One of the great things about picture books is their ability to help us see the world through someone else’s eyes. Whether it’s finding new uses for a little paper bag, bringing clean drinking water to those who need it, or helping baby sea turtles find their way home, I hope you’ll see the value, as I do, in challenging ourselves to help make the world we share a better place. Enjoy!

One Little Bag

“One Little Bag: An Amazing Journey” author illustrated in ink by Henry Cole (Copyright 2020, Scholastic Press) is a beautiful story without words that was inspired by an experience from the author’s own life. The pictures tell the story of a small paper bag, made from a tree in the forest, finding “a well-used, well-recycled life” when it is shared and reused again and again by three generations of the same family. Beginning with a little boy’s first day of school, the bag becomes a cherished and loved container of countless objects and memories. Many years later, the family returns the little bag to the earth, holding a small tree that is being planted. Considering the amount of time, resources, and energy that are required to create things like paper lunch bags, and that they are often used only once, this book encourages us to be mindful of the waste we create when we discard things before their usefulness is gone. Henry Cole has a degree in forestry, taught elementary-school science for sixteen years, and is an award-winning author and illustrator. To find out more about his work, please visit henrycole.net.

The Water Princess

“The Water Princess” written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (Copyright 2016, by G.P. Putnam’s Sons imprint of Penguin Random House) was inspired by the childhood experiences of Georgie Badiel, high-fashion model and founder of the Georgie Badiel Foundation. In the story, Princess Gie Gie dreams of bringing a source of clean drinking water to her beloved African village. Each day, Gie Gie and her mother join many other women and girls in walking a great distance from their homes to a well, where they gather the day’s water and carry it back home to their families. The illustrations in watercolor, using gouache and digital inks with hand-lettering by Mr. Reynolds, present the challenges of a life without water in a way that helps bring awareness to this ongoing problem. To learn more about those who are working to help solve the water crisis in Africa and around the world, please visit www.ryanswell.ca and georgiebadielfoundation.org.

Follow the Moon Home

“Follow the Moon Home” written by Philippe Cousteau and Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated in watercolor, colored ink, and colored pencils by Meilo So (Copyright 2016, Chronicle Books) is the story of a little girl named Vivienne, who discovers that sometimes we all need some help finding our way. Having just moved to a new school, Vivienne takes part in a class problem-solving project where she and her classmates are joined by the community in trying to help save loggerhead sea turtle babies during the nesting season. The title of the book refers to the way that newly hatched baby loggerhead turtles instinctively go toward the strongest light they see. When that light is the moon, they follow it out to the ocean where they belong. One of the co-authors of this book is the grandson of famous explorer, Jacques Cousteau, who challenged him “to go out and explore the world.” Philippe and his sister, Alexandra, founded an organization, EarthEcho International, as a resource for kids who are interested in protecting the environment. For more information, please visit www.earthecho.org.

If you have a favorite picture book that has inspired you to live mindfully, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy Reading 😊


This month’s picture book favorites are fictional animal stories that were inspired by real-life events. They serve as a reminder that friendship and the devotion that comes from loving and being loved isn’t exclusive to humans. I hope you’ll find these books and read them for yourself. They touched my heart and the stories behind them gave me a greater appreciation for the wisdom of animals. Enjoy!

Ida, Always

“Ida, Always” written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso (Copyright 2016, Atheneum Books for Young Readers) is a story inspired by the relationship of real polar bears named Gus and Ida, who were visited by more than twenty million people while they lived together in New York’s Central Park Zoo. This fictional tribute shows readers the happy life of two bear friends who enjoy tossing a ball, swimming and splashing, and sitting together on their favorite rock. Each day, they are cared for by loving zookeepers and visited by many people, while the familiar sounds of “their city” surround them. Each night, they go to their caves, always to meet again in the morning. Things change when Ida becomes sick, with no hope of getting better. As they spend their remaining days together, Gus comes to know that Ida will always be with him through the sights, sounds, and memories they have shared.

This Way, Charlie

“This Way, Charlie” also written by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso (Copyright 2020, Abrams Books for Young Readers) is another heartwarming book by this perfectly paired writer and illustrator. It is the tale of two unlikely friends, a blind horse named Charlie and a nervous goat named Jack. When Charlie is brought to the Open Bud Ranch to “heal, rest, and grow,” Jack, who is a loner, watches him struggle from a distance. Eventually, Jack finds the courage to approach Charlie, and begins leading him around the ranch. As the days go on, they become inseparable friends, helping each other find their way through the challenges of life. Each beautiful illustration, created with “digital brushes and love,” adds to the warmth and depth of this sweet story. The real Jack and Charlie lived at Wild Heart Ranch Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in Oklahoma. For more information about Wild Heart Ranch, please visit wildheartrescue.org.

Where'd My Jo Go

“Where’d My Jo Go?” written by Jill Esbaum and illustrated by Scott Brundage (Copyright 2020, Sleeping Bear Press) is the story of a little dog named Big Al and his trucker friend and companion, Jo. It is based on a newspaper story the author read about a real-life trucker whose little lost dog patiently waited for two days before finally being found. Told in verse, the story gives the point of view of both the dog and his friend as they realize they’ve been separated and try to find each other again. Thankfully, just like in the newspaper story, these two friends are reunited for a happy ending.

If you have a favorite picture book about animals that was inspired by a true story, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy Reading 😊


This month’s picture book favorites are meant to provide you with a dose of laughter therapy. With so many of life’s simple pleasures having been put on pause, I challenge you to be deliberate in finding healthy ways to cope with the stress and isolation that we’re all having to endure. Since humor can help improve one’s sense of well-being, I’ve chosen to read and share some books this month that I hope will make you smile, and laugh. Enjoy!

How to Give a Cat a Bath

“How to Give Your Cat a Bath in Five Easy Steps” written by Nicola Winstanley and illustrated by John Martz (Copyright 2019, Tundra Books imprint of Penguin Random House) is a comical look at the complicated relationship between (most) cats and water. The story is told through an unseen narrator, who is trying to explain the bathing process to a little girl, while her cat, Mr. Flea, is observing and reacting to the instructions. My suggestion is to read the book all the way through, then go back and have the pictures tell the story a second time. The illustrations, created in drawn ink and colored digitally, had me laughing a second time as I watched the five “easy” steps being reduced to one simple solution at the end of the book.

The Backup Bunny

“The Backup Bunny” written by Abigail Rayner and illustrated by Greg Stones (Copyright 2018, NorthSouth Books, Inc.) is a funny story about the adventures of a toy bunny named Fluffy, who is kept hidden in Mom’s sock drawer just in case her forgetful son, Max, happens to lose his favorite stuffed rabbit. The colorful, expressive illustrations will have you laughing as Fluffy is called on to save the day, again and again.

The Day the Crayons Quit

“The Day the Crayons Quit” written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Copyright 2013, Philomel Books imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group) is the award-winning story of a boy named Duncan whose crayons left him a pile of complaint letters about the way he had been treating them. Illustrated with art created in crayon, each two-page spread contains a letter and picture that will have you laughing your way through this fun-filled book.  In the end, Duncan takes their complaints to heart as he pictures a way to make them all happy.

This month’s blog post is dedicated to my dear friend, Tina Wright, who recently passed away. She was one of my favorite people on the planet, and a wonderful friend, who made everyone she met feel special and loved.

If you have a favorite picture book that makes you laugh, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy Reading 😊


Although any year is a great year to be published, authors with new books out this year have faced some extreme challenges because of the global pandemic. I never thought I’d grow to appreciate social media, but just think about how isolated we all would have been without it these past few months. Hopefully, meet-and-greet events will resume in the near future and authors will once again get out and about to promote their books.  One of my favorite ways to help pass the time is by reading this year’s newly published picture books. Here are just a few of my many favorites. I’m also looking forward to seeing what the second half of 2020 brings to the market. Enjoy!

The Nest That Wren Built

“The Nest That Wren Built” written by Randi Sonenshine and illustrated by Anne Hunter (Copyright 2020, Candlewick Press) is a debut picture book by a first-time author. Using the repetitive rhyming style of “The House That Jack Built,” a pair of Carolina Wrens are put on display as they work together to build a nest and raise their brood. Each turn of a page presents nesting items that range from predictable to downright surprising. When the nest is complete, their focus shifts to the care and raising of the nestlings, who seem to fly away too soon–leaving behind an empty nest.  The back of the book contains both a glossary and a fact page that will give you a whole new appreciation for Carolina Wrens. Illustrations of ink and color pencil on tinted paper bring both charm and personality to this focused look at these unique birds.

The Old Truck

“The Old Truck” written and illustrated by Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey (Copyright 2020, Norton Young Readers imprint of W.W. Norton and Company) is a debut picture book about a forgotten old truck finding a renewed purpose on the family farm. Inspired by the hard-working women in their family, this collaboration between brothers, who are also authors and illustrators, features pictures designed using over 250 stamps they created. The result is a nostalgic look at how something like an old truck in a pasture can find new life thanks to the hard work and determination of a young farmer who dares to dream.

This is the Church

“This is the Church” written by Sarah Raymond Cunningham and illustrated by Ariel Landy (Copyright 2020, Beaming Books imprint of 1517 Media) puts a modern-day spin on a classic children’s rhyme to remind us that although “churches” can be found in many different places, shapes, and sizes, the true church is the people–God’s family of believers. Colorful, kid-friendly illustrations add to the appeal of this very timely children’s book.

If you have a favorite picture book that was published this year, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy Reading 😊


When you think of board books, does your brain automatically envision the simplest of books, created specifically for babies and toddlers? Truth is, board books aren’t just for babies and haven’t been for quite some time. While there are plenty of traditional board books being published for babies and children up to three-years-old, many popular picture books also have board book editions, pushing the age range beyond those traditional boundaries and appealing to an older audience. Here are some board book editions of a few of my own favorite picture books. Enjoy!

Guess How Much I Love You

“Guess How Much I Love You” written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram (Copyright 1996, Candlewick Press) is a board book edition of the 1994 classic bedtime story about the “to the moon and back” love that is shared between Big and Little Nutbrown Hare. I bought the book and matching toy shown in the photo many years ago, and I’m happy to say that similar sets were still being offered for sale at various online retailers the last time I checked. This sweet story, with its wonderfully expressive pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations, is one of my all-time favorites for sharing with little ones.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

“The Very Hungry Caterpillar” written and illustrated by Eric Carle (Copyright 2001, Philomel Books division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers) is a giant board book edition of the 1969 timeless classic. When looking for books that will keep the attention of babies and toddlers, you really can’t go wrong with Eric Carle’s simple writing style and colorful collage illustrations. I’ve had the book shown in the photo for over 25 years. Although the carry handles at the top were removed long ago, this board book edition also came with a stuffed caterpillar toy that was just the right size for tiny hands to weave through specially cut holes in the over-sized pages of the story.

Goodnight Max the Brave

“Goodnight, Max the Brave” written and illustrated by Ed Vere (Copyright 2019, Sourcebooks, Inc.) is recent board book edition of the 2015 Puffin/Penguin Random House picture book, “Max at Night.” The story follows a sleepy Max past his bedtime on an adventure to say goodnight to the Moon. Although the text may be longer than the attention span of some (not all) babies and toddlers, the digital illustrations from pen, ink, and mixed media will have preschoolers tuned-in and turning pages just to see what Max will do next. I hope to see board book editions of the other books in the Max series.

If you have a favorite picture book that has a board book edition, I’d love to hear about it.

Happy Reading 😊


If you’re like me, you’re looking for a few more books to read these days. One place you can’t look for them is at the library, because they’re all closed until further notice. These troubled times make me more grateful than ever for my e-reader devices. If you haven’t tried borrowing books on library-based reading apps like Libby and Hoopla (and many more), this would be a great time to put them to use. Thanks to technology, we can all continue to find and read books while still keeping our social distance. Here are a few of my picture book favorites for e-readers. Enjoy!


“Waiting” written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes (Copyright 2015, Greenwillow Books division of HarperCollins Publishers) is both a Caldecott and Geisel Honor Book. At a time when we are all waiting patiently while watching the world from a distance, this book is perfection. It is the story of five toys who are expectantly waiting for wonderful things to happen as they sit on the windowsill and watch the world outside. The simplicity of the full-color art, created with watercolor paint, colored pencils, and brown ink, is complemented by an equally simple text, comprised of short sentences. I can’t think of a better age-appropriate example for helping young children understand this difficult concept.

Piglet and Papa

“Piglet and Papa” written by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Stephen Michael King (Copyright 2007, Abrams Books for Young Readers) is a sweet story about the love that is shared between a parent and child. When little Piglet plays too rough with her Papa and hurts him, he chases her away. Not sure how angry he truly is, she becomes afraid that he doesn’t love her anymore and visits the other farm animals for reassurance. This story uses fun, colorful artwork and a repetitive style of text that make little Piglet’s journey back to her Papa one that warms the heart.

Dancing Feet!

“Dancing Feet!” written by Lindsey Craig and illustrated by Marc Brown (Copyright 2010, Alfred A. Knopf imprint of Random House) is a fun, high-energy book that combines uniquely worded rhythmic text with collage illustrations that were created using hand-painted paper cut into primary shapes. Preschoolers will look forward to each page-turn as happy feet dance their way through this award-winning picture book.

One more note. . .some versions of picture e-books offer the option of a “read along” feature, allowing you to follow along with the story while listening to a professional narrator. It will even turn the pages for you as you read along, giving young readers another fun way to enjoy some of their favorite books.

Happy E-Reading 😊


Every March 17th, the world celebrates the culture and heritage of Ireland while honoring the holiday’s name sake, Saint Patrick, for his part in bringing Christianity to the Irish people. While I was able to find a good number of older books written about this holiday, it didn’t appear to be quite as well represented in the current picture book market. To those of us who write, this is a call to action. Let’s get creative and write some books. Until that happens, here are some of my favorite St. Patrick’s Day picture books from years gone by. Enjoy!

SPD - Rockwell

“St. Patrick’s Day” written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell (Copyright 2010, HarperCollins Children’s Books division of HarperCollins Publishers) is one of many book collaborations by this mother-daughter duo during their thirty years of working together. The colorful, kid-friendly illustrations are a perfect complement to this story about a classroom of students who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by learning and presenting the history and traditions of Ireland.

The Night Before SPD

“The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day” written by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Amy Wummer (Copyright 2009, Grosset & Dunlap division of Penguin Young Readers Group) is a funny rhyming book with cute illustrations about two siblings who decide to catch a leprechaun by setting traps the night before St. Patrick’s Day. In this edition from Wing’s best-selling “The Night Before. . .” series, readers are reminded of “The Night Before Christmas” as the leprechaun comes and goes, leaving a St. Patrick’s Day surprise at the end of the story.

Hooray for SPD

“Hooray for St. Patrick’s Day!” written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Paul Meisel (Copyright 2002, Puffin Books division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers) is a lift-the-flap rhyming book that celebrates things to do, make, and eat on St. Patrick’s Day. The first page challenges readers to find a leprechaun hidden in each scene, and preschoolers will especially enjoy the surprises behind the flaps that help present elements of the holiday. There is a simple glossary in the back of the book explaining words and phrases that might be new to young readers.

SPD - Gibbons

“St. Patrick’s Day” written and illustrated by Gail Gibbons (Copyright 1994, Holiday House) is a nonfiction picture book that gives more details about Saint Patrick’s life and legends that you will likely find in most other picture books about the holiday. Gail Gibbons style of writing and illustrating makes this book an educational tribute to St. Patrick, who dedicated his life to caring for the Irish people.

More St. Patrick’s Day picture books…

“Ten Lucky Leprechauns” written by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook and illustrated by Jay Johnson (Copyright 2012, Cartwheel Books imprint of Scholastic, Inc.) is a counting book told in rhyme with happy, color-filled illustrations. Repetitive lines in each sequence of pages combine with counting from one to ten leprechauns to create a true picture book treasure to share with preschoolers.

“What is St. Patrick’s Day” written by Elaine Landau (Copyright 2012, Enslow Elementary imprint of Enslow Publishers) is a nonfiction book using color photographs and simple text to teach children about the history and symbols of the holiday. Also included are a list of books and websites for further reading as well as instructions for a St. Patrick’s Day activity.

Happy Reading ~


In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m spreading some love with this month’s picture book favorites. From books whose characters include a little hedgehog and his mom, a young owl and his Grammy, a lonely porcupine, and a pair of silly spaghetti eating monkeys, love is shared and explained in ways that will both warm your heart and make you laugh. Enjoy!

Love You Always

“Love You Always” written by Frances Stickley and illustrated by Migy Blanco (Copyright 2019, Random House Children’s Books. Originally published by Nosy Crow Ltd.) is the story of little Hedgie the hedgehog and his mommy, who are taking a walk and sharing a conversation about the enduring love of a mother for her little one. After asking many questions, little Hedgie learns that “as long as skies are high above . . . there’s one thing that will never change, and that’s love.” Busy, color-filled illustrations are the perfect complement to this sweet rhyming story.

Love is Kind

“Love is Kind” written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by Lison Chaperon (Copyright 2018, Zonderkidz) follows Little Owl as he struggles to find a way to buy his Grammy a heart-shaped box of chocolates for her birthday. With each encounter, he shares by example the attributes of love as found in 1 Corinthians 13 of the Bible. At the end of his day, when all his attempts have failed, his Grammy explains to him that the love he shared with others along the way was a better gift to her than any chocolates would have been. Children will likely relate to the many feelings and choices Little Owl makes as the kid-friendly illustrations help to tell the story.


“Elmore” written and illustrated by Holly Hobbie (Copyright 2018, Random House Children’s Books) is a beautifully illustrated story about a porcupine named Elmore who lives by himself and has trouble making friends because of his quills. After a visit from a wise old uncle, Elmore decides to give away some of his treasured quills to the other animals, suggesting they use them to write notes to their friends. In return, the animals appreciate Elmore, quills and all, and share the love found between friends through the notes they send him.

One of my favorites from years gone by…

“More Spaghetti I Say!” written by Rita Golden Gelman and illustrated by Jack Kent (Copyright 1977, Scholastic, Inc.) is laugh out loud fun. When Freddy wants to play, Minnie is too busy eating spaghetti. When Minnie has had too much spaghetti and begins to feel sick, Freddy takes her spaghetti away and soon discovers that he loves it too. This sweet, silly story, told in rhyming verse with simple illustrations, is a cautionary tale about the love of good food and the patience of a good friend. It was updated by Scholastic in 1992 as a Hello Reader! book with new illustrations by Mort Gerberg, but I still treasure my original copy from 1977. A note of advice . . . read it aloud, with feeling, to a child or to yourself, and try not to laugh.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


When I heard the weatherman say that we were having the coldest weather we’ve seen yet this season, I knew it was time to showcase some winter-themed picture books. These favorites are filled with winter wonder. They also serve as a reminder that while nature is preparing itself for the new beginnings that come in the spring, winter can be a time of reflection for the fresh new year that is ahead of us. So … grab a blanket, pour yourself some hot chocolate, and enjoy!

Winter Dance

“Winter Dance” written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Richard Jones (Copyright 2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) has a young red fox trying to figure out what he should do to prepare for winter. Each beautifully illustrated, color-filled scene follows the fox as he consults with the creatures of the forest. They all suggest that he do what they are doing, but none of their plans seem right to him. When he finally listens to the “hush!” of the winter wind, his answer is found as he and another young red fox share a joyful winter dance together in the falling snow.

When Winter Comes

“When Winter Comes” written by Nancy Van Laan and illustrated by Susan Gaber (Copyright 2000, an Anne Schwartz book from Atheneum Books for Young Readers) is a rhyming story presented through the questions of a child who is outside on a family walk. Using vivid illustrations in acrylic on Bristol board, each alternating set of pages presents a question and then an answer about where some animals and plants go when the winter cold comes.

Sleep Tight Farm“Sleep Tight Farm” written by Eugenie Doyle and illustrated by Becca Stadtlander (Copyright 2016, Chronicle Books) takes a look at one family’s busy time getting their farm ready for winter. The beautifully painted illustrations will have you pausing to take in all the details. At the end of the book, there is a note from the author about school children and their teachers who visit her farm and see for themselves that a hard-working farm life also has many rewards.

Need more winter books? Try these poetry and non-fiction picture books:

“Winter Eyes: Poems and Paintings” written and illustrated by Douglas Florian (Copyright 1999, Greenwillow Books division of William Morrow & Company) is one of my favorite poetry books for children of all ages. It’s simply brilliant!

“Let’s Look at the Seasons: Wintertime” written and illustrated by Ann Schweninger (Copyright 1990, Scholastic, by arrangement with Penguin Books) describes how living things are able to endure the changing weather as the calendar moves through the winter months. This book also presents a few “winter-fun” activity ideas.

Happy Reading 🙂


I’ve spent the past month reading picture books about Christmas. There’s no shortage of them, that’s for sure. Some will make you laugh, while others pull on your heartstrings. Choosing just a few to share with you wasn’t easy, but these favorites present the timeless quality of Christmas traditions. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to start a new tradition or to revive an old one. Enjoy the season!

Bear Stays Up

“Bear Stays Up for Christmas” written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman (Copyright 2004, Margaret K. McElderry Books division of Simon & Schuster) is one of several books by this talented duo that feature Bear and his friends. On Christmas Eve, Bear is awakened by his friends, who have all gathered to help him stay up until Christmas. Together with Bear, they find a tree, bake, decorate, sing, and hang stockings. When Bear is finally wide awake, his friends nod off to sleep. He busily prepares for Christmas morning, staying awake to share his surprise with them. Told in rhyming verse and complemented by expressive acrylic paint illustrations, this is a fun holiday read-aloud story to share with little ones.

Winter's Gift

“Winter’s Gift” written and illustrated by Jane Monroe Donovan (Copyright 2004, Sleeping Bear Press division of Thomson Gale) is the story of an elderly farmer facing his first Christmas without his wife, who had died that spring. On a snowy Christmas Eve, he finds himself remembering Christmas traditions that the two of them had shared and considers the hope he once found in those traditions, such as the star on top of the tree, to be lost. That evening, he discovers a collapsed mare in the snow. Leading her to his barn, he falls asleep while watching over her during the night. Waking up on Christmas morning, he discovers that the mare has given birth to a foal with a white star in the center of its forehead–reminding him of the Christmas star that he and his wife had always placed on top of their Christmas tree. Exquisite illustrations give readers a front row seat into this precious story.

Mousekin's Christmas Eve

“Mousekin’s Christmas Eve” written and illustrated by Edna Miller (Copyright 1965, Simon and Schuster) is the vintage story of a mouse who finds himself alone in an empty house on Christmas Eve and decides to find a new home. As he makes his way through the snow and danger that surround him outside, he is drawn to a house by the sounds of laughter and music and the colorful Christmas tree lights that shine out the window and into the snow. Waiting until the family goes to bed for the night, he finds an opening into the house. After exploring the Christmas tree, he settles in to safely sleep among the peace and quiet of the nativity set. If you’ve never read any of Edna Miller’s beautifully illustrated “Mousekin” books, I encourage you to enjoy them while they can still be found.

Night Before the Night Before Christmas

“The Night Before the Night Before Christmas” written by Natasha Wing and illustrated by Mike Lester (Copyright 2002, Grosset & Dunlap division of Penguin Young Readers) is one of many in “The Night Before” series of picture books. Rhyming text pairs perfectly with comedic illustrations to present a funny look at how one busy family’s Christmas traditions turn to chaos when Mom has the flu. In the family’s rush to get everything done, they finally come to realize that “…things are just stuff. Christmas is about love, and we have quite enough.”

Merry Christmas!