Week 5 of Our #100PictureBookSummer

 

I can’t believe that we’re half way through our summer reading list!  I have to be honest, I lost track of the week with yesterday being a holiday and today feeling like ANOTHER Monday.  But I’m here, we’ve been reading and this week is all about OC.

Seven and a half years ago, we dove head first into our life as parents with the birth of this precious girl.  She made her grand entrance earlier than expected, and with a little more excitement than we planned.  Wouldn’t you know it, she still does things on her own time and always with a bit of flair.  Her curly hair was and still is, a perfect match for her personality.  She’s equal parts cautious and impulsive, inquisitive and certain, and one hundred percent generous and thoughtful.   Lucky for me, she has the memory of an elephant; that often comes in handy when you’re an absent-minded momma.  She’s the first one to read any of my manuscripts, and she’s the silent third party of all my critique partnerships.  OC reads well, reads often and loves it most when she’s reading to her younger brothers. This week, with the list below, I asked her to read a little deeper into each story.  I wanted to know, not only her favorites but also the theme in each one.  We talked about the main characters, and the change each one underwent as the story unfolded.  She couldn’t pick out of the following two, and who was I do decide?  (spoiler alerts below)

  1. Ellie by Mike Wu
  2. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf as told to Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith
  3. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
  4. Swatch by Julia Denos
  5. Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue and Pamela Aagarenski
  6. Red Cat, Blue Cat by Jenni Desmond
  7. Balderdash! By Michelle Markel and Nancy Carpenter
  8. Are We There, Yeti? by Ashlyn Ashtee
  9. Tuesday by David Wiesner
  10. Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld (this one was a personal homework assignment from a friend, and a perfect fit… thanks, JH!)

For the full list of books we’re reading check out Book Nerd Mommy’s blog here http://www.booknerdmommy.com/100-picture-books-summer-reading/

“First, I really liked Red Cat, Blue Cat.  At the beginning of the book, they don’t like each other, until they try to be just like the other one.  Once they tried to be each other and it didn’t work out, they realized that being their own selves was the best of all.  That’s how it should be, really, you should always be happiest with who you really are.  I also liked Ellie, she was so sad because she didn’t have a talent.  All she wanted to do was help, but in the end, she discovered she had the greatest talent of all and saved the day.  We all have special things about us, we just need to use them.”

Wise words, from my wise girl.  I appreciate these books and the conversations they inspire more with each passing week.  But then again, picture books have always been, and will always be pure magic.  Thanks for hanging in through 50.  Wish us luck for our last few weeks!

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

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July

July has arrived, with all her sweltering heat and mighty mosquitoes.   As a family, this is often the month where we take a collective sigh and settle in for the second half of summer.  School starts in early August in these parts, so this is our calm before the school year storm.  As a writer, my month will be full and fun… here’s a little of what I have going on.

  • WOW Nonficpic (July 10-14) is an online seminar on writing non-fiction picture books hosted by Children’s Author, Kristen Fulton. I’m a history buff, and a science nerd so the thought of expanding my writing skill set to include non-fiction books is very exciting.  For more info, http://www.kristenfulton.org/
  • I’m working on an author interview series that will begin here, on Magnolias and Manuscripts next month. I’m not ready to discuss all the nitty gritty details yet, but it will involve debut picture book authors and it’s going to be great! Stay tuned!
  • #PBHOT62 (http://www.renatraxel.com/literacy–art/summer-reading-challenge-for-picture-book-writers) is an exciting opportunity that I signed up for, but I think I bit off more than I can chew. Rena Traxel, librarian and children’s writer put together a fun and interactive challenge to encourage picture book writers to read more picture books.  Each day, for the next 62, participants will post pictures of themselves from her list of suggestions, reading a different picture book.  I thought it would fit in nicely with our #100PictureBookSummer, but I just don’t know that I can manage 62 posts, because…. drumroll….
  • The most exciting thing going on for me this month… I’ve been asked to be a part of a book launch team! I mentioned Randi Mrvos in an earlier post, she’s been a kind and generous mentor for me and I’m very excited to return the favor and help to introduce the world to her ‘Maggie’.  If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter or are a Facebook friend of mine, you’ll see daily posts starting tomorrow to help spread the word about her book debut which happens this August.  (I even get an ARC to review!  You’ll definitely hear more about that here.) To learn more about Maggie check out her journey at http://themaggieproject.blogspot.com/

Blame it on the heat… or the holiday, but that’s all I have for today.  I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Independence Day.  Here’s to the land of the free, home of the brave.

 

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

Week Three of Our #100PictureBookSummer.

This week, the local chapter of SCBWI held a panel on ‘Creating Books for Children’ and the different avenues of publishing (traditional vs self).  I’ve not been able to make it to any SCBWI meetings prior to this one, but for a first timer, it surely did not disappoint.  It was energizing and inspiring to be in a room full of like-minded people from right here in my own community.  Because of this meeting, our library haul came in a little later than usual, but my kids have not wasted any time diving in. (To clarify, SCBWI is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.)

Here’s our list for the week, and again, I’ve included the link to the Book Nerd Mommy post containing the entire list of 100 Picture Books for Your Summer Reading.

  1. Puddle Pug by Kim Norman
  2. Through the Forest by Stephanie Broccoli and Catherin Bidet
  3. Corduroy by Don Freeman
  4. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr, John Archambault, and Lois Ehlert
  5. ..Jane by Patrick McDonell
  6. What A Wonderful World by Bob Thiele and George Scieszka
  7. Rain by Linda Ashman and Christian Robinson
  8. The Snurtch by Sean Ferrell and Charles Santoso
  9. Float by David Miyares
  10. Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal

 http://www.booknerdmommy.com/100-picture-books-summer-reading/

(Jamberry continues to elude me! I’ve read the adorable story; I want my kids to read it too but I can’t seem to get my hands on a copy.  Each year we make strawberry jam, except we call it jelly… and I think it’s technically strawberry preserves but you get the point.  Jamberryyyyyy, where are youuuuuu?)

I don’t plan to make a habit out of this, but I went out of order on the list.  Float and Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt are two that wouldn’t have come home this week had I not, but I’m sure glad they did.  What’s great about this group of books is that theme, which is summed up in the title of one of its own, What A Wonderful World.  From learning about Dr. Jane Goodall to the magic world of earthworms that exists below the surface.  The stories in these books embraced the wonders of the world in which we all live, even if sometimes those wonders includes the perfect puddle for jumping.  I’m making a prediction here, all three of my guest reviewers will choose the same book from the stack.  Never mind what mom thinks, what does she know anyway?

 

And I was right, today’s favorite was…

The Snurtch–  (spoiler alert!) OC says, “In the beginning, the Snurtch is always bothering her but then everyone realizes they have their own Snurtches”.  MC and YC agreed, calling the book “hilarious” and “silly” respectively.  That’s high praise for boys their age.

(YC wanted to make sure that Puddle Pug was listed as an Honorable Mention, “because, Mom, you see, there’s dogs and puddles and I like that too.”)

Ironically, or not, all our ‘snurtches’ were out in full force this morning, so I thought it a perfect opportunity for us each to describe them, hoping they would run and hide.  Mine is orange, with yellow hair and horns.  OC decided hers was “teal, and turquoise, and purple, and black, and blue with some brown.”  MC is fully immersed in the ‘imitation is the greatest form of flattery’ phase, otherwise known as ‘I’m going to say exactly what my mom says’ so his was also orange, but with some nudging, has black hair and bull horns.  YC’s is green (as is everything in his life) with green eyes and green hair.

We still have a couple of days to love on this stack of books.  I hope you have something good to read on this warm Wednesday afternoon as well!

 

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

Week Two of Our #100PictureBookSummer

What a fun week of books this has been!  There was something for everyone in this stack. As we made our way through numbers 11-20, each day my kiddos had a new favorite.  In fact, it was hard to get them to commit to one, but I finally managed, thanks to a little wheeling & dealing.  (Toddlers are the world’s best negotiators.) Here’s our list:

  1. When Sophie Gets Angry… Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang
  2. If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano & Erin E Stead
  3. Owl Moon by Jane Yolen & John Schoenherr
  4. Frederick by Leo Lionni
  5. Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
  6. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  7. The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson & Beth Krommes
  8. Tin Lizzie by Allan Drummond (this one was a substitution, I couldn’t find Pedal Power by Allan Drummond)
  9. Hooray for Hat by Brian Won
  10. Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds.

If you’re just joining us on our #100PictureBookSummer, here’s the link to Book Nerd Mommy’s 100 Picture Books for your Summer Reading that we’re following.

http://www.booknerdmommy.com/100-picture-books-summer-reading/

I couldn’t put my finger on an underlying theme through all ten books this week, but there were lessons there for sure.  In Owl Moon, Tin Lizzie and If You Want to See a Whale, it was one of patience and persistence.  Going Places and Frederick celebrated those who think outside the box, and Hooray for Hat and When Sophie Gets Angry… helped to illustrate emotions and simple, silly ways to overcome those which are not so fun.  Tin Lizzie also did a beautiful job starting a conversation of conservation (tongue twister) and change.

I can’t pick a favorite, but if you’ll indulge me for a moment I do want to share a sweet story.  We live in such a rural area that it takes two libraries (and two library cards) to get all 10 books each week.  I try to get as many as I can from our local, small town library, and Owl Moon was one of those.  As the rest of my family was running around, burning off the last of their summer evening energy, I picked up Owl Moon and snuck to my room to enjoy it in quiet.  As I opened the cover, I stumbled upon a touching and tender surprise.  Twenty-nine years ago, I lost my older brother.  My parents channeled their grief and honored his memory in many ways over the years.   I’m not sure if they even remember all that they did to help my sisters and I to remember him. I am fairly certain that when they bought and donated a book to the library in his honor, they never thought about the effects it would have almost thirty years later.  As I looked on the inside cover of Owl Moon, I saw his name, my parent’s name, and my own.  It was like I had been given a heavenly hug and a playful nudge of affirmation.  I was quick to share the moment with my own family, and I savored every word of the book (amidst the running, jumping and squealing in the background).  I guess I do have a favorite, after all.

*Sniffing & clearing my throat*… And now, on to my guest reviewers…

They were asked, “Which book was your favorite? Why?” and then I elaborated a bit.

OC- When Sophie Gets Angry… Really, Really Angry.  Her opinion, “I like that book because it teaches a great lesson about how you can’t be rude” … In my opinion, OC identified with Sophie because she roars when she’s angry too.  It always takes her a while, but she usually figures out how to channel her emotions and work through her ‘volcanic explosions.’

MC- Owl Moon.  His opinion, “I think it was super cool how they went looking for owls in the night time!” … In my opinion, MC is fascinated with the tree line, aka ‘woods’ behind our house and the animals that live there.  We do hear owls from time to time, we’ll just have to try and spot one now. (Thankfully minus the snow.)

YC- Hooray for Hat.  In his words, “I love the grumpy elephant and all the hats!” … My opinion, YC is three… he loves hats and all things silly. End of story.

Time to place holds on our next week stash… so glad you’re following along!

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

 

PS- these opinions are just that, opinions… and kid’s opinions at that.  Our ‘reviews’ are only my attempt to keep my children engaged in their summer reading and taking the stories deeper than face value.  We are (obviously) not compensated for these reviews… of library books… by toddlers.

Week One of our #100PictureBookSummer

I’m excited to report that our #100PictureBookSummer is off to a great start.  Thanks to a little careful planning and a couple of library cards, we are well on our way. My kids were excited to come home to a stack of ‘new’ books yesterday and dove right in.  Here’s our list for the week:

  1. Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio & Christianson Robinson
  2. Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
  3. Jamberry by Bruce Degen*
  4. Octopus Alone by Divya Srinivasan
  5. Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin & Harry Bliss
  6. The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Whinfield Martin
  7. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andrea and Guy Parker-Rees
  8. You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang & Christopher Weynat
  9. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  10. A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney & Steve Johnson

*As I was typing this, I realized that we didn’t make it home with Jamberry for some reason.  Hm, well that’s a sweet one (no pun intended) to kick our week off next week! Here’s the link to Book Nerd Mommy’s 100 Picture Books for your Summer Reading that we’re following if you missed last week’s post.

http://www.booknerdmommy.com/100-picture-books-summer-reading/

These first ten were a wonderful mix of new and old favorites, featuring everything from adorable puppies to terrible monsters.  There is a definite theme that carried through many of these books and that is the importance of being true to yourself, even if what you know to be true goes against the grain of popular opinion.  I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite from this list.  As a mom, I want to use the pages of Emily Whinfield Martin’s delightful little book as wallpaper in my kid’s bedrooms so they can be surrounded by its wonderful message of love.  I’m also a history buff and I knew that I was holding an important piece of history as I read The Snowy Day, but the combination of The Snowy Day and A Poem for Peter together was powerful.  Diary of a Worm and Leonardo tickled my funny bone and caused a healthy dose of giggles from both my kiddos and me.

When I approached my daughter with the prospect of a summer filled with books, she was quick to agree, but not without making she and her brothers received a bit of recognition too. Always a negotiator, she thought it would be fun if she and her brothers could share their favorite books with you as well. That was an easy deal to shake on, so here’s a little about the three guest book reviewers that will be joining me all summer.

  • OC (oldest child) is seven years old, with wonderfully curly hair and a personality to match. She’s well rounded and a bit impulsive; you can be sure there are grass stains on her powder pink dancing tights.  She has an inquisitive mind to match her giant and generous heart.
  • MC (middle child) is five and a future superhero if there ever was one. He loves fighting bad guys, hunting zombies and practicing his ‘incredible ninja moves’.  He does life at his own pace and is filled with an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm for life… all day every day.
  • YC (youngest child) is three years old and our comedic relief. He loves making us all laugh and does it well.  He’s into (almost) anything his older brother tells him is cool, but really loves trucks, trains, and playing in the dirt.  He believes ‘the more, the merrier & the messier, the better’.

So, there you have them, without a doubt, the cutest and chattiest guest reviewers to ever grace these pages. I’ll have more from them next week and a fresh batch of books! Happy Summer!

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP

The Summer of 100 Picture Books.

Whew, okay, I’m glad that’s over.  Maybe you disagree, but for me, spring cleaning is fun at the beginning, exhilarating when you’re in the thick of it and utterly exhausting as you near the end.  Now that I’m (almost) clutter free, I can say without hesitation that I am very eager for summer to start.  I’m happy you found your way back here today because I’m excited to share a bit of our summer plans.  Look at the title of this post again, it’s more than that, it’s a goal!

Earlier this week, via Instagram, I came across Clarissa, aka @book.nerd.mommy, and her post 100 Picture Books for Your Summer Reading.  Let me tell you, it’s a great list; new titles, old favorites and everything in between.  For the past few summers, my kids and I have all had big reading plans.  The unfortunate truth is that I often lost track of things through swimming lessons, play dates and summer excursions.  This summer, there’s no excuses, we have a list to follow, and by my calculation, we have 10% covered just with our own home library.  I’ve included the link to her blog post, where you’ll find her carefully selected titles, with a brief explanation of what makes each story so lovable.  She also shares a free printable version of the list.  My list is printed and posted on my bulletin board already! I extended the challenge to my kids, and my oldest, who loves to answer for her brothers eagerly accepted.

In the spirit of the sweet, slow pace of summertime, I plan to scale my blog posts down to once a week.  In place of my Wednesday posts, I’ll let you know how our #100PictureBookSummer is going. My plan is to keep you posted on our progress, and share our favorites from the week. Here’s the link…

http://www.booknerdmommy.com/100-picture-books-summer-reading/

If you can, take a few minutes to peruse her website.  Clarissa has a wonderful ‘Beyond the Book’ section of arts and craft activities to help Picture Books become interactive for children.  She also shares recipes to accompany some of your favorite books (Truffula Tree Cupcakes, anyone?), and literacy tools for those of us with young, growing minds.

Here’s to 100 books, 10 fun weeks and 1 great summer. If you think this sounds fun, we’d love for you to join us.  I’ll be sharing here and on Instagram (@jennifergprevost).  Our first batch of books will be ready for pick-up from the library today!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend.  My thoughts are with those who have lost someone, now or then, near or far, in service for this great nation.

Thanks for reading, come back anytime!

-JP