When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons

April is National Poetry Month.  This is such an incredibly fun time for most lovers of English.  I loved teaching in April and sharing poems and having students work on crafting their own.  It is a magical experience to see little ones really become creative and often times poems give just that creative outlet.


When I heard that Julie Morstad was working on a new book, I got really excited, she is one of the illustrators that I follow, or stalk might be the more appropriate way to put it.  I love her work, you will probably remember her from I am Sadie or perhaps Julia, Child, which is shared in my Petite Foodie series.  I love her work and even more so the amazing writers that she teams up with.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for all Seasons, by Julie Fogliano and art by Julie Morstad; published by A Neal Porter Book, 2016.  This is a book that shares poems for specific days throughout the year; starting in the spring and working through to the winter.  The petites particularly enjoy the poem for June 10th discussing all sorts of flowers and how they came to be, another is June 15th sharing about eating berries which is a favorite summer past time for  my girls.  Just like you will recall from This is Sadie, the illustrations are divine.  I love the small bright pops of color and attention to the little details whether is a small butterfly flitting about or a bicycle being gently dusted with snow.

Both Julie Fogliano and Julie Morstad seem to have melded together to create this perfect union of words and illustrations, the imagery that is depicted within the lines of the poems are so perfect.  It is almost as if each poem has captured that particular moment in time and you feel almost as if you were right there smelling the tomatoes ripening on the vine, or the salt spray in your hair.

I think that this book would be perfect to share with petites to spark their creativity and foster a love for the seasons.  This book would also be perfect to teach poetry writing to elementary and lower middle school students.  The poetry is accessible and would be a great starting point for many students as they start to explore creative writing.

Books for Back to School: Start the week of right! – Part 1

One of the things I have missed the most about being on leave from teaching is that first week of school. It is so incredibly exciting. I love seeing all of the kids on the first day of school, with their new backpacks smiling faces ready for whatever the year is going to bring them.   So I wanted to share some picture books that I think would be perfect to share with students those first few days of school.

How Full is Your Bucket

How Full is Your Bucket: For Kids by Tom Rath, Mary Reckmeyer and illustrated by Maurie J. Manning (2009, Gallup Press). This book holds a special place in my heart because one of my best teacher friends and I would make our way around to each classroom reading this story and then doing some amazingly fun brainstorming with kids about how they could work all year to fill each other’s buckets. This is such a fun story to read, not to mention you can make a great chart for your wall to remind kids about being kind to one another.

Grade Levels – Kindergarten to Fifth Grade

Big Plans

Big Plans by Bob Shea and illustrations by Lane Smith, (2008, Disney Hyperion).  This is a fantastic story of a young boy, who although stuck in timeout, has BIG PLANS!  He has a fantastic imagination.  This story is filled with imagination.  This would be a perfect read aloud with older grades to start thinking about goals setting.

Grade Level – Kindergarten – Fifth Grade 


What if Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick with ilustrations by Coleen M. Madden (2010, Two Lions). This book is all about consequences and making good choices. This book is a cautionary tale about breaking the rules, even if it seems like a silly rule. Each time the boy breaks one of the rules, an adult responds with “What if everybody did that”? This causes the boy to realize that there are consequences for his actions and that he needs to turn it around.

Grade Levels – Kindergarten to Second Grade

Back to School Rules

Back-To-School Rules by Laurie B. Friedman art by Teresa Murfin (2011, Carolrhoda Books).  A book about a little boy named, Percy.  Percy struggles to follow the rules, he knows what they are but doesn’t always make the best choices.  This would be a great read aloud for developing classroom rules.

Grade Levels – Kindergarten – Fourth Grade

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, by Dr. Seuss (1990, Random House).  This book is a classic that is loved by all ages of children.  I think it would be perfect to use to set goals with older students and discuss where they are at the beginning of the year and then revisit the same goals at the end of the year.  Not to mention there are some really amazing bulletin board ideas.

Grade Levels – All Ages

First Day Jitters

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg and art by Julie Love (2000, Charlesbridge).   Another lovely book all about first day jitters of starting at a new school.  I love that this book is relatable and will help kids learn empathy and compassion for their classmates who may be having their first day in a new school.  I love this because you can explore the plot lines with older students and spend more time discussing feelings with younger students.

Grade Levels – Kindergarten to Fourth Grade

Going Places

Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds, (2014, Atheneum Books for Young Readers).  This is a book that we have read many times before, it is a great story about working together.  I think that this is especially important for young students to be reminded about what working together can look like.  A great story about teamwork.

Grade Levels – Kindergarten – Third Grade

Chu's First Day of School

Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman and Alex Rex ( 2014, Harper Collins) is the perfect book to discuss all the emotions and concerns that go along with the first days of school.  We love Chu at this house and think your students and kids will too.  Also, there are some really fun activities to do after you finish reading to keep the conversations flowing.

Before Reading | Talking Points During Reading | After Reading Activitites

Grade Levels – Kindergarten to Second Grade

I am currently putting together part 2, so  if you have a favorite story you love to read tell me about it and I will include it on the next list!


Fostering the Love of Writing

As a teacher I know that teaching writing can often times be one of the most difficult tasks for teachers.  Today I found a book that I would love to share with students in the early elementary grades (K-2): How to Bake a Book by Ella Burfoot.


This book is about a little girl who sets out to bake herself a book.  She mixes words and rolls in characters and in the end has herself a delicious book.


I could see reading this book before a creative writing unit in class.  It’s funny and a little bit silly.  It also might just be the way to get more hesitant writers thinking about the ingredients that go into making a great story.  Writing a good story can sometimes be difficult for petites, where to start, how to start, but when you break it down into pieces like a recipe it seems a lot less daunting.


I think that this book would be perfect for kindergarteners and first graders, this is such a fun book, with such fabulous vocabulary boosting words.  This book is sure to get a giggle from your petites and I’m sure will inspire some creative writing from your students.

A whole class idea that I have been thinking would be so much fun to engage kids and get them thinking about writing would be able to do a whole class or smaller group activity.  In this activity, each student would have a piece to the story, whether it’s a word, character,  image of setting  and have a large bowl with a spoon and put it all together as a class.  It would be so much fun to work on this as a whole group and see what the kids come up with then share their book with the class and their families.

How would you use How to Bake a Book in your classroom?




Kisses are Flying in Catching Kisses.


Catching Kisses, by Amy Gibson with illustrations by Maria Van Lieshout is a book that celebrates kisses and love.  This book is unique in that you go on a journey through the USA as you turn the pages.  Amy Gibson has created such beautiful language to describe the kisses and the illustrations add so much to the lovely story.

This book is really fun because you follow the kisses on their journey through the United States.  My petites loved looking at all of the different places and finding the “kisses” which are the seeds of a dandelion as they move through place to place.  Catching Kisses showcases many popular cities and yours might just be one of them – making the story all the more personal.

For the Classroom:

I think this is a beautiful story, that could be a platform for students to build on their figurative language skills using the similes and metaphors in the text.  I think this would be a really fun read aloud for the classroom and can see reading it to students at the elementary level.  I would read this to students who were in 2nd -4th who were working on bolstering their figurative language as well as for the different locations that are featured, it would be a fun book to have them guess where the places are.  Another fun place to share this book would be during an art lesson/class.  The illustrations have a lot of movement as well as which would be fun to share with a group of students.

An Inspiring Read…What Do You Do With an Idea?


The petites and I saw What Do You Do With an Idea? the other day and immediately fell in love with the stunning illustrations by Mae Besom and the inspiring story from Kobi Yamada.  This is one book that I think all parents and teachers will want to add to their repertoire.

This is the story of a petite who has an idea, it starts out small and then grows into something beautiful.  The illustrations are amazing in that the little one is androgynous, letting the reader decide.  The idea follows him/her around and sometimes people look at him/her a little funny, but he/she perseveres and keeps on growing the idea.  The idea is a little golden egg with a paper crown, the image is so perfect.


What I loved the most about the idea is that the crown is made from paper and held together with tape, I love that Mae Besom thought to make the idea exactly as a small child would do it.  Brilliant.  While the idea is growing he/she gets more and more comfortable with it and in doing so eventually gets to a point where he/she really dedicates time to the idea.  Then the most amazing thing happens, his idea hatches and turns into the most beautiful colorful images.  With one of my favorite final lines of a book.

What do you do with an idea? You change the world.

For Teachers:

I think this would be an amazing book to use at the beginning of a writer’s workshop.  There are so many points in this story that are so valuable

  • that the idea starts out small
  • the idea is something the petite isn’t sure about, is almost nervous about
  • the idea is always there
  • with dedication the idea it begins to grow and blossom.

After reading this book, I started to think about whose classroom I could guest teach in just to read this amazing book.

I absolutely love this book.  I plan to get this for my girls because I believe that reading this story with them will foster confidence in their ideas.  As a parent this is something I think about often, how our little people especially girls don’t always have confidence in their ideas – especially those really quiet petites.  I believe that this book put in the hands of parents, teachers and librarians could empower our petites and inspire them to put their ideas out into the world.

Want to know more about the author:

Kobi Yamada is the CEO of this really amazing company in Seattle called Compendium they make some pretty amazing journals, notecards and really beautiful gift books that are sure to inspire and you might want to check out. 

Weather so cold and frightful, here’s a story that’s delightful!

My petites and I found, Little Red Hot by Eric A. Kimmel at the library this fall and we loved it the very first time we read it.  It became a bedtime favorite.  If you haven’t seen this book yet, you really must check out this feisty little gal.

Little Red Hot

Little Red Hot is a variation of Little Red Riding Hood, it is so incredibly fantastic.  We were all cheering and hollering for Little Red Hot throughout the story.  The illustrations by Laura Huliska-Beith are wonderful.  She does such an amazing job of showing this feisty little gal and how she outsmarts Senor Lobo.

Eric Kimmel has a series of books that are Southwest themed retellings of classics: Jack and the Giant Barbecue (Jack and the Beanstalk), The Three Little Tamales (Three Little Pigs)  and The Runaway Tortilla (Gingerbread Man).  I will say that Little Red Hot is by far our favorite.

My daughter loves this story she loves that Little Red hot loves her grandma so much that she makes her a pie.  One of her favorite parts is where Little Red Hot is going through the types of peppers she puts into her pie.

My petite loves how smart Little Red Hot is and how she outsmarts Senor Lobo.  Throughout her first reading of the story she was so engaged she kept yelling watch out Little Red, it’s not your grandma, its Senor Lobo!

During this part of the story she traced her finger over the path that Senor Lobo takes and talked about how sneaky he was to take a short cut.  It was amazing to watch her get so excited about this story and to be so engaged with the text without me prompting her with questions or predictions about what was to come.

This would be a fun read for many different audiences, little petites because of the bright colors. Petites in the early grades will love this engaging story about feisty Little Red Hot.  I could even see this as something to read to middle and high schoolers who are working on creating writing assignments where they need to re-write a classic tale.  This book would also be fantastic to discuss cause and effect as well as predicting.

This is a great story with fantastic illustrations to go along with it.  I am sure your petites will enjoy this delightful story.  I would love to hear how they respond to it in the comments below.

Petites Pick: Louise Loves Art


Louise Loves Art by Kelly Light is an incredibly cute book we stumbled across at the library (published in September) and was so cute we are currently maxing out our renewals on this superb book.  First of all let’s start with the best first line I’ve read in a while.

I love Art!  It’s my imagination on the outside.

Are you sold yet?  Let me tell you a bit more, Louise is adorable, she loves to draw and one of her favorite subjects to draw is her cat, Louise perfectly captures the cat-ness.  She is a very confident young lady and is creating masterpieces for her art show.  Her little brother Art, like most littles, wants to be a part of what she is doing, he wants to create a masterpiece too. Although, his masterpiece causes a little bit of tension.  Louise is a fabulous big sister and realizes what Art was trying to do and makes him feel special, because clearly he loves his big sister.

I love this book because sometimes it is hard to remember that little brothers or sisters just want to be with you.  This book is a nice reminder of what it looks like to be a great older sibling.  It is also a great story because Louise is confident, she creates masterpieces and inspires her little brother.  In the end they work together to create their art.

This book would be really fun to read to a class who is creating their own masterpieces.  Another reason why I love this book is the vocabulary that Ms. Light uses: masterpiece, pose, capture, fierce, feline, piece de resistance and gallery.  These vocabulary building words and great!  I love that my petite learned some new words reading this book.  Even more I love that after reading it she wanted to get into her art bin and start creating her masterpiece.

Gallery Ideas:

  • creating your own gallery of art – these are some gorgeous examples of gallery walls
Wire Hanging

Source: The Style Files


Source: The Imagination Tree


Source: Clean & Scentsible

Get Creative: need a little art inspiration?  Here are some projects that you and the petites can create.


Source: No Time for Flashcards

My Feet are Happier Without Socks: Let’s Talk About Einstein

On a Beam of Light

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne; is a fascinating read for kids and parents alike.  This story captures what it is to think, use your imagination and be filled with curiosity and wonder about the mysteries of the world that surrounds us.  The book starts out describing the unconditional love of Albert’s parents.  How they supported him and offered him a compass to discover all the mysteries of the world.

This story depicts a curious young Einstein so curious that he has endless questions that just need to be answered and solved.  Vladimir Radunsky has created amazing illustrations that capture all we know and love about Einstein.  One of my favorite parts of the story is when Einstein plays music and that music allows him to unlock secrets and mysteries – helping him to focus and think.   Another fabulous illustration is when Einstein discovered that atoms are what the world is made of, Radunsky pixilates his illustrations for this page to make this connection all the more clear.

This book is geared toward 1st grade and up.  I could really see this being useful for petites who are quiet and doing a lot of thinking.  As well as students who have a lot of questions.  This is a story that talks about a genius who was once a little boy who asked a lot of questions who grew into a man who still asked a lot of questions.

I think that this could be a great book to use with 4th and 5th graders who are writing biographies or researching our great thinkers.  A fun follow-up activity could be to write Einstein a letter.  Another way would be to have this book out along with other artifacts about Einstein, a compass, newspaper clippings, photographs, etc.

Another self to text connection could be to have students think about a place that they like to think and write about it giving as much detail as to why they like to think there, or if it is not a real place where they imagine the best place to think would be.  I would use this page as a platform for this text to self connection writing/journal topic.

Einstein in boat

This book is fabulous from cover to cover.  The illustrations are fantastic and really bring to life what the inside of Einstein’s mind might have been like.   This books would be a great addition to any library and if you can get your hands on it and share it with your petites they will be all the better for having this wonderful story read to them.

Happy Reading,