Tag Archives: kidlit

a pair of picture books about ideas and the creative process (+ giveaway!)




These two picture books are both about having an idea and where to go from there, one bold and one reflective. They show the amazing possibility that follows from nurturing your creative process. Come see!



Her Idea by Rilla (2015).

Sozi is a girl with lots and lots of ideas. (Her ideas look like tadpoles, but stretched long and with arms and legs.)

9781909263406.02(click image(s) to enlarge)


“The newest idea was always the best.

She loved every one of them more than the rest.”


The thing is, Sozi doesn’t do anything with her ideas. She lets them go until she doesn’t have any more. Because, as we know, they don’t last or stick if we don’t spend time with them.



But Sozi has a helper, a book just like the cover of Her Idea! Together, they capture the perfect idea. The only problem then is figuring out the illusive end.



That’s when things get pretty meta. Because we know this is Sozi’s story right? So Sozi is a character in her own book. The one we’re holding. They one we’ve just read. Which underscores the notion that if you nurture an idea, it will capture YOU!



(The brilliant book jacket!)


Thanks to Flying Eye Books for images!


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What Do You Do With an Idea? written by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom (2013).

This book really gets to me. It truly is for anyone who’s ever had an idea and wondered what to do with it, regardless of age. Anyone who’s doubted whether or not to do anything with it at all.


In the illustrations, there’s a child whose idea is embodied in a gold-crowned egg with legs. Yup. It’s perfect.


Told from the first person, we hear what it’s like to be unsure, frightened, and to walk away from an idea. To disown it.

But ideas can be persistent, as this egg is. And as the narrator begins to accept and spend time with the idea, it grows. In fact, through the seasons, the whole world changes because of this idea—from black and white to leaves of green to magically, vibrantly colorful.


That’s how transformative ideas can be, when we give to them. They can change everything!


Thanks to Compendium for images!


And now, a truly special giveaway that will spark a child’s (or your) own creative process! Compendium is generously giving away one prize package: the picture book, What Do You Do With An Idea?, a matching journal for recording ideas, and an idea plush toy! So inspiring! And that adorable egg!





a Rafflecopter giveaway

the-most-magnificent-thingYou might also be interested in a previous post: 15 Lessons on Creativity from Picture Books!









sardines of love + atelier caroline’s sardine (+ giveaway!)

sardines-of-loveSardines of Love by Zuriñe Aguirre (2015).



This sardine picture book charmed me! Come see!





Title page cropped


One Upon A Time

It stars Grandfather Lolo who loves sardines. (Hence, that tattoo.)






And Gradmother Lola who sells sardines in her fish shop, but hates to eat them. Still, she cooks them for Lolo anyway. (Hence, that tattoo.)


And let me just stop and point out the sweet names Lolo and Lola!


When Lola runs out of sardines in her shop one day, she decides to go fishing. She doesn’t want to disappoint dear Lolo at dinner time! But something tugs and swallows her whole! (Jeff the octopus.) This is the real action of the story, the drama.

Lola gets hungry in the belly of that giant octopus. And guess what she finds? Sardines! Let’s just say she acquires a taste for them and becomes quite the creative sardine chef!


Meanwhile, Lolo’s sadness accumulates in many, many tears. And these two lovebirds are reunited in a place full of love and sardines! Isn’t it wild and sweet?





Sidetone: June means the Festas de Lisboa in Lisbon, Portugal? During the festival, people eat lots of sardines!!


Big thanks to Child’s Play for images!





sardine sur assiette


Do you see the difference between that cover photo and the one at the start of the post? That’s right! Atelier Caroline has created her very own fabric sardine (complete with heart-shaped tail fin!)! I heard about Caroline’s wonderful, whimsical work when she made a This is Sadie doll for Sara O’Leary. And so when I read Sardines of Love, I just had to ask her to create a sardine. And she did!


sardines à plat 136


sardines à plat 135


From Caroline:
“I learned to sew when I was 5, in a house with a never ending fabric stash, an industrial sewing machine and without a pattern in sight. From then on, my Barbies had the most ‘original’ and abundant wardrobe on the block. As a teen, I used my skills for myself. I still remember my MC Hammer inspired harem pants and the very red and shinny vinyl mini skirt. After a sewing hiatus of several years, trying to figure out which ‘real’ job would suit me, exploring other techniques and living life as a mom of 2 boys to the fullest, I finally returned to my soulmate craft.

sardine in studio 138

My ‘stuffies expertise’ was developed volunteering at my son’s primary school, sewing book character figurines. I love the challenge of figuring out how to render all the little details in 3D. I’m lucky to have found authors who trust me enough to hire me to bring life to their creations.

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You’ll want to check out her etsy shop, Atelier Caroline, home to her dolls and other creations! You can follow her on Instagram as well. 


Here’s the best news yet. We’re giving away a copy of the book, Sardines of Love AND Atelier Caroline’s sardine stuffie! Leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered for a chance to win both!

(N. America only; giveaway ends Friday, June 26 at midnight.)


THE AMAZING HAMWEENIE ESCAPES + 5 other funny picture books

18378060The Amazing Hamweenie Escapes! by Patty Bowman (2015).


Hamweenie the cat, owner of a top hat and delusions of grandeur returns in this hilarious picture book.




That first spread totally cracks me up and tell us everything we need to know about Hamweenie, our narrator. He is not your average cat. He is hyperbolic. He has more of a curly mustache than whiskers and dresses quite dapper.




Hamweenie believes if it weren’t for being held prisoner in the child’s apartment, his life would be grand and spotlighted and full of accolades.

So he makes a break for it, out to the streets of the city. His dream finally comes true.


He heads for the circus where he’s sure to be a hit, at least in his own mind.




The humor comes not just from Hamweenie’s larger than mice personality, but from the way his narration contrasts the illustrations. Where we see subway riders totally uninterested in Hamweenie or a bear in a tutu trying to attack him, he sees adoring fans. His grandiose perception is what makes him so fun to watch.


And Bowman’s illustrations are fantastic, full of so many details, from what lines the shelves of the laundry room to a woman with a candy cane held like a cigarette. And that pink sky is gorgeous. Yes, pops of pink everywhere in this book.



I think you’ll want to visit her website, where you can see more of her work and even print out a mythological creature/snack food fortune teller.


Thanks to Patty Bowman for images!




(With big thanks to Dashka Tolstikova for recommending this gem!)











Your turn! Favorite picture books that make you (or kids you know) chuckle?



pool by jihyeon lee + pool floats

pool-picture-bookPool by JiHyeon Lee (2015).

This picture book! That arresting cover delivers on its promises. Beauty, whimsy, stillness, imagination. A blue, blue pool.

There are no words and Lee doesn’t need them to tell her story. Come see!










A boy. An empty pool. You know that feeling, right? It’s all to yourself. The possibility. The play. And then. The crowd. The pool floats. The shouting, running mass. The pool is completely full.



(click image(s) to enlarge)


Not the underneath though. The goggled boy dives underneath those kicking, floating feet. And there’s another goggled girl deep down in the pool.



They swim in a new world only they know is there full of the most strangely shaped fish— tubes and blobs and even a beautiful white-haired whale with an underbite.



These two swimmers share something special. They’ll remove their goggles and shake out their hair and be different than when they first dove in.



Big thanks to Chronicle Books for images! 




Pool floats in honor of Pool!

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Ice cream sandwich pool float!



The classic swan.




Inflatable ice cream cones.



The super popular donut float.


Yep. Dots pool float.


3 picture books: Kyo Maclear

I’m starting a new series here on This Picture Book Life and am super excited about it! It’s called “3 Picture Books” and in each installment, we’ll hear from a picture book creator about three books that influenced her, whether as a child reader or grownup creator. I’m thrilled that Kyo Maclear is here to kick things off!


Kyo Maclear (photo by nancy friedland)

Kyo Maclear is the author of several picture books (Julia, Child; Virginia Wolf), including the forthcoming The Specific Ocean and The Good Little Book. She lives in Toronto.









 1. Fortunately by Remy Charlip


I read this book as a child and happily rediscovered it as a grown-up. A masterwork of sequence and full of unexpected plot twists, this strange story has taught me as much about the art of living as it has about the art of picture book writing. Soaring, falling, floating, crashing: our protagonist remains eternally nimble and equanimous, never too fixated on life’s fortunes or misfortunes. Turn the page and everything changes.









8210032. When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne

When I was six and visiting family in England, my Grandpa Hugh gave this book to me and it has remained on my bookshelf ever since. Milne’s use of repetition and beat make it a perfect read aloud. Also perfect: Milne’s blend of melodrama and humor that manages to both respect and send-up childhood fears. When I was little I often felt an acute sense of responsibility for the wayward adults around me so I particularly loved James James Morrison Morrison who was all finger-wagging, laying down the law, and searching for control in an uncontrollable universe.








95144 3. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

My favorite teacher in elementary school was obsessed with two albums: Blondie’s Parallel Lines and Carole King’s Really Rosie. The latter (which ranks up there with Lead Belly Sings for Children as one of the best children’s albums of all time) inducted me into the delirious world of Sendak. In the Night Kitchen cemented my love. Be weird, be naked, and don’t be afraid to fall headlong into your ‘irrational’ dreams—all good things, I think, for any picture book writer to remember.







Julia-Child-2You may also be interested in my post on Kyo Maclear’s recent picture book, Julia, Child, illustrated by Julie Morstad. It includes a chocolate almond cupcake recipe from Coco Cake Land!