Friday, January 17, 2020

Flamingo Hugs -- Perfect Picture Book Friday

This Perfect Picture Book Friday, I am thankful for Ciara O'Neal, Alicia Young, Kaitlyn Sanchez, and Flamingos.

I won this wonderful book with my Fall Frenzy writing contest submission. 

Cover art for Flamingo Hugs Aren't For Everyone

What?! Flamingo hugs aren't for everyone? No way! Who wouldn't want a hug from a flamingo?

Title: Flamingo Hugs Aren't For Everyone
Author: Ciara O'Neal
Illustrated by: Alicia Young
Publisher: (Ciara did it herself. Yes, that right, this is a self-published picture book), 2019. You can find it on Amazon.

Opening Lines: While most flamingos dreamed of dancing and dining on delicacies, Flaminga hoped for a hug. Day after day, she watched as the zoo's ponies were petted. The calves were cuddled. Even llamas were loved. Have you ever met a llama? They're grumps! But no one EVER wanted Flaminga's hugs.

Hugs, Flamingos, clumsiness

Why I like this book:
1. Flaminga is sooooo cute.
2. Hugs are wonderful.
3. Pair Flaminga and hugs, and it's just downright cuterful. Yep. I made that word up. This book is cuterful. Maybe it's wondercute. Either way, it's a fun and funny story with bright and cheerful illustrations.

Flaminga is a bit clumsy and in her attempts to give and receive hugs, things don't always go well. We've all been there. In our excitement, we move too fast, miss a step or two and Splash, Crash, we go tumbling. But that doesn't stop Flaminga from getting up and trying again and again to find somebody to hug. Join her as she attempts to wrap her bright pick wings around all the zoo visitors.

This would make a great gift book for Valentine's Day.

Activities and Resources:

At the back of the book you will discover some fun flaming facts and a coloring page.

Here's and adorable handprint flamingo craft.

Two things I have learned about flamingos over the years.
1. Flamingos need to get a running start to take flight.
2. Most flamingos in the US are domesticated. The wild flamingos were hunted out of existence. But, they are making a comeback.

More flamingo facts.

Don't miss Ciara's interview with Susanna Hill.

Can't get enough of these incredible pink birds? Here are more crafts and baking ideas.

Here are a few bonus photos of flamingos. The first two were taken in the Camargue in the South of France. The last one has become one of my Halloween decorations.

Pink Flamingos in the Camargue France
I see one ready for a hug.

Two running Pink Flamingos in the Camargue France
Did you know they run?

Plastic flamingo painted like skeleton for Halloween
Yep, a skeleton riding a skeleton flamingo. That's the way I roll.
Looking for more Perfect Picture Books? Follow Susanna Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday Blog. She write great posts and she has made it a place for others to share their perfect picture books.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Thanku: Perfect Picture Friday

Cover art for Thanku Poems of Gratitude

Title: Thanku: Poems of Gratitude
Illustrated by: Marlena Myles
Edited by: Miranda Paul
Publisher: Millbrook Press, 2019

Opening Poem, First stanza:

Giving Thanks
by Joseph Bruchac
In Memory of Chief Jake Swamp

Thanksgiving is more
than just one day,
so a Mohawk elder
said to me.

It feels fitting to begin 2020 with a book of poems about gratitude and thanks. I have spent a lot of time reviewing the last year and planning for the year ahead. Part of that project included acknowledging everyone I am grateful The list is long and it includes, family, friends, mentors, animals, and nature.

If you listen to Matthew Winner's podcast (Matthew is a person who I am grateful to have met this past summer), you will hear the poets say whether they pronounce the name of the book Than-ku or Thank You. From the first time I saw this book, I pronounced it Thank You, but as Matthew said, It is like Thanks and Haiku. Any way you say it the book is filled with beautiful poems of gratitude and and illustrations that add even more life to each poem created by Marlena Myles.

Miranda Paul is another person for whom I am grateful. She is the editor of this book. She is one of the first authors I met when I began my writing journey three years ago.

I am grateful for each poet, for the illustrator, for the editors, art directors, and publisher of this book.

As you read the poems  you will see and read that each is written in a different style of poetry. On the page of the poem, there is a small note on which style of poetry was used. At the back of the book, the poetic forms and literary devices are explained.

The poets are from many cultures. There are short bios about each at the back of the book.

I love this book, because it is beautiful in words and illustrations. It is like holding the world in your hands as you read. It is a book to read slowly. Savor each poem. Let it sink in. Enjoy the illustrations. Open it to any page and read what is there. Come back again and again.


  • Check out the back matter in the book to learn more.
  • Try writing your own poems in the various styles.
  • Make a list of all the things you are thankful for.
  • Send thank you notes.
  • Make thank you notes and deliver them in person.
  • Share kindness. 
    • The Kindness Rocks Project is cool.
    • When I was shopping before the holidays, I went to Aldi where you have to put a quarter in the slot to use a shopping cart. I rarely need a cart, but this day I had a pretty big list and no quarter. A woman offered me the cart and said, I always pay it forward, take the cart. I like to pay-it-forward as well. When I was done shopping, I passed the cart on to another person getting ready to shop. I imagine that everyone who arrived as that cart was being put away, was greeted by a kind person paying it forward. 
    • At the Farm and Fleet, I was at a loss for stocking gifts for my husband. I asked a person for some ideas of gadgets to go with a couple tools that he had. The man took me down the aisle and told me about several fun options. In our busy days, it's easy for someone to say here's where those accessories are and then walk away, but he went above and beyond so I could make choices quickly and easily as well as have a fun conversation.
    • Yarn Bombing
    • So many possibilities, so little time.
  • Learn the truth about the First Thanksgiving. See links under resources for excellent articles and lessons.
  • Celebrate diversity in your neighborhood, your community, your city, your school, and your home.
  • Buy this book and give it to someone who has been kind to you. Buy this book for yourself and read it over and over

Links to Resources from the book:

You can listen to many of the authors talk about their poems at Matthew Winner's Children's Book Podcast

One of my first experiences with Native peoples, was with Chief Oshkosh in Door County. Attending Powwows, hearing the music, the stories, and watching the dances by the light of the bonfire are a part of me forever. Those nights are a big part of who I am today.

I hope you will take any opportunity that arises to learn more about the Native American culture and let it mix in with you and your soul. Take time to learn about all cultures and all people. Love them for who they are. Give thanks for how their life experiences expand your life and make you a more loving and peaceful person.

Be sure to check out Susanna Hill's blog to find more Perfect Picture Book Friday posts. By the way, I am so grateful to Susanna for hosting her blog with #PPBF, Would You Read It Wednesday, Debut Tuesday, and her fun writing contests.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Wild Fibonacci-- Perfect Picture Book Friday

Happy Fibonacci Day!

11/23 is Fibonacci Day! A great day to celebrate the Fibonacci sequence and spiral. Pull out your cornucopia and get it ready for Thanksgiving.

My pick for this week is:
Cover art for Wild Fibonacci Book

Title: Wild Fibonacci: Nature's Secret Code Revealed
Author: Joy N. Hulme
Illustrator: Carol Schwartz 
Publisher: Tricycle Press, 2005

For ages 6 and up

Wild Fibonacci opens with front matter explaining the Fibonacci sequence and the spiral. It also offers ways to discover the sequence through exploration in nature.

Themes: Fibonacci, Mathematics, poetry, Nature, STEM

Opening Page:
In the Fibonacci sequence 
each new number comes
from adding up the two before
and figuring the sum.

This number set is used to plot
a graceful curving line
that's often found in nature
as part of its design. 

The book continues showing the sequence through counting wild animals and each animal depicted shows the curve of the spiral on a part of the animal's body.

Why I like this book:
The sequence and the spiral are fascinating and appear in so many places. Introducing children to this concept will open the door to them seeing the word in new and exciting ways.

This book mainly focuses on the Fibonacci sequence, but uses animals and obvious body parts that fit the curve of the Fibonacci spiral.

The art work is engaging and realistic.

Activities and Resources:

Learn more about Leonardo Fibonacci.
cover art for Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci

photo of three nautilus shells

Here's one I wrote:

Nautilus Shell

thread-like siphuncle                       (sigh-funk-el)
jet propulsing, moving backward
through the ocean. Rising, lowering, traveling the sea.
Hungry octopus spies a meal.
Soft delicious treat.
Empty shell
rides waves

Sarah Tobias (C) 2019

Definition of siphuncle.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Boo and Baa Have Company-- Perfect Picture Book Friday

I was at the library last week picking up a few books. This book caught my eye. Read on to find out why.

Cover art for Boo and Baa Have Company

Title: Boo and Baa Have Company
Authors/Illustrators: Lena and Olof Landstrom 
Translated by: Joan Sandin
Publisher: R & S Books, 2006

Themes: Humor, Fall, Cats, Animals, 

First Lines: It's autumn. The tree has dropped its leaves. 

Boo and Baa are a couple of sheep out raking their yard. The wheelbarrow squeaks so they oil it and then it meows.

Why I love this book:

I grew up on the Scandanavian-American Ole and Lena jokes. Here's one I found online:

Ole, Lena, and Sven were lost in the northwoods and were becoming desperate, having run out of food several days ago. It was winter, the snow was deep, their situation was looking very bleak. 

When Ole dug down into the snow to look for something to eat , he found an old lamp and upon rubbing it to get the snow off, a genie came out.

The genie says, "I am the great genie of the North and I can grant each of you one wish."

Ole says, "I vish I vas back on my farm." Poof, Ole was gone.

Lena quickly says, "I vish I vas back on da farm wit Ole." Poof, Lena was gone.

Sven was sitting there looking sad and the genie finally says, "What is your wish?" and Sven says, "Gee, I'm really lonely. I vish Ole and Lena vas back here with me".

OK, so now you know a little something about my sense of humor and a little bit of why I love stories.

This is the long way of saying, when I saw the authors names on the book cover, I had to bring it home and read it. As it began, I thought, hmm, I don't know about this book, then I turned to . . .

Page from the book. The wheelbarrow meows.
She greases the axle. "Now it meows when I push it," says Boo.
It cracked me up. I stopped and made my husband read it with me. The illustrations and text really create the whole story. Kids will be in on the joke before Boo and Baa. Boo and Baa are adorable and timeless.

While the story has a fall setting, it would be cute to read any time of year.

  • Go outside and play in the leaves. Or if you are in the Midwest, make a leafy snowman. (Our seasons got jumbled and the leaves fell after the snow.)
  • Check out a joke book and tell each other silly jokes and see who laughs first.
  • There are loads of sheep crafts on Pinterest. I chose this one because it looks like a scene and kids can create their own Boo and Baa stories.
Be sure to keep up on all of the Perfect Picture Book Friday posts at Susanna Hill's blog. You can find lots of fun books by theme at this page.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Fry Bread -- Perfect Picture Book Friday

Native American Heritage Month

cover art for Fry Bread

Title: Fry Bread: a Native American Family Tradition
Author: Kevin Noble Maillard 
Illustrator: Juana Martinez-Neal
Publisher: Roaring Book Press, 2019

Opening pages:

Fry Bread is Food
Flour, salt, water
Cornmeal, baking powder
Perhaps milk, maybe sugar
All mixed together in a bowl

This book! 

How do I describe it? It is poetry. It is history. It is truth. It is sadness and happiness. It is simple and complex. It is beautiful and powerful. It is a book for reading together and for discussing. It is for young and old.

"Fry Bread is Everything
Round, flat, large, small
North, South, East, West
Familiar and foreign, old and new
We come together"

It is a doorway to understanding, loving, making amends, opening our eyes, and creating a better future.

At the end of the book there are 8 pages of author's notes and another page of references and footnotes. So much information in a beautiful picture book.

Juana Martinez-Neal's illustrations are joyful, lively, thoughtful, sad, true and engaging. They were created in acrylics, colored pencil, and graphite on hand-textured paper.

Activities and Resources:

At the end of the book there is a recipe for Kevin's Fry Bread. This would be a wonderful family activity.

I found a recipe that is gluten free.

Activities for Native American Heritage Month

As always you can read about more perfect Picture Books at Susanna Hill's blog. Her last Perfect Picture Book was this same book. It is one worth sharing over and over again. Be sure to check out the wonderful list by themes on this page.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Moldilocks and the Three Scares -- Perfect Picture Book Friday

Our snowy Halloween has come to an end, my skeletons are cold and ready to hibernate until next year, but there's always time for a fun zombie story.

It is the Day of the Dead a time for remembrance and love so this book makes for a Perfect Picture Book today and well, any day.

Cover art for Moldilocks and the Three Scares

Title: Moldilocks and the Three Scares: A Zombie Tale
Author: Lynne Marie
Illustrator: David Rodriguez Lorenzo
Publisher: Sterling Children's Books, 2019

Opening Page: IN A HUGE HAUNTED HOUSE -- with room enough for four, there lived three Scares: Papa Scare, Mama Scare, and Baby Scare. 

Themes: Adoption, Halloween, Zombies, Classic Remakes

This remix of the classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a a little creepy, a little gruesome, and full of heart.

Why I love this book: 

There are not many books out there that include adoption as a topic.  This one sets you up from the beginning that this family has room for one more. Something every adopted child wants to feel is that there is room for them and they are wanted.

I love Halloween and our local schools no longer celebrate the holiday. This book isn't a Halloween story, so it makes for a great book to read this time of year. You don't have to break any rules, but you get to have some spooky creepy fun.

One of the things that I love about the end papers is that there is the black space at the bottom right corner. At first glance it seems like there was an odd choice in layout, but when you know the story, you realize it's black because it is waiting to be filled.

Activities and Resources:

You could pair this book with Sterling, Best Dog Ever by Aidan Cassie to talk about adoption and  finding a home.


You could pair this book with Zombies Don't Eat Veggies by Jorge and Megan Lacera and have a non-Halloween at Halloweenie storytime. You could even add in Zombies in Love by Kate DiPuccio for a Zombie Trifecta.

You can read more about her journey in making this book here.

Check out David's Website

He posted a sketch on Instagram that you can color.

Check out Lynne Marie's website.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Halloweensie Time!: Matilda's Treat

I love Halloween.  For me it's family, creativity, and scary, but not too scary times.

Susanna Hill has brought back many fun memories and pushed my creativity. Thank you for putting on this fun writing contest and thank you to all the people who have donated incredible prizes.

I met Matilda at Michael's and she came home to live, well not live, but hang out, at my house. While she looks like a bunch of bones, she lives on in this story.

Halloweensie Rules: Halloween Story, 100 words or less, must include the words, potion, trick, and cobweb, for ages 12 and under.

Matilda the Skeleton wearing fall yellow leaves.

Matilda's Treat

Matilda died long ago.

Her skin is gone, but not her dream.
The full moon’s bright, and she has risen.
Time to mix her favorite potion.
The cauldron bubbles, steams, and boils.
She tosses in
Eye of newt and bat wing leather,
A vulture’s head and just one feather.
She stirs and stirs.
It’s almost ready.
One last touch, gently folded in;
shimmery, glistening spider webs.
Light and fluffy . . .
the perfect batch of cobweb candy.
Matilda waits for her guests.
Children come singing, “Trick-or-Treat.”
She raises her hand and makes her offer.
Would you try it?
Would you dare?