Making a Simple Action Based Copy Cat Book with Your Child

You will need:

  • an example book such as Elephants by Rebecca Heller
  • 8″ by 14″ sheets of paper
  • old magazines, catalogues, tourist pamphlets etc. that contain pictures of people being active
  • child scissors
  • glue
  • fine point marker or pen
  • needle and thread or sewing machine
  • strong tape to reinforce spine
  • optional thicker paper for cover

If possible, read the sample book to your child. Explain that the elephant is doing actions. Talk about actions your child likes to do.

Have the blank book and picture selections ready ahead of time. Have 8-10 pages prepared ( you only need 4-5 plus the cover) . (You know your child’s interest sustainability.) Sew the pages down the middle and fold them to make a book.

Get out magazine pictures you have preselected, outlined, and labelled (about double what you need). Make sure each one has a different action. Discuss the actions with your child.

 She choses her favourites and cuts them out.

She glues one on each face-up page (not the cover).


Print the two (or three) word sentence below each picture. Keep the sentence structure the same. For example:

  • A boy drums.
  • A girl rocks.
  • Girls drive.
  • A cat meows,
  • A minion hugs.
  • A man waters.
  • A girl gardens.
  • A boy looks.
  • A dog barks.
  • A boy reads.
  • A Barbie dances.
  • A girl pushes.
  • Kids build.
  • A boy slides.
  • A girl jumps.
  • A boy crawls.
  • A girl shoots.
  • Cats climb.
  • A girl carries.
  • Boys ride.

An older child might like to draw the pictures. This would stretch the project out for many days. You can print the sentences first.

A child might like to search a safe site for graphics using action words and print the pictures instead.

Make a cover by hand or using a computer before or after the book is completed.

AMBITIOUS?  Personalize it. Print photographs of your child being active instead. They can cut them out and glue them. For example:

  • Kayleigh jumps.
  • Kayleigh slides.
  • Kayleigh laughs.

Echo read the book with your child until she can read it alone. Send her to read it to every human and stuffed toy available.

DON’T BE SURPRISED IF your child insists on different wording or otherwise derails your plans. Go with it. There will be at least one page they can read easily.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Little Mouse’s Sweet Treat by Shana Hollowell. Illustrated by Jennifer finch. Book Review.

This children’s picture book uses patterning in the text. Each page features a little mouse looking for a sweet treat something like this:

Hi Bear.

Do you have something sweet and yummy?

Why yes, said bear. A handful of honey.

Eek! said the mouse.

Honey is sticky and runny.

Sorry, said the  bear.

You should ask the bunny.

The mouse asks a bear, bunny, dog, cat, bird, pony, cow, and finally his mommy for a sweet . Luckily his mother has baked cookies for him.

The rhyming is a little forced in spots but holds up fairly well throughout. There are  no quotation marks.

Children will be intrigued by the reasons the mouse does not want any of the other animals’ snacks. Clover is too lucky, pie is too dry, milk looks like silk, a seed is not what he needs, hay is bland, and he passes on the grass.

Jennifer Finche’s illustrations are done in watercolour with a life-like style. The little mouse is endearing and expressive. The pony appears to be galloping right off the page and the Siamese cat holds us with his eyes.

This is a simple story to read to toddlers or for early readers to read aloud. It would be fun to continue the pattern with other animals. (It’s harder than it looks so you don’t have to make it all rhyme.) For example.

Hi Giraffe.

Do you have something sweet for me?

Why yes, said Giraffe. Leaves from the tree.

Eek! said the mouse.

Leave are bitter as tea.

Sorry, said the  bear.

You should ask the bee.

It would also be a lot of fun to act out the story and end it with baking cookies together.

Buy link


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


New Schedule – Making a Picture Book with Your Child



If your child is pre-reading but beginning to “pretend” read or a beginning reader, she is ready for copycat books. Here’s an example.

My just turned four granddaughter had memorized Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle. Highly recommended if you are unfamiliar with it.

Together, we found free colouring pictures of other animals on the internet.

I printed them on 8″ X 14″ paper, landscape format. I didn’t try to print them on both sides of the paper as it often shows through regular printing paper and the spatial logistics are really complicated. Use two columns.

On the right type something similar to “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” Put the colouring picture below. Leave an extra large space on the right of the text to have room for stitching.

On the left INDENT TWO EXTRA TABS to make room for stitching. Type something similar to “I see a yellow duck looking at me.”

I folded the pages down the middle and sewed them together to make a realistic book.

I taped the spine top reinforce the stiching. I glued the blank backs together.

Here’s  the cover. I should have capitalized all the words.

Below is the first page. I started with the child and ended with the child creating a circular story but you can start with an animal. I used rainbow girl because she loves colorful clothes but you can use the child’s name instead.

Here are the second and third pages. I recommend no more than 7-8 animals.

Notice that the color word is printed in the color the child needs to use. Keep it fun. Don’t fret about coloring skills.

The last page should feature your child. You can post a photo or have the child draw herself. Kayleigh is going to draw herself in colorful clothing.

Buddy read with your child. Point to each word as you read it aloud. Then have the child do it for you. Don’t get too concerned with pointing to the exact word at the beginning just make sure she is pointing from left to right. At first, stress the color words. Then focus on “looking” which has two open eyes “oo” and “see” which has two partly open eyes “ee.” After that is mastered focus on the animal’s name, then the rest of the words. Keep it light and fun. Progress at the child’s speed. Don’t persist if she becomes bored or frustrated. Have fun.

Because this blog is taking so much of my writing time, I will no longer post on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Sundays – Recycled Humor Column

Monday – Book Review

Wednesday – Writer Interview or Book Review or Special Series

Friday – Book Review

Saturday – Randomness

Please keep following, commenting, and sharing.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages




Guest Post by Dr. Bob Rich: What Makes a Children’s Book Stand Out?

Bob is a professional grandfather. Any human under 25 years of age may take advantage of the offer of becoming his grandbaby. Therefore, everything he does, including his writing, is aimed at making this planet a better place for its young people. He wants a survivable future, and one worth surviving in. Our global culture is rushing the other way, toward planetary suicide, because it encourages and rewards the worst in human nature: greed, aggression, hate and therefore fear of those slightly different from us. So, Bob is working for culture change: we need to reward and encourage the best in human nature: compassion, generosity, cooperation.

At the time of writing, Bob is the author of 16.5 published books, five of them award-winners. If you want to know how you can have a half-published book, go to where you can request a free advance review copy of a story that shows how kids, even those guilty of multiple murder, can be led to decency.

His latest published book is Guardian Angel [link to ], which is the story of a little Australian Aboriginal girl born in 1850: “child of the land, fruit of an evil deed, instrument of love.” One person who leaves a comment here will win a free copy of this book, which has the 5 star reviews pouring in.

What makes a children’s book stand out?

Most children’s books are merely a temporary answer to the question, “Oh, what’ll I buy as a present for little Jimmy?” A book is better than a plastic toy or some battery-operated piece of tomorrow’s trash, but it’s often a “read and forget” exercise. They blend into the crowd of other books of the same kind: fairies or dinosaurs or inanimate objects pretending to be human.

Some books stand out. Something about them makes them remembered, and recommended, and loved. Why?

I’m cursed with a scientific training, so need to make any such question measurable. Here are three measures for your consideration:

Added value

I think the best thing to ever come out of America is the collection of books from Dr. Seuss. My favorite is The Lorax. It is the first-ever bit of greenie propaganda aimed at children, and does it delightfully. Having chanted it with kids so often, I can recite it, word for word. I was once a volunteer at a community school, where the first task the teacher gave was to ask a new person to read The Lorax to some kids. Those who read with verve and enthusiasm were allowed to continue as helpers.

All the other Seuss books have educational value beyond enjoyment. Green Eggs and Ham is about “try it for yourself.” You might want to look at the other ones and see how they each are designed to benefit kids in some way.

The same is true for Roald Dahl’s writing, and for many others that have graced childhoods for generations.

The added value can be humor, education, ethical lessons, empathy, or preferably all of these. I think you’ll find that all the books you remember from your childhood have identifiable qualities beyond entertainment.

I started with oldies, because they have maintained their freshness over the years. I’ve encountered a few new books that should become keepers (if people notice them in today’s avalanche of publications).

A series of illustrated children’s books by Jennifer Poulter qualify. I came across them because she submitted one, Getting Home, [link to ] for the LiFE Award: Literature for Environment [link to ], which I administer. This is a story about baby polar bear being separated from mom, who eventually rescues him. The added value is that, while the words of the story are age-appropriate for preschoolers, there are also adult-language notes for the person reading, with facts little kids will find interesting, and which will lead them to environmental consciousness.

Also, keep an eye out for the work of Claudia Marie Lenart **[link to ]. I know about her because I edit books for her publisher, Loving Healing Press [link to ]. The added value in her little books is the beauty of the illustrations. She makes intricate pictures with needle felt, and photographs them. My eight-year-old granddaughter loves the pictures, and therefore enjoys reading the stories to her little brother.

Hidden meaning

The best children’s books are full of content meant for an adult. Such gems apparently skid over the kid’s head without being understood or even noted, but they are seeds of wisdom for the future.

Fifty years ago, when I got married, I found out that my new wife had never heard of Winnie the Pooh. So, each evening, I read her a chapter. This was blessedly before Walt Disney had replaced the delightful original drawings. We both enjoyed the experience: the subtle, understated humor, the hidden little barbs about human nature, the way these make-believe characters provided guidance in morality without preaching.

  1. S. Lewis’s Narnia books are also ostensibly for children, but they are full of meaning and allegory few kids would pick up.

I think this criterion applies to all literature. In fact, it is what distinguishes literature from read-once-and-forget.

Customer obsession

When my little great-grandson Caleb was given I Need a New Bum by Dawn McMillan [link to ], he loved it so much that his mother was required to read it to him, over and over and over, until she was sick of the sight of it. By then, he could recite every word, and did so with relish.

The Harry Potter books belong here. Blessed if I know why, but people of all ages from about 10 to 110 seem to be obsessed with them. I am glad, because they have led so many youngsters to a love of reading, but personally they do nothing for me. I haven’t managed to finish any of them.

In many other cases, the reason for a book’s success also escapes me, but I am happy to trust the reaction of the target audience: the child. Nothing beats observation for evidence. This is why, when I edit kids’ books, I usually advise my client to try out the draft on real children. Make a powerpoint presentation of the illustrations (if any), go to a nearby school, and read the story to the right age group. Their reaction will tell you everything you need to know.

**I have not read any of Dr. Bob’s books but I am familiar with Claudia Marie Lenart’s work.

Review of Prince Primee which she illustrated.

Author Illustrator Claudia Marie Lenart Three Random Questions Interview

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

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Guest Posts

Guest posts are welcome to a maximum of one per week. Follow my blog to get an understanding of what I publish. A guest post should be 900-1200 words. These are suitable topics:

  • Book reviews of picture books, early chapter books, and young adult books.
  • Information, inspiration, education, and creation pertaining to children and families.
  • An article about writing for children or with children. Make this helpful and relevant to my readers. This should not be an account of your books.
  • Tips for reading to and with children.
  • Anything about writing or researching for writing or children’s books.
  • Working with, helping, educating, or parenting children.Please no religion or politics. Nothing misogynistic, racially divisive, homophobic, or animal exploitation. (Anything about involving children with rescued animals or the outdoors is great.)

Read Alouds – Are you Breaking the Law?

I’m always looking for good sites for my granddaughter to view when Nana needs a break. I’ve been pleased to find a proliferation of read aloud sites. However, while big sites where celebrities read picture books probably have received permission from the authors, I wonder about individual sites. There are numerous sites where people read aloud books that are still under copyright.

Reading aloud an author’s book is basically the same as photocopying and reselling it. You have taken a potential sale away from the author. As well, myself included, many authors like  to post their own read alouds in hope that listeners will buy a copy of that book or another written by the author.

Many of these people are breaking copyright laws but some publishers/authors don’t bother going after them until they start getting large followings. There were a few in the tens of thousands that I wondered about but perhaps they acquired permission. Perhaps they just haven’t been caught yet.

You are allowed to read small snippets from books as part of a review or discussion. Most authors and publishers are grateful for the free promotion.

If you want to read a classic, like Peter Rabbit, simply verify that it is now in the public domain and you are good to go.

For more information (from Youtube)

Here is a  link to a book read aloud I’ve reviewed, Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow, created by the author.

 Mary Elizabeth read aloud
Click here to buy Mary Elizabeth The Spotless Cow (A Sweetles Dream)

And here are my read-alouds. If you enjoy sharing them with a child, please like, comment, and subscribe to my youTube site. 

 Too Quiet, Too Noisy  read aloud

Click here to buy Too Quiet, Too Noisy

 Rayne Shines read aloud

Click here to buy Rayne Shines

The Amida Tree  read aloud

Click here to buy The Amida Tree

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

My Dragon

After a much too long period of time not writing, I’ve stopped wallowing in self-pity (for the moment anyway) about how challenging my Parkinson’s disease makes everything and got back on the horse. I’m trying various methods of illustration that can be done by a person with tremors. This is my first attempt.

I also decided to have a bit of fun and use some representational art (the people, the dragon). I hope adult readers will get it.

These are the first three pages of my new picture book for students in grade 5/6 to use in class with their teacher or for parents to share with their age 5 and up children. It is not a story. It is a book to stimulate discussion.

I would like your feedback on the first three pages. If you opened my book and saw this, would you continue looking through it? Please comment in the comment section.




What this blog is ABOUT


Listed by Pigeon Hole Books as one of the three best blogs for children’s book reviews.


FOR: (See below for specific categories and posts for your needs and interests.)

Writers for children, parents, grandparents, elementary teachers, librarians, early childhood workers, club leaders…


Book reviews.

BOOKS FOR AGES 1-4             BOOKS FOR AGES 5-8          BOOKS FOR AGES 9-12



For Families.



Interviews children’s authors and illustrators.


For writers.

Get Featured on My Blog

Interviews children’s authors and illustrators.

For Teachers.



Specific Post Suggestions for You (Not exclusive)

Favourites for Parents and Grandparents:

Anyone for Pizza?

The Ice Cave

What’s in a Name?

You Tube Channel for Parents and Teachers 

The Amida Tree – Author Read Aloud

Cinderella Retell (with playhouse)

London, A Scavenger Hunt Adventure

Favourites for Elementary Teachers:

Little Red Writing

A Month of Dragons



ATTENTION TEACHERS: Sing the Planets ebook release

Favourites for Librarians:

A Month of Cinderellas

Best YA Books of 2015

Best Picture Books of 2015


Favourites for Early Childhood Workers and Kindergarten Teachers:

June is Cookie Month

Cinderella Retell (with dolls)

Never Too Much Red

The Doll’s Hospital

Best, Best Friends

Club Leaders:

Setting Up My Little Free Library

Once Upon a Pond


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

YouTube Channel for Parents and Teachers

Bonnie Ferrante

I must admit my YouTube channel was a disaster, book trailers mixed in with aimless videos, author read alouds scattered throughout, no playlists, and no sections. I finally learned how to organize it and have created three public playlists.

  • Book Trailers: I’m a little behind in this but at least half my books have a promo trailer.
  • Author Read Aloud: I have three full children’s picture books available for viewing and listening. I will be adding some things to this playlist as well.
  • Tips and Hacks for Parents, Teachers & Writers: This is going to be my focus for the next while. I plan to add a new video every couple of weeks focusing on inexpensive or free learning activities that are kind to the environment, encourage active movement, and incorporate more than one learning style. Most will be on literacy. Here’s my first one.


I hope you can take the time to check it out, give me a thumbs up, comment, or share.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Amida Tree – Author Read Aloud


Does your child like to listen and look at books read aloud on line? Great. I’ve added a second book to my YouTube account. Check it out here.

The author reads The Amida Tree aloud for children aged 6 to 9.

Gordon Korman on The Amida Tree “…This piece works so well… There’s beauty in the simplicity of its telling, and the communication between the woman and the tree is hauntingly believable.”

The Amida Tree is this generation’s tree. It will appeal to parents interested in a sustainable environment, healthy emotional bonds, and a balanced life. Discussion questions included.

This book was chosen by publisher Aviva Gittle as the third best indie published book of 2015.

NOTE: Some of these illustrations are not in the picture book.
Click here to buy The Amida Tree


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages