Gender and Friendship in a Tender Story

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Introducing Teddy: a gentle story about gender and friendship by Jessica Walton and illustrated by Dougal MacPherson (Bloomsbury, 2016) is a poingnat tale of a little boy Errol and his teddy bear, Thomas.  Like most petites Errol and his trusty companion play together, ride their bikes, plant in the garden and have sandwiches in tree houses for lunch.

One day things change, Thomas didn’t feel like playing.  Errol being an empathetic friend tries to cheer Thomas up by taking him to the park, but it doesn’t work.  Thomas is torn, because he clearly wants to talk to his best friend, but he is worried that once he tells Errol what he is feeling that Errol won’t want to be his friend anymore.  With some gentle reassurance from Errol, Thomas begins to tell him what is on his mind:

Thomas the teddy took a deep breath.  “I need to be myself, Errol.  In my heart, I’ve always known that I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy.  I wish my name was Tilly, not Thomas.”

What happens next is the most amazing realization for Tilly, that it doesn’t matter to Errol if he is Thomas or Tilly as long as teddy is his friend.  The story continues in the most accepting and lovely of ways.  Their friend Ava joins them at the park with more encouragement and acceptance.  The message is that whatever makes you happy is what is most important.  That Errol and Ava are true friends because they love Tilly.

The story ends with what I believe to be the most important message, that Errol and Tilly play together, ride their bikes in the backyard, plant in their garden and of course still enjoy sandwiches perched in a tree house; just like they did before.

I think that this book does an amazing job of talking about acceptance, friendship and gender.  We spend a lot of time in our house talking about what we feel and how sometimes we feel more like a girl or a boy and that is all part of being human of being true to yourself.  We believe firmly that everyone has the right to be happy, to be accepted for who they are, not to be judged, but instead loved and supported.  Introducing Teddy, is a book that helps start this conversation with petites, about what it means to be a good friend, to accept your friends for who they are…to be understanding.  What an important lesson to teach at an early age.

Here is a peak into the illustrations from Dougal MacPherson

Also, Bloomsbury has created an  activity pack to go along with the book.


Best of Back to School Books

Many parts of the country have been back to school for a few weeks now, but here in the PNW many kids are still enjoying their summer break.   Those days of getting little ones ready to go to kindergarten and back to school are so filled with emotion, excitement, anxiety, wonder – basically all the feels. Having books to read at night can really be a helpful tool to ease little ones and their worries about all the new adventures to come.

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Kindergarten is Cool! by Linda Elovitz Marshall and art by Chris Chatterton (Cartwheel Books, 2016) is a great introduction into what can be expected from getting up and dressed to getting to school and what your petites classroom might look like. What we loved about this book is that it provides steps of what happens first and next. My petites love this kind of book. We also loved that the classroom hamster can be found on each page doing something silly and funny. I am certain that this book will be a story time success, because after all, Kindergarten in COOL! 

Sophie’s Squash Go To School by Pat Zietlow Miller and Anne Witsdorf (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016) is a book about a little girl’s first day of school. Sophie brings along her two best friends Bonnie and Baxter who just happen to be squash. Initially Sophie is only interested in playing with her squash and doesn’t show interest in making new (human) friends and at some times can have a bad attitude. 

However, things really change throughout the story with a little boy who wants desperately to be Sophie’s friend. Sophie and her classmate Steven Green are drawing pictures of friends and the portrait that Sophie made is accidentally torn. What I think is so sweet and so endearing about this book is in how Steven resolves the issue after the picture is torn. He realizes that her feelings are hurt and does something quite lovely, he fixes the picture of Bonnie and Baxter and gives Sophie a packet of seeds. Adorable, right? Something you can absolutely envision a little one doing for his friend. What I love even more than this gesture is that they share the seeds with the class and they all grow their own squash plants. You see this glorious transformation for Sophie where she is really engaged and participating with her classmates after this moment.

This is a wonderful story to talk about feelings and conflicts might happen, but wonderful things can come out of conflicts.

Ming Goes to School by Deirdre Sullivan and illustrated by Maja Lofdahl (Sky Pony Press, 2016) is an absolutely wonderful look at a little girls first year of school. This book showcases all that is possible, all the wonder that will be found, all the pretending that will happen and the discoveries that will be made, and of course the special friends she will make. This book has very few words, but the words having been chosen with great care. The water color illustrations are delightful. This is a perfect book for a little one who is nervous about starting school, this book does a fantastic job of coming up with all that there is to be really excited about in a comforting and calming way. **This is one of our top recommendations for reading before starting school for the first time. We love this book and highly recommend it.**

As we get ready to send our little ones back to school a fun read that will be sure to have them giggling, is Milk Goes to School by Terry Border (Philomel Books, 2016) is an absolute pun-filled adventure on the first day of school. This book captures the anxiety a petite might have before their first day of school in such a fun and whimsical way. The silly photographs will have kids laughing their first day jitters away.


It’s Back to School We Go! First Day Stories from Around the World by Ellen Jackson and art by Jan Davey Ellis (The Millbrook Press, 2003). This is an increbly interesting book for petites. It highlights eleven different countries around the world and what going back to school looks like for each of those countries.

At the beginning of this book the author share that these eleven children that are shared in this story are composites of real children from around the globe. The author shares that she “tried to capture the diversity of school experiences, to compare and contrast the lives of children from different cultures, and – most of all – to emphasize their common humanity”.  Of course, this book gives generalities, because there is no way that one picture book could encapsulate all cultures and children experiences, but I believe that this book does an incredible job of creating a commonality among all children. I think that this book is one that will teach diversity, empathy and foster understanding of different cultures.

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex and art by Christian Robinson (Roaring Brook Press, 2016) is a perfect example of personification. This book is so original, so unique that I couldn’t help but smiling as I read it to my petites. This is the story of a brand new school called Fredrick Douglas Elementary and how the school feels about his very first day. There is all sorts of excitment and new things happening that will be sure to keep your little ones interested and turning the page to see what happens next. 

If these glorious illustrations look familiar it is because it is the stunning work of Christian Robinson who is known for The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker and his most recent book Last Stop on Market Street. This book would be perfect for little ones entering into kindergarten, as well as younger elementary. I would also highly recommend using this book with old students to teach personification, it would be an amazing lesson.

Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman and art by Adam Rex (Harper Collins, 2014) is a perfectly relatable story about Chu who is a little nervous about his very first day of school. As the class goes around one by one and shares their names and something they like to do, Chu sits silently. When he is the final student to share his name something so silly, so unexpected happens that you can’t help but laugh.
He sneezes in the largest possible way…ahhh ahhh CHU!

It is adorable. It is a tender story that discusses if the kids will like him or not. If your petite is a critical thinker, they might then worry that Chu would be embarrassed from sneezing and that the other kids would then make fun of him. Adam Rex does an amazing job, as usual, with the superb illustrations and facial expressions for Chu. This is the perfect book for petites starting preschool or kindergarten.

Bear’s Big Day by Salina Yoon (Bloomsbury, 2016) is an absolutely lovely story for petites who are starting preschool. This would be a perfect read aloud at preschool or with parents before hand to gear up for the big day. This is a book filled with feelings of excitement for being big enough to go on new adventures at school, but also still small enough to need your favorite snugglie for comfort during the day.
I love that this book is so real. I love that this book shows the steps that petites will need to take to get ready to go to school in the morning, along with what supplies they might be taking with them. This book is light on words and heavy on its message. That having feelings, being sad, asking for help and needing a little support are all normal feelings. This is a great story for petites in the 3-4 age range. Salina Yoon does a fantastic job once again with her bold illustrations that help you to focus on the message that going to school doesn’t mean you have to give up your snugglies or your childhood. 

If you want to extend this book with a fun activity here is a packet of great activities that your petites might enjoy from Bloomsbury. Enjoy!…/files/s16_ActivityBookREV4.pdf


A Tribute to Women in Science

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Women in Science – 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofky (Ten Speed Press, 2016) is a book that is so beautifully illustrated you will have to read it multiple times to see all of the intricate details.  You absolutely need to get your hands on this book right now!  Seriously, it is by far one of the most swoon worthy books I have seen to date.  It is simply put – gorgeous!  Not only is this book beyond amazingly illustrated, it is filled with so many glorious facts and mini biographies that you will be sure to learn new facts about some of the most important women in science.
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We are living in a very exciting time right now in children’s books, we are seeing so many new, innovative books celebrating the genius of women.  This book is a perfect example of what I am talking about, Rachel Ignotofksy has created a book that is as much for a petites bedtime story, as it is a middle schoolers science project reference, or possibly a lovely book to sit on your coffee table and read at your leisure.
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These mini biographies are just enough to get your petites a thorough understanding of these incredibly smart and talented women.  The little facts and bits of interesting trivia that surround the biographies are so much fun to read.  My daughters have been listening intently to life and accomplishments of these brilliant women with loads of questions about how they got to be so smart, brave, courageous and adventurous.
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When you give your petites quality books to read and listen to there is only one consequence, you will fill their minds with all the possibilities.  You will give them ideas about what they can strive to do to make the world a better place.  This book does just that, it celebrates women who have made remarkable contributions to not only the world, but to the scientific community.
These women are truly role models for every single young girl who has ever had a dream – this book belongs in every classroom, in every library, in every petites hands.  Eventhough now more than ever children have the potential to be anything they want, there are still too many young girls who believe that their dreams are only dreams.  This book, in my opinion, sets out to change that.  By making these stories known, we can encourage our girls to dream big and to believe that they can accomplish anything.
Bloggers Note:
All Images Reprinted with permission from Women in Science Copyright © 2016 by Rachel Ignotofsky. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  All thoughts and opinions shared within this post are my own.

When in Seattle, look for the Wheedle.

Good Night WheedleGood Night Wheedle by Stephen Cosgrove and illustrated by Robin James (Sasquatch, 2016) which is going to be released tomorrow in board book form is an absolute Seattle treasure.

When you think of Seattle, you probably think of the iconic Space Needle that has graced the Seattle skyline since 1962, but you may not know the true story of the light that boldly blinks at the top.  Let me start by sharing with you one of the most cherished stories for PNW petites.  Wheedle on the Needle, this lovely story was first published in 1974 and since then has gone through some changes, but most recently has reverted back to the message that so impacted Seattleites for years.

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Image Courtesy of Sasquatch Books

What you will find, in Good Night Wheedle, is that our beloved Wheedle is tired one day.  He plays too hard with the clouds on his mountain top and then he forgets his midday snack…yikes (we can all relate to what happens next).


Image Courtesy of Sasquatch Books

Our dear Wheedle, not wanting to miss out, becomes a tiresome mess.  He packs his bag and heads into town looking for a quiet place to sleep.  What do you know the perfect place to sleep is high above the clouds snuggled up on top of the Space Needle; where alas he can find the perfect place for slumber.  At night, you can still see his nose blinking away as he sleeps soundly.

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Image Courtesy of Sasquatch Books

This rhyming tale is quite perfect and would be a lovely book for any Seattle babe to get acquainted with the true story of the light at the top of the needle.

Bloggers note: this book was given to me Sasquatch Books in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions shared are my own. Thank you to Sasquatch for use of the images in this post.

Ever wonder about your favorite artists as kids? This is the book for you.

Have you ever wondered what your favorite artists might have been like as kids?  Ever imagine what Dr. Seuss was like before he was Dr. Seuss?  Can you imagine Andy Warhol as a child, perhaps sharing a bowl of Cambell’s soup with him at lunch?   These stories come to life in Kid Artists: True Tales of Childhood from Creative Legends by David Stabler and art by Doogie Horner (Quirk Books, 2016).

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We love art in this house, we spend quite a bit of time creating it.  However, what we rarely have the opportunity to do is to read biographies about artists when they were kids.  We go to lots of museums in our town and when we travel and revel in the stunning beauty that so many artists create.  Kid Artists speaks to the origin stories of some of the worlds most famous and most talented artists.

What you will find when you open this incredibly humorous book is three parts that will completely amazing and enthrall you as you learn more about these incredible Kid Artists.

Part One: It’s a Hard-Knock Life: shyness, poverty, discrimination, and .  ar.  In this part you will learn all about Louise Nevelson, Dr. Seuss, Jackson Pollock, Charles Shultz, Yoko Ono and Jean-Michel Basquiat

Part Two: Practice Makes Perfect: If you want to be a successful artist, you’ll need to paint a lot of canvases  Part two gives us childhood insights into Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Jacob Lawrence, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring

Part Three: Call of the Wild: secret caves, creepy-crawlies, and animals galore.  Part three is where you will discover more about Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent van Gogh, Beatrix Potter, Emily Carr and Georgia O’Keeffe


Image from Kid Artists – Beatrix Potter

The stories shared within the pages of this book are so interesting, so well told.  One of my daughters favorite chapters was about Dr. Seuss.  We are rather obsessed with him these days and his silly way with words – she literally squealed when she saw the tiny image of the Lorax.  So reading about him as a child completely entranced her, she couldn’t believe he was allowed to draw on the walls and immediately wanted to know if she was allowed to express her creativity in that way.

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Images from Kid Artists – Dr. Seuss

These stories teach us lessons about the artists and their life, but more so how they were real people who struggled with their own challenges. I love that these books show us strong example of perseverance, endurance, aspiration and  what being passionate looks like.

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Image from Kid Artists – Claude Monet

This series is absolutely amazing, I would highly recommend Kid Artists, this would be a fantastic book for art teachers to share with their students as well as for parents to share with their children.  This book is geared towards ages 9-12 for independent reading.  However, I have been reading it aloud to my 6 year old and she absolutely loves these stories.  Kid Artists will be released on August 9th, so mark your calendars, you will want to share this book with your petites for sure.

Bloggers Note: This book was given to me by Quirk Books in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts and opinions about this amazing book are my own.  A huge thank you to Quirk Books for the use of the images from Kid Artists.

Three Bears of the PNW

I must confess I have not always been a Pacific Northwest girl, I was born and raised in the Bay Area of California and am just now at the point where I have lived here in the PNW for the same amount I lived in California.  I consider the PNW my home, I love the rainy weather, the smell in the fall when the marine layer washes all of the Seattle area in a fantastic fog.  So when I had the opportunity to read Three Bears of the Pacific Northwest by Richard Vaughan & Marcia Crews with art by Jeremiah Trammell (Sasquatch Books, 2016), well I couldnt pass up the opportunity.

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This board book is an adventure that happens as an airstream rolls down the road and a tiny blue teddy bear bumps out.  The bear is quickly found by a large black bear, who sympathizes with blue bear and offers to help him find his way home.

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The two bears go on an amazing adventure through an alpine meadow, where they munch on delicious berries.  Over a stream where they meet up with brown bear who offers to help.

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The three friends set out to find the shiny silver box that blue bear calls home, they encounter many other pacific northwest animals, from seals, gray whale and a bald eagle.

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Bald eagle proves to be most helpful in finding blue bears family, of course, he takes blue bear to the sky.  Once the campsite has been located, the three bears all venture into the camp ground until they find the shiny silver box that blue bear calls home where he is reunited with his boy!

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This is a darling story that follows blue bear through his journey back to his boy.  My petites loved that blue bear, although being a stuffy, ate berries and waved at the bears as they ventured back into the woods.  This is the perfect tale of three bears (minus Goldilocks) having an adventure through the Cascade mountains and the Salish Sea.  You will absolutely love reading this book with your petites, we love the oil-painted illustrations and how they almost beg you to get out of your house and out into the woods on your own adventure.

This book is printed in hardcover, as well as paperback.  On August 9th you will be able to purchase this book in a board book for the tiniest of adventurers.  Happy Reading!

Bloggers note, this book was given to me by Sasquatch Books in exchange for an honest review, the thoughts and opinions about this book are my own.  Thank you to Sasquatch for use of the images in this post.