Archive for February 2017

Cut to the Humor

February 23, 2017

Humor:  The quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech; a mood or state of mind.


We Are Growing! is a beginning reader written and illustrated by Laurie Keller. Some people (adults) may not find this book humorous. Kids certainly will. I, an adult with a child-like sense of humor, find this book hilarious! The main characters are seven blades of grass and one weed that grow. If you can’t see the humor in grass and a weed growing, then you don’t know Laurie Keller and her work. Ms. Keller’s artistic expression shines in the distinctive personalities she gives to each of her characters. To further convey humor, she incorporates various elements – onomatopoeic words, speech bubbles, and superlative forms of words used by the main characters to describe themselves. And then there are those cute little bugs that make an appearance. When the blades of grass realize they’re growing in very different ways, they each find a quality that makes them exceptional in one way or another. Only one blade of grass can’t decide what he is. Time is of the essence because there is a loud buzzing noise headed for the grass. (The horror of it all!) Don’t worry. In the end, all turns out well. With spare text and repetition, this is a perfect book for beginning readers, but don’ let the simplicity of it fool you. This book is as much for adults as it is for children. Kids will see it as silly, and if you’re an adult, subliminal layers of humor are there for the taking. Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie characters give this book a great send-off and an “end-off.” As Elephant and Piggie say, “This book is the FUNNIEST!”

By the way, Laurie Keller’s book We Are Growing! won the 2017 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader. Who’s laughing now?





Grouches and Kindness

February 16, 2017

Today, February 16, is Do a Grouch a Favor Day and tomorrow, February 17, is National Random Acts of Kindness Day. The two days pair up perfectly. We all know someone who is a grouch. It could even be you! Some days that grouch factor hangs around and you can’t seem to “shake it off” like Taylor Swift says.

More than ever, we need random acts of kindness. It doesn’t take much. A simple smile or a word of encouragement may be all someone needs. Kindness doesn’t cost anything. You’ll be richer for making an effort, and your investment in kindness will grow. So if you see someone who looks like they could use a smile, give them one.

Each kindness makes a grouch and the world a better place.

Check out these picture books that demonstrate the power of kindness. Read them. Share them. Live the message.



Stick and Stone written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld


Each Kindness written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis


Plant a Kiss written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds


If You Plant a Seed written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson


Something About Hensley’s written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco


Because Amelia Smiled written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein


The Invisible Boy written by Trudy Ludwig and illustrated by Patrice Barton





An Egg Surprise

February 9, 2017

On this snowy, blowy, waiting-for-a-foot-of-snow morning, I have the perfect book that whispers the hint of spring and new things to come. Keven Henkes is a talented and prolific writer and illustrator who has received many prestigious awards for his work. In January, his newest picture book, Egg, was released.


The story begins with four eggs. There is one pink, one yellow, one blue, and one green. Three chicks crack out of their eggs, but the last green egg remains unhatched. The chicks wait and wait until their curiosity gets the best of them. They “peck-peck-peck” until it cracks open and they find out what’s inside. It’s not what the chicks expected. Using a combination of single words, repetition, and wordless pages, Henkes crafts a  story of surprise, uncertainty, and eventual friendship. Words and engaging pastel illustrations are sure to delight children as they easily read along with this satisfying story.



Black History Month

February 2, 2017

February is Black History Month. It’s a time to honor the accomplishments of black Americans and the and contributions they have made to our country.

Below are some wonderful nonfiction picture books to read and share.


Freedom in Congo Square written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie


Freedom Over Me written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan


 Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Ekua Holmes


The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks written by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton


Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis written by Jabari Asim and illustrated by E. B. Lewis


Martin and Mahalia: His Words Her Song written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney


Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of  Florence Mills written by Renee Watson and illustrated by Christian Robinson


Marvelous Cornelius: Hurrican Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleanwritten by Phil Bildner and illustrated by John Parra


My Name Is James Madison Hemings written and illustrated by Jonah Winter

America has a rich history of accomplishments made by African Americans and by many others who are a part of our diverse population. That’s what makes this country so great!

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