Month: April 2016

PPBF Looks at The Keeping Quilt

PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) looks at The Keeping Quilt.

After my Tante Helen passed away, my sister and I each inherited a quilt she made with the help of her mother. I never draped the quilt over a bed or chair for fear something might spill on it. I feared that through daily use, the quilt might tear or fade. So, I wrapped it with great care and stored it in the linen closet. Some years later, when my daughter was eight, I came into her room to find she had spread the treasured quilt over her floor.

My Tante Helen’s handmade, heirloom quilt was not only touching the floor, it was covered with toys, books, one immensely happy child, and a shedding, slobbering dog.

As I began my relatively calm lecture about the importance of this quilt that I stored with the intention of bringing out for special company or for some special day in the distant future, my very wise daughter changed my mind about what it meant to cherish an heirloom.

“Aren’t we special enough to enjoy this quilt?” she said.


“Doesn’t having it out where we can see it make every day special?”

Yup! You guessed it…the quilt stayed out. And the fancy soup terrine my husband and I received as a wedding gift replaced our mundane, pyrex serving bowl. And our special occasion wine glasses replaced our everyday wine glasses.

“Yes, my love,” I said to my daughter, ” we are special enough to enjoy this quilt every day and seeing it makes every day special. Very special. Seeing the quilt brings back a myriad of marvelous memories of my Tante Helen.

The story of my aunt’s quilt brings me to today’s PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco.

Title – The Keeping Quilt – view on Amazon HERE.

Written and illustrated by – Patricia Polacco

Published by – Aladdin Paperbacks  edition 2001  (text and illustration copyright 1988)

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  Love, faith, and traditions

Opening –When my Great-Gramma Anna came to America, she wore the same thick overcoat and big boots she had worn for farm work. But her family weren’t dirt farmers anymore. In New York City her father’s work was hauling things on a wagon, and the rest of the family made artificial flowers all day.

Everyone was in a hurry, and it was so crowded, not like in backhome Russia. But all the same, it was their home, and most of their neighbors were just like them.

Amazon Review – “We will make a quilt to help us always remember home,” Anna’s mother said. “It will be like having the family in backhome Russia dance around us at night.”
And so it was. From a basket of old clothes, Anna’s babushka, Uncle Vladimir’s shirt, Aunt Havalah’s nightdress and an apron of Aunt Natasha’s become The Keeping Quilt, passed along from mother to daughter for almost a century. For four generations the quilt is a Sabbath tablecloth, a wedding canopy, and a blanket that welcomes babies warmly into the world.
In strongly moving pictures that are as heartwarming as they are real, Patricia Polacco tells the story of her own family and the quilt that remains a symbol of their enduring love and faith.

Why do I like this book? Traditions and family top my list of what is truly important. That is why I love this story about a quilt made from clothes of family members–fabrics that will hold memories and stories as the quilt is passed down through generations. The quilt is enjoyed as a table cloth on the Sabbath, a blanket Anna sits upon when her fiance’ proposed marriage, it became the wedding huppah, a wrap for Anna’s new born child, and so much more.

Learn about Patricia Polacco HERE.

Discussion with children – What clothes do you or your family members have that you would want to include in a quilt. What special memories do those clothes have for you?

PPBF Looks at Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin

PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) looks at Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin.

One afternoon, back when I was nine, I wandered up to the loft where my parents stored magazines, stacks of books, old toys, and furniture. While I rooted through an old trunk, I came across a long, peculiar-shaped case. I unlatched it and found an old violin. One of the four strings lay broken, countless frayed hairs on the bow made it unplayable, and a musty smell filled the case. But the violin…that elegant violin captivated me.

For those of you thinking it was a priceless Stradavarius, I’m sorry to disenchant you. However, the violin had merit being made by the German violin maker, Heinrich Theodore Heberlein Jr. (1843-1910)


My father had purchased the violin many years ago when he was in his early twenties with the dream that one day he would learn to play the instrument. After my father brought the beautiful instrument to a violin maker for repairs, I took over my father’s dream. With lessons over many years, I practiced until I was ready to join an orchestra. I loved wearing a long black skirt for concerts. I loved sitting, not in the audience facing the music, but on stage surrounded by the music. Bows gliding together across the strings. The conductor leading us with his baton, pulling from us the best music we were capable of playing. At the end of the concert, I stood with the orchestra as we bowed in appreciation to  the warm applause.

My love of the violin leads me to today’s PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) selection.

Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss. Of course, when I saw the vibrant cover illustration of the violinist and read the title, I had to peek inside. And…one peek lead to in instant love and purchase.

Title – Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin – view on Amazon Here.

Written by – Lloyd Moss (1926-2013)

Illustrated by – Marjorie Priceman

Published by – Aladdin Paperbacks  edition 2000  (text and illustration copyright 1995)

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  music and learning about the instruments in an orchestra

Opening –

With mournful moan and silken tone,

Itself alone comes ONE TROMBONE.

gliding, sliding, high notes go low;


Amazon Review – The Caldecott Honor book, now in paperback!
With mournful moan and silken tone,
itself alone comes ONE TROMBONE…

Then a trumpet joins in to become a duet; add a French horn and voila! you have a trio — and on it goes until an entire orchestra is assembled on stage. Lloyd Moss’s irresistible rhymes and Marjorie Pricemans’s energetic illustrations make beautiful music together — a masterpiece that is the perfect introduction to musical instruments and musical groups, and a counting book that redefines the genre.

Why do I like this book? Musical instruments each have their own distinctive voice. Describing an instrument’s voice through words often falls flat to the actual sound. But when I read each stanza dedicated to a musical instrument, I found that Lloyd Moss demonstrates a “fine tuned” understanding of the particular sound each instrument produces and found perfect words to bring each one to life. And…offering the absolute, hands down, perfect accompaniment to the text, one of my very favorite illustrators, Marjorie Priceman, was chosen to create the art. Her style is expressive. Her illustrations burst with intense colors and freedom. Her lines are more fluid than cursive handwriting.

Learn about Lloyd Moss HERE. This is an incredible post about the author that includes the story of how this special book came to be.

Learn about Marjorie Priceman HERE.

Discussion with children – watch videos on your computer or check them out at the library of music performed by various solo instruments. Then, play a piece of classical music performed by an orchestra and see how many instruments children can recognize. And…

…ask if they can describe the sound each instrument makes in words.

DANCE TIME! – While listening to various musical pieces, make space in a room for a little creative “dance” time. Let children explore with their hands, arms, feet, legs, and bodies what direction the music takes them.

DRAWING TIME! -Spread out large sheets of paper, markers, and colored pencils or crayons. This time, while listening to expressive pieces of music, encourage children to show with lines, shapes, and squiggles how the music ‘looks’ to them if it were a picture.

If you know of other picture books that explore music, I hope you’ll share them in the comments.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. See you back here soon!

PPBF Looks at The Tea Party in the Woods

A picture book about a tea party touches a special place in my heart, especially a tea party with marvelous, unexpected guests like in the PPBF (Perfect Picture Book Friday) book I am reviewing today – The Tea Party in the Woods by award-winning, Japanese author/illustrator, Akiko Miyakoshi.

Since my daughter was three, we have enjoyed many imaginative tea parties up in her room. I spread a lace table cloth on her round play table, bring up a brimming tray of sweet treats, assortment of fruit and minty teas, my favorite vintage tea cups, a painted tea pot, a jar of honey, and decorative napkins. Then, I take my place at the table and anxiously await my surprise guest. Sometimes my daughter wears an outlandish hat and scarf and sunglasses and tells me she is a movie star from one of my favorite movies. Other times she carries a small handbag, slips her feet inside my wedding shoes, and enters as the Queen of England (speaking with an English accent). She joins me for high tea, and we pretend we’re the oldest and dearest of friends. Of course, we have oodles to catch up on. So having found the enchanting fairy tale picture book, The tea Party inthe Woods, I quickly added it to my bookshelf of very favorite picture books and chose to share it with you today for Perfect Picture Book Friday. I hope you will love this tender tale as much as I do.

Title – The Tea Party in the Woods – view on Amazon here.

Written and illustrated by – Akiko Miyakoshi

Published by – Kids Can Press – 2015

Suitable for ages – 3-7

Topics/Theme –  Friendship, sharing, and kindness.

Opening – That morning, Kikko had awoken to a winter wonderland. It had snowed all night.

That morning, Kikko had awoken to a winter wonderland. It had snowed all night.

Now her father was off to Grandma’s house to help clear the walk.

“Is this the pie for Grandma?” Kikko asked her mother, spotting the box near the door.

“Oh, dear,” her mother said. “Your father forgot it.”

“I can still catch up to him,” said Kikko.

“All right, but hurry.”

Jacket copy  – One snowy winter’s day, Kikko sets out to bring a pie to Grandma. When she happens upon a strange house in the woods, the most surprising guests invite her inside for  a tea party. Kikko can hardly believe her eyes….

Amazon Review – When a young girl named Kikko realizes her father has forgotten the pie he was supposed to bring to Grandma’s house, she offers to try and catch him as he makes his way through the woods. She hurriedly follows her father’s footprints in the snow and happens upon a large house she has never seen before. Curious, Kikko peers through the window, when she is startled by a small lamb wearing a coat and carrying a purse. Even more surprising, the lamb speaks, asking her in a kind voice, ?Are you here for the tea party?? Suddenly, Kikko realizes her trip through the woods has turned into something magical.

A Tea Party in the Woods

Why do I like this book? I first discovered this book when I was scrolling through my Facebook feed. One of the writers I follow posted an illustration from The Tea Party in the Woods and, without knowing what the story was about, I ordered the book. Yup! One illustration by the very talented, Akiko Miyakoshi sold me. I knew If one picture could enchant me, a whole book filled with her beautiful and sensitively created illustrations would knock me head over heels with joy. And I was right. To increase the pleasure of this book, the story is an original fairy tale about possibility. Magical, surreal possibility. Akiko’s selective and minimalistic use of color directs the eye to special details in her illustrations. I can only believe that to create such thoughtful and tender images, she must have had an enchanted and lovely childhood.

Visit Akiko Miyakoshi here.

Discussion with children – The ambiguous ending of this fairy tale leaves the reader wondering whether Kikko imagined the tea party or if the animals disappeared back into the woods. This opens up a wonderful discussion with children on what they believe happened.

DIY Tea Party Hat craft projects to make with children.

No tea party could be complete without the addition of a party-perfect, tea party hat. Here are some DIY blog posts to get you started!

Decorative and fun-to-make-with-kids, newspaper and flower tea party hat HERE.

A paper-mache, floral, tea party hat HERE.

Unbelievably cute tea party hats from paper bowls, pipe cleaners and tissue paper HERE.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. See you back here soon!