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Here’s a short little mystery story about helping.  I wrote it for 2 reasons.

1) for my 4th of July lesson for my Jr. Church class (it’s based on actual events that took place at our Memorial Day carnival…with a little artistic license!)

2) My friend Susanna Hill is hosting a writing  contest.

I added a few quick sketches to go along (they are not  part of the contest).    The story could only be 400 words, had to be a mystery of sorts, and had to be about the 4th of July.  To read all the other stories by my very talented writer friends, and for rules and prizes click here.

The Missing Prize Bag

Everyone was busy at the church getting ready for the 4th of July parade and carnival.   The men were setting up the bounce house while the ladies set up the welcome table.  The Sunday School classes were tying streamers to theballoons back of the parade float.  Teens were blowing up balloons and the senior ladies were putting up military posters of men in uniform around their booth.

 “Mama, what can I do to help?” asked little Jilly.  She wanted to help with something important, but everyone kept telling her she was too little.

“Just sit right there and be good while I set up the bake table,” said Mama.

Jilly frowned.  That’s not really helping she thought, but she obeyed.  Then suddenly they heard a shriek and a loud “OH, NO!”

It was Mrs.DeMoss one of the senior ladies.  She was nearly crying, “The bag of prizes is gone! I’ve searched everywhere.   The whole bag of red, white, and blue necklaces and pins is missing.  They are thank you gifts for people who donate for the military Care Packages.  It’s the special part of our 4th of Mrs DeMossJuly carnival!”

People were gathering around asking questions, ‘”Where did you last have the bag?  What color is the bag?   Pastor came over and said in his big voice, “Let’s stay calm. Mrs. D last had the  bag when she was helping paint carnival signs in the gym. God will help us.  Let’s spread out and look.”

Jilly asked her mom, “Can I help?  I’m a good looker even if I’m little.”  Her mother smiled, “Yes, you can help.”

It was getting close to parade time and the prizes had not been found.  Jilly asked, “Mama, why doesn’t God just make the bag appear?”

“Sometimes God needs us to help,” Mama said as they went in the supply room. Mama looked around, and sighed, “Not in here, I guess.”

paint

But Jilly noticed a tiny piece of blue plastic sticking out from a bottom shelf between bottles of red and blue paint.  “Mama, look!” she said as she
pointed.

They moved bottles of paint and brushes aside.  There, stuck to the shelf  was the bag of prizes!   They grabbed it and went running to Mrs. DeMoss.   She hugged Jilly and said, “The littlest one found the prize bag!”

Jilly smiled and said, “No God did, I just helped!”

jilly found

#  #  #  the end

My class which ranges in age from 4 yr to 6th grade did not know much about our forefathers who wrote the Declaration of Independence.  So I gave them a little history and explained that one person could not have accomplished what they did together.

Together they shared the burden.   Galatians 6:2 says “Bear ye one another’s burdens.”  We all become stronger working together.

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Critters (Monet & Sully)

Critters (Monet & Sully)

Critters Playing & Ignoring

Critters Playing & Ignoring

Double the fun today!   Doodle Day May courtesy of Alison Hertz  is still going on….yesterday’s doodle prompt was critters.  Since our house is crawling with them (the good kind, not the creepy kind), I picked our cat and rabbit to doodle.  They play every evening together.  The bunny whose name is Sully, chases the cat down the hall.  The cat, Monet, will then stop, turn around and chase the rabbit.  Then she’ll bat Sully on the head, sometimes hug him and then it usually ends with the cat sitting on the rabbit’s head.  It all takes place in about 2 minutes time while the dog, a choc. lab watches.  She wants to get involved, but she’s afraid the cat will sit on her head.

Now on to the double part of the fun,  my pick for Perfect Picture Book Friday, another book about a bigger critter:

Title: Farley Follows His NoseFarley Follows His Nose

Author:   Lynn Johnston & Beth Cruikshank

Illustrator:   Lynn Johnston

Publisher: Bowen Press, 2009

Genre: Fiction

Audience Age: 2-8

Themes/Topics: Dogs, Senses

Opening Sentences:  “It was a beautiful summer morning, and Farley’s bath was over at last.  Farley shook himself and drew in a deepbreath.  Baths always made Farley hungry, but in the breeze he smelled [and this is the way the book presents them] rosesfreshcutgrasssweatypeoplethecatnextdoor and….HOT DOGS!”

Synopsis: Farley, the dog, from that wonderful comic strip, “For Better or Worse,” follows his nose from one good smell to another all over town.  Along the way he finds a little lost boy and helps to return him home by using his sense of smell.

Why I like it:  When I found this at the library, I squeaked with delight.  Farley is an old friend of the family.  As our girls were growing up we would read the comic strip ‘For Better or Worse’ to them.  When I found this on the shelf I knew I would love it – and I did.  And when my now grown daughters saw the book they both squealed too.   In the book Farley turns out to be an accidental hero. Fresh from a bath and without his collar he takes off when he smells hot dogs.  Farley goes from one smell to the next becoming an unacclaimed hero while he’s at it.  In an interesting and humorous way the story teaches about a dog’s  amazing sense of smell.     The illustrations are wonderful – I love the one of Farley jumping in a kiddy pool, then shaking off.  When I read this to my grands they loved it.    As a matter of fact, before our reading session ended, the 4 year old pulled it from the stack and wanted it re-read. Reading advice:  make sure when you read you do lots of sniffing, snuffling and snorfing sound effects.  (If you’re reading to children that is – otherwise you’ll just look silly.)

Activities/Resources:  I wanted to note that ‘Farley’ has his own foundation in Canada.  http://www.farleyfoundation.org/ assists people in need by subsidizing the cost of veterinary care for their sick/injured pets.

Teachers and Moms can also discuss animals’ very important sense of smell.  There is a lesson plan here about using your sense of smell.  Another set of lesson plans, and a recipe to  make chocolate scented play dough. (Are you listening, Susanna?)

Availability: From the Author,  Library, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.  (I couldn’t determine for certain, but it may be out of print.  However there were multiple copies available in new and used condition at these two sellers.)

(Susanna Leonard Hill is the originator of PPBF and you can find all the other PPB recommendations and links  on her blog.)

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the book!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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(Susanna Leonard Hill is the originator of PPBF and you can find all the other PPB recommendations and links  on her blog.)

 I must preface this review with a WARNing….while in the middle of reading the book you are going to want to get a sketchbook and colored pencils and create (whether you’re an artist or not).    Even the cover will inspire your creative side.

Title:  Dog Loves Drawing (A sequel to Dog Loves Books)

Author & Illustrator:   Louise Yates          Dog Loves Drawing

Publisher:  Alfred Knopf, 2012

Genre: Picture Book Fiction

Audience Age: 3 & up

Themes/Topics: Drawing & Imagination

Opening Sentences: Dog loved books!  He loved books so much that he opened his own bookshop.

Synopsis: Dog receives a blank book as a gift from his aunt. Realizing it is a sketchbook he begins to doodle and draw stick characters that come to life in his sketchbook adventure.

Why I like it:  What’s not to like?  It’s adorably cute with Dog, and his scribbles of stick people, a duck an owl and a crab.  The characters draw their adventure on a train, a boat and an island.  It’s action packed as they all grab  colored pencils and draw and doodle their way through the fun.  After reading this story to my grandgirls I brought out sketchbooks and a huge box of colored pencils.  They shrieked with delight and the 2 1/2 year old said, Now we can draw like dog!  One little caveat…there is a monster drawn at the end (not terribly menacing) who is restrained when Dog draws a barricaded door….but my 4 year old grandgirl got a little worried.  I had to convince her that it was just pretend and explained that it was funny.   I drew a monster in her sketch book and then she scribbled him out–which she then thought was hilarious.  And moms will appreciate that dog also draws a thank-you card to send to his aunt.  The drawings are delightfully simple at the beginning.  They become a little more elaborate as the story progresses.  They are  colorful and more than their eye appeal they make you feel like you can draw an adventure too!

Activities/Resources:  Instructions to make your own sketchbook,    a list of fun ideas to draw here,  and here’s a fun site to boost adult creativity even for non-artists.

Availability: Immediate from all major booksellers.    Amazon, Barnes & Noble

I am now going to get my sketchbook and draw a lovely overstuffed chair with lots of books beside it, a warm afghan,  a cappuccino with extra whip cream, and maybe even a dog in my lap (or a cat…).

Blessings and enjoy the book!

Laura (Grandma Miller)

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Busy-busy, very full week and exciting events I will reveal in a few days.

[ADDENDUM:…an apology… I thought I had checked to make sure this book wasn’t already on the list….and now I see that it has already been recommended last year…. my apologies….blame it on bad eyes and a thick head.  I’ll leave it up today as a personal pick anyway and you can check out Nessa Morris’ review of the book here.  Mea culpa, Susanna.]

My PPB pick today has been a personal favorite of mine this last year.  I had the privilege to view a video interview of the artist, Patrice Barton, via Mark Mitchel’s How To Be A Children’s Book Illustrator class.  I fell in love with her art and technique and Patrice,  and have corresponded with her a couple times.  There is part of the interview on the author,  Shutta Crum’s website listed below.  I’m sure you will enjoy this book.

(Susanna Leonard Hill is the originator of PPBF and you can find all the other PPB recommendations and links  on her blog.)

Cover image for MINE!

 Title:   MINE!

Author:   Shutta Crum

Illustrator:    Patrice Barton

Publisher: Alfred A Knopf

Genre: Picture Book

Audience Age:  2 & up

Themes/Topics: Sharing

Opening Sentences: Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!   (you get the idea)

Synopsis:  A story about two very young children (a toddler and a crawling baby) and one adorable dog who don’t want to share a pile of toys.  It’s a delightful playdate as the children and dog claim ownership over every toy and then some.

Why I like it:   When reading this story together it elicited giggles, gasps, awwwws and even ‘oh nos!’, and that was just from me.   My granddaughters love this book, one of the reasons being that they can read it. Mine! only has a vocabulary of two words in the whole book, yet speaks volumes.   The toddler tries to gather all the toys before the crawler can get to any of them.   Then the dog even gets into the action rounding up the toys and staking his claim with a, “Woof!”  The baby is tickled by the antics of the puppy shaking a wet toy, which is my favorite scene in the book and one of the cutest and beautifully rendered baby illustrations I’ve ever seen.   The baby has a final trick up her sleeve tho’ when she claims the final thing as MINE! – but I don’t want to spoil the ending for you.  I first had this book on my e-reader and have read it over and over to the grand girls.  But when I brought the actual book home from the library the 4-year-0ld hugged herself, squealed and said, ‘O Grandma, you got the real Mine! 

For an author to craft a story around a single word is a credit to Ms. Crum’s storytelling ability.  Of course with just two words the strong supporting cast is the art itself, beautifully hand drawn and colored in digital pastels by Patrice Barton.  Ms Barton won the 2012 SCBWI Crystal Kite award for her illustrations in this book.  You can go to her website  to see more beautiful art from the book and a trailer as well.

Awards:       Society of Illustrators Original Art Exhibit 2011                                         – School Library Journal Best Books of 2011
– NYPL’s list of 100 Titles for Reading & Sharing, 2011
– Texas 2×2 Reading List
– 2012 Crystal Kite Award, SCBWI

Activities/Resources:  An article about teaching preschoolers to share with several links is here.

Games for preschoolers that teach sharing are here, just scroll about 1/2 way down.

Availability:  The Board Book was just released last year.  Readily available at all book stores.    Amazon    Barnes & Noble

Make Mine! yours – you’ll be glad you did.

Blessings and enjoy the book.

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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(Susanna Leonard Hill is the originator of PPBF and you can find all the other PPB recommendations and links  on her blog.)

We are surviving the cold here in Michigan..It’s actually warmed up to 14 degrees!  This is definitely the perfect time to grab some good books, a warm afghan, a friendly cat, and maybe a dog or two to lay on your lap (or is it lie?  I always have to look it up).  Anyway, I remember once when I had a bout of the flu I just couldn’t get warm.  My hubby had piled on the quilts and afghans to no avail.  My shivering was keeping him awake.  Finally he called our choc. lab up on the bed next to  me.  That did it.  Her body heat warmed me up and let me sleep.

So why am I talking about Dogs….on the bed…..?  It’s my perfect picture book choice this week! My grand-reviewers were all involved in reviewing this one –  even their beagle who’s been featured here before. (He gave it a 4 paws up.)

Title: Dogs On The Bed100_9214

Author:   Elizabeth Bluemle

Illustrator:   Anne Wilsdorf

Publisher: Candlewick Press 2008

Genre: Picture Book

Audience Age: 4+ (But even the 2 1/2 yr. old was captivated)

Themes/Topics: Dogs/Family

Opening Sentences: There are dogs on the bed/Like hogs on the bed/Bed hogs on the bed/These dogs, these dogs!   Sideways on the bed/Dog maze on the bed/Paws grazing on the bed/These dogs, these dogs!


Synopsis:
 This story is artfully and delightfully crafted in rhyme as a family of four (mom/dad and brother and sister) wrestle with  six pooches of varying size trying to spend the night in the family bed.

Why I like it:  It made us laugh! If you’ve ever owned a dog you’ll see it somewhere in these pages.  From scratching to stretching to snoring and 100_9222drooling,  whining or howling  and pushing you out from your own warm, cozy spot these canines take over the mattress.  Dad tries to oust them, to which they use the midnight howl to get outside only to want in 3 minutes later.  The family tries to share the bed and winds up on the floor “cuddling the ottoman.” They finally realize the value of their ‘portable heaters,’ rearrange sleeping accommodations and  settle down.  My grandchildren loved the canine rhyme.  There is a change up in the rhythm to alter the action and then it returns to the original beat.  Their favorite line was “They go on the prowl/they bark and they growl/night sounds make them howl…to which they added sound effects.  There are brown dogs, black dogs, small dogs, hairy dogs, white dogs and short dogs–we only counted six, but it seemed like more as they romped around.  Ms. Wilsdorf’s watercolors are whimsical and funny. Be sure to notice the background dog portraits for an extra grin.  One caveat:  this isn’t a ‘going to sleep book’ unless you read several more after to settle the kids back down.

Activities/Resources:  A MARVELOUS teacher’s guide is on the author’s website.  Everything from charting rhyming words, to Venn diagrams to having a stuffed animal day.

Availability: Readily available. Amazon, Barnes and Noble.

Blessings on your day and enjoy the book!!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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A belated Happy New Year and  blessings of creativity  to everyone!  I’ve been under the weather since the first week of January and alas, was not up to the last two PPBF.  But I’ve recovered…so on with my PPBF pick for this week.  (Susanna Leonard Hill is the originator of PPBF and you can find all the other PPB recommendations and links  on her blog.)

Title: My Friend RabbitMy Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann
Author: Eric Rohmann
Illustrator: Eric Rohmann
Publisher: Roaring Book Press,  2002
Genre: Picture Book
Audience Age: 2 – 8
Themes/Topics: Friendship, Loyalty
Opening Sentences: “My friend Rabbit means well. But whatever he does, wherever he goes, trouble follows.”
Synopsis: Mouse and his friend Rabbit are playing together with Mouse’s toy airplane when it gets stuck in a tree. Rabbit’s solution of building a pyramid of animals to retrieve the plane brings more trouble.
Why I like it: In less than 100 words a humorous story about friendship and loyalty is presented; many of the pages have no text. The brevity of words draws you into the art, which won Rohman a Caldecott Honor. The supporting characters of elephant, rhino, hippo, reindeer, bear, alligator, duck and illustration from My Friend Rabbit. Copyright Eric Rohmannsquirrel are enormously and comically portrayed in hand colored relief prints as bold as Rabbit’s idea. When reading the book to them, my grandgirls picked up on the mounting problem and had their hands over their mouths and eyes wide open anticipating the next page. They squealed out loud at the climax of the story when a mountain of animals come tumbling down. Instantly they demanded a reread and then after the second time they each wanted to ‘talk the pictures’ (their version of reading the book.) And the 4-yr-old was already quoting the phrase, “Not to worry, Mouse. I have an idea.” The illustrations vary from taking up just the bottom corner to completely filling a two-page vertical spread. Because of the limited text it invites discussion and interpretation of the pictures. You’ll want to closely study the pictures for the subtle advancement of the story.  Rohman himself says, “This book also began with many words and as I made the images I saw that the silliness was best left to the pictures.”   The Rabbit is one lucky character because he has a friend who sees his shortcomings, but is loyal to the end. I would enjoy having this book in my personal library not just for the illustrations, but for the delightful, simple, funny story of a special friendship

Awards: Caldecott Medal, Parent’s Choice, NAPPA Gold Award,
Activities/Resources: Discussion questions are here
A math application using ordinal numbers is here

and there is a TV/internet show based on the book complete with all the characters:  Go here to watch and find the schedule.

Availability: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Scholastic Books.  (The paperback was just released in 2011.)

Blessings & enjoy the book!!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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Susanna Hill who originated Perfect Picture Book Fridays has asked us to celebrate the United Nations  resolution adopted this day  in 1959 to have a Universal Children’s Day.  To honor that resolution, many of today’s PPBF picks  will be multicultural or about human rights or children who have helped changed the world.  (You can find the links to other books at Susanna’s blog today.)

This week I’m going to recommend two books for the price of one visit!  The first is a book about children’s birthdays around the world in honor of the UN resolution. The second is a Christmas book I had already planned on for next week, but  we will not be doing PPBF next week because of Christmas .  However,  I can’t leave this little treasure mewing on the shelf, so,  as Susanna would say, grab your coffee and a donut (or chocolate) and enjoy  a double dose of PPBF.

Title:  The World of Birthdays

Author:  Paula S. Wallace                   Front Cover

Publisher:  Gareth Stevens

Genre: Non-fiction

Audience Age:  4 & up

Themes/Topics: Multicultural

Opening Sentences: “This little book of birthday traditions is a celebration of the many wonderful ways the world says, “Happy birthday.”  Everyone has this special day, but not everyone celebrates it the same way.  Children in Russia pin their party favors to a clothesline.  In Japan, people eat a special meal of sweet rice with red beans. In Mexico, young people share Three Milk Cake and break a pinata full of candy.”

Synopsis: This book discusses how birthdays are celebrated in Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the U.S.  It also includes instructions for making a craft, game or recipe from each country.

Why I like it:   When I was looking for an appropriate book to honor the UN resolution I spied this one (I’m a December birthday girl so I guess I’ve got birthdays on the brain this week).   This wonderfully warm book tours through 10 countries in a bright, lively fashion.  The photographs of the children are beautiful, some in traditional costume, others modeling the crafts or eating the foods that are mentioned, or playing a game of Hanetsuki or Peteca.  The theme is FUN and the smiles on the faces of the children are a universal expression.  Immediately following each country is a craft (with directions and patterns) or a food to try (with the recipe), or a game (with instructions).    This is an appealing book even if you’re not celebrating a birthday.

Activities/Resources:  The book itself has many activities, but also provided in the back are a few more links about birthday traditions around the world, and birthday traditions in Different Countries

Availability:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble

My second choice this week is for the Christmas season.  It is a  story about  everyone’s favorite bibliocat, Dewey Readmore Books….

Title: Dewey’s Christmas At the Library

Author:   Vicki Myron and Bret WitterDewey's Christmas at the Library

Illustrator:   Steve James

Publisher: Little, Brown & Co.

Genre: Fiction

Audience Age: 2 & Up

Themes/Topics: Christmas, Cats

Opening Sentences: Snow and ice, twinkling lights, Kids bundled up on a cold winter night.  Hot chocolate and Santa Claus and decorations just right.  In the small town of Spencer, Iowa, Christmas was everyone’s favorite time of the year.

Synopsis:  Based on the true story of Dewey the library cat, we find him as he celebrates his first Christmas, discovering  the holiday and all the decorations that go with it.

Why I like it:  Through the eyes of a young cat, Christmas is magical.  You’ll laugh as Dewey gets tangled in a ball of yarn, stuck in a gift bag and finds and explores all the tinsel, glitter and boxes he possibly can.  He even adds his own creative touch to the library Christmas tree.  The illustrations are wonderful, depicting Dewey in all types of catly maneuvers and antics.  This would delight young and older children.

Activities/Resources:   Dewey has his own website, and you can find some  related activities for kids based on  Dewey.

Availability: All major booksellers.  Also available as an ebook.

Blessings and enjoy the books!

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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