just in case you want to fly by Julie Fogliano and Christian Robinson

All children eventually leave the nest. They try and fail. And try and fail. And eventually. Hopefully, succeed.

This week’s Picture Book of the Week is Just In Case You Want To Fly, written by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Christian Robinson.

About the Book:

Just In Case You Want to Fly is the story of every child from the minute they learn to walk to college graduation and beyond. It is also the story of every parent, who is there to offer support, empowerment, and a safe place to come home to. This story is an emblem of every parent’s love for their child and of their wish to see their child succeed.

Writing Exercise:

Just In Case You Want To Fly epitomizes a healthy relationship between a parent and a child by showing how a parent supports their child’s empowerment. The writing challenge for your child is to have them write a story that illustrates how they support someone they love — a parent, a sibling, a friend.

Happy Writing!

The Rock From the Sky by Jon Klassen

There is an element of chance in everything we do. We have to decide if we proceed with trust or with fear.

The Picture Book of the Week is The Rock From The Sky, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen.

About the Book:

With muted, deadpan humor, The Rock From the Sky tells the story of a turtle, an armadillo, and a snake, their relationship with each other, and with a rock that falls from the sky. The story is told in four acts in which chance is a major character. Turtle leaves his spot by chance and narrowly avoids death. And it isn’t the last time. Turtle’s relationship with Armadillo and Snake is awkward at times, but saves him repeatedly and by chance. There are social dilemmas and monsters, but the characters very matter-of-factly continue along their path. This book is a meditation on life as it is.

Writing Exercise:

The characters in this book express the humor in everyday events in a way that makes the reader smile at things that are uncomfortable. The writing challenge for the week is for your child to think of something uncomfortable that happened to them — something embarrassing or awkward — and write about it in a way that makes it funny.

Happy Writing!

The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann

School will be out in a couple of weeks and academics will give way to new experiences like swimming, fishing, and hiking. If you live in a city or suburb, those new experiences might include a camping trip like the one in this week’s book.

The Picture Book of the Week is The Camping Trip, written an illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann.

About the Book:

The Camping Trip is about a girl named Ernestine who is invited on a camping trip with her Aunt Jackie. It’s a fun read for anyone who went on a camping trip as a child because you can almost smell the scents and taste the flavors that live in your memory. For a child who has never been on a camping trip, the book is almost as good as being there. Ernestine describes the car trip, swimming in a natural body of water for the first time, making s’mores, going hiking, and more. Best of all, she describes going home and getting to share it with someone she loves.

Writing Exercise:

In The Camping Trip, Ernestine has never been on a camping trip before. The Writing Challenge for this week is for your child to think of something new they experienced this year and try to share their experience with a reader by writing about it. Describe the sights, smells, tastes, emotions, anything that formed part of the experience.

Happy Writing!

Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry and Juana Martinez-Neal

It’s almost summer and some of you might be feeling the call of the sea and sand. After reading this week’s book, you might start making plans to play on the beach — maybe even make a new friend.

The Picture Book of the Week is Swashby and the Sea, written by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal.

About the Book:

Captain Swashby is a weathered old sailor who just wants to retire to some peace and quiet near his old friend, the sea. Fortunately for him, his old friend and his new friend have other plans. A little girl and her granny move in next door and they don’t come alone, they bring beach balls, and sandcastles, and songs. Of course, they disturb Captain Swashby’s peace and quiet, but who know, maybe that’s for the best.

Writing Exercise:

In this story, the sea is one of the main characters. It is a wise old friend and helping hand. The writing challenge for the week is to write a story in which one of the elements — earth, water, wind, or fire — are a main character. They can be anything, friend, villain, or somewhere in between. Let your imagination run wild.

Happy Writing!

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!