A Most Clever Girl by Jasmine A. Stirling and Vesper Stamper

Every person has a story to tell, but children are unencumbered by doubts and fears. They let their creativity flow more freely. Some people stay in touch with that creativity and make it their own.

The Picture Book of the Week is A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, written by Jasmine A. Stirling and illustrated by Vesper Stamper.

About the Book:

A Most Clever Girl is a narrative non-fiction picture book that chronicles Jane Austen’s journey from a young girl growing up in a creatively stimulating household to a mature, self-possessed professional writer. As with most good writers, her journey began with reading, voraciously. Her early attempts at writing were a reaction to the fashionable books for women at the times. As she grew, and weathered many adult troubles, she continued to observe people closely and developed her own voice.

Wrting Exercise:

The only way to find your writing voice is by writing, revising, and repeating. When you find it, you’ll know it. The writing challenge for the week is for your child to think of something that happened to them — a conversation they had or something they experienced — and write it from at least 3 different points of view. Which one feels most natural?

Happy. Writing!

The Wisdom of Trees by Lita Judge

Have you ever wondered what trees are thinking? No? Of course, trees don’t think, you say. Is there anything that could change your mind.

The Picture Book of the Week is The Wisdom of Trees: How Trees Work Together to Form a Natural Kingdom, written and illustrated by Lita Judge.

About the Book:

The Wisdom of Trees is a non-fiction book about an aspect of trees that has only recently been understood. Trees, it turns out, can be very chatty. They use a system dubbed the Wood Wide Web by scientists, whereby they send chemical and electrical signals to each other using a fungus that lives around their roots. They warn each other of danger. They let each other know when they are sick and need help getting food. They let each other know when it is time to sleep. These are just a few of the fascinating facts conveyed in The Wisdom of Trees. Each section also has a poem that helps tell the trees’ story.

Writing Exercise:

The Wisdom of Trees is non-fiction. This week you can challenge your kids to go outside and study a bird, a flower, a squirrel — anything in nature. Have them take notes and then write about it. It doesn’t have to be book length. Let their interests guide them.

Happy Writing!

Grandma’s Girl by Susanna Leonard Hill and Laura Bobbiesi

Mother’s Day is around the corner and the bookstore has a big display of books to help readers celebrate the holiday. As always, choosing one book for the week was tough, but I only have so much shelf space.

The Picture Book of the Week is Grandma’s Girl: All the Things I Wish for You!, written by Susanna Leonard Hill and illustrated by Laura Bobbiesi.

About the Book:

Grandma’s Girl is not a traditional fiction narrative with a beginning, middle (problem), and end (solution). Instead, it is a love letter from a grandmother to her granddaughter. She talks about their differences and their similarities, the things they do together, the future that awaits her granddaughter. Grandma tells her granddaughter she will always be there for her. Anyone who has a special bond with her mother or grandmother will appreciate bond these two share.

Writing Exercise:

The writing challenge for the week is for your child to pick a person that they value — parent, grandparent, brother, sister, teacher, mentor — and write them a love letter telling them why that person is so special to that child. They don’t have to deliver it if they aren’t comfortable doing so, but they can if they want to.

Happy Writing!

The Hike by Alison Farrell

If you ever roamed the local woods, eating berries and nuts, looking for an imagined treasure, and listening to the birds sing, this week’s story will resonate with you.

The Picture Book for this Week is The Hike, written and illustrated by Alison Farrell.

About the Book:

Wren, El, Hattie, and Bean are planning an adventure. They gather their supplies–food, feathers, poem, map–and set off on a hike. Along the way, they are treated to nature’s delights–fairy ring mushrooms, a flock of birds, a Western toad. They learn new skills, get lost, and find their way back. They climb, and climb, and climb until they reach their goal. You can almost feel what it is like to be there with them-the cool breeze, the flowing stream, the smell of green. It is the stuff of childhood dreams.

Writing Exercise:

The writing challenge this week is to for your child to come up with the adventure they would most like to go on–whether it be under the sea, in the woods, or in outer space– and write a story about it.

Happy writing!

Bunny Overboard by Claudia Rueda

Sometimes, when you read a book, you feel like you have gone on an actual adventure. You feel like you have been immersed in another world.

Bunny Overboard, the Picture Book of the Week, is just such a story. Written and illustrated by Claudia Rueda, it not only tells a story, it draws the reader into it.

About the Book:

Bunny Overboard is an interactive book. Bunny, the main character, goes sailing. To make his adventure complete, he needs a little help from the reader. Bunny breaks the fourth wall and talks to the reader. He encourages the reader rock from side to side to make waves for his boat and blow to put wind in his sail. There is no traditional plot in this story. No problem. No solution. The purpose of this book is simple: become part of the story. Go sailing and scuba diving with Bunny and then relax on the pier with a carrot lemonade. Young children will enjoy this book the most.

Writing Exercise:

For older kids, the challenge for this week is to write their own story with no problem and no solution. Write a story that breaks the fourth wall and invites the reader into the action.

Happy Writing!

Outside In by Deborah Underwood and Cindy Derby

This week’s selection is for anyone who wants to remember they forgot something important.

The Picture Book of the Week is Outside In, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Cindy Derby.

About the Book:

The main character of Outside In is a little girl in a red hoodie. She doesn’t have a name and she shares her main character status with a place, Outside. The idea of the book is that we are all so used to living indoors that we forget that Outside, or nature, is a part of us. We get so busy completing out inside busy work that trees, and flowers, and animals fade into the background, forgotten. The book is also about the sweetness of hearing the call of the natural world and answering.

Writing Exercise:

Outside In communicates an idea rather than a plot with a problem and a solution. The writing challenge for the week is to think of an idea, like inside/outside, big/small, or quiet/loud, and write a story that illustrates that idea. Add some pictures.

Happy Writing!

Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover) by Helen Yoon

We have all heard the warnings about wolves in sheep’s clothing, but what if things didn’t go as planned for the wolf (or the sheep).

The Picture Book of the Week, Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover), written and illustrated by Helen Yoon, takes on this question in a funny, fractured take on the old adage.

About The Book:

Wolf as the perfect plan. He will dress like a sheep and infiltrate a sheep community. He will act like one of the sheep. He will eat with them, wash up with them, chop wood and bake bread with them. His plan works, at least in his mind. Then it arrives, the perfect moment to pounce and have his fill of mutton. It is here that the story diverges from its classic telling. Wolf encounters a situation he never expected. His solution leads him to an unusual friendship.

Writing Exercise:

In Sheepish (Wolf Under Cover), the big bad wolf has hatched to perfect plan. The writing challenge for the week is to choose a goal (it can be to run a mile, to read a certain number of books, to learn a dance move, to train a dog, etc) and write out a detailed plan for how it will be achieved.

Happy Writing!

Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor

Sometimes you just know that it’s time. Time to take a leap of faith and trust that it will turn out for the best.

This week’s Picture Book of the Week is Mel Fell, written and illustrated by Corey R. Tabor.

About the Book:

Mel Fell is about a young bird who knows it is time for him to leave the nest. He is scared, but he understands what he has to do. He jumps. And falls, and falls, and falls. It seems like he will never stop falling. Will he fly? It looks like it’s never going to happen, but the young bird keeps the faith. In the end, he finds out that, like the saying goes, some great things are just on the other side of fear.

Writing Exercise:

Mel Fell is an interactive book in that the reader has to change the book’s direction based on the young bird’s perspective. The writing challenge for this week is to write an interactive story. Write something that engage’s the reader physically, not just their imagination. Think of other interactive books like Press Here, I Say Ooh You say Aah, and The Staring Contest.

Happy Writing!

It Will Be Ok by Lisa Katzenberger and Jaclyn Sinquett

The theme for this week is things that try our courage. Is there something you always do, but if something changes, some obstacle presents it self, it makes you want to run away and hide.

The Picture Book for this Week is It Will Be Okay, written by Lisa Katzenberger and illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett.

About the Book:

The book opens with Giraffe lamenting that he can’t go to the watering hole and he is afraid of telling Zebra. Giraffe saw a spider at the watering hole and is imagining dozens of nightmare scenarios in which spider might do something uncomfortable. Zebra tries to calm Giraffe down by explaining that he is much bigger than Spider. Zebra finally convinces Giraffe to go down to the watering hole and confront his fear. When Giraffe does, he learns new lessons about fears and friendships.

Writing Exercise:

If you can get a copy of this story, the writing challenge for the week is to read the story and write a story from the perspective of the spider.

But you don’t have to buy the book. Pick any story that you have read and write a story from the perspective of the villain.

Happy Writing!

The Worrysaurus by Rachel Bright and Chris Chatterton

Life is a series of challenges, even for children. Learning to deal with those challenges constructively can have a positive influence on a child’s life.

This week’s Picture Book of the Week is The Worrysaurus, written by Rachel Bright and illustrated by Chris Chatterton.

About the Book:

The Worrysaurus is about a young dinosaur who wakes up and plans a blissful day. Everything is going as planned until worries start to creep in. Did he have enough to eat? Would he get lost? Suddenly, he was scared. A storm was coming, said a lizard. Worrysaurus didn’t know what to do. In his mind, everything went dark, until he finds a way to chase the worrying thoughts away.

Writing Exercise:

Worrysaurus is overcome by his fears until he remembers something that made him that helps him let go. The writing challenge for the week is to write about a time you were really worried about something and how you recovered.

Happy Writing!