Posts from the ‘Picture Books’ Category

You have to write! by Janet Wong Can “Inspire a New Generation of Writers”

I’m hoping that this book will inspire a new generation of writers to tap into their own everyday experiences and family stories! (this book was dedicated to Carol Jago, who invited me to the conference where I sat and listened to teachers who convinced me I needed to write it) – Janet Wong, on my Facebook writing and publishing page.

I was looking for an additional author of contemporary realistic fiction to add to a study module for my university children’s literature class, so I asked around to a group of authors and experts. One name came through with resounding recommendations: Janet Wong. After experiencing her book You Have to Write, I can see why so many people love Janet’s work.

It’s a class assignment. But you have nothing to write about. All the other kids seem to have something to tell because they start in right away. What can you do? Stop and think. No one else can tell your stories — about your family, your dog or cat. No one else can tell how it was when your library book got soaked in the rain.

But what if you don’t like what you write? There are all sorts of ways to change it, to make it better. Keep on playing with your words, putting them together in different ways. You want whatever you write to be good. It will get better and better as you work on it.

This is an encouraging book, sympathetically illustrated by Teresa Flavin’s charming pictures, for all young readers who worry when they’re told to write something.

The work has great potential to aid young learners and address some common struggles. It can help them find their own voices.

Janet’s voice was developed through a fascinating and highly unlikely path: Her career switch was so dramatic that she was featured on a segment of The Oprah Winfrey Show. When Wong left her job as Director of Labor Relations at Universal Studios in Hollywood, she dreamed of becoming a children’s book author. Janet tells her story in this video.

According to School Library Journal:

Through free-verse poetry, Wong targets a group of youngsters looking for good topics for a writing assignment. “You want it to be good, to make us cry or bust up laughing when the room is quiet.” They are encouraged to look around, and not to beJanet discouraged by the worldliness or experiences of others. “Wait. Did you forget who you are? Who else can say what you have seen? Who else can tell your stories-.” A photo albumlike page shows a variety of pets, holidays, hobbies, vacations, and family outings that could be possible topics. “Reach inside. Write about the dark times. -Write about the bright times. -Take your mind for a walk back to this morning, back to yesterday-.” Examples are given of parents fighting, a wet library book growing mildew, childhood fears of storms, and taking out the trash. For “Weave them together- half of Draft 1, a word from Draft 4, a whole line from number 5. Try. Because you have to write, and you want it to be good,” the illustration shows each child laying out stretches of many drafts on the floor. The simple realistic gouache paintings are rather ordinary but appropriate for the “writing from life” philosophy that is espoused.

“You Have to Write is a must for every teacher who teaches writing, wrote Petra Siprian. “It is perfect for generating ideas. Students will identify with the struggle of what to write.”

Help Children Explore the World of Books and Develop a Love of Reading

PeteHarperCollins’s I Can Read! books and PBS KIDS are collaborating on a national I Can Readathon campaign. Now in its second year, the campaign is designed to get kids learning every day through fun, engaging activities that encourage them to explore the world of books and develop a love of reading.

From now through spring 2016, families are encouraged to visit participating retailer events to take part in the I Can Readathon program. Children attending these events will receive activities from PBS KIDS, along with an I Can Readathon reading log, certificate, and activities designed around I Can Read! books. Widely recognized as the premier line of beginning readers, with hundreds of titles, including many award-winners, I Can Read! books have taught generations of children how to read.

In addition, HarperCollins has made a donation of over 8,000 books to First Book, a nonprofit organization that provides access to new books for children in need. Through a distribution program with PBS KIDS, the books donated to First Book will be provided to PBS member stations’ local partners, including local Head Starts, Title I elementary schools, United Ways, public libraries, local housing authorities, and others. The distribution will ensure that the books reach kids who are most in need of reading resources. To date, First Book has distributed more than 130 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada.

“We are thrilled to be working with PBS KIDS,” says Matt Schweitzer, Senior Director, Integrated Marketing, HarperCollins Children’s Books. “They are one of the most trusted brands by educators and parents and a supportive team in helping to spread the word about the importance of early reading.”

“PBS KIDS is committed to providing media resources to support children’s love of reading,” says Lesli Rotenberg, General Manager, Children’s Media, PBS. “We know that parents are looking for ways to support their children’s learning and development, so we’re thrilled to be working with partners like HarperCollins’s I Can Read! books and PBS member stations to provide families, especially those in underserved communities, with fun activities and content that encourage literacy.”

By pledging to read every day, new readers grow more confident and can enjoy reading on their own. For a complete list of participating retailers and PBS partner events, parents can like I Can Read! books on Facebook or visit

Into the Woods intertwines Brothers Grimm fairy tales and follows them to explore the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests

“That joyous rarity, a work of sophisticated artistic ambition and deep political purpose that affords nonstop pleasure.”–William A. Henry III, Time

intothewoods_bannerInto the Woods is a musical that includes lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine. It debuted in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre in 1986, and premiered on Broadway on November 5, 1987.

This picture book-adaptation of the Broadway musical brings together many favorite characters in one tale, including the childless baker and his wife, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack with his beanstalk. Talbott’s adaptation retains the flavor of Sondheim’s lyrics, and those who know the score will find themselves singing along. All ages. – Publishers Weekly

Bernadette Peters’s performance as the Witch and Joanna Gleason’s portrayal of the Baker’s Wife brought acclaim to the production during its original Broadway run. Into the Woods won several Tony Awards, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Actress in a Musical (Joanna Gleason), in a year dominated by The Phantom of the Opera. The musical has been produced many times, with a 1988 US national tour, a 1990 West End production, a 1997 tenth anniversary concert, a 2002 Broadway revival, a 2010 London revival and in 2012 as part of New York City’s outdoor Shakespeare in the Park series.

The musical intertwines mainly the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales and follows them to explore the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. The main characters are taken from “Little Red Riding Hood”, “Jack and the Beanstalk”, “Rapunzel”, and “Cinderella”, as well as several others. The musical is tied together by an original story involving a childless baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family, their interaction with a witch who has placed a curse on them, and their interaction with other storybook characters during their journey.

Enhancing the Early Reading Experience: Books, Strategies, and Concepts

Selecting books for young children can not only be a fun and rewarding experience but also a little daunting, considering the number of books available. Frequent collaboration between myself and a public librarian has produced valuable insights about how to begin reading with very young children.

In an article I wrote for The Reading Teacher in November of 2011, with Nampa, Idaho Children’s Services Librarian Laura Abbott, suggestions are offered for how parents and educators can choose books that will encourage and motivate lifelong readers.

Six research-based areas defined by the Every Child Ready to Read @ your library program provide the framework: vocabulary, narrative connections, print motivation, print awareness, letter knowledge, and phonological awareness. Parents and teachers can evaluate various books based on this model. Our article offers several descriptions of books, and strategies for instruction and engagement are included with each.

Every Child Ready to Read @ your library is a parent education initiative.

Traditionally, early literacy programs at libraries have focused on children. Storytimes and other programs might model strategies that parents can use to develop early literacy skills, but parent education is not typically the primary intent.

The Public Library Association (PLA) and Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) concluded that public libraries could have an even greater impact on early literacy through an approach that focused on educating parents and caregivers. If the primary adults in a child’s life can learn more about the importance of early literacy and how to nurture pre-reading skills at home, the effect of library efforts can be multiplied many times.Teaching parents and other caregivers how to support the early literacy development of their children is the basis of Every Child Ready to Read @ your library. When the first edition of ECRR was introduced in 2004, the focus on educating parents and caregivers was a significantly different approach for many libraries; one that certainly has proven its value.

This updated and expanded second edition of Every Child Ready to Read @ your libraryprovides a new curriculum and materials to continue the effort, supporting parents and caregivers with the early literacy development of their children birth to age five.

According to the American Library Association, the program continues a commitment to research and introduces a powerful concept of constrained and unconstrained skill sets to our conversations with parents and caregivers. The 2nd edition utilizes natural language and a flexible format to encourage a more interactive way for library staff to work with caregivers and to create new ways for parents to interact with their children.

Mary Englebreit’s Nutcracker is a Sweet Delight to Read

 The Nutcracker is one of the world’s favorite holiday stories, and Mary Engelbreit offers her vision of that joyful night, creating a picture book filled with movement and vibrant detail that even the youngest child will enjoy.–From the Back Cover
In Mary Engelbreit’s Nutcracker, Marie, the NutcraNutcrackercker Prince, and the Sugar Plum Fairy will enchant readers in this freshly imagined holiday classic by New York Times bestseller Mary Engelbreit, now in paper-over-board format for the first time. On Christmas Eve, Marie receives a wooden nutcracker from her beloved uncle. Then something magical happens . . . her toy nutcracker transforms into a handsome prince and whisks Marie off to the fantastical Toyland on a winter adventure she’ll never forget. Mary Engelbreit’s delightful interpretation of the timeless Christmas story makes this Nutcracker truly beautiful to behold
YPP Reviewer Quinn writes:
Mary Engelbreit’s Nutcracker is a keeper.  Mary’s Nutcracker is filled with her well-known and  beautifully drawn, detailed pictures.   I love the details Mary puts into her pictures, from the beautiful patterns on the clothing, furniture, and wallpaper, to the variety of things to be seen in each picture.   The best part of her pictures is that no one pattern or piece of the picture overwhelms the others; which makes it a pleasure to stop and examine each picture.  Each picture tells a story by itself, while also contributing to the overall story.   I enjoyed the flow of the story in this book as well with just the right amount told on each page.  Mary tells the story in a way that children will understand and appreciate.  I believe this story will appeal not only to children, but to people of all ages.

OLIVIA and the Ice Show: A Lift-the-Flap Story (Olivia TV Tie-in)

 cvr9781442420830_9781442420830_lgJoin Olivia as she practices for an ice skating spectacular in this charming storybook with flaps.

Cinderella on Ice is coming to Olivia’s town, and she can’t wait to be the lucky girl chosen to skate side by side with the star of the show, Sonya Spencer. But first, Olivia needs to practice. Lift-the-flaps of OLIVIA and the Ice Show: A Lift-the-Flap Story (Olivia TV Tie-in) to see Olivia transform into a show skater!

The Olivia book series was inspired by Ian Falconer’s niece, Olivia. “I was just entranced by her,” he stated. “I wanted to make a little present for her, so I started working on the Olivia book.” Although the inspiration for the Olivia series originally came from the author’s niece, Falconer drew his ideas for the design of the pig from a different Olivia; Olivia Babcock. When first asked about the source of this illustratory inspiration at the “Kidz book buzz”

Children’s Book Tour in Wisconsin, Falconer was quoted as saying: “As all artists, I find it easier to create illustrations when I base them on my surrounding reality, rather than to draw something pulled fully out of the imagination. I revised the design for Olivia the Pig for several weeks until I incidentally met a girl on whom I could base the design with minimal alterations even necessary. The fact that her name was also Olivia was purely coincidental” Falconer laughed.

The series is different from many children’s picture books because of its stark minimalism. Inspired by the style of Dr. Seuss, Falconer chose to draw uncluttered images in black and white with the occasional splash of red, along with the insertion of real artwork by famous artists-Degas and Pollock, for example. Each book in the series explores the use of another signature color in addition to the original black, white and red images.

Tina Gall is an award-winning author who has worked in children’s publishing for twenty years. She has written more than sixty children’s books and currently resides in Throggs Neck, New York.

Uncle Si the Christmas Elf Work Hard, Nap Hard

Duck the halls! This boouncle-si-the-christmas-elf-9781481418218_lgk and doll set starring Uncle Si of Duck Dynasty® captures the true message of Christmas and makes for a perfect present—to either give or receive!

In Uncle Si the Christmas Elf Work Hard, Nap Hard, Uncle Si plays the part of an elf in order to help Santa Claus to save one little boy’s Christmas. This humorous, heartwarming picture book is told in verse that’s true to Uncle Si’s unique way of spinning a tale. And kids will love displaying their doll of Uncle Si, the Christmas elf—who is dressed in his own special elf costume!

Si Robertson, one of the stars of A&E®’s Duck Dynasty®, has worked and hunted for Duck Commander since retiring from the United States Army in 1993. When he’s not napping, Si spends his time overseeing the quality of the reeds that are made for the Duck Commander calls and working with his brother Phil to prepare for the next duck season. Si lives in West Monroe, Louisiana, with his wife, Christine.
Just got our Si Elf and looking foward to making this a fun part of our family Christmas tradition. Thank you Si for making this book and thank you for taking the stand to share the true reason for the season! We love it!
As soon as I saw this I knew I had to have it. My granddaughter loves her Elf On The Shelf and we have such fun with it from Thanksgiving until after Christmas that I know I will be able to create all kind of Elf magic using the Uncle Si Elf along with her beloved Sweetie Pie!Imagination is a wonderful thing.
This is hysterical. We are an avid “Elf on the Shelf” House so Uncle Si was a natural. I took the book with me the afternoon it came, so I could read it while waiting for the dentist. My dentist had to order his set right then and there. Well worth it.

“Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”

–Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

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