What’s Your Favorite Children’s Book with a Love Theme?

Part of my Lake Michigan Rock Heart Collection

It’s Valentine’s Day, so what more fitting way to honor the day of love than to talk about our favorite children’s books with a love theme.  I’ll start….  🙂


Love You Forever by Robert Munsch is my all time favorite story that I ever read to my kids.  The story follows the relationship between a mother and her child from birth to teenage years with her child causing different emotions of frustrations that mark the life cycle of a child, but that no matter what the child may do he will always be loved.  The story ends as the child grows, leaves the house, and starts his own family.  When he embraces his frail mother at the end of the story showing the circle of life I cannot help but choke up.  The stanza that continues throughout is:


“I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

my baby you’ll be.”


What is your favorite children’s book with a love theme?

And in case you’re curious, Gone With the Wind is tops in the adult fiction genre of love.

Bullying in School and Children’s Books: What Fiction Books Cover this Topic Well?

My most current writing project is my first attempt at middle grade fiction, those books geared towards children 8-12.  (Think early Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Roald Dahl books, Judy Blume books, etc.)  In my book, the main character grows up in a small town and wants nothing more in life than to break free and get “to the big city.”  In this case the big city is Chicago.  Adding to her desire to get out-of-town is the relentless bullying she experiences from another sixth grade girl.

As I work in the schools I know how important anti-bully education is.  Schools are active in their attempts to educate teachers about how to spot and stop bullying.  I am currently reading Skinnybones by Barbara Park to my fourth and fifth graders.  This humorous book follows the life of Alex, a middle grade student who hides his insecurities behind humor, and his big mouth often brings him more grief.  When he accidentally puts himself in a pitching contest against his arch-enemy, he really can’t escape from the fact that he is just “skinnybones” and no baseball player at all.  The book is engaging.  The kids find it humorous.  I am pretty confident that many can relate to being the underdog at some point or the other.  In the end, Alex does not seek revenge which is a nice change, for I’m not an advocate of “you burn me, I’ll burn you.”  However, he does find his own way to shine that puts him on an even playing field, pun intended, which is refreshing.

So, my question today is:  What children’s books have you read that handle the topic of bullying in an engaging and accurate way (or any that have not)?

Death in Children’s Books: What is Your View?

Am I Like My Daddy?  is my picture book in the grief genre.  I have lots of ideas for posting about the book and its topic, but it’s not easy, and as I am building this blog I’m not sure being known as the place to read about children’s grief recovery is what I want to  be associated with my blog.  However, from personal experience which I will touch upon another time, I don’t think it’s good to shield kids from the realities of the life cycle.  I don’t think they need more details than they can handle, but sometimes their feelings aren’t considered in an effort to protect them.


When I was probably in the fifth grade I read Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.   I loved the unique friendship between Jess and Leslie in their creation of an imagined world.  When tragedy struck I was unprepared for the emotions it would bring about.  I had the same reaction in Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls when Billy lost his dogs.  I am not sure I learned a “lesson” in these books.  I am positive they did not prepare me for my own personal experiences with the death of a parent, but I do think that children of proper maturity and age should not be shielded from death.  While we hope they will never experience a personal loss, the reality is that some will.  If anything, these books build empathy and compassion and make children realize they aren’t alone when feeling sad.


So, I was wondering, how has death in a children’s book affected you or your children, and how did you handle it?  What do you think? 

Cool Facts: Congrats to Jon, Leslie, Maggie, and April for Being Children’s Book Masters!

Thank you to those of you that played along yesterday with my trivia contest.  Jon, Leslie, Maggie, and April all made very good guesses as to which children’s books have sold more than 4 million copies.  Maybe you have your own guesses, too.  Keep in mind that this list was last compiled in 2000 by Publisher’s Weekly, so the numbers have only grown.




The link is also to the right.


There are two lists, hardcover and paperback, so scroll down the whole page.


Number one for hardcover books:  The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey (Golden, 1942) 14,898,341

Number one for paperback books:  Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, illus. by Garth Williams (HarperCollins, 1974) 9,899,696


I am looking forward to an updated Publisher’s Weekly List.  Have a great weekend, and read a great book!

Cool Facts: What Children’s Books do YOU Think Have Sold Over 4,000,000 copies?

As the first print run of Am I Like My Daddy?  will be 1000 copies, the thought of selling 4 million copies is mind-boggling.  However, what fun!  Believe it or not the most recent list I could find was compiled by Publisher’s Weekly at the end of the year 2000, so let’s take all of the Harry Potter books out of the running because even as of that time 4 of the titles were already in the list.  So, from the original publication date to the year 2000, can you guess a children’s book (picture book or chapter book) that made the list?  No cheating!  I will post the link tomorrow.

What’s your guess? 

Writing News: Networking with Local Author, Patricia O’Donnell-Gibson, Author of The Red Skirt: Memoirs of an Ex-Nun

After working all day balancing my writing job, my school library job, and my magazine job, and the responsibilities of having a family the only thing I really wanted to do with any enthusiasm last night was put on my fleece pajamas and lay on the couch in front of the television.  It was my mother-in-law who encouraged me to go with her to hear a local author speak about her new book at the Lincoln Township Library.  In my head of lofty dreams  I hope that someday, somewhere my books might inspire others to get off the couch and come hear me talk, too, so I went.  And I am so glad I did!!


Patricia O’Donnell-Gibson, a retired St. Joseph, Michigan teacher, has written a book about her former days as a nun and her exit from the convent.  The book is entitled, The Red Skirt, Memoirs of an Ex Nun.  While I will hold off on a formal review until I have read my signed copy, I can say that based upon her talk she has some very interesting stories to tell.  I greatly enjoyed hearing about her writing process (11 years from start to book) as well as the creation of her own publishing company, Stuart Rose Publishing, LLC with her husband Lou.  Patricia’s book design and quality is top-notch.  From the peek-a-boo legs under the red skirt that catch the reader’s attention to the book’s size, paper quality, and design, it shows that every thought and care was put into the publishing of this book.  I cannot wait to read it.  Also, Barnes and Noble Stores all over the country are carrying The Red Skirt on their shelves which is wonderfully exciting for a new publishing company.


On a personal level, I feel like I have made yet another connection in the writers’ web.  Networking is so important.  Writing is a very solitary business, and though I have many supportive family and friends, only writers truly understand or care about the dailiness and particulars of the craft, from the writing process to the marketing.  It’s like when a new mom has a baby and is excited to share news of her child’s every new milestone or diaper drama and she’s always reading the baby stroller reviews to get her baby something new every time.  Unless you have been there or are there in your life now, you may feign interest.  It’s the same with writers.  I completely understand people not caring about my every writing move.  However, it’s nice to know someone else in the area who has pursued and really cares about the joys of writing.  I feel like a sponge wanting to soak up as much information as I can.


Follow the link at the side, and check out The Red Skirt:  Memoirs of an Ex-Nun.  I hope I am but one of many future bloggers to write about this talented author!

What picture books are your favorites based upon the illustrations?

I heard from my wonderful publisher yesterday, Bronze Man Books.  Things are moving forward with my book which is very exciting.  Currently they are on a hunt for the perfect illustrator of “Am I Like My Daddy?”  As the story is in the children’s grief genre, the pictures and words are very important.  This is not a pleasure book, but a book that, hopefully, will give comfort to its readers.


While Bronze Man Books has been wonderful about asking my opinion on things, ultimately the control of choosing the illustrator lies with them.  To many of my friends unfamiliar with publishing, this fact comes as a surprise.  However, this is the norm in children’s publishing.  The publishers choose the illustrator in most cases, not the author.


I started to think about what picture books I have read that are enhanced by the wonderful illustrations.  Here are three good examples.


Goodnight Moon:  The search for the tiny mouse in the pages of this book kept my kids entertained every time it was read.  The words by Margaret Wise Brown are simple and rhythmic, and the illustrations by Clement Hurd are colorful and engaging.


Don’t Take Your Snake for a Stroll:  A humorous tongue-in-cheek book by Karin Ireland about advice for kids on taking their pets (elephant, kangaroo, alligator, etc.) out in public is hilarious, especially as a read aloud.  Yet the pictures by David Catrow really capture the attention of the children.  Who doesn’t break out in laugher when seeing a rather large, wrinkly elephant sitting on the beach sunbathing or a pig playing in a planter at the mall?  There is so much going on in the pictures the book has to be reread to catch it all!


Love You Forever:  Robert Munsch’s lovely book about a mother’s love no matter what her child’s stage in life is one of my favorite picture books ever.  Sheila McGraw’s illustrations simply and clearly show the evolving lives of this young boy into a man.  And the cat in most two page spreads is an added engaging element for kids to find.


What picture books are your favorites based upon the illustrations?


Book Recommendations: Picture Books to Read During Cold and Flu Season

Yep.  It’s here, and there’s little we can do about it.  We’re right in the middle of cold and flu season.  When you’re a parent or work with children, the germs around you are much less contained.  Need something to do with your sick child at home from school?  Check out these entertaining picture books relating to common illness.


Farm Flu , by Teresa Bateman :  On this unusual farm, a young boy hears “Ka-Choo” from the cow and takes him into his home to pamper him as he knows his mom would do for him.  From the cow to the chickens to the donkey to the pigs, and on and on, all of the farm animals catch the flu.  The young boy plays doctor and fluffs their pillows, brings them snacks, and lets them play games. When he realizes the “Ka-choo’s” have stopped he sends them back to the barn!  The lesson parallels our own families when we, as parents, realize that maybe our kids really aren’t as sick as once thought, and the joys of staying home have been celebrated a little too enthusiastically.


How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? , by Jane Yolen:  Beautifully illustrated by Mark Teague, this book in a wonderful dinosaur series asks a series of questions about how dinosaurs handle being ill with the common cold.  The rhyming text accompanies pictures that show the dinosaurs being irritable and uncooperative.  However, by the end of the book the dinosaurs starts doing what they’re supposed to do to get well.   The children and parents will chuckle at the uncooperative behavior as much of it will seem familiar.  And everyone roots for the dinosaurs when they start behaving properly because soon they will be well, just like your child.

Cool Facts


Even Dr. Seuss, born Theodor Seuss Geisel, had trouble finding a publisher for his first book.  And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was published in 1937 only after being rejected 27 times (with some accounts being even higher)!

There is hope!!

Book Review: The Monster at the End of This Book and Other Picture Book Favorites

Really, this book needs no introduction.  If you don’t remember lovable, furry old Grover from Sesame Street trying with all his might to keep the reader from turning pages and getting to the monster at the end of the book, then you have missed out on a childhood joy.  It’s not too late to check out this book by Jon Stone and Michael Smollin.  I’ve placed a link to the right.  And in case you forget, Grover finds that he is the monster at the end of the book and tries to put the “and you were so scared” blame on the reader.  Brilliant!  The authors have a known character, engage the readers who can’t help but squealing “Turn it!  Turn the page!”, and an ending that makes the reader and Grover smile.

What is a favorite picture book from your childhood, and what makes it so memorable?  Please share!