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    children's books, read aloud

    19 Picture Books About Change for Kids

    A lot changes in September. I mean, as the ancient Greeks will tell you, change is the only constant…but there’s something about September that sparks a bit of reflection—on the tilt of the Earth, the passing of the year, the meanderings of the path of life.

    In September, the cadence of family time shifts as a new school year settles in around us. The dinnertime light is altered as we approach the autumnal equinox, and we trade swimsuits for sweaters or vice versa. We might even find that the foods we crave adapt to the harvest. Pumpkin latte, anyone? September calls our attention to traditions and homecomings and gives us reason to both revisit the past and plan for the seasons ahead.

    There are no better guides for us in this transitional month than books, of course. After all, change is at the heart of every compelling story. Throughout September, the #KidLitPicks book club on Instagram featured books that explore the idea of change.  Below are the books chosen by the book club participants for the month of September. October’s theme is “Unlock Their Imagination.”


    Little Tree
    , by Loren Long (shared by @readingisourthing) “Change is a good thing. New beginnings are exciting. Letting go is the only way we can move forward.”


    Yellow Time, by Lauren Stringer (shared by @spiky_penelope) “As the season begins to change from summer to fall, it’s finally yellow time, a time when yellow leaves in the trees mean large imaginations and lots of fun.”

    You and Me and Home Sweet Home, by George Ella Lyon and Stephanie Anderson (shared by @ilovebooksandicannotlie) “They are able to move into their very own home and start their brand new life together.”

    Amelia Earhart (Little People, Big Dreams), by Ma Isabel Sanchez Vegara
    and Mariadiamantes (shared by @afriendlyaffair) “These ladies are awesome [and] deserve celebration.”

    Wherever You Go, by Pat Zietlow Miller and Eliza Wheeler (shared by “Just when you think you are settled and havea plan or an idea of what you think your future might look like, life has a way of stirring that up and changing those plans. ”

    Bear Hug, by Katharine McEwen (shared by @homegrownreader) “It truly is a visual expression that is wonderfully shocking with its simplicity and strength.”
    bearhugThe Cow Who Climbed a Tree, by Gemma Merino and Panda’s Pants by Jacqueline Davies and Sydney Hanson (shared by @book.nerd.mommy) “They help kiddo’s realize that sometimes trying something new can be wonderful!”

    The Water Princess, by Susan Verde and Peter Reynolds (shared by @hereweeread) “It’s a very touching and moving story that not only educates children about a serious and ongoing issue, but also shows them how they can make a difference.”

    Bella’s Fall Coat, by Lynn Plourde and Susan Gal (shared by @astoryaday) “Every season there is a change and there is a purpose for everything that occurs in our lives.”

    The Journey, by Francesca Sanna (shared by @chickadee.lit) “The world refugee crisis is larger than ever, but we can all contribute to changing that by offering up as we are individually able.”

    Maybe Something Beautiful, by F Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell, and Rafael López (shared by @happily.ever.elephants) “There is so much power behind the idea that art can lift up a community.”

    Starfish, Where Are You? by Barroux (shared by @bookbairn) “Such a fabulous book to encourage us all to make small changes for a big difference.”

    The Fox and the Star, by Coralie Bickford-Smith (shared by @bookbloom) “A gentle reminder that change can sometimes result in something better and more beautiful than previously imagined.”

    Perfect Square, by Michael Hall (shared by @howifeelaboutbooks) “Explains a difficult concept to kids in a way they can easily understand.”

    The Leaving Morning, by Angela Johnson and David Soman (shared by @smallysbookshelf) “For young children, change can be a mixture of longing and excitement – longing for the familiar and excitement for the new adventures ahead.”

    Grandad’s Island, by Benji Davies (shared by @fee_loves_) “This poignant story deals with loss and bereavement, one of the greatest changes we face in life is the death of a loved one.”

    My Dad Used to Be So Cool, by Keith Negley (shared by @ohcreativeday) “How has parenting changed you?”

    Tree, by Britta Teckentrup (shared by @alittlebookhabit) “Whether you are moving from summer to autumn or winter to spring this book is my favourite for talking about the seasons.”

    Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, by Peter Brown (shared by @childrensbooksgalore) “Mr. Tiger embraces his wild side! Roar!”

    Your turn: What books would you add to this list?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    The Three Lucys by Hayan Charara

    The Three Lucys by Hayan Charara, illustrated by Sara Kahn
    Publisher: Lee and Low Books
    Format: Hardcover
    Age Range: 8 – 12 years
    Grade Level: 3 – 7

    Luli likes to sit in the shade of an olive tree with his beloved cats: Lucy the Fat, Lucy the Skinny, and Lucy Lucy. But when Luli and his parents go to the city to see his aunt and uncle one weekend, the cats must stay behind at home.

    After a fun visit with family, Luli is looking forward to going home and seeing the Lucys. But then Luli’s hometown comes under attack and the family must seek refuge at his aunt and uncle s house. Luli doesn t understand what is happening and worries about his pets. Who will keep the three Lucys safe? And when will he and his family be able to return home?


    This is such a well-written and beautiful book! It’s based on true events that took place in the summer of 2006 when a war broke out on the border between Lebanon and Israel. It’s referred to as the July War by the Lebanese. This book explores the reality of war in the Middle East and what it means to be displaced, as told through the eyes of a child, a little boy named Luli.

    Luli and his family take a weekend trip to visit his aunt and uncle in Beirut, Lebanon. The family leaves their three pet cats all named Lucy at home.  There’s Lucy the Fat, Lucy the Skinny and Lucy Lucy who likes to eat hummus. When Luli and his family arrive back home, they are terrified to see bombs flying in the air.  They decide to head back to Beirut to hide in the aunt and uncle’s basement since there is destruction all around their house.

    Meanwhile, all little Luli can think about is his cats – the three Lucys.  Are they safe? Who will pet them and tell them everything will be okay?  A grueling thirty-four days pass before a cease-fire is declared and the family decides to go back home.  They return to a neighborhood they don’t recognize. Everything is in shambles and has been completely destroyed. The family and everyone around them must rebuild and start anew. And what about the three Lucys? You’ll have to read it to find out how the story ends.

    Due to the young age of my children, I didn’t read this one aloud with them.  Instead I read it on my own and absolutely loved the realness of it.  Be warned: this book is a bit sad and it’s tough to read at times, but it’s real life.  By the end of the book I think little readers will be filled with a renewed sense of hope.

    The illustrations are done in a dreamy watercolor palette using different shades of orange, blue and green.  I think the color choices used by the illustrator give this book a nice sense of warmth, calm and comfort despite the main topic of war.


    I also think this book does a great job showing how quickly you can go from living a carefree life to losing virtually everything in a matter of minutes.  I love that despite everything Luli and his family lost, they still managed to hold on to the things that mattered most: each other, their memories, their hopes and their dreams.  They could still see the snow-peaked mountain, the salty sea, the valley and the city in the distance so all was not lost.  Little by little by working together their town started to come back to life.

    This is a good quality book with themes of: war, history, loss, rebuilding, hope, healing, family and the power of the human spirit. Recommended for kids ages 8 and up.

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    Good Morning, City by Pat Kiernan

    Good Morning, City by Pat Kiernan, illustrated by Pascal Campion
    Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 32
    Age Range: 2 – 6 years
    Grade Level: Preschool – 2
    Available for Sale: November 15, 2016  Pre-Order Now!

    It’s dark and quiet.
    The moon still glimmers in the sky.

    While the baker, the ferry boat captain, and the TV anchorman are busy at work, most people are cozily snuggled in bed. Then dawn’s first light peeks through the tree branches. Wake up, city! There is much to be done in neighborhoods all across the metropolis. As the morning gets brighter, the city streets bustle with people ready to start the day.

    I love waking up early in the morning before the rest of the world does. I think it’s so interesting to see towns and cities in the early morning light. The only other people you see are walking dogs with sleep still in their eyes, or the garbage people bustling about to beat the traffic that will soon impede upon them. And joggers. There are always joggers, right?


    This beautifully illustrated book captures the essence of a busy city (which appears to be New York City) while it’s still dark and quiet and the moon is glimmering in the sky. You see bakers kneading and baking bread, a newspaper carrier rushing to make her last deliveries, and a ferry boat starting its morning rounds. Wake up, city! A series of different events happen with people of all different skin tones bustling all about the city before the dawn’s first light starts to peek through the tree branches. With each turn of the page, it gets progressively brighter and brighter outside until the sun fully rises at the end.

    The illustrations in this book are stellar.  Pascal Campion’s artwork creates a magical world of captivating colors and bright detailed textures.  This gently told story may help little readers get a different perspective of the streets they call home before the hustle and bustle begins each day.  Also great for teaching children about community helpers, following morning routines, different types of transportation and the differences between living in the city vs. the country.  This book is certain to become a story time favorite for children and their parents.

    About the Author
    Pat Kiernan has been waking up before dawn since 1997 and is a fixture on New York City television as the morning news anchor for NY1.  He has hosted nationally televised game shows and has appeared as himself in dozens of movies and TV shows.  He lives with his wife and daughters in Brooklyn, New York.

    About the Illustrator
    Pascal Campion wakes up in Los Angeles, California, where he lives with his wife and children.  He works in the animation industry and loves to tell stories through his art.  Learn more about him at

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    How to Find a Fox (A Book Review)

    How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder

    Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
    Pages: 40
    Format: Hardcover
    Age Range: 4 – 8
    Grade Level: Preschool – 3rd Grade
    Available for Sale: November 15, 2016 pre-order now!

    Equipped with a camera and determination, a little girl sets out to track down an elusive red fox. But foxes are sneaky, and it proves more difficult than she thought.

    Nilah Magruder’s debut picture book charmingly tells the story of what it means to not give up and how sometimes what you’re looking for is closer than you think.

    When it comes to children’s literature, folk tales and songs, foxes are usually portrayed as ‘the bad guys’.  Their sly nature often results in illegal activities, so it’s not uncommon to see a fox portrayed as a thief or con-artist in children’s books or movies.  Sometimes though, foxes are heroes of certain stories like in Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Being a member of the dog family and having a reputation of being sneaky and mean, the fox is actually and animal of intelligence and fortitude.  That’s exactly how the fox in this adorable book is portrayed.

    Equipped with her camera and yellow backpack, the little girl in this book is determined to find a fox – any fox will do.  She provides little readers with a list of simple instructions like: find a fox hole, place your fox bait somewhere easy to spot, then hide and wait very quietly.  When her plan doesn’t go quite as expected, she decides to climb a tree to get a change of perspective.  That’s when she finally sees the fox, but he gets away – again!  Just when she’s on the verge of giving up is when she realizes what she’s looking for is a lot closer than she thinks.  Does she finally find the fox in the end?  You’ll have to read it to find out.


    The kids and I really enjoyed reading this book and pouring over the charming illustrations.  They especially liked all of the funny and clever things the fox did when the girl was searching for him.  The fox is shown blending in taking a photograph with a family of raccoons and hiding in a tree with an owl (hilarious!).  All the while, the animals in the forest (the mouse and the birds) see the fox, but the little girl doesn’t.  At the turn of each page, the kids kept laughing, pointing and shouting, “There he is!” as if the little girl can hear them.  This is such a fun book to read aloud with them for that reason.


    Overall, I think this is a fun book with excellent messages of patience, determination and perseverance for little readers.  Add this one to your list of books to read with your children when it publishes in November!

    Connect with Nilah Magruder!
    Website | Twitter | Facebook

    Your turn: Are you excited to read this book when it comes out?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    children's books, holiday books, read aloud

    Picture Books to Read with Grandma & Grandpa On Grandparent’s Day

    I’ll be honest and say I didn’t even know National Grandparent’s Day existed until my adult years. This is probably because it didn’t originate in the United States until the year 1978. It’s often one of those holidays that can be easily overlooked especially since it’s right around back-to-school, Labor Day and adjusting to new routines for both kids and adults.

    Of course, one way the kids and I will be celebrating Grandparents Day is by reading lots of grandparent-related books like the ones listed below.  I’ve categorized some fantastic books for your to enjoy with your little readers. Hopefully you find at least one book from this list that resonates with you. Enjoy!



    Grandad Mandela by by Ambassador Zindzi Mandela, Zazi and Ziwelene Mandela, illustrated by Sean Qualls

    Grandad Mandela is a beautiful and important story told from the perspective of Mandela’s two youngest great-grandchildren and daughter.  The story begins with little Zazi and Ziwelene approaching their grandmother (Mandela’s youngest daughter, Zindzi) to tell them about their great-grandfather after finding a photograph of him around the house.  Mandela’s daughter goes on to her grandchildren the story of why Mandela went to jail when she was just eighteen months old.

    Grandaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box by Michael S. Bandy

    Based on the true story of one family’s struggle for voting rights in the civil rights era.  A  powerful and touching true-life story shares one boy’s perspective of growing up in the segregated South.

    Time Together: Me and Grandma by Maria Catherine

    Time with grandma is always special, and these special moments are captured in this picture book using beautiful illustrations and minimal text. From biking to bird watching, these small moments are the ones that create big memories and show the importance of family.

    When Grandmama Sings by Margaree King Mitchell
    When Grandmama Coles gets a big chance, Belle gets one, too. Belle’s going to spend the summer touring the South with Grandmama and a swing jazz band! Belle’s never been outside Pecan Flats, Mississippi, and she can’t wait to go on the road with Grandmama, helping her read signs and menus and hearing her sing. There are so many new things to see on their travels through the Deep South. But some things aren’t new. Everything is segregated, just like at home. But Grandmama stands up for what’s right. And when she sings, Belle knows that Grandmama’s song can bring everyone together.

    Grandmother and I by Helen E. Buckley
    Grandmother and I are sitting on the big chair, rocking. We rock back and forth, and back and forth.  Other people have laps for sitting on and backs for riding on. But when you have a cold or lighting is coming, nothing feels quite as right as rocking on Grandmother’s lap, listening to the little tunes that she hums.

    Grandfather and I by Helen E. Buckley
    Everybody is in such a hurry these days–mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers. About the only people who aren’t in a hurry are grandfathers. With them there is always time to stop…and look…just as long as you like.  This gentle story about the warm, happy relationship between the oldest and youngest ones in the family was originally published in 1959 with illustrations by Paul Galdone.

    15 Things Not to Do With a Grandma by Margaret McAllister and Holly Sterling
    The hilarious follow-up to 15 Things Not to Do with a Baby has all the warmth and humor of its predecessor, focusing on the relationship between children and their granny. DON’T hide an elephant in Grandma’s bed. DON’T send Grandma up to the moon in a rocket, or wear her pants on your head, or give her squashed jelly beans on toast for breakfast. But do… dance with Grandma, listen to Grandma’s stories, hug her and love her lots. She loves you!

    Don’t Call Me Grandma
    Great-grandmother Nell eats fish for breakfast, she doesn’t hug or kiss, and she does NOT want to be called grandma. Her great-granddaughter isn’t sure what to think about her. As she slowly learns more about Nell’s life and experiences, the girl finds ways to connect with her prickly great-grandmother.

    Bigmama’s by Donald Crews
    Four African American children travel with their mother, and when the train arrives in Cottondale, Florida, the summer at Bigmama’s house begins! Donald Crews brilliantly evokes the sights, sounds, and emotions of a memorable childhood experience.

    Grandma in Blue with Red Hat by Scott Menchin
    When a young boy learns about what makes art special—sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it tells a story—he realizes that these same characteristics are what make his grandmother special, too. As a result, he finds the inspiration to create his own masterpiece that’s one of a kind.

    The Baby on the Way by Karen English
    In an urban rooftop garden, a young African American boy named Jamal initiates an intriguing conversation with his grandmother when he asks her if she was ever a baby. Turns out Grandma was even once ?the baby on the way,? and she proceeds to tell the story of her birth, the tenth child in a poor farming family. As she discusses the events and traditions that accompanied her welcome to the world, from the fetching of the midwife to a folkways ritual of drinking water from a thimble, vivid, expressionistic paintings from a talented new illustrator evoke the past.  A gentle and satisfying book that will inspire young readers to gather other stories about being the baby on the way.

    Grandpa’s Face by Eloise Greenfield
    Seeing her beloved grandfather making a mean face while he rehearses for one of his plays, Tamika becomes afraid that someday she will lose his love and he will make that mean face at her.

    Grandma Lena’s Big Ol’ Turnip by Denia Lewis Hester
    Grandma Lena takes good care of the turnips she plants in her garden. One turnip grows so big that Grandma can’t pull it out of the ground! Even when Grandpa, Uncle Izzy, and the dog help Grandma yank and tug, the big ol’ turnip doesn’t budge.

    Mei-Mei Loves the Morning
    Set in a contemporary city in China, depicts a typical morning in the life of young Mei-Mei and her grandfather. The warm and engaging watercolor illustrations bring this intergenerational story to life.

    Grandfather Counts by Deborah J. Short
    When Helen’s grandfather, Gong Gong, comes from China to live with her family, he’s shocked to find that none of his grandchildren speak Chinese. How will he communicate with them? At first he keeps to himself. Then one day he joins Helen to watch the trains. He starts counting the train cars in Chinese, and she repeats the words. Then Helen says the numbers in English. They continue to teach each other, and Helen even learns her Chinese name, which means “flower.” In this luminously illustrated intergenerational story, the devotion between a young girl and her grandfather helps them overcome barriers of age and language. Grandfather Counts was selected as one of the 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).

    A Morning with Grandpa by Sylvia Liu
    Mei Mei’s grandpa is practicing tai chi in the garden, and Mei Mei is eager to join in. As Gong Gong tries to teach her the slow, graceful movements, Mei Mei enthusiastically does them with her own flair. Then Mei Mei takes a turn, trying to teach Gong Gong the yoga she learned in school. Will Gong Gong be able to master the stretchy, bendy poses?

    Dear Juno by Soyung Pak
    Juno’s grandmother writes in Korean and Juno writes in drawings, but that doesn’t mean they can’t exchange letters. From the photo his grandmother sends him, Juno can tell that she has a new cat. From the picture he makes for her, Juno’s grandmother can tell that he wants her to come for a visit. So she sends Juno a miniature plane, to let him know she’s on the way.

    Caribbean (Cape Verde)
    Seaside Dream by Janet Bates
    Tomorrow is Grandma’s birthday, and the house is overflowing with family and friends. Hugs, laughter, and the smells of delicious food fill the air as everyone gets ready for a beach party. Cora is excited, but she is also worried because she still does not have a present for Grandma. Cora cannot think of anything special enough. Cora knows her grandmother misses her home country, Cape Verde. After a nighttime walk on the beach with Grandma, Cora finally comes up with an idea for the perfect gift. It is one that both of them will always remember and a way to help Grandma reconnect with faraway family.


    Indian Shoes by Cynthia L Smith

    What do Indian shoes look like, anyway? Like beautiful beaded moccasins…or hightops with bright orange shoelaces?  Ray Halfmoon prefers hightops, but he gladly trades them for a nice pair of moccasins for his Grampa.

    Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia
    Aneel’s grandparents have come to stay, all the way from India. Aneel loves the sweet smell of his grandmother s incense, and his grandfather, Dada-ji, tells the world s best stories. When he was a boy, adventurous, energetic Dada-ji had the power of a tiger. Hunh-ji! Yes, sir! He could shake mangoes off trees and wrangle wild cobras. And what gave him his power? Fluffy-puffy hot, hot roti, with a bit of tongue-burning mango pickle. Does Dada-ji still have the power? Aneel wants to find out but first he has to figure out how to whip up a batch of hot, hot roti Overflowing with family, food, and a tall stack of fun, Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji is sure to warm the heart and tickle the tummy.

    Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi
    One thick, hot day, Arun Gandhi travels with his family to Grandfather Gandhi’s village.  Silence fills the air—but peace feels far away for young Arun. When an older boy pushes him on the soccer field, his anger fills him in a way that surely a true Gandhi could never imagine. Can Arun ever live up to the Mahatma? Will he ever make his grandfather proud?

    In this remarkable personal story, Arun Gandhi, with Bethany Hegedus, weaves a stunning portrait of the extraordinary man who taught him to live his life as light.

    Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story by Arun Gandhi
    At Grandfather Gandhi’s service village, each day is filled, from sunrise to sunset, with work that is done for the good of all. The villagers vow to live simply and non-violently. Arun Gandhi tries very hard to follow these vows, but he struggles with one of the most important rules: not to waste.

    How can throwing away a worn-down pencil hurt anyone? How can wastefulness lead to violence? With the help of his grandfather, Arun learns how every wasteful act, no matter how small, affects others. And in time he comes to understand the truth of his grandfather’s words: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

    A Picnic in October by Eve Bunting
    Tony thinks it’s dumb to go all the way to Liberty Island for a birthday picnic. But that’s before he understands what the Statue of Liberty means to Grandma.


    A Gift from Abuela by Cecilia Ruiz

    Abuela can’t help thinking how much she’d like to give Nina a very special treat, so she saves a little bit of her money every week — a few pesos here, a few pesos there. When the world turns upside down, Abuela’s dream of a surprise for Nina seems impossible. Luckily, time spent together — and the love Abuela and Nina have for each other — could turn out to be the very best gift of all.

    Abuela by Arthur Dorros
    Dive into Spanish text and fly high over beautiful New York City with Rosalba and her grandmother in Arthur Dorros’ enchanting Abuela.

    Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
    Mia’s abuela has left her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to live with Mia and her parents in the city. The night she arrives, Mia tries to share her favorite book with Abuela before they go to sleep and discovers that Abuela can’t read the words inside. So while they cook, Mia helps Abuela learn English (“Dough. Masa“), and Mia learns some Spanish too, but it’s still hard for Abuela to learn the words she needs to tell Mia all her stories. Then Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window and has the perfectoidea for how to help them all communicate a little better.

    Grandma’s Records by Eric Velasquez

    Every summer, Eric goes to live with his grandmother in El Barrio (Spanish Harlem) while his parents work. Through the long hot days, Grandma fills her apartment with the blaring horns and conga drums of Bomba y Plena, salsa, and merengue-the music she grew up with in Puerto Rico-sharing her memories and passions with Eric.

    But Eric sees Grandma in a new light when she gets them tickets to hear their favorite band in concert. The music sounds so different than it does at home on their scratchy records. And then the lead singer serenades Grandma right in front of the whole audience!

    Ladder to the Moon by  Maya Soetoro-Ng
    From Maya Soetoro-Ng, sister of President Obama, comes a lyrical story relaying the loving wisdom of their late mother to a young granddaughter she never met.

    Little Suhaila wishes she could have known her grandma, who would wrap her arms around the whole world if she could, Mama says. And one night, Suhaila gets her wish when a golden ladder appears at her window, and Grandma Annie invites the girl to come along with her on a magical journey. In a rich and deeply personal narrative, Maya Soetoro-Ng draws inspiration from her mother s love for family, her empathy for others, and her ethic of service to imagine this remarkable meeting. Evoking fantasy and folklore, the story touches on events that have affected people across the world in our time and reaffirms our common humanity.

    Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies
    At the bottom of Syd’s garden, through the gate and past the tree, is Grandad’s house. Syd can let himself in any time he likes. But one day when Syd comes to call, Grandad isn’t in any of the usual places. He’s in the attic, where he ushers Syd through a door, and the two of them journey to a wild, beautiful island awash in color where Grandad decides he will remain. So Syd hugs Grandad one last time and sets sail for home. Visiting Grandad’s house at the bottom of the garden again, he finds it just the same as it’s always been — except that Grandad isn’t there anymore. Sure to provide comfort to young children struggling to understand loss, Benji Davies’s tale is a sensitive and beautiful reminder that our loved ones live on in our memories long after they’re gone.

    Joone by Emily Kate Moon
    oone likes the color orange, ice-cream sandwiches, and playing outside. She lives in a yurt with her grandfather and her pet turtle, Dr. Chin, who rides around on her hat. Grandpa teaches Joone something new every day. Sometimes Joone teaches him something new, too, like how to make a daisy chain. Together they enjoy life’s small joys—sunsets, tree houses, and most of all, each other.

    Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
    Grandpa Green wasn’t always a gardener. He was a farmboy and a kid with chickenpox and a soldier and, most of all, an artist. In this captivating new picture book, readers follow Grandpa Green’s great-grandson into a garden he created, a fantastic world where memories are handed down in the fanciful shapes of topiary trees and imagination recreates things forgotten.

    Grandma’s Gloves by Cecil Castellucci
    A child who loses a beloved grandparent finds comfort in carrying on the activities they shared in this sweet, genuine look at a universal rite of passage.

    Grandma is always on her knees in the dirt, with her gardening gloves on, talking to her roses and laughing with the birds-of-paradise. Her home brims with plants and blossoms, and on hot days, she waters her granddaughter, her “most special flower of all,” with the garden hose. But a day comes when Grandma is no longer there to care for the little girl, who feels sad and small and alone until she remembers all that her grandmother taught her — and all that she now has to teach. Full of light and life and the solace of green growing things, this moving and beautifully illustrated picture book explores a timeless bond with warmth and joy.

    Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
    In this magical picture book, a young boy spends an overnight visit with his nana and is frightened to find that the city where she lives is filled with noise and crowds and scary things. But then Nana makes him a special cape to help him be brave, and soon the everyday sights, sounds, and smells of the city are not scary—but wonderful. The succinct text is paired with watercolor illustrations that capture all the vitality, energy, and beauty of the city.

    Our Granny by Margaret Wild

    Two children compare their granny with others. Some grannies have thin legs, fat knees, crinkly eyes, or big soft laps. Their granny has a wobbly bottom and wears an old red sweater that was grandpa’s. She has a style all her own–and to the children who love her, this granny is perfect. Full of warmth and good humor.

    Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa by Anna Dewdney
    It’s an exciting day for Llama Llama; he’s going to visit Gram and Grandpa Llama and spend the night! His first night away from home….and from Mama. But he makes sure to pack everything he needs. And there are so many fun things to do with Gram and Grandpa. It’s not until he gets ready for bed that he realizes that he’s forgotten something important. Fuzzy Llama! Fortunately, Grandpa Llama has a wonderful solution and soon Llama Llama is having sweet dreams.  May you rest in peace, Anna Dewdney.

    Baking Day at Grandma’s by Anika Denise
    Three bouncing little bear siblings, wrapped tight in their winter clothes, can’t wait to tromp through the snow for Baking Day at Grandma’s!  In a rhyming text that begs to be sung, the bears and their grandma pour and mix and stir–with breaks for hot cocoa and dancing–to create the perfect wintry treat. Then they wrap it up in ribbons to show that sweets are even better when they’re shared. With a recipe in the back, this is a perfect family feel-good story for the fall, winter, and any holiday spent with grandparents.

    Grandpa and Me by Karen Katz
    Let’s make a pizza with Grandpa! You can help. Lift the large, sturdy flaps to find everything you need.

    Grandma and Me by Karen Katz
    This lift-the-flap book continues Katz’s board book series, following Where is Baby’s Mommy?, with this celebration of spending time with a special grandmother.

    How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan
    Written in a how-to style, the narrator gives important tips for “babysitting” a grandpa, including what to eat for snack (anything dipped in ketchup, ice cream topped with cookies, cookies topped with ice cream) what to do on a walk (find lizards and dandelion puffs, be on the lookout for puddles and sprinklers), and how to play with a grandpa (build a pirate cave, put on a scary play).

    Filled with humor, energy, and warmth, this is a great gift for or from a grandparent, and perfect for lap reading when Grandpa comes to visit!

    How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan
    When you babysit a grandma, if you’re lucky . . . it’s a sleepover at her house! And with the useful tips found in this book, you’re guaranteed to become an expert grandma-sitter in no time. (Be sure to check out the sections on: How to keep a grandma busy; Things to do at the park; Possible places to sleep, and what to do once you’re both snugly tucked in for the night.)

    Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
    When Alice Rumphius was a little girl, she lived with her grandfather, an artist, by the sea.  During the day, he let her help him with his paintings. In the evening, he talked about his childhood in a faraway land.

    Barbara Cooney’s story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful, has a timeless quality that resonates with each new generation. The countless lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, who scattered lupine seeds everywhere she went.

    Time Together: Me and Grandpa by Maria Catherine

    Small moments between a grandpa and child are chronicled in this picture book using beautiful illustrations and minimal text. From taking a nap to reading the newspaper, these small moments are the ones that create big memories and show the importance of family.

    Your turn:  How will you be celebrating Grandparent’s Day with your little ones?  Feel free to share in the comments below.

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    The Water Princess by Susan Verde (A Book Review)

    The Water Princess by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
    Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 40
    Age Range: 5 – 8 and up
    Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3 and up
    Available for Sale: September 13, 2016

    Based on supermodel Georgie Badiel’s childhood, a young girl dreams of bringing clean drinking water to her African village.

    With its wide sky and warm earth, Princess Gie Gie’s kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce in her small African village. And try as she might, Gie Gie cannot bring the water closer; she cannot make it run clearer. Every morning, she rises before the sun to make the long journey to the well. Instead of a crown, she wears a heavy pot on her head to collect the water. After the voyage home, after boiling the water to drink and clean with, Gie Gie thinks of the trip that tomorrow will bring. And she dreams. She dreams of a day when her village will have cool, crystal-clear water of its own.

    Inspired by the childhood of African–born model Georgie Badiel, acclaimed author Susan Verde and award-winning author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds have come together to tell this moving story. As a child in Burkina Faso, Georgie and the other girls in her village had to walk for miles each day to collect water. This vibrant, engaging picture book sheds light on this struggle that continues all over the world today, instilling hope for a future when all children will have access to clean drinking water.

    Try to imagine what your life would be like without clean water. It’s hard isn’t it? I don’t even think twice about going to the kitchen and putting my glass up to the refrigerator to get water when I’m thirsty. I know when I’m ready to shower or brush my teeth all I have to do is turn on the faucet and out comes the water.

    Now try to imagine having to walk on average four miles each day (which is the equivalent of about 70 football fields) just to collect water. Yes, I said 70 football fields! That’s what life is like for nearly one billion people around the world. That’s 1 out of every 6 people who don’t have access to clean water…yikes! It’s heartbreaking for me to hear statistics like this because it’s unbelievable that in 2016 this is STILL an issue.

    This beautifully written and illustrated book is inspired by Georgie Badiel’s childhood and her wish that water would come to her and those in her community. Georgie is a model, activist and author from Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in West Africa. As a young girl, she and her mom used to walk miles just to get dusty earth-colored water carrying bowls on their heads. It’s a very touching and moving story that not only educates children about a serious and ongoing issue, but also shows them how they can make a difference.

    Although I read this book with the kids, I think they may still be a bit too young to truly grasp the fact that water isn’t readily available for everyone around the world.  I plan to read this with them again when they’re a bit older so it really hits home.  I think the illustrations are absolutely stunning and the overall story is well written.  The author’s note explains a little more about the ongoing water crisis and let’s you know how you can get involved if you want to help.  There are also pictures of the girls and women from Georgie Badiel’s grandmother’s village in Burkina Faso collecting water and pictures from a celebration where a new well was built in partnership with Ryan’s Well.

    After reading this book I immediately inquired about how I can give a donation to the people of Burkina Faso and the Georgie Badiel Foundation. I don’t say that to boast and brag, I’m saying it because it’s true. I hope this book inspires you and your little readers to do the same.  Well done to an amazing project team: Susan Verde, Peter H. Reynolods and Georgie Badiel…I am truly inspired to do my part and help make a change!

    For more information about what we can all do to make a difference visit Ryan’s Well or The Georgie Badiel Foundation.  You can order the book here!

    Your turn:  Are you looking forward to checking this book out?  Feel free to share in the comments.

    book reviews, children's books, read aloud

    Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital (A Book Review)

    Princess Cupcake Jones and the Dance Recital by Ylleya Fields, illustrated by Michael LaDuca

    Publisher: Belle Publishing LLC
    Format: Hardcover
    Available for Sale: September 12, 2016
    Pages: 32
    Age Range: 5 – 7
    Grade Level: K – 2

    Follow Princess Cupcake Jones as she learns that determination and practice bring positive results and surprises. Taking dance classes with her friends is the highlight of her week. But when Cupcake struggles to do everything ‘just right’ before the recital, she isn’t sure if she’ll be able to master it all in time. The gentle rhyming cadence, vibrant illustrations, and captivating pages deliver valuable life lessons and family values.

    I’m always thrilled when I come across good quality diverse books that my children can identify with.  Through diverse picture books, children have an opportunity to learn on an unconscious level to feel empathy and identify with others from a different ethnic background to their own.

    It makes me so happy that Princess Cupcake Jones transcends race.  We’ve all heard that children need both mirrors and windows.  This couldn’t be more true when it comes to princesses as little girls are often bombarded with images of princesses who only come in one color.  I’m glad that with the help of characters like Princess Cupcake Jones, my daughter can see the world through mirrors.  It shows her and other little Black and Brown girls that they can be princesses too!


    I love reading this adorable book with my daughter!  She seems to enjoy the rhyming text and all of the cute dance costumes the girls are shown wearing.  Cupcake Jones is so cute sporting her kinky curly hair, tutu and tiara!  My daughter and I also enjoy searching for the word “love” that’s hidden throughout the book on each page.  After reading this book we decided to enroll my daughter in dance lessons at a local ballet dance center because she loved it so much.

    Overall, I think this is a great book to help teach little girls about patience, determination and perseverance.   I love how little Cupcake keeps practicing until she perfects her arabesque dance move.  Check this one out with your little readers.  Perfect for little girls who love dancing, princesses, tutus and tiaras!

    Connect with Princess Cupcake Jones!
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    Your Turn:  What’s your daughter’s favorite Princess Cupcake Jones book in this series?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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