Book Review: No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah OHora

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One of my favorite things about picture books and my kids, is observing which books become favorites. Sometimes the new favorite is a book I purposefully chose, strategically kept out in sight, and then felt contentedly smug when it easily won their hearts just like I thought it would. Other times, I feel shocked and a little perplexed at why certain books become a reigning favorite. And I’m maybe even a little relieved when they fade into the distance depending on how much I enjoyed the book myself or strained under the repetition and reader requirements (I’m looking at you Sandra Boynton’s Doggies). Then there are others that I myself admired, had on my own shelves for months or years even (this is the problem with owning too many books), and for some random reason I finally pull it down to share it with the kids. Bingo! They are hooked.

This is such a book. If I allowed stickers on books, my girls would have covered this one in gold stars of love. I cannot even remember what made me pull this down in the first place, but it has been the resounding favorite for over a month now – with both kids. My oldest has even changed her hair style to wear two barrettes on each side just like Amelia, every day. It doesn’t matter what my girls are doing, if I pick this book up and even crack the spine, suddenly they have landed in a spot by my side and silently wait for the reading to begin. This book is no longer mine alone. So of course, I must share it here too. Just in case you haven’t yet discovered Nilson for yourself yet. Allow me to present No Fits, Nilson! by Zachariah OHora, 2013. Read the full post…

Let’s Read Three: Summer Fruit Books!


One of the many things that I love about living in NYC is that summer actually lasts through August. So even though my social media feeds are flooded with friends’ back-to-school pictures and posts, we still have a month of summer left. Hurrah! And I was even more delighted when we recently arrived back from vacation and discovered that our favorite summer fruit was still in season and well-priced. Double hurrah! This calls for a post. A Let’s Read Three post about summer fruit books, of course.

These three are some of our favorite books, that include fruit too. Jamberry would definitely be a friend to this group. Two of them are vintage and most likely classics in some houses. The third is a book that I have meant to post for a couple years now. It’s time. Let’s read some fruit books! Read the full post…

Wordless Wednesday: Bluebird And Interview With Bob Staake!

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Welcome back to Wordless Wednesday, a fairly recent little series I am doing on the beautiful art of wordless books. If you missed my tips on how to read a wordless book, start there. But today I want to share a heartwarming, powerful, moving, thought-provoking book with you. It is a story of loneliness, friendship, bullies, restoration, and so many more things that it is shocking to believe they can be handled and wrapped up so beautifully in a 40 page picture book. I am also thrilled that the creator of the book took the time to answer my questions and I have that little interview too! Let’s look at Bluebird by Bob Staake, 2013. Read the full post…

Wordless Wednesday: Flora And The Flamingo & Interview With Molly Idle!

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Hello again to another Wordless Wednesday. In addition to having a beautiful book to discuss today, I have a short interview with the author and illustrator, Molly Idle! A breathtaking wordless book is such an artistic feat, who would know more about them than the artist herself!

Let’s take a quick look at the book to introduce it to any who may have missed it and refresh those of us who love it. And then we’ll get to the good stuff in a short Q&A. Here is Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle, 2013. Read the full post…

Book Review: Fall Ball By Peter McCarty

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It is almost officially my favorite time of year. This past weekend marked the beginning of the American football season and the weather here in NYC was well-suited as it has finally started to feel like fall with its crispy wind and crackling leaves. It is time to fluff the light sweaters and patterned tights, open the windows, and dream of all the pumpkin and apple-flavored things we can make. And what better way to greet the coming of autumn, officially next week, than with a marvelously fall-themed book. This one is packed with fall, from its color palette to its title. Please enjoy Fall Ball by Peter McCarty, 2013. Read the full post…

How To Read A Wordless Book


Two years ago, while I was acting as a judge for the Cybils and reading even more books than normal in a given year, I noted the inordinate amount of wordless picture books that had come out in 2013. It even turned out to be the Caldecott year for wordless picture books as the 2014 honor awards went to three wordless picture books: Journey, Flora and the Flamingo, and Mr. Wuffles!. It was an unheard-of year for wordless picture books. I even frequently refer to 2013 as “The year of the wordless picture book.” Clever, no?

I’ve discussed wordless books occasionally, the most important for me being South by Patrick McDonnell; but I tend to avoid discussing them as they are intimidating as a reader, and especially as an illustrator. They can be lovely and they can also be frustrating. The tendency to just barrel through each page and not pause too long is even greater because there are no words to guide you. They can be delightful to savor by yourself, but groan-inducing when brought to you by a child with full expectation of you putting on a great ad lib read.

But, a well-executed wordless picture book has gone beyond creating lovely pictures and has buried a story so deep that words cannot express it. The illustrations must do double-duty. They must draw you in, yes with their actual drawn nature; but also with their ability to tell the story with every detail, every expression, every movement and page turn.

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The most tender scene impressed on my mind and heart from South by Patrick McDonnell.

I do not have what I would consider the ultimate grasp on how to read a wordless picture book, but I thought I would share a few pointers I have gleaned to help make them less intimidating and perhaps invite you to experience them more fully. I plan on sharing a wordless picture book review every Wednesday for a while, and so I hope this serves as an intro on how to approach all the amazing picture books that come out “quietly.” I took a ton of pictures from the cast of 2013 wordless picture books, so I am going to illustrate my reading tips using those books. Taking a cue from 6 of the stellar wordless books from 2013, here are my 5 tips to reading a wordless picture book: Read the full post…

Let’s Read Three: Birthday Books!


April is a crazy fun birthday month for us nowadays. Both my daughters were born in April so this month has proven to be particularly festive. What a perfect occasion for a book grouping and I am particularly fond of these three. The first is newer and by a current illustrator obsession of mine, the second is one of our oldest’s very favorite books and was also one of my husband’s favorite childhood books, and the third was one of my favorite childhood books. I love when books stay around like that. We tend to think books are a part of our lives, but sometimes, we are just a part of theirs!

Come join the party and read three books celebrating birthdays! Read the full post…

Let’s Read A Pile Of Dragon Books, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my crazy dragon piles of books. If you missed Part 1, check it out for information on the chapter book we read, My Father’s Dragon, and all the crafts we ended up making with my South Bronx storytime group.

As promised, here is the rest of the pile of dragon books we ended up loving. It is quite a varied assortment, my only criteria being that there must be a dragon in it in some way. Themes work best when there is great variety among the books instead of feeling that they drag out. I’m going to do my old, big lists thing and just give one picture and a brief statement about each. So let’s read some dragon books!

DragonsPart2title Read the full post…

Let’s Read Three: Search Books!


The long, cold winter days are starting to wear thin around here. Now is when I start grabbing for books that ask more from the reader. I’m calling this grouping “Search Books,” but perhaps that title is a bit lacking still. Each of these are descended in some form from the Where’s Waldo genre of books; but I love these more because they carry a solid storyline as well. You don’t have to search when you read them, but they are exponentially more fun if you do. Grab your magnifying glasses and let’s read three books that make you search!

Search title Read the full post…

Let’s Read Three: Inventing Books!


Happy New Year friends! It is that time of year where everyone seems to have some kind of refresh on their mind. Be it resolutions, lists, a determined thought – the new year tends to give us some extra gusto to do something. With these new resolves in mind, I think this set of three is perfect to encourage and motivate on whatever project you long to create.


I toyed with calling these “Perseverance Books,” but it sounded too cheesy. I also realized that adults don’t really talk about “inventing” things, unless that is their actual occupation. Children’s books are full of inventors and inventions of all sorts. I think we need to get back to believing we can create a solution to something, no matter our age. So, let’s read three books celebrating the failures and surprising successes of inventing!

Read the full post…