Books Will Never Go Out of Print!

Grab a cup of coffee. Sit back. Check out meanderings about books I've loved.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

May your fur be thick enough, the fire warm enough, and the food dish always filled!
Purrs, snuggles, and furballs!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Writing Distractions

Blurry white buckets
Silently build pristine hills
Mystery mountains

~ Haiku, by Angie Quantrell 2015

This is what I am writing about now.

But I am distracted by this happening out my window.

Snow, lovely, snow!

Somehow snow and Phoenix do not mix.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Christmas Tree Skirt - aka Tosca's Christmas

I can't imagine why the Christmas tree skirt looks like this. Or why the ornaments are falling down.

- House with 2 Cats

This picture (and daily life event during this season of the year) reminds me of a favorite picture book by Matthew Sturgis and Anne Mortimer.

Tosca's Christmas was one of my children's favorite books to read. That naughty Tosca!

Read more about Tosca here.

Meow-y Christmas!

How about you? Who are your special helpers this year?

On with the Dance! | Susan Branch Blog

On with the Dance! | Susan Branch Blog

Christmas fun with Susan Branch! Aunt Rae gave me a copy of her Christmas Cookbook back in 1990. It's as old as Chelsie! I absolutely adore the stories, recipes, and illustrations.

Christmas From the Heart of the Home

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Meet My Baby - The Stack (of Paper)

The completed manuscript with sources, sketches, and documents
This is what I've been up to. Instead of blogging.

There is not much time left in my days (weeks, months) after planning, writing, editing, printing, sourcing, compiling, emailing, packaging, and mailing this baby.

Oh, yes. This is my baby. The first half of a 12-month activity book for preschoolers and missions has been delivered (emailed and mailed) to my faithful preschool resource team at Woman's Missionary Union.
The completed manuscript package and its twin - the emergency copy that can be mailed if the PO loses the original
Now they get to do their huge part.

And I will continue on with the above steps for the second half of the book.

The writing life is grand.   
A glimpse of the chaos that is my office, including desk, side table, and floor

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Some Days You Need to Wear Goggles

Some days you just need to wear goggles.

And footed pajamas with hiking boots. And sit in front of a fire to stay warm. And play with wrapping paper on the tube.

Stress relief is a wonderful thing!

I miss sharing great books with you and I hope to get back to it very soon.

But that may happen in January when my head is above water and several key writing deadlines have been completed, edited, sourced, copied, mailed, and emailed.

Until then, if you see a Nana in bright red p.j.'s running down the street sporting goggles and wielding a wrapping paper sword, just smile and wave.

It's me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Pen ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

My Pen
By Christopher Myers
(Disney - Hyperion, 2015)

My Pen perfectly captures the artist imagination of Christopher Myers.

Within the black and white pages, detailed illustrations point to the power of expression that is held in the hand of someone with a pen. Oh, the dreams, ideas, and worlds that can be drawn with a pen.

Imagination is a big thing. Readers will love the creativity and ideas found in My Pen.


Draw With a Pen

Materials: sketch pad or paper, pen

Go ahead. Do it. Doodle. Draw. Scribble. Create. Imagine. Tell a story with your drawings.

It's ok to not be perfect. Even Mr. Myers says his work does not always do what he wants. Just turn those mistakes into something new.

Have fun!

P.S. What is your favorite drawing?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Bear in the Book ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

The Bear in the Book
By Kate Banks
Illustrated by Georg Hallensleben
(Frances Foster Books, 2012)

Who doesn't love books about bears?

The Bear in the Book is a story of a boy, a book, and bedtime. Oh, and of course a big black bear features prominently in this tale of a mother convincing her child to go to sleep.

As the mother reads about the bear in the book, the little boy learns all about winter and hibernating bears and seasons. Winter turns to spring and the bear awakes, ready to cross the pages of the book to get into sunshine.

But the boy has fallen asleep.

Young readers will love the muted illustrations (though brightly colored), the snoozing bear, and all that goes on outside the den while the bear sleeps away the winter.


Make a Den

Bears spend winter hibernating in caves or dens. Make your own den.

Use a sheet or blanket (or several). Spread it over a table and let it hang over the edges. Or you can push furniture together to make the walls and use the sheet over the top. Clothespins will help hold the edges down.

Turn yourself into a bear. Creep around on your hands and knees. Pretend to eat lots of nuts and berries and fish to get fat for the winter (bears don't eat all winter long!). Fat enough? Now it's time to hibernate.

Crawl into your den. Make a cozy nest with pillows and blankets. Scooch around until you are comfy.

Shhh. Good-night, little bear. Good-night.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pilgrim Cat ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Pilgrim Cat
By Carol Antoinette Peacock
Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger
(Albert Whitman & Company, 2004)

Did cats travel on the Mayflower?

Explore the lives of pilgrim travelers on their journey to the New World. Meet Faith, a fictional character based on historical documents. As she waits to set sail, Faith notices a cat chasing a mouse. Both end up on the Mayflower.

Faith adopts the cat and calls him Pounce. Pounce is her constant companion by the end of the journey - through storms, illness, winter, and life in a new country. One day Pounce disappears. The surprise ending of what happened to Pounce will delight cat lovers.

Historical facts are woven into this tale of settling the New World. The story is based on research done at the Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Enjoy Pilgrim Cat with young readers as you learn and use your imagination.


Visit Plimoth Plantation

Not everyone lives close enough to visit the Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. But almost everyone has access to a computer or electronic tablet.

How about a virtual field trip?

1. Ask a parent or older child to help you.

2. Visit and

3. Go on a virtual tour of the Plimoth Plantation. Explore the website to find other interesting information.

4. Compare the illustrations and information found in Pilgrim Cat to what you viewed on the website.

What did you learn that was new?
What was most interesting to you?
Would you like to live back in the days of the Pilgrims? Why or why not?
Can you think of one thing you would like to try to do like the pilgrims?

Did you find out? Did cats travel with the pilgrims to the new world?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Square Cat ABC ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Square Cat ABC
By Elizabeth Schoonmaker
(Aladdin, Simon & Schuster; 2014)

Square Cat ABC is the story of Eula and her friends, Mouse and Porcupine.
Mouse finds Square Cat digging in dirt. After discovering that Eula is planting a garden, Mouse begs Eula to plant spinach. Eula detests spinach and resists, only to find that Porcupine loves it as well. After finally being convinced to try the spinach, which Eula deems yucky, Mouse suggests that zucchini is included in the garden.
This story is told over the course of the alphabet. Giant letters on each page (beginning and middle of words) highlight which letter is being included. The alphabet is not the focus (though it really is), but the story is what is totally fun and engaging.
Readers will love meeting Square Cat Eula and her friends. Simple, bright and clever illustrations add the perfect touch to Square Cat ABC.


Chalk Alphabet Song

Materials: sidewalk chalk and a sidewalk or driveway (cement)

Write the alphabet letters in order along a sidewalk or driveway. Give plenty of space between each letter. Make sure you don't forget any letters!

Sing the "ABC Song" as you jump from one letter to the next. You can also be creative as you sing the song. You can:

~ dance
~ spin
~ ride a bike or tricycle
~ skip or gallop
~ jump on one leg
~ hold hands with a friend and go together
~ crawl
~ roll
~ kick a ball between your feet
~ toss a beanbag to the next letter as you go
~ use a stick for a pointer

OR you can make up your own way to move along the alphabet.

What did you do? I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I Love Dogs! ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

I Love Dogs!
By Sue Stainton
Illustrated by Bob Staake
(Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollins Publishers; 2014)

There is so much to see in this delightful picture book! Packs of dogs doing doggie things and tons of great words to build language fill the pages of I Love Dogs! Occasionally repetitive, just a little bit rhyming, and bright and colorful, this book caught my eye and led me to pull if from the shelf for a quick read.

If you are a teacher, this book will resonate with students. If you are a parent, with or without a dog at home, your child will love finding out about the things dogs do. If you are a kid, then you definitely want to search for your favorite dog. If you are a dog, well, then you will just have to bark and slobber and get ideas of things you want to do.

Dog lovers of all ages will want to read I Love Dogs!.

Warning: You will probably want to go out and adopt-a-dog after reading this book.


Make a Play Dough Dog

1. Dig out the play dough. It's always fun to make sculptures of animals. (A sculpture is like a statue.)

2. Start with the body. Make a ball. You may have to knead the dough to get is warmed up. Roll the ball on the table to stretch it out to the body shape you want.

3. Make 4 smaller balls. Roll them gently to stretch them into the legs you want. It's better to make thick legs to hold up the body. Skinny legs will squish. Carefully set the body on the legs and kind of rub the edges together to make them stick.

4. Roll another ball between your fingers to shape the head. Use a pencil tip to poke eyes and nostrils and draw mouth lines. Attach to the top of the body and rub the connecting edges.

5. Roll 2 tiny balls and flattern them to make ears. Stick them on the head.

6. What kind of tail do you want? Make it with play dough and place it opposite the head.

7. Use a pencil tip to carefully draw lines to make the dog look like it's covered with fur.

How did you do? Now you get to name your dog and make it some food to eat!

Ruff, ruff!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A B See ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

A B See is an engaging alphabet board book.

Embossed and sturdy, A B See shows one or two letters of the alphabet on each page. The letter (bumpy for touching) is composed of small illustrations of things that begin with that letter.

For instance, the letter Q is made up of a quilt, question marks, a queen, a quetzel, a quarter, a quarterback, a quacker, quartz, and a quill. The short line that goes over the oval part is a quail.

The intricate and fascinating illustrations capture attention. Each letter also has a simple sentence with most words beginning with the letter.

Delightful! I know my Donavyn will love this book. He is two-years-old and loves to see the 'etters!

Preschoolers and early readers will learn and enjoy A B See. Any way you can engage young readers in books and the alphabet is worth the effort!


Find the Letter of Your First Name

1. Go ahead. Read A B See. Sing the "Alphabet Song." Enjoy the pictures.

2. Find the page with the first letter of your first name.

3. Look at all of the pictures and words that begin with that letter and are a part of the illustration.

4. What is your favorite thing that begins with the same letter as your name? Can you think of anything else that begins with that letter?

5. Can you bend your body to make the first letter of your name? Try and spell out your whole name with your body! Maybe mom or dad can take pictures of you making each letter.

Thanks for reading and loving books!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Winter Is Coming ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Winter Is Coming
By Tony Johnston
Illustrated by Jim LaMarche
(Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014)

Winter Is Coming is a beautiful book that chronicles the changing of the season from fall to winter.

A young girl quietly and carefully perches on a platform in a tree and takes note of the many wild animals that pass beneath her. She sketches pictures of them and thinks about how they prepare for winter. Patiently, she learns from the animals - lessons of nature. Throughout October and November, she watches the changes taking place around her. And then winter comes.

The captivating illustrations and engaging text inspire, amaze, and teach much about the natural world. Readers both young and old will love to read and reread Winter Is Coming.


Observe Fall Changing to Winter

1. Go out for a walk (take a friend or parent or older sibling). You might want to do this walk the same day each week all through October and November, and maybe even into December.

2. Notice what is happening in nature. What are the animals doing? (Check the air and ground.) What about the plants? Look at the colors, textures, and changes that are taking place.

3. If you like to draw, take along a sketchbook and a few pencils. Or remember what you see and draw when you get home. Put the date on the page so you can tell how things change over time.

4. Repeat your walk several times all the way through the fall months. You will have to be quiet and patient and observant - like a scientist!

5. Each time you go, look at the same things, but also try and find new plants and animals to notice.

Isn't watching fall change to winter amazing? Seasons are a wonderful gift for us to enjoy.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pumpkin Cat ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Pumpkin Cat
By Anne Mortimer
(Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollins Publishers, 2011)

Pumpkin Cat is a story of unlikely friends, Cat and Mouse.

Cat wonders how pumpkins grow. So Mouse decides to show the answer by planting pumpkin seeds. All throughout the growing season, Cat and Mouse watch the pumpkin plant grow and develop baby pumpkins. By fall, Mouse is ready to carve a surprise for Cat.

Delicious illustrations in Pumpkin Cat make readers want to reach out and touch Cat and Mouse. They look so soft and cozy!

Young readers will enjoy the simple text and gorgeous pictures. Gardeners young and old will be delighted at the retelling of the pumpkin life cycle.


Decorate a Pumpkin

We can all carve a jack-o-lantern. But did you know there were others ways to decorate pumpkins?

1. Get some newspaper and wax paper. Spread newspaper on the table and cover it with wax paper.

2. Choose your pumpkin. Make sure it is clean and dry.

3. Gather colored tissue paper and white school glue. Squirt some glue in a disposable cup and add a tiny bit of water to thin it out. Find a wide paint brush.

4. Paint a small section of the pumpkin with glue. Tear off pieces of tissue paper and stick it to the glue. Continue painting and sticking on torn tissue paper until the pumpkin is covered. Add a thin coat of glue over the top of all of the tissue paper. Let dry.

5. Look! Now you have a rainbow pumpkin. Happy Fall!

Other art supplies to use on pumpkins: glitter, newspaper, patterned paper, permanent markers, stickers, sticky dots (for buttons, beads, and bits of yarn), ribbons, and curling ribbon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Watching the Seasons - Fall ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Watching the Seasons - Fall
By Emily C. Dawson
(Bullfrog Books, Jump!; 2013)

Watching the Seasons - Fall is a perfect nonfiction picture book. Filled with glorious fall photos, one could not wish for better pictures.

The nonfiction book features are what make this book stand out. Table of contents, charts, glossary, index, short sentences, text boxes, and learning more about the topic section really make Watching the Seasons - Fall shine.

Early readers will love the challenge of reading this beautiful book and learning how much fun nonfiction can be.


Rank Your Favorite Fall Activities - And Then Do Each One!

1. Make a list of your favorite autumn activities. Put each activity on a separate index card. Some people enjoy raking leaves, visiting pumpkin patches, carving pumpkins, or touring apple orchards. Ask your family for their ideas.

2. Rearrange the cards until they are in the order of your favorite fall activities.

3. Start at the top of the list and do that fun activity. Place the card on the bottom of the list and continue having fun with all of the other activities.

4. Did you find a new favorite? Did you learn something?

5. Invite a friend to choose his or her favorite and have some fall fun together!

P.S. Fall is my absolute favorite season. I love pumpkins, so one of my favorite fall activities is going to pumpkin patches and buying pumpkins for my house!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Secret Life of Squirrels ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

The Secret Life of Squirrels
By Nancy Rose
(Megan Tingley Books, Little, Brown and Company; 2014)

This book is so cute! Mr. Peanuts, a real live squirrel, is photographed as he goes about his miniaturized life - complete with household settings and bric a brac.

Nancy Rose is a photograph who lives in Canada. Her photos of wild squirrels taken in her backyard have captured the imagination of followers worldwide. You can check out her work at

Readers will laugh and enjoy reading The Secret Life of Squirrels.

Mr. Peanuts and his bed


Make a Miniature Scene

After reading The Secret Life of Squirrels, make your own miniature scene!

~ Gather craft supplies and 'stuff.'

~ Cut, arrange, glue, staple, tape - anything you need to make pieces stay put.

~ Decorate a small venue, perhaps a cheese plate or a shoebox or stump table top.

~ Add dolls or figures for the ones who live in the scene you have created.

~ OR, you can be like Ms. Rose and wait for the squirrels to visit. Read the tips for taking photos of wildlife at the end of The Secret Life of Squirrels.

This is a miniature scene I created on a cheese board. It has a glass cover to keep off dust and my wild kitties.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Leaf Man ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Leaf Man
by Lois Ehlert
(Harcourt, Inc., 2005)
Can you see the leaf man?
Despite my difficulty in taking photos of library books with plastic covers, I can see him clearly. Leaf Man spreads across the book cover, composed of leaves, nuts, and seed pods. He is quite handsome for being made of things that have fallen off of trees.
Leaf Man is one of my favorite fall books by Lois Ehlert. With all of his vibrant colors, where does he go when the fall winds blow?
Leaf Man transforms into many other nature creations, compliments of the wind, colorful creative artwork by Ehlert, and cleverly cut and shaped pages.
Young children will be so entranced by Leaf Man, they will want to go directly and build their own leaf creation. Isn't that what we want? Readers engaged in reading books AND exploring nature is the perfect combination.
Leaf Creations
1. Head outside and find piles of nature things - leaves, pods, cones, sticks, rocks... Nature walks through parks and forests are perfect collecting spots.
2. Spread out your gatherings of nature items. What do you see? Who do you see?
3. Arrange your nature items into a creation.
Did you make a person? A dog? A cat? A tree? A house?
You can make anything!
P.S. I would love to see a picture of what you created!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ready for Pumpkins ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Ready for Pumpkins
By Kate Duke
(Alfred A. Knopf, 2012)

Nothing could be better than pumpkins in the fall and guinea pigs!

Guinea pigs have been a big part of my classroom environment for most of my teaching years. Sturdy, chatty, adorable, large, and slow enough to catch, both preschoolers and kindergartners have loved and cared for our squeaky pets.

Ready for Pumpkins tells the tale of Herky (Hercules), a guinea pig in Miss MacGuffey's first-grade classroom. After tasting fresh green beans, Herky decides he wants to have his own garden. Using pumpkin seeds he saved from the previous fall when the students make a herk-o-lantern, Herky and his friend, Daisy, planted seeds. And waited. And waited.

Ready for Pumpkins is a funny tale about pumpkins, how we get pumpkins, and the relationship between friends. Too cute too miss!


Plant Some Pumpkins

1. Get some pumpkins seeds. Depending on the season, you may have to wait to plant, save seeds over the winter, or get busy right away with a packet of seeds from the garden store.

2. Find a nice large area in the garden or yard that gets plenty of sunshine.

3. Follow seed packet directions. Or, plant 3-5 seeds in a hole on top of a small mound of dirt. Gently water the dirt until it is soaked. Keep the pumpkin hill wet until it starts to sprout.

4. If the sprouts all grow, you may want to take out a few puny ones so the biggest ones can have lots of space.

5. Water your pumpkin plants regularly. Watch as the leaves grow, tendrils curl, flowers bloom, and baby pumpkins start developing.

6. In the fall, you will have your own pumpkins for decorating, carving, and eating! Save some seeds for next spring!

Fun Tip: When my pumpkins are green, I like to use a flat blade screwdriver type tool to scrape the names of my grandchildren in the skin. The scrapes will scar over and make cool designs as the pumpkin grows. ASK an adult to help!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

My Autumn Book ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

My Autumn Book
By Wong Herbert Yee
(Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt and Company; 2015)

My Autumn Book simply and beautifully encapsulates the essence of fall, my absolute favorite season.

A young girl joins the joy as nature races towards winter. Is it really fall?

In gentle verse, the story of fall as seen through the eyes of a child is shown through her exploration and enchantment with the natural world.

My Autumn Book is a great book to read together with young children.


Make a Fall Picture Book

Just like the girl in the story, you can make your own fall picture journal.

1. Ask an adult to help you use a camera.

2. Go on a fall nature walk. Take pictures of the signs of fall you see.

3. Print the photos.

4. Tape or use a glue stick to attach fall photos to cardstock or construction paper.

5. Label your photos - spider, leaf, rain, tree, and so on. Decorate the pages around the photos.

6. Staple pages together on one side to make a book.

Now you can read your own fall book!

What is your favorite fall book? I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin Pie ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin Pie
By Jill Esbaum
(Scholastic, Inc., 2009; National Geographic Kids)

Pumpkins are one of my favorite signs of fall. I adore pumpkins and cannot wait for the season of my dreams to roll around and please me with the smells, sights, and sounds of leaves, pumpkins, and cooler temps.

Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin Pie is a beautifully photographed nonfiction picture book about the pumpkin life cycle. The pumpkin life stages are shown through photos. Examples of ways we use pumpkins (carving, eating, baking, floating, etc.) are shown in full color. There is such a wide variety of seasonal sights featured in this book, I love reading it just for ideas that get me in the mood for pumpkin hunting.

Young readers will be inspired to hit the pumpkin patch and choose a favorite pumpkin - be it orange, yellow, green, white, smooth, lumpy, tiny, or enormous.


Grow Pumpkin Vocabulary

1. Visit a pumpkin patch or even just the grocery store fall display.

2. Check out the pumpkins and squash. There are so many wonderful and varied types of both.

3. Touch, smell, and compare the pumpkins.

4. Use all the words you can think of to describe the pumpkins - smooth, lined, warty, bumpy, striped, fat, flat, huge, petite, and so on. Make a long list.

5. Let your child choose a favorite pumpkin to take home.

6. Describe the pumpkin using vocabulary words. Make it exciting!

7. Happy pumpkin day!

I can't wait to go visit a pumpkin patch and find pumpkins to use for decorations.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Tree for All Seasons ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

A Tree for All Seasons
By Robin Bernard
(National Geographic Society, Scholastic Inc., 1999)

Some books you just keep. Forever. Because they are beautiful.

A Tree for All Seasons is one of those keeper books. That front yard on the cover is what I want my front yard to look like. The trees, the picket fence, the falling leaves, the children playing . . .

A Tree for All Seasons contains fabulous photos of nature in the fall. Winter, spring, and summer are also included in this book - all the seasons of a tree.

This nonfiction picture book will excite young readers to go outside and enjoy nature, no matter what the season.


Tree Journal

This is so much fun. I used to do this with my preschoolers. There was a huge, giant, enormous tree right next to our classroom. I marched them all out and took photos of each during the three seasons of school. We were not there during the summer, so I couldn't feature that season. But the other three seasons became nature books about our tree.

1. This project will take a year to complete, but it is so cool to look back and see the changes! It is worth the long wait.

2. Take a photo every season with your chosen tree (your yard, at school, at a park, or in a forest - just make sure to use the same tree each time).

3. I loved having the children sit in a wagon - one at a time - and smiling for the camera. The wagon also became a great carrier of leaves, seed pods, and pumpkins.

4. Print out each photo for the seasons. Display on the refrigerator or bulletin board. Add every new season. When you get photos from all 4 seasons, tape them to cardstock and make a book with them. Now you can check out the seasons and your tree all the time!

5. Compare that tree. What changes do you see between seasons? How did you change over one year? Which is your favorite season? Why?

Isn't nature grand? I'm so glad that God created such a wonderful world for us to enjoy.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fresh Fall Leaves ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Fresh Fall Leaves
By Betsy Franco
Illustrated by Shari Halpern
(Scholastic Inc., 1994)

Fresh fall leaves are some of my favorite signs of the season. The crunch, the smell, and the dancing are magical as leaves drift away from trees and carpet our ground.

Fresh Fall Leaves, the book, is a simple story about kids enjoying leaves in the autumn. Paper cut and paint illustrations lend themselves very well to this picture book and offer glimpses of fall beauty.

Readers will get great ideas of fun things to do while reading Fresh Fall Leaves. I can't wait to see my own leaves fall!


Make Syrup Leaves

This is one of my favorite leaf making activities! It's messy and sticky but so much fun.

Materials: cardstock, scissors, marker, food coloring, light corn syrup, wet wash cloths, wax paper

1. Draw big leaf shapes on cardstock. Cut them out.

2. Pour little puddles of corn syrup on a leaf. Help your littles squeeze a few drops of red, yellow, and blue food coloring on top of the corn syrup.

3. Use fingers to smear, mix, and spread the sticky paint all over the leaf. Repeat with other leaves, using wash cloths to wipe some of the sticky away.

4. Put leaves on wax paper to dry. This may take several days if the weather is damp.

5. Look at your beautiful, shiny, colorful fall leaves!

Wasn't that fun? If you enjoyed that book and activity, you can sign up to receive future blog posts in your email inbox. Thanks!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Vincent and the Night ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Vincent and the Night
by Adele Enersen
(Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015)

Vincent has decided he is not sleepy. Anyone who has had a baby will know the trouble this can cause.

But not only is Vincent very smart, he is also naughty and imaginative.

Using clever and adorable photos with pen and ink illustrations, Enersen has crafted a wonderful story about the shenanigans Vincent enjoys as he avoids going to sleep.

I love this book! The photos of Vincent are perfectly matched to what he is engaged in as he stays wide awake . . . until the very end where a worn out Vincent finally puts on his jammies and goes to sleep.

Vincent and the Night is a book about a baby, but also a book about creativity, art, expressions, bedtime, and family. Readers will love this book and be inspired to make their own version.


Draw Your Own Photo + Pen Illustration

1. Ask your parent for a photo of yourself as a baby (or a child).

2. Carefully trim around your body so only your body is in the photo. Use double-sided tape to attach your photo to cardstock.

3. Imagine. Daydream. Brainstorm.

What do you want your photo baby (or child) to be doing? Think about how that looks.

4. Use a pen (or pencil if you want to erase) to draw the background and props around your photo body. What are you holding? Eating? Sitting or standing on? What does the room (or yard) look like?

5. Add details so the entire page is filled.

There. Now you have your own Vincent at night. Except it's you, not Vincent.

You and the Night.

That was fun wasn't it? If you had fun, you can sign up to receive future posts in your email (or the email of your mom or dad) inbox. That would be awesome, wouldn't it?

Thanks! Good-night!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pumpkin Town! ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Pumpkin Town! (Or, Nothing Is Better and Worse Than Pumpkins)
By Katie McKy
Illustrated by Pablo Bernasconi
(Scholastic, Inc., 2006)

It's pumpkin time! Jose and his family grow pumpkins in a variety of sizes, from too small all the way to giant and too big to carry.

Before the pumpkins could be hauled off to market, Jose and his brothers had to find the biggest and best seeds from a few choice pumpkins.The rest of the seeds could then be tossed off the hill overlooking the town.

One very windy day, the tossed seeds were carried over the town and fell like rain. What happens next is too funny!

Readers will love this tale of pumpkins. Clever illustrations tell the rest of the tale. It's time for Pumpkin Town! (Or, Nothing Is Better and Worse Than Pumpkins).


Save Some Seeds

Jose and his family saved seeds every year for the next year's crop of pumpkins.

Let's do the same thing.

1. Visit a pumpkin patch or farmers market. Choose a pumpkin. There are so many varieties to choose from, I know it will be a difficult choice.

2. Decorate your porch or yard with your pumpkin until it is time to carve it. (Hint: If you carve a jack-o-lantern too early, it will rot before the end of October.)

3. Carve (with help) your pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern. Save the seeds!

4. Before you cook the seeds (you have to cook them - they are fantastic to eat), choose 5 or 6 of the biggest, best seeds. Let them dry and keep them in an envelope until next spring.

5. In the spring, plant your pumpkin seeds in the garden. You will have your own pumpkin patch!

What is your favorite thing you do with pumpkins?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

G is for Goat ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

G is for Goat
By Patricia Polacco
(Philomel Books, Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 2003)

I'm back! The internet is once again in working order. Thanks for being patient.

G is for Goat is a delightful alphabet book that consists of cavorting goats. Now, that doesn't sound too exciting, but it really is cute. If you know anything about goats at all - say, how naughty they can be, how they love to nibble on everything in sight, how they leap and act goofy - you will laugh when you read this picture book.

G is for Goat
is wonderfully illustrated. The main character, a young female, certainly has her arms full with wayward charges. The alphabet incorporated into the story is wonderful. As an early childhood educator, I am always looking for clever alphabet books with which to reinforce letters, language, and reading fun, all experienced within the pages of a good book.

Farmers, readers, young children, animal lovers - all will love reading G is for Goat.


Make Your Own Alphabet Page

1. What does your name begin with? Find that page and reread it.

2. Make your own alphabet page. It doesn't have to be with goats. Choose something you love that begins with the first letter of your name.

3. For instance, my first name is Angie.

Looking at the Aa page, I see that Patricia Polacco (the author and illustrator of this lovely book) shows apples that begin with Aa.

On my page, I can print the letters - Aa - and choose something that begins with Aa to put on my page. Hmmm, let's think: apple, aardvark, ant, automobile, author, anthill, avocado, ape...

4. Illustrate your alphabet page.

5. Show your alphabet page. Choose another letter and make a second page!

Sing the alphabet song. Don't you love letters and words and reading and singing and drawing?

Me, too.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Lapse of Internet

Due to changeover in internet providers, the Quantrell household will be without access until late next Wednesday.

As of 12:01 AM last night, we have been cut off! Here I sit at Starbucks, nursing a decaf latte. But alas, I cannot live here forever to have internet access.

So friends, I will resume blog activity by the end of next week, with the expectation that all goes well in the transfer of the power of internet from one company to another.

Until then, happy reading!

Oh, and get out there and play!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Please, Papa ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Please, Papa
By Kate Banks
Pictures by Gabi Swiatkowska
(Frances Foster Books, 2013)

Calm, old-fashioned illustrations tell the story of Alice and her attempts to build (and populate) a farm in the middle of her bedroom.

Please, Papa is an adorable story of Alice, a young child, who uses her imagination to play and create. In her real life, Alice learns the importance of using manners and saying, "Please." Farm animals are added two her barnyard, but when it comes to a horse, there is none to be found. Using her manners, Alice finds a way to get a horse.

Readers will be delighted at Alice and her interactions with her family, her play time, and her creative play. I love the feel the illustrations lend to the simple text.


Build a Farm in Your Bedroom

Can you be like Alice and build a farm?

~ Dig out the barn (or build one).

~ Does your farm need a tractor or people?

~ Add some animals (or ask for some - are they real or imagined?).

~ Use your manners when asking for something and playing with others.

~ Do you need to pretend about some animals like Alice? Which animals?

~ Don't forget to feed the animals!

Thank you for playing!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What's So Bad About Being an Only Child? ~ Wacky Wednesday Picture Book & KID KANDY

What's So Bad About Being an Only Child?
By Cari Best
Pictures by Sophie Blackall
(Melanie Kroupa Books; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007)

That's a great question. What is so bad about being an only child? Said the person who is one of four children. Not that I want to be an only child! No, I love my siblings.

Poor Rosemary Emma Angela (that's my name!) Lynette Isabel Iris Malone was an only child and desperately wanted to have siblings. For she knew that friends came over, played, ate, told secrets, and all other sorts of fun friend activities - even sleep overs - but friends went home to their own families. And REALIIM (her initials) knew the stress of being the focus of all attention. She longed to share that attention and her life with a sister.

Today's Wacky Wednesday book feature is What's So Bad About Being an Only Child?. This charming (and sometimes alarming) picture book tells the tale of Rosemary as she seeks to convince the parents to give her a sibling. When that fails, Rosemary finds her own siblings. In most unusual ways.

Readers with and without sisters and brothers will enjoy the antics of Rosemary as she is naughty, creative, inventive, adventurous, loving, caring, and kind.


Play with Your Brother or Sister (or friend if you are an only child like Rosemary)

Rosemary loved playing with her friends. Here are some ideas.

~ play freeze tag

~ pretend to be pirates (like Rosemary)

~ toss a softball, Frisbee, balloons, or beach balls

~ shoot some hoops

~ pretend the jungle gym is surrounded by HOT LAVA!

~ dig out the dolls or trucks or farms or dollhouses (pretend play)

~ ride bicycles (race)

~ become chalk artists

~ climb some trees and go exploring

Make up your own game! (Remember to take turns choosing what to play.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Daredevil Duck ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Daredevil Duck
By Charlie Alder
(Running Press Kids, 2015)

Daredevil Duck dreamed of being the bravest duck in the whole wide world. Except he wasn't. He really, really wanted to be brave. But the truth was, there were some things that scared him.

Daredevil Duck tells about the adventures of, well, Daredevil Duck. After facing various trials, Daredevil Duck finally finds that he is indeed very brave! (It helps that he is cheered on by his friends.)

Daredevil Duck has colorful illustrations, different sized pages, and lots of excitement. Young readers will love finding out that Daredevil Duck is afraid of common things and he still finds out how to be courageous.


What Are You Afraid Of?

1. Make a list of things that scare you (snakes, mud, dark rooms, airplanes, . . .).

2. Choose one thing and figure out how to face that fear and become brave! Maybe it is spiders or bees or loud cars. How can you get over that fear?

3. How did Daredevil Duck get over his fears? Would that help you get over yours?

You could be the bravest duck in the whole wide world! Oops, I mean the bravest child in the whole wide world!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Summer Birds, The Butterflies of Maria Merian ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Summer Birds, The Butterflies of Maria Merian

By Margarita Engle
Illustrations by Julie Paschkis
(Henry Holt & Company, 2010)

Summer Birds, The Butterflies of Maria Merian is a fascinating, historical picture book.

Maria Merian lived in the Middle Ages. Born in 1647 in Germany, she was enthralled by nature. Being observant, she studied and noticed that insects were not evil as was commonly believed. Maria learned that they did not spring up unaided from mud puddles, but they actually grew from eggs and transformed into adult insects.

Summer birds was the name used for butterflies and moths that sprang up in warm weather.

This beautiful picture book will engage readers of all ages. I was very interested to learn about old beliefs and superstitions as well as a young girl who worked hard to dispel and change the incorrect assumptions of those around her. In a time where witchcraft was prevalent, Maria had to study in secret during her younger years. Maria later went on to become an artist, scientist, and explorer.

Summer Birds, The Butterflies of Maria Merian is a great book to read. Extra information about Maria's life is given on a page at the end of the story. Nature lovers will enjoy this book and want to learn more about Maria and the nature she studied.


Observe a Summer Bird

Materials: magnifying glass, butterfly net, sketch pad and pencils

~ Go out on a sunny day and look for butterflies. Observe them as they flutter their way through flowers and gardens.

~ Gently capture a butterfly. Use the magnifying glass to look very closely at the summer bird you have captured.

~ Quickly sketch the butterfly. Release the butterfly and watch it go off in search of more flowers.

In the spring, it is fun to purchase butterfly eggs and watch them develop and transform into adult butterflies. Ask your parents to help you order a set. I like to use They sell all kinds of insects that you can watch grow up.

Being a scientist like Maria is fun, isn't it?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

First the Egg ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

First the Egg
By Laura Vaccaro Seeger
(Roaring Brook Press, 2007)

First the Egg is a clever cut out book about what comes first. The egg, then the chicken; the tadpole, then the frog; and so on. Holes in one page become part of the picture on the next page. I love the illustrations and simplicity of First the Egg.

Readers who enjoy nature books and want to think and predict as they read will love First the Egg.


Play the "What Came First?" Game

Brainstorm different things: person, cat, dog, house, tree, apple

Figure out what came first.

"First the baby, then the child."

"First the kitten, then the cat."

"First the puppy, then the dog."

Continue with other ideas. This game could get really silly! Have fun!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please do share. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Moon Rabbit ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Moon Rabbit
By Natalie Russell
(Viking, 2009)

Moon Rabbit is a story about being lonely and finding a friend.

Little Rabbit lives in a busy city, where she loves her life. But one night, as she looks at the moon, she begins to wonder if there is another rabbit like her, one that could be her friend. Hearing music, she follows the sound into the park, where she does indeed find a new friend. I won't tell you what happens next, for you will enjoy the tale.

Adorable illustrations and a simple story about friends will endear Moon Rabbit to readers.


Play with a Friend

Do you have a friend? Maybe this KID KANDY will help you have fun with a friend or a friend you haven't met yet!

~ Find a friend to play with. What do you love to play with? Blocks, cars, sports, dolls, bikes, books, art, and music are just some of the fun things you can enjoy with a friend.

~ Look in your neighborhood or classroom or church for a friend. Ask your parents for a playdate. Eat lunch together and play in the backyard. Is there a park nearby? Ask an adult to walk with you to the park to play.

~ Play with your dog or bunny or kitty. Be gentle. Many friends enjoy pets and will love to play with you and your pet.

~ Play a game at recess. If you go to school, recess is the perfect time to play tag or climb the jungle gym. Invite others to join your fun.

Friends make life fun, don't they? Just like Little Rabbit, we can look for and enjoy friends.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Kids' Nature Book ~ 365 Indoor/Outdoor Activities and Experiences

The Kids' Nature Book, 365 Indoor/Outdoor Activities and Experiences
By Susan Milord
(Williamson Publishing, 1989)

This awesome book is full of KID KANDY ideas! 365 ideas to be exact.

The Kids' Nature Book, 365 Indoor/Outdoor Activities and Experiences is a year-long, chronological activity book for children. Month-by-month and day-by-day, this idea book is filled to the brim with tons of great nature experiences.

Some of the activities include books to read, cooking projects, experiments, projects, and all sorts of other fun experiences involving plants, animals, and the environment. Children young and old, as well as their families, will love looking for which idea to pursue next. Some activities are completed quickly, while others will take a longer time to finish. There will be something on every page that your child will want to try right now.

If you love nature and want your children to appreciate and explore our wonderful world, this book will be a great resource for years to come.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Do Princesses Make Happy Campers? ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Do Princesses Make Happy Campers?
By Carmela LaVigna Coyle
Illustrated by Mike Gordon
(Taylor Trade Publishing, 2015)

Do princesses make happy campers? That is a wonderful question.

Do Princesses Make Happy Campers? is a book about camping complaints - and how to look at the bright side of all of the aspects of camping. The princess in this book is impatient, helpful (?), wet, inventive, imaginative, adoptive, adventurous, hungry, and inquisitive. Told in rhyme, Do Princesses Make Happy Campers? points young readers towards the excitement of camping and how to make do and enjoy the adventure in whatever form it takes.

Campers and parents of princesses will love reading about camping and talking about family camping trips. Maybe readers will even be inspired to plan one last camping trip before school starts and the weather gets too cold. Happy camping!


Make a Tent

If you have a two-person tent, set it up in a shady area of the yard or right in the middle of the living room.

If you don't have a tent, make one by spreading a flat sheet over a table (first move the chairs).

Make a pretend campfire with wads of newspaper and orange and red construction paper.

Cook dinner over the campfire with toy pots and pans. Don't forget the s'mores!

Use a sleeping bag or folded blanket for resting.

Put on a backpack, load a bottle of water, grab the binoculars, and head out to explore the great outdoors (your backyard).

Who's ready to go camping?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Extra Yarn ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

Extra Yarn

By Mac Barnett
Illustrated by Jon Klassen
(Balzer + Bray, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2012)

Annabelle found a little box that was filled with yarn of every color. Actually, the box looked like a lunch box.

So Annabelle knitted a sweater for herself and Mars, her dog. She had leftover yarn, so she made sweaters for . . . well, lots of people. And animals. And buildings. And trees.

Because, no matter what Annabelle knitted, she always had leftover yarn.

The entire town began to look decidedly cozy and rumors of her yarn spread far and wide. In fact, one day, an archduke demanded that Annabelle sell him the box of yarn for horribly huge amounts of money.

But Annabelle said no.

So the archduke stole the box in the middle of the night and sailed away.

Never fear, though. The yarn box once again found itself in the hands of Annabelle. And she was happy.

Extra Yarn is a Caldecott Honor Book. Both the story and the illustrations are perfect and tell the story simply but captivatingly. Readers will enjoy Extra Yarn very much.


Extra Yarn

Here are some things you can do with extra yarn:

1. Roll a skein of yarn into a ball. It's fun!

2. Use heavy paper, white school glue, and pieces of extra yarn. Make a design with glue and put yarn right on top of the glue. Let it dry. This is a fun way to make wall hangings.

3. Cut long pieces of extra yarn and use them when you create a city with blocks and toy vehicles. The yarn can outline the roads or parks or buildings. If you make a farm, the yarn can corral all the animals and fence in the crops.

4. Cut three long pieces of yarn. Tape one end of all three together. I like to tape them to a table to keep them still. Braid the three pieces into a long braid. Tie knots at each end. Use the braid for a bookmark, a headband, or a backpack decoration.

5. If you really, really love yarn, ask someone to teach you to knit or crochet. Be patient! It takes lots of practice. Before you know it, you will be making hats and scarves and blankets.

Happy yarning!