Books Will Never Go Out of Print!

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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Puddles - Rainy Day Picture Book + KID KANDY

Written by Jonathan London
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
(Scholastic Inc., 1997)

It's a rainy day in our valley, perfect for reading Puddles.

Puddles is as the name suggests - rain puddles. The puddles are occupied by two children who leap, splash, and explore the wet world following a thunderstorm.

Puddle-jumpers, mud, worms and frogs fill the pages of Puddles. As any parent will know, the children play until they are tired, dirty, wet, and hungry. They present themselves at the door, come in, dry off, and perhaps have some hot cocoa. And then they head right back out to do it all over again.

is the book to read on rainy days. Or even just on days one wishes it would rain.


Get outside and play in the puddles!

Usually, children do not require special equipment when jumping through puddles. Just watch them. They look. They leap. They splash. Repeat.

Should you want to add tools, you could give them:

~ Umbrellas (if it is still raining)

~ Buckets and shovels (beach style)

~ Sticks and boats

~ Balloons

~ Plastic scoops, cups, and containers

~ Magnifying glass (to look better at all of those worms)

~ Chalk for lovely rainy day paintings

Rainy days are fun. Puddle jumping is even better!

P.S. If you don't have puddles, or rain, make some of your own

Angie Quantrell loves listening to the rain falling on the roof and is thankful that plants and people are getting a good watering. If enough rain has fallen, you can find her out in the gutter river, letting her grands get nice and wet.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Five Minute's Peace - Picture Book + KID KANDY Activity

Five Minutes' Peace
Written and Illustrated by Jill Murphy
(G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1986)

I was given Five Minutes' Peace by a good friend when my babies were babies. I can safely say that this book was for my mommy's heart (and tired body) rather than for the kiddos!

In Five Minutes' Peace, Mrs. Large (an elephant mommy) just wanted to get away from it all. After preparing a tea tray for herself, she sneaked off to the bathroom. All because she wanted five minutes' peace.

Alas, anyone with children knows that did not happen. Rarely does it ever happen. Mrs. Large did manage to slip into a cozy tub. But she was soon joined by one, two, and then three children. Mrs. Large did the only thing that worked. She got out and went back downstairs.

Where she enjoyed 45 seconds of peace.

The conversations and illustrations are adorable in Five Minutes' Peace. This tiny book is cute and makes me laugh. Murphy brings to life many true experiences with young children.

How do you get 5 minutes' peace?


How long is 5 minutes?

Use a kitchen timer for this activity. Actually, a kitchen timer is a great tool for rearing children.

~ Make sure to really set the timer, or children will get no sense of how long 5 minutes is.

~ Time different activities, announcing when 5 minutes is up (to go along with the buzzer or bell of the timer).

~ Some things you can time: cleaning up, building with blocks, drawing, eating dinner (or finishing some undesirable food), bath time, running around the yard, climbing the jungle gym, reading books, quiet time, time out, as a countdown to something being over (like play time with a friend or time to leave) . . . If you are doing it, you can incorporate a timer. 5 minutes is a LONG time when you are a child.

Kids want to be with us. Let's use a timer to give ourselves peace and sanity!

What can you do in 5 minutes?

Angie Quantrell clearly remembers those hectic days when she could not find 5 minutes' peace. Her children are grown, but now she has the same wonders as she watches her grandchildren. Maybe she needs to get out her timer!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wacky Wednesday - Pete's A Pizza - Picture Book & KID KANDY

Pete's A Pizza
By William Steig
(Scholastic Inc., 1998)

What's wackier than a boy turning into a pizza and his dad cooking him up for dinner?

Preschoolers and early elementary students love Pete and the pretend play he has with his dad. It was a rainy day, after all. What was Pete to do? He couldn't go out and play baseball. So dad decided to turn Pete into a pizza.

All goes well until after Pete is nice and hot and the pizza maker wants to cut him into pieces. That's when the pizza runs away.

Pete's a Pizza cracks me up. Don't worry, there is no actual cutting, cooking, or eating of a child. Just pretend play and simple props.

But do beware. Reading this book to a child will turn you into a pizza maker because your child will want to be a pizza!


Make a pizza!

1. Dramatic Play Pizza

~ Use Pete and his father as role models for acting out pizza makers and pizzas. Props like checkers, powder, and pieces of paper will complete the imaginary play.

2. Make English Muffin Mini-Pizzas


English muffins, pizza sauce, pepperoni, shredded cheese, and any other toppings you like (olives, green peppers, onions, mushrooms)

Layer ingredients on open-faced English muffins. Top with cheese. Put on a cookie sheet and bake in a 425 degree oven until cheese is melted and pizza is hot.

Be careful! It's hot! Mmmm. Tasty pizza.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Terrific Tuesday - I Can Do It! - Picture Book + KID KANDY

I Can Do It!

Written by Angie Quantrell
Illustrated by Cathy Lollar
(Woman's Missionary Union, 2003)

I Can Do It! is the partner book I wrote as I was writing I Can Give (featured last week on Terrific Tuesday). Both books turned out beautiful, but I seem to remember some mental chaos along the line.

I Can Do It! is a story about Meiying and her family. Meiying is Chinese American. Illustrations and language features reflect Chinese heritage and language. I love the Chinese characters running down the sides of the pages. They are amazing.

I Can Do It!
is a story about the many things Meiying can do to learn about and do missions. Missions include things like helping, loving, sharing, telling about Jesus, and more. Meiying loves interacting with her family, church, and community. She shows how even preschoolers can be on mission with Jesus.

Missions activities, a note to parents, Bible thoughts for preschoolers, and suggested Bible readings for adults are included in I Can Do It!

I'm very proud of I Can Do It! and think it is a wonderful book for preschoolers. Cathy Lollar did a fabulous job illustrating I Can Do It! I hope you think so, too.


One activity Meiying helps with is collecting food for the hungry. Here are some ways to gather and give food with your child.

~ Go shopping together. Let your child choose several items to give.

~ Go shopping in your cupboard. Help pick out healthy food items to give.

~ Coupon together. Let your child be in charge of handing coupons to the cashier. Use the money you save to buy food or donate to a program that feeds the hungry.

~ If you participate in a specific program, make up a flyer and go door-to-door with your child to ask neighbors for help in feeding the hungry.

Be sure and say thank you!

Where can we give the food we collect?

~ Homeless shelter

~ Women and children's shelter

~ Church hunger ministry

~ Community collection site

~ School outreach programs (like weekend backpacks of food)

Angie Quantrell loves picture books with great illustrations, lots of color, and fun features like language phrases. She enjoys teaching boys and girls about missions.

I Can Do It! is available through Woman's Missionary Union:

Phone: 1-800-968-7301
Online: (Go to age levels, preschoolers, and then books)

Monday, February 23, 2015

KID KANDY = Book + Fun Activity

Dinner and dessert. Book (dinner) + dessert (fun activity). Well-balanced literary diet.

Welcome to a new feature that will be found on Book Blab - Blithering By a Book Lover. KID KANDY.

Due to my love of children's books, children, and their families, I often blog about great picture and chapter books. But recently, I grew interested in adding extra ideas for fun with kids that tie in to the theme of the book that is being featured. Over time, I realized that I need to make it a part of every blog about kids books. Read a book. Have some fun.

is a book extension feature for kids and their families. If a child has a fun activity to do after reading a book (or before reading a book), the ideas and information in the book are more likely to stick. We know that the more kids love books, the more they read. And the more they read, the more they internalize things like story structure, character development, language, conflict, and creativity. And the love of both reading and exploring is encouraged to grow deep and rich in the life of kids.

Some things that will help you use KID KANDY:

~ Not every idea will appeal to you or your child. Make up something else fun!

~ Let your child be the leader in making the KID KANDY activities work or evolve. They love being in charge.

~ Adjust the suggestions to fit your circumstances. We don't all have the same resources, experience, or chunks of time.

~ Be flexible. Some things might not work out. Laugh and go on. I bet kids will remember the mistakes and flops more than the perfect endings.

~ Above all, read books together. Shared love will run all over those dog-eared, food-smeared, mangled and torn pages. Books are like the Velveteen Rabbit. The books that show the most signs of wear and tear are the ones that are most loved. They are the ones that become real in your child's heart.


Feel free to share the ideas found in this blog. I would love to hear how your KID KANDY escapades work out.

KID KANDY UPDATE: KID KANDY has been a regular feature on my blog for close to three months, though the name did not come about until January. I hope you and your children are enjoying the fun books and activities. Thanks for reading!

Angie Quantrell writes picture books, blogs, takes photos, and chases her naughty kitties off of the counters. Books come to life in her imagination and litter all spaces in her home. If it weren't for all of her books, Angie could live in a one room house.

Friday, February 20, 2015

White Rabbit's Color Book - Picture Book + KID KANDY Color Mixing Activity

Rabbit's Color Book
By Alan Baker
(Scholastic Inc., 1994)

Rabbit's Color Book
is one of my favorite books. I know. I say that a lot. But it's true! I have many, many special books.

Rabbit learns all about color mixing when he becomes the paint brush, er, experimenter with his furry white body. Rabbit is adorable. He makes me want to get a bunny.

Rabbit's Color Book is the perfect introduction to color mixing, art projects, painting, rainbows, and free exploration of color. Way to go, Alan Baker!


Do Your Own Color Mixing Experiments

~ As shown in the photos below, nothing much is required for color mixing. You can be as elaborate or as simple as you wish.

Materials: white ice cube trays (colors show better in white), liquid food coloring dyes, plastic containers, water, pipettes (plastic are best, similar to eye droppers), towels

I usually begin color mixing by making only the primary colors of water - red, blue, and yellow. Children figure out pretty fast how to make purple, orange, and green.

My grandson is 5 and had no problem with the pipettes. Khloe is 3 and had some trouble, but kept at it. I eventually gave her a spoon and she was quite happy with that.

The towel on the table kept spills to a minimum. But in the summer, this could go outside with complete disregard to messes. This activity will keep children occupied as long as there is colored water to use!

Other suggestions:

~ clear plastic candy mold trays are WONDERFUL for eye-hand coordination and fine motor control

~ suction cup soap holders require even more finesse and make cool designs on paper towels that are laid on top after each suction cup has one drop of colored water on it

~ for older children, I like to use baby food jars so each child can mix with the 3 primary colors and be in control of the outcomes

Angie Quantrell loves simple science and art projects. Kids need to play and experiment as they have learn. Play is the work of a child. Put those kids to work.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Black Stallion - Chapter Books

The Black Stallion
By Walter Farley
(Random House, 1969 - original in 1941)

Meet a book that I absolutely adored when I was in elementary school. The Black Stallion was one of my favorite and most re-read books in my growing collection of all-things-horse.

Walter Farley created a world for me. That world consisted of danger, excitement, horses, adventure, challenge, horses, and more horses. I didn't care if the main character was a boy. He was doing things that I wanted to do - traveling, getting shipwrecked (ok, I may skip that one), and rescuing a beautiful, strong-willed black stallion to be his own horse. What could be better?

The Black Stallion is still one of my beloved favs. The horse world in Farley's books was my world of escape. In the pages of his writing, I could do and be anything.

Isn't that what good books are for? To let us get away, learn more about ourselves, dream, and give us the chance to live vicariously through the choices and actions of another. A perfect day back then would be reading for hours and then getting up to go ride my own horse, pretending that I was on a similar adventure. Never mind that I was in a desert, my horse was a scrawny nearly spotless Appaloosa and sometimes knot-head, and the extent of my adventure usually ended with me walking home on foot.

I recommend The Black Stallion for elementary and intermediate school students. And any girl who loves horses.


1. Watch the movie! For a book adaptation, they did a pretty good job.

2. Get outside and play horses. I remember doing this well into the intermediate years. We were the horses and the riders. Our legs were the horse legs, and the rest of our bodies became adventurers setting out looking for danger. Those 2-legged horses could gallop, trot, switch leads, back up, and do all sorts of great things. Just check out the way our horses could barrel race!

And you've never seen a younger child turn down the chance to ride the horsie (you or I) in their own version of playing horses.


Blaze and I in sunny Arizona (1978)

Angie Quantrell is a long-time horse lover. While she is unable to have a horse right now, she dreams of the day when perhaps a 4-legged beauty will allow her to ride away on an adventure, real or make-believe.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bananaphone - Raffi Rocks - Wacky Wednesday

By Raffi
(Troubadour Records Ltd., 1994)

Today's feature is a musical Raffi CD for children. If ever you wanted a source of good music for kids, Raffi is one of the best.

My favorite tune on this CD is the title song, "Bananaphone."

We sing it on the way to school, the three of us, belting out the words. Rhyming, fun melodies, great music, and a certain amount of silliness attracted these listeners to enjoy the song. "Nana, there is rhyming!" said a very excited kindergarten boy who is learning of such things.

Bananaphone. And who hasn't used a banana for a phone?

I was somewhat worried as I remembered all of the time spent with play phones. The plastic ones with circle number dials that have to go all-the-way-around-and-back at least 8 times before someone can be called. The long skinny ones with the dial in the headset. The winding, corkscrew cords connecting both pieces. The tin can and string phones we used to make.

The loss of this historical phone type and subsequent play times became apparent when my grandson, Hayden, decided to make a phone. From cardboard. A rectangle with a screen and boxed numbers. On and off button. Battery charger requested.

Cell phones?!

Quick! Save the phones. Not the iPhones or androids, but the old-timey-whimey stick your finger in the dial and spin it around phones. This Nana is hurrying to the nearest thrift store to buy one, just for fun.

Bananas, anyone?


Make a Tin Can Phone

1. Use two empty, clean, and dry vegetable or soup cans for phones. Wrap the top open edges with duct tape to keep sharp edges covered.

2. Use a nail and hammer to make a hole in the bottom of each can.

3. Attach a very long piece of kitchen string (your choice of how long) to each can by threading it through the hole and tying knots to keep it in place.

4. Now you have a two-person phone!

5. Stand as far apart as the string allows (your choice, remember?) and chat away to the child on the opposite side. Cheers!

CAUTION: Do not let younger children use the phone unsupervised. Watch that the string does not get tangled around body parts, especially necks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I Can Give - Terrific Tuesday Picture Book & KID KANDY Activity

I Can Give
By Angie Quantrell
Illustrated by Gayle Lopez
(Woman's Missionary Union, 2003)

I Can Give is the second/third book in the I Can Series (WMU Preschool Resources). I say second/third because I wrote two books at the same time - I Can Give and I Can Do It.

While challenging, and sometimes confusing, featuring a Hispanic family in I Can Give kept my brain from straying too often to I Can Do It, which features a Chinese American family.

I Can Give, colorfully illustrated by Gayle Lopez, is about Juan Carlos and his little sister, Gabriela. Juan Carlos is learning all of the different ways that we can give. With his family, he explores giving his time, energy, resources, and talents. Juan Carlos learns that giving can be about money, but is also so much more (friendship, help, flowers, and so on).

Learning how to give to others is an important character trait for young children to see and practice.

Besides being a book about giving, I Can Give is also a book about diversity. While the main story is in English, each page features a sentence in Spanish (complete with pronunciation guide). Boys and girls will enjoy both the story and learning to say some things in Spanish.

A note to parents (about giving), Bible thoughts to use with preschoolers, Bible verses for parents, and giving activities are included at the end of I Can Give.

I Can Give is available at under the Preschool Resources tab and by calling 1-800-968-7301.


Giving 4 Ways

Consider each of the following four areas in which to give. Brainstorm with your family and choose one way to give for each. Some ideas are listed to get you started. Work together to practice giving!

How can you give your time to others?

~ helping neighbors pick up trash, visiting nursing home residents, help babysit so a single-parent can have a night out

What ways can you use your energy to give to others?

~ play with a child who does not have a friend, help grandma clean her yard, push a baby in a stroller for a walk

How can you use your talents to help others?

~ help wash the car, make pictures for someone who is sick, sing songs for the neighbors

How can you give of your resources to help others?

~ collect money to send to hungry children, gather food items for the food bank, do chores to earn money to give to people in other countries for fresh water

Angie Quantrell enjoyed imagining Juan Carlos and his family as she wrote I Can Give. She loves helping boys and girls learn how to give and help others.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fox's Garden - PIcture Book & KID KANDY Activity

Fox's Garden
By Princesse Camcam
(Enchanted Lion Books, 2014)

What a treasure! Our public library had Fox's Garden on a display rack when I recently walked through with my granddaughter. We snatched it up right away.

The first draw for me was the long and narrow size. And then I was immediately attracted to the beautiful illustrations. Once we were home, I perused the rest of the book and discovered that it was a wordless book.

A fact soon noticed by my kindergarten grandson who set himself to read it. Only to find no words. "Nana," he called, "there are no words!"

An easy enough problem to solve. "Then you get to make up your own story to go with the pictures! How fun is that?"

He was sold and continued on to tell the story to sissy.

Fox's Garden is a simple story about Fox. Fox is not liked by town inhabitants, but she must find a warm spot ASAP. In a greenhouse, Fox finds the perfect place to rest. In that cozy environment, Fox meets a special friend and the reader gains a surprise. Several surprises.

Fox's Garden is a treat for nature and book lovers.


Princesse Camcam uses paper cutouts for many of the illustrations in Fox's Garden. Let's make our own paper cut-out picture!

1. Dig out cutting magazines, pencils, cardstock, scissors, crayons, and glue sticks.

2. Cut out pictures of people, animals, houses, food, or whatever else your child wants to use on his project. Of course, your child will do the work for his project. You are the assistant.

3. Draw some items to be a part of the picture - table, chair, car, swing, and so on. Cut those out as well.

4. Glue the cut-outs together in whatever way pleases your child. If the glue stick is too unwieldy for the paper, use tape or tiny drops of white school glue.

5. Add color with crayons.


Angie Quantrell loves beautifully illustrated books. She especially loves nature themes and stories that can be enjoyed over and over again.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day! - Nature Rocks

Happy Valentine's Day, my friends!

How many heart shaped things can you find in nature? I found this one at the beach. The heart below was discovered in my kitchen.

Happy HEART hunting!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Will You Be My Valenswine? - Picture Book & Activity

Will You Be My Valenswine?
By Teresa Bateman
Illustrated by Kristina Stephenson
(Scholastic, Inc., 2005)

Will You Be My Valenswine? is a funny, rhyming story about a piglet who has no one to love. Everyone else in the barnyard has someone special, but not poor Polly. Read this fun book to find out who loves Polly the best.

Kids will giggle when they hear valenswine instead of valentine. Never fear, Polly finds her valenswine love. (Hint: M-o-m-m-y)


Sing a Valenswine song!

To the tune of "Merrily We Roll Along," sing:

Won't you be my valenswine,
Valenswine, valenswine,
Won't you be my valenswine,
Here's a heart for you!

Substitute valentine for valenswine for more holiday fun.

I love to let kids cut out construction paper hearts to go along with this song. Give each child a heart and sing the song. On the last line, let the kiddos trade hearts with each other. Make sure you get in on the heart trading fun!

Angie Quantrell loves to read and write children's picture books, sing silly songs, and dream up fun activities for the children in her life.

If you enjoyed this blog post, please sign up to receive future blog posts in your email inbox. Thanks! Happy Valenswine's Day!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Night Before Valentine's Day - Picture Book & Activity

The Night Before Valentine's Day
By Natasha Wing
Illustrated by Heidi Petach
(Scholastic Inc., 2000)

We all know 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, a right jolly old Christmas rhyme and classic Christmas story.

The Night Before Valentine's Day is based on the same rhythm and cadence as the Christmas classic. But I dare say that the Valentine version is much sillier and takes place in the lives of classmates. Making Valentine's cards, putting up decorations, playing games, and eating party foods are all a part of the holiday fun. But beware of the visit from an interesting character who dispenses a special gift.

All in good fun.


Chocolate Play Dough

No kidding! Chocolate play dough smells great. It looks like the real thing though, so watch those tasting little mouths.

2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa
1 cup salt
2 T. baby oil
1 T. alum
3 cups boiling water

1. Add together and mix dry ingredients.

2. Add baby oil and alum to dry mix.

3. Add boiling water.

4. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Dump out onto a well floured counter. (This dough tends to be a bit sticky. Add more flour as needed.)

5. Use a spatula and egg turner to scoop and mix all of the dough. As soon as you can handle the dough (it will still be very hot), knead it well.

6. When the dough is smooth and well mixed, let it cool. Store in a large plastic lidded container.

I like to collect empty Valentine candy heart boxes to use with the play dough. Small heart and shape cookie cutters add excitement to the sweet smelling fun. Provide butter knives and rolling pins to allow children to create play dough candies to their hearts content.

Angie Quantrell adores chocolate in any form, edible or not. Play dough ranks up there as one of her favorite necessary activities for excellent fine motor skill development. Dig out that messy dough!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink - Picture Books - Wacky Wednesday

Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink
By Diane de Groat
(Mulberry Books, 1996)

Wacky Wednesday brings a silly and humorous Valentine's Day picture book in Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink.

Gilbert had to get ready for his Valentine's Day party, which meant he had to write on his valentine cards. Gilbert had much success making up rhymes for friends. But his results for those he didn't really like were not as nice. Those poems were actually awful and unkind.

Read about the party disaster and how Gilbert was able to make amends to the friends he slighted in Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink. Readers will learn about kindness and getting along with others in this holiday picture book.


Decorate Valentine Heart Cookies

~ Bake or buy heart shaped cookies. Sugar cookies are best, especially if you let your child helper cut them out with heart cookie cutters. Chocolate chip heart cookies would taste very nice as well.

~ Put white frosting in a bowl. Add purple (or red + blue) food coloring drop by drop, mixing and adding more drops until you get the desired color.

~ Messy, yes. But that's what soap and water are for. Put a dollop of icing on the middle of a cookie and let your child spread it around. Continue with other cookies.

~ Provide an assortment of seasonal or favorite candies. Let your child add decorations on top of the icing (which is the glue). Cinnamon red hots, conversation hearts, sprinkles, M&M's, chocolate chips, or whatever else you have on hand is perfect.

~ Eat one or two.

~ Share the sugar wealth. Wrap extra cookies with plastic wrap or self-zipping bags. Give them to teachers, grandparents, neighbors, church members, friends ... anyone that will help take a sugar load off of your hands.

~ Most of the fun is in the mess making. But letting little ones help clean up is a valuable lesson. Soapy water, dish cloths (rung out, or else, tidal wave), and some sort of cleaning sing-song diddy, and you are off and running.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Angie Quantrell enjoys both writing and reading children's picture books. Kids are her favorite people.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Jesus Loves Me - Books You Can Sing - Terrific Tuesday Book & Activity

Jesus Loves Me
Pictures by Hector Borlasca
(Zonderkidz, 2008)

The Terrific Tuesday book is Jesus Loves Me, a book you can read and sing. And if you are one of the fortunate and gifted ones, sheet music is included, so you can play along on a piano.

This version of Jesus Loves Me shares about five different verses. Jesus wears His usual robe, facial hair, and long hair. The children in the book, however, are modern boys and girls who hang out with Jesus at the playground, park, and beach. Pretty fun illustrations.


Make a Jesus Valentine!

1. Cut a large heart from pink cardstock.

2. Trace the heart onto patterned scrapping paper. Cut it out and glue it to the back of the cardstock heart.

3. Punch holes around the edge of the heart (about 1 inch apart).

4. Cut a long piece of yarn. Tie one end through the hole at the top of the heart (the center dip part). Wrap masking tape around the opposite end to create a safe needle. This is my favorite needle for kids. It also keeps the yarn from fraying.

5. Help lace around the heart. Tie a knot with both ends of yarn and make a hanging loop. Trim off excess.

6. Print a Bible thought or verse in the center of the pink heart. A good one is Jesus loves you (see John 15:12).

7. Decorate around the verse with markers, stickers, rubber stamps, decorative tape, buttons - whatever craft materials you have on hand. Dry.

Now you have a Jesus Valentine!

I appreciate you taking the time to read this blog. Sign up to receive blog posts in your email inbox. Thanks!

Angie Quantrell loves reading and singing books. One can never have too many books. Just not enough shelves.

Monday, February 9, 2015

10 Valentine Friends - Picture Book

10 Valentine Friends
By Janet Schulman
Illustrated by Linda Davick
(Scholastic Inc., 2011)

10 Valentine Friends is a fun holiday counting book. Counting and rhyming! Readers will enjoy the antics of the 10 kids as they decorate, make valentines, and get ready for a Valentine's Day party. Pink, red, and other bright colors fill this counting book with plenty of Valentine love.


Counting Fun ~ Purchase Valentine conversation hearts.

You can:

- use an ice tray to practice 1:1 correspondence - one heart in each ice cube spot.

- count as high as possible (adults can help kid counters count higher). How many are in the bag (or box)?

- sort the conversation hearts by color or sayings. Which color has the most hearts? The least hearts?

- evenly divide hearts so that all family members receive the same number. How many hearts does each person get?

- practice simple addition by making small groups of hearts (1-5). Help count on and add the two groups together.

Math is fun, specially with cute sugary hearts. Happy Valentine's Day!

Angie Quantrell loves combining reading fun books and doing math activities that go along with the books. Little Valentine conversation hearts are the perfect treat for reading + counting.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Nature is What We Need - In Word and Photo

"Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her."

~ William Wordsworth
Subtitled: "On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye During a Tour, July 13, 1798." Lyrical Ballads

Beauty, wonder, peace, refreshment, adventure.

Nature. It's what we all need.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake - Picture Book

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake
Written by Michael B. Kaplan
Illustrated by Stephane Jorisch
(Scholastic Inc., 2011)

Betty Bunny knows she is a handful. She also knows her parents love her very much, so being a handful must be a good thing.

At first, when presented with chocolate cake, the handful could not stand the thought of tasting it. But after she was persuaded to nibble a bit, Betty Bunny fell in love with chocolate cake. In fact, she decided that she would marry chocolate cake.

One could say that Betty Bunny became consumed with the thought of chocolate cake. Chocolate cake invaded her entire life. And when she was told she could not have any, Betty Bunny became even more of a handful.

I absolutely adore the watercolor illustrations. This family of bunnies resembles any family anywhere with multiple children. Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake is funny, realistic (one who has had small children will recognize the signs), and inventive. Deliciously cute book.


Chocolate Cupcakes (aka Cake-in-the-Pocket Experiment)

~ Use a recipe or mix to make chocolate cupcakes. OF COURSE, let your child help you.

~ Decorate the cupcakes. Make them super yummy.

~ Eat a cupcake for dessert.

~ Discuss Betty Bunny and what she does with her cake.

~ Put a cupcake in a self-sealing bag and zip the seal. Put the cupcake in a pocket. Go play.

~ Check back later. How is the cupcake? Does anyone want to eat it now? Or marry it?

Angie Quantrell loves reading funny picture books with captivating illustrations.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Valentine Bears - Picture Book

The Valentine Bears
Written by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by Jan Brett
(Scholastic Inc., 1983)

Reading The Valentine Bears aloud for children is fun for both the reader and the listener.

Mr. and Mrs. Bear are hibernating for the winter. Mrs. Bear is very sad that they always miss Valentines Day, which happens during their long sleep. But not this year. She decides to wake up early and surprise Mr. Bear on Valentines Day. But who really gets surprised?

Reality and make-believe mix together in this cute holiday book. Bears really do hibernate and eat all sorts of things suggested in the book. But they don't really wear clothes or celebrate holidays. The Valentine Bears is the perfect way to begin a discussion about animals - fiction and nonfiction.


Mrs. Bear wrote two Valentine poems for Mr. Bear. She used the Roses are red, violets are blue poem as her pattern. Reread her poems for Mr. Bear.

Choose an animal and brainstorm words that come to mind. Make a big list.

Use the format for Roses are Red to make up your own poems. Use silly words and rhyming words. It's all in fun. Rhyming is an important skill for preschool, kindergarten, and first graders.

For example:

Animal - DOG

Brainstorm - furry, slobbery, teeth, tail, wagging, jumping, bark, eat, sleep, digging, muddy, hairy, smelly

Roses are red, Violets are blue,
The dog is hairy, and so are you!


Doggies are smelly, They jump so high,
Mud is their favorite, I wonder why?

Provide crayons and paper so your child can draw pictures about their silly poem.

Angie Quantrell loves using silly words in her writing. She loves animals and spends lots of time watching her crazy kitties make messes in the house.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Skidamarink - The "I LOVE YOU" Song ~ Picture Books You Can Sing

Skidamarink - The "I LOVE YOU" Song
Illustrated by Jacqueline East
(Scholastic Inc., 2007)

February is the month of love.

Time to learn and sing a new song! Skidamarink - The "I LOVE YOU" Song is one of my favorite songs for the month of Valentines Day. (Skidamarink is pronounced skid-UH-muh-rink.)

Skidamarink is illustrated by Jacqueline East. The bear family, very adorable with their cozy home and cuddly baby bear, sings their way through family life. The winter fun activities and home life shared in the book makes me want to go ice skating or cuddle up with hot cocoa. Young children will enjoy seeing the fun baby bear has with his mom and dad.

Note to adults: While kids will get it and love it, skidamarink is a silly, nonsense word that might trip up adults. Don't worry. It's fun to say and sing. And skidamarink rhymes perfectly with 'a dink a dink.'


~ Of course, one could choose any activity from the book and enjoy it as a family - ice skating, eating oatmeal, sledding, building a snowman, drinking hot cocoa, playing a game, painting pictures, or reading a book. I would encourage you to avoid getting sick though.

~ For those fortunate enough to have snow this year, get outside and paint some hearts. Mix red food coloring with water in a spray bottle or squirt gun. Head out and spray hearts and XOXO on snow banks.

~ If you are like us (no snow), dig out the sidewalk chalk. Go outside and draw chalk hearts and XOXO messages on the sidewalk or driveway.

~ Check out YouTube for videos of the motions that go with Skidamarink. Or just make up your own. It will be your own secret love language.

Spread the love! Keep singing Skidamarink while you have fun!

Happy Valentines Day from the Red Onion.

Angie Quantrell loves silly songs. Now she will be humming Skidamarink for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I Can Pray - Terrific Tuesday Picture Book & Activity

I Can Pray

By Angie Quantrell
Illustrated by Clay Allison
(Woman's Missionary Union, 2000)

I Can Pray is my very first published children's picture book.

I remember the challenge and excitement of writing, editing, and watching this book come to life. When my author's copies arrived in the mail, oh, that was one perfect day! It still fills me with joy to see what the Lord has done in my life.

Abby is a young girl who lives with her mom and day. Change is coming her way (check out the way mom's tummy grows), but Abby is not worried. With the different people in her life, Abby experiences many different ways to pray, places to pray, and things for which to pray.

Prayer is the theme of the book. Simple sentences are written for the youngest of preschoolers to enjoy, while a longer and more involved storyline takes place for older preschoolers and children. I Can Pray concludes with suggestions for parents and activities for preschoolers and their parents.

I Can Pray is one of my favorite books!


~ Prayer Journal

Prayer journals are all the rage. Create a simple prayer journal by posting a pretty wall calendar on a wall.

Dedicate a special time each day to pray a short prayer with your child. Jot down a sentence prayer (simple drawings are perfect for young preschoolers) inside the box for each day. Let your child offer sentence prayers and record those. Allow him or her to notice empty squares.

Make it a goal to check back and see which prayers have been answered. Your child can color that square with a highlighter. Prayer is answered!

~ Prayer Jar
Print the names of family and friends on wooden craft sticks and store them in a jar. Each day, during your prayer time, let your child choose a stick. Say sentence prayers for that person. Keep the stick out until all have been prayed for. Return sticks back to the jar and start again.

I Can Pray is available at under the Age Level Resources (preschool) tab. Or call 1-800-968-7301.

Angie Quantrell loves to dream up and write books for preschoolers and children.

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Groundhog Day - Picture Book

Groundhog Day
Written by Betsy Lewin
(Scholastic Inc., 2000)

Happy Groundhog Day!

Every February 2nd, Groundhog Day rolls around. The nation, or at least millions of school children and the people of Pennsylvania watch and anxiously await the results of Punxsutawney Phil and his weather prediction for the coming spring.

Groundhog Day
is an early reader and simple retell of what happens on Groundhog Day. The funny ending gives boys and girls another idea to consider about why Phil sees his shadow.


~ Visit to check out lots of fun things happening on Groundhog Day.

~ Make a groundhog pop-up puppet.

1. Cut a paper towel tube in thirds (horizontally).
2. Look at pictures in Groundhog Day to see what a groundhog looks like.
3. Let your child draw a small groundhog on cardstock. Or loosely trace your (adult) thumb. Add ears, eyes, nose, whiskers, and mouth.
4. Color the groundhog and cut him out. Colored pencils work great on this small drawing.
5. Tape the groundhog to a wide craft stick or an unsharpened pencil.
6. Pretend the paper tube is a groundhog den. Stick the groundhog in through the bottom so he doesn't show. Pop him up the top to peek out.
7. Hold the puppet in the shade. No shadow? Hold the puppet in the sun. Shadow?
8. Will spring be here soon or is there another six weeks of winter?

~ Talk about legends and how people have fun sharing legends.

~ Younger children will enjoy being the groundhog. Give them a box and a blanket. Let them cover their heads, pop out, and pretend to see (or not see) their shadows.

Angie Quantrell enjoys reading legends and finding out how they began. She has fun creating activities for boys and girls that encourage them to read, get out in nature, and have fun learning.

Even Mabel loves the groundhog puppet!