Monday, March 18, 2019

13 Picture Books that Include Recipes - A Read, Discuss, Do! Book List

Picture books that include recipes are one of my favorite things. Not only are they fun to read together, but they have great Read, Discuss, Do! activities built right in. Honestly, I can't think of a better way to spend a day than with some reading and cooking together as a family. With that in mind, here are 13 (a baker's dozen!) picture books that come with recipes.

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman, a delightful book that takes the reader on a journey around the world to find the ingredients for apple pie, with a recipe for apple pie at the end!

Bear and Chicken by Jannie Ho is a darling friendship story about a chicken who is concerned that the bear who rescued him from the cold is planning to make him into soup! Try the soup recipe for yourself. No chicken needed!

Whopper Cake by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand is a fun rhyming romp that will have everyone hungry for cake, which you can make by following the recipe for a slightly smaller whopper cake included in the book.

Monkey with a Tool Belt and the Maniac Muffins by Chris Monroe is every bit as silly and fun as it sounds. Make one of the muffin recipes at the end (guaranteed not to terrorize the town). 

Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee is a darling book with fun language and plenty of repetition, making it great to read aloud with a little one. Follow story time up with some fun in the kitchen making your own bee-bim bop!

Every Color Soup by Jorey Hurley, a simple yet bold concept book about food and color, and includes a recipe your little ones can help you with.

A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall is a book about the history of Blackberry Fool, a dessert made with whipped cream and blackberries. The recipe is very simple, and takes much less work than it did one or two or three hundred years ago.

Applesauce Day by Lisa Amstutz, illustrated by Talitha Shipman, a colorful, pleasant read about a family's tradition of making applesauce together every year. Read the book and try making applesauce with your family (it's easier than you may think).

Ugly Pie by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Heather Solomon is a charming book about a bear's search for ingredients to make the pie he's been itchin' for: Ugly Pie! Try the pie recipe yourself and see if ugly can be delicious!

Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Paulette Bogan, a spicy romp about chickens who are tired of chicken feed! Have a little fiesta with your little ones with one of the recipes at the back!

Cook-a-Doodle-Doo! by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel, illustrated by Janet Stevens is a clever story featuring a descendant of the Little Red Hen, showing how cooking with a group of friends can be a rewarding challenge. And who can resist a recipe for strawberry shortcake?

Bread Lab! by Kim Binczewski and Bethany Econopouly, illustrated by Haylin Cho is a lesson in bread making disguised as a story of a young girl and her aunt spending the day cooking together. Try to avoid craving fresh baked bread as you read! Then again, crave all you want and then follow the directions to make bread yourself.

How to Feed Your Parents by Ryan Miller, illustrated by Hatem Aly, a fun family story about a little girl who is determined to get her picky parents to broaden their palates! Includes a recipe for quiche at the end. Yum!

I hope you look for some of these books and have a happy time reading and cooking with your family.

Have you read any of these books? If so, did you try the recipes? I'd love to know the results. Did I miss a favorite? If so, let me know in the comments and I'll be sure to look it up. 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Crow's Nest: A Read, Discuss, Do! Activity

HAROLD LOVES HIS WOOLLY HAT by Vern Krousky is a cute and heartwarming story about a little bear who learns what it really means to be special. When Harold wears his woolly hat, he knows he's special. So when a crow swoops by and swipes it, he is determined to get it back! He tries offering the crow various things in exchange for his hat, but nothing works. But when he climbs up to the nest and sees what his hat is being used for, what he does next helps him realize that it was never his hat that made him special!


DISCUSS: What does Harold discover in the nest? What does he do about it? What does Harold do that shows he is a special bear even without his woolly hat?

DO: Create a picture of a crow's nest like the one in the book, complete with an open nest that can be filled with odds and ends (and maybe a tiny hat?).

You will need:

  • Construction paper: one light color, one black 
  • A paper egg carton
  • Scissors
  • School glue
  • Glue stick
  • Short pieces of yarn
  • Small fabric scraps
  • Light colored crayons 


Using the black construction paper, cut out a tall, narrow tree a couple of inches shorter than the length of the paper. Be sure to give the tree short, random branches. Use the crayons to give the tree a suggestion of bark (use the illustrations in the book for inspiration if you're stuck). Use the glue stick to glue the tree to the light colored construction paper.

Use a strong pair of scissors to cut out one section of the egg carton, then cut that one section in half at an angle. This will be the nest! Use white glue to attach it to the top of the tree. Let it dry.

While the nest is drying, make a crow out of black paper. Use the glue stick to add the crow to the picture. Next, cut several very skinny strips of different lengths. These will be the "twigs" on the nest.  Use white glue to glue the twigs onto the nest (be sure the nest has fully dried first). 

If you like, give the crow something to carry! Simply glue a length of yarn or fabric (or anything else you can think of) so that it looks like it is hanging from its feet. The last step is to fill the nest so that it will be a very cozy place for baby crows to hang out!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Eight Perfectly Poetic Picture Books

When you think of poetry for kids, does your mind jump to poetry collections like Shel Silverstein's A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC and Jack Prelutsky's IT'S RAINING PIGS AND NOODLES, or the poems published in magazines like HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN and LADYBUG?

If so, you're not alone. But some of the best poetry for kids comes in the form of picture books. Not a collection of poems in the form of a picture book, but a picture book that tells a complete story in verse.

This is not necessarily referring to a picture book written in rhyme. While there is obviously a poetic element to a rhyming picture book story, a poetic picture book does more than tell a story with fun language, even meter, and rhyming text. The entire book, whether rhyming or not, reads and feels like poetry. Because it is poetry!

Verse is a powerful storytelling tool. The language is lyrical, often rhythmic (even when it doesn't rhyme), and there is an intimate, emotional quality with verse that often escapes traditional prose.Verse draws the reader in in order to share an experience, not merely relate a story.

The eight books listed below are books that I believe are stunning examples of picture books that utilize verse to its fullest effect. I hope you will use them to help open the eyes of young readers in your life to the world of poetry in picture book text.

A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Told in a flowing, free verse style, this picture book about a young girl's dreams of becoming a ballerina is sure to tug on your heart strings. Floyd Cooper's warm illustrations perfectly capture the life of the text.

DOGKU by Andrew Clements

This is a sweet story of a dog finding a home, told completely in haiku.

WON TON: A CAT TALE TOLD IN HAIKU by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yeltsin

Another pet story told in haiku, this book is both amusing and touching.

HOUSE HELD UP BY TREES by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klaassen

Let's just say I wish more of Ted Kooser's poetry would be published in picture book form!

TWILIGHT CHANT by Holly Thompson, illustrated by Jen Betton

This book is beautifully lyrical, with illustrations to match. It perfectly captures the almost magical feeling of twilight.

OVER IN THE WETLANDS by Caroline Starr Rose, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey

I've never been in the midst of a hurricane, but the text and illustrations in this book make me feel like I'm *almost* there!

A HOUSE THAT ONCE WAS by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Lane Smith

This book perfectly captures the adventurous, mysterious feel of exploring an abandoned structure.

ONE DAY IN THE EUCALYPTUS, EUCALYPTUS TREE by Daniel Bernstrom, illustrated by Brenden Wenzel

The language in this book is perfection. It captures the silly, exaggerated feel of the folksy tale, with words and sounds that at once bounce off the page and roll off the tongue. It is an absolute joy to read!

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

I Have an Announcement to Make!

Do you like salsa? And picture books? And fractured fairy tales told in rhyme? Then I have a treat for you! Coming spring of 2020 from Clarion Books is...

Federico and the Wolf, a rhyming, gender-swapped retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with Mexican flair, to be illustrated by the awesomely talented Elisa Chavarri!

This book will be my first solo picture book, and I couldn't be more excited about sharing it with you. I hope you will follow along over the next year or so for updates, giveaways, and other fun stuff related to the publication of this new story!

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Best Books for Your Holiday Gift List!

Books make the best gifts, but it can be hard to know for sure if the recipient will enjoy a book you choose. So, to help increase the odds that the books you give this year will be received with enthusiasm, I've selected favorites that are sure to please a variety of readers of all ages. Most of these books have been published within the last couple of years. I hope this helps you find that just-right book for every kid (and kid at heart) on your list!

Board Books

For the babies and toddlers on your gift list, check out When Your Elephant has the Sniffles, and the three other books in the series, by Susanna Leonard Hill. These books are colorful, short, and full of humor.

Or, if you know a family of Star Wars fans, consider Star Wars Epic Yarns, which are brilliantly simple books with needle-felted illustrations. These aren't just for the little ones! Adult Star Wars fans would probably love these too (if they're anything like me).

Picture Books

For fans of gorgeously illustrated nonfiction, consider John Ronald's Dragons: The Story of J.R.R. Tolkien by Caroline McAlister, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler.

Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus by John Hendrix is another fantastic option.

Someone who enjoys oversized books with lots of details and fun facts would appreciate Everything and Everywhere: A Fact-filled Adventure for Curious Globe-trotters by Marc Martin.

In the market for an ABC book? Check out Animalphabet by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Sharon King-Chai. It's gorgeous, unique, and has lots of fun page flaps!

For the fan of a rhyming read-aloud, you can't go wrong with A Hippy-Hoppy Toad by Peggy Archer, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf.

Another great rhyming read-aloud is Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse by Laura Sassi, illustrated by Rebecca Gerlings.

Or send someone on a wordless, imaginative adventure with The Fish and the Cat by Marianne Dubuc.

Middle Grade

For the fantasy fan, Dragonwatch, the first in a new series by Brandon Mull (book two, Wrath of the Dragon King, was published in October). It's a follow-up series to Fablehaven, so be sure the recipient has read Fablehaven first (or get it for them instead).

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech is perfect for fans of heart-warming stories about friendship, family, and pets!

Another good fit would be Moo, also by Sharon Creech.

For the reluctant reader in your life, consider Garvey's Choice by Nikki Grimes, a short verse novel with themes of friendship and strained family relationships.

If you know a young reader who enjoys stories about dystopian societies set in a future post-apocalypse, consider The List by Patricia Forde, a fast-paced story reminiscent of The Giver and The City of Ember.

Young Adult

Does someone on your list enjoy lyrical stories that tug on the heart strings? Consider One by Sarah Crossan, a verse novel about conjoined twins.

Another good verse novel is Solo by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess, an engaging story with themes of music and family.

For the fan of magic, danger, and a bit of romance, The November Girl by Lydia Kang can't be beat! It's gorgeously written, mysterious, and will keep readers turning the pages.

And, for the fan of dark speculative fiction full of death and mystery, I recommend Scythe and Thunderhead, the first two books in a new series by Neal Shusterman.

Need more ideas? Check out these book lists for other great suggestions:

Ten Rhyming Picture Books to Read if You Like What About Moose?

Top Ten Verse Novels for Middle Grade Readers

The Best Picture Books from 2017

Top Ten Rhyming Picture Books

My Favorite Books of 2016 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Torn Paper Wreath: A Read, Discuss, Do! Activity

MOUSE'S CHRISTMAS GIFT is a new picture book by Mindy Baker and illustrated by Dow Phumiruk. In the story, when Parson falls ill and is forced to cancel the Christmas Eve service, Mouse takes things into his own paws, setting up the nativity and lighting a candle in the church window. This small act inspires people around town to contribute to the joy of the Christmas season, even in a time when there seems to be "no money for Christmas." MOUSE'S CHRISTMAS GIFT is a sweet, charming story full of Christmas spirit that you will want to share with your loved ones year after year.


DISCUSS: In the story, the villagers were concerned that there was “no money for Christmas.” But gradually, people added to the Christmas celebration using things they had on hand or were able to make themselves using available materials. In what ways can you help spread the joy of Christmas using your own skills and items you find around the house? Make a list of all the possibilities! 

DO: Make a torn paper Christmas wreath.

You will need:

  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Red and green paper
  • Paper plate
  • Red yarn or ribbon (optional)

Cut out the middle of the paper plate. Tear green paper into random pieces (I used construction paper, but any kind of paper will do). Tear the red paper into small, roundish shapes to look a bit like berries. Glue the green paper pieces onto the plate until it's completely covered. Next, glue the red pieces around the wreath. Once that's done, tie a length of ribbon or yarn into a bow and glue it at the top. If you don't have ribbon or yarn, draw a bow on red paper, cut it out, and glue it to the top of the wreath. Let it dry, then hang it somewhere for all to see!

Other wreath ideas: 
  • Make smaller versions of the wreath to decorate homemade Christmas cards to give to friends, family, and neighbors. 
  • Use fabric scraps instead of paper.

To learn more about MOUSE'S CHRISTMAS GIFT, or to purchase a copy, visit:

Or your local independent book store!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Review: SAVING WINSLOW by Sharon Creech

Saving Winslow
by Sharon Creech
Joanna Cotler Books

When Louie has the opportunity to nurse a struggling new born miniature donkey back to health, he doesn't let his not-so-successful track record discourage him. He names the donkey Winslow, and despite the pessimistic outlook of family and friends around him, Louie dedicates himself to making sure Winslow grows to be strong and healthy.

But this story is about much more than a boy nursing a donkey back to health. It's a story of a growing friendship between Louie and his new friend Nora. It's a story about family bonds that stay strong over long distances. It's a story about defying the odds, and being neighborly, and learning to let go.

Saving Winslow has a cast of characters that are believable and relatable. Though the story's resolution is a bit predictable, the book has a quick and easy pace, and the plot feels natural, not overly dramatic. The author approaches the topic of death in a delicate, yet realistic way that is ideal for the middle grade audience.

I recommend Saving Winslow for anyone who enjoys stories about relationships between children and animals, for those who has a soft spot for animals in general, and for people who enjoy simple, feel-good stories that make them smile (and maybe cry a little). If you enjoyed books like The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, or any of Sharon Creech's earlier books, then you will enjoy Saving Winslow.