“Perfect Picture Book” Friday


Written by:  Anne-Gaelle Balpe  and Translated by Kathryn Bishop

 Illustrated by:  Eve Tharlet

 Published by:    This edition published in 2011 by Michael Neugebauer Publishing Ltd Hong Kong.  Amazon has it published in May 2019.

Ages:    5 – 7 years

Theme:   believing in one-self, thinking ahead, sharing, treasures

Opening Lines:  Ali held a blue pebble in his arms.  He had found it under a daisy and decided to keep it.  It wasn’t quite round or square. But Oli had never seen a blue colour quite like it before.

Synopsis:   A little boy elf finds a very special stone and while out walking a boar, a wolf and three playful elves tell him it is useless because of it size and colour and to throw it away.  But Oli thinks it will come in handy and when he comes across a young girl crying holding her rag doll, Oli realizes he was right all along and that his pebble is special.

 Why I like this:  This story is in some way similar to a rough draft I wrote some time ago.  Just by the cover you can tell how special the pebble is to Oli and he’s dreaming of what he might do with it.  The cover begs you to take a peek to see what Oli will do with the pretty pebble and the characters he comes across.  I love the refrain of “Oli said nothing.”  Implying -his courage, stubborn, and earnest stance, as he walks away after being told to throw the pebble away. Even his face and chin is slightly upturned with his arm across the oversize pebble.  So cute! He appears to be a very shy little fella at first.  Interesting that the last line gives the impression that this could be a series, with little Oli.  I loved the soft blue and green hues by Eve and the adorable expressions on Oli’s face.  I was drawn to this book and I’ve had it at home for a few weeks and even extended the time from the local library with it, I just so loved this. It has such beautiful heart.


Creative ideas for stones if you are collector….  https://www.pinterest.nz/t95lli/craft-creative-stones/

A little about the author and other works she does….     http://annegaellebalpe.blogspot.com/    If it is not in English there is a translation button to press which you can then set to any language you wish.

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon.

Posted in Perfect Picture Book Review, Picture Book Review, Susanna's PPB Fridays | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments


Just the Right Size

Written by:  Bonnie Grubman

 Illustrated by:  Suzanne Diederen

 Published by:    Clavis Publishing Inc, New York 2018

Ages:    3 – 6 years

Theme:   Big and Small, Being huggable.

Opening Lines:  Did you know… that a ladybug is small enough to land on the branch of a tree? A giraffe is not.

Synopsis:   From Amazon…    Did you know a ladybug is just the right size to land on the branch of a tree? That would be difficult for a giraffe. But then, a giraffe is just the right size to reach the highest branches. Did you know that a frog is small enough to perch on a lily pad? A hippopotamus is not (obviously), but he is big enough to scare even a crocodile away! In her latest picture book, Bonnie Grubman explores the basic concepts of big and small by putting all sorts of living creatures in odd oppositions. And you? What are YOU just the right size for?

Why I like this:  This is a beautifully illustrated book with a great message to help children realize their potential at any age or size. Bonnie Grubman’s story reminds us all that we are perfect the way we are, even for a hug, and we all have unique abilities. This story engages because it’s mostly about animals, and never feels preachy or didactic.  I love that small and big is highlighted to show opposites, the illustrations are in pencil and pale soft watercolors adding to the cuteness.  This is a very cute book.


About the author… https://www.bonniegrubmanbooks.com/about-us

There are many ways in which we can teach young childen the difference’s between small and big…    https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/how-to-teach-preschoolers-the-difference-between-big-and-small/

Activities for kids showing the differences of big and small…    https://www.themeasuredmom.com/10-big-and-small-activities-preschool/

Love this website of fun activities such as making a book and singing a song for kids about you are only as small as what is beside you or around you.  Check it out here…   http://billygorilly.com/blog/2013/teaching-big-and-small/

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon.


Posted in Children's literature, Perfect Picture Book Review | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A FATHER’S LOVE: Nine Different Openings


Most countries follow the United States tradition and celebrate Father’s Day on the 3rd Sunday in June, however New Zealand and Australia celebrate Father’s Day on the 1st Sunday in September. …   So what better time than now to showcase a beautiful book for Fathers than “A Father’s Love” by Hannah Holt and illustrated by Yee Von Chan.

Many of you will remember Hannah’s debut book The Diamond and the Boy and the blog post she shared with me here showing her many ways of working out and finding just the right theme and opening sentences to be able to make such a unique and interesting book.

It is always a joy as a fellow critique buddy and friend when Hannah sends a story whether it’s a new one or another revision on a work in progress. Hannah not only preservers but also allows herself to open up to options, changes and new creative ideas and thoughts. Whether it is a change of animal, or animal to human, or male to female, Hannah is not afraid to try different approaches and put her characters in different positions and situations to get the best story. Hannah is a perfectionist in mining for heart, and also where rhyming and rhythm is concerned. As a prose writer I delight in not only reading her work but also in the lyrical infusion she brings to my works. If you are lucky enough to have Hannah as a mentor, be open to her thoughts and processes which I know will help your work shine. Dedicated to detail Hannah has kindly shared below her thoughts (in blue) and processes for producing those all important first lines… in a tribute to Fathers everywhere.

A FATHER’S LOVE: Nine Different Openings

Like most of my work, A Father’s Love, took many revisions. It started out as a love song to my twin babies, evolved into a general “Mommy Love Book”, and finally landed as a book appreciating dads. The following nine openings follow that evolution.

I hope that seeing my imperfect tries and clumsy early explorations help you as you revise! Happy writing!


Some twins rock to sleep on ocean waves.     (manatee calves)

Some take their naps in forest caves.  (bears cubs)

But wet or dry, the land or sea,

Twins and mom three.

At this point, I’m not worried about rhyme or meter yet. I’m still shaping the idea. Hmm, do I really want my opening to be a math problem? No. This concept lacks resonance. Next!


Some twins sleep under ocean waves. (manatee calves)

Some take their naps in forest caves.  (bears cubs)

But wet or dry, in woods or seas,

Mommies love their twin babies.

The rhythm and meter are still wonky. For example, babies and seas don’t rhyme. However, I have a better idea of the heart of my story.


When mommies bring new babies home,

most come back with one hat and comb.

But sometimes mommies get the news

That babies also come in twos.

And who has babies by the twos?

Turn the page and read the clues…

I briefly flirted with the idea of this being a lift-the-flap book. Each page had a riddle and flaps would reveal “what twins?” This was the opening of that approach. Ultimately the concept didn’t work very well. Next!


Some babies sleep beneath the waves. (manatee calves)

Some take their naps in forest caves.  (bear cubs)

But soft brown paws or sleek gray fins,

Mommy loves you, babykins.

In an attempt to make this story more universal, I abandon the twin concept and made it about all moms and babies. However, I’m still clinging to “twin” sounding end-rhymes—as you can see by my terrible made-up rhyme here. I had to let go of my darlings to move forward. ONWARD!


Underneath the ocean waves (sea horses and wolves)

and in the heart of forest caves,

Daddies tend as babies sleep.

A father’s love runs fierce and deep.

As long as I’m switching things up, why don’t I make this story about DADs instead of MOMs? There are so many more mom books than dad books after all! I’m still just exploring this concept, but I have landed on my ultimate direction.


In the whirling, swirling white,

a Papa snuggles baby tight. [emperor penguin]

With feathers fluffed and toe on toe,

a father’s love is soft as snow.

This one needs tinkering, but it’s not bad. However, the book as a whole is missing something. Wouldn’t it be better with an introduction before diving into specific animals?


Dads come in all shapes and stripes…

The big. The bold. The silent types. (zebra) (nighthawk) (rabbits)

Although each Dad has his own flare, (jacana)

there’s something special all dads share.

I’ve settled on starting with an introduction, but I’m not loving the flare/share pairing. It doesn’t really capture the heart of this story. Also the rhythm of the first line needs some help.


Papas come in many stripes…

The big. The bold. The silent types. [zebra] [nighthawk] [rabbits]

Beneath the ground [rabbit] or high above [nighthawk],

each father’s heart comes filled with love. [zebra]

THIS IS IT! I’ve finally found the direction, heart, and start of my story. However, zebras aren’t awesome dads and rabbits don’t spend much energy raising young. Also nighthawks are a lesser known animal and don’t create a strong opening hook. While I’ve got my beginning, I still need to nail down the animals in the story.


Papas come in many stripes—

The big. The bold. The silent types. [lion] [wolf] [seahorse]

Beneath the ground or high above, [fox / falcon]

each father’s heart comes filled with love.

This is the final text. You can see it’s almost identical to the one before (just a minor punctuation change). However, I’ve finally found all the animals I want to use and paired it with the text. Huzzah!

A Father’s Love

Written by: Hannah Holt

Illustrated by: Yee Von Chan

Published by: Philomel Books  2019

Age: 3 -7 years

From Amazon: Throughout the animal kingdom, in every part of the world, fathers love and care for their babies. This book takes readers around the globe and across the animal kingdom, showcasing the many ways fathers have of demonstrating their love. Whether it’s a penguin papa snuggling with his baby in the frosty white snow, a lion dad playing with his cub in a yellow field, or a seahorse father protecting his young inside his pouch in the deep blue ocean, we see that a father’s love comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Why I like this:  With gorgeous sweet illustrations that bring the love between dads and babies to vivid, colourful life, this book is a celebration of the special bond that a father shares with his children. I loved how the marmoset and lion keep one eye open on their young even while they sleep. In the back of the book is the map showing some of the places where the animals depicted in this book are found and also a write up of each animal. Great for school projects, or fun family adventures this book would also be a sweet bedtime addition.  A beautiful treasure for every Dad any time of the year.

Thank you Hannah for your honest, candid look at the way you approach revisions and the beautiful book that has resulted.

Resources:  A Father’s Love can be found on Amazon… https://www.amazon.com/Fathers-Love-Hannah-Holt/dp/0525514201

Meet Hannah here…  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD5csjzPg2k

and Hannah’s blog…   https://hannahholt.com/books



Posted in Children's literature, Picture Book Review | Tagged , | 24 Comments

“Perfect Picture Book” Friday

The Glump and the Peeble

Written by: Wendy Meddour

Illustrated by: Rebecca Ashdown

Published by:  Frances Lincoln Children’s Books July 2016

Ages:   4 – 8 years

Theme: Friendship, being different

Opening Lines: The Glump lived alone, In a cave, in a wood. He tried to come out – but he just never could.

Synopsis: From the back of the book…   It’s not easy when you’re a glump that wants to be a peeble. And it’s not easy when you’re a peeble that wants to be a glump. But when the Glump meets the Peeble, magical things start to happen.

Why I like this: Wow! Well for lots of reasons I love this story. Firstly what attracted me to this book was the colourful cover and some of the quirky-cute illustrations inside. Like when the Clump goes to sleep sucking his finger, or when Peeble was sleeping she dreamt about being on Mars and all the animals had space helmets on. The other reason was I wondered what a clump was. In fact I still don’t know. I only know he lives in a dark cave and has bright orange spindly arms and legs and is rather shy and nervous. Even the peebles aren’t what we would expect them to be, being something between a flower bulb and a bird. Regardless, it is their friendship that is both unique and sweet. The jaunty rhyming text is a great read aloud both, in the library, at home, or in the classroom. I can imagine the teachers asking the kids to use their imagination and think of an unusual friend to write or illustrate. A feel good story about friendship and not conforming, it’s one that you’ll never tire of reading and a young child will never tire of hearing.  Aren’t those illustrations just the best?


Help students chose a page of illustration and write about it. What do they see and what do they think is happening?

Ask students to draw their own invented animals. They can then create unique names for their animals. Write a poem about them.

During the revision process, help students focus on word relationships and nuances. Once the poems are complete, hold a poetry reading with treats for your stunning poets.

Ask students to write or draw what friendship is to them. Have they shared something with someone this past week? What was it? How did it make them feel?

Wendy has published over 15 children’s books including the latest…   Lubna and Peeble March 2019 and Stefano the Squid: Hero of the Deep also out March 2019   See here on amazon….   https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-Meddour/e/B006UTQQB2

Rebecca’s website…   https://www.rebeccaashdown.me/profile

Wendy’s website…     https://wendymeddour.wordpress.com/

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon.

Posted in Children's literature, Perfect Picture Book Review, Susanna's PPB Fridays | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

“Perfect Picture Book” Friday

Winter has arrived in all it’s gusty wind, rain and hail.  A tornado did quite a bit of damage up north and our Sky Tower was struck by lightning. Temperatures have dropped drastically and so it’s no surprise that this book caught my eye at our local library.


Written by: Meg Fleming

Illustrated by: Diana Sudyka

Published by:  Beach Lane Books, Imprint of Simon & Schuster Publishing   2018

Ages:   4 – 8 years

Theme: Seasons, Adventure, Fun

Opening Lines: Sometimes drizzle. Drip-drip drain. Sometimes picnic. Sometimes rain.

Synopsis: Sometimes it’s rainy. Sometimes it snows. Sometimes spring winds blow and blow… But any time of year is the right time for adventures outside in our beautiful world. (cover flap)

Why I like this: I’m loving books with a little something different. This is no exception. It not only is a beautiful story to share and introduce children to the different wonders of the seasons, the detailed illustrations show a brother and sister meeting and enjoying the fun seasons bring with another brother and sister. At the end of the story the seasons have come full circle and they part for home. Take a closer look at the clouds and the cold frosty air from the mouths of the children forming unicorns, birds and deer. Can you see them all? A great book for in the classroom and at home in showing what children would enjoy doing from one season to another.   Enjoy the outdoors, secret nature trails and more…


Kirkus Review…   https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/meg-fleming/sometimes-rain/

Here are some fun things to do that I came upon…

Making snowflakes…   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkEu2tTiXgY

A toilet paperroll dandelion…   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpvIOpciq2Y

Sharing animal nature….     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqwszagVjfo

Hilarious video of nature kids exploring their nature playground….   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRmrmEBqlu0

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon.

Posted in Perfect Picture Book Review, Picture Book Review | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

“Perfect Picture Book” Friday

The Sleeping Gypsy

Written by and Illustrated by: Mordicai Gerstein

Published by:  Holiday House September 2016

Ages:   4 – 8 years

Theme: Wonder, Dreams, Art

Opening Lines: One night, Henri Rousseau dreamed of a girl walking alone across a desert.

Synopsis: (on amazon) A girl, alone in the desert, lies on the sand and sleeps. But she is not alone for long. A lizard, a rabbit, a turtle and other animals come to scrutinize her, and a lion leaps into the scene and claims her for his own.

A silhouette approaches from the distance. He introduces himself as Henri Rousseau, the dreamer of this dream, who plans to paint a picture of it. The animals pose for the artist but criticize his work with comments like “You’ve made my nose too big.” So the artist removes complainers one by one from the painting, until only the girl and the lion remain

Why I like this: Wow! This is truly a beautiful book. A story within a story – a dream within a dream. The characters in Henri Rousseau’s painting, The Sleeping Gypsy, produced in 1897, inspired Mordicai Gerstein to create an elegant, beautifully illustrated story about them.   Mordical Gerstein imagines that the painter, Henri Rousseau, dreamt that he walked into a desert and came upon a number of wild animals and the girl sleeping with a mandolin by her side. How she got there? Why she is sleeping under the full moon in the desert? And what will the lion do, are questions answered by the imagination of Mordical’s version of events. The fact that Henri Rousseau is even there has meant he has stepped into his own painting. This is what Mordical imagines. Bizarre or amazing, it is all of those things and more.   It sparks imagination and the concept of dreams realized. It highlights the fact that criticism cannot always be erased, but being critical of others can cause you to miss out on opportunities. What is left after all the animals have stated their thoughts is a beautiful illustration of a girl and a lion. A thought provoking and insightful story. Great for interesting children in fine art.

Resources/Findings:       On this website is an audio of questions with answers and discussion by children regarding the painting…     https://www.moma.org/collection/works/80172#

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon.

Posted in Imagination, Picture Book Review | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

“Perfect Picture Book” Friday

First to the Top

Written by:   David Hill

Illustrated by: Phoebe Morris

Published by:  Puffin Books of Penguin Random House New Zealand 2015

Ages:   3 – 10 years

Theme: Courage, skill, determination

Opening Lines: When Edmund Hillary was a boy in New Zealand, he built rafts to explore the Waikato River. When he grew up, he explored other places. He climbed mountains. He rossed Antarctica. He was one of the first two men to reach the summit of Mt Everest, the world’s highest peak. This is his story.

Synopsis: Up on the world’s highest mountain, the sky is tinged the black colour of space and the air is almost too thin to breathe.

How did Ed, a small, shy boy from New Zealand, grow up to become the world’s most famous mountaineer and adventurer? How did he climb Everest and do so many other astonishing things?

This exceptional picture book, written by internationally acclaimed children’s author David Hill and illustrated by Phoebe Morris, tells the story of Sir Edmund Hillary and his climb to the top of Mt Everest. It’s a story about courage, skill and determination, and an inspiration to anyone who dreams of reaching the top.

Why I like this: This is an inspiring story of courage and determination. When researching this book I found one of the reviews on amazon best described how I felt about this book…   following the life of Sir Edmund as a child in rural New Zealand to being one of the first to climb Mt Everest. Planning, and creating the perilous journey up the mountain. I appreciated how respectfully the Himalayan mountain guides were represented, and the lifetime friendship that Sir Edmund forged with his personal mountain guide, Tenzing Norgay was heart-warming. The book describes how Sir Edmund frequently returned to Nepal and helped fund schooling and resources for the people there. Children will enjoy the animated cartoon-like characters depicted in the cool crisp snowy illustrations. Informative and also included a timeline in the back.

Resources/Findings: Here is a write up from Penguin Books regarding prolific and highly regarded New Zealand author David Hill and his many books and accolades and awards they have each received.   Too many to mention I thought I would just post the link for you to read….   https://www.penguin.co.nz/authors/david-hill

David Hill was interviewed for Taranaki News in November 2018 in which alongside great photos of him at work, it also tells of his thoughts and processes in writing for children, from picture book, middle grade and young adult. He shares interesting facts in research for his New Zealand icons series. And when he wrote First to the Top the Ed Hillary tale, he reached great heights with his word count. The first draft was 6000 words long, so when he cut it down to 2000, he thought he’d done so well he sent it off to the publisher. He received a short and not-so-sweet email: “David can’t you bloody count?” Read all about it here….   https://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/lifestyle/108933492/david-hill–a-writer-in-full-and-messy-flight

A little about the illustrator Phebe Morris… http://phoebemorriscreative.com/about

Although I didn’t find any teacher resources here are some questions that could be used…..

Who first climbed Mt Everest?

Did Sherpas climb Everest first?

How many times did Hillary climb Everest?

Did Hillary climb Everest with oxygen?

Was Edmund Hillary British?

Can you climb Mount Everest without a guide?

Who was first Hillary or Norgay?

Where can you see Edmund Hillary today?

Is it hard to climb Mount Everest?

How many camps did they have on Mount Everest?

What did Edmund Hillary and his brother do as children?

What do you think Edmund Hillary took with him when he climbed Mount Everest?

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon.

Posted in Perfect Picture Book Review, Picture book, Picture Book Review, Susanna's PPB Fridays | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

“Perfect Picture Book” Friday

Tiny Owl on the Ramshackle Farm

Written and Illustrated by: Lotte Wotherspoon

Published by:  Clay Press, Auckland New Zealand 2016

Ages:   3 – 7 years

Theme: Bravery, Fear, Farm animals

Opening Lines: High in the branes of an old macrocarpa, Tiny Owl snoozes with his mama and papa.

All is still on the ramshacklefarm, just the babble of the brook in the midnight calm.

Synopsis: The ramshackle farm at midnight is full of spooky sounds. It’s enough to scare Tiny Owl right out of his wits. Luckily Papa Owl is there to reassure him that the night is nothing to be feared. Instead, it is the perfect time for owls to hunt and play.

Why I like this: Tiny Owl listens to the noises of the farmyard at night and imagines that there is a snaggle toothed monster and hairy chinned guts-gobbler lurking in the dark. Tiny Owl on the Ramshackle Farm explores children’s common night time fears. This delightful, humorous tale shows readers that the scary sounds Tiny Owl hears are in fact being made by the farmyard animals as they sleep. Tiny Owl on the Ramshackle Farm is Lotte Wotherspoon’s latest venture that comes after her 2015 publication Pukeko Dancing on the Old Dirt Track. This delivers another jaunty rhyming story with a recognisable New Zealand landscape like macrocarpa trees, picket fences and babbling brooks captured in her stunning hand drawn illustrations. There are pigs and a bull and some clucky hens, a rusting Bedford, high heels on the porch and a tired old moggy. Take a closer look and you’ll see the bull shakes maracas on his tail and a ‘farty-pants guts-gobbler’ glides past on a skateboard, wearing fancy sneakers. Hilarious true kiwi style in pencil and ink. Hopefully you can pick up your own copy at one of the links below.


About Lottie and Clay press…   https://www.claypress.co.nz/pages/about-me

One place where you can buy a copy…   https://www.fishpond.co.nz/Books/Tiny-Owl-on-Ramshackle-Farm-Lotte-Wotherspoon/9780473353285

How to make cute paper owls…  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqjh3BSuoWk

Tiny Owl on the Ramshackle Farm is a 2017 NZ Award for Best Children’s Book FINALIST

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon.

Posted in Children's literature, Perfect Picture Book Review | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Perfect Picture Book” Friday

The Way Home for Wolf

Written by:   Rachel Bright

Illustrated by: Jim Field

Published by:  Orchard Books, The Watts Publishing Group October 2018

Ages:   3 – 7 years

Theme: Friendship, Bravery

Opening Lines: As a rainbow of lights flickered soft in the night,

Dusting diamonds of ice in a desert of white,

The wild, whipping wind, it whistled its tune

To a howling of wolves and a shimmering moon.

Synopsis: Wolf cub Wilf doesn’’t want help from ANYONE Whatever it is, he can do it ALL BY HIMSELF. But when he finds himself lost and alone I the chill of the Arctic night Wilf discovers that sometimes we all need the helping hand of a friend.

Why I like this: I absolutely love this book. The deceptive cover illustration of a cute wolf club trudging through thick snow belies the rich deep full page spreads within. When chatting with a critique buddy of mine yesterday about this book we agreed that an older age group would appreciate the illustrations more than the 1 – 5 age that is listed on Amazon as a couple of the illustrations may appear a little frightening. I think 3 or even 4 years and up is better suited to this. The evocative storytelling in beautiful rollicking rhyme as shown above gives that sense of hope for the lost little wolf cub as we follow him finding his way home. This book would make a great mentor text in many ways from the use of language, rhyming text to not only ground us in the little wolf cubs world but also lead us from page to page following him on his journey with just the right page turns. But also the way the text leaves out what only the illustrations will and can only show. An example is….   One night it was time for the wolves to move on…New folks had moved in and their shelter was gone! So they left right away, to find a new cave. They would have to walk far and they’d have to be brave.   The illustration for this showed an angry bear curled up in what was the wolves cave. We see the pack of wolves trudging off to look for a new cave in the dark of the cold night, led by the little wolf cub and a couple of the straggler wolves glaring back at the bear. What I also loved about the illustrations was in a couple of spreads the night light actually showed the animals that the little wolf cub would meet up with when he became separated from the pack. In a couple of others it appeared as though we were looking through glass windows. And I also loved how the illustrator rounded the story off with full page spread of rich deep colours of the night similar to the opening pages.  A must read if only to enjoy the rhyming text or pour over the amazing illustrations.



It is no surprise to find that Rachel Bright and Jim Field have paired up before in…

The Lion Inside   published in 2015 and which has sold over 130,000 copies in the UK alone,

And… The Koala Who Could   published in 2017 again with the same evocative illustrations.

And… The Squirrels Who Squabbled also published in 2017.





All books with a theme of friendship, bravery and compassion.


Some thoughts/questions for kids…

From the cover of the book where do you think the little wolf cub is?

Is it cold or hot and why?

Is it day or night and why?

Name the animals the little wolf cub comes across when he is lost and write a sentence or paragraph about what you know about each of these animals.

What is the little wolf cub’s name?   If you wrote the story what name would you give him and why?

When the little wolf cub arrived safely home what do you think he learned from his adventure?

How did the little wolf cub get lost? What could he have done to prevent getting lost?

How to draw a cute wolf…      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h_vBkTp_Fs

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon.

Posted in Children's literature, Perfect Picture Book Review | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Webinar – “The Top Five Mistakes That Editors and Agents Most Commonly See in Submissions and How to Avoid Them.”

Last Sunday New Zealand time of 12.30pm which was around 8.30pm Saturday Eastern time in the USA, I sat down to zoom in on a free webinar through the Children’s Book Academy hosted by Dr Mira Reisberg Editor/AD of Clear Fork/Spork Publishing. The topic of the webinar was “The Top Five Mistakes That Editors and Agents Most Commonly See in Submissions and How to Avoid Them.” Also on panel with Mira was Rachael Stein Editor of Sterling Children’s Books and Hillary Homzie, Award-Winning Author. Justine Lawson was roped in to help read out the pitches, bio’s and queries appearing in the chat screen.

Being Mira, this webinar was backed with information for new and seasoned writers wanting to attract the attention of Agents and Editors to get their stories published. Once the webinar got under way I found after covering three pages in scribble I wasn’t able to keep up and used “screen save” so I could have time reading all the juicy info and resource links popping up as they gave their presentations. Thank goodness for replay!

Rachel Stein went first:…   Do You Have What you Need to Submit – Your query…   How does it fit into the market place?

Ist Pitch – What is your book abou

Make pitch short and to the point

Do your research.

Comp titles – within 5 years

2nd Bio – Who are you?

What is your background?

What writing experience?

Why you wrote this particular book?

Your online presence?

Anything else that is relevant.

3rd Submission Materials – Your query must be engaging and grabs attention.

Be a strong sample of your writing and style.

Free of typos

How to submit and follow up – Read Submission guidelines and follow exactly what they say.

When you have interest let other agents know.

Be patient – consider waiting a few months before follow up. Check again submission guidelines.

Be polite and respectful.

Hillary Homzie went next:… Mistakes found in submissions

Plot -Overly complicated.

Characters should have one burning need or goal.

-No plot.

A premise is not a plot.

Premise + activated goal = plot.

Inappropriate plot line for a genre. Ie: too old for preschool age.

Charactization –   Too flat –known for only one character trait.

-consider multiple interests.

-relationships and friendships.

-consider relationships between children and elders, animals and characters with differing abilities and constraints.

Lack of emotionality filtering from main character pov.

-react to an event or action, not only to people.

Telling can sometimes be okay.

Extend the line of description in certain areas

Extend short Verbs toad weight to emotion.

Emotion through eyes, hearts, lung and stomachs are over used.

Rely more on Internalization/Interiority to give more depth for emotion.

Both presentations came with great examples and easy to read screen info.

Mira followed with Formatting, Research and Resonance.

This was full of information and wonderful links and examples

Basic formatting for Picture Books, Chapter Books, Middle Grade and YA.

Resource links such as.. Publisher Weekly, SCBWI, MSWL, Pitching Contests, and many more.

The webinar was finished off with reading and critiquing some pitches, bios and query letters which was really insightful and interesting.

If you’re looking to get your money’s worth then Children’s Book Academy is your one stop shop!

Check out Mira’s Children’s Book Academy for courses, resources, and much more, here…   https://childrensbookacademy.teachable.com/p/about-us

So glad I took time out to tune in.

Posted in ideas for writing | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments