Archive for the ‘picture books’ Category

Picture It Picture Books – Illustrated by Your Child

Books are big in our house as I’m sure you can guess from the Write a Review Wednesday posts every week. I love how books encourage learning, discovery and imagination. So when the folks at Mom Central Canada told me about Picture It Picture Books, I was interested to see these first hand how these would work.

The concept behind Picture It Picture Books is to tap into your child’s creative imagination. The stories are already written and your child adds the illustrations, sharing their interpretation of the story being told. There are currently 6 different titles available and the subject matter varies depending on your child’s interest. For younger kids there’s My Alphabet where kids illustrate something for each letter, something that might be more personal to them.

For older kids (and by older I mean maybe six or seven), there’s Captain Zane or The Moon Story. These are closer to stories to actual stories you might read and your child adds the illustrations.

The sample we were sent was Imagining Me, a story about your child. This isn’t really a story but rather a collection of pages about your child’s interests: their job when they grow-up, a wacky hairdo, playing with their best friend. I thought the Picture It Picture Books would be appealing to my 8-year old who has a current fascination with illustrating her own stories, but the sample didn’t appeal to her at all. She has a few books like this, books that she can customize based on her preferences and she had no interest in doing another one. This wouldn’t be one of the books I would have chosen either. For a book about your child, some of the pages are very specific and are of topics kids might have no interest in.

My 6-year old decided he liked a few of the pages, like developing a vehicle or designing a new toy (as his job) but that was the extent of his interest. I would love to see one of the more story oriented books to see if there would be more interest; the kids would actually be illustrating pictures of a story versus more of a workbook type activity (like the alphabet or Imagining Me).

The finished books do make great keepsakes for your kids as they grow-up or maybe even something to give to grandma (a story to read together when visiting and something grandma can enjoy because of the personal illustrations).

You can find the Picture It Picture Books on their website or at other stores and markets across the country.

I want to thanks the folks at Mom Central Canada and Picture It Picture Books for sending the review copy along to me.

Chicken, Pig, Cow want to go to your house (giveaway)

I’ve been very fortunate to have reviewed a number of great books for kids as part of my weekly Write a Review Wednesday post. But today isn’t about me, it’s about you or rather what I can give to you.

Recently I wrote a review on Ruth Ohi‘s wonderful picture book Chicken, Pig, Cow as well as her follow-up book Chicken, Pig, Cow On The Move, equally as wonderful. If you ever get a chance to hear Ruth Ohi read, you should. My oldest daughter and I had a chance to meet her recently at the Word on the Street festival. She is so energetic and enthusiastic and really talks to and involves her young readers in her presentation. It was so much fun (and I learned a thing or two as well).

So how is this post about you? In addition to the copies of both Ruth Ohi’s books for my reviews, my friend Joanna from Annick Press sent along two additional copies. That’s right, I have an additional copy of Chicken, Pig, Cow and Chicken, Pig, Cow On The Move. I know, pretty awesome!

So I’m offering both of these books together to you my blog readers, book lovers. And since my birthday is today, I’m feeling really generous and I will send these to anyone in Canada or the United States. If you would love to add both of these books to your personal library, leave a comment below telling me one of your favourite kids books (I’m always looking for new book suggestions). Don’t forget to leave your email address so I have a way of contacting you. I will accept entries until Monday, October 12, 2009 (midnight EST) at which time I will randomly pick a name. Good Luck!

Update: We have a winner. has picked a winner and they have been notified. Thanks for your interest.

Write a Review Wednesday: I am too absolutely small for School

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. My two oldest kids head back to school next Tuesday. Last week I reviewed Grumpy Bird written by Jeremy Tankard, my son’s favourite Scholastic school book. This week we’re still thinking about school.


lolacoverThis isn’t the first year of school for my two oldest (starting grade 2 and senior kindergarten) and they’re both really excited about heading back. But starting school for the first time or transitioning into a new grade can be scary for some kids. And Charlie and Lola deal with that issues, starting school, in Lauren Child’s book I am too absolutely small for School.

Lola is about to start school for the first time, but she doesn’t think she’s ready. She comes up with all sorts of reasons why she shouldn’t go to school: she’s not big enough, she has all her books memories and doesn’t need to learn to read, she doesn’t want to wear a schooliform or quite simply she’s far too busy doing other things at home.

That’s where big brother Charlie, who already goes to school, comes in to help address Lola’s fears. He explains in terms his little sister can understand how important and fun school can be, Like how Santa Clause doesn’t own a phone so if Lola wants him to get her wish list, she’ll have to write him a letter. And to write him a letter means she needs to learn how to write.

My kids love the Charlie and Lola books (there are a few). My son thinks Lola is very, very funny. He loves all the crazy things she does and says, something I’m sure he can relate too.

My older daughter’s thoughts:

I like that the words zig zag around the page. And the pictures use bright colours and patterns. I’m not sure if Charlie and Lola are real but I’d like to think they are. Their stories are just like real kid stories.


The Charlie and Lola stories are written from Charlie’s point of view. The language used creates a beautiful distinction between Charlie’s older, wiser big brother voice and Lola’s young, carefree child-like voice. Lauren Child’s books are a delight to read and look at. She treats the copy as an extension of the illustrations, using different fonts and sizes as well as weaving it around the page and other images. I love the mix of photography and illustration.

I am too absolutely small for Schoolis a great story that addresses a number of issues a child might have floating around in their pre-school thoughts. And Charlie and Lola are a delightful in helping relieve those concerns.

Published by Candlewick Press, you can add a  copy of I am too absoluetly small for School from

You can also read other Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Grumpy Bird

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. As we prepare for the start of school, my kids have been re-reading their favourite Scholastic books.  Last week I reviewed my daughter’s favourite, Pinkalicious written by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann and illustrated by Victoria Kann. This week it’s my son’s turn.


grumpbirdfrontMy son is not one to hide his emotions. When he’s in a good mood he’s all smiles and hugs. But when he’s in a bad mood, look out.

Scholastic’s  (@scholastic) book Grumpy Bird, written and illustrated by Jeremy Tankard ( age 4 to 8 ) is about a bird who wakes up grumpy. He’s so grumpy in fact that he can’t even fly. While walking he encounters many of his forest friends who tag along, uninvited. At first Grumpy Bird is annoyed but when his friends turn following him into an impromtu game of follow the leader, Grumpy Bird actually forgets he’s grumpy.

Jermey Tankard’s use of repetitive dialog encourages kids to participate in the story. With each new friend encounter, my kids delight in participating in the dialog since they know it off by heart. The animal characters add a playful feel to the story and they stand out against the sketch-like background illustrations. I love how the colours in the  background show the passing of time as the day progresses from early morning until night.

I’m guessing we’ve all had mornings where you wake-up in a bad mood for no real reason. Kids are no different. As young kids try to understand their own feelings and how to express them, bad moods may be pretty common. This story is a great starting point for discussing angry feelings and how to recognize them and deal with them. It’s not uncommon in our hose for someone in a bad moode to be referred to as a Grumpy Bird. Asking the question ‘Why are you such a Grumpy Bird?‘or playing a game of follow the leader sometimes breaks the bad mood spell in our house.

grumpybird inside

Our copy was purchased through the Scholastic school market, but you can get a version of it from

If you’re interested in other books for kids, check-out my previous Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: The Lime Green Secret

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week I wrote a review on Wanda’s Freckles, a great story about celebrating a child’s uniqueness (by Barbara Azore and Georgia Graham). This week I review another wonderful picture book by Georgia Graham courtesy of my friend Sylvia at Tundra Books (@TundraBooks).


liegreenWhen you have girls in your house, fancy dresses are bound to fit into your day. My youngest daughter loves to dress in twirlies (her term for dresses). And once she has her twirly on there’s no getting it off even if she’s playing in the backyard, helping with grocery shopping or digging for worms in the backyard. I think that’s one reason why Georgia Graham’s book The Lime Green Secret (age 4-7) by Tundra Books appealed to me.

Gloria is happy to be a flower girl for her older sister’s impending wedding. But what she’s really excited about is the beautiful satin gown, long white gloves, shiney white shoes, lace socks and a sparkling tiara she gets to wear. Her mother has told her she can’t wear the dress until the wedding. Of course that’s easier said than done. While wearing her flower girl dress, Gloria fills her days until the wedding with conducting an orchestra to having a tea party with friends. But when disaster strikes and something happens to the flower girl dress before the wedding, Gloria doesn’t know what to do.

My kids loved this story. I think they could relate to Gloria’s excitement with wearing the special dress and the desire to wear it, even when it’s not suppose to be worn. Georgia Graham’s illustrations, like in Wanda’s Freckles, add a warmth to Gloria and other characters in the story. My kids laughed out loud at how the illustrations revealed Gloria’s secret too.


Gloria has a hard time waiting until the wedding day to wear her flower girl dress

Released in February 2009, you can add The Lime Green Secret to your home library by buying it from You can also see other children book reviews I’ve written as part of  Write a Review Wednesday.

What is your family favourite this week?

Next Steps – July 20/09

It’s been a week since I first outlined my Next Steps for working on my writing. So let’s see, how did I do with last weeks tasks:

  • Renew my library card – Done. I reserved a few writing books too (Hopefully I can pick them up this week)
  • Finalize magazine stories – I’ve revised one story, ready to send out. The second story, after reviewing it, I’m not sure if it works still and I’m not sure if I can make it work.
  • Revise my picture book manuscript – Done, now I need to run it by a second pair of eyes for feedback.
  • Research the difference between Easy Reader/Chapter Book and Middle Grade Book – I’ve been reading and thinking about my story idea and I think I’ve settled on the EA/CB route.

So I’m feeling pretty good having completed the tasks I set-out for my first week. I’ll also admit they weren’t the hardest. Now we’re starting a new week and with that a new set of Next Steps:

  • Submit my magazine story –  Write a cover letter and submit the story to the children’s magazine for consideration.
  • Write an outline for my Chapter Book idea – I have a synopsis and now that I’ve decided to go the Chapter Book route, I want to develop an outline for each chapter.
  • Reading research – I need to take out and read a whole collection of Chapter Books
  • Picture book manuscript feedback – I’ve revised my picture book manuscript which needs a new set of eyes on it. I should also investigate critique groups too (I’m a member of SCBWI but have never really taken advantage of my membership).

So another week and another set of tasks. I’m always good at starting something, let’s see how good I am at continuing it.

Write a Review Wednesday: A Wizard in Love

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week I wrote a review on Clare Beaton’s counting concept book One Moose, Twenty Mice. I love all sorts of picture books, but I especially love entertaining picture books from Canadian publishers, seeing as I’m from Canada. Well recently I was fortunate enough to receive some amazing picture books from the fine folks at Tundra Books to review.


wizardcover I don’t think my kids are alone with their interest in anything about wizards. There’s something mysterious and magical about them. So it comes as no surprise that my kids were drawn to the book A Wizard in Love (age 4+), by Mireille Levert and Marie Lafrance and published by Tundra Books.

Hector, a retired wizard, has traded in his spells and potions for a quieter life in front of the TV eating cookies with his cat, Poisin. He doesn’t mind the crumbs on the couch or that his house is falling apart. Life is perfect. That is until he’s awakened by a dreadful noise outside.

On further investigation, Hector and Poison discover Isobel, the woman responsible for creating the ghastly sound. But even Hector’s old book of spells can”t save him from the charm of Isobel’s voice.

My kids were enthralled by the journey Hector makes from a messy recluse to a charming neighbour. My son especially loved the scene of Hector mixing a bubbling, nasty blue smoke concoction in his cauldron. The illustrations start dark, like Hector’s dilapidated house, but when Isobel is introduced and Hector is transformed by her beautiful voice and good nature, the illustrations become bright and airy. Hector’s physical appearance also changes, like the beast to the prince. My daughter enjoyed Hector’s cat Poison and the mischief he gets into in the background illustrations.

The story and illustrations work together, telling a wonderful tale about the power of love, about love conquering all, about the good buried within everyone. You can add a copy of A Wizard in Love to your personal library by purchasing from

Even Hector's spells can't save him from Isobel

Even Hector's spells can't save him from Isobel

What’s your favourite family book? Some other Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Next Steps – July 13/09

So I’ve had some time to think about my writing/blogging dilemma (and I’ve received some great feedback and advice from people too). Instead of pitting one against the other, trying to sort out what’s more important, I’ve been thinking of ways to better use them to support each other.

One of my problems with my story writing, I think, is I don’t have any sort of deadline. It’s one of those things that gets done when it has to but if something else comes up (with a deadline) then that writing gets put aside. And the more I put it aside, the easier it gets to not pick it up. So, starting now, I’m going to set myself deadlines for my writing. And to make sure I follow through, I’m going to post them here, on my blog, every Monday. See. See how I’m using my blog to help my writing? Clever? Okay, maybe not. And this might not work, but I’m going to give it a try.

So here’s this weeks Next Steps:

  • Renew my library card. I can’t believe my library card has expired. I spend so much time there and seem to take out a lot of books (so my library fines indicate) but I’ve been using the kids library cards. I tried to reserve some writing books, which you can’t reserve with a child’s library card, and was told I couldn’t until I came in to renew my card. So that’s first on my list, renew my card.
  • Finalize magazine stories. I’ve written two stories for two different children’s magazines and have done nothing with them. I need to review them and finalized them and send them out.
  • Revise my picture book manuscript. I need to revise and get some comments on a picture book story I’ve been working on.
  • Research the differences between easy reader/chapter books and middle grade books. I have another story idea that I really like, but I’m not sure if the material is too much for an EA book. Need to get a better handle on determining which route to go.

Okay, there it is, spelled out for me (and anyone else who’s reading). Hopefully by next Monday I will have accomplished these and be ready to set a new list of Next Steps. Wish me luck.

Write a Review Wednesday: One Moose, Twenty Mice

Welcome to another ‘Write a Review Wednesday‘, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week I wrote a review on  Carin Berger‘s book OK GO. And looking back, most of the books I’ve talked about have been picture books. So this week I thought I’d shine some light on books for the baby crowd.


Clare Beaton’s One Moose, Twenty Mice (published by Barefoot Books) offers a delightful twist to common concept board books. Starting with one moose and ending with twenty mice, children will delight in counting the colourful felt animals found on single and double page spreads. Along with the delightful horses and ducks, each page includes large numbers making for a fun way to reinforce number recognition.

For added fun, a repetitive phrase entices children to look for and find the orange cat hiding within the illustration. Not to worry, the cat isn’t hard to find, usually peeking out from behind the number or reaching in from just off the page.

This book has been a favourite for my kids for various stages in their young lives. As infants, the sturdy board book pages and colourful pictures delighted them as an introduction to reading. As toddlers and preschoolers they enjoyed counting the animals over and over again. We’ve read this book so many times that the words out of my kids mouths after counting the animals: ‘but where’s the cat?‘  Then squeals of joy when the find the cat’s eyes peeking or his paw reaching or his tail swishing on the page.

But where's the cat?

But where's the cat?

You can add One Moose, Twenty Mice to your own personal libary by buying it on You can also follow Barefoot Books on twitter (@liveBarefoot)

So, what’s your kids favourite book?

Write a Review Wednesday: OK GO

Aspiring writer of children fiction and blogger Tara Lazar started a meme entitled ‘Write a Review Wednesday‘ as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week I wrote a review on Elephant and Pig: I’m Invited to a Party, a new family favourite, specifically for my youngest daughter. This week I’m excited because we finally received Carin Berger‘s book (from Tara Lazar’s Going Green art contest).


okgoMy kids have a great fascination, determination to take care of and protect the Earth. Not because they’re thinking about their future, but just because it’s the right thing to do. Then we came across Carin Berger’s latest picture book OK GO, published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers (age 2-5 ).

In a world of GO! GO! GO! It’s time to STOP and find a new way.

The text may be simple but the story it tells is a powerful tale of making greener choices. Carin’s whimsical collages are made from recycled paper, illustrating further the stories message.

The repetitive text makes it easy for even the youngest readers to enjoy. And the story in OK GO doesn’t just stop at telling us we need to make a change. It goes a step further offering suggestions in clever rhyme like ‘Waste less, Jess’ or ‘Take a hike, Spike’. It demonstrates that change isn’t just for adults, but everyone can play their part. I know the message sticks because my kids recite the lines while walking to school. My kids know OK GO and it’s message by heart and you will too because it’s a delight to read.

Collage artwork constructed out of recycled paper

Collage artwork constructed out of recycled paper

Want to add this to your own home library? You can buy it from

And let me know what book your children like to read or you enjoy reading to them?