HUSH LITTLE BABY

May is the month to honor mom.
What children’s book is your ode to motherhood?

Welcome to KidLit Gems!

Join us in a coffee-style chat about favorite children’s books and the elements that make them shine.

This month’s theme: KidLit Gems for Mom

NameplateKristisGemIHUSH LITTLE BABY
Text © 1997, Sylvia Long

HUSHLITTLEBABYcoverBoard Book
version
of the
well-known lullaby

Fiction

Age Range:
Infant -
7 years

Grade Level:
Preschool -2nd

Chronicle Books
LLC


AWARDS

Child Magazine “Best Books of 1997″
1997 Bookbuilders West Award

Hush little baby, don’t say a word, Mama’s going to show you a hummingbird. If that hummingbird should fly, Mama’s going to show you the evening sky. ~ Hush Little Baby, by Sylvia Long

Bedtime was such a special ritual for my children. And thanks to Sylvia Long’s, Hush Little Baby, we all sang a lullaby together as we read this book.  Long’s magical version of the lullaby quietly takes the reader on a journey out the bedroom window, all the while, reassuring the young child that Mama will be there at every turn of the adventure. Long’s rich illustrations are as peaceful as the setting sun, and as beloved as the creatures that scurry to bed at dusk. This book is a tribute and a celebration of motherhood, and all the blessings it beholds.

~ Kristi
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When the nighttime shadows fall, Mama’s going to hear the crickets call.  ~ Hush Little Baby, by Sylvia Long

Sylvia Long’s masterful illustrations have the timeless appeal of Clement Hurd’s Runaway Bunny and Milo Winter’s The Hare and the Tortoise from The Aesop for Children.  Long says she changed the classic lullaby’s promises of materialistic reward (Papa’s going to buy you . . . ) to words offering comfort in the natural world. (Mama’s going to show you . . .) My thoughts: Papa needs to buy Mama a diamond ring. Fussy bedtime bunnies won’t find contentment in jewelry. Kudos to Long, for taking something beautiful and making it even better.

If you loved this cuddle time board book, you’ll also love Marla Frazee’s charming 2007 version, Hush, Little Baby: A Folk Song With Pictures.

~ Anna
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HUSHLITTLEBABY-SYLVIALONG

Copyrighted material

HUSHLITTLEBABY-SYLVIALONGII

HUSHLITTLEBABY-SYLVIALONGIIIKEM Sapphire

Watch for Lou’s pick next!

We want to hear from you!
What children’s book is your ode to mom/motherhood?

June’s Theme - KidLit Gems for Dad

GASTON

May is our month to recognize mothers.
What children’s book mothers go above and beyond?

Welcome to KidLit Gems!

Join us in a coffee-style chat about favorite children’s books and the elements that make them shine.

This month’s theme: KidLit Gems for Mom

NameplateAnnasGemIGASTON
Text © 2014, Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrations © 2014, Christian Robinson

GASTONCover450Picture
Book

Fiction

Age Range:
4-8 years

Grade Level:
Preschool-Third

Antheneum Books
for
Young Readers

An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

Awards

Kirkus, Starred Review
Horn Book Magazine, Starred Review
Shelf Awareness, Starred Review
Publisher’s Weekly, Best Summer Books 2014

Mrs. Poodle admired her new puppies, Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. ~ Gaston

What’s not to love in this story? It has humor. Fi-Fi? Foo-Foo? Ooh-La-La? I bet Kelly DiPucchio’s critique group spit cappuccinos out of their noses when they first read these names out loud.

It has smarts. Alliterations please the ears: “There was much to see. Daffodils. Ducklings. Dogs.” Attention-getting cues engage: “Would you like to see them again?”

It has heart. Despite parenting alone and discovering a post-delivery mix-up, the canine supermoms, Mrs. Poodle and Mrs. Bulldog, raise well-adjusted,  thriving offspring. This is the perfect book for those who question their place in the world. While researching Gaston, I was surprised by nature vs. nurture debates.  My take: While every family situation is different, one element remains the same. Belonging isn’t about similarities. It’s about love.

Christian Robinson’s retro illustrations, including the Poodle and Bulldog family pictures; make me miss my sentimental supermom; and my fairly normal, but unique gold, orange, and green childhood.

~ Anna
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From that day forward the families met in the park every afternoon to play. Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette taught the poodle puppies a thing or two about being tough.

Likewise, Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston taught the bulldog puppies a thing or two about being tender. ~ Gaston

Gaston reminds me of Romeo & Juliet, two families from opposite sides of the tracks, circling their territory. This age appropriate picture book’s delightful alliteration, rhymes and Matisse-esque illustrations contribute to the age-old adage, “opposites attract”.  Children will delight as the “brutish or brawny” and the “proper or precious” unite. Three cheers for the mothers in this story that wisely, stand-by as Gaston and Antoinette explore their true identities. And unlike Romeo & Juliet, where the families are meddling, there is a happy ending to this love story.

~ Kristi


GASTON1GASTON2GASTON3GASTON4

GEM Ruby

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We want to hear from you!
What children’s book moms excel in the motherhood department?

I LOVE YOU, STINKY FACE

May is a month for mothers.
What children’s book makes you think of your mom?

Welcome to KidLit Gems!

Join us in a coffee-style chat about favorite children’s books and the elements that make them shine.

This month’s theme: KidLit Gems for Mom

NameplateLousGemII LOVE YOU, STINKY FACE
Text © 1997, Lisa McCourt
Illustrations © 1997, Cyd Moore

I LOVE YOU STINKY FACEILOVEYOUSTINKYFACE1Picture Book, Fiction

Age Range: 3-7 years

Grade Level:
Preschool-
2nd Grade

SCHOLASTIC,
CARTWHEEL BOOKS
A division of Scholastic Inc.

1998 National Parenting Publications Awards Honor Book

“But Mama, but Mama, what if I were a Cyclops, and I had just one big, gigantic eye in the middle of my head?” ~ I Love You, Stinkyface

Here’s one of my own family’s favorites! Imagine all the sweetness of the classic picture book Mama, Do You Love Me? but with dinosaur claws, slimy seaweed, and bug sandwiches tossed in. In I Love You, StinkyFace, author Lisa McCourt creates a bedtime exchange between a mother and son with just enough silliness to keep the ‘mush factor’ in check. The mother’s funny, reassuring responses validate each reader’s uniqueness. No wonder Scholastic snapped this up!

~ Lou
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“Then I would look right into your one eye and say, “I love you,” and I would sing to you until your one droopy eyelid finally closed and you fell fast asleep.” ~ I Love You, Stinkyface

How do you write a picture book that allows mothers to express their unconditional love for their children in a non-gooey, non-sappy, non-gushy way (even when we are gooey, sappy, and gushy)?  Author Lisa McCourt knows. You insert the magic word:  “stinky.” Add “dinosaurs,” “monsters,” and “aliens,” and gooey, sappy, gushy mothers can get away with saying the “l” word eleven times in a row–thirteen if you read the front and back covers. Love, love, love!

Cyd Moore’s thoughtful and playful illustrations, particularly the child’s embrace of the mother’s face and the one-eyed monster in pajamas, lift the story to a whole new level of wonderful. Children will love looking for the monkey, bunny, toucan, and tin man.

~ Anna
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“But, Mama, but Mama, what if I were a Green Alien from Mars, and I ate bugs instead of peanut butter? ~ I Love You, Stinky Face

I can’t think of a better board book tribute for mother’s day. Lisa McCourt’s I Love You Stinky Face is the epitome of a mother’s unconditional love. “Mama” is certain she can manage any creature her child morphs into and nothing can change that, not even a: skunk, slimy swamp monster or alien. Cyd Moore chose muted tones and playful, yet ominous creatures for the illustrations that strike the perfect balance of scary, yet quiet for a bedtime story. And, like life, there are scary creatures out there that just need a little maternal love to tame them. If only all the world had “Mama’s” wisdom.

~ Kristi


ILOVEYOUSTINKYFACE2Note:

These photos are from the abridged board book.

ILOVEYOUSTINKYFACE3ILOVEYOUSTINKYFACE4KEM Diamond

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We want to hear from you!
What children’s book makes you think of your mom?
Extra question for moms: What children’s book makes you feel motherly?

Writer Mentorship Lessons #4-5

Have I mentioned how honored I am to be mentored by Trisha Speed Shaskan? Seriously, I have to pinch myself. She’s witty and entertaining, with funny snort-laughs that make your heart happy. She’s accessible and sincere. In her you’ll meet an advocate and friend. And she’s humble, not intimidating,  generously giving of her time to nurture the success of others. She’s all of this, despite her rock star accomplishments as a children’s author of over 40 books. What I’ve learned from her through observation in the past two months is how a true professional views and handles success.

Lesson #4: The formulas of success

Creativity given = success

Through Trisha I’m learning that creativity is a gift and that using our creativity is a gift to others.Trisha is just as excited about the ideas in her head as the stories already published. She knows that each word is the beginning of something bigger and that success doesn’t begin or end at publication.  As long as you are able to create, whether you’ve written one paragraph or 40 books, no magic number should make you want to retire to a beach (unless you’re bringing your laptop or notepad).

 Creativity given = creativity >

A couple of weeks ago teacher Regina Santiago and the students in 1/2 B at Saint Paul Academy surprised Trisha with the ultimate compliment. They created a play, From the Mixed Up Files of Trisha Speed Shaskan, based on six of her picture books.

SERIOUSLY, CINDERELLA IS SO ANNOYING!HONESTLY, LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD WAS ROTTENTRULY WE BOTH LOVED BEAUTY DEARLY 

IF YOU WERE A COMPOUND WORDIF YOU WERE A CONTRACTION61fFXCBYgnL__UX160_THEMIXEDUPFILES 

MiniTrisha

 

 

Trisha and her husband Stephen received VIP treatment during the performance, complete with programs. The actors proved they’d done their research. The mimi-Trisha narrator donned Trisha-style glasses, clothing, and hairstyle. She also incorporated Trisha’s mannerisms and words like “ridic” and “peeps.” Shaskan’s cat, Eartha, and  dog, Bea, even received “mini-me” representation.

TRULYWEBOTHLOVEDBEAUTYDEARLY

The good and bad fairies.

The young thespians created and performed stories . . .

The wicked stepmother and evil stepsisters.

sang songs . . . (masterminded by Stephanie Huss).

THEMIXEDUPFILES

Singing about Sleeping Beauty.

OnomatopeoiaMachineand shared the sounds of their onomatopoeia machine invention.

THEMIXEDUPFILESOFTRISHASPEEDSHASKANCast

The playwright, directors, and cast

Creativity given = giving >

I don’t think I’ll get over it. I’m floating! It’s just pure joy!  ~ Trisha Speed Shaskan, after viewing The Mixed Up Files of Trisha Speed Shaskan

Through Trisha I’m learning that creativity shared can reach far beyond the confines of a book or story. The ripple effect of imagination can reach beyond our wildest dreams.

Lesson #5 How to handle success:

  • With humor.
  • With sincerity.
  • With humility.
  • With delight and gratitude in the unexpected.
  • With open arms.
  • With more creativity.
  • Remembering every celebration is just the beginning.

Swinging a Cat

DiCamillo600

Kate DiCamillo wanted a picture with me, so of course I said . . . Okay, you know that’s not true. I’ll admit, I stalked her.

Author acquaintance Cheryl Blackford said, “You can’t swing a cat in the Twin Cities without hitting a National Book Award winner, a McKnight fellowship winner, a Newbery winner, or a Minnesota Book Award finalist. We are so very fortunate to have such talent here.”

That certainly was the case while sitting among 900 other writers, illustrators, agents, editors, librarians, publishers, and book enthusiasts at the 27th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala. Holy cow, it was literary celebrity Heaven. My only regret: that I didn’t take more pictures.

Finalists for the Award for Young People’s Literature:

  • Ambassador by William Alexander
  • Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Ban Dusen
  • The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill

Winner:

  • West of the Moon by Margi Preus
Michael Hall's lovely wife, Debra Kelley, agreed to take our picture with Michael after the 2015 Minnesota Book Award's Gala, where IT'S AN ORANGE AARDVARK, was a finalist. Their gesture of hospitality was especially thoughtful, as they were off to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. Congratulations to Michael and Debra!

Congratulations to Michael Hall, finalist for the MN Book Award for Children’s Literature.    (Fellow reviewer and book award judge, Louise Aamodt, is pictured on the right)

Finalists for the Award for Children’s Literature:

  • It’s an Orange Aardvark! by Michael Hall
  • Little Puppy and the Big Green Monster by Mike Wohnoutka
  • Water Can Be by Laura Purdie, Salas, illustrated by Violeta Dabija

Winner:

  • Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen

Congratulations to all Minnesota Book Award finalists and winners!

CALPURNIA TATE

Welcome to KidLit Gems, a coffee-style chat about favorite children’s books and the elements that make them shine.

This month’s theme: Planting Seeds

NameplateKristisGemITHE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE
Text © 2009, Jacqueline Kelly

CALPURNIACover460Middle
Grade

Historical Fiction

Age Range:
9-12 years

Grade Level:
4-7

Henry Holt and Company, LLC
Macmillan Publishers

AWARDS

2010 Newbery Honor Award

2010 Bank Street – Josette Frank Award

The IRA Children’s Book Award
North Carolina Young Adult Book Award
Virginia M. Law Award
Judy Lopez Book Award

We arose in the dark, hours before sunrise, when there was barely a smudge of indigo along the eastern sky and the rest of the horizon was still pure pitch. ~ The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

In The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate the beloved Callie Vee’s independent and curious nature takes the reader on an adventure into the lives of a spirited, small town Texas family. Kelly’s rich settings and attention to detail aptly fits the scientific investigations that 11-year old Callie and her cantankerous Granddaddy explore.  And like Darwinism, the strong survive! The question is, will Callie endure, or will she be like the green grasshoppers that get eaten before they fully mature? I found myself rooting for Callie to evolve beyond the southern ladylike conventions of “housewifery” so she could follow her intellectual inquisitiveness..
~ Kristi
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Great. I could see the newspaper: Girl Scientist Thwarted for all Time by Stupid Sewing Projects. Loss to Society Immeasurable. Entire Scientific Community in Mourning.  ~The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

The book cover reveals that its author, Jacqueline Kelly, is not only a Newbery-winning novelist; she’s also a practicing physician and lawyer. For Dr. Kelly, Esquire, I apologize, but this cosmically lopsided distribution of brilliance made me swear in my Yosemite Sam voice, “Oooooo. I hate that woman.”

Luckily, southern charm and dry humor won me over. Calpurnia made me laugh out loud when she compared unpleasant thoughts to “a bothersome, bad smelling dog demanding attention” and wondered why dogs have eyebrows. I’m convinced that Calpurnia earned her doctorate in the sciences–and maybe a law degree and a Newbery, too. By page 340, I vicariously celebrated the victories of Calpurnia and Jacqueline. You might say I evolved.
~ Anna
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CALPURNIABackCover

Watch for The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate. Expected publication date: July 7, 2015.

KEM Sapphire

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We want to hear from you!
What children’s books plant seeds of wisdom or wonder in you?

MAY’S THEME - KIDLIT GEMS FOR MOM

MAPLE

Welcome to KidLit Gems, a coffee-style chat about favorite children’s books and the elements that make them shine.

This month’s theme: Planting Seeds

NameplateAnnasGemIMAPLE
Text and Illustrations © 2014, Lori Nichols

MAPLE440Picture
Book

Fiction

Age Range:
3-5 years

Grade Level:
Preschool-Kindergarten

NANCY PAULSEN BOOKS

An imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group

and there was just enough room under the tree for Maple and her little sister . . . Willow. ~ Maple

Maple will charm anyone who loves Kevin Henkes’ Chrysanthemum. Lori Nichol’s début picture book also has the sweet promise of new life; the struggles and rewards of friendship, growth, and self-identity; and a curious female protagonist who loves her name. Nichols skillfully communicates innocence and calm through white and blue space, then embraces her characters and readers with translucent leaves. The pages, with their recurring themes will make you go back to revisit. Was a bird’s nest there before?

Growing up in a family of die-hard tree-lovers, I appreciate how Nichols created special bonds between her human characters and their deciduous namesakes. I’ll admit, I’m relieved my parents didn’t do the same, because my name would be Spruce. And evergreens are harder to hug.

If you enjoyed Maple, you’ll also love Sophie’s Squash written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf.
~ Anna
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When she was still a whisper, her parents planted a tiny tree in her honor! ~ Maple

Full disclosure here: Maple and Willow were both on my baby name list in case I had girls. But even without my inherent bias, this endearing story following a little tree-hugger through the seasons definitely holds its own. Sparse text and uncluttered illustrations work in harmony to parallel the growth of trees and families. Maple’s sometimes clumsy attempts to befriend her tree, and later her baby sister, are sweet but not sappy. Pun intended, fir sure!
~ Lou
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Maple Book Trailer by Lori Nichols

GEM Ruby

Watch for Kristi’s pick next!

We want to hear from you!
What children’s books plant seeds in you?