Friday, December 30, 2016

PPBF: A Review of The Kite That Bridged Two Nations by Alexis O'Neill, Illustrated by Terry Widener

TITLE: The Kite that Bridged Two Nations 
AUTHOR:  Alexis O'Neill
ILLUSTRATOR: Terry Widener
PUBLISHER: Calkins Creek, and Imprint of Boyds Mills Press, a Highlights Company

SNIPPET: Whenever wind lifted off the river and sent the trees to dancing, I'd itch to fly a kite. I'd race to the great Niagara, plumes of mist rising from plunging waters, wind licking at my face. A boy like me knew, just knew, which day would be perfect for flying kites.

Based upon actual events, this book tells the story of a dreamer named Homan Walsh, who studied the wind and found a way to make his dreams soar. 

When young Homan discovered a kite-flying contest offering a $10 prize to the boy whose kite could span from America to Canada, he knew just how to put his scientific formula for kite flying to the test. 

Despite his father's assertion that he put his kite away and tend to his studies, Homan constructed a new kite, which he named Union. Side by side with other boys, he braved the elements. Despite failure and the loss of his beloved kite, he returned home to recalculate and try again! 

The Kite that Bridged Two Nations is an inspiring true story based upon Alexis O'Neill's tireless research and historical documents. It is beautifully written, with strong lyrical language and intriguing back matter. Historically accurate art by Terry Widener brings this story of a young boy's role in bridging two nations to life. It's a wonderful example of the part a child can play in changing the world. 

4 out of 5 Stars
REVIEWED by Lynne Marie. The opinions offered herein are my own. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Thanks from the Finalists!

2016 CYBILS PICTURE BOOK NOMINEE REVIEW: Introducing Teddy: A Gentle Story About Gender and Friendship

TITLE: Introducing Teddy
AUTHOR: Jessica Walton

ILLUSTRATOR: Dougal MacPherson
PUBLISHER:  Bloomsbury

FLAP COPY: Teddy knows in hear heart that she is a girl, not a boy. Will her friends understand? And will they call her Tilly instead of Thomas? 

The thing about being a boy or a girl is that it doesn't matter what other people say -- it's what you say that counts. But it's better when your friends understand. 

Starring a teddy bear who is defined by what's inside instead of what's outside, and with a heartwarming story about being true to yourself, Introducing Teddy is a sweet, accessible book to help the youngest readers understand gender identity and transition. 

SNIPPET: Errol and Thomas the Teddy play together every day. They ride their bike in the backyard. They plant vegetables in the garden. They have sandwiches for lunch in the treehouse. And they even have tea parties in the house when it's raining. 

REVIEW: While dealing with an extremely important and timely issue, this reads entirely like a picture book about friendship and acceptance. Notable is the absence of adult intervention, in my heartfelt opinion, that children are generally accepting and often learn to exclude based upon what they are taught or see adults do.

So sweet, with absolutely tender and careful art, I am extremely thankful to have met Teddy -- an important person to meet, to say the least! 4 out of 5 Stars

NOTE: The reviews stated herein are my own, despite receiving a copy of this book as a 2016 Cybils Panelist. 



Friday, December 16, 2016

2016 CYBILS PICTURE BOOK NOMINEE REVIEW: Explorers of the Wild by Cale Atkinson

TITLE: Explorers of the Wild
AUTHOR: Cale Atkinson
PUBLISHER:  Disney/Hyperion
FLAP COPY: No mountain is too tall if you have a friend by your side to climb it.

REVIEW: From the onset of this picture book journey, I was captivated by the cover, and wanted to explore the wild with these charming characters. I opened the book to a wonderful flap copy which shares a profound and inspiring truth, and something to keep focus on all your life, from young to old.

As I traveled on in this book and got to know these characters, I appreciated that they were so different but came together through their common love of exploration. It's great that unbeknownst to each other, they carried the same wants and same fears, but were open to considering the facts, and then very quickly moved past the fears to focus on their similarities. So many good subtle messages woven into this story!

Vancouver native Cale Atkinson's art is absolutely adorable and plush with details. And who would want to turn the page to see what other situations these friends encountered?

This book truly celebrates friendship and all the ways in can enhance your experiences and life. The ending is particularly satisfying and demonstrates how a little one might hold on to memories and cherish them.

A fantastic journey! 4 out of 5 Stars.

NOTE: The reviews stated herein are my own, despite receiving a copy of this book as a 2016 Cybils Panelist.



Thursday, December 15, 2016

2016 CYBILS PICTURE BOOK NOMINEE REVIEW: The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk by K. Sehgal and S. Sehgal

TITLE: The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk
AUTHORS: Kabir Sehgal &  Surishtha Sehgal
PUBLISHER: Beach Lane Books
/Simon & Schuster

FLAP COPY: Take a ride through an India town as the tuk tuk wheels go round and round!

This delightful spin on "The Wheels on the Bus" brings a lively and colorful twist to a classic nursery rhyme.

SNIPPET:  People in the street jump on and off, on and off, on and off. People on the street jump
on and off, all through the town.

REVIEW: I will admit that I have always loved clever parodies, but let's be honest -- so do kids. They know the tune and some of the words so it is satisfying and familiar, and they learn others, so it is new, different and fun. And, it is not long before their vocabularies have expanded.

In this enjoyable book, two New York Times Best-selling authors offer text that sings and chings through the streets of India. The art is wonderfully engaging, with lots of flavor and unique cultural- specific details for little ones to discover and learn. They will become familiar with transportation (tuk tuk), foreign currency (rupees), language (namaste-ji), past-times (yoga and chanting), common animals (cows, elephants), popular beverage (chai), popular food (poppa-doppa-doms), holiday (diwali) and more.

What a treat for little ones to explore a land so far away, and yet so accessible in this picture book!

Such a fun ride -- one little ones will want to go on again and again.

When my daughter was a toddler to went to a Global Kids class in which she learned about other cultures. Here's a great way to broaden the horizons of little ones without even paying a hefty fee.

4 out of 5 Stars!

NOTE: The reviews stated herein are my own, despite receiving a copy of this book as a 2016 Cybils Panelist.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

SUSANNA HILL'S 6TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY CONTEST: The 12 Days of Fruitcake by Meriweather Kane and Lynne Marie

“The Twelve Days of Fruitcake”

A Parody Set in New York City
by: Merriweather Kane and Lynne Marie
255 words

            On the first day of Christmas,
Aunt Mary gave to me…
A fruitcake!
“Fruitcake, my favorite Christmas surprise,” I lied.

On the second day of Christmas,
I gave that cake away…
To Sister.
“Fruitcake, my favorite Christmas surprise,” she lied.

On the third day of Christmas,
She passed the cake along...
To Brother.
“Fruitcake, my favorite Christmas surprise,” he lied.

On the fourth day of Christmas,
He passed the cake along...
To a bully.
“Fruitcake, my favorite Christmas surprise,” she lied.

            On the fifth day of Christmas,
            She passed that cake along…
            To Teacher.
“Fruitcake, my favorite Christmas surprise,” he lied.

On the sixth day of Christmas,
He passed that cake along…
To the star Student.
“Fruitcake, my favorite Christmas surprise,” he lied.

On the seventh day of Christmas,
He passed that cake along…
To Bus Driver.
“Fruitcake, my favorite Christmas surprise,” he lied.

            On the eighth day of Christmas,
            Hhe passed that cake along…
            To a ballerina.
            “Fruitcake, my favorite Christmas surprise,” she lied.

            On the ninth day of Christmas,
            She passed that cake along…
            To a holiday shopper.
            “Fruitcake, my favorite Christmas surprise,” she lied.
            On the tenth day of Christmas,
            She passed that cake along…
            To street Santa.
            “Fruitcake, my favorite Christmas surprise,” he lied.

            On the eleventh day of Christmas,
            He passed that cake along…
            To me!
“Fruitcake, my favorite Christmas surprise,” I lied again.

            On the twelfth day of Christmas,
            I passed that cake along…
            To my dog,
            Who ate it and…
Thankfully, the fruitcake was gone!

Until, next Christmas.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


Word Count: 300

“Christmas is more snow than glow,” Octavia observed. “It needs a makeover. Santa’s
lucky I traded holidays with him!”
With a flick of her wand, Christmas became “Witchmas”
Elves turned from merry to scary,  
Colors from bright to just right and
                        Carols to scare-alls!
            A tear ran down Octavia’s nose as she sang along…
On the twelfth day of Witchmas
my Crypt-mate sent to me:
12 Demons Dribbling
11 Pookas Primping
10 Mummies Mumming
9 Vampires Vamping
8 Monsters Mashing
7 Souls a-Swirling
6 Toads a-Croaking
5 Black Batwings
4 Carrion Birds
3 Ravens
2 Cawing Crows
and a Vulture in a dead tree.

“It’s a nightmare come true,” she murmured. And it was, until…
Octavia knocked at house #1.
“Scary Christmas!”
A door slammed in her face.
She’d forgotten to use the chimney.

After bandaging her nose, she entered house #2 from the roof.
She’d forgotten about the Yule Log.

After applying burn cream, she entered house #3 through the window.
            She’d forgotten about the Christmas tree.

            She picked ornaments and pine needles from her hair.
            “This holiday is more unbearable than scareable. I’m exhausted.”  She threw up her hands. “I should be moon-tanning right now…”
With a flick of her wand, she brought back Christmas AND Santa. 
“Glad you’re here,” said Octavia. “I quit!”
“Not until you’ve visited EVERY home on my list. A deal’s a deal,” Santa reminded her. “Besides, I have ideas for cheering up Halloween.”
“But Halloween’s a perfectly frightful holiday,” Octavia protested.
“Not for long.” Santa grabbed Octavia’s wand.  “Ho Ho Ho, Merry Witchmas to all and to all a good night. See you on Holly-ween!”He pointed the wand at himself. “POOF!”

“I should be careful what I wish for,” said Octavia. “Where’s the cocoa? It’s going to be a long night.” 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

PPBF: A Review of Drat That Fat Cat by Julia Patton

REVIEW BY: Lynne Marie

TITLE: Drat That Fat Cat
PUBLISHER: Albert Whitman

Cornelius Van Ploof lived alone. He collected very rare species of cacti. He disliked noises and mess.

One Sunday morning, there was a DING DONG meow at the front door.

REVIEW: From the onset the cover of this book hooks the reader with a not-your-run-of-the-mill-fat-cat via active and engaging art. As the story begins, we meet our somewhat funny-looking and quirky main character, with his fun-to-say name and unique characteristics that set him apart from generic main characters. His personality, by nature, hints at that the problem might be. And when that Ding Dong arrives, little ones will have fun knowing who is at the door and the chaos he will cause in Cornelius' life. They will definitely want to follow Cornelius' story as he strays from his usual, ordinary day to a life with that fat cat!

I loved this book. All of it. From the cover, to the end papers, to the last page which promises another adventure in the reader's mind, and perhaps another fabulous book! I love the subtle message that our blessings come in all shapes, sizes and weights, and that we don't always realize our blessings are blessings until we have time to reflect on them and see them in a proper light. But message aside, this is an adorable book that will appeal to many ages on many levels and truly a fun read aloud.

NOTE: The opinions reflected herein are my own.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

TODDLER TUESDAY REVIEW & GIVE-AWAY: Goodnight Manger, Written by Laura Sassi, Illustrated by Jane Chapman

Buy At Amazon:
TITLE: Goodnight Manger
FORMAT: Board Book
AUTHOR: Laura Sassi
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins
IMPRINT: Zondervan / Zonderkidz
ISBN: 978-0-310-75571-8

Stars are twinkling.
Baby's fed. 
Mama says, "It's
Time for bed."

Hug him, squeeze him,
Hold him tight.
Dim the lantern.
Say, "Goodnight."

From the moment the cover opens and this delightful bedtime story begins, it's broad appeal becomes evident. It is neither just a nativity story, nor just a bedtime story, but a wonderfully intertwined combination. And while technically a bedtime story, it is spirited and not without clever tension and pacing as angels, shepherds and kings come to welcome the new baby and influence his inability to go to sleep. 

This board book version of Sassi's picture book of the same name is perfect for toddlers as it is strong, durable. Importantly, it introduces elements of the nativity story in a fun, sweet and subtle way, with crisp rhyme that bears reading over and over again. Jane Chapman's art is absolutely charming and delightful, and presents characters that will appeal to children of all backgrounds. 

Zonderkidz is offering one fresh-off-the-press copy of the new GOODNIGHT, MANGER board book to one lucky winner.  To be eligible, you must be a U.S. resident and have a physical address, not a P.O. Box.  

To enter, please leave a comment for Laura in the comment section of this post. A winner will be chosen on December 7th. 

PLEASE CHECK OUT: Laura Sassi's writing advice here:

Monday, November 7, 2016

SQUEAK! What the Mice in GOODNIGHT, MANGER Can Teach us about Picture Book Writing by Laura Sassi

Purchase at Amazon:
Aren’t picture books amazing?  I mean, in what other format, except maybe graphic novel, do text and illustration work together to tell a story in such a magical fashion.  To be successful, neither text nor illustration is complete without the other and each, in their own ways, must enhance the story.  When I first began writing picture books, I knew this intellectually, but I still needed work in letting my words leave room for an illustrator.  With my first book Goodnight, Ark and my second, Goodnight, Manger, I thought I had mastered that. But, as I learned from the wonderful Jane Chapman, there is always room to grow. Let me explain.  

In her delightful style, illustrator Jane Chapman has included an adorable pair of mice in almost every spread of my Christmas picture book, Goodnight, Manger.  The pair actually had their own verse in the almost final version. That verse, however,  got cut from the text in the interest of tightening and streamlining the plot.  In the almost final version, they played an active role in trying to soothe and comfort the crying Baby Jesus.  Here is the outtake:

Field mice come
On bitty toes.
Tickle Baby’s
Ears and nose.

This was actually one of four verses that both Jane and my editor suggested be cut in an effort to streamline the story.  A total of 43 words were cut, bringing the final word count to a slim 256. At first I thought I would miss this mouse-y verse as well as the others, but I don’t. In the process finalizing the these last edits, Jane said something to the effect that if an action is described in the text, it MUST be included within the pages.  But, if it’s not, the illustrator can still make a nod to it in the illustrations.  And that’s exactly what Jane has done with the humorous inclusion of the mice. 

For little readers, it’s engaging to look for the mice on each page spread. And for me as a writer, and perhaps now for you, too, they are serve as a cute visual reminder of the importance of leaving room for the illustrations to tell part of the story.  

Happy writing and reading all! 

BIO: Laura Sassi has a passion for writing picture books in rhyme and prose. She is the author of two picture books GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, 2014), GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, 2015) and is excited to announce that there are more on the way! Laura grew up overseas and in the US, but has spent most of her adult life in New Jersey where she lives with her husband, two children, and a black Cockapoo named Sophie. For her reflections on reading, writing and life,visit her blog at or on Twitter: @LauraSassiTales. She can also be found on Facebook at

For a Review of Goodnight Manger and a book giveaway! 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

REVIEW: Puddles by Kevan Atteberry

TITLE: Puddles
AUTHOR: Kevan Atteberry
ILLUSTRATOR: Kevan Atteberry
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins
IMPRINT:  Katherine Tegen Books

OK some books are just FUN. Plain old stomp in the mud FUN! This is one of them. 

Geared to toddlers and pre-readers, this simple story of just one or a few paired words (hello, sun, clouds, rain, puddles, splash, etc.) actually has a narrative arc, pacing and tension! As well as fun. Did I mention fun? I loved this enthusiastic, energetic fun-loving monster, who is not without his fears. And who would not just love those adorable bunnies, even though they don't like puddles. 

This is a great book for re-readability, and I am sure any toddler will be repeating and or reading it in no time!

Reviewed by: Lynne Marie. The opinions herein are my own. 

REVIEW: Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley

TITLE: Before I Leave
AUTHOR: Jessixa Bagley
ILLUSTRATOR: Jessixa Bagley
PUBLISHER: Roaring Brook Press 
EDITOR: Neal Porter

SNIPPET: I found out we're moving.  Mom said I need to pack. She said you can't come with us.

On the heels of A Boat for Papa, Jessixa Bagley again creates a simply stated, yet emotional portrait of loss. While this time the loss is just geographic, she still handles the topic with a careful concern and empathetic manner that points toward acceptance and coping with a glimmer of hope.

Despite knowing the inevitable will arrive, the main character, a little hedgehog named Zelda, enjoys all of her favorite activities with her friend Aaron Badger, enjoying the moments, "like nothing is changing." Good advice to young and old when dealing with any kind of loss.

Because of its careful handling of a difficult topic, AND because of its sweet portrayal of friendship and fear of loss, I simply adore this book's text AND illustrations of Zelda and Aaronr. I appreciate that it a boy/girl friendship because boys and girls can be best friends, too.  And because it is both cute and hopeful in its ending, it is a book that a child will enjoy reading again and again.

REVIEWED BY: Lynne Marie. The opinions are my own.

Friday, October 28, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: I Am A Story by Dan Yaccarino

PUBLISHER: Harper Collins
ISBN.: 978-0-06-241106-8

BEGINNING: I am a story. I was told around a campfire...

REVIEW: What I love most about this book is that the art adds not only an illustrative, but a factual level. As a result, like a true picture book, the text and art become something more than their separate parts.

The text and art also work together to make this book appealing to little ones AND older ones. While a seamless, forward moving tale, the art invites the older reader to sit, investigate the details, and ponder.

For example, the art in the first spread (see text above) shows a community of cave men around a fire, with the constellations outlined in the sky.  Without saying it, it infers that early stories where based on constellations and date as far back as the caveman -- aspects that would definitely intrigue and appeal to older children. Continuing the characterization of a story by sharing the methods by which stories were told.  An older child may very well pick up on the settings depicted in the pictures from clues, including Israel, Egypt, Japan and others. Adults may even deduce the exact historic reference, like Giza in Egypt or the prehistoric caves in Lascaux, France.

The brilliant ending depicts a spread very much like the beginning, in which now a modern family, sits around a campfire and tells stories. And the cycle goes full circle.

A great resource for the story and history of the story!

ENDING: I can go with you everywhere and will live forever. I am a story.

REVIEWED BY: Lynne Marie. The opinions contained herein are my own.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

HALLOWEENSIE CONTEST ENTRY / Boodini the Great's Amazing Disappearing Act by Lynne Marie

MANDATORY WORDS: Ghost, Moon and Spider 

            At the Halloween Hoop-de-doo rehearsal, Boodini the Great threw a sheet over himself. “Abracadabra!”
He removed it.  “I’m invisible!”
“Boo!” another GHOST groaned. “I can do that!”  
 “That’s only my first trick…”  Boodini frowned.

“I need a show stopper.” Boodini searched for Eensy SPIDER.
“All spiders climb, but you’re famous. Why?” he asked.
“I climbed in rain,” Eensy explained. “It’s all in how you look at it.”
“Ahhh!”Boodini smiled.

That night, he performed his act in front of thousands.
Then, the full MOON revealed that his audience had vanished.
He clapped. “Not every magician can make an entire audience disappear!”

100 Words 
To see the other entries for Susanna Hill's Contest, please visit HERE.

Monday, October 24, 2016

EXERCISE: Word Weaving with Lynne Marie

"Massaging the Muse: Exercises in Creativity to Spark Your
Imagination and Keep the Ink Flowing"
"Word Weaving"
by Lynne Marie 

            We can all recall days when we finally sit down to write and can't find a thing to write about. Days like these call for a desperate measures.  Writing exercises, such as "Word Weaving," can stretch the creative muscle and "massage the muse."

            To begin this "Word Weaving" exercise, let the page of a dictionary fall open. close your eyes and land your pointer finger randomly on a page to choose a word. Write down the word. Repeat. Pick ten words and one bonus word in this fashion. Then, challenge yourself to use ten of the words in a story excerpt or poem of no longer than 200 words.

            If you write for a specific genre, i.e., children's or medieval romance, you can choose words from pertinent resources as "The Children's Writer's Word Book," or the "Medieval Word Book."  You can even apply the exercise directly to your "work-in-progress" by relating it to those characters, if desired.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED in Writers’ Journal, Perlham, MN May/June 2002

Friday, October 14, 2016

PPBF: A Review of Where Do Pants Go by Rebecca Van Slyke. Illustrated by Chris Robertson


BOOK: Where Do Pants Go?
AUTHOR: Rebecca Van Slyke
ILLUSTRATOR: Chris Robertson
PUBLISHERS; Sterling Children's Books

SNIPPET:  Where does underwear go? On your chest? No. On your head? No, no, NO! Underwear goes on your bottom. That's where underwear goes. Underwear on your bottom!

This super-cute, interactive concept book is skillfully aimed at toddlers who are learning to dress themselves as well as learning  pre-reading and reading skills. Important words are written in blue and/or bolded, for recognition and repetition allows the child to become familiar with them. Chris Robertson's engaging art spreads feature active, bright and bold illustrations of adorable, multi-cultural children and their pets, which keep the listener entertained. In addition to identifying clothing, the reader will learn body parts which increases the take-away value of this book.

Children will surely have fun calling out their answers to the questions in this book. A great read for parent/child, grandparent/child, librarian/child or preschool teacher/child to share.

Reviewed by: Lynne Marie

Note; The opinions contained herein are my own.
LOVE this book!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

PPB: A Review of Brunhilda's Backwards Day by Shawna J. C. Tenney
TITLE: Brunhilda's Backwards Day
AUTHOR: Shawna J.C. Tenney
ILLUSTRATOR: Shawna J.C. Tenney
PUBLISHER: Sky Pony Press, New York
PUB DATE: August 2, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-63450-691-5

STORY QUESTION: Will this wicked witch be able to change her wicked ways?

SUMMARY: Each morning she wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, puts on her ugliest dress, eats spider mush for breakfast, and brushes her teeth with candy. As soon as she leaves the house, she begins to spread her mischief. No one is safe from her rainy-day spells or her wart-growing charms, until one day, her cat makes mischief instead!

REVIEW: Brunhilda's Backwards Day turns out to be one of the best days ever as Brunhilda's world gets turned upside down. Both Brunhilda and her cat sidekick prove to be as engaging in the text as they are on the cover and every subsequent spread. Each and every well-thought-out artistic detail and color scheme choice just adds to the beauty of the book and the humor of the text. The reader will enjoy seeing if an old witch can be taught new tricks, and by a cat, no less! Satisfying resolution and fun twist at the end are a plus. Loved this book -- what an enjoyable visual and reading experience.

Reviewed by: Lynne Marie

Friday, October 7, 2016

PPBF: A Review of Lucy's Lovey by Betsy Devany, Illustrated by Christopher Denise
BOOK: Lucy's Lovey
AUTHOR: Betsy Devaney
ILLUSTRATOR: Christopher Denise
PUBLICATION DATE: September, 2016

SUMMARY: Lucy's favorite doll, Smelly Baby, is her most loyal companion. They are simply inseparable. Smelly Baby may be pretty ragtag and well, smelly, but her smell is very much a part of why Lucy loves her so much.  Then disaster strikes when Lucy's lovey is LOST! What will Lucy do without her beloved Smelly Baby.

REVIEW: From the moment this book began (Lucy had 17 doll babies.), I couldn't wait to learn more about the adorably vivacious little girl on the cover of this book, and her numerous doll babies. Her doll babies did not disappoint and were aptly named by Betsy Devany and beautifully/humorously drawn by Christopher Denise. As the story moves on we get to see why Smelly Baby was so-named, as well as the special relationship shared between her and Lucy.

As if Lucy and her loveys were not darling enough, we soon meet Grandma Nell and her sister Ivy and an absolutely adorable pug named Slasher, who has a drooling problem. When the story hints at how Stasher loves stuffies, the story tension increases, and we know something's about to happen to Smelly Baby. Oh, no! Although Smelly Baby, now smellier, is found, things go from bad to worse on the car ride home.

Lucy's Lovey presents a universal problem that both kids and adults alike can identify with or recall, and comes with a built-in fabulous tip for recovering lost loveys. It's a wonderfully cute, but smelly, story with outstanding illustrations and a completely satisfying resolution, at least for Lucy and little ones who are sure to agree.

This book gets my vote as the PERFECT book for little ones who love their loveys and the parents who love them.

To see authors and illustrators share stories about their very own loveys, please check out Betsy Devaney's blog at:

Reviewed by Lynne Marie. The opinions contained in this review are my own.

CHECK OUT: Guest Post by Lynne Marie and Kayla Michelle over at A Great Nephew and a Great Aunt

Lynne Marie and Kayla Michelle Guest Post

Monday, October 3, 2016

5 Ways to Bring Humor to Your Picture Book by Shawna J.C. Tenney

When I was a kid, my best friend and I played a game called “Opposite Witches.” In this game, we
pretended to be witches with a problem… everything we did, ended up the opposite of what we intended. Our evil spells turned out nice! We flew on our brooms backwards, and we even talked backwards. The whole game was hilarious to us and we laughed and laughed for hours.

The hilarity of the idea for “Opposite Witches” stuck with me over the years, and that is where the idea for Brunhilda’s Backwards Day came from.

Humor is the magical ingredient to make a truly delightful picture book. Its great for almost any picture book to have at least some funny moments. Here’s a five elements that can add humor to your picture book.

1. The unexpected- For Brunhilda, the unexpected was the outcome of her spells. Many picture books often have unexpected surprises or a twist ending that can be funny.

In This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, a moose wants to be an astronaut. It’s funny because it’s not what we would expect a moose to do.

2. Irony- Younger kids don’t really understand irony. This is ironic since their books are full of it!

What could be more funny than carrots scaring a rabbit in Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown’s Creepy Carrots? Could your characters problem be an ironic problem one given their personality or circumstances?

3. A humorous sidekick- Maybe your story calls for a humorous sidekick for your main character. This character can be written or unwritten.

The cat in Brunhilda’s Backwards Day is a nearly unwritten character. He only shows up two times in the text, but is seen on every page- reacting to everything that Brunhilda is doing. It is really his genius that gets the story (and the humor) going.

4. Humor in the illustrations- Lot’s of humor can be added to a picture book when the illustrations
are funny. Characters expressions and body language can add so much to the story. Having the pictures show things that are opposite from what the words say can be very hilarious… and kids totally get it!

This is illustrated (pun intended) beautifully in Molly Idle’s Tea Rex. In this book, the things that happen in the illustrations are very different from what happens in the words, which adds another layer of humor.

5. Melodrama and dark humor-  What do Gru, Yzma and Doofenshmirtz all have in common? The are all funny, melodramatic bad guys. I have always been entertained by hilarious bad guys. I had fun creating Brunhilda for this very reason.

Melodrama and dark humor can be very fun to use in picture books (when used in the right way, of course). Think of I Want my Hat Back by Jon Klaussen. At the end of this book, a bear ends up eating a rabbit. We don’t see him eating the rabbit… but we know it has happened… and we laugh!

One rule to always keep in mind when using humor in your picture book is, don’t force the humor. It needs to be natural to you and the story. And remember to draw humor from what you know. When woven in masterfully, humor can make a picture book a delight to read for all readers young and old!

Shawna J.C. Tenney is an author and illustrator with a passion for picture books. Her work can be found in many children’s books, magazines and games. Brunhilda’s Backwards Day, Shawna’s first book as both author and illustrator, was published by Sky Pony Press. Shawna is also the host of the Stories Unbound Podcast, where she loves helping other authors and illustrators. Shawna lives in the beautiful state of Utah with her husband and two kids. Visit her online at or on Twitter at @shawnajctenney. Find more fun with Brunhilda and The Cat at



Monday, October 3
Guest post by Shawna

Tuesday, October 4
Guest post by Shawna

Wednesday, October 5
Book Review

Thursday, October 6
Guest post by Shawna with giveaway

Friday, October 7
Book Review and giveaway

 Sunday, October 9
Podcast book review

Monday, October 10
Book review

Tuesday, October 11
Illustrator Interview and giveaway

Wednesday, October 12
Book Review and giveaway

Thursday, October 13
Blog tour wrap up and giveaway