn’t sleep.

Brief Synopsis: From Bloomsbury’s website: When thunder shakes his house and rain pounds the windows, Bear is frightened. But comforting his Mama, Papa, and Floppy helps make the storm seem not so scary. Before Bear knows it, the storm has passed, because even storms need their sleep . . . and so do bears.

Resources: Stormy Night activities on the publisher’s website.

Why I Like This Book: I loved the first Bear book Found. The sequel doesn’t disappoint. Enzo really liked the illustrations and the story of a brave Bear, who comforts his parents. Enzo has been tasked with doing that too. As most of you know, I’m a HUGE Salina Yoon fan. Bear, Floppy, and Bear’s parents are simply lovely.

For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.
Hope you all are enjoying spring (and that spring is actually cooperating)!

The Black Rabbit

The Black Rabbit

Here’s my Perfect Picture Book Friday choice:

The Black Rabbit
Written and Illustrated by Philippa Leathers
Candlewick Press, 2013
Suitable for: ages 3-7
Themes: shadows, fear

Opening Lines: RABBIT WOK UP ONE MORNING and stepped out of his burrow into the bright sunlight. It was a beautiful day.  (Yep, those caps are in the book.)
Synopsis: Rabbit discovers a black rabbit behind him. He tries to run away , but he can’t seem to get rid of the black rabbit. In the dark woods, he escapes the black rabbit and discovers another danger.

Link to Resources: Go outside and look at how your shadow follows you. Try to outrun it. See how your shadow disappears at different times of the day and in different places. You can also draw a chalk outline of your shadow, but you must stand still! Lesson plans on shadows.

Why I Like The Book: Philippa Leathers takes a fun approach to shadows. Enzo laughed at the images of the rabbit trying to outrun the black rabbit. There’s a funny chase scene. Simple and cute.

The Rocky Mountain Chapter of SCBWI conference was wonderful. I met some online writer friends in person and met some industry professionals.

RMC-SCBWI events always provide an opportunity to spend time with Julie Rowan-Zoch, who had the three board books she illustrated for sale in the conference bookstore. Enzo gives her books a thumbs up!

Salina Yoon’s workshops were my favorite. I needed to hear the tips about story, process, and the business side of writing picture books. I love novelty and concept books, so it was wonderful to learn about her creation and marketing process for these books. Bonus: She read us Tap to Play!, which releases in October.
Avi was the keynote speaker. While he said he didn’t intend to be inspirational, he was. He shared many thoughts and a few jokes about writing. What’s the difference between a writer and a 14-inch pizza? A pizza can feed a family of four! Ouch, right?

A few of the presenters at this conference spoke about the limited market for rhyming and ABC books. A couple of people mentioned rhyming manuscripts cannot sell outside the U.S. due to translation issues, as well as market preferences in the U.K. They are also tricky to translate. ABC books were also mentioned as being limited to a U.S. market.

Post-conference I am working on revisions. I received helpful feedback in an editor’s critique and in a picture book intensive with the same editor and 14 (I think) other writers, who shared their thoughts after a quick reading of stories. Fresh eyes are always priceless.
Hope your writing is going well this week.

Find more PPBF at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.



Here’s my Perfect Picture Book Friday choice:

No it’s not a penguin book, but it’s from the author/illustrator creator of a very famous Penguin and Pinecone.

Written and Illustrated by Salina Yoon
Walker Books for Young Readers, April 2014
Suitable for: 2 and up
Themes: Friendship, Comfort Items, Returning Found Items

Opening Lines: One day, Bear found something in the forest.

Synopsis from Amazon: When Bear finds a lost stuffed toy bunny in the forest, he begins to worry. After all, the stuffed bunny must feel lonely and want to return safely to its owner and home! But as Bear diligently searches for the bunny’s owner, posting notices high and low, he begins to grow attached to his newfound friend. What will happen when the bunny’s owner finally comes forward? Was Bear meant to find Bunny all along?

Link to resources: If your child has a special item — think lovey, stuffed toy, blankey, etc. — this book offers a great talking point on how those items could be passed on to someone else. You could take a field trip to a real “community board” and look at the Lost and Found items. The book is a great talking point on what to do when you find something? What’s the right choice — do you keep it or give it back? You also could share a story of your own favorite item as a child. I didn’t see any resources on Salina’s website, but her story time visits look awesome.

Why I like the Book: The end papers with the lost board items and Bear’s one Found item is priceless. Take time to find all the children’s book references! We had many giggles. Bear and Rabbit make a cute pair. I love Penguin and Pinecone and couldn’t wait to read this book. It’s a lovely friendship story.
I love the dedication: For lost toys everywhere — may you be safe and found.
We’ve suffered through a lost lovey (formerly called WAY). It’s not pretty. One can only hope that lost toys and special friends would be so lucky to be Found by someone as kind as Yoon’s Bear.

I remain grateful to Cathy for introducing me to Penguin. I see in the comments I was laser focused on the snail book, but I remain in love with Penguin.
Despite a lack of sleep, I enjoyed the Illustrator Intensive last Saturday with Will Terry and Aaron Terry, who spoke about storybook apps.

I especially enjoyed watching the illustration critiques. I’m such a dork. A few times, I gasped at how one little change to an illustration tightened the focus of the work. A great reminder that sometimes it only takes a little revision to improve a manuscript.

I enjoyed spending time with Julie R-Z! She wrote about the workshop, so I’ll direct you to her site (plus her awesome logo!!!!!)

Here is Julie with another Bear. This is Jacque Duffy’s Bear from The Bear Said Please. I took a handful of recent picture book purchases Found, The Bear Said Please, and Naked! by Michael Ian Black and Debbie Ridpath Ohi to share with Julie. I always enjoy talking about picture books in person with Julie, as much as I enjoy sharing them with you all in cyberspace each week.
I found this link to a blog post about Salina Yoon’s creative space, which includes details of her workspace and some dummies. It’s a fun look for both writers and illustrators.

I should have taken a group photo with the illustrators with Found, as Salina is scheduled to appear at the Rocky Mountain Chapter SCBWI conference in September. I’ll be taking my copy of Found to have it signed. I’m ready for the fall conference.

Find more PPBF at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.

I’ll be back on Thursday, May 29 as part of a blog tour for the new book Edmund Pickle Chin A Donkey Rescue Story by Susan April Elwood and Clara Bowman-Jahn. I asked them questions about the process of co-authoring a story. I’m always fascinated about this process.

If you made it this far, Thank You! I’m rambling today!

Backseat A-B-See

Backseat A-B-See

Here’s my Perfect Picture Book Friday choice:

Backseat A-B-See
Written and Illustrated by Maria van Lieshout
Chronicle Books, 2012
Suitable for: Ages 2 and up
Themes/Topics: Alphabet, Signs, Car trips

Opening Line: Vroom! Vroom! From the backseat, what do you see?

Synopsis: (from Maria van Lieshout’s site) Vroom! Vroom! From the backseat, what do you see?  Using familiar road signs, this book introduces little ones to the alphabet as well as to the signage they see from the backseat of a car.

Link to Resources: In an author’s note, Maria van Lieshout shares some background on signs. On a road trip, see how many ABCs you can find in the signs. You can also discuss the colors and shapes of signs. This lesson plan has a variety of activities including a street sign gallery.

Why I like this book: I decided to share a few diverse ABCs from my recent study. I enjoyed this one, because it showed an everyday object in a unique light. Author Illustrator Maria van Lieshout wrote: “When I discovered my young son was equally Smitten with road signs, I set out to create a book that celebrates them.”
For more PPBF selections, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.
Today, author and illustrator Salina Yoon is being interviewed on Darshana’s blog Flowering Minds. She reviewed Yoon’s Penguin series on Thursday. I love Penguin (thank you Cathy for the introduction!). I find the Penguin books to be perfect in so many ways and can’t wait to read the interview. I’ll post a direct link to the interview when it’s live.