Social Skill Wrapped in Hilarity: Bossy Flossy written and illustrated by Paulette Bogan. Book Review.


Click here to buy Bossy Flossy

It is such a great feeling when I find a picture book that both my granddaughter and I enjoy. Bossy Flossy had turned us into Paulette Bogan fans by the third page.

Flossy butts heads with everyone, including her toys. The book begins with Flossy standing in the middle of her bedroom telling all her toys what to do. With one hand on her hip and the other pointing, she demands, “Sit up straight. Look at me. Listen to me. Pay attention. Do what I tell you.” She is bossy to her cat, her little brother, and even her mother.

Although flossy is a simple, cartoonish character, her big wild red hair, her dramatic gestures, and her expressive face make her a real person and a force to be reckoned with.

Flossy does not understand that she is being bossy. When she is sent to her room, she tells herself, “I’m not bossy. Mom is bossy. She always tells me what to do. She never listens to me. I’m just trying to tell her something.” We realize that Flossy doesn’t see herself the way others do. As well, we aren’t sure about her interpretation of her mother’s behavior. Maybe Mom is bossy. At times, it seems as though Flossie is trying to be helpful but is unaware of the effect her behavior has on others. She tells a classmate how to paint and then takes the press and draw the line on her artwork. She orders another classmate to wear a hat she has chosen to complete his dress-up costume.

When a new boy, Edward, joins her class, Flossy meets her match in the overbearing department. Frustrated, Flossie challenges Edward but he doesn’t back down. The argument escalates until they are both sent to timeout. There, they agreed to stop bossing others. They both improve and become great friends.

Although it might sound like a didactic book, it really isn’t. Bogan disarms us completely with humor and charm. Children might identify with Flossy’s problem but will find her behavior intriguing and silly. If you have an overly dominant child, I would avoid discussing bossiness immediately after reading this. It is such a delightful book, you wouldn’t want to spoil it. After reading it a couple of times, you might want to bring up the difference between being bossy and being helpful, taking turns, listening to others, and so on. In my home, “Bossy Flossy” has become a code that can make either my granddaughter or myself stop and think about how our words sound to the other person. Even if you don’t have a bossy member in your family, this book can be just pure fun to read.

The illustrations are interesting in that they appear to be drawn individually, cut out and arranged on the page. This could be a fun art activity to do with your child. You can both draw and cut out several different characters and then arrange them into different story scenes.

Highly recommended both for fun and value.


An interview with the author, Paulette Bogan, will be posted on this blog, March 8, 2017.

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

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Top Ten Picture Books I Reviewed in 2016 – #1 to 3

 Click on the cover to buy the book.

#1 Priceless Penny by Lauren Kramer-Theuerkauf. Illustrated by James Sell.

The cover of this book catches your eye right away. It features a bright picture of a large eye dog, ears up, tongue hanging out, grin on her goofy little face. Then you notice that her left paw is deformed. When you open the book you see a beautiful illustration of a dog in a cage sleeping on her back.

If this story doesn’t put a lump in your throat, go to the author’s website and see the actual pictures of Penny and the other rescued dogs. This book has all the more punch when you realize it is basically a true story.

Not only does this book teach children to be compassionate to animals and accept them for the way they are, but I am sure that children are smart enough to draw a parallel into their own lives. There is so much valuable subject matter to discuss with your child after reading this book.
 Click on the cover to buy the book.

#2 Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden. Illustrated by Renata Liwska.

The story lends itself well to a discussion of beginnings, changes, and cause and effect. The words are lyrical, even poetic. This beautiful book pulls you in and leaves you feeling that you have been touched by something precious.

 Click on the cover to buy the book.
#3 Today the Teacher Changed our Seats by Frances Gilbert. Illustrated by Ben Quesnel.

The paintings in this book have unique quality of expressiveness and subtle detail. The little green-eyed girl who is telling the story is not your picture perfect child. She has a turned up nose, big bushy eyebrows, and rather large ears which make her all the more lovable. Her emotion is transparently portrayed and we connect with her fear of not belonging in any group. The class is a diverse group of children and the teacher is African-American.

While this book can be used as an introduction to math groupings, it is also a good launching pad for discussion about inclusion and how we label people into certain categories. It is a short, simple book that carries a lot of weight.

The rest of the list, #4 to 10, is here.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Great Day, Maybe.

I just finished writing a post about how great a day I’ve been having. I was worried I might jinx it by declaring it, but what the hay, I’m happy and grateful.

My first day of NANOWRIMO is going well. I found a file that I had thought was lost for good. My charting is working out except the Post-it papers keep falling off. I guess I should’ve spent more on them.

The best part of the day thus far is a brand-new five-star review for Sing the Planets. Check it out TEACHERS ESPECIALLY.

Format: Paperback

Song, hand and body movements, mnemonics and more—Sing the Planets: An “I’ll That” Book by Bonnie Ferrante is sure to be a hit in the classroom and at home. This gem of a book is perfect for reaching readers and listeners of diverse learning styles. Ferrante not only includes the sheet music for the song, she has also produced a YouTube video (you’ll find its web link in the book), making it easy for teachers and parents to get the kids singing and swinging, enthusiastically performing hand and body movements to the tune. Sing the Planets not only includes detailed information about the eight planets (explaining that Pluto is no longer listed among them), it presents information about the entire solar system and includes mythological details about the origins of the naming of the planets. The illustrations include photos taken by NASA and other space agencies. Ferrante not only makes learning about the planets easy to remember—she makes it memorable! I highly recommend Sing the Planets to elementary teachers, librarians and to parents as well. ~ Bette A. Stevens, author of award-winning picture book Amazing Matilda (Children’s Literature): The Tale of A Monarch Butterfly and other books for children and adults
Click here for more information or to buy the book. It is available in paperback and ebook (great for projecting onto classroom screens).
Now for the ironic part. As soon as I tried to post this, it disappeared into the nether land that is lost files. So, here I go attempting post number two.

The Pocket Mommy by Rachel Eugster. Illustrated by Tom Goldsmiths. Book Review.

For those of you preparing little ones for school, here’s an extra book review that just might interest you.


 Click here to buy The Pocket Mommy

This is a lovely little book to give to a kindergarten child who is experiencing separation anxiety. Samuel tells his mother, “Mommy, I hate it when you leave me at school. I wish you were the tiniest mommy in the world, so I could keep you in my pocket all day.” His mommy pretends to slip a tiny mommy into his pocket. When the pocket mommy becomes real, Samuel is happy to have her company and assistance. But she soon starts to be a problem and by the end of the day, Samuel is glad to see her go. On the way home with his actual mother, he says, “Maybe I just need you to do your mommying at home.”

I really like the idea of a pocket mommy. I see nothing wrong with giving a picture of yourself to your child, or drawing a little mommy together that she can keep in her pocket. After a few days of using the mommy, this should be a great book to read and share a laugh with your child.

The illustrations are all double-page spreads with words imposed on a background. They’re black outline with watercolor, giving the book a gentle, intimate feeling.

I can see why this book has been so well received.


Make your own pocket mommy. Take a photo of your entire body. Have it developed or print it on medium heavy stock paper. Cut it out and give it to your child.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

ATTENTION TEACHERS: Sing the Planets ebook release

planets cover with border

Announcing the publication of Sing the Planets as an ebook teachers can project onto their screens. It’s easy to teach your class about our solar system using the song and motions explained in this book. You’ll be surprised how quickly they remember the order of the planets and the meanings of their names, as well as the difference between inner and outer planets. Additional information is included. Suddenly, learning about the planets is fun and utilizes several learning styles. Available Sept. 17.

Watch a video of the first verse on YouTube.

Preorder your copy here on Amazon.

planets pg 3         planets pg 4





Squire, Preston. Isecas the Dream Cat and the New School. Illustrated by Dixie Albanez. Book Review.

Click here to buy Isecas The Dream Cat: And The New School (The Dream Cats Book 1)

Sahar is new to Canada and worried about school so Lodi gives her a dream cat. “It makes your fondest wish come true.”

The toy cat, which is wrapped in bandages like a mummy, comes alive and speaks to Sahar. It hides in her backpack and accompanies her to school. The cat watches through the classroom window and communicates with Sahar telepathically. Most of the time he gives her the correct answer to the teacher’s questions, but sometimes he is wrong. Afterward, Sahar asks Isecas why he sent incorrect answers to her. He explains that he knows nothing of math; he plucked the answers from Sahar’s thoughts. Sahar realizes she is smarter than she believed.

In the afternoon, Isecas tells her other student’s thoughts. Sahar discovers she has much in common with a new girl from Peru named Carmen. They become friends. But then, Melissa, a popular girl starts to bully Sahar. By providing Sahar with Melissa’s inner thoughts, Isecas helps Sahar understand Melissa’s insecurities and connect with her as well.

After school, Isecas tells Sahar, “You answered all those questions, you made friends with Carmen, and it was you who stood up to Melissa. You could have done it at any time. It was always within you to do.”

Sahar’s confidence in social situations and her attitude toward school and living in a new country change from fear to excitement.

This would be a wonderful book to give a child who is facing integration into a new school, neighborhood, country, or group. It provides the opportunity to discuss important social skills as well as the significance of attitude.

Dixie Albanez’s illustrations are wonderfully expressive. Her cute drawings portray Sahar’s emotions clearly. The cat has the mystery of ancient Egypt and the charm of a cuddle buddy.

My only qualm with this book is the name of the cat, Isecas. How do you pronounce it? Children will definitely stumble over this word. At the very least, the author needs to provide a pronunciation guide.

I was given an e-book for review.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Picture Book You’ve Always Wanted


So, it’s day 17 of PiBoIdMo, a spinoff of NaNoWriMo. I participated in NaNoWriMo twice in the past, an event wherein people try to write the first rough draft of a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. This year I decided to try PiBoIdMo since my days are pretty busy babysitting my little granddaughter and I’ve been focusing this year on creating picture books. Picture Book Idea Month couldn’t be that hard, could it? Every day, I must come up with an idea for a new picture book. Sounds simple. Ha!

Fortunately, just as I hit a wall, today’s blog from Writing For Kids While Raising Them gave me a great idea for how to get great ideas. Ask.

So, for you parents, grandparents, and teachers out there, this is your moment to put a bug in a writer’s ear. What topics have you looked for in children’s picture books and being unable to find? What idea would you really love to see in a picture book? What type of books do your children or students search for and never find enough?
Tell me your ideas, no matter how small. It can be a title for a book, a concept, a character, a place, a question,… Whatever you’d like to see me try. So jump right in with your comments.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Jones, China. Alex and The Lion. Book Review.

Alex wishes for a lion for his birthday. Alex brings the lion to school but instead of roaring it meows and licks his face. Instead of roaring, it lays down and sleeps. So Alex roars and the children roar back. They all go off to play hide and seek.

Illustrations in this book are charming, bright and expressive.

Sadly, the ending is confusing. All the children are gone and only the lion is left. Is this supposed to mean the lion ate all the children? Did the lion con everyone by pretending to be meek and mild just so he could get them alone and devour them all? It doesn’t help that the last picture is of a different part of the playground. Or, has there never actually been a lion?


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Way Back When

I was cleaning out unnecessary files on my computer and found my retirement speech. I thought some of you, especially the teachers, might be interested in how things have changed over the years.


I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know everyone at N. V., what with busy lives, two different break schedules, and only working mornings this year, so I thought I’d take a bit of time to tell a little bit about my career. I guess this is my first foray into retirement role, long personal stories. So, if you want me to call the waitress over for drink orders before I start, please raise your hand.

I started teaching in 1976, at Whitefish Valley – had to buy a car and a map to get there. Deep Purple had just split up (temporarily) and so had Ike and Tina Turner (permanently).

Each classroom averaged three reading groups, all using phonics workbooks (which were later banned and used underground by a hardcore group of us believers in importance phonics), the Mr. Mugs Reading series and the Readalong TVO broadcasts. B. remembers learning to read with Mr. Mugs. I had the robins, the canaries, and the bluebirds, their seatwork run off on pink, yellow, and blue paper. I went in every weekend to prepare the next week’s reading seatwork. I hand drew, printed, or typed copies on a manual Underwood typewriter and ran them off on the Gastetner, hand cranked the first year and then (wow) electric. They came off hot and smelled like rubbing alcohol. Now we can type on the computer and send them direct to the photocopier, however, they only come out in one colour but then we could do red, blue, black, and green print.

As a grade one teacher, I had half an hour a week planning time while the kids went to library. The grade eight teachers had shops, home economics, and music periods to use for planning. I bet your sorry you missed that, Mr. F.

There were no computer graphics, so I copied pictures from colouring books and drew and cut out bulletin board letters by hand. I coloured handmade board games with permanent markers in a tiny a planning room, suffering headaches and the wobbles afterward. I laminated my handmade games with transparent mac-tac bought at Zellers.

I obtained my own math manipulatives by getting donations of straws from the burger joints and milk bottle caps from the dairies.

A field trip permission slip was five lines long and kids often rode in parent volunteers’ cars. I used a trampoline in the gym with students as spotters. We took off our socks and shoes and waded in the creek beside the school to catch water creatures. I had a live Christmas tree in the classroom decorated with big hot strings of bulbs and child made paper ornaments. The students held lit candles during the Christmas concert. We spent every Friday afternoon doing art, which I hung from the ceilings and taped to all the windows. I never lost a child, had a serious injury, or set anything major on fire, but I guess I should wait until after our field trip to tomorrow before saying that.

Report cards were hand written and took three hours the night before. They had an achievement mark and an effort mark, including handwriting or printing. Marks were expected to fit the bell curve. Report cards were written in everyday language. We wrote “Little Johnny is sometimes rude and doesn’t finish his work.” Not “Little Johnny is working on socially productive interpersonal exchanges and has completed a few assignments successfully within the allotted time with adult support.”

I thought rubrics were Russian puzzles. I called my anchor charts “posters” and the Care Bears were used to teach “Values.”

When I taught at S., Pet computers arrived. They were the size of ovens and a single programme had to be loaded with a cassette tape twenty minutes before use and then sometimes it didn’t work. No one knew why. You just rewound, and tried again.

We did not have to cover four math strands per term. Kids were cross-grade grouped by level and ability. We worked on a single math concept until our group grasped it, worked comfortably with it, and were able to apply it to different situations, and THEN moved on to the next concept.

The only acronym we used was SNAFU and yes, there were a lot of those then as well.

I learned to untie knots soaked in dirty water and partially frozen in place without resorting to scissors or curses and which children should not sit on the carpet without a barrier in place. I learned that no matter how disruptive a child has been, it is entirely possible to forget him in the hall. I learned hundreds of distracting toys to build from an eraser, paper clip, broken pen, and elastic. I learned It is possible to break the laws of physics and stuff a desk beyond its capacity. I learned that if a student is wearing skin tight clothing with inappropriate sayings and too much makeup, it’s quite likely Mommy will show up wearing skin tight clothing with even more inappropriate words and too much makeup. Or possibly Daddy.

I learned that children will call you on everything you say. I once told a rather active, but oh so charming, group of grade sixes at G. M. that they did not have a “License to Wander” and therefore needed to stay in their seats. After recess, several boys were moving aimlessly about the room and giggling.

I asked, “What’s going on?”

D. responded, “You said we didn’t have licenses to wander.”

“That’s right,” I said.

“But we do,” he announced gleefully flashing a slip of paper.

One of the boys had drawn elaborate official looking documents with bright red letters pronouncing “License to w-O-n-d-e-r”.

I took note of the misspelling, smiled, and replied. “Unfortunately, these documents are invalid. They only give you the right to imagine. So please sit down and wonder about how you spell wander.”

Well, now I have non-expiring license to wander. And wonder. And nap. And stay up late. And do whatever strikes my fancy. It only took 33 years to get it.

With this special license: I will read non-professional books for pure pleasure without jotting notes on post-its throughout. My most read magazine will change from Voice to Leisure Times. I will actually get to the clothes in my repair basket before they become “vintage”. I will never have to tell another soul to “Please raise your hand before speaking.” “Chairs are for sitting.”, “Rules and routines are for everyone.” “Remember to use your inside voice.” Or “Make a line, not a mob.” Unless my husband starts acting up.

On Mondays, at 7:30 a.m. I will not leap out of bed in terror that my alarm didn’t ring but smile contentedly and go back to sleep. I will take my first trip to warmer climates during off season while my former colleagues are shovelling themselves out in order to face yet another day of indoor recesses. I’ll be thinking of you.
N. V. is the tenth and last school I have taught in. I’ve been an SK to 6 classroom teacher, library/resource for JK to grade 8, home instructor, supply teacher, teacher-librarian, and English to French Immersion teacher, twice with L. W. whose early passing taught me that it’s not a good idea to wait too long to do the things you want to do. I’ve been half-time, three-quarters time between two schools, full time, on strike, and no time, taking four and a half years off to be with my children. I’ve taught in new schools, old schools, open area schools, and schools that were closing. Every school has a different climate of parents, administration, and staff. I haven’t had the chance to get to know everyone at N.V., but I have truly enjoyed working with those I have. I want to thank everyone for coming tonight, and for listening to my ramblings. A special thanks to K. for organizing it. It’s time to pass on the torch. So Dalhousie, and all you other young people, I wish you unending stamina and patience, wisdom and wit, you’ll need it.

**Dalhousie was a first year teacher whose name I kept forgetting the first month of school. All I was sure of was that it was the name of a Canadian university.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Stehlik, Tania Duprey. Violet. Illustrated by Vanja Vuleta Jovanovic. Book Review.

Click here to buy Violet
The cover attracted me to this book. Campy, colorful drawings of butterflies, leaves, flowers, and designs surround the word Violet and the picture of an extremely skinny little girl whose skin is purple. The story is fairly simple. Violet begins school and is nervous about making friends. The first day goes well until her father comes to pick her up. Then a girl asks Violet why she isn’t blue like her father. At home, Violet’s mother, who is red, explains that Violet is a mixture of the two of them.

This is a gentle story that tackles a sensitive subject, mixed race children, with a light, positive tone. It also manages to sneak in a little lesson on mixing primary colors to get secondary colors.

I think this would be an excellent book for all children, not just those from mixed families. Every child should be made aware of comments that may hurt the feelings of children who see themselves, or are seen as, different than the majority. As well, the story shows that the child of mixed race parents can be both beautiful and precious.
The drawings are lively and fun. The length and vocabulary level would be suited to children in second grade but younger children would enjoy hearing the story read by an adult. I think this would be a wonderful addition to the books parents read to their children before they begin school.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages