November is… Picture Book Month


Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative celebrating print picture books during the month of November. Founder Dianne de Las Casas (author & storyteller) and Co-Founders Katie Davis (author/illustrator), Elizabeth O. Dulemba (author/illustrator), Tara Lazar (author), and Wendy Martin (author/illustrator) have pulled  their worldwide connections to make this book celebration happen.

As a former elementary school teacher and current mama, I am a huge fan of picture books. Even though my girlie is capable of reading on her own now, we still love to snuggle up on the couch with a stack of colorfully illustrated stories. Our collection is pretty extensive — I’m sure you’re shocked :). Here are a few of our favorites… (Summaries from Goodreads. Covers lead to Goodreads pages.)

The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler – One tiny snail longs to see the world and hitches a lift on the tail of a whale. They go on an amazing journey, past icebergs and volcanoes, sharks and penguins, and the little snail feels so small in the vastness of the world. But when disaster strikes and the whale is beached in a bay, it’s the tiny snail who saves the day.

Bear Snores On written by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman – A whole host of different animals and birds find their way out of the cold and into Bear’s cave to warm up. But even after the tea has been brewed and the corn has been popped, Bear snores on! See what happens when he finally wakes up and finds his cave full of uninvited guests — all of them having a party without him!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – One sunny Sunday, the little caterpillar was hatched out of a tiny egg. He was very hungry. On Monday, he ate through one apple; on Tuesday, he ate through two pears; on Wednesday, he ate through three plums–and he was still hungry. Strikingly bold, colorful pictures and a simple text in large, clear type tell the story of the hungry little caterpillar’s progress through an amazing variety and quantity of foods. Full at last, he made a cocoon around himself and went to sleep, to wake up a few weeks later wonderfully transformed into a butterfly!

Edward the Emu written by Sheena Knowles, illustrated by Rod Clement – Edward is tired of being an emu, so he decides to try being something else for a change. First he spends some time swimming with the seals. Next, he lounges with the lions. He even slithers with the snakes. But Edward soon discovers that being an emu may not be so bad after all. So he heads back to his pen, only to find a big surprise awaiting him . . .Sheena Knowles’ upbeat, rhyming text and Rod Clement’s deliciously droll illustrations are sure to make readers laugh out loud in this whimsical picture book.

Corduroy by Don Freeman – When all the shoppers have gone home for the night, Corduroy climbs down from the shelf to look for his missing button. It’s a brave new world! He accidentally gets on an elevator that he thinks must be a mountain and sees the furniture section that he thinks must be a palace. He tries to pull a button off the mattress, but he ends up falling off the bed and knocking over a lamp. The night watchman hears the crash, finds Corduroy, and puts him back on the shelf downstairs. The next morning, a little girl buys him with money she saved in her piggy bank and takes him home to her room. Corduroy decides that this must be home and that Lisa must be his friend.

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans – Set in picturesque Paris, this tale of a brave little girl’s trip to the hospital was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1940 and has as much appeal today as it did then. The combination of a spirited heroine, timelessly appealing art, cheerful humor, and rhythmic text makes Madeline a perennial favorite with children of all ages.

Tell me: What’s your favorite picture book?

Bookanista Rec :: WORST CASE OF PASKETTI-ITIS

Today’s Bookanista recommendation is
Worst Case of Pasketti-Itis, written by Kristine Carlson Asselin and illustrated by Lousia Gioffre-Suzuki

From GoodreadsPasta is the perfect food with so many different varieties. Why should Petunia eat anything else? Her mother, her teacher, and even the lunch-lady warn that she might turn into pasta if she doesn’t try something new. Could she really turn into pasta? Would it be farfalle? Or maybe fettuccini? Petunia finds out, to her dismay, that “you are what you eat.”

This book is cute, cute, cute!

Pasketti-itis is a fast-paced picture book full of fun imagery. It reminded me a bit of one of my childhood favorites, The Chocolate Touch, in that it instills a lesson for picky eaters in a way that’s playful and entertaining. It’s a great book for reading aloud (my daughter and I read it together); all of the different pasta names (farfalle, spaghetti, rigatoni, fettucini) are something like a tongue twister when read quickly, which my girlie thought was all kinds of fun. Pasketti-itis‘s illustrations match the story’s merry tone. They’re bright and cartoon-ish and rather silly. They totally held my kiddo’s attention.

If you’ve got kids at home, especially kids with crazy food demands, or kids that love to giggle their way through a story, Worst Case of Pesketti-itis is definitely worth checking out.

{Big congratulations on your picture book debut, Kris! ♡}

Check out what my fellow Bookanistas are up to today!

Lenore Appelhans is bewitched by CHARM AND STRANGE by Stephanie Kuehn

Shelli Johannes-Wells  gives cover love to FAKING NORMAL

Stasia Ward Kehoe delves into
DANCER, DAUGHTER, TRAITOR, SPY by Elizabeth Kiem

Elana Johnson and Nikki Katz adore THIS IS W.A.R. by Lisa & Laura Roecker

Gretchen McNeil  is wowed by THE WIG IN THE WINDOW by Kristen Kittscher

Bookanistas Badge FINAL

Tell me: What’s your favorite picture book? 

Bookanista Rec: THE ELF ON THE SHELF

In celebration of the holidays, I thought I’d repost a Bookanista Recommendation from last year, one for the children’s book The Elf on the Shelf. This is our second year with our elf, Alice, and while my mom jokes that I have more fun with her than my daughter does, she’s become a fantastic family tradition. Here’s why:

From GoodreadsHow does Santa really know who is naughty or nice? The answer is finally revealed in… The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. The Elf on the Shelf is a book and activity the entire family will enjoy. Based on the tradition Carol Aebersold began with her family in the 1970s, this cleverly rhymed children’s book explains that Santa knows who is naughty or nice because he sends a scout elf to every home. During the holiday season, the elf watches children by day and reports to Santa each night. When children awake, the elf has returned from the North Pole and can be found hiding in a different location. 

Though my daughter and I read dozens of picture books each month, it’s not often that I take the time to formally recommend the exceptional ones. Still, as a former teacher and current mama, I’m a big fan of books that teach a concept or lesson in a clever, nearly invisible manner, and The Elf on a Shelf does just that. While it’s admittedly a little commercial, I’m willing to overlook that because the story and tradition are so much fun. Good behavior, thoughtful deeds, a generous spirit… Fantastic messages to instill this time of year.

The actual The Elf on a Shelf book is adorable. It rhymes, a format that, in my opinion, is always more appealing for read-alouds, and the illustrations are whimsical and colorful. The book explains all of the “rules” of the tradition in a way that’s clear to little ones, and it’s a quick read (yay for quick reads! :) ). The Elf on a Shelf easily held my daughter’s attention even before I officially introdued the elf.

Ahh, the elf. I bought the optional skirt to make ours a girl (because minus my husband, we’re a house chock full of females), and my daughter decided to name her Alice. Alice is from the North Pole (obviously), and every night she flies there to report to Santa on whether my girlie has been naughty or nice (she’s *almost* always nice ♥). When Alice returns each morning, she’s in a new spot, sometimes hidden and sometimes just doing fun or funny things. I’ve heard some families allow their elves to make “mischief” during the night, but that sort of undermines the whole naughty-or-nice aspect of the tradition, so Alice is pretty well-behaved. Anywho, here are a few of the ways my daughter has found her so far this year:

A substitute tree topper (with shades!).

With a little gift: Chocolate coins!

Out on a limb in the Christmas village.

The Elf on a Shelf – book AND tradition! — get a big RECOMMEND from me.

Check out what a few of my Bookanista friends are up to today:

Jessica Love delights in THE DISENCHANTMENTS
Stasia Ward Kehoe fawns over two favorite book blogs

Does your family have an Elf on the Shelf? What are some of your Christmas traditions?

Bookanista Recommendation: THE ELF ON A SHELF

I’m changing it up a little with today’s Bookanista Recommendation:

From Goodreads: How does Santa really know who is naughty or nice? The answer is finally revealed in… The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition. The Elf on the Shelf is a book and activity the entire family will enjoy. Based on the tradition Carol Aebersold began with her family in the 1970s, this cleverly rhymed children’s book explains that Santa knows who is naughty or nice because he sends a scout elf to every home. During the holiday season, the elf watches children by day and reports to Santa each night. When children awake, the elf has returned from the North Pole and can be found hiding in a different location. 

Though my daughter and I read dozens of picture books each month, it’s not often that I take the time to formally recommend the exceptional ones. Still, as a former educator and current mama, I’m a big fan of books that teach a concept or lesson in a clever, nearly invisible manner, and The Elf on a Shelf does just that. While it’s admittedly a little commercial, I’m willing to overlook that because the story and tradition are so much fun. Good behavior, thoughtful deeds, a generous spirit… Fantastic messages to instill this time of year.

The actual The Elf on a Shelf book is adorable. It rhymes, a format that, in my opinion, is always more appealing for read-alouds, and the illustrations are whimsical and colorful. The book explains all of the “rules” of the tradition in a way that’s clear to little ones, and it’s a quick read (yay for quick reads! If you’re a parent, you’ll understand :)). The Elf on a Shelf easily held my daughter’s attention even before I officially introduced the elf.

Ahh, the elf. I bought the optional skirt to make ours a girl (because minus my husband, we’re a house chock full of females), and my daughter decided to name her Alice. Alice is all registered with the North Pole, and every night she flies there to report to Santa on whether my girlie has been naughty or nice (she’s *almost* always nice ♥). When Alice returns each morning, she’s in a new spot, sometimes hidden and sometimes just doing fun or funny things. FYI, I’ve heard of some families who allow their elves to make “mischief” during the night, but that sort of undermines the whole naughty-or-nice aspect of the tradition, so Alice is pretty well-behaved. Anywho, here are a few of the ways my daughter has found her thus far:

Dropping in from the North Pole…

Taking tea with the Beast

Alice is a big reader…

Delivering a special note from Santa Claus…

This one might have been pushing the limits of taste, but my daughter cracked up when she saw Alice’s antics…

Surprise! New Christmas jammies from Alice!

Gosh… I wonder who’s having more fun with this tradition: My girlie or me? 🙂

The Elf on a Shelf — book AND tradition! — get a big RECOMMEND from me.

Does your family have an elf? Tell me about your  Christmas traditions in the comments!

Check out what other Bookanistas are up to today:

Elana Johnson roars for FURY
Shannon Whitney Messenger  marvels at A MILLION SUNS with a preorder giveaway!
Carolina Valdez Miller is all about HERE with giveaway!
Gretchen McNeil twirls for AUDITION
Corrine Jackson hails THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF ME AND YOU
Stasia Ward Kehoe is wild for DON’T BREATHE A WORD
Katy Upperman gets in the spirit with ELF ON A SHELF
Nikki Katz dishes on WHY WE BROKE UP

Friday Fun – Is time travel the new black? And, Pay It Forward!

So much to share today! Let’s dive right in, shall we?


First, an interesting trend I’ve noticed of late: Of the eight novels I’ve read since September 1st, FOUR have included an element of time travel. This is a peculiar coincidence because before September 1st, I can’t tell you the last book I picked up that had anything to do with time travel. Also, if you had asked me two months ago if I like stories that utilize time travel as a plot device, I would have said, “Eh.” I certainly don’t seek time travel novels out, but I have enjoyed the ones I’ve read lately (actually, two of the four have been added to my All-Time Favorites list. Huh…).

What do you think of novels that include time travel? Have you noticed them trending the way I have? Any favorite time travel books to recommend? 

Speaking of time, it’s been way too long since I’ve posted a Friday Five, and today Paper Hangover, a fantastic group blog offering writing tips, book reviews, weekly blog topics, and teen interviews, has selected a topic I just can’t pass up:

It’s so difficult to choose just five! My childhood was FULL of books (thank you, Mom and Dad :)), and I’ve been an avid reader since the moment I realized that letters strung together on paper could transport me to new and exciting places. The five books listed below stick out in my mind for different reasons–charm, illustrations, descriptions, humor, characters, adventure, timelessness–and between the ages, oh,  five and twelve, I read each one repeatedly. (All blurbs are from Goodreads.)

1. Corduroy by Don Freeman – Don Freeman’s classic character, Corduroy, is even more popular today then he was when he first came on the scene over thirty years ago. These favorite titles are ready for another generation of children to love.

2. King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood – In this raucous tale, the Knight, the Duke, the Queen–and eventually the whole court–all try to lure King Bidgood from his cozy bathtub, but he won’t get out! Will anyone be able to solve this problem?

3. The entire Baby-Sitters Club Series by Ann M. Martin (and a long parade of ghostwriters, I assume) – Follows the adventures of Kristy and the other members of the Baby-Sitters Club as they deal with crank calls, uncontrollable two-year-olds, wild pets, and parents who do not always tell the truth.

4. The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen – Since it was first published in 1987, the story of thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson’s survival following a plane crash has become a modern classic. Stranded in the desolate wilderness, Brian uses his instincts and his hatchet to stay alive for fifty-four harrowing days.

5. Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume – Stephanie, 12, is into “hunks” even though she’s never met one herself. But when she starts seventh grade and finds out that she and her best friend, Rachel, aren’t in any of the same classes except gym, Stephanie has more to worry about than boys. A new girl, Alison, moves in; she’s a welcome new friend, but her presence alters the relationship between Steph and Rachel. For the first time, Rachel has secrets from Steph. But worse, Stephanie accidentally learns that her father isn’t in California on business, but that her parents have separated, and that her father has a girlfriend. She even suspects her mother of having a “fling.” The relationships within the story among the three friends, and between Steph and her parents, are complicated, and Blume handles this aspect realistically and with great ease. The story is lively and captures the nutty, poignant world of young teenagers.

Next: Today Alex Cavenaugh and Matt of the QQQE are hosting the Pay It Forward Blogfest! The idea is to introduce your readers to three bloggers you find awesome.

Here’s how it works: In my post, I’ll list, describe, and link to three blogs I enjoy reading, then you can hop around and check out their awesome for yourself. How fun is this idea?! Just so you know, it was incredibly difficult to narrow my list to ONLY three blogs, but in the end I went with three  that, when updated, I feel extra  excited to read.  

1. Alison Miller’s Left Brained by Day; Write Brained–All the Time – Alison is adorable! Her posts (on writing, books, motherhood, and life) are witty, thoughtful, and fun. Her taste in books is quite similar to mine, which makes her reviews over-the-top  aMaZiNg! 

2. Erin Bowman – Another blogger with fabulous taste in YA books! Erin’s blog is full of style and insight. She consistently shares her experiences with reading and writing, and advice on the publishing process (her debut, The Laicos Project, will be released Winter, 2013… can’t wait!). 

3. Tracey Neithercott of Words on Paper – I could include Tracey based on her conception of The Fall Book Club alone, but, she has even more brilliance to share with the blogosphere. Her posts are  a sassy combination of smart, sharp, and, clever, and she always takes Road Trip Wednesdays in an enviably unique direction. 

And a special mention to agent Vickie Motter of Navigating the Slush Pile, because–hello!–she’s fantastic. Her Wednesday Reads feature is one of my favorites, and she’s posting helpful information on writing, querying, and publishing. 

Please do stop by the Pay it Forward Blogfest to check out the many posts, and maybe even participate yourself!

And, since we’re (sort of) on the subject, a time-travel-inspired “Would you rather…?”

If it were safe and feasible and you were given the choice, would you rather travel back in time to the past, or forward to visit the future?

Tragic pick-up line, or totally awesome science geek opener?

Thankful Thursday: MADELINE

Oasis for YA knows that the surest way to get good things in life is to be thankful for what you have.  So why not encourage a group thankful-fest once a week in which we all send out good energy and hope to get some back in return? Plus, participating in Thankful Thursday is a great way to connect with other writers.

Here are the rules:
1.  Do your own blog post on what you’re thankful for today.  It doesn’t have to be book or publishing related (but it can be!).
2.  Be sure to grab our badge and include it in your post.
3.  Post a link to your blog in the comments here so that others can find you.
4.  Go forth and share your gratitude!  (And when friending new blogs, be sure to let them know you found them because of their participation in the meme.)

Today’s Prompt: Let’s get out of the realm of writing and YA for a bit. What picture book are you thankful for?

I absolutely adore picture books. At one point several years ago, I was certain that if I ever wrote a book, it’d be a picture book. Then I discovered the awesomeness that is YA and the rest is history… Still, I buy picture books *almost* as often as I buy YA, and my daughter has acquired quite a collection. In fact, she told me the other day that her bedroom is “kind of like a library.”

One of our favorites is Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans.


From Goodreads: Madeline is one of the best-loved characters in children’s literature. Set in picturesque Paris, this tale of a brave little girl’s trip to the hospital was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1940 and has as much appeal today as it did then. The combination of a spirited heroine, timelessly appealing art, cheerful humor, and rhythmic text makes Madeline a perennial favorite with children of all ages.

I remember reading Madeline with my mom decades ago, and I love reading it with my daughter today. (She’s very big on fairly tales and Princesses, so any time I find a real-life story she truly enjoys, it’s a win.) Madeline is simple yet incredibly charming, and the illustrations are uniquely beautiful. There’s an interesting sense of urgency that comes across as you read (especially if you’re reading out loud, I think), something I picked up on as a child and have come to really appreciate as an adult. Definitely check Madeline out if you haven’t read it before–especially if you have a child and DEFINITELY if you have a little girl.


What picture book are you thankful for?

“My Favorite Picture Book” Blogfest

Hosted by Megan K. Bickel at Write-At-Home-Mom, the “My Favorite Picture Book” blogfest is exactly what it sounds like: In celebration of this unique literary form combining two art forms (writing and illustrating), blog about your favorite picture book.  It can be your favorite as a child or your favorite as a parent, a writer, or a teacher.  What made (or makes) you love it?  Share two sentences or fifteen paragraphs.  Be creative or plain.  Just celebrate picture books! (And big thanks to Kat Owens for letting me know about this fantastic blogfest!)

While this blog focus mostly on young adult literature, I am also a lover of picture books. As a former teacher and current parent (my daughter is three-and-a-half, in case you’re wondering), the picture book collection in my house is extensive.

I considered blogging about a classic like Goodnight Moon or The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but in the end I just couldn’t. While I love those books (I give them as shower gifts anytime a friend has a baby),  there’s another book I kept coming back to, one I bought for my daughter on a whim at the Seattle Aquarium about two years ago: The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

From Goodreads: When a tiny snail meets a humpback whale, the two travel together to far-off lands. It’s a dream come true for the snail, who has never left home before. But when the whale swims too close to shore, will the snail be able to save her new friend?

The verse in The Snail and the Whale is adorable. I’m such a sucker for rhyming picture books, and The Snail and the Whale is done exceptionally. I know nothing about poetry, but the lyrical rhythm of  this book reminds me of Lewis Carroll’s The Walrus and the Carpenter. The form probably has a name, but all I know is that it’s quick and bouncy and perfectly appropriate for the tone of the story.

Speaking of the story, this one makes me smile every time I read it. The snail has an “itchy foot” and wants to leave his rock to see the world. He hitches a ride with humpback whale and the two explore oceans near and far. Then the whale becomes disoriented in a busy harbor and runs into trouble. It’s up to the tiny snail to save his friend, and the tension during the climax of the story is palpable, especially considering we’re dealing with two fictional animals.  You’ll find yourself rooting for the snail and whale as if they’re your greatest friends!

This book has gorgeous illustrations. They held my daughter’s attention even when she was much younger.  Colorful, detailed and unique, they’re a perfect complement to the story. If you haven’t read The Snail and the Whale, I highly recommend you check it out. I think you’ll be glad you did. 🙂 And don’t forget to click HERE to read the other “My Favorite Picture Book” entries!

So, what’s your favorite picture book?