Book Reviews

5 Picture Books Perfect for March

Image result for the night before st patrick's dayThe Night Before St. Patrick’s Day by Natasha Wing, with illustrations by Amy Wummer  – You guessed it, a St. Patty’s take on The Night Before Christmas. A cute story that will have children asking for another read.

Image result for there was an old lady who swallowed a cloverThere Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover! by Lucille Colandro, with illustrations by Jared Lee – I personally love this series and was not aware there was a St. Patty’s themed one until now!

Image result for the luckiest leprechaunThe Luckiest Leprechaun: A Tail-Wagging Tale of Friendship by Justine Korman, with illustrations by Denise Brunkus. This story is smart, sarcastic, and funny, with lovely illustrations too!!! You can watch it read aloud here.

Image result for how to trap a leprechaunHow to Trap a Leprechaun by Sue Fliess, with illustrations by Emma Randall – fun illustrations and story, with notes for educators and parents on how to allow your child/children how to make a trap.

Image result for The Luck of the Irish ready to readAs part of the Ready to Read series: The Luck of the Irish by Margaret McNamara, with illustrations by Mike Gordon – While this story is meant for an early reader, it can easily be used as a read aloud book for preschoolers.


Book Reviews

January Picture Books to Read

A new year, and a new book…books. Regardless of how many books you have set to read this year, here are a few picture books to keep your little ones feeling rather, mostly…furry, and laughing in the new year.

Image result for how tickles saved pickles


How Tickles Saved Pickles by Maddie Johnson: this true story picture book is full of uber cute piglet and pig photos. And even a few dogs. This story is pigfect for all animal lovers.



Image result for zola's elephantZola’s Elephant by Randall de Seve, illustrations by Pamela Zagarenski: The story and colors comes alive in this imaginative story about new neighbors. Readers will be enchanted by the story and illustrations. Kids will absolutely relate, maybe even some adults who think the grass is greener on the other side.



Image result for walk your dog the bookWalk Your Dog by Elizabeth Stevens Omlor, illustrations by Neesha Hudson: As I write this I’m still trying to decide if I liked this story or not. The illustrations are cute, but you’ll need to decide if this is a winner or not when you read it.



I Mustache You to Read with Me by Andrea Vilemont Moreau, illustrations by Clinton G.Image result for i mustache you to read to me Bowers: This book could not be any punnier! (see what I did there). Kids will love this book enough to LOL and parents won’t mind reading it over…and over…and over again.



Image result for the wall in the middle of the book


The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee: This unique story had me hooked! Since I am a fan of the author’s other books, including It’s Only Stanley, I had high expectations. I think little ones will even pick up on the sarcastic tone of the book. A must read for sure!


Spotlight on Writing

Seeing Differently

20160I’m working on the final edits for my middle grade novel, and diving into two prior picture books that I have set aside for about four months. Upon my return to their story I have edited, and tried something new. I made a small 32 page book and took EACH sentence and cut it out and taped it together in the book. In doing so I realized several sentences didn’t belong where I had originally placed them.

As you can see, not fancy at all, just a sample to get you thinking about how well it will fit in book format, how it flows, and how illustrations can be placed.

Happy writing 🙂

Spotlight on Writing

White Writes Black

This day, January 27th is noted as Multicultural Children’s Book Day.​Xist Publishing, 2014 Nonnie and I was not written with the race of the main character in mind. It was story of a girl and her giraffe, that’s it. When it was published and I saw the cover, an African girl standing next to a giraffe, then it hit me. I wrote about a black girl!? Me, a white person. DSC_6806

Was that the reason why the manuscript received so many “loved it, but not enough” letters until I landed a contract? Was the reason because my character, unbeknownst to me, was African?
I’ve been reading recent articles mentioning people of color in children’s books, with regards to the limits of color and even, girl characters. Is that’s why Nonnie and I does not stand out among other published books? (Double whammy – black and a girl)Wildlife Zoo - Aug 2014 059
I live in a mostly Hispanic community and I do see that represented at my local library, yet I can’t seem to get them to bite on my book.
What factors play into that? If I am essentially blind to the main character of my book, does that make me the opposite of other readers out there? Lastly can a Caucasian author write about an African child or any race not their own?


Spotlight on Writing

How I Wrote a Picture Book – The True Story of Nonnie and I

Xist Publishing, 2014
Xist Publishing, 2014

When I sat down to write Nonnie and I, it was called Nia and I. (I had used a baby name book to help me decide on an African orientated name, I changed the name later to Nonnie after a publisher was interested, but already had a book with that name).

I was intrigued seeing how animals interact with children and in turn how child react to animals. Essentially this is how my picture book started in 2005. Children’s play is always so free and imaginative and I had witnessed this over my years as a nanny. I also saw how new experiences were not always a welcoming part of childhood. I took the love children often have for animals and made it BIG. I had seen a documentary on giraffe adoption in Africa and how people could get close to them much like horses.

The idea sparked. How about a girl and her pet giraffe? The story had originally been more about an adoption, family, and caring for a pet, but that didn’t provide a deep story arc. I later realized school was a pretty traumatic change in a child’s life after seeing children grip onto their parents for dear life when being dropped at day-care or school. (I’ve worked in both settings). I’d also seen it happen to me with the three children I was a nanny for. (Screaming when I left, grabbing hold when I tried to put them on the floor in play group, fearful to nap because I hadn’t been there the last time they woke up).

I put the two together and created a story. The first of a dozen drafts moved from the adoption focus to a friendship focus, but was too much on both sides of the story. I trimmed and trimmed, removing beloved sentences, added new depth. (A big credit goes out to Dawn Young for telling me the giraffe seems like a piece of play ground equipment and not an animal. Also the biggest credit goes to (as mentioned before) Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books) After a failed 44 submissions (I had five OH SO CLOSE ALMOST CONTRACTS) I took a total of two months of reading (Writing Picture Books) and editing to get the manuscript into the format (more trimming and editing) I submitted to my now publisher (Xist Publishing).
Nonnie and I means a lot to me for a number of reasons, but what I hope most, and the reason I wrote it was to provide children with the comfort of a story that shows them they are not alone with their feelings.