instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads

Blog

More on Best Picture Books of 2015

Here are my thoughts on just a few more of the picture books published in 2015 that I read and loved—and a couple from other years that were new to me. I hope you enjoy them as well!

TWO IS ENOUGH by Janna Matthies, illustrated by Tuesday Mourning
Running Press Kids, 2015

Written in rhyme, TWO IS ENOUGH is a wonderful tribute to single parents. Illustrations show different types of families of two doing everyday things together. I like the variety of things that these families do together, and I like that the types of families shown are varied as well.

MOTHER BRUCE by Ryan T. Higgins, author and illustrator
Hyperion, 2015

Bruce is a grumpy old bear who doesn’t like anything—except eggs. He has lots of fancy recipes that he uses to cook the eggs that he takes from the birds in the forest. Then one day four goose eggs and a fizzled out fire change everything. What’s a bear with mistaken identity to do? Fun twist at the end, but you’ll have to read it yourself! Wonderful illustrations that add to the story and the fun.

LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Troy Cummings
Random House, 2015

Little Red loves to ice skate. She swizzles and twizzles across the ice. She wants to enter the skating competition to win a pair of brand-new skates, but she needs a partner. She goes to the house of the three little pigs and ends up with the most unlikely partner ever! Read the story to see if Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf will finish the race and win the shiny new skates. Great story with a nursery rhyme theme and fun illustrations (especially if you’ve ever loved to ice skate!).

SWEEP UP THE SUN by Helen Frost, photos by illustrator/photographer Rick Lieder
Candlewick, 2015

SWEEP UP THE SUN invites readers to spread their wings and 'soar.' Author Helen Frost, well known for her award-winning YA books of poetry, shows her versatility with this poem for young readers. Beautiful photographs add to the reader's experience, and added back matter gives information about the birds in the book.

HOW TO BECOME A PERFECT PRINCESS IN FIVE DAYS by Pierrette Dube, illustrated by Luc Melanson
Windmill Books, 2010

It was not in Princess Stringbean’s nature to walk with dainty steps or keep her hair and her dresses looking neat and perfect. The moment her feet hit the dirt, she's off and running! What else can a royal mother do but send her daughter to Perfect Princess Academy. When the class is over, Princess Stringbean receives a full refund from the academy instead of a diploma, but she manages to bring home a trophy that make her mother proud. A nice twist on a ‘princess’ story that shows that everyone, even a princess, has their own special talents.

NEW OLD SHOES by Charlotte Blessing, illustrated by Gary R. Phillips
Pleasant St. Press, 2009

Follow the story to see how a pair of sneakers goes from new shoes to old shoes, and where they travel along the way. They’ve ‘walked, kicked and played,’ but where will they end up next? I like how the story shows that things can still be something of value to another person, even when they are no longer new. Beautiful, colorful illustrations add to the story.

I'm looking forward to all of the new picture books to come in 2016!  Read More 
Be the first to comment

Thoughts on Some of the 2016 Award-Winning Picture Books


A Shout-Out to all of the 2016 award-winning children’s books! Congratulations to the authors and illustrators of those books as well as the picture books that appear on lists of best children’s books for 2015. Click here for a more complete list of awards for children’s books.

What exciting news that this year a picture book text won the Newberry Award. I believe it was well deserved. I rode the city bus quite often as a child, and can relate to some parts of the story myself.

Below are my thoughts on just a few of the award-winning picture books—I’m still reading! I hope it will make you run out to the library or local bookstore to read them for yourselves!

LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET by Matt De La Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson
G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin, 2015

Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal
A 2016 Caldecott Honor Book
A 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
A New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of 2015
A Wall Street Journal Best Children's Book of 2015

I once heard Matt De La Pena speak at a conference, and I was inspired by his story. Now I’m equally inspired by his picture book, LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET.

When CJ and his nana leave church on Sunday morning they take the bus to the last stop on Market Street. CJ is feeling sorry for himself, and sees only what he doesn’t have. But when he begins to ‘see’ with more than just his eyes, he finds the real beauty in the people around him. I love how the illustrations add detail which adds to the overall experience.

Told with beautiful, poetic language, this is a wonderful story that shows that you don’t have to have a lot yourself to be able to help others, and that if you look around, you can find ‘beautiful where you never even thought to look.’

FINDING WINNIE, The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Balckall
Little, Brown and Company, 2015

#1 New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the 2016 Caldecott Medal

Maybe it was the long title, eleven words in all, but for some reason I wasn’t particularly looking forward to reading the text of this book. So I put it at the bottom of my pile. All of that changed when I started reading. I discovered that I’d saved one of the best for last.

FINDING WINNIE begins with the story of Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian who purchases a bear cub from a trapper on his way to England during World War I. Winnipeg, or Winnie as she was called, traveled to England with the soldiers and was put in a zoo when they left to fight in the war. The story of Harry and Winnie stops here, but as the narrator says to her young son, “Sometimes you have to let one story end so the next one can begin.”

The second part of the story begins with a real boy named Christopher Robin. The friendship between Christopher Robin and Winnie was the inspiration for the books about Winnie the Pooh, written by Christopher Robin’s father, Alan Alexander Milne.

What makes this book even more special is that the story is told to Harry Colebourn’s great-great-grandson by his mother. Wonderful illustrations add detail to the story, and include a family tree and an album with photos of Winnie with Harry and the soldiers. This is a wonderful read for all.

DON’T THROW IT TO MO! by David A. Adler, illustrated by Sam Ricks
Penguin Young Readers, 2015

Winner of the 2016 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

Mo is the youngest player on the Robins football team. He’s not the biggest or the fastest player on the team, but his passion for the game is an inspiration. Coach has a plan, but will it work? This is a great book for beginning readers with a good story, colorful illustrations and a great ‘take-away’ for readers at the end.

TROMBONE SHORTY by Troy ‘Trombone Shorty’ Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015

2016 Caldecott Honor Book
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Award

TROMBONE SHORTY is the story of Troy Andrews, noted musician and trombone player from the Treme neighborhood in New Orleans. The language and use of dialect, along with the rhythm of the text and beautiful illustrations, puts you into the story. As you read you can ‘feel’ the influence of music in the main character’s life as you follow him from a young boy with the broken trombone twice his size, to Grammy nominated musician and inspiration to all young musicians. In the author’s words, “I’m living proof that as long as you work hard, you can make your dreams take flight.”

I want to linger just a bit on the last quote from Trombone Shorty, in particular the part that says “…as long as you work hard, you can make your dreams take flight.”

Success is sweet, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Anything that is done well takes time, and hard work. Like musicians, authors and illustrators spend many years learning the basics of their craft. And it's definitely worth the journey. Authors put in many hours finding just the right words that will connect with the reader and their emotions. Illustrators do the same, making their artwork a perfect fit for the text, then adding their own 'layer.' Having one of your picture books published and knowing that kids enjoy it is its own reward! Having your work recognized as one of the best is the icing on the cake.

Once again, my sincere congratulations to all!  Read More 
Be the first to comment

Happy New Year’s Resolutions!


Happy New Year—2016! Once again I’m thinking of resolutions that will improve my writing life, and my life in general. It’s nice when your resolutions actually push you to do better, and when you see the difference it makes when you follow them. It’s very encouraging, and validating.

Every year I find myself repeating past resolutions. Write more, read more, eat less…. When you think about it, some things can always be improved upon. No matter how much effort I put into my writing last year, I can always improve on that somehow this year. The same goes with other areas of my life.

I read friend and author Margo Dill’s blog post last week. She talked about focusing on ‘one-word for 2016’ in place of making New Year’s resolutions. The idea came from the book One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, Jimmy Page, and Dan Britton. The way that it works is that you choose ONE WORD as a theme for your life for ONE YEAR and live your life focused on that one word.

If I were to choose one word, it might be the same as Margo’s—Organization. But I am a list-maker! So under ‘organization’ I would probably list things like—

Organize my day to include reading (sub-headings: for pleasure, for learning), writing, social media, family, friends, prayer, meals, walking, etc.

Organize my files so that I can find what I’m looking for!

Organize my calendar—so I know what I’m doing!

Organize my website, so other people know what I’m doing.
And so on, and so on…

Whichever way works best for you, I hope that you find more time for those things in your life that are important to you, and that you love to do. I hope that you discover what is important to you in your life, and that you find ways to fit those things into your days. And I wish you many blessings this year!

I’ve seen 2016 referred to as ‘Sweet 16.’ Wishing you all 'Sweet Success' in this new year!

You can find information and resources about creating your own one word on this website: http://getoneword.com  Read More 
Be the first to comment