Wednesday, December 9, 2015

First Snow in the Woods

Absolutely stunning photography.  This lovely storybook can be read aloud or just absorb the beautiful pictures.  It's one of those picture books that you can just turn the pages and talk about the pictures.  For older children, the story is just right. 
 It's a majestic book because of the photos. 
 It's a memorable book because of the gifted storytelling.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Legend of the CANDY CANE

The real reason we celebrate Christmas.  I remember when this book came out in 1997.  It was the first time I had ever heard the story about the meaning of a Candy Cane.  My daughter was four years old.  In fact, the book was a gift to her from my mom and dad.  What a special gift indeed.  Just like the gift from God who sent His son Jesus into this world to save us.  
The Legend of the CANDY CANE is a perfect first book to read this Christmas season.  
Perhaps because it tells the true story of this beautiful time of year.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The BLANKET That Had to Go

The BLANKET That Had to Go

Most children get attached to a childhood stuffed animal, toy or blanket.  The BLANKET That Had to Go is a gentle reminder of how important a soft piece of fabric can become to a child's comfort.  It's a touchy situation for sure.  Published in 1981, this BLANKET story has a realistic yet satisfying approach to "losing the blanket" problem.

Monday, October 12, 2015


STOP THAT BALL! is one of my favorite childhood books from when I was growing up.  I still have my original copy.  First my mother read it to me.  Then I read it over, and over, and over!  If you don't have a copy of STOP THAT BALL! for your kids, get one.  It's that important.  Of course I may be a bit biased, but I'm pretty sure you'll thank me.  Or least be thankful. It's a great rhyming book, which I am partial to as well.  Also, it's one of those circular stories.  The ending leaves you wondering what happens next. Oh no!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


TOOLEY! TOOLEY! published in 1979 by Scholastic is a story about two kids looking for a way to make some money.  They want to go to the movies.  Okay, so the book is a bit dated.  The seventies wasn't really that long ago, was it?  Remember when kids could still walk around on a Saturday afternoon without adults?  The story of Tooley! Tooley! isn't really inspirational.  However, the illustrations and era are a reminder of a different time in America.  Anyway, I love Scholastic books.  They're simply fun to read!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Part-Time DOG

 Part-Time Dog is one of the cutest stories I have in my vast picture book collection.  Not only are the illustrations cute, but the story is too.  Published fifty years ago, it still holds an abundance of charm.  Three adorable ladies live on the same block.  They are rather annoyed with a stray dog.  They end up taking care of him.  Then decide to call the dog catcher because they think he is too much trouble.  A guilty conscience plagues all three of the ladies and they must make a decision about the Part-Time Dog.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


PETUNIA is a pleasant read from 1950.  Petunia the goose gives lots of advice to her animal friends whether they want it or not.  She is a definite know-it-all.  I love the variety of illustrations.  Some pages are black and white.  Then full color, a good mixture.  Petunia would find it hard to be published today because of a couple of pages about fireworks.  The safety police would not approve.  I happen to love Petunia who gives a valuable lesson about the importance of reading in the end.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


I love stories about mice.  The Biggest House was published in 1961 by Steck Vaughn Company in Austin, Texas.  I got this book at a church sale a long time ago. I tried searching for it on the internet and can't find it.  However, I still thought you might like to know it's a good story done in quality pencil sketches throughout .  Harry Mouse, the main character, starts out very sad until he decides to find the biggest house.  He roams from place to place finding cheese of course along the way.  A clever ending after Harry finds himself among burglars is gratifying. 
 Hooray for Harry!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Perhaps my own love of the mountains drew me to this title.  I often reflect on life and my childhood and the author does a beautiful job reminiscing in WHEN I WAS YOUNG IN THE MOUNTAINS.  Although not written in rhyme, this story has a great rhythm and flows well.  It's the kind of picture book that leaves you thinking about life, and what you've done with it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


It was a different time. Imagine not being able to play professional baseball because you were the wrong race.  Despite the injustice of the era, Jackie Robinson kept his focus on what he wanted to do, play baseball.  A Picture Book of Jackie Robinson is extremely well illustrated and spans from 1919-1972.  This is not an easy read for children.  There's lots of words on each page. However, it's an important and encouraging story for all ages.  Perfect for this time of year when baseball is at its peak.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


He's majestic and warm.  He's LIBRARY LION.  I remember when I bought this book at the bookstore.  My daughter especially, couldn't get enough of LIBRARY LION.  Perhaps because she's a cat lover and this is the ultimate feline.  If only we could really find such a lovely beast at the local library.  LIBRARY LION  is very well behaved and minds the rules of the librarian as every good child should.  He's forced to break the rule of being quiet, but for good reason.  The only real tragedy perhaps, is that many libraries are becoming less and less filled with books, but with computers instead.  I think that's why LIBRARY LION is so beautiful.  It's a reminder of our past.  Libraries were actually filled with physical books, and that's the way it should be.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Little Mouse's BIG SECRET

Little Mouse's BIG SECRET is one of those books that not only is fun to read, but feels good too.  Literally, feels good.  The pages are smooth and slickery. Your kids will want to touch and run their fingers over each page.  The illustrations are delightful and simple.  As with most picture books, Little Mouse's BIG SECRET is full of elements with teaching opportunities, Colors, big and little, progression, counting and more. Don't expect a lot of words, the illustrations tell most of the story.  Needless to say, Little Mouse the character, is really cute and easy to draw afterwards.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

BIG Dog Little Dog

Fred and Ted in Big Dog Little Dog have been a favorite in my house for years.  There are several catchy phrases that my kids and I say to each other out of this adorable book.  It's a great tool when teaching about big and little.  Learning is done through silly storytelling.  Silliness is much needed occasionally!  There's lots of other learning points in Big Dog Little Dog.  Colors and opposites are throughout.  Make Fred and Ted a regular reader in your house.  You'll thank me later.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


It's a rare talent to be able to both write and illustrate your own children's book.  That's just what Julie Brinckloe did when she published Fireflies in 1985.  Firelies is a delicate story about a boy who longs to capture some fireflies and succeeds.  However,  his heart tells him that this might have not been the best idea.  The pencil drawings are beautiful.   It's a simple yet timeless book.  Not a lot of fluff.  Just a day in the boy of a life.  Well done.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


An old soul after my heart, Beatrix Potter.  She was and is an inspiration to children, parents and writers.  I wish I could travel back in time to walk with her and look over her shoulder.  This children's picture book is an outstanding summary and tribute to Miss Beatrix Potter.  Beatrix was an exceptional artist at an early age.  Her life's work reflects her love of animals,nature and the gift of storytelling.  A book that both children and adults will love.

Monday, July 27, 2015


The life of a cactus, have you ever really thought about it?  Probably not.  Their usefulness and longevity might surprise you.  It's easy to see from the cover of The Cactus Hotel what purpose the cactus serves.  I was pleasantly surprised at the role the Saguaro Cactus plays in the desert.  It lives a very, very, very long time!  The Cactus Hotel is one of those learning, slash, science, slash, beautiful illustration books. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

The LITTLE RED LIGHTHOUSE and the Great Gray Bridge

A true story embellished and made into a wonderful picture-story.  The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge  is about a lighthouse originally built in 1880, but written in 1942.  The illustrations alone are phenomenal.  The story is just as I would imagine it.  The little lighthouse was once a great help to the boats on the river.  Years go by.  Progress, progress, progress, and the little lighthouse is out of a job.  What's worse than that, is the lighthouse has lost its purpose.  The best part about the book is how the little lighthouse finds its way back to being fulfilled.  A real life benefit is that enough people cared to save this little lighthouse.  It still exists today. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

PEDRO The Angel of Olvera Street

It's a colorful street.  I think I'm in Mexico but I'm not.  I'm walking down Olvera Street dodging pinatas and leather purses.  I can't decide whether to have an enchilada, taco or tamale.  I see a book. A children's book!  Hooray!  And that's how Pedro The Angel of Olvera Street came into my book collection.  A Caldecott Honor Book, written and illustrated in 1946 by Leo Politi.  Pedro a little boy with the voice of an angel wanders through Olvera Street in Los Angeles, California.  His grandfather reminisces about old Olvera Street and not much has really changed.  The author blends history and storytelling about the oldest settlement of Latinos in California and wraps it up with the story of of Baby Jesus. Colorful illustrations gracefully tell their own story.  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Quilt Story

The Quilt Story is rather predictable, but I like that.  I think kids like that too sometimes.  Although written in 1985, it has the feel of a much earlier written book.  I like that too.  A mother makes a quilt for her daughter.  The quilt comforts the girl through childhood.  Later, the quilt becomes a comfort for another child.  And so the story comes full circle.  As usual, Tommie dePaola  the illustrator, does not disappoint.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Snow Child

Adorable.  That's what I thought when I saw the cover.  That's what I thought after I read the story.  If you like the story of Tom Thumb, you'll probably like The Snow Child.  Originally a Russian tale, retold by Freya Littledale in 1978 and published by Scholastic.   A couple yearns to have a child of their own and gets their wish.  However, it wouldn't be much of a story without a crisis.  You'll have to read it to find out! 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Country Cat

Yes, I read this book last night to my adult daughter. Adult daughter, when did that happen?  The Country Cat was published in 1969 by Scholastic Services.  I got this little paperback  at my favorite used book store.  It's puuurfect!
The Country Cat reminds me of Town Mouse Country Mouse a little bit, (which is one of my favorite stories ever.)  I think the illustrations really make the story great.  A couple moves from the country to the city with their cat.  You can imagine what kind of crisis is coming their way.  This is one of those books you will read again and again.  At least I will.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Little Old Man

Nineteen fifty-nine was the year A Little Old Man came to life.  Author Natalie Norton didn't know that almost sixty years later this children's book lover and author would pick up her book for fifty-cents. This weekend, I stopped at a new used book store in town. It didn't take me long to find this treasure.  A Little Old Man is a clever tale about an old man who does the same thing the same way and is very content.  However, something big and new is on its way.  The reader will not guess what's in store for A Little Old Man. A storm is brewing, and with it, change.  How many times have we been reluctant to change, only finding that when it comes, were actually better off.  You can find this book used online.  You probably won't get it for the same bargain though.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Four Reasons to Read a Picture Book

If you're a book lover you may have a picture book loving side like me.  If not, here's some reasons you may want to indulge in the world of children's picture books.

Art appreciation. I'll admit I can't name any modern artists, but I know what I like. The closest bookstore is about 45 minutes from my house.  I head straight to the back, to the picture book wall in the children's department and admire the creations and whimsy of cover art.

Simplicity.  In the age of technology and speed, I think it's important to relax the mind with face to face art.  In other words, get off the computer, after you order your picture book of course, and relax with pictures and stories.

Storytelling.  Picture books are a great example of the " art of storytelling," as my daughter Summer Lane author would say.  Although she writes young adult novels, she would tell you the importance of summing up your story.  Picture books are great examples!

Youthfulness.  Picture books have always had a place on my bookshelf, and a place in my heart. That's why I finally published my first one.  Reading a picture book reminds me of my childhood, which was pretty awesome.  Today, picture books are a great way to relax and enjoy life's moments.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It Could Be Worse

Could Be Worse  by James Stevenson published in 1977 

This is one of the top ten picture books at my house.  It's just a silly little story, very short, but captured my children's attention and stirred conversation.  A couple of grand-kids complain that things are always the same at grandpa's house. Then one day, grandpa did something different!  The title of the book has been a reference point for years.  Somehow, the images of grandpa along with the saying, "Could be worse!" has become part of my family's vocabulary.
 When things don't go as planned or go our way, it's always healthy to focus on what is right in our life, instead of what is wrong.   I think it's important to count our blessings each day.  So when things go wrong, and they will, stop and be thankful for something good, remember, "It could be worse."

Thursday, April 9, 2015

OTTO The Book Bear

I love Otto.  Imagine your favorite character of a storybook coming to life. Otto The Book Bear is an adorable little creature whose curiosity makes for a cute tale.  I think if you are a children's book lover or reader to young children, Otto will be a hit.  Even if you only browse the pages of Otto The Book Bear, you'll wish you could either jump into the pages with Otto, or pick him up and keep him with you.  This picture book  sits on my shelf, but gets picked up over and over again, because, I love Otto!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

CAUTION Butterfly Zone

Where do butterflies come from? Where do they live? What's the difference between a butterfly and a moth? Butterfly Town U.S.A  a.k.a Pacific Grove, California answered these burning questions and more for my family and I.  Not only does Pacific Grove have a Butterfly Museum,, but a Butterfly Sanctuary.  Yes, I know, only in California.  But that's okay, because it was pretty fun to walk through the Butterfly Zone located near the entrance to the Butterfly Grove Inn.  Needless to say, it was very quiet and peaceful there.  However, it was a little hard to see our fluttery friends without binoculars.  Really, butterflies are one of my favorite insects.  They're hard not to like. 
Long live the Butterfly!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Jelly Belly and Easter

My family and I took the free tour of the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, California on a day trip.  Not much is free today, but the factory tours are at the Jelly Belly Factory.  You can eat lunch at the snack shop and browse the candy store before or after your tour. I think it's the perfect compliment to Easter vacation.  You can buy Jelly Belly in bulk and stockpile jelly belly if that's your thing.  A disclaimer, I am in no way getting paid to promote Jelly Belly. But if you find that you want to send me some.  Please send, BUTTERED POPCORN, MARSHMALLOW, CARAMEL CORN AND COTTON CANDY.

Note: The plural of Jelly Belly seems like it would be Jelly Bellies. However, I noticed that Jelly Belly ONLY uses the term Jelly Belly.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Arty the SMARTY

Arty the Smarty is a cute little book that I picked up at a yard sale years ago. Arty swims around without a care in the world. He wants to make a big splash and the other fish envy that Arty is so outgoing.  He's bold and curious.   I think kids love a book with a character like Arty. This kind of reader is also pleasing because of the simple art. If you want to sit and draw Arty when you're finished, it's easy to do.  Arty the Smarty is one of those books that you'll read over and over with your kids. A warning though, it's out of print.  It's worth finding however, if you're a children's book collector and lover, like me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Secret Life of Squirrels

I love the way Nancy Rose thinks.  She delves into the world of miniatures and blends it with nature.  Mr. Peanuts, the main character in The Secret Life of Squirrels, is a real squirrel that lives in Nancy's backyard.  She cleverly puts together a story using handcrafted miniatures and places them in the squirrel's path.  In the digital age of special effects, The Secret Life of Squirrels is a refreshing reminder of the simplicity of storytelling.  I highly recommend reading it. It's a keeper!

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Little Bit of Chocolate Goes a Long Way

The best things in life are free, or almost free.  On the California coast in Monterey, sits Ghiradelli's. A bit of heaven on earth. This little shop tucked into Cannery row, is a must for the chocolate lover.  For just a few dollars, you can enjoy a spectacular view of Monterey Bay, see a few whales, and breathe in the sea salt air. Which leads me to my favorite treat, the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

I'm not sure how they make the whip cream, but it's absolutely divine.  This combination along with the most delicious chocolate ever, is simply intoxicating. 
So, if you're on a budget or just interested in the simple pleasures of life, slow down, and enjoy the moment. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Picture Book Adventure -John Muir and Stickeen

I was visiting the my local National Park when I picked up this book.  Yes, I'm fortunate enough to have a National Park just 45 minutes from my house.  Sequoia-Kings National Park, located in the world famous Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, noted for its splendor and more by John Muir. 

 John Muir and Stickeen, is an exceptionally illustrated children's book based on a true story. I was touched by this short adventure because of an endearing dog named Stickeen.  This is not only an educational picture book, but has a great ending. Watch out! It will pull at your heart strings.

John Muir was a western explorer noted especially for his love of  Yosemite and Sequoia- Kings Canyon areas before they were National Parks. He was overwhelmed with their grandeur and beauty. He was so awestruck of the Sierras, he helped convince President Roosevelt to preserve and create the National Parks we enjoy today.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

An Old Counting Rhyme

My mother sang me the words. I sang the words to my children. They will sing the words to their children.  This simple "Old Counting Rhyme" has soothed many a child since 1957 when it was first written.  My copy of Over in the Meadow is worn, and the spine is broken.  Like other childhood favorite books, its condition tells how much it was read and loved.  Some people put these treasures away or give them away once children are grown, not me.  I visit my bookshelves regularly, picture books have a special place in my house and in my heart.  Over in the Meadow is one of them.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Free Writing

Free Writing

Every once and awhile I grab a piece of paper and pencil and let my mind go while writing. I put down on paper whatever pops into my head. Generally I already know what direction my thoughts will go, but rather than force words into a perfect format, I speak out loud as I write. Whatever comes out of my mouth, gets written down on paper. No editing involved! You can try it with anything. 
Here's a short sample of some Free Writing I did today.

If I could stay I would insist
that I could touch the sun
I'd reach across and fill my mind
with beams of light and love.