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