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

A CHILD OF BOOKS by Oliver Jeffries and Sam Winston


by Oliver Jeffries and Sam Winston

She calls herself “a child of books.”  She lives for reading.  She goes to the home of a small boy, her travel companion who has yet to understand these things called “reading” and “imagination.”  The two children embark on an incredible voyage of discovery.  The two of them head out to find oceans, mountains, castles, monsters, the world itself to be filled with words from forty children’s classic stories and lullabies.


The landscapes are typographical, where climbing up sentence steps and climbing down a rope of words to escape a monster are part of the adventures. They sleep and dream on a cloud of words. The passages from masterworks such as Little Women, The Wind in the Willows, Great Expectations and Treasure Island form a very literal and beautiful landscape of adventure.

One’s imagination can run wild across the make-believe mountains or through the forests of fairy tales.  This is a most imaginative book to encourage reading and the pursuit of all types of stories, poetry, lullabies.  The girl’s delight in reading and books inspires us all through this delightful adventure.  It opens doors for our imaginations to be free and run.  It encourages the storyteller in each of us, as well as invites our creative selves to push those walls beyond what we know is possible in order to illustrate our stories.


This is truly a book for all ages although it gives the age range as 4 – 9 years old.


Bologna Ragazzi Award 2017


Oliver Jeffries, author of The Day the Crayons Quit, is from Belfast, Northern Ireland, and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.  Not only is he an author, but an artist as well.  He has won many awards for his books.  His paintings have been shown in London, New York, and Berlin.  We can find him @


Sam Winston loves words.  He believes language not only carries messages from one person to another, but language and words can be a visual form of communication. He uses a variety of approaches including drawing, performance and poetry to accomplish this.  He has had his works shown in museums and galleries such as Tate Britain, the British Library, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., MoMA NYC and Stanford University, among many others.  He lives and works in London. We can find him @

The book is published or contracted to publish in 17 foreign editions around the world.

Book Information:


Publisher: Candlewick Press

Publication date: 09/06/2016

Pages: 40

Product dimensions: 10.40(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.50(d)

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


7712680Illustrator: G. Brian Keras

Miss Bingo, the Flamingo, is the children’s librarian.  She wears red round glasses (similar to my tortoise shell ones!!), a green hat with a yellow flower.  She is quite the sight!  The children are animals and ready for story time.

Ms. Bingo stands in a pond of water, bookshelves around the edge while the children sit on the grass.  Ducks, a skunk, a crocodile, a fox and a mouse, an owl and a penguin listen, get up and dance, exercise to the rhythm and rhyming of Ms. Bingo’s story time.  She reads Mother Goose nursery rhymes set to her own jingle.

This little book is built on total interaction.  I am just imagining the preschoolers and toddlers who came to my story times (as children’s librarian) reaching up and bending low, marching and walking, wiggling and squiggling, flapping and clapping right along with this delightfully fun and rhymed story time book.  As the children come and leave, some have library books in hand.

Age Range:  4 – 8 Years

Judy Sierra was born in Washington DC, growing up in Virginia.  Her father was a photographer, her mother a school librarian.  They read to her every day.  She began writing and illustrating her own books when she was seven.  During the summer after her fourth grade year, Judy decided to read all of the children’s books in her local library.  She began in fiction, but, by the letter D, she felt there were too many books that were not right for her. The librarian suggested that she switch to the 398 section—folklore and fairy tales. She loved those books so much that many years later she went to UCLA and got a Ph.D. in Folklore.  Her anthologies of folktales have received awards and accolades including seven Children’s Choice Awards from the International Reading Association/Children’s Book Council, two Aesop Awards from the American Folklore Society, and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Prize from the Association of Booksellers for Children.
Judy attended American University, B.A., 1968; California State University—San Jose (now San Jose State University), M.A., 1973; University of California—Los Angeles, Ph.D.
Judy Sierra worked as a children’s librarian, then a puppeteer. She traveled all over the United States, putting on shows with hand puppets and shadow puppets for children. She visited schools to teach children how to write scripts, make puppets, rehearse, and perform for an audience.
As an author, Judy has written many children’s books as well as a number of adult books.  She writes original tales in rhyme.  Some of her books have been listed as Notable Books by the American Library Association: Wild About Books, Tasty Baby Belly Buttons, Thelonius Monster’s Sky-High Fly Pie, and two–Antarctic Antics and Wild About Books—have been New York Times picture book bestsellers.  She has received many other awards as well.
She is married and has one son, living in Portland, Oregon.  You can find Judy Sierra @



G. Brian Karas was born in Milford, CT.  In 1979 he graduated from Paier School of Art in Hamden, CT where he decided that illustrating children’s books what what he wanted to do. From 1979 to 1982 he worked at Hallmark Cards as a greeting card artist in the Humorous Department. He moved to New York in 1982 and became a freelance artist.  He has written and illustrated many books, many of which have won awards.  He has illustrated for Cynthia Rylant, Denise Fleming, and many others.

He lives in the Hudson Valley of New York. He can be found @



Book Information

ISBN-13: 9781481418515
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date: 07/05/2016
Pages: 32
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 11.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Posted in Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, Book, Book Review, Children's, Classic, Middle Readers, Picture Book, Poetry, Reading, Young Adult

POEMS TO LEARN BY HEART by Caroline Kennedy


This is a collection of almost 200 poems, a companion to “A Family of Poems,” Caroline Kennedy’s New York Times #1 Bestseller from 2005.  This beautiful volume is filled with poetry of all sorts: about one’s self, family, friendship, and love.  There are poems about sports and games, about school.  Nonsensical poetry, poems about fairies, ogres, and witches are included too.  There are deeply touching poems about war, poetry about nature, Bible verses, and so much more are scattered together and throughout this fine book.

“Poets distill life’s lessons into the fewest possible words.  But those tiny packages of thought contain worlds of images and experiences and feelings.”  Caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy writes about the importance of memorization of poetry in her introduction.  “If our circumstances change and things seem to be falling apart, we can recall a poem that reassures us. If we find ourselves in unfamiliar or frightening surroundings, a poem can remind us that others have journeyed far and returned safely home.  If we learn poems by heart, we will always have their wisdom to draw on, and we gain understanding that no one can take away.”

As a Bible verse is memorized and tucked into my heart, even if only in part, it will be there when I need it the most.  Poetry can be a similar strength in a weaker time.

This anthology has works of art by well known poets from the past such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.  They remind me of poetry I once read, maybe even memorized for a class.  Geoffrey Chaucer’s General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales is even etched into this book. (I read the whole of The Canterbury Tales when I was in high school from the Old English translation, no less, each night for homework, translating it into “readable” English for Senior English class/Mrs. Lee!  I recall the assignment well.  I did not tuck any of that away for those weaker moments, I am afraid!)  Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, along with Ogden Nash, Carl Sandburg, and many others remind parents of poems they may have memorized or read.

Poetry by A.A. Milne, Nikki Giovanni, Shel Silverstein, Jane Yolen, and Jack Prelutsky represents some of the newer poets yet each stands tall among those of years gone by.

Caroline Kennedy worked regularly with the DreamYard Preparatory School in the Bronx who authored a lengthy poem (or more) in this book as well.  These young people are the DreamYard Slam Team.  She dedicates the book to them and their futures.

The watercolor paintings of Jon J. Muth are gentle and excellent for each and every page, each and every poem.  As one example, on page 35, the Bible verse, Micah 6:8, is written upon an array of blues suggesting the heavenly realm spread over the double-page:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Yes, Bible verses can also poetry.

This is another fine collection from Caroline Kennedy.  She is an advocate for poetry as she was brought up with it in her family.  They shared poetry at gatherings of the whole Kennedy clan as well as amongst their own smaller family.  Caroline said her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy, loved poetry and encouraged her children to engage with it, to memorize it.  Rose Kennedy, Caroline’s grandmother, was another encourager along this creative avenue.

Reading Level: Preschool and up


Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is a lawyer, author, education advocate, and lifelong supporter of the arts.  Ms. Kennedy attended Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, England from 1975-1976. She earned a B.A. in Fine Arts from Radcliffe College at Harvard University in 1980. Ms. Kennedy received her J.D. from Columbia University Law School in 1988.  She is the Ambassador to Japan from the United States of America.

She is the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis , sister to John Kennedy.

She has written many books and articles, subjects ranging from legal issues, family and children, the Kennedy family, and poetry.


Jon J Muth is an American artist, born and grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He loved to draw as a boy, and he also painted. His mother was an art teacher and took him to museums all over the US.  He studied stone sculpture in Japan; paintings, prints and drawings in Austria, Germany, and England.  Most of his education as an artist came from an informal apprenticeship with fine artists.

“My work in children’s books really grew out of a desire to explore what I was feeling as a new father,” says Muth. “I was working in comics and that is a natural forum for expressions of angst and questioning one’s place in the universe. When the children came it became important to say other things about the world. With the birth of my children, there was a kind of seismic shift in where my work seemed appropriate.”

Jon Muth has illustrated (and written some) picture books of high acclaim.  They are beloved around the world.

Muth lives in upstate New York with his wife and four children. Jon can be found @ or on Pinterest or @ RMichelsonGalleries  or  for many paintings from this book.

Book Information

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; First Edition edition (March 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423108051
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423108054
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds



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



A slumber party…a first sleepover for Clement, the rabbit…with his friends, Jean, the elephant, and Alan Alexander, the bear.   They jump on the bed, dance, play hide-and-seek, eat, and so much more.  Just what we would want at our own slumber party!

At bedtime, finally, Maggie, the girl who lives with Clement, reads them bedtime stories and has them tell what they are thankful for.

This is a sweet, simple story that leaves you with a tug of happiness and a smile.  Nothing heavy at all and some humor tucked in around the edges makes this a perfect bedtime story.

The illustrations are done in pen and ink, pencil, and watercolor on handmade paper.  Each page is simple and uncluttered yet each is a page of colorful art.

Age Range:  3 – 6 Years


Patrick McDonnell

In 1994 Patrick McDonnell created the comic strip MUTTS, which now appears in over 700 newspapers in 20 countries. MUTTS comic strip has received numerous awards.

In 2005, McDonnell began a children’s book career. His first children’s book, The Gift of Nothing, quickly became a New York Times Best Seller.  To name just two others, in 2007, Hug Time was another New York Times Best Seller.  Me…Jane, a biography of the young Jane Goodall, was a 2012 Caldecott Honor winner.  Many more children’s books have been written and illustrated by Mr. McDonnell.

McDonnell also had a successful career as a freelance illustrator.  “McDonnell’s website,, promotes his animal- and earth-friendly philosophy. Consistent with McDonnell’s concern for the environment, all of the MUTTS books are printed on recycled paper. He and his wife Karen O’Connell are vegetarian and happily reside with Amelie, their rescue Jack Russell terrier, and Not Ootie, their formerly feral cat.” ***

Mr. McDonnell can also be found on Twitter @MUTTScomics, on facebook @





Book Information:


Publisher:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publication date:10/06/2015


Product dimensions:7.20(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.50(d)


*** from his website section “About Patrick”

Posted in Book, Book Review, Middle Readers, Poetry, Reading


inside out

This award-winning story is told from Ha’s perspective in prose of somewhat broken English, yet typed in a poetic format.  It is easy to read, short lines, few words on each page, every one to three pages is a new day.  The story begins in Saigon where Ha, her mother, and three older brothers live.  Ha’s father has gone missing in action.  The family is trying to hold onto hope while Vietnam is filled with war and strife.  The war has not yet come to Saigon.

The author’s firsthand experiences as an immigrant, torn a way from her native land of Vietnam when she was ten years old is the structure upon which this novel is based.

For one year, we follow Ha’s thoughts, emotions, and actions, written into her diary.  In the beginning, Saigon seems far from the war zone so life seems fairly normal from a ten year old’s eyes and heart.  She knows and loves this city.  The disappearance of her father as he serves in the South Vietnamese army brings the war much closer to Ha’s heart, yet she still goes about her days.  The Vietnam War quickly moves closer to Saigon and the family must flee.

We follow Ha as she boards a ship to the United States, eventually landing in Alabama. Living there brings on a whole new set of problems for Ha.  She is young and vulnerable as an immigrant.  Bullying and teasing are a daunting  reality for Ha, yet there are others who truly care about Ha and her family.  Caring comes through an American teacher as well as from the man who “sponsored” them.

The story seems and feels so real.  This is the diary of a girl in an extremely difficult period of her young life.  Thanhha Lai writes from personal life events, placing some of those into Ha’s hands.  Her words are written superbly bringing a story of what a child, a ten year old, experiences in having to flee her native country and only home she has ever known.

The ESL teacher who cares about Ha and her family is real for me.  I was an ESL teacher to sixty elementary-aged children for a number of years during my teaching career.  There were thirteen languages spoken among those sixty children.  Even the children could not communicate very well at first with one another.  The language barrier was HUGE!  It was vital that the children learned the language of their new country because they became the bridge for the parents in many cases.  The children took their English lessons home each day to teach their parents and others in the neighborhoods where they found themselves.  Immigrants from many Far Eastern countries, Mexico, Central America, and even one child from Romania were among my children.  See how I still call them “my children.”  I just loved them and wanted the best for them as they had lost so much.

English is a tough language to learn.  There are so very many exceptions to the rules, so many words that sound alike but mean different things.  So much to try to understand.

Ha writes:

“August 30

Fourth Rule

Some verbs

switch all over

just because.

I am

She is

They are

He was

They were

Would be simpler

if English

and life were logical.”

“September 30

Spelling Rules


the spelling changes

when adding an s.

Knife becomes knives.


a c is used

instead of a k,

even if

it makes more sense

for cat to be spelled kat.


a y is used

instead of an e,

even if 

it makes more sense

for moldy to be spelled molde.

Whoever invented English

should have learned 

to spell.”

And there are many more delightful insights into the language I call mine.

This window into a ten year old’s shattered and changing life is filled with introspection and insight into what children go through when we, as adults, are busy trying to care for them and handle everything else, living in the stresses of war, emigrating, loss of a husband, and so much more.  The children are going through their own battles and have years ahead of them in which to live with these life-changing events in their own ways.  With our world of today (2016) filled with war-torn countries, families fleeing for their lives, fleeing to safety and hope, this one year from a girl’s heart, soul, and mind gives the reader a real glimpse into the lives of many we may have in our own neighborhoods.


I wake up with


zipping through

my gut.

…It helps that

the morning air glides cool

like a constant washcloth

against my face.

Reading Level: 8 – 12 years


Thanhha Lai was born in Saigon, Vietnam.  After the Vietnam War in 1975, her family immigrated to Montgomery, Alabama.  She currently lives north of New York City.

“Most importantly, I’ve started a not-for-profit organization called Viet Kids Inc. to buy bicycles for poor students in Vietnam.”

You can find Ms. Lai here.

A second novel has recently been published and is a bestseller too:  Listen, Slowly


  • National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, 2011
  • Newbery Honor, 2012
  • New York Times Bestseller
  • Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor for Older Children, 2012
  • ALA Notable Children’s Book 2012, Middle
  • Booklist 2011 Editors’ Choice, Books for Youth, Fiction, Middle Reader
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Books of 2011
  • Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books 2011, Fiction
  • SLJ Best Books of 2011, Fiction
  • Booklist Lasting Connections of 2012, Social Studies
  • Notable Children’s Book in the English Language Arts, 2012
  • CCBC Choices, 2012
  • Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2012, World History & Culture

Book Information

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (January 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061962791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061962790
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.6 inches



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



The Woods have done it again!  Their classic, “The Napping House,” has a companion.  Rhyming and rhythmic text merrily gallops along the pages, in a similar fashion as the original.  Due to the full moon, though, it works in reverse.

So it begins: “There is a house,

a full-moon house,

where everyone is restless.”

Most of the characters are the same.  Granny, the child, the dog, a cat, a mouse, and a cricket (instead of the flea).  They are sleepless, fidgety, playful, prowling, worried, and chirping, respectively, but not cozy, snoring, dreaming, dozing, snoozing, nor napping!

Don Wood is the illustrator, using the same vivid blues and warm tones so we have this feeling that there is something quite familiar, that we just might know this book, yet we do NOT!  It is great fun in a whole new way!

Reading Level: 4 – 8 Years


Audrey Wood is the author of many beloved books for children, including the bestselling classic The Napping House, Caldecott Honor Book King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, Heckedy Peg, Piggies, The Big Hungry Bear, and Piggy Pie Po, all of which were illustrated by her husband, Don Wood.  She has written and illustrated others as well.  All can be found @ their website which includes a video of this couple talking about this book. They are on Twitter too @AudreyWoodBooks


Don Wood is the illustrator of many books for children, including The Napping House, Caldecott Honor Book King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, Heckedy Peg, Piggies, and Piggy Pie Po, plus he wrote and illustrated Into the Volcano. The Woods live in both California and Hawaii.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has a website for this couple @ HMHBooks/The Napping House.

Book Information:


Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication date:09/01/2015


Product dimensions:9.10(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.50(d)




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

THIS OLD VAN by Kim Norman


Do you recall the rhyming, counting song, “This old man, he plays one…?”  Of course you do!!  I know, you will be humming it for the next hour or two and be thinking about me in maybe a not-so-nice way!!  Sorry!

This cute and fun vehicle-counting book will take us, of the “hippie” generation, down a nostalgic highway with Grandma and Grandpa in their flower-covered, colorful VW bus.

This pair is invited to a special event of their grandson’s and told not to be late.  They pack up and head off across the miles.  All the while, we wonder if they will get to where they are going on time.

To the tune of “This Old Man,” we sing the words to this counting-the-miles as they merrily tootle along the road passing by many a vehicle.  We count one train, two construction vehicles, three tractors, four semis, five vintage cars, six dump trucks, seven pickup trucks with horse trailers, eight new cars on a car hauler, nine school buses, and ten dirt bikes.  Kids will have fun singing this new version, seeing the different types of vehicles passed along the way, and looking at the detail on each page.  There are, then, replicas of these vehicles in the special event at the end, making it all even more fun.

Each vehicle has a face with headlight eyes.  The colors are bright while the late 1960s and 1970s symbolism is clearly painted on the bus as well as in various scenes along the way.  Grandma and Grandpa are friendly folks and dressed as if they were still in 1969.

This is a delightful and fun choice for those young ones who are hooked on cars and trucks of all sorts.

Reading Level: 3 – 7 Years



Kim Norman has written several books for young readers, including Ten on the Sled, If It’s Snowy and You Know It, Clap Your Paws!, Puddle Pug, I Know a Wee Piggy, Crocodaddy, Jack of All Tails, and a few more.  Kim spent much of her young days involved in theater, traveled along many-a-road due to being a Navy kid.  She knows how to be silly.  Her books bring smiles to the faces of those who read and hear these fun stories.  Kim and her husband live in Smithfield, VA. Visit Kim @


Carolyn Conahan is the author and illustrator of several picture books, including The Twelve Days of Christmas in Oregon, The Prairie-Dog Prince, The Discontented Gopher, and The Twelve Days of Christmas Dogs.  The Big Wish was awarded the 2011 Oregon Spirit Book Award for Picture Books by the Oregon Council of Teachers of English. Carolyn is also a staff illustrator of Cricket magazine. She lives in Portland, OR.  You can find Carolyn @


Book Information


Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books

Publication date:08/04/2015


Product dimensions:8.60(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)





Illustrations by Carolyn Digby Conahan


Posted in Adult Fiction, Book, Book Review, Children's, Picture Book, Poetry, Reading



What a hoot!  This rendition of Clement C. Moore’s classic “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is so original, dedicated “For all the overworked underpaid librarians.”  And it is a perfect fit!

A read for children?  Probably not!  But…it is for adults, especially for librarians, library staff, literary buffs, readers who still use public libraries!  Filled with library terms, this poem is a work along the lines of Mr. Davis’ other “Night Before Christmas” series (Nurse’s, Lawyer’s, Cowboy’s, etc.).  He weaves interlibrary loans, “Hawthorne, Jane Austen, Steinbeck, and Millay,” book carts, Newbery, Caldecott, New York bestseller, “Dewey and his decimal system,” overdue fines…and more…in and throughout the poetic lines!  Thus, you can see why adults would appreciate this whimsical book far more than a child who would be anticipating the original “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

As we turn to the first page, we see a librarian with a tired, sad face shelving books on Christmas Eve.  There are children still in the library reading, totally enchanted by their books.

‘Twas a cold Yuletide evening, and I wandered the stacks,

Shelving multiple titles that the patrons brought back.

We toiled overtime at our library here,

‘Cause the powers that be cut our staffing this year. 

They spent pork-barrel money like a tidal-wave seas,

But no funds trickled down far enough to reach me.


And thus we begin!

But Santa comes flying in from atop the trees in his red bookmobile, rocket a-flare and an helicopter blade a-spinning.  Upon landing, the doors open wide while elves jump out with stacks of books in their hands.  The library is ‘the little one’ who receives the gifts this year…books in all genres, decorations for Christmas, a new carpet, pictures for the walls, and even a story time to the real children by Santa Claus.

The wording is so clever and fitting of the financial times for most library systems in the country…

“For the book-budget cutters, Old Claus had no plan,

‘Cause if they could read, they just read Ayn Rand.”

The artwork is filled with exceptional detail, including the twinkling eyes, splendidly expressed on Santa.  There are tiny stories told between the lines in artful manner (or as PBS’ series is titled–“Between the Lions” know…those two lions on either side of the gate as you walk in the library?  TeeHee!  I just got my own double entendre!).  Jim Harris, the illustrator, does a masterful job at bringing the poem to visual life through his colorful and lighthearted characters as well as the library’s decor.  Take your time in the reading because you will want to really look at the illustrations.

Reading Level:  5 – 8 Years, but really for the adult reading audience and librarians!

David Davis grew up in San Antonio, Texas.  He writes Travels with Grandpaw, his graphic art stories about old time Texas, now featured on his website.

He authored Jazz Cats and Ten Redneck Babies, both of which were named to the Children’s Choice Top 100 List.  Jazz Cats was also a finalist for the Texas Golden Spur Award.

Mr. Davis has published pen-and-ink artwork, cartoons, poems, humor, and short stories in various magazines and newspapers.

He’s been a featured author at the Texas Library Association Convention and the Texas Book Festival.  He lives in Forth Worth, Texas.

More information about him and the books he writes can be found @


Jim Harris was born in 1955 in North Carolina, now residing in Upper Moutere, New Zealand.  He has illustrated and written children’s books, with more than three million copies in print. His books are best known for their detailed and humorous depictions of animal and human characters.

Jim Harris’s delightful artwork has brought smiles to the pages of original books and classic retellings, such as The Tortoise and the Hare, Rapunzel, and The Three Little Pigs. 

He uses watercolor, oil, acrylic and gouache paintings and pencil drawings.

Many of Mr. Harris’ books have won awards too numerous to list in this space.

This website is filled with Mr. Harris’ art  —

The publisher of this book has information about Mr. Harris @

Book Information:
ISBN-13: 9781589803367
Publisher:  Pelican Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/28/2007
Series: Night Before Christmas Series
Pages: 32
Product dimensions: 8.70(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.40(d)




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

Jan Brett’s Many Books


These are just twelve of Jan Brett’s forty-plus books that she has written and illustrated (Jan Brett’s Book List).  I am not reviewing a particular book today because she has so many that are oriented towards the Christmas season and the chill of a winter snow.  If you have never looked into one of Jan’s books, I encourage you to spend some time pondering the incredible illustrations.  You are in for a treat.  The detail of each page is so minute: the characters’ facial expressions, including the animals, the scenery, the costumes, and so much more.  There are often sidebars on the pages with little acts of the story going on there.  Each page is filled with color, costume, characters, surrounded by the natural world.  Plus, Jan Brett tells a story, often a long-known fairy tale or a tale (with a tail) of her own.

Jan and her husband travel around the world.  When she does, she absorbs the dress and the colors that the people wear, the natural surroundings, and the art of that area.  Then she transfers all of that into her books.  The characters wear the dress of a certain people, the natural world is drawn and colored in the way she saw it in one particular area, and the story is set in that scene.

Reading Jan Brett’s books are meant for a one-on-one story time rather than being read to a large group.  I was a children’s librarian for a few years and found that I could not use her books well in a group setting.  The stories were good, but there is so much to look at and the drawings are so detailed that no one but the reader can see just what is going on all over the pages.  You will want to sit in a cozy nook to read this with your child or children.  Each page will draw you back for many-a-look to find the delightful details, finding something you missed the last time.

On the page I have linked in the first paragraph above, each book on her list tells where the story is set and that is a great guide to the type of costume and scenery you will find there.

Reading level range of all books:  from age 1 to about 8


“With over thirty nine million books in print, Jan Brett is one of the nation’s foremost author illustrators of children’s books.  Jan lives in a seacoast town in Massachusetts, close to where she grew up.  During the summer her family moves to a home in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts.

“As a child, Jan Brett decided to be an illustrator and spent many hours reading and drawing.  She says, ‘I remember the special quiet of rainy days when I felt that I could enter the pages of my beautiful picture books. Now I try to recreate that feeling of believing that the imaginary place I’m drawing really exists. The detail in my work helps to convince me, and I hope others as well, that such places might be real.’

“As a student at the Boston Museum School, she spent hours in the Museum of Fine Arts. ‘It was overwhelming to see the room-size landscapes and towering stone sculptures, and then moments later to refocus on delicately embroidered kimonos and ancient porcelain,’ she says.

“Travel is also a constant inspiration. Together with her husband, Joe Hearne, who is a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Jan visits many different countries where she researches the architecture and costumes that appear in her work. ‘From cave paintings to Norwegian sleighs, to Japanese gardens, I study the traditions of the many countries I visit and use them as a starting point for my children’s books.'”  ***

You can find Jan @

On that site, you can find activities galore, coloring pages, games, and cards.  The learning activities and games are not only focused on her stories, but on math and reading skills, phonics, sight words, and so much more.  You will be amazed.  Under “Blogs ‘n’ Books,” you will find links to units based around her books.  Jan writes the monthly blog post herself under “Jan Brett’s Blog.”

I hope you will check out some of Jan’s books.  They just might encourage an artist-to-be!




***  Bio taken from her website @


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



Since I just reviewed an Eric Carle book, I thought I would follow it with his latest.  THE NONSENSE SHOW is totally crazy and wacky!  It exudes nonsense and imaginative voice.  The book jacket labels the work “nonsense and surrealism,” sparking “creativity and imagination.”

I looked up the definition of “surrealism” and found that it means “to feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur.”  Then I looked up non sequitur to make sure I understood what I was about to say in this review: non sequitur means an inference or a conclusion that does not follow from the premises; a statement containing an illogical conclusion.

OH, MY!  I thought I was looking at and reading an Eric Carle book, not a big-words-for-us-little-kids book!  But by those definitions, this colorful, wacky book does just all of those things.  Objects are placed backwards, upside-down, all turned around.  Words say things that are not; they come at the reader with silliness and unpredictability.

A bird is swimming in an aquarium while just across the double page is a fish in a bird cage.


A woman with a tennis racquet gets ready to hit the ball.

She says,

“‘What a funny-looking ball,’

Thought the tennis ace

And wound up

With applesauce

In her face.”   (the ball was an apple)

Every double page is full of silly characters–people or animals acting in reverse of what we would imagine.  Silly things are said that just don’t make much, if any, sense at all.  It is just plain CRAZY!!

Eric Carle’s wonderful art is at its usual best–colorful, bright, bold, and wonderful.

Reading Level:  3 – 7 Years


Eric Carle was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1929.  In 1935, his parents returned to their home of Germany where Mr. Carle was educated.  He attended a prestigious art school in Stuttgart, Germany, Akademie der bilenden Künste.  He dreamed of returning to America and, in 1952, he did.  He worked for the promotion department of The New York Times and then became the art director of an advertising agency.

Bill Martin, Jr. saw an ad done by Eric Carle and called to see if he would illustrate a children’s book he had written.  This collaboration is known to the world today as “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?”  His world changed.  He began writing and illustrating his own children’s books.

“Eric Carle has two grown-up children, a son and a daughter.  He divides his time between the Florida Keys and the hills of North Carolina.”  **

He and his wife, Bobbi, dreamed of and built The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA.  They “were interested in developing enthusiasts for the art of picture books and in encouraging the habit of museum going in our younger visitors. Children’s picture book art is the introduction to art for young people, and we wanted to show the highest examples of that art to demonstrate the beauty, the seriousness and the fun of it. We wanted to create a museum that exhibits the work of national and international picture book artists.”  **  PLUS…his museum site has activities and games, resources, and so much more.

You can also find him at his own website and blog here –

If you love to read Eric Carle’s books with your children and want activities to go along with them, I suggest doing a search for “activities Eric Carle” (or a few other similar words).  There is a plethora of creative activities to go with each of his books amassed on the internet for your perusal and use.

Book Information: 

ISBN-13: 9780399176876
Publisher:  Penguin Young Readers Group 
Publication date: 10/13/2015
Pages: 40
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 12.30(h) x 0.50(d)



**  information from The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art