Tag Archives: picture book

ursa’s light + cookies from kellie at the kaleidoscope

UrsasLight-CVR-72Ursa’s Light (2016) by Deborah Marcero.


This picture book is out this month, coincidentally the same time of year the Ursa Major constellation is most visible in the night sky. And a bear who shines is another way of describing this main character. A gleaming debut all around!




URSAp2-3_72“There were all the bears. And then, there was Ursa.” Ursa is different. Just look at her lying in the green grass, rainbow sweater-adorned. She’s a dreamer. Even on the first spread, she’s already looking at the sky.


URSAp10-11_72Ursa goes big and thinks out of the box with every undertaking. When her focus turns skyward again, she decides she wants to fly! She applies all her other attributes—observing, making, trying—to the dream of flight.



There are many fantastic details in this book. Ursa’s little sibling who serves as sidekick, for example, whose shirt says what’s on big sister’s mind. Ursa’s own spirited outfits. And I love how her name reminds us of the bear constellations, how it brings us immediately to the clouds and stars above.

I also love the illustrations. Aren’t they delightfully engaging? The book alternates from dark spreads to light, spanning all the times of day in beautiful ways. And the texture of the dark bits, including the night sky and the bears own faces has a speckled quality that gets me thinking immediately of stars in the city.


URSAp18-19_72Ursa takes cues from pigeons, dandelion seeds, and bats, all fly-ers. But it’s only when she finds her own medium, her own opportunity, that she truly learns to soar in her own way.


URSAp24-25_72I’ll let you read the book to find out what that is! And as Deborah Marcero reminded me when we talked about this post, there’s always a “feeling of ‘flying’ when you do something that’s totally YOU and you do it well.” That’s it’s own kind of flying as well and sometimes, as in Ursa’s case, it takes some trial and error to get there. Which makes the feat that much sweeter.

I think you’ll want to read Deborah’s blog post about the process of creating the artwork in this book. She has a lot in common with Ursa herself!


Big thanks to Peter Pauper Press for images!



We are so lucky to have Kellie as crafter in the picture book kitchen today! She’s an artist and book lover I admire. You may already follow her on Instagram, but if not, I highly recommend her delightful feed: The Kaleidoscope. (She made some fantastic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland cookies too!)

Over to Kellie!



With four little boys, reading and snacking go hand in hand. Thanks to Danielle, I am excited to share a fun little project inspired by Ursa’s Light.

Ursa is a unique little bear. I didn’t think my regular bear face cutter would do her justice, so I sketeched a little picture of her onto a heavy card stock paper. After cutting her out, I used this recipe for the cookie dough.

glo-star-cookiesWhile the dough was setting in the fridge, I decided to make salt dough stars. I used this recipe and a small star cookie cutter. I used a paper straw to make holes in the dough for stringing after.  By the time I had finished baking the stars, my cookie dough was ready to roll out.

Once you have rolled out your cookie dough, I used a butter knife to cut along the paper shape.

For painting the cookies, I used icing sugar, a splash of milk and the most important part is cream of tarter, which helps it set. I used a paintbrush, just small plastic brushes you can get at any dollar store. The most important part of painting your cookies is waiting for the icing to dry before you add on details. I started with my base coat, in this case it was black and red. Once the icing has set, you can add the eyes, and pink for the ears and nose.


After the stars had cooled, and while I waited for my icing to set, I painted the dried stars with some glow in the dark paint and strung them together with some bakers twine.

We hung them above the bed, and it’s the perfect inspiration for reading and dreaming about how we can dream big like Ursa.

About Kellie:

In University, she studied children’s literature, minored in child development, and went on to complete her fine arts degree. She is fond of picture books and painting. She’s always sharing her love of books in her community and through the online community (where we were lucky enough to meet!).


Thank you, Kellie for these Ursa cookies! I’m in heaven gazing at them! 



viva-frida-kahlo-dollYou may want to check out Kellie’s Frida Kahlo peg doll from last year’s Viva Frida post too!















normal norman + tissue paper collage craft from homemade city

Normal Norman - coverNormal Norman by Tara Lazar, illustrations by S. Britt (2016—out today!).


This is a book about trying to define “normal” by way of science—measurements and observations and interview. And I don’t think I’m giving anything away to say that, well, normal is not so easy to pin down. In fact, there may be no such thing as normal at all.



Allow me to introduce - full spread ( w words)

(click image(s) to enlarge)

The narrator, lab coat on and clip board in hand, proceeds to examine Norman, an orangutan. What I love is that the reader can already tell Norman isn’t normal. I mean, he’s purple and, I adore this detail—he’s wearing glasses. It’s like the reader already knows where this is going and we get to watch as the narrator figures it out.

Norman doesn’t like bananas (he likes pizza). Not normal. He doesn’t make animal noises (he speaks English). Not normal. He doesn’t live in the jungle or sleep in a pile of leaves (he sleeps in a bunk bed). Could that be normal?

Dune Buggy spread
The more we find out about Norman, the more he surprises us. And so do his animal friends. And this is when S. Britt’s illustrations start to remind me of Jolly Roger Bradfield‘s wonderful, imaginative books from the 60s! Those spreads match Norman—they’re colorful and offbeat, full of pizazz and unpredictability. A tiger on a motorcycle, a rhino painting a portrait.

The narrator herself abandons her project and makes music and dances and has a rambunctious time with the others.

One last thing I love is how the narrator’s science teacher stands by in many scenes. He appears at first to be the arbiter of the narrator’s performance while her project falls apart. But in the end, it’s as though he’s orchestrated this whole thing. He wasn’t looking for a definition of normal—he was looking for her to illustrate its elusiveness. Its absurdity as a notion at all.

There is no normal. Just look at Norman!


Thanks to Sterling Children’s Books for images!

Reprinted with permission from Normal Norman © 2016 by Tara Lazar, Sterling Children’s Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Illustrations © 2016 by Stephan Britt.



I’m so pleased to host  Margaret Muirhead of Homemade City as craft-maker extraordinaire!

Margaret loves both picture books and crafts, so mixing the two together sends her over the moon. She is the author of Mabel, One and Only (Dial Books for Young Readers) and a devoted maker of wacky, colorful crafts at Homemade City. By day, you can find her wearing cat glasses and cardigans as the children’s librarian at Hardy Elementary School in Arlington, Mass.

Over to her!


Norman is my kind of guy. A dune-buggy-driving, jet-pack-flying, tiara-toting, out-of-the-box orangutan dude.

Norman’s multi-hued self is decidedly not orangutan normal, but it is fun-loving, just like the big guy. And tissue paper collage seemed the best way to capture Norman’s coat of many colors. Tissue paper collage is also great because it’s very forgiving in less experienced kid hands–you can smudge, rip, and layer exuberantly, and still the results are delicious.


What you need:

Tissue paper in fun colors

Mod Podge

Paint brush

White card stock

Stick-on googly eyes

Paper fasteners

Popsicle sticks

tissue-paper-kids-craftTrim the tissue paper into 1″ squares. (We sorted our tissue squares for easy use: purples, blues, and greens in one bowl, yellows and oranges in another.)

Next trace Norman’s orangutan bulk, his adorable eggplant-shape head, and his two longish arms onto card stock. (If that step seems onerous, we traced some basic shapes for you here.)


Brush a layer of Mod Podge onto a small area of your shape and cover with tissue squares. Make sure to overlap squares to create new hues. Seal the squares by brushing another layer of Mod Podge over the top of them. Continue in small areas until you’ve covered the shape.


Give your collage time to dry. Once dried, cut along the outlines of each shape. Adhere the face with glue or Mod Podge and attach the arms with paper fasteners (to give them a little orangutan swing).

Now for the best part: accessorize!

Add goggly eyes, brown specs, a teeny tiara and tutu, or even a dual-rocket jet pack (Norman’s preferred not-normal way to get around). Attach a popsicle stick to the back of your creation to make a puppet. Do not forget to make some friends for Norman: a magenta clarinet-playing hippo, a rollerskating giraffe, a top-hatted snake!



Big thanks to Margaret for contributing this incredible, colorful craft! You can see more photos of tissue-papered Norman and other wonderful stuff over at Homemade City.


Come find me on twitter for a giveaway of the book! (@writesinla)

Check out the other blogs Normal Norman is visiting this month too:

NN Tour Schedule - Sized for Twitter




please, mr. panda + tea icing donuts from thirsty for tea!

22323647Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony (2014).

The premise is simple and the words are few. The characters are all black and white animals and the only color in the palette is from that bright, poppy box of doughnuts.



This is a manners book, but done funny with a dose of edge. Come see!




Just look at Mr. Panda! His gloomy eyes. The slight smudge of his shape. His “Doughnuts” cap! He looks like an apprehensive offerer. It’s like he already knows what’s going to happen.


Screen+Shot+2015-05-07+at+12.25.19And what happens is every animal he approaches doesn’t say please. They’re kind of an entitled (to doughnuts) bunch. And that’s the pattern of the book, with slight variation. Mr. Panda asks an animal if they’d like a doughnut and they respond with “I want the blue one and the yellow one” or “No, go away” or “I want them all! Then bring me some more.” No doughnuts for those guys.




Then, brilliantly, a new animal shows up. A lemur, who turns the pattern and even the orientation of the illustrations upside down! A lemur who says please and thank you and gets all the doughnuts. That last spread with the polite lemur in the box of doughnuts, bright pastry rings on his tail tells us that if you’re a nice lemur, you get doughnuts. Which is a pretty good deal.



One exuberant treat and one straight-faced panda. And the need for PLEASE.


Please Mr. Panda images from Steve Antony’s website.  




My talented friend Bonnie at Thirsty for Tea is a seriously creative cook and tea connoisseur in addition to being one of my favorite people. Her blog recipes are always gorgeous and full of fun!

For our Please Mr. Panda collaboration, she made a box of donuts, just like Mr. Panda’s! To a tea!

Please, Mr. Panda 1

No artificial colorings found in these poppy pastries. Bonnie whipped up icing that’s colored and flavored using pea flower, hibiscus, matcha, Earl Gray, and rooibos tea! (I told you she was amazing.)

Please, Mr. Panda 11

These are also on the healthier side—baked not fried and with a couple ingredients like coconut oil and flax seeds. But mostly, they’re fun and delicious and would make most creatures say, yes, PLEASE!

Please, Mr. Panda 9

Please, Mr. Panda 7

Please, Mr. Panda 12


For the recipe, more photos, and Bonnie’s take on the book, visit her blog!


applecake_juliepatchkisYou may be interested in my first collaboration with Bonnie too. Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love + Apple Cake Recipe by Thirsty for Tea.


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.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 2.40.55 PM


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.)


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!

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 9.24.53 AM

Ice cream sandwich pool float!



The classic swan.




Inflatable ice cream cones.



The super popular donut float.


Yep. Dots pool float.