Posted in PB, So Many Good Books

Nancy Bess Had a Dress

Perfect Picture Book Friday

Nancy Bess Had a Dress (Gnome Road Publishing, March 2024) by Claire Annette Noland and llustrated by Angela C. Hawkins is a lovely picture book set in the 1930s and shows how a dress is reused for many projects.

Nancy Bess goes to town with her parents and chooses a flour sack because of the pattern. She makes a dress and when it’s too small she makes an apron. When it tears…

This is such a sweet story and the theme of recycling and reusing is great for today’s readers.

Read about the author, Claire, here and check out her other books here.

Angela is an author/illustrator. Read her bio here, check out her portfolio here and her other books here.

Posted in Contest, Craft, Inspiration, The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing

Springflingkidlit 2023

It’s a contest–read about it here for spring-inspired stories under 150 words! The organizers are author Ciara O’Neal and agent Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez. There are prizes to be won and a short window to submit: April 1st thru 3rd. And it’s free to enter.

This year I thought it might be fun to participate. It’s one way to get my writing out there. So the image above is a gif* that is required to go with the story.

I’m not comfortable pasting my whole story here, but will paste the opening:

A Squirrel Did It

“Noah, did you leave the bamboo gate open?” Mama asked.
“I think a squirrel did it.”
“Noah, did you dig a hole in the gravel path?” Mama asked.
“No, a squirrel did it.”
“Noah, did you put leaves in the fountain?” Mama asked.
“I bet a squirrel did it.”

The story in total is 107 words. (For the contest entry, the judges will get to see the whole story.)

Why do we want to write short? There’s always room for shorter stories, whether in magazines or in picture books. I like what the Arapahoe Library says on their “Children’s Books with Few Words” page: “Your child can feel successful when reading these books that have very few words.” The page has links to staff chosen books.

But it’s not just for those learning to read. Parents often like a few short choices. Some kids have short attention spans. But also sometimes “less is more”–fewer words can have a stronger and lasting impact.

Short can be moving, hilarious, quiet, and more.

Here are some short picture books I love:

Caring for Your Lion by Tammi Sauer (261 words)
From Here to There by Sue Fliess (287 words)
Ghost Cat by Kevan Atteberry (200 words)
The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld (296)
When Pencil Met the Markers by Karen Kilpatrick (223 words)

(You can find the word count of many books at Accelerated Reader Bookfinder.)

So, I challenge you to try writing short. You might like it.

*Gif found at gifer.com

Posted in PB, So Many Good Books

American Desi

Perfect Picture Book Friday

I loved American Desi (Little, Brown and Company, 2022) by Jyoti Rajan Gopal and illustrated by Supriya Kelkar. And whether one is dealing with multiple cultures or not, we all wonder where we fit in and could find this story reassuring.

In the picture book, the main character wonders “which is the color of me?” Does she fit on the Indian side or the American side? As we go through the story we realize with her she doesn’t have to pick one or the other–she can just be who she is.

Told in subtle rhyme, the left page shows Desi events and the right page American ones. My favorite spread says,

“One foot here, one foot there
Straddling, bridging worlds apart.
Searching deep within my heart
The different colors of me.”

The art is fabric, paper, mixed media, and digital collage which I think is perfect to represent this story.

The book has garnered attention:

Read about the author Jyoti here. Her next book My Paati’s Sari is out. And she’s sold four more, which you can read more about here. She’s been busy! Jyoti also has a lovely page of inspiration.

Supriya illustrated this book, but is also an author–see more here. You can find all her books here and see all the notice about them here. And finally check out Supriya’s wonderful portfolio.

Posted in PB, So Many Good Books

Swashby and the Sea

Perfect Picture Book Friday

Swashby and the Sea (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020) by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal is a delightfully warm story that can be read over and over. This story has such a sweet ending.

I love what it says about the sea and Swashby, “She knew him in and out, up and down, and better than anyone.” And I love the adorable illustrations.

Captain Swashby, now retired, is happy living by the sea. Until…neighbors show up. He keeps writing messages to them like “no trespassing” and the sea fiddles with each a bit like “sing.” Will Swashby learn to accept these intruders?

Beth Ferry is the author of Caveman Crush and has quite a number of other books–see them here. I need to check out some more. I like the unusual facts and the box format of her about page.

Author/illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal was born in Peru. You may have heard about her debut picture book, Alma and How She Got Her Name which was a 2019 Caldecott honor book. She’s also a 2018 Pura Belpré Medalist. Read her other awards here.

Posted in Award Winners, PB, So Many Good Books

this way, Charlie

Perfect Picture Book Friday

this way, Charlie, inspired by a real animal friendship, (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020) by Caron Levis and illustrated by Charles Santoso is a tear-jerker of a story.

Everyone at Open Bud Ranch can see that Jack, the goat, likes space to himself. Except Charlie, the horse, who can only see out of one eye. Still Charlie is cheerful. Jack watches him carefully and realizes they have a lot in common. One day when Jack sees Charlie having trouble, he decides to lead the way. The two become close friends and help each other live better lives despite the storms that come their way.

I feel like my description is so inadequate for this powerful story of healing and friendship. Don’t miss out on this lovely book.

Caron Levis and Charles Santoso have also teamed up on another picture book. Check out Ida, Always and the awards and honors it has received. Read about the author here and the illustrator here. And don’t miss out on Charles’ other books on his website and Caron’s other books here.