Monday, September 30, 2013


Welcome book friends.  Let's kick off these 31 days with a confession:

I'm convinced Young Adult books are some of the best books out there.  At least that's what I tell myself as I consume about one a day lately.  As a children's book artist, library fanatic, and addicted reader, I'm immersed in the world of books.  If you want to make my day - join the conversation.  Book recommendations are my favorite gifts.  Which is why I'm completely geeked to be doling out 31 of my favorite gifts to you this month.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

The value of insomnia, a good book and a giveaway

Sleep is not my forte.  But, thankfully, everything has an upside.  The upside of insomnia is that I've been inhaling books at a rapid pace this year, in the middle of the night.  I've been moving from one to the next so quickly that I haven't taken the time to pause and tell you about them.

Sometimes it's good to take a break from writing and just be a reader.  But now I'm back.  And in a sharing mood.

One of my favorite books of the year is SONGS EIGHT SIX by Lisabeth Posthuma.

Guess who had the joy of designing the cover for this book?  I love creating covers.  

I recently had the opportunity to interview the author about her debut novel.  {CLICK HERE} to read the interview, learn more about her amazing book, and enter the giveaway to win a free Kindle Fire.

Do yourself another favor - {buy this book}.  And if you're a Detroit area local, join in on the book signing festivities at Partridge Creek Mall on September 28th at Art is in Market, 10:00 am - 8:00 pm.  If you don't win THIS Kindle giveaway, you have another shot at the book launch.  A Kindle Paperwhite will be gifted to one lucky winner at the event.

Any of you already read the book?  Care to share your favorite character or your thoughts about the book in general?  I read the book months ago, I'm so excited to finally be able to talk about it!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fall Favorites

Even if it's not completely calendar-official, in our house we have declared it Autumn.  In honor of the season, I had to repost my Fall Booklist.  Time to stock up at the library.

My kids and I love to usher in each season with picture books that celebrate the season.  Here are 31 of our Favorites for Fall:

by Carin Berger
This book is an absolute beauty.  The paper is divine.  The graphics are gorgeous collage art.  The simple story of conquering fear with courage, bravery and togetherness is told with lyrical beauty.  Not yet.  Not ready -- the yellow leaf struggles with the unknown, not sure its ready to fall off its branch.  I was so glad when my kids fell in love with The Little Yellow Leaf just like I did.  Absolute picture book perfection.

by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
I can't say enough great things about this book.  It has so many wonderful lessons all wrapped together in one story.  The main character is the smallest in his class; his teacher uses a science lesson centered around pumpkin seeds to teach the class that bigger isn't always better.  Not only does the book encourage smaller kids, it also introduces scientific and mathematical concepts into the story seamlessly.    We fell in love with How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? last fall and were excited to grab it from our local library again this year.

by Michelle Meadows, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus
My three-year-old Nolan picked up Hibernation Station at our school book fair last year.  It's a story of animals gearing up for hibernation as autumn is coming to a close.  With a twist.  All the animals, dressed in adorable pajamas along with their mamas, are gathering at Hibernation Station to hop aboard the log train.  The text is full of hibernating rhymes and the illustrations are very child-friendly.  My little guy loves all the little details the artist included in each scene.  Watch a video trailer {here}.

by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Randy Cecil.
Looking for a Moose is one of my favorite library books.  I've been a faithful fan for the past five years.  It's a perfect pairing of text and image.  The rhythmic text is filled with wonderful repetition and glorious, action-filled onomatopoeia like "Squeech, schelch, squelch, schelch!"   The bonus, as a group of friends enjoys a determined moose hunt, your child can scan the drawings for the hidden, illusive  moose along the way.

by Steven Schnur
Schnur's book is fun on so many levels.  Bright, colorful illustrations are coupled with clever autumnal acrostic poems.  I think I want to own this one.

by Kevin Lewis, illustrated by S. D. Schindler
Filled with thumpity-bumpity rhymes and funny illustrations, my boys can't get enough of this runaway pumpkin tale.  It culminates with a great pumpkin-y feast filled with all kinds pumpkin-y treats.

by Douglas Florian
I love to expose my kids to art and poetry.  Florian gives the opportunity for both here.  Just like his other books, in Autumnblings , he couples gorgeous paintings with kid accessible poetry.  

by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felecia Bond
If You Give a Moose a Muffin  has always been my favorite in Laura Numeroff's If You Give...Series.    The moose is adorably awkward.  The setting is fantastically fall.  And there's muffins.  And blackberry jam.  The perfect excuse to read a book and make a fall treat together.   Did I mention jam?

by Morteza E. Sohi
This book is amazing.  Filled with artwork created with leaves, it will inspire the artist in your child.  After closing this book, we went on a fall leaf-hunting expedition, followed by a glorious afternoon of creating.  It doesn't get much better than that.  Recommended supplies:  an assortment of leaves, construction paper, glue and googly eyes.

by Lois Ehlert
A fantastic companion book to Look What I Did With a Leaf!  Take a nature walk and enjoy a sunny fall afternoon leaf collecting and collaging.

by Dianne Ochiltree
We originally picked this one up as a Scholastic deal of the month.  What a steal!  It's a rollicking good time that also sneaks in some math concepts.  

by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Chad Cameron
In Raczka's book about Autumn, every thing is all mixed up.  Geese hibernate for the winter; squirrels fly south.  My six-year-old asked for this one again and again.  He loved pointing out how Bob Raczka got it all wrong.  If you have a kid in school, check out the October SeeSaw Scholastic book order catalog...The paperback version of Fall Mixed Up is only $2.99 this month!

by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Heather Solomon
Bear doesn't want to make just any pie -- he wants an ugly one.  Lisa Wheeler always crafts a good story, and Heather Solomon's artwork is both humorous and beautiful.  Another great book to read with your kids in the kitchen.  I'm tempted to make an ugly pie of my own.

Johnny Appleseed: The Story of a Legend  
by Will Moses
I remember being completely fascinated by Johnny Appleseed as a child.  I'm not sure what made him more memorable -- the pot on his head or the idea of him planting seeds across the country.  With this book, Will Moses, artist and great grandson of famed Grandma Moses, created a wonderful tool to retell the tale of Johnny Appleseed to the next generation.  This version is geared toward ages 5+.

by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jim Burke.
Yolen's Johnny Appleseed tale is an interesting pairing of poem, fact and storytelling.  The slightly more simplified format makes the story more accessible for younger children.  We read the Yolen and Moses versions on back-to-back evenings.  They worked nicely as a team.

by Nancy Tafuri
Our neighborhood is filled with busy little squirrels right now.  My kids giggle their heads off watching them scurry to and fro with frantic (and adorable) madness.  It's wonderful to have a book to read about this quintessential, often overlooked, fuzzy symbol of fall.

by David Ezra Stein
I love Stein's ink and watercolor illustrations.  Leaves tells the story of a bear's first experience with fall.  It's a simple, peaceful little book -- perfect for a quiet afternoon.

by Trish Trinco, illustrated by Bryan Langdo
A wonderful Autumn book about taking chances.  Lots of reasons to love this one.  Five to be exact.  1.  The title.  It had me at hello.  2.  The rhyming text is a total delight -- even for me, who typically hates rhyme-y verse.  It's lyrical, not forced.  3.  The adorable character that is Luigi the leaf.  4. The beautiful illustrations, which personify the leaf with subtle grace.  5.  The message about taking chances.  Bonus: it's about Autumn.

by Monica Wellington
Apple Farmer Annie is a simple, colorful book - perfect for Pre-schoolers and Pre-Kindergarteners.  I love books that provide such great factual information in such a kid-friendly way.  A great book to read before the annual apple orchard field trip.

by Alison Murray
Apple Pie ABC is one of my Pre-schoolers favorite favorites.  I have a thing for great paper, so I am in love with it for it's divinely thick matte paper stock.  It's an ABC book that tells a cute story of a dog drooling over an apple pie.  I don't mind reading it again and again and again.

by Lois Ehlert
We love Lois Ehlert in our house.  I don't think she's created a book that we don't like.  Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf is full of leafy autumnal goodness.  

by Madonna, illustrated by Loren Long
Though not a traditional book about fall, Mr. Peabody's Apples does center around an apple.  I think it's a great book for September and the beginning of the school year.   Madonna's text and Loren Long's artwork paint a memorable picture of the power and lasting nature of the words that come out of our mouths. 

The Apple Pie Tree  
by Zoe Hall, illustrated by Shari Halpern
Colorful collage art follows the cycle of apple trees through the seasons in The Apple Pie Tree .  A great book to read before going apple picking at your local orchard, or before baking an apple pie.  I'm not very domesticated, but I do love pairing children's books and baking experiments with my kids.  When you are not very domestic, every experience in the kitchen is an experiment.

by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Frank Ansley
Turk and Runt: A Thanksgiving Comedy is one of my favorite books of all time.  Call me shallow, but I seriously look forward to Thanksgiving every year -- just so we can read this book again.  I always say that books should either be gorgeous works of art, touching and memorable, or flat-out funny.  They weren't joking when they titled this one a comedy!  Hilarious all-around.  Nobody ever listens to Runt, but he's the only one who can save his prime-choice brother from being eaten for Thanksgiving.  For any teachers or homeschoolers out there, I believe Turk and Runt is also available in play format for budding actors to try out their chops.

One is a Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale
by Judy Cox, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
We bought this book from a Scholastic book order for $1 one fall.  What a fantastic surprise it turned out to be for one measly dollar!  One is a Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale is the delightful progressive story of a mouse who learns that it's better to be satisfied with little than to be greedy for a lot.  The kids and I look forward to reading this one over and over every fall.

Autumn is here!
by Heidi Pross Gray
Autumn is here! is a must-read for any lover of Autumn.  The artwork is very hand-crafted and textural, the prose touches on all the things that make Autumn my favorite time of year.   "When changing leaves light up the trees, then flutter to the ground...Autumn is here!"  Yes, yes it is.

Bear Says Thanks
by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman
Bear Says Thanks is a must-see for all fans of Bear Snores On .  Now there is a Karma Wilson/Jane Chapman bear book for every season.  Wilson's rhythmic, alliterative text and Chapman's lovable paintings are children's book gold.  Fall and Thanksgiving are prime moments to reinforce ideas about gratefulness and giving.

Every Autumn Comes the Bear
By Jim Arnosky
Every Autumn Comes the Bear is just one of many reasons that I am a huge Jim Arnosky fan.  His love of nature comes through quiet and clear with his larger-than-life watercolors and his simple, purposeful text.  My six-year-old and I are huge suckers for this type of book.  I love the calm way Arnosky invites you into his world, and moments later, it becomes your own.

Pumpkin, Pumpkin
by Jeanne Titherington
I love the highly detailed, realistic illustrations of Pumpkin, Pumpkin .  Titherington follows the life and growth of a pumpkin from seed to jack o' lantern.  The pumpkin's growth is measured against the size of the child.  Kids can immediately put themselves into the story. 

Flora's Very Windy Day
by Jeanne Birdsall, illustrated by Matt Phelan
Flora's Very Windy Day is a book that works all year long, but is especially appropriate in the fall.  One unusual day, the wind teaches Flora a much-needed lesson in sibling love, appreciation and solidarity.  If you want to remind your kids that they love each other, pick this one up next time you're at your local library.  As a side note: this is the book that made me fall in love with the art of Matt Phelan.  

Hello, Harvest Moon
by Ralph Flectcher, illustrated by Kate Kiesler
I love to celebrate as many different aspects of the season as possible through our exploration in books. Hello, Harvest Moon gives the opportunity to discuss the seasons of the moon, as well as Autumn nightlife.  The gorgeous paintings and the poetic text present the fall with a sophistication that invites a child to appreciate the beauty and intricacies around him.


It's hard to cut myself off at 31, there are so many great books that celebrate my favorite season.  Did I miss any that you consider Autumn Must-reads?  What are your Fall Favorites?  Book recommendations are my favorite gifts - so please share!

If you enjoyed this booklist, 
you might also enjoy my Thanksgiving booklist: