Cult Classics for Petites

kinderguides-coversWe all have those favorite books, the ones that we keep on our shelves long after we finish the last page.  Those books that we hold dear, books that cause us to ponder something greater than ourselves.  As an English major I am thrilled for the day when I can share my absolute favorites with my petites, but that will be years from now…or will it?

Recently KinderGuides by Melissa Medina and Fredrik Colting (Moppet Books, 2016) came onto the kid lit scene and has adapted cult classics into petite sized reads of some of the most popular, commonly sought out, revered books around.

It’s not about growing up quickly, but rather about sowing that seed of appreciation for classic literature at an early age” Frederik Colting

Let’s spend a moment talking about the current trend of creating books that are classics, but in a package that is suitable for petites.  There are many books out there that re-envision the classics.  Some of our absolute favorites are BabyLit’s board books that use the classics as a conduit to teach petites about first skills, they are quite literally perfect primers.  What KinderGuides is doing is for slightly older petites, more in the age range of roughly 6-12 year olds.  These books are learning guides, that take classic stories and make them suitable for petites to digest and start to talk about.  Not to mention, KinderGuides is perfect for bibliophile parents – it is really fun to have an introduction into beloved classics minus the sex, drugs and violence.

The first four books that have been published and are currently in stores now are: The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway, On The Road by Jack Kerouac, 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote.  Other titles that are currently in the works are: The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

“The goal of all of this is to get them really psyched about these books now, so that they’ll want to read the originals later,” Ms. Medina said.

New York Times Interview, 2016

On The Road by Jack Kerouac is one of the most iconic authors of the Beat Generation his book On the Road is a cult classic for sure.  In this KinderGuides book you will read a short bio about Kerouac then hope right into a summarized version of On the Road.  In this summary you will get a general idea of On the Road and the adventures that Sal and Dean have together along with some of the characters that they meet along the way.  During reading  there were a couple of times where my petite asked questions about the ambiguity of the summary.  This story reads more like a bulleted summary at places and doesn’t flow when read aloud like you might expect.  However, I do believe that readers who love On the Road will love sharing this book with their petites.


The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway is one of my absolute favorite stories of all time.  Let’s first discuss the illustrations, they are stunningly vibrant, engaging and seem to capture the tone of the novel.  The summary for this book is spot on and gives you a real sense of what happened in the book.  I actually think that this might be a perfect addition to a classroom for a language learner so that they could use this guide to gain a more complete understanding of the original text.


I love that through the reading of this book my petite was engaged and wanting to know more about what would happen to Santiago once he caught the fish and what it must have felt like to pull his boat ashore with a pretty much eaten carcass.  I believe that these conversations are the root of what Ms. Medina and Mr. Colting were aiming for when they created KinderGuides.


Here is a link to the New York Times piece about KinderGuides.

Bloggers Note: I was given the books mentioned in this post for an honest review.  The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.  Thank you to KinderGuides for use of images from The Old Man and The Sea.

Illuminature – So unique…so special

Illuminature by Carnovksy and Rachel Williams (Wide Eyed Press, 2016) is by far one of the most unique books we’ve laid our eyes on in quite some time.  This will have you and your petites spending hours pouring over the images and discovering new animals in their natural habitats.


This book covers:

  • The Congo Rain Forest
  • The Simpson Desert
  • Lock Lomond
  • The Andes Mountains
  • Weddell and Ross Seas
  • The Redwood Forest
  • East Siberian Taiga
  • The Serengeti Plains
  • The Ganges River Basin
  • The Apo Reef
  • East Siberian Taiga

Within each habitat you will learn about the destination, which continents, number of species and the size of the habitat.


Page Without Viewing Lens


Daytime Animals




Nighttime and Twilight Animals

Once you have chosen your first destination you will learn all about what that particular part of the world has to show you, then you will go to the observation deck where you can use the special view finder to search out the flora and fauna.  Your petites will also enjoy checking out the species guide to learn more.

How this amazing book comes to life, is this magic viewing lens.  With the red lens you will see creatures that are out during the daytime – diurnal animals.  With the green lens the plants will come to life.  With the blue lens you will be able to view the nocturnal animals.

petite-stag-favoriteThis book is so much fun, I cannot express to you how fabulous and unique this book is.  I promise your petites will absolutely love spending time looking at this book.  It is beyond gorgeous and so much fun.  The only downside is deciding who will get to hold the magic view finder first.

Let me know what your petites think of this, I can’t wait to hear how much they love it.

Bloggers Note: I received this book for free from Wide Eyed Press for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.  Also thank you to Wide Eyed Press for use of the images in this post.

Let me introduce you to Warren the 13th


Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye written by Tania Del Rio and Illustrated by Will Staehle (Quirk Books, 2015) is a perfectly mystifying middle grade read.  This book is about Warren who is the bell hop, valet, grounds-keeper and basically does everything around the ancient hotel kind of guy.  This isn’t your average hotel either, it is filled with spooky corridors and mysterious clues that Warren needs to sort out before his horrible Aunt Anaconda.


What your kids will love is the clues that need to be solved throughout this story, the secret codes, the puzzles, ghosts, mysterious guests covered in bandages – this is the perfect introduction into mysteries.  What makes this book so special is the two color illustrations featured on every page, oversized hard cover format, two column format that gives this book an old timey feel and of course Warren – who is quite the sleuth.  Here is a link for the book trailer:


What is even more fun is that the lovely folks over at Quirk books sent me a book and some tattoos for one special reader!  The giveaway ends on Friday the 13th at Midnight, be sure to enter for a chance to win this fantastic middle grade read.

friday-the-13th-imageHow to enter, comment on who you would like to share this fabulous book with in the comments here on the blog, our Facebook page or on our Instagram page.  My petites will chose one lucky winner at Midnight.

Also, be sure to check out this awesome Activity Packet Free Download, here from our friends at Quirk books.

Bloggers Note: I was given this book for free from Quirk Books for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Thank You!

2016 was a busy year for us here at The Petite Stag, we read hundreds, okay more like thousands of books.  We fell hard for Mo Willems, like really hard, my 7 year old has a deep love for Elephant and Piggie and has read all 25 books multiple times.  So when Mr. Willems came to Elliott Bay Book Co. in Seattle a few months ago it was clear that we needed to go and meet the genius behind this series that has delighted petites, mine in particular, for years.

Mo Willems in hilarious.  His books are proof that his writing is funny and endearing, but his demeanor and presence had the entire audience in stitches.  We had the best time listening to him read The Thank You Book and we even got a preview of Nanette’s Baguette, made even more special by the animated reading that Mo enthusiastically did for us.

We wanted to say thank you to all of you, those of you who started out with us in January of 2014, when I still wasn’t sure exactly what this blogs direction would be, to those of you who have joined us along the way.  Thank you!  Since this blog is still growing, your following, sharing, likes and comments really do mean so much.

So we wanted to say thank you by doing a very special giveaway!!  When we went to see Mo Willems, we were sure to get our copies of The Thank You Book signed, but we also got one signed just for one of you!

Here is how you enter  The Thank You Book Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Enter & Rules

  1. Follow us on Facebook at The Petite Stag
  2. Follow us on Instagram at The Petite Stag
  3. Share the giveaway with your bookish friends, tag them in the post or share to your feeds.
  4. Be sure to click on the link above for the Rafflecoper link, so that your entries can be counted.

This giveaway is open to US Residents only.  One winner will be chosen on Sunday, January 8th at midnight to receive an autographed copy of Mo Willems’ The Thank you Book.



Family Traditions and Love – Rice and Rocks


Rice and Rocks by Sandra L. Richards with illustrations by Megan Kayleigh Sullivan (Wise Ink Creative Publishing, 2016) is a story filled with so many lovely messages for petites about family, traditions, friendship and oh so much more.

In this story you will meet Giovanni, a little boy who loves to play his trumpet, read Godzilla comic books and hang out with his Congo African grey parrot, Jasper.  Giovanni has invited his three best friends over for dinner at his house, when he realizes it is Sunday and his grandmother will be making her traditional Sunday dinner he is a little bit worried.  He really wants to change the tradition for the day to be able to make a meal that he thinks his friends might like more.
With the help of his auntie Giovanni begins to see that traditions are all around us, that every family has certain traditions and some of them are even similar.  His auntie employs a little bit of magic and turns Jasper into a very large parrot and they all fly off together to get a better understanding of the traditions his friends families might share.  Giovanni’ three friends who are coming over all have their own special traditions too, what is so important is the understanding that even though we are all different we share in the same love of our families and the traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Through gorgeously illustrated peaks into the Japanese, Puerto Rican, and New Orleanian cultures we see that the tradition of service rice and beans is something all four friends share together.  Richards provided interesting bits of information about these different traditional foods coupled with Megan Kayleigh Sullivan’s illustrations you will be completely and utterly delighted.
This story ends just as it should, with Giovanni having a new-found appreciation and pride in the traditional Rice and Rocks that his grandma makes.  The best part, his friends love this amazing dish!
This is the first picture book from Sandra L. Richards and it’s just wonderful.  It is so poignant and speaks to so many families.  There is so much to discuss and to learn about in this book.  Rice & Rocks, I believe, will start important conversations with petites and their families about traditions and why they are so important.  If traditions aren’t currently in place, I have a feeling that this book will make petites want to start having traditional meals together as a family.
This book is fabulous, the illustrations are gorgeous and perfectly capture the love that is a family.  This book should be in every single library and classroom.  Being proud of where we all come from, what we believe in and the traditions that make our family special and unique are so important and this book does a marvelous job of explaining that in a way petites will be able to relate.
This book is geared for petites around 4-10 years old.  Although the illustrations are so eye-catching that they hold the interest of even younger petites.
Bloggers Note: A huge thank you to Sandra L. Richards and Megan Kayleigh Sullivan for use of the images in this post and for a copy of this book; all thoughts and opinion expressed are my own.

Petite Builders, here is a book for you.


Sam and the Construction Site by Tjibbe Veldkap & Alice Hoogstad (Lemniscaat, 2015) is a silly story about a little boy Sam who loves to watch the construction site in his neighborhood.  Like most petites he loves watching what is happening on the site and watching the big machines and what they can do.  He imagines what it might be like to drive all those big machines.

One day he is tasked with watching the site and making sure nothing bad happens during the workers lunch.  While he is watching two bigger kids come and dare him to enter the construction site.  They bully him for a bit until he enters the site, this is when the chaos ensues.  Sam gets into all sorts of trouble, and as you’re reading you’re thinking oh my goodness, Sam!  However, there is a surprise in store for you dear reader.  Sam is not mischievous as you might expect, in fact Sam is saving the day with his keen sense of how the machines work.

What we love about this book are the fun illustrations.  We also love how this book is over-sized, making it the perfect book to lay on the ground and read together.  You’re going to love all the details of the construction site.

This book would be perfect for petites who love to watch construction sites and observe how the big machines work.

Bloggers Note: A huge thank you to Lemniscaat for this amazing book, the review and opinions expressed are my own.



The Journey

I have taught for many years as an English as an Additional Language teacher.  I taught students from kindergarten to high school.  In working with so many children over almost ten years I was able to meet so many lovely families, who emigrated to the United States.  In many instances, it was my complete honor and privilege to know these students and their families.  I have heard so many stories about their journey’s, no two ever the same.  Some refugees, children of diplomats, university sabaticle and exchanges, some legal, some not so legal avenues, but all on a quest for a better life for their families.  The sacrifices, the hope and endurance all for the hope of something better.  The same reason my great-grandparents emigrated to the United States roughly 100 years ago.

The Journey.jpg

In The Journey by Francesca Sanna (Flying Eye Books, 2016) you will find a compelling story told from the perspective of a young child, who much like most children spends the summer by the water…until the war comes to her city.  Like many of my students who were impacted by war our narrator looses her father.  From there, the journey begins.

This is a beautiful story that needs to be shared in every single household.  This is the type of book that makes a difference.  Reading this book even one time, can create a sense of empathy for this young girl and her family, create an understanding of what it truly means to leave everything…for the hope of something better.  This little girls family had an incredibly long and arduous journey.  This book is an honest look at the migrant crisis we see daily in the news.  This story discusses some very relevant topics, but in a way that help to build empathy, compassion and understanding.  This story also ends on a high note, with our narrator and her mother and brother – safe and filled with hope.

Here is a link for discussion questions from Walker Books that you may find helpful in discussing this book with students.

10 Steps to Raising Petite Readers


When I sat in my many English classes throughout college, I thought deeply about books.  After moving I realized my obsession had gained a lot of weight (quite literally, I had probably 20+ boxes of books that I’ve moved across country twice and tenderly unpacked like Christmas morning).  These books are old friends, badges of courage (Moby Dick, YES!  I actually read it and sometimes even liked it).  Some of the books are ones that I would never part with: Harry Potter, Jane Austen – yep, all of them, sometimes multiple copies of the same title, and I would be sadly non-inclusive if I did not mention all of the books that I have taught and carefully highlighted and covered in post-its like the Crucible or Night.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 3.43.00 PMSo seven years ago when my husband and I were expecting our first petite, it was clear that the first thing we needed to get our hands on for her nursery was a crib bookcase.  Most likely
two to house all of the books that
we had already purchased.  We were the expectant parents that read to the burgeoning belly faithfully everyday.  We discussed what it would be like to teach our daughter to read and how we could all share in the joys that reading would most certainly bring to our petite family.

After our daughter was born I transitioned from teaching at the secondary level to elementary school.  It was the perfect fit for me, I loved working with the little kids and watching them learn to read and grow as readers.  I also had some of my most memorable teaching moments working with struggling readers in the 4th and 5th grade and helping them find confidence in their reading through the vivid words of Roald Dahl.   So as you can see I have spent a lot of time helping others to find their passions for reading, so it seemed only natural that would be the case with my daughters as well.Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 3.53.43 PM

I have often been asked by friends and family, how I get my youngest to be so careful with books – or how we can hve a sustained silent reading time as a family on a Sunday afternoon for around 45 minutes.  These have all been put into place over time.  So I wanted to share with you how exactly we have grown our petites into the readers that they are now at seven and three years old.

1. Bedtime Stories.

We read every single night before bedtime.  Sometimes it is while the kids are in the bath when we are crunched for time, other times it is a snuggle party and we read for longer than the 20 minutes that is recommended.  This is usually one of the most relaxing points of the day and my husband and I take turns reading to the kids and now our oldest joins in and reads to us as well.  Which is amazing.

2. Provide Constant Access to Books.

As I was thinking about putting this post together I walked through our house and counted the room and noted which rooms did not have books in them.  Out of the 13 rooms in our house (I’m including the garage, coat closet and laundry room that I use as an office) we have books in 10 rooms.  We also keep a bin of books in our cars for when we are driving.

3. Go to the library.

I have found that raising readers takes little money, especially if you can remember to return your books on time (which I never do, but that’s a different topic).  We make a big deal about going to the library, we talk about what we want to look for and have special library bags.  We place a lot of importance on what libraries in our community can do to help us learn and grow.

4. Let Your Kids Choose Their Books

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-4-51-52-pmIt has been show that children who choose their own books and have interest in the topic can read at a higher level than if they are not interested.  When this happens petites are able to build their reading confidence and grow into life long readers.  Remember that even if the books they chose are not award winners, you know which books I am talking about, filled with characters found in their favorite TV shows, still rejoice in the fact that they are choosing books and are interested in reading.



5. Spend a lot of Time Talking About Books and Our Reading Habits.

My husband and I are avid readers.  At any given time I am reading 3-5 books (mainly because I can never just read one book at a time, sometimes I read books based on my moods, so you need a few options, right?)  My husband devours books at an alarmingly quick rate; and can remember even the smallest of details years later.  We spend a lot of time talking to the girls about what they have read, what they liked or didn’t prefer about the books.

6. Read Many Different Genres.

We tout the importance of all of them.  We read comics, non-fiction, fiction, historical fiction, maps, magazines, newspapers and of course an immense amount of picture books.  All reading is beneficial, find what your petites love and get books all about it.  If they love comic books, go for it!  When they are learning to read always provide what they like even it is twaddle.

7. Get Excited About Books and Reading.

We make a big deal out of getting new books, whether the kids earn money for doing chores and choose to buy books or get special books as gifts for holidays and birthdays.  We also get excited about books themselves, how they smell, how they sound when you crack one open, how very old ones need special care and handling, how important the stories are and why it is important we read stories and continue to learn.

8. Follow Your Petites Interests.

It is so important to always follow interests, even if they are fast and fleeting.  That is why the library is so perfect, you really don’t have to commit or even spend a penny.  You get to have thousands of books at your fingertips so when your three year old declares opossums are her favorite animal and the next week she is all about airplanes and maps you’re good to go.

9. Model What Readers Do.

This can sometimes be really hard, my husband and I do a lot of reading at night when the kids are asleep.  But modeling what readers do is so important, we read inside and outside, in the car, we take books with us everywhere we go.

10. Reading Should Never Be a  Punishment.

When your kids are old enough to start reading you may have the child that refuses to read on their own and puts off school assignments, punishing little ones with reading is never a good idea.  On the flip side of that, if you little one is sneaking in reading time when they are supposed to be doing something else like chores or sleeping try to avoid “taking reading time away”.  As a teacher I have seen kids sitting in class with a book not so discretely hidden in their lap, while they are supposed to be paying attention

This is what we do in our house.  This weekend, we were all able to sit down and read for 45 minutes, it was amazing.  My husband and I started reading and the kids slowly trickled in from playing outside, our three year old walked over to the overflowing library book bin and grabbed a book and snuggled up and started “reading”.  Our oldest came a little later and made a gigantic pile of books and read with us.  This is something we have worked towards doing, we’ve built in that capacity to sit still, to be engaged quietly.  Of course, it doesn’t always work like that, but we strive to capture those little moments when we look at each other and silently smile knowing that we nailed it.

Petite Patriots: Part Six

Eek today is the day!

Election Day! 

For our sixth installment of Petite Patriots, I have three books for your story-time enjoyment.  These three books are all about voting, specifically, suffragettes and Women’s Right to Vote!

Suffragette's .jpg

Created Equal: Women Campaign for the Right to Vote 1840-1920 by Ann Rossi (National Geographic Society, 2005) which is a fabulous look at what it took to gain the women’s vote.  This book is very informative and would be a perfect addition to the classroom to learn more about suffragettes and the incredible women who worked so tirelessly to gain the right to vote.  This book has amazing photos as well as historical documents, like you would expect from a National Geographic book.  What you will find in this book is 40 pages filled with everything you need to know from what was happening in the US in 1840 all the way to reaching the vote and passing the 19th amendment.  This book is geared for ages 10 and up.

Heart on Fire: Susan B. Anthony Votes for President by Ann Malaspina and illustrated by Steve James (Albert Whitman & Co., 2012) this is the story of Susan B. Anthony, who was an incredibly strong and determined woman.  If you’ve been seeing all of the posts on social media of people paying tribute to Susan B. Anthony’s grave with voting stickers you might consider adding this book to your petites shelf.  It is well written, in such a way that even young petites will be able to understand just what it took for women to get the right to vote.  Susan B. Anthony is a true hero and inspiration.  We love courageous women, just like Susan B. Anthony.  This book is perfect for first – fourth grade.

Miss Paul and the President: the Creative Campaign for Women’s Right to Vote by Dean Robbins and illustrated by Nancy Zhang (Alfred A. Knopf, 2016), is the absolutely fantastic story of Alice Paul, a suffragette, who never backed down from the cause that she believed in.  This story tells about how she created a parade that overshadowed the arrival of President Woodrow Wilson in Washington DC, her organizing protesters and even her bold meeting with President Woodrow Wilson.  It was during this meeting where she demanded the right to vote.  You have to love a woman with gumption.  Let’s also take a moment to discuss the illustrations from Nancy Zhang, they are gorgeous, they perfectly capture the mood and feelings of the movement.  This book is perfect for petites to learn about suffragettes, it is geared for preschool – third grade.

Check out the posts below for previous Petite Patriots:

Cinderstella: A Tale of Planets Not Princes

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Cinderstella: A Tale of Planets Not Princes by Brenda S. Miles and Susan D. Sweet with illustrations by Valeria Docampo (Magination Press, 2016) is an updated take on a classic.  Currently, we are seeing a huge shift in picture books that promote strong female protagonists who don’t need a prince or anyone else to come and save them.  We have strong willed girls who are perfectly capable of determining their own destiny and that is what we have in Cinderstella.


This story follows the same premise of a young girl, Cinderstella who lives with her step-mother and two step-sisters.  She is forced to take care of all of their needs and then when there is time her own.  Cinderstella has plans of her own though, she isn’t waiting for some prince to come and rescue her, she is too fond of her telescope and calculations to give up her interstellar dreams.  Cinderstella even has a fairy godmother who is convinced she wants all the usual things: a lovely gown, glass slippers and carriage; but not our smart girl.


In this book, you will find something different entirely, Cinderstella is quite inclusive and includes her step-sisters in her interstellar adventures.  In doing so she showed her step-sisters a world of possibilities.


Another component to the fantastic books published by Magination Press is that they offer notes to their readers with ways to offer support for families to encourage children to find interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).  They offer suggestions for parents, teachers and caregivers to use this book to foster conversations about STEM, talk about interests and goals and what it means to dream BIG!


petite-stag-favoriteA huge thank you to Valeria Docampo for permission to use her incredible images, they are absolutely stunning.  As we read this story last night my petites, kept oh-ing and ah-ing at the illustrations.  They both immediately after reading declared they wanted to read more books about space, look through a telescope and make a planet mobile just like Cinderstella.  So in one simple read, this book became a Petite Stag Favorite for inspiring my petites to dream big, desire to learn more and engage with the text in a meaningful way.