Month: January 2016

PPBF looks at Punctuation Celebration

Today on Perfect Picture Book Friday, I would like to share a book that doubles as one of the most entertaining reference books I have ever come across for punctuation. From this day forth, learning the rules for using commas, a semicolons, periods, or ellipses will never leave a child stumped, stymied, or brain-strained. Between Elsa Knight Bruno’s clever explanations and examples and Jenny Whitehead’s colorful and whimsical illustrations, learning about a topic that many children find dull is now a celebration of pure fun!

Title – Punctuation Celebration – view on Amazon here.

Written by – Elsa Knight Bruno

Illustrated by – Jenny Whitehead

Published by – Christy Ottaviano Books – Henry Holt and Company – 2009

Suitable for ages – 4-8

Topics/theme  learning punctuation rules

Opening – On your marks! Get set! Let’s go! To a sporty exploration into words and punctuation. We’ll meet the players, learn each name, and celebrate this special game.

Jacket copy  – Punctuation marks come alive in this clever picture book featuring fourteen playful poems. Periods stop sentences in a baker’s shop, commas help a train slow down, quotation marks tell people what to do, and colons stubbornly introduce lists. So come take part in the punctuation celebration!

Amazon Review – Punctuation marks come alive in this clever picture book featuring fourteen playful poems. Periods stop sentences in a baker’s shop, commas help a train slow down, quotation marks tell people what to do, and colons stubbornly introduce lists. This appealing primer is a surefire way to make punctuation both accessible and fun for kids.

Why do I like this book? Through whimsical, clever poetry, children are introduced in a painless, playful way to punctuation.  Each punctuation mark is given a clear explanation of where it should be used followed by a humorous poem that illustrates multiple examples of that punctuation mark in use. Even if a child understands punctuation, when reaching for a reference book on the topic, this is as fun and clear as I’ve ever heard it explained!

Author – YouTube video with the author here.

Illustrator – Visit Jenny Whitehead here.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Looks at – The Inventor's Secret

I can’t count the times my daughter asks to do an art project with me or wants to learn a new instrument like the piano, violin, or guitar. It doesn’t take long before she pushes the project away or abandons the instrument only to say, “I’ll never get good at this!” Or… “You’re so much better at this than I am.” Followed by… “What’s the point of trying?”

I make two cups of hot cocoa, a bowl of buttery popcorn, give her hugs, and plenty of encouragement. Then I tell her stories from my childhood.

“When I was a child, I sat with my mother at the kitchen table to work on an art project and felt discouraged because my mother, a scientific illustrator for the Field Museum in Chicago, clearly had more talent than I did. When I played the piano and made mistakes, my mother would sit beside me and play the piece so I could hear the song properly and get the melody in my ear. Mom was an accomplished pianist, so naturally the difference in our playing was there for anyone listening to hear. I didn’t see the point in continuing. When I wanted to quit piano lessons, my mom agreed and told me I was never to touch the piano again.


Talk about the cookie jar on the top shelf. Three days passed. Then, I couldn’t take it. Suddenly, I wanted to play the piano so much I asked my mom to please reinstate my lessons. Secretly, Mom knew I would cave in and had never called my piano teacher to cancel lessons. I practiced every day and eventually improved and enjoyed playing the piano for my own pleasure. My point is that you can’t expect to have professional results the first time you try something.” I said to my daughter. “Everything in this world worth having takes time, dedication, love, and commitment.”

This leads me to today’s Perfect Picture Book Friday (PPBF)

Title – The Inventor’s Secret – What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford (click here to view on Amazon.)

Written by – Suzanne Slade

*Illustrated by – Jennifer Black Reinhardt

*Published by – Charlesbridge – 2015

*Suitable for ages – * NSTA 2016 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12 *

*Topics/theme  determination

*Opening – Not so long ago the world was a little slower. A little simpler. And a whole lot quieter. No airplanes roaring overhead. No cars rumbling down roads. No phones ringing in pockets. Then things began to change–because of two curious boys, Thomas and Henry. And one secret.

Jacket copy  – Thomas was curious about electricity–invisible energy that flowed and stopped, sizzled and popped.

Henry was curious about engines–machines that chugged and purred, hiccupped and whirred.

The boys’ curiosity got them in a heap of trouble, but later led to some to the greatest inventions of all time!

When Thomas Edison grew up, he invented the electric pen, phonograph, light bulb, and more. Henry Ford dreamed of inventing a car–a road engine that hardworking families could afford. But year after year, Henry’s engine designs were a flop, while the whole country was crazy about Thomas’s inventions.

Henry was frustrated. He wanted to give up! And he kept wondering… What’s Thomas’s secret!

Amazon Review – Thomas Edison and Henry Ford started off as insatiably curious tinkerers. That curiosity led them to become inventors–with very different results. As Edison invented hit after commercial hit, gaining fame and fortune, Henry struggled to make a single invention (an affordable car) work. Witnessing Thomas’s glorious career from afar, a frustrated Henry wondered about the secret to his success.

This little-known story is a fresh, kid-friendly way to show how Thomas Edison and Henry Ford grew up to be the most famous inventors in the world–and best friends, too.

Why do I like this book? Although the retelling of the experiments, failures and successes take place around 100 years ago, the secret to what it takes to succeed is timeless and will surely inspire all who read this book, children and grownups alike. The illustrations are created with a happy heart of one of my favorite illustrators, Jennifer Black Reinhardt. Her artwork is brimming with details and colors children will enjoy looking at again and again.

Author – Visit Suzanne Slade here.

Illustrator – Visit Jennifer Black Reinhardt here.

PPBF Looks at What Does It Mean To Be Kind?

Yesterday when I was at the grocery store, the closest parking spot opened up, but I didn’t take it. I left it for someone else and parked further down. The exercise will do me good, (I’m still working off Christmas dinner…) and someone who really needs the closer spot will appreciate it.

Then, as I was waiting in line to pay for my groceries, a gentleman with two items in his arms stood behind me. So, I let him go ahead of me and my towering cart.

Last week when my daughter was practicing her guitar, I complimented her on all the notes and chords she played in tune and encouraged her to keep practicing, pointing out how far she has come in the few short months since she started lessons.

What do all these random acts of kindness have to do with writing?

They are further examples of ways we can all be kind, illustrated through text and pictures in today’s PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) review.

Title – What Does It Mean To Be Kind

Written by – Rana DiOrio

Illustrated by – Stephane Jorisch

Published by – Little Pickle Press , San Francisco, CA – 2015

Suitable for ages – 3  – 7

Topics/theme – kindness, friendship

Opening – What does it mean to be kind?

Amazon Review –  A girl in a red hat finds the courage to be kind to the new student in class. Her kindness spreads, kind act by kind act, until her whole community experiences the magical shift that happens when everyone understands―and acts on―what it means to be kind. The fifth book in Rana DiOrio’s award-winning What Does It Mean To Be …?® series, What Does It Mean To Be Kind? was named a 2015 Moonbeam Gold Medalist and won a Mom’s Choice Gold Award.

Why do I like this book?  Through sparse text and clear examples of acts of kindness, both children and adults can find, or be reminded of, simple, and much appreciated, ways to spread kindness. I also love the happy, uplifting illustrations created by the playful hand of Stephane Jorisch.

Author –Learn more about Rana DiOrio here.

Illustrator – Learn more about Stephane Jorisch here.

For more picture book reviews and recommendations, visit author Susanna Leonard Hills blog here.

START A CONVERSATION WITH A CHILD.  After sharing this book with a child (or with children) ask them to think of other ways they can be kind: at home, to their parents, to their siblings, to their pets, at school, to their teachers and friends, and also ways to be kind to our environment.