Monday, July 24, 2017

[Board Book] A Review of Birthday Counting by Barbara Barbieri McGrath (Art by Peggy Tagel)

Titlez:Birthday Counting

Written By:
  Barbara Barbieri McGrath
Illustrated By: Peggy Tagel
Published By: Charlesbridge Publishing, 2017
Genre: Concept Book / Counting 
Suitable For Ages: 2-4
 Themes/Topics: Counting / Birthdays

Opening:  Welcome to the birthday party! Six colorful balloons help decorate the room. 

Why I Like This Book: In yet another sturdy, quality concept from Charlesbridge with bright colors and engaging art, a child gets to count down from 6 and enjoy a birthday celebration. Just another wonderful board book in their "First Celebrations" collection. These book make perfect shower gifts and/or Grandma visit gifts, or just because I love you gifts for any little one! 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

PPBF: Little Red Rolls Away by Linda Whalen (Art by Jennifer E. Morris)

TitleLittle Red Rolls Away
Written By:  Linda Whalen
Illustrated By: Jennifer E. Morris
Published By: Sleeping Bear Press, 2017

Genre: Fiction 
Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Change / Uncertainty / Fear / Loss  
The little red barn creaked awake. 

He listened for Rooster's crow, 

Piglet's squeal, and Bossy Cow's moo. 
Brief SynopsisFrom the publisher: When Little Red Barn wakes one morning, he finds hi animal friends have gone. He's empty and alone. And then big noisy machines lift him up and put him on a truck. As Little Red is transported across the countryside, down a major river, and through city streets, he feels anxious and a little afraid Where is he going? who will be there when he reaches his destination? When Little Red does finally reach his home in a surprising location, he finds things are even better than before. The story of the little barn's relocation and adjustment to a new place will reassure and comfort young readers facing changes in their own lives. 
Why I Like This Book: From the beginning, little listeners and readers will be hooked by the mystery of where Little Red's friends have gone and will gladly follow sweet Little Red along on his journey. In addition to being an adventurous book with a satisfying ending (and wonderful art), Little Red offers a good example of how to cope and be open to change. I enjoyed this book on many levels and kids will too! 

For MORE about Linda Whalen and her books, click here:

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Friday, July 21, 2017

[PPBF] A CAT IS BETTER by Linda Joy Singleton (Art by Jorge Martin)

 Title: A Cat is Better
Written By:  Linda Joy Singleton
Illustrated By: Jorge Martin
Published By: Little Bee Books / Bonnier, 2017
Genre: Fiction 
Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Cat and Dogs / Comparisons

I'm your new cat. 

I'm the perfect pet for you.

You may take me home now.  
Brief SynopsisFrom the publisher: What makes cats better than dogs? Is it how gracefully they leap through air? How much smarter they are than dogs? How much more musical and cleaner they are? Or is it how good they are at making you think they're all these things? Find out why cats are the purrfect pets in this fantastically funny picture book. 
Why I Like This Book: First and foremost because who doesn't like a cat with attitude? Through humorous delivery, this confident cat highlights all the best reasons to own a cat, and when he runs out of comparisons, comes to a surprising result. This well-written picture book has re-readability and cute, but funny illustrations that help drive cat's points home. 

For more about Linda Joy Singleton and her books, visit:
For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

BOARD BOOK REVIEW: Baby's First Book of Birds & Colors by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes

Title: Baby's First Book of Birds & Colors
Written and Illustrated By:  Phyllis Limbacher Tildes
Published By: Charlesbridge Publishing, 2017
Genre: Concept Book / Counting 
Suitable For Ages: 2-4
 Themes/Topics: Counting / Birds

Opening:  Red (scarlet tanager - Male) 

Why I Like This Book: The quality concept book is absolutely stunning and the art engaging. With its color words AND bird words it actually appeals to a wide variety of ages and let's be honest, even adults who are interested in birds and plants. I actually leafed through it again to count how many of the birds I have come across in my life. A wonderful, colorful and sturdy first book of birds for baby (and parent). 

Monday, July 17, 2017

[Board Book] PARADE COLORS by Barbara Barbieri McGrath (Art by Peggy Tagel)

TitleParade Colors
Written By:  Barbara Barbieri McGrath

Illustrated By: Peggy Tagel
Published By: Charlesbridge Publishing, 2017
Genre: Concept Book / Colors
Suitable For Ages: 2-4
Themes/Topics: Colors / Celebration / Patriotism 

The parade has begun!

Here comes the big red fire engine. 

Synopsis/Blurb (From the Publisher): Prepare your baby to celebrate their first patriotic holiday with all that a parade entails. Readers will encounter things from a marching band to Uncle Sam and everything in between with this vibrant and colorful board book!
Available Now!
Why I Like This Book: The quality concept book will appeal to little patriots who love vibrant colors and fun nouns. Parents will love that it encourages focus and provides a conversation started at the end. A great gift to introduce little ones to a parade! 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

BOARD BOOK REVIEW: The Very Berry Counting Book by Jerry Pallotta (Art by Joy Newton)

TitleThe Very Berry Counting Book
Written By:  Jerry Pallotta
Illustrated By: Joy Newton
Published By: Charlesbridge Publishing, 2017
Genre: Concept Book / Counting
Suitable For Ages: 2-4
Themes/Topics: Counting / Fruit / Fruity Adjectives

1 one yummy raspberry

Why I Like This Book: The quality concept book will appeal to the very berry sweetest of little ones who love to count and eat fruit. As they listen or read, and listen or read again, they'll learn fun words to describe the things that they eat. It makes a great addition to a summer activity basket to keep little ones busy! 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

PPBF: Maddie the Mitzvah Clown by Karen Rostoker-Gruber (Art by Christine Grove)

TitleMaddie the Mitvah Clown
Written By:  Karen Rostoker-Gruber
Illustrated By: Christine Grove
Published By: Apples & Honey Press, 2016
                           A division of Berman House and
                           Gefen Publishing House

Genre: Fiction 
Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Overcoming Shyness / Commandments (Judaism) 
Maddie was shy. So shy, that she felt she couldn't ask the waiter for extra cheese at her favorite restaurant.  

So shy, that she couldn't raise her hand at school, even if she knew the answer. 

And when she went to visit Grandma at the senior home, she couldn't talk to Grandma's friends. 
Brief SynopsisFrom the publisher: Shy Maddie discovers that with the right costume and training from Giggles the Clown, she can make Grandma and her friends at the nursing home laugh. 
Why I Like This Book: I absolutely love both the story and art portrayed in this book and recommend it highly for children of any religion. Maddie has a universal problem and finds an absolutely clever and inspiring way to over come her character flaw. She is a believable and engaging character who many children will be able to identify with. While this satisfying and brightly-illustrated story nods to the Jewish faith in that Maddie does a mitzvah (good deed done as a religious duty), the plot boils down to a child wanting to overcome her shyness and make her Grandmother and friends laugh. 

It is no surprise to me that PJ Library has recently commissioned 20,000 of this wonderful book to be shared with Jewish families across the U.S. It's an absolutely wonderful book and everyone should take the time to read it, Jewish or not! 

For MORE about Karen Rostoker-Gruber and her books, click here:

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Monday, May 8, 2017

PPBF: Mabel and the Queen of Dreams by Henry, Joshua and Harrison Herz with Illustrations by Lisa Woods

TitleMabel and the Queen of Dreams 
Written By:  Henry, Joshua and Harrison Herz
Illustrated ByLisa Woods
Published By: Schiffer Publishing, 2016
Genre: Fiction 
Suitable For Ages: 2-6

Themes/Topics: Bedtime / Dreams / Fairy Tales
Mabel was an expert at not going to sleep. 
"I'm thirsty."
"I am not tired." 
"I have to pee."
"I'm too tangled to sleep."
"Will you tell me a story?" That always worked. 
Brief SynopsisFrom the publisher: Little Mabel is an expert at not going to sleep. She knows all the best bed-time avoiding excuses....Luckily, Mom's quiver of bedtime tales includes the story of the Fae Queen, who paints children's dreams and can visit only when their eyes are closed. The story is inspired by Mercutio's soliloquy in Romeo and Juliet, in which he details how the tiny fairy queen influences people's dreams as she passes by in her flying chariot. The soothing story evokes images of an ant worm in a gray coat and a hazelnut-shell chariot with a roof of grasshopper wings. told in lyrical language that adults will also appreciate, the story helps parents coax their kids to sleep.
Why I Like This Book: Many, many reasons, including everything mentioned above, especially the Romeo and Juliet reference! I truly liked that a timeless, universal problem has been portrayed in an new and interesting way and nodded toward classic literature. Notably, the thread was seamlessly woven into a modern bedtime story. I truly appreciated the effective set-up, structure and resolution of this lyrical picture book. The illustrations were well-matched and engaging. Well done! 
For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Friday, April 21, 2017

PPBF: Bob and Joss Get Lost by Peter McCleery, Illustrated by Vin Vogel

Title: Bob and Joss Get Lost!
Written By:  Peter McCleery
Illustrated By: Vin Vogel
Published By: Harper/Harper Collins Publishers 2017
Genre: Fiction 
Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Boredom / Personal Views / Communication
Bob was bored. "I'm bored," he said. "let's do something."
"Let's take a boat trip," said Joss. 
"No way," said Bob. 
"Why not?" asked Joss. 
"We will get lost," said Bob. 
"We won't get lost," said Joss. 
Brief SynopsisFrom the publisher: They get lost. Or do they? Join Bob and Joss on a hilarious adventure as they get shipwrecked on a tropical island. 
Why I Like This Book: I enjoyed the opposing personalities (shown via art and text) of Bob and Joss with their different outlooks and that despite that, they are best friends. That in itself paves the path for an interesting situations -- which lead the reader along on a fun and funny adventure.  Vin Vogel's art perfectly captures the spirit of this duo. A fun adventure for anyone to go on, but especially appealing to little boys. So fun, I didn't even mind sheepy-looking stormclouds or getting shipwrecked!
I'd like to see where Bob and Joss take us in the future! 
For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

BACKSTAGE at The Family (and Frog) Haggadah with Karen Rostoker Gruber and Ron Isaacs

The Family and Frog! Haggadah

by Karen Rostoker-Gruber, as Frog! and Ron Isaacs.

Make your seder different than all other seders!
Start with a traditional Haggadah text, add artwork, your favorite songs and fun facts, then add a hopping frog to its pages and you’ll get. . . 

The Family and Frog! Haggadah

Since the release of this Haggadah, things have been a bit crazy.  We’ve been doing Passover shows with Frog (I’m also a ventriloquist), Barnes & Noble bought 900 copies for their stores nation-wide, there were promotional videos taken of Frog (I’ll put a link to them at the bottom of this article), our book was in the March edition of Hadassah Magazine, we were on the front page of The New Jersey Jewish News (March 23), and on one of those days, our book hit #1 on Amazon!

Background info on how it came about
The Family and Frog! Haggadah came about in a board room at Behrman House, a Jewish publishing company, based in Springfield, NJ.  Our book, “Farmer Kobi’s Hanukkah Match,” was just named a National Jewish Book Award Finalist, and the editorial staff at Behrman House wanted to know if Ron and I would like to work on a Haggadah together.  The stipulation was that the Haggadah was to be like no other:  It had to be traditional in content, but fun! for the whole family—ages 3-90.  That was a tall order.

Ron wrote the Haggadah, because he is a Rabbi, and I decided to add a character that would liven up the seder.  Dena, the Editorial Director, suggested a frog, which was brilliant!

That night I went home, read Ron’s whole Haggadah, and started letting my character, Frog, comment on everything—similar to things that someone might say at an actual Passover seder—under their breath or otherwise.   

Every time I thought that I was done, and spoke with Ann Koffsky, the editor on the project, or Dena Neusner, the Editorial Director, they pushed my creativity more and more.  I was allowed to do anything that I wanted to do with Frog, so I did.  I have Frog interacting with the Haggadah in ways that were never done before. 

Frog is 5 years old and gender neutral.  Frog spills things, makes a matzah mess, plays guitar, runs away from Pharaoh’s army, and even eats a locust during the seder.  The sky was the limit. 

I gave Ann and Dena three times the amount of material for Frog, so that they could take things away and still be left with a whole lot of fun! 

This Haggadah was one of the hardest, most challenging manuscripts I have ever worked on.  It changed daily as Ron was still editing while I was getting Frog to comment on things that he was working on at the time.  Plus. . . there was the deadline.  J

The printed Haggadah was more than I ever expected it to be.  It’s beautiful!  Ann designed it to look like a very traditional Haggadah, from the typefaces and colors that she chose, to the background that resembles a piece of papyrus.  She also selected gorgeous pieces of art and artifacts for each page--and then. . .popping out of corners, across the pages, and jumping to different sections, is a cartoon amphibian—Frog.  It’s unexpected and fun!  Not only is there a cartoon frog bursting through the binding, singing songs and breaking matzah, but there are also “Fun Facts,” “Did You Know” and “Try This,” parts of the Haggadah, which elevates this Haggadah even higher and encompasses so many different age groups that there is literally something for everyone.  

I am so proud of this project.  And the finished product came out beyond my wildest expectations.  Plus, Frog LOVES it!  And that was important to me.    
                     --Karen Rostoker-Gruber
! do LOVE it!
I do LOVE it!
It’s toadily awesome!

Here’s a link to the videos of Frog:
Author bios
My first book came out February 15, 2017, and I’m only 5 years old!
I write everything in green.  That’s me in the picture above. I’m with Karen.  She adopted me.  I came all the way from Texas to be with her. J

Karen Rostoker-Gruber is an award-winning children’s book author. Her first children’s book, “Food Fright,” was published in 2003 by Price Stern Sloan. Her second children’s book, “Rooster Can’t Cock-a-Doodle-Doo,” was published in 2004 by Dial Books for Young Readers.  It was nominated for the Missouri Show Me Award in 2005.  “Bandit,” “Bandit’s Surprise,” and “Ferret Fun” came out from Marshall Cavendish and all received starred reviews in School Library Journal!  “Tea Time,” her first board book, came out from Marshall Cavendish in 2010.   “Bandit” was nominated for the South Carolina Book Award and both “Bandit” and “Bandit’s Surprise” were featured on Celebrity Apprentice, and “Ferret Fun” was preliminarily nominated for the Missouri Show Me Award.  Both “Rooster Can’t Cock-a-Doodle-Doo” (in 2005) and “Bandit” (in 2009) were listed as International Reading Association—Children’s Book Council Children’s Choice Award recipients.  In the spring of 2017, “Maddie the Mitzvah Clown,” will be published by Apples and Honey Press, a division of Behrman House.   

Rabbi Ron Isaacs has served Temple Sholom in Bridgewater, New Jersey, as its spiritual leader since 1975. He has a doctorate in educational technology from Columbia University’s Teachers College. An adjunct lecturer at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, he is the author of more than 100 books, including “Ascending Jacob’s Ladder: Jewish Views of Angels, Demons, and Evil Spirits;” “Ask the Rabbi: The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of Being Jewish;” and “Kosher Living: It’s More than Just the Food.” He is the first rabbi in New Jersey to receive the United Synagogue’s Keter Torah award for outstanding lifetime achievement and rabbinical excellence. He is known as the “teaching rabbi.”

Their book, “Farmer Kobi’s Hanukkah Match,” was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist, and won the 2016 Outstanding Children’s Literature Award from the Church and Synagogue Library Association.

NOTE: Please check out yesterday's post for a chance to win this wonderful book and have frog's presence at your Passover Seder!

Friday, April 7, 2017

PPBF: The Family and Frog Haggadah by Rabbi Ron Isaacs & Karen Rostoker-Gruber Pictures by: Jackie Urbanovic

Title: The Family and Frog Haggadah 
Written By: Rabbi Ron Isaacs & Karen Rostoker-Gruber
Illustrated By: Jackie Urbanovic
Published By: Behrman House, 2017
Genre: Fiction 
Suitable For Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: Persistence, Determination. 
Searching for Chameitz. 
Before Passover starts, we clean our homes and get rid of all our bread, pasta and most types of grains -- also called chameitz. We do this to remember that when the Israelites fled Egypt, they left in such a hurry that the dough that they prepared for the journey did not have sufficient time to rise into bread. Instead, it became the flatbread we call matzah. 

Frog: Wait -- I found a piece of toadst! 
Brief SynopsisFrom the publisher: “Make your seder different than all the other seders! Start with a traditional Haggadah text, add vibrant artwork, your favorite songs and fun facts to it. Then add a hopping frog to its pages, and you'll get....The Family and Frog! Haggadah. Pass on your timeless heritage while creating new seer traditions that you and your family will look forward to repeating year after year. 
Why I Like This Book: I love that this book is read, paging from right to left and that it is an informative and inspiring educational guide to a seder celebration. Frog's illustrations are entertaining and will keep little ones engaged while they learn more about their holiday. Although this is a picture book for children, there is so much packed into this book by way historical and traditional information, as well as stories to share and fun activity suggestions, that there is definitely something for everyone! This book can be enjoyed year after year as your children learn and grow and focus on different aspects of the text and activities. 

In addition to my being a fan of Karen Rostoker-Gruber's picture books, I am also an admirer of Jackie Urbanovic's books as well. I found this to be a wonderful collaboration with Rabbi Ron Isaacs! Mazel Tov! 
Five Stars and a perfect picture book friday and Passover pick!
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

And now, for an exciting GIVEAWAY! I have one copy of The Family and Frog Haggadah to give to one lucky winner! This book (and Frog) will become an important part of your family Passover celebrations. Just leave a comment for Karen that shares an aspect of your own family celebration that is special to you. I will choose a winner on Monday! 

And click on this link to go backstage with Karen on the making of this book:

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.