L M N O Peas by Keith Baker. Book Review.

Click here to buy LMNO Peas

This is an adorable, funny alphabet book. It is difficult to come up with original ideas for the ABCs. Amazon.com listed 47,112 results in a search for alphabet books.  Keith Baker has designed a unique one using his Peas series.

The picture book’s large size emphasizes the tininess of the adorable little peas who are acting out each of the letters. For example, A has seven little peas with hoops climbing up the letter A that say, “We’re acrobat’s.” One lonely little pea is painting a tulip that is twice his size. Two other peas are conducting a spacewalk from a capsule (astronauts).

Children will enjoy finding the peas on each page and deciphering their occupation or hobby. The artist has cleverly incorporated the letters into the activities. For example the right side of the K is a river for kayakers. The book ends with, “We are peas from A to Z. now tell us, please… (Turn the page) who are you?

This book will definitely engage readers. The pictures post just enough challenge to keep both children and adults interested throughout. The fun thing is, peas are so easy to draw, that children could make their own response using their initials and their own hobbies or interests.

If the child is too young to draw the illustration, give their thumb in green fingerpaint and have them press on the “peas”. Then an adult can add the detail. Together, you can decide what to draw based on the letter. It can be simple. After, if the child wants, she can colour the letter with marker.

K peas B peas


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Perfect Merge of Two Cultures: A is for Africa written by Michael I. Samulak. Illustrated by Sswaga Sendiba. Book Review.


Click here to buy A is for Africa

I love when I discover a unique and interesting picture book. A is for Africa stands alone in my experience. There is a fascinating story of the creation of this book especially as it pertains to the ethnic gorgeous illustrations. I love how the author totally avoided any misappropriation by involving an African artist in his project. The account is worth reading and will be available on my blog interview with the author, Michael I. Samulak, January 11, 2017. As a Canadian, a retired elementary school teacher, and a grandmother to two girls of Anishinabe heritage, I am highly conscious of the cultural appropriation of the indigenous people. It is difficult to walk that line between cultural appropriation and appreciation. Samulak showed respect and admiration for the African people by hiring a Ugandan artist, Sswaga Sendiba, whose work he had admired.

Each page features a batik style of illustration that was popular in the 60s in North America. Batik uses wax and paint to create one-of-a-kind pictures. If you tried to copy Sendiba’s work, in all likelihood the wax would not behave in the same way. It is a detailed and difficult process as I remember. Personally, I could never control the flow of the wax well enough to make anything recognizable. Sendiba had been doing this style of artwork for 10 years when Samulak connected with him.

Samulak chose animals, landscape, people, and items representational of Uganda for each letter of the alphabet. Read, orange, and yellow a predominant colors throughout the book giving the reader the sensation of hot, dry savannas. It begins, “A is for Africa. Africa is an awesome land, as we soon shall see. It is home to many amazing animals, people, and trees.” Both the artist and the writer prove that claim.

This is the kind of book that adults enjoy as much, possibly more, then the children. It is definitely the kind of book you should share together as it will arouse many questions from children unfamiliar with African animals. Although Samulak shares some unusual information, he encapsulates it in a form children would find interesting. For example, “C is for cheetah. Swift is a cheetah, so it is said both near and far. Running at top speed, these cats can keep up with your car.” Instead of saying the giraffe is the tallest land animal, he writes, “G is for giraffe. The giraffe is the gentle giant of the land. She stands head and shoulders above every animal or man.” He features some animals children may be unfamiliar with such as the Ibis, kob, pygmy chimpanzee, tilapia fish, crowned Crane, and yellow mongoose.


As well, you can purchase and A is for Africa Coloring Book because of the batik style, this is not your typical coloring book. I would recommend using soft pastels or pencil crayons in order to imitate the painted look of the original illustrations. Marker might work if they could blend easily. Watercolor would be perfect but it would bleed through to the picture on the other side. This should be an interesting variation for adults who have adopted the coloring book craze.


Click here to buy A is for Africa: Coloring Book

A follow-up activity for a classroom would be to assign a letter to each student and have them do a batik picture for their own country.

As a parent, you could have your child do their first initial with things they like to begin with the same letter. For very small children, just doing the letter is enough challenge. Draw it with pencil and have them squeeze the glue over top.

Here are two great pages that will show you how to do batik safely with children using glue instead of wax.

That Artist Woman

The Artful Parent

I will be reviewing Michael I. Samulak’s newest book, A Wonderful Day!, on January 30, 2017.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Is Different Bad? Frog Has No Fur (La Rana No Tiene Pelo) by S. J. Bushue and Deb McQueen. Book Review.


 Click here to buy “Frog Has No Fur”: “La Rana No Tiene Pelo”

(So Big & Little Bit Adventures)

This is a bilingual picture book. Unfortunately, I cannot read Spanish so I am only reviewing the English part.

So Big, a mammal, and Little Bit, a frog are friends even though they are not alike. The text explains their differences: brown and green, fur and no fur, mammal and amphibian, lives on land and lives on land and water, active during the day and active during the night, a heart with four chambers and a heart with three chambers, ears and only eardrums, focusing eyes and whole eye turning, first to walk on land and walking on land 100 million years later.

It ends with:

We do not have to be the same. We are friends… Just because we like each other.

The fictional message is about acceptance of differences but, as the child reads, an enormous amount of factual detail is presented. (I didn’t even know about the heart chambers.) There could be two types of follow-up discussions to this book. One could be about relationships and differences. Two could be about the animal kingdom and classification. Of course, the parent should try to draw out the fact that the child is also a mammal and not an amphibian.

The illustrations are big, black outlined, colorful, and simple. They have a happy, fun quality.

If you go to this page on The Little Fig website, you will find a coloring page you can download, a link to the accompanying song on YouTube, and the YouTube link to the book being read aloud in Spanish.

This is a wonderful product that addresses a need in picture books. Check out their other bi-lingual books while you’re there.


A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.

S.J. Bushue was interviewed on this blog on November 30, 2016.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Stars for Tell Me Where: Animals and Babies

If you have a toddler, this review is relevant to you.


Click on this link to buy the book on Amazon

Tell Me Where: Animals and Babies

Also availble now on Smashwords:


Joe Yang rated it 4 STARS
This is a fun book that introduces basic spatial concepts to very young children. Images of babies are juxtaposed with various photos of animals, and simple words describe the location of the baby in relation to the animal.

…this is would be fun and educational book that encourages interaction between parents and young kids. As an added touch, the author also includes a variety of strategies designed to help parents and children apply the learning concepts beyond the book.

Gayle Cappelluti rated it 5 stars

I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway and feel very fortunate to have done so. The premise is ingenious; the illustrations are clear, instructive, adorable and glorious. The value in this little book is immeasurable. Perhaps I am overstating my case, but I don’t think I can praise this book highly enough!Tell Me Where: Babies and Animals teaches spatial concepts to children using photo shopped pics of the most adorable little toddler overlapping animals, so that concepts like between and beside are clearly demonstrated. In addition, Ms. Ferrante, a mother and grandmother and former educator and librarian includes ten helpful and usable tips for further exploring spatial relations with your little ones. This book is already on its way to being one of the top favorites for me and my, now, 13-month old grandson. I cannot wait to check out some of her other Tell Me Where books.


Who doesn’t love babies and animals? Help your little one learn spatial concepts like above and below with this endearing and humorous collection of pictures. Also included are ten tips to extend your toddler’s learning.

 Go here to see a promo video less than 2 minutes that tells what the book has to offer you and your child.

Are you shopping for gifts for a toddler? You can’t go better than a quality book.


New Video for Parents AND Little Free Library Launched Successfully


A new video has been posted to youtube. Teach your child counting to 5 “on the cheap”. It uses multiple learning styles, the outdoors, and simple free or inexpensive materials. The emphasis is on play and being active.


Yesterday I opened my Little Free Library to the public. If you’re a STTNG fan, you’ll appreciate that my number1 patron was named Ryker. 🙂 I remembered to ask the first two families to sign the guest book. Then I remembered my camera for the next few. Then I barely remembered my name. It was great to meet new people, old and young, in the neighbourhood. It was also lovely to have Lisa Laco from CBC come by with a bag bursting with adult books to donate.








Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Crayon Road by Jini Jeong. Illustrated by In Gahng. Book Review.


Click here to buy Crayon Road

Crayon Road is a very simple picture book in which children explore lines. Five crayons, red, green, yellow, orange, and blue, draw various lines and ask the reader, “What will go on this road?” When the crayons make a straight road, cars and trucks go on it. When they make a hilly road, bikes go on it. When they make a wavy line, a ship goes on it. When they make a long long track, a train goes on it. When they make a road with a bend, the crayons go on it to your house.

What a great way to introduce the importance of line in art to the very youngest child. Some children are loath to draw because what they imagine is not what they are physically capable of creating. A fun and encouraging follow-up to this book would be a duel art activity. The child can draw any kind of line he or she likes, and the adult could add something that would go on that road. The adult could expand to nonroad lines such as castle tops.

Or, try the reverse. Cut out numerous vehicles from magazines ahead of time. The adult draws a road and the child picks a picture to glue on that road.

Young children will enjoy the short, simple format of this book. The pattern is predictable and will encourage child participation. While it may seem overly short so an adult, I feel this is the perfect length for a two-year-old learning the concept of representational art.

The illustrations are bright, a combination of pen and ink, collage, crayon, and possibly computer-generated images of crayons. The pictures have a three-dimensional feeling.

As a follow-up, it’s never too early to introduce experimental art techniques such as dribble painting and gluing long thin strips of paper cut into different line shapes. Of course, don’t forget to use those beautiful, fat crayons as well.

Click image to buy.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Teach Your Child to Count to 3 (Cheaply)

I have just posted my second “on the cheap” video for parents who want to help with their children’s learning but don’t want to spend a fortune doing it. This one will give you ideas on how to help your toddler learn to count with understanding up to three. The activities involve music, motion, drama, hands-on, and fun. Here is the link to YouTube.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

June is Cookie Month

In June, I will be focusing on children’s books about cookies and other desserts. The play area I have set up features a dessert shop. I used building blocks and a plastic bin to make a small table to set the cash register on.

I kept the menu deliberately small with five dessert choices, cookies, pastries, cupcakes, mousse, and cake, and two drinks, coffee or tea. The cupcakes were bought at the dollar store. The pastries were made by my grandchildren and I using felt, fabric paint, beads and glue. The mousse was made from scraps of fabric in a reused dessert tray.

The cookies are from an educational activity. They teach the numbers from zero to ten. On one side of the cookie, there is a numeral and on the other side there is the corresponding number of chocolate chips. When “customers” place their order, they will have to identify how many chocolate chips they want and my granddaughter will have to find the appropriate cookie. We use these all the time in a variety of ways.

Tea will be served in the Fisher-Price tea set. Coffee will be served in the Tim Horton’s paper cups. (empty)

As an introduction to money, I also kept the prices simple. Everything cost one dollar. I printed out loonies (Canadian dollar coins) on heavy paper and cut them out. If customers buy three items, my granddaughter will have to ask for three dollars and count them. There will be no making change.


The play station also has a Baker’s hat and apron as well as a small bucket and rag for cleaning the tables.

My next post will be the first book review on this theme.

Click on image to buy. 

Click on image to buy. NOTE: Doesn’t actually hold liquid.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Guinea Pig Party by Holly Surplice. Book Review.

This is a count down book. Ten guinea pigs come to a party. On each page something happens to one of them until the book gets down to one. Then the ten return for more partying.

The departures are simplistic and I would’ve appreciated a little more ingenuity.

The pictures are double-page spreads with ink drawings and watercolor washes. The backgrounds are white. The guinea pigs are appealing and animated.

This is an acceptable book for ages two to five.

Click on the image to buy the book.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Snap by Hazel Hutchins. Illustrated by Dušan Petričić. Book Review.

I love the concept of this book. The boy is playing with crayons and discovers new things about coloring. When he breaks the crayons, he realizes he can use the pieces in different ways. He also discovers that blending certain colors makes new colors.

The illustrations are magnificent. Petričić uses crayon to draw us in to the little boy’s world and also teach us about color.

The words parallel his exploration beautifully. However, I felt the ending was a little lazy.

This would be a good book to initiate discussion about crayons and colors and exploration in art.

Story thumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tiny

illustrations thumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tiny
Click on the image to buy the book.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages