Perfect Picture Book Friday – Bear Snores On

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

bear_snores_onTitle: Bear Snores On

Author: Karma Wilson

Illustrator: Jane Chapman

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster

Year: 2002

Genre: Fiction picture book

Ages: 3-7

Themes: Frienship; animals


In a cave in the woods,

in his deep, dark, lair,

through the long cold winter

sleeps a great brown bear.

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) One by one, 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 just 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!

What makes it great: The storyline and cast of characters are adorable and appealing to young children. Who wouldn’t want to see what is finally going to wake this bear up?

What readers notice: When we first read this story when my daughter was about 3, she loved the repetition of the phrase, “But the bear snores on!” This is the first in Karma Wilson’s bear series and every book includes a wonderful repetitive phrase that children can latch onto.

What a writer notices: 

There’s so much to like about this story, but what I’ll talk about here is the language. The language is simple and easy for a young child to understand, while at the same time using inventive phrases that add so much fun to the storytelling, for example in this stanza:

An itty-bitty mouse,

pitter-pat, tip-toe,

creep-crawls in the cave

from the fluff-cold snow.

The rhythm and rhyme are impeccable, and I love how the stanzas are punctuated with a phrase that breaks the rhythm, and then repetitive phrase that is fun to say:

The coals pip-pop and the wind doesn’t stop. But the bear snores on.

In the book, the phrase ‘but the bear snores on’ is printed in a larger typeface and offset so that it is given even more emphasis.

The drama is heightened even further at the climax of the story when the forest creatures make a stew and sprinkle it with pepper.

He blows and he sneezes, and the whole crowd freezes…and the bear wakes up!


Activities/Links to Resources: 

Preschool lesson plans about bears:

A music lesson to be used with Bear Snores On:

Many lessons and ideas about hibernation:

Lesson plan about rhyming:

2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem

2014kidlitprogpoemHappy Poetry Month! Today is my turn to add a line to the 2014 Progressive Poem, organized by Irene Latham. The poem started April 1 at Charles Waters’ blog.

Charles started us out with a very definite character, and I wanted to continue that character’s voice. Anastasia added a bit of mystery – a rune which may tell something of the future. But I don’t think this character is going to lie down and accept that the future is already mapped out…


Sitting on a rock, airing out my feelings to the universe

Acting like a peacock, only making matters that much worse;

Should I trumpet like an elephant emoting to the moon,

Or just ignore the warnings written in the rune?

Those stars can’t seal my future; it’s not inscribed in stone.


And I hope ending with ‘stone’ gives enough flexibility for Sheila to find a rhyme tomorrow! Follow along all month:

1 Charles at Poetry Time

2 Joy at Joy Acey

3 Donna at Mainely Write

4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!

5 Carrie at Story Patch

6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro

7 Pat at Writer on a Horse

8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

9 Diane at Random Noodling

10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

11 Linda at Write Time

12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

13 Janet at Live Your Poem

14 Deborah at Show–Not Tell

15 Tamera at The Writer’s Whimsy

16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge

17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

18 Irene at Live Your Poem

19 Julie at The Drift Record

20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman

21 Renee at No Water River

22 Laura at Author Amok

23 Amy at The Poem Farm

24 Linda at TeacherDance

25 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty

26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books

27 Kate at Live Your Poem

28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose

29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town

30 Tara at A Teaching Life

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Water Can Be…

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

?????Title: Water Can Be

Author: Laura Purdie Salas

Illustrator: Violeta Dabija

Publisher: Millbrook Press

Year: 2014

Genre: Nonfiction picture book

Ages: 5-8

Themes: Water; natural world


Water is water—

it’s puddle, pond sea.

When springtime comes splashing,

the water flows free.

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website)

Water can be a…

• Thirst quencher

• Kid drencher

• Cloud fluffer

• Fire snuffer

Find out about the many roles water plays in this poetic exploration of water throughout the year.

This book is one in a series that includes A Leaf Can Be… and A Rock Can Be… (not yet released).

What makes it great: Fun rhymes and beautiful, evocative illustrations that directly relate to children’s own experiences with water.

What readers notice: My 5-year-old loved looking at the pictures and picked out her favorite (the last page with the ice sculptures). She also liked the invitation at the end of the story to think about what else water can be, and came up with ‘mist’ and ‘smoke’ (which led to a nice little discussion about the difference between smoke and steam).

What a writer notices: 

I was really blown away by the unique concepts that Laura came up with for this book and how she expressed them in rhyme. It would have been easy to fall back on the tried-and-true, but she went for the unexpected every time. This spread is just one example:




Activities/Links to Resources: 

Laura Salas’ website includes trailers and classroom activities for her books. Activities for Water Can Be will be added soon.


Pinterest board of preschool-level water lessons:


Round up of water-related lessons for younger and older students:

Poetry Month 2014

Spring hasn’t quite reached us here in New England, but Poetry Month has. Here are a few of the ways I plan to bring more poetry into my life this month:

  • rhypibomo-participant-badgeAll month long I will be participating in RhyPiBoMo, a challenge hosted by Angie Karcher. During this challenge I will read a rhyming picrture book daily, write a poem daily, and draft a rhyming picture book. It will be a challenge for sure, but a fun one, and Angie has some fantastic guest posters and prizes lined up. It’s not too late to join in – you can register through April 16.
  • April 5: I’ll be adding a line to the 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem, which starts today over at Charles Waters’ blog.
  • April 9: Read the final two poems (and vote for one!) in the March Madness poetry tournament over at Think Kid, Think.
  • April 24: Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket day.
  • I’ll be posting reviews of rhyming picture books on Fridays as part of Perfect Picture Book Friday.
  • I’m planning to make a special effort to share poems and write poems with my kids this month.

What will you do for Poetry Month? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Library Harvest – 3/18/14


I scored big at the library today. The New Books shelf was fully loaded — and I happily unloaded it right into my bag. Have you read any of these, or any other new books you loved? (The one in the middle is Crankenstein by Samantha Berger and Dan Santat, which I can’t wait to read.) Down in the right corner is Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay, which my 5 year old is enjoying as a read-aloud, lately. It’s a very sweet series that is helping me get my mind around chapter books as a genre.

Speaking of new books…I am enjoying the discussion over in the Debut Picture Book Study Group. This is a Facebook group dedicated to studying picture books by first-time authors (not author illustrators). If you like talking plot structures, voice, and character arcs, come and join in!

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Tea Party Rules

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

tea_party_rulesTitle: Tea Party Rules

Author: Ame Dyckman

Illustrator: K.G. Campbell

Publisher: Viking

Year: 2013

Genre: Fiction picture book

Ages: 3-5

Themes: Friendship; manners

Opening: Cub was playing in the woods when he smelled something delicious. He followed his nose through the bushes and found…cookies! And another bear.

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) When he follows his nose through the woods, Cub discovers a backyard tea party…with cookies!  He is just about to dig in when the hostess of the tea party shows up. And she has several strong opinions on how Tea Party must be played. Cub tries to follow her rules . . . but just how much can one bear take, even for cookies?

What makes it great: Like Ame’s earlier book, Boy + Bot, this book has a spare simplicity that is so much fun to read. I love that Cub’s motivation is cookies – because who hasn’t been motivated by cookies?

What readers notice: My kids loved the scene when Cub finally loses it and devours the cookies in such an UNdainty way.

What a writer notices: Editors today are demanding shorter and shorter texts, and reading this book is like a master class in that style of writing. There is not one word wasted or out of place. And yet, she manages to inject plenty of voice and personality into the text. In just 425 words, the author tells a complete, humorous, and emotionally satisfying story.

Activities/Links to Resources: 

Mind Your Manners tea party ideas:

Kids might be interested in learning about the different etiquette required at a Japanese tea ceremony:

Lots of activities about teaching general good manners here:


Family Trees – A Celebration of Children’s Literature

This morning, my kids and I went to a special holiday exhibit at the Concord Museum in Concord, Massachusetts. This is an annual exhibit I’ve wanted to see for several years, and I was glad to have a quiet morning during vacation week when we could go.

The exhibit is called “Family Trees: A Celebration of Children’s Literature.” Volunteer decorators – some of them the authors and illustrators themselves – use picture books as a theme to decorate Christmas trees around the museum. Each tree includes a copy of the book nearby so you can enjoy the stories.


This tree stood in the entryway – the centerpiece of the exhibit. It was decorated for Lola’s Fandango by Anna Witte, illustrated by Micha Archer, and decorated by the illustrator.

JN0_5176     JN0_5178


I love how she used toothbrushes as the bodies.

My daughter had read Snowmen at Work by Caralyn Buehner before, but wanted to read it again when she saw this tree.


The author, Jane Kohuth, decorated a tree for her book Duck Sock Hop, illustrated by Jane Porter. It was next to another tree decorated with socks, for Dirty Joe, the Pirate by Bill Harley, illustrated by Jack E. Davis.


This one was for Red Wagon by Renata Liwska.


This was one of my favorites, for The Umbrella Queen by Shirin Yim Bridges, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. I loved the detail in the umbrellas.



A group of 5th graders and kindergarteners from a local school decorated this one for The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.


The display included a coloring station where kids could decorate their own crayons.

JN0_5167  JN0_5169

This beautiful little tree was decorated for Gem by Holly Hobbie. It’s a wordless book, so my daughter was able to read the story to herself.



I should mention that the exhibit was sponsored by Barefoot Books, which is located in Concord. What a cool thing for a publisher to do.

There’s only two more days for this exhibit so if you can, go. Or catch it next year. It will be on my holiday-season calendar, for sure.