Silly Scientists Take a Tip-Toe with the Tadpoles by Lindsey Craig. Illustrated by Ying Hui Tan. Book Review.

The silly scientists are a bizarre variety of aliens. Their mission is to ensure Taddy the tadpole hatches from an egg, develops into a tadpole, and then into a frog.


This is a wild and fantastical book for children who enjoy extensive zany detail while they learn a little about animals. The pages are fairly bursting with vivid characters. There are seven brightly colored aliens, numerous pond plants and creatures, and ten tadpoles. Younger children might find the illustrations a bit challenging but those that enjoy examining pages with a lot of content will be satisfied.


Although the story is fiction, there are text boxes that explain, in rhyme, the life of a tadpole. The last two pages explain metamorphosis, producers, consumers, and decomposers.


There are moments of humour in the book. Many readers will enjoy the mixture of fact, storyline, and silliness.





Little Pencil Finds His Forever Friends: A Rhyming Pencil Grip Picture Book by Christine Calabrese. Illustrated by Maria Victoria Flores. Book review.

I always feel a bit of trepidation when I get a rhyming book to review. It is so difficult to write well and too many people attempt it who have  otherwise never written in rhyme since grade school. Happily, Calabrese succeeds with this charming little story.

The pencil is sad because everyone else seems to have a job. The photographed hands of a small child use a ruler, clay, scissors, blocks and more while the pencil sobs feeling left out.

Variations on this refrain are repeated throughout the book:

Poor little pencil

Sobbed, “Boo-hoo hoo.

Poor little pencil

Had nothing to do!”

The author varies the verb sobbed exposing children to some interesting synonyms.

At the end, the child picks up the pencil and begins to write. We learn the correct way to hold a pencil if you are a right-handed person or a lefty.

The illustrations are an engaging combination of photographed hands and illustrated tools all with expressive faces. The colors are bright and engaging. The book is a large 8 x 10 so all children can clearly see the proper way to hold the pencil.

As a former teacher, I know how difficult it is to change a child’s awkward grip on a pencil once it has become habit. As soon as your child can hold a crayon, marker, or pencil, be sure their grip is correct. Not only does it help with letter formation but it is less fatiguing. This book is a great way to introduce the proper method with less conflict.

Buy link


New Gifts for Valentines Day

New products are available just in time for Valentine’s Day at

Cafe Press






 and NEW THREADLESS COLLECTIONS Shop by interest shop by image

Or shop by item (same link as above)


There are household items, keepsakes, jewelry, clothing, and more.

for moms, dads, women, men, kids, babies, moms-to-be, and a great selection for vegans too.

Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf Who Loved Cookies by Bonnie Ferrante

A new video for all kids.

Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf Who Loved Cookies by Bonnie Ferrante

Little Red Riding Hook packed a basket of cookies to bring to her grandmother for a surprise.

RED: I’m not sure I remember which way to go. I think it’s this way.

A wolf peeked out from behind a tree.

WOLF: Hello. Something smells delicious.

RED: Not me, I hope.

WOLF: No it’s in your basket.

RED: Here, take a look.

WOLF: It’s cookies!

RED: They’re for my grandma. But I’m not sure if I’m going the right way. She lives in a log cabin.

WOLF: I know that cabin. Go that way.

So Red Riding Hood did but it took longer to get there then she expected. Meanwhile, the wolf took the short cut and got to grandma’s first.

GRANDMA: What are you doing in my house?

WOLF:  Roar! Run away or else!

After grandma left, the wolf dressed up as grandma and climbed into her bed.

Just then, Red Riding Hood arrived.

RED: Grandma, it’s me, Red.

WOLF: Come in dear.

RED: I brought you a basket of cookies, Grandma.

WOLF: Thank you, I LOVE cookies.

RED: Grandma, what big ears you have.

WOLF: The better to hear you with, my dear.

RED: Grandma, what big eyes you have.

WOLF: The better to hear you with my dear.

RED: Grandma, what big teeth you have.

WOLF: The better to eat… all the cookies.

GRANDMA: I’m back and you’re in big trouble. I brought my sword.

WOLF: Don’t hurt me. I just wanted a cookie.

GRANDMA: You can’t just bully people into giving you cookies.

WOLF: I’m sorry but I just love cookies. I found one in the forest once. It tasted so yummy, I’ve never forgotten. I’ve been dreaming about having another one since then.

RED: You know, Grandma, maybe we should let him go. I don’t think he wanted to hurt us.

GRANDMA: If he promises to be honest and kind from now one. Cookies aren’t good for wolves anyway.

WOLF: I will be good, I promise. But I wish I could have a cookie.

RED: But you shouldn’t take food from people. We’re not supposed to feed wild animals. That’s wrong.

The wolf nodded and sadly went back into the forest. Once a month, Red Riding Hood brought her grandma a basket of cookies. She always managed to drop one on the path where she met the wolf.


Remember, never feed real wild animals.

People food is not good for them.

Animals should never lose their fear of humans.
It keeps them and us safe.

My Favorite Fifteen Fiction Picture Books I Reviewed in 2017

I’ve read so many wonderful picture books this year that it was impossible for me to shorten the list of favorites any further than fifteen. Click on the title to go to the review.


Monday – Favorite adult book

Tuesday – Five Favorite Young Adult Books

Wednesday – Five Favorite Middle Grade Books

Thursday – Seven Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books

Friday – Fifteen Favorite Fiction Picture Books

My Seven Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books I Reviewed in 2017

Some of these are not strictly nonfiction but I felt they were informative enough to include in this list. They are in no particular order. Click on the titles to read the reviews.

Coming to Canada: Building a Life in a New Land by Susan Hughes.

This is a nonfiction history book is organized into easy-to-read sections. Is quite up to date and inclusive. It begins with the arrival of the aboriginal peoples. It follows through with the Acadians and the Great Expulsion, an example of how prejudice and politics can destroy the lives of ordinary people. Throughout the book, it honestly shows the cruelties and failures done while building our country.


A is for Anaconda: A Rainforest Alphabet by Anthony D. Fredericks. Illustrated by Laura Regan.

This is not an alphabet book for preschool or kindergarten children. In fact, calling it an alphabet book could be misleading. It is, in fact, an extensive resource book for information about rainforests.


Why I Love Canada. Illustrated by Daniel Howarth.

I really liked this book until I researched it because of a small notation on the cover. Now I love it. Each of the sentences was written by a child in Alberta. (That explains the buffalo.) The illustrator then took the sentences and created the book. This is the kind of think I loved doing when I was a primary teacher. Children have a wonderful way of noticing the beautiful.


Eating Green by Molly Aloian.

Although this picture book is written for children, it is a reminder for people of all ages of the impact of our choices.


Herds of Birds Oh How Absurd! by S.J. Bushue and Deb McQueen.

Readers learn that deer, dinosaurs, elephants, hippos, horses, kangaroos, llamas, moose, pigs, reindeer, seals, walruses, yaks, and zebras all travel in herds. But porcupines, flamingos, hamsters, alligators, butterflies, lions, toads, ferrets, geese, nightingales, dolphins, penguins, hummingbirds, and monkeys are identified by a different collective noun.


Seasons of Joy: Every Day is For Outdoor Play written and illustrated by Claudia Marie Lenart.

The book explores the four seasons, three pages dedicated to each one. The story is written in poetic prose and although there are occasional rhymes, it does not try to be a rhyming book. On each page, children participate in imaginative, child driven, outdoor activities.


Can You Say Peace? By Karen Katz.

Each double-page spread has the name of the child and the country she lives in on the left with a full-page bright illustration. A close-up of the child’s face on the is right with the words on how to say peace in their language with a pronunciation guide.



Monday – Favorite adult book

Tuesday – Five Favorite Young Adult Books

Wednesday – Five Favorite Middle Grade Books

Thursday – Seven Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books

Friday – Fifteen Favorite Fiction Picture Books


Rumpelstiltskin’s Child – Full Book Read Aloud

The entire second edition has been set to music and read aloud and is available on YouTube.

What if Rumpelstiltskin had a bum rap? Sure, he tried to take the queen’s baby, but a deal is a deal. Besides, he even gave her the opportunity to renege on their agreement. Plus, he never sought revenge, but allowed her to live happily ever after. Maybe there’s a whole lot more to his story than people know. The elaborate illustrations are inspired by the illuminated manuscripts of medieval times.

The reading level is third grade and up but younger children will enjoy hearing the dramatic, humorous, and touching story. A book for all ages.

Discussion questions are included in the print and ebook editions.

Buy link

The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming. Book Review.

Tomorrow is the first day of winter!

This is somewhat of a counting book. It took me a couple of pages to realize it was supposed to be sung to the tune of “On the First Day of Christmas”. That definitely made it more interesting. The text is basically the song with different gifts. These are things a child gives to a snowman such as twigs, pinecones, scarves, and a red cap with a gold snap. Unfortunately, I felt the text needed more. It could be fun trying to predict what kinds of things were given to the snowman but I thought it could’ve been more innovative or humorous.

The illustrations are great. I suspect Denise Fleming is an illustrator first and an author second. The full double-page spreads are well done but the perspective on some of them is like having a child hold a toy too close to your eyes.

This would be a fun book to use with their class, or your child, as a way to fuel writing their own words to the tune of “On the First Day of Christmas”. They could choose a holiday, such as Easter or Valentine’s Day. Or they could choose a being instead of the snowman, such as a cat or a spaceman.

Buy link


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Click on the covers for more info or to buy the book.


Can You Say Peace? By Karen Katz. Book Review.

Although Peace Day was September 21, this gentle book fits well with my theme of war and peace for November.

This is a simple book that shows us how to say peace in different languages. It begins “Today is Peace Day all around the world. Children everywhere will wish for peace, hope for peace, and ask for peace. All around the world today, there will be many different ways to say peace.” From that point on each double-page spread has the name of the child and the country she lives in on the left with a full-page bright illustration. A close-up of the child’s face on the is right with the words on how to say peace in their language with a pronunciation guide. For example, “Meena lives in India.” features an elephant, women on a blanket working or sharing their food I’m not sure which, two women carrying food on the top of their heads, a goat, and palm trees. On the right, “Meena says shanti (SHAHNtee).

The countries featured are India, America, Japan, Australia, Mexico, Iran, Russia, China, France, Ghana, and Bolivia. The book ends with the powerful words, “All around the world, children want to go to school, to walk in their towns and cities, play outside, and to share food with their families. They want to do all these things and feel safe. No matter how we say it we all want peace.”

What an important message that those who suffer the most in our war-ridden world are those who are the most innocent and helpless. It is also an effective reminder to be grateful if we are some of the fortunate people to live in a country that is not being torn apart by war. We need to be grateful if we are able to go to school, play outside, and share food with our families while we feel safe. I wish this for all children everywhere.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages