Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading



A young rabbit does not have to go to school that day because it is snowing and the bus is stuck.  The rabbit wants to go out to play right away, but the mother rabbit says that they must wait until it stops snowing.  Well, the snow just never seems to stop coming down.  Finally, though, that night, the snow tapers off and playtime joyfully begins.

Ms. Sakai paints ever so beautifully a cooped up child/rabbit who hungers for the time to get out in the snow and play.  She likes to use acrylic paints, oil pens, and charcoal.  Her books are a delight to read and ponder the art.

Reading Level:  3 – 5 Years

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2009
New York Public Library’s One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing, 2009
New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books, 2009
Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2009
BCCB Blue Ribbon Book 2009
Smithsonian Notable Book of 2009
Booklist Editors’ Choices for 2009

Author and Illustrator:
Komako Sakai was born and lives in Japan. After graduating from Tokyo’s National University of Fine Arts and Music, Miss Sakai worked as a designer of kimonos as well as in other Japanese traditional textiles.  She then began writing and illustrating children’s books and is currently one of the most popular author-illustrators in Japan.  She also illustrates for other authors.
I found an interview with some of her art there as well @    (Please click on the picture at the top of the interview as the detail is incredible showing Komako’s grasp of her subjects.)

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780545013215
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/2009
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)
Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading



Oh, what a delight!  The artwork is the story, although there are words–enough.

Emily gets and loses a balloon.  A second balloon is tied to her finger until she and her mother get home. The balloon is filled with helium so it ends up on the ceiling upon its release.  The mother then ties a spoon to the string.  Emily plays with her balloon all day until a strong wind whips it away and twists it around a branch of a tree.  It is now too high to retrieve, leaving Emily sad.  But her mother has a plan for tomorrow so Emily rests.

Ms. Sakai is an incredible artist and her books, including this, her first one in English, is so beautiful.  The pictures say so much.  There is one drawing viewed from the back of the couch.  Mother and Emily are doing something together that we cannot see.  Emily’s head is leaning on her mother and she is looking down.  It is from a priceless vantage point.  Each drawing is its own prize.  She works in acrylic, oil pencils, and charcoal.  The drawings are simple yet say it all.

Reading Level:  1 – 12 Years (actually…a book for all ages!)

ALA Notable Children’s Books 2007
Kirkus Reviews, Best Children’s Books of 2006, Best Early Chapter Books
Book Links, Best New Books for the Classroom
New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing 2006
Publishers Weekly, starred review
Booklist, starred review
Child magazine, Best Books of 2006
Horn Book Fanfare List, Best Books of 2006

Author and Illustrator:
Komako Sakai was born and lives in Japan. After graduating from Tokyo’s National University of Fine Arts and Music, Miss Sakai worked as a designer of kimonos as well as in other Japanese traditional textiles.  She then began writing and illustrating children’s books and is currently one of the most popular author-illustrators in Japan.  She also illustrates for other authors.
I found an interview with some of her art there as well @    (Please click on the picture at the top of the interview as the detail is incredible showing Komako’s grasp of her subjects.)

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780811852197
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 2/23/2006
  • Pages: 44
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.25 (h) x 0.50 (d)

1542687Original review was 2-16-2015

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading

PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON by Peter Yarrow and Leonard Lipton


This 50TH BIRTHDAY edition of the song written in 1959 by Peter Yarrow and Leonard Lipton is a delight for the eyes in this wonderful picture book.  It is a special reminder of a song that many (in my age bracket) sang and sang again and still do today.  Although the song has some sadness to it, this storybook version has a new ending.  Puff, the Magic Dragon was originally sung by Peter, Paul, and Mary in 1960.  They continued to sing it at concerts for years and years to come.

The song is the story.  The story is the song.  In this beautifully illustrated picture book, the song comes alive in a new way through Eric Puybaret’s eye-catching, unique artwork.  Each double-page scene is bold yet filled with detail, colorful yet subdued.  Each character is full of expression.  All of this gives way to a journey of the imagination to Honalee.

This edition has a CD with four songs (Puff twice) sung by Peter Yarrow and his daughter Bethany plus cellist Rufus Cappadocia.  The trio Peter, Bethany and Rufus can be found @

The book makes this a special version of a song I have loved for well over fifty years.  There have been over a million copies sold, while translated into fourteen languages.

Reading Level:  Age range: 3 – 5 Years

This is Peter Yarrow‘s picture book debut.  In 1959, Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton co-created the beloved song Puff, the Magic Dragon. As a member of the renowned trio Peter, Paul & Mary, Peter Yarrow earned an Emmy nomination for his animated TV specials based on Puff, the Magic Dragon. Among the many honors bestowed upon him, Yarrow is most proud of the Allard K. Lowenstein Award, which he received in 1982 for advancing the causes of human rights, peace, and freedom. He lives in Telluride, Colorado and New York City.  Mr. Yarrow can be found @

A website with the Peter, Paul, and Mary trio is @

Lenny Lipton is the inventor of the modern 3-D projection system used in cinemas worldwide and the author of four books on motion-picture technology. He received an award from the Smithsonian for his invention.  He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, three children, and a wide variety of animals.  Mr. Lipton can be found @

Eric Puybaret graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.  Puff, the Magic Dragon was his first book, and he has since gone on to illustrate several others, including The Nutcracker for Sterling, and a picture book edition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow with a musical interpretation by Judy Collins. Puybaret lives in Paris, France.  Some of his illustrations can be found @

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9781402747823
  • Publisher: Sterling
  • Publication date: 7/17/2007
  • Pages: 24
  • Product dimensions: 10.80 (w) x 11.92 (h) x 0.55 (d)

I reviewed “Puff” in February, 2014 on my first review blog before moving over here.


Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading



“Blue was a quiet color.”  Thus “One” begins.  All of the other colors and Blue get along very well… except for Red.  Red is a hothead and likes to bully Blue.  Blue is afraid of Red.  The other colors try to comfort him, but none of them stand up to Red.  Red just becomes more and more fearful to Blue as well as the others.  Then One comes along and helps the colors to stand strong, to stand together, and to make a difference.  I will leave “how” this happens unsaid for the story is just too good to give it all away.

“One” is a special book for many reasons – it helps children with bullying.  Yes, there are many books about bullying these days, but this one is truly unique and would work well for younger children to deal with this growing problem.  The book is also a teaching tool for learning to count and learning the primary and secondary colors.

Ms. Otoshi is also the illustrator.  The drawings/watercolors are very simple, yet are perfect expressions of what is going on in the story.

Kathryn Otoshi is the founder of KO Kids Books, a children’s book author and illustrator of at least five books now.  By day, she works at Robert Zemeckis’s award winning film company, ImageMovers Digital (Christmas Carol, Monster House). Prior to this, Otoshi worked at George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic (Star Wars) as the Graphic Design and Multimedia Art Director, where she led a team of designers to create hundreds of promotional pieces.  She has been a scholarship recipient of the Publishers Marketing Association and a guest speaker/panelist at many book venues, including the San Francisco Writers Conference, the Harbourfront Book Festival, and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (2010).  She lives in the San Francisco Bay area.
You can find her @
and here for an interview:

Reading Level: 4 – 8 Years

You will love this book!!

…as did many others by the many awards this book has won:

E. B. White Read Aloud Honor Book
Teacher’s Choice Award
Young Voices Foundation Award
Moonbeam Children’s Book Medalist
Mom’s Choice Award
Nautilus Gold Winner
IPPY Book Award (Independent Publishers)
Hicklebee’s Book of the Year
NCIBA Best Illustrated Award (NorCal Booksellers)
Reader Views Best Children’s Book
Flicker Tale Award

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780972394642
  • Publisher: KO Kids Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

I originally reviewed this fine book in January, 2014.

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading



So the story begins, “Little Owl lived with his Mommy in a tree house on the edge of the City Park.”  His mother made Little Owl an orange scarf which Little Owl was always trying to lose or get rid of for it was itchy, too long, and a color of orange that he just did not like.  But his mommy always managed to find the missing scarf and wanted him to wear it.  One day, Little Owl went on a field trip to the zoo with the scarf on, of course, but he returned without it.  Mommy Owl decided that letting Little Owl choose his own yarn and the color might work better so she did not try to find the missing scarf.  Little Owl chose a soft blue yarn and Mommy Owl knitted him a new scarf which he liked very much.  We do find out, through a picture, just where that orange scarf ended up and it leaves us with a smile.  This is a sweet story for the young ones.

The drawings are simple in black and white with dabs of two colors – orange and a turquoise-blue.  The simple illustrations fit this simple story so very well.

Reading Level: 3 months – 3 years

Originally from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Tatyana Feeney studied History of Art at the University of North Carolina, followed by Design at the Art Institute of Atlanta, before getting a BA in Illustration for Children’s Publishing from NEWI in Wales. She lives in Trim, County Meath with her husband, two children and small dog.  One place to find more of her art is @

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780449814116
  • Publisher: Borzoi Book, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books
  • Publication date: 6/11/2013 (originally published in 2012 in the UK by Oxford University Press)
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 9.90 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Original review was in February, 2014.

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading



RoseAleta Laurell takes a position as Director of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library in Lockhart, Texas, a small town with the oldest continuously operating library in Texas (built in 1899).

Before I continue with the review of this great true story, I need to tell you that this woman is now the Director of the Bell Whittington Public Library in Portland, Texas where I just happen to live.  Through a poster of books about books, this title caught my eye, making me want to find out about this crazy title.  In hot pursuit, I saw the name of the roof-bound librarian and recognized it.  With a bit of further research, I find that there are not two of these women with that same name running libraries in Texas.  This is my librarian…right here!!!  I LOVE IT!  Knowing my library would surely have a copy, I placed a hold on it, picking it up ASAP!

With that said now, I will continue my review:  This wonderfully illustrated book is about this librarian who grew up on a North Carolina tobacco farm two miles from the nearest paved road.  The town’s bookmobile would stop regularly on that paved road where RoseAleta would find books that opened up a whole new world to her and would eventually lead her to become a librarian.  The Dr. Eugene Clark Library, where she became director in 1989, may have been operating since 1899, but it was running way behind in the present digital age, let alone the future of the way libraries were heading.  The children’s department was nil, nada, niente.  Children did not come to this library, yet the town was full of them.  So she, in her unorthodox librarian non-“quiet please” ways, took the job seriously and began a major overhaul of this library.  Ms. Laurell began with updating the library: bringing in computers, free internet access, resources for the Spanish-speaking community, restoring and expanding this historic building.  And then…she needed to raise money for the children’s department.  This fund-raising campaign took her to the roof turret where she spent seven days and nights.  She took a tent, a chair, her laptop, and supplies.  She planned to stay there until the $20,000 was raised.  With only some resistance from the City Council and Mayor, the whole town quickly joined ranks with Ms. Laurell and the fund-raising began.  By the end of seven days, the town had raised almost double the goal.  She came down from the roof.  The new children’s department became a reality with great success. Children came for story times, to read books, to learn to use the computers.  They had a library to come to now where they felt wanted.

This is a book about one woman making a difference for a small Texas community.  It’s about a town filled with people of all ages who made a difference for their children, seeing the importance of a library for them and for future generations.  It’s about people working together to make that difference.  It’s about hope and standing up for what they believed in and for where they saw a need.  Knowing that it is a true story makes it all the better because things can happen when we work together towards goals.

Reading Level: 5 – 8 Years

Represented Texas on the 52 GREAT READS list at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., 2010
SHOW ME READERS AWARD final nominee, 2012-13

M. G. King is a children’s author, a wife, and mother of two boys.  She wrote Fizz & Peppers at the Bottom of the World which was nominated for the 2013 CYBIL Award.
She can be found @
and @

Stephen Gilpin illustrated this book with cartoon-like drawings, strong colors with nothing understated!  Stephen Gilpin is the award-winning illustrator of over 30 children’s books with clients that include Disney, Harper Collins, Scholastic and the Wall Street Journal.  He lives and works with his wife Angie in Hiawatha, Kansas.  He can be found @

RoseAleta Laurell can be found @  and
and be sure to look at the real photo at the bottom of this review.  

If I may, I will take you back to the Bell Whittington Public Library in Portland, Texas:  
This small town library in Portland, Texas was awarded two awards last year as our library has had many excellent changes happen since RoseAleta Laurell stepped into this library as Director:
Best Small Library in America 2013-Finalist (one of the top three!) – Library Journal’s Best Small Library in America award is sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and showcases exemplary work of libraries serving populations under 25,000 (our population is just over 15,000).
Texas Library Association’s “Libraries Change Communities” Award 2013

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780807545126
  • Publisher: Whitman, Albert & Company
  • Publication date: 9/1/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Original review was done FEBRUARY, 2014.


Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading



This is the story that became an Academy Award-Winning Best Animated Short Film by the same name, produced by William Joyce himself along with Brandon Oldenburg as Co-Director (and a Creative Partner @ Moonbot Studios with Mr. Joyce).


“Morris Lessmore loved words.
He loved stories.
He loved books.”

And so the story begins.  Mr. Lessmore’s life was orderly until a day the winds blew and scattered everything, even the very words of his books.  He finds himself uprooted for a time, yet eventually is led to a home (well…sort of a home) to live in for the rest of his life…a deserted library.  Morris is surrounded by books with bouncy legs and other books that flutter like birds. He interacts with them, reads them, and repairs them, making for an ideal retirement life for Morris Lessmore.  The books read to him at night and care for him as he ages.

The story behind the story begins with a tribute to the late Bill Morris, “the soft-spoken, dry-witted pioneer of library promotions.”  William Joyce’s home state, Louisiana, was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.  Through the recovery, Mr. Joyce saw, firsthand, the curative power of stories as he visited displaced children in shelters who were reading or being read to from the donated books.  Three other equally significant inspirations for this book were Buster Keaton, The Wizard of Oz, and Mr. Joyce’s love of books.

This story is so wonderfully unique as is the artwork of William Joyce and Joe Bluhm.  As Morris gives books to gray tone people, they soon are seen leaving in technicolor.  The power of a story, the love of books, the care of books, and the underlying message to keep libraries in our neighborhoods will keep this book on many-a-library shelf for a long time.  There is a depth to the story about love, loss, and eventual healing.  The book may be for children, but adults will love it as well and will also want to read and reread it with and without the children.

On the Moonbot website, on the short film page, it says, “’Morris Lessmore‘ is a story of people who devote their lives to books and books who return the favor.”  I would like to add that it is a story for those of us who devote our lives to books and reading and teaching others to read and to appreciate books.  As a retired primary-grade teacher and a children’s librarian, I have been blessed by this book (and film).

Reading Level:  Age range: 4 – 8 Years

The New York Times Bestseller list for picture books (including a debut at #1!)
Comstock Award for 2013 
Christopher Award for 2013
Southern Independent Booksellers Association (SIBA) Book Award for children’s books

William Joyce has achieved world-wide recognition as an author, illustrator and pioneer in the digital and animation industry.  He is a Creative Partner of Moonbot Studios.  Named by Newsweek magazine as “One of the 100 people to watch in the new millennium,” Mr. Joyce has been very involved in the world of digital animation from its full-scale inception at Pixar Animation. His projects have been produced by nearly every major film studio including Disney, Twentieth Century Fox and DreamWorks Animation.  A link is @

Joe Bluhm is also wonderfully creative.  He draws caricatures; he sketches, paints, and designs digital animations for film, as well as other digital artwork.  He also tells stories.  He is Art Lead at Moonbot Studios and can be found @ and

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9781442457027
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/19/2012
  • Pages: 56
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 11.80 (h) x 0.46 (d)



Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading


1699464A classic of classics!

Mr. & Mrs. Mallard are searching Boston and the surrounding areas for a place to build a nest.  They are going to have a family.  A quiet, serene island in the Charles River is where eight ducklings are born and bred.  But after some time when the ducklings are old enough, Mr. Mallard tells Mama duck that he is going back to the Boston Public Gardens and will meet her there with the ducklings in a week.  So, after a week, Mrs. Mallard, with eight little mallards in tow, head towards the Public Gardens.  They have to brave the busy Boston streets, traffic, pedestrians, and noise.  Crossing the streets is quite a hazard for the ducklings, but Michael the Policeman, a great friend of this duck family, comes to their aid.  He gets them across intersections and into the Gardens where they make a new home.  The young’s ones learn the way of this busy city garden park.

The book was written and illustrated in 1941 by Robert McCloskey who used his own life experiences to write such a book for he would see ducks in the Public Gardens as he walked to the art school each day.  The original art is done in sepia tones giving the book that old fashioned look with a classic appeal.    This wonderful book would win the Caldecott Medal in 1942 and become a classic for years to come.  Children are still reading it as are their parents, grandparents, great grandparents!

Awards:  Caldecott Medal 1942

Reading Level: 6 – 8 Years

Robert McCloskey (1914-2003) was a very talented man, not only as an artist and author, but he played several instruments, loved music, and invented things electrical and mechanical.  He wrote and illustrated many wonderful children’s books that have received honors and have endured.  He grew up in Hamilton, Ohio, and spent time in Boston where he attended Vesper George Art Achool, New York where he attended the National Academy of Design, and ultimately Maine, where he and his wife raised their two daughters.  As a professional artist, he received commissions, many awards, and exhibited his works in many fine galleries.  He was the first ever two-time Caldecott Medal winner, for Make Way for Ducklings and Time of Wonder.  Mr. McCloskey was also awarded Caldecott Honors for Blueberries for Sal, One Morning in Maine, and Journey Cake, Ho! by Ruth Sawyer.  He was declared a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000.  You can see some of his best-loved characters immortalized as statues in Boston’s Public Garden and Lentil Park in Hamilton, Ohio.  He dies at age 88.

Book Information

  • ISBN-13: 9780670451494
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1941
  • Series: Picture Puffin Books Series
  • Pages: 68
  • Product dimensions: 9.62 (w) x 12.32 (h) x 0.50 (d)

I originally reviewed this wonderful book January, 2014.


Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading


816866Originally published in 1939, this wonderful rhyming book is gearing up to celebrate its 75th birthday in 2014.  This wonderful book has been read and memorized by generations who fall in love with Madeline.  She is small for her age, a boarder in a boarding school in Paris run by nuns, rather precocious, and a bit ornery, I’d say!  She is courageous, expresses herself, is loved and loves those around her.   The rhyming text and the delightful art set the stage for a children’s picture book that just doesn’t go away and probably never will for generations to come.  The story was inspired by Mr. Bemelmans’ personal stay in a hospital on an island off France.

When I was a young girl, my sister, three years younger, took to this book in the mid to late 1950s.  She memorized the whole book, acted out the scenes as she told us the story over and over again.  Funny, I can still recite the beginning of this book because of my sister: “In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. In two straight lines they broke their bread and brushed their teeth and went to bed.  They smiled at the good and frowned at the bad and sometimes they were very sad.  They left the house at half past nine in two straight lines in rain or shine — the smallest one was Madeline.”

The artwork was painted by Ludwig Bemelmans in bright colors and broad strokes across the pages.  The pictures are simple and yet tell the story so well.  The book’s paintings are printed by lithography.  Mr. Bemelmans loved to illustrate books, magazine covers for The New Yorker, painted murals at the Carlyle Hotel in New York, and so much more.  His work is on display on the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Museé National d’Art of Paris.  You can find more about Mr. Bemelmans and Madeline @

Mr. Bemelmans grandson, John Bemelmans Marciano, is carrying on the Madeline stories with new adventures of his own for this special little girl.

Reading Level: 3 – 8 Years

Award:  Caldecott Honor Book

Ludwig Bemelmans (1898-1962), is most noted for his Madeline books, six of which were published from 1939-1961.  A seventh was discovered after his death and published posthumously in 1999.  He also was known as a painter, an illustrator, and a writer for both children and adults.  A sequel to this Madeline was the Caldecott Medal winner, Madeline’s Rescue.

Book Information:

  • Publisher: The Viking Press, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1939, renewed copyright in 1967
  • Series: Madeline Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 48
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Originally reviewed by me October, 2013.

Posted in Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Reading


188173This Aesop’s Tale is a visual tale, a feast for the eyes.  Very few words.

The exceptional art of Mr. Pinkney drew me right into the story of a lion and a mouse.  Page after page, without skipping a beat, the art is the tale: lion’s rest is disturbed by mouse.  Mouse becomes probable next meal for lion.  Lion releases mouse.  Lion gets caught in poachers’ trap.  Mouse hears roar and comes to the rescue.  The only words on a scarce few pages are the sounds of an owl, the lion, and the mouse as he gnaws on the ropes.

Often we see the moral of the tale as the small, the meek triumphing over the mighty, the big.  But Mr. Pinkney points out in his “Notes” that “both animals are equally large at heart: the courageous mouse, and the lion who must rise above his beastly nature to set his small prey free.”  This version is absolutely beautiful for the details of every drawing are a visual delight.  The expressions on the faces of this disproportionate pair are priceless.

Reading Level:  3 – 5 Years

Jerry Pinkney is an award-winning artist.  This book is no exception.  “Jerry Pinkney is one of children’s literature’s most time-honored artists. He has been illustrating children’s books for over 40 years and has more than 75 books to his credit. He has the rare distinction of being the recipient of five Caldecott Honor books. He has also won the Coretta Scott King Award five times, the Coretta Scott King Honor three times, and was nominated for the prestigious international Hans Christian Anderson Award.”   He lives with his wife, author, Gloria Jean in Westchester County, NY.
The art in this book are done with pencil, watercolor, colored pencil on paper.
You can find Mr. Pinkney @

If you happen to be in Atlanta, GA, an exhibition called “Witness: The Art of Jerry Pinkney” will be on display from 10/12/2013 through 1/05/2014 …

Awards for “The Lion and the Mouse”:
2010 Caldecott Medal winner
2009 Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner

Book Information:

  • ISBN-13: 9780316013567
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Pages: 40
  • Product dimensions: 11.20 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Originally reviewed by me October, 2013.