Perfect Picture Book Friday – Double Feature! – Sophie’s Animal Parade AND Dress Me!

Well, what do you know!

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday again!

And I’m about to something unprecedented…

I’m reviewing two picture books today!

I know!

Unheard of!

But here’s why:

Two of my dear writer friends had books release this week on the SAME DAY from the SAME PRESS!  What are the odds?  And both books are too wonderful to pass up, and I couldn’t possibly choose one over the other in their book birthday week, so there you have it – two for the price of one 🙂

I hope you enjoy them both! (And in case you’re wondering, they are genuine Perfect Picture Books, not just here because they were written by friends!  That is just a happy coincidence :))

Title: Sophie’s Animal Parade
Written By: Amy Dixon
Illustrated By: Katia Wish
May 2015, Sky Pony Press, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-5

Themes/Topics: imagination, loneliness, friendship, animals

Opening: “Everything Sophie drew came to life.  Mama called it Sophie’s imagination.  Sophie called it magic.
When Sophie felt hungry, she drew something scrumptious to eat.
When Sophie felt sleepy, she drew somewhere cozy to rest.
And when Sophie felt cold, she drew something snuggly to wear.

Brief Synopsis:  Sophie’s drawings have the magical ability to come to life.  One day, feeling lonely, Sophie draws a friend.  And then another… and another…  Sophie’s room isn’t quite the place for any of them, and accommodating their needs makes them impossible to play with (the polar bear can’t reach the scones and jam from inside his igloo; the duck can’t play hide-n-seek in a wading pool with nowhere to hide etc.)  But in the end, Sophie finds a friend – no pencils or paper required 🙂

Links To Resources: if your drawings could come to life, what would you draw? Someone to be friends with, like Sophie? (animal, human, alien, unicorn, fairy etc.???)  Someplace you’d like to visit (a castle, a beach, an enchanted forest, etc.???) Something you’d like to do (perform on Broadway, compete at the Olympics, explore the jungle etc,???)  Now draw it!; discuss how you know if something is real or imaginary; why might an imaginary friend be better than a real friend?  why might a real friend be better than an imaginary friend? Sophie Coloring Pages

Why I Like This Book:  The concept of drawings coming to life is so engaging and fun – what child wouldn’t want to have that ability?!  And hasn’t every child felt lonely at some point and longed for a friend?  This is an endearing story with delightful animal-antic-filled illustrations, and the sweet message that as fun as imagination is, real friends are what matter.  The page where Sophie meets Luke and checks to make sure she hasn’t drawn him (no pencils!) is perfect, as is the very real friendship between two imaginative animal lovers 🙂

Title: Dress Me!
Written & Illustrated By: Sarah-Frances Hardy
May 2015, Sky Pony Press, Fiction

Suitable For Ages: 2-5

Themes/Topics: careers, being yourself, exploration, self-expression

Opening: “Dress me!
Tutu me!
Dancer me!

Brief Synopsis: A little girl tries outfit after outfit, exploring the many possibilities of what she can be- dancer, artist, teacher, lawyer etc until she finds just the right one.

Links To Resources: think up 3 careers you’d like to try.  Do any of them require special outfits or equipment? If so, what is required?  See if you can find or make some items so you can dress up like the people in those careers.  Play charades and act out a job/career you’d like to try – fireman, doctor, plumber, lawyer, carpenter, teacher, minister, etc.

Why I Like This Book:  With simple text (the word count is 44!) and adorable illustrations, a little girl tries out being a dancer, an artist, a monster, a doctor, a plumber, and many other things.  In each case, her little dog is right alongside her, joining in the fun and often sporting his own accessories.  This is a wonderful story that makes exploration, self-discovery, the freedom to choose who you are and what you want to be accessible to youngest readers.  Sweet and fun.

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

If anyone would care to visit Amy Dixon or Sarah Frances Hardy, they are both very talented and have wonderful sites!   Please visit Amy HERE and Sarah Frances HERE.  Should you be interested, their sites include links to purchase their delightful books! (Actually, I’m not sure Amy’s does, but you can find her books in all the usual places :))

PPBF bloggers please be sure to leave your post-specific link in the list below so we can all come visit you!  I can’t wait to see this week’s bounty of books!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!  And Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who is a mother, or has a mother, or knows a mother!!!  🙂

Monday Short And Sweet AND The 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!!!

I hope you’re ready because boy are we going to have fun today!

badge created by the uber-talented Loni Edwards

First off, we’ll be having birthday cake because we have a birthday in our family today 🙂  Happy Birthday, Justin!  Cake anyone?

Yum!  Now that we’re all supplied with a nutritious breakfast (why do you think I put strawberries on?), we’ll have a Short & Sweet to get our writerly gears turning for a week of exceptional productivity.

For today’s Short & Sweet we’re going super simple:

There’s been some kind of holiday mishap, mix-up, miscommunication, mistake, or potential disaster.  Write the newspaper headline (and a couple lines of the article if you like)!

(Admit it.  You didn’t think I could come up with anything that simple!  Well, I’m giving you a break after my very long-winded post on Friday 🙂  Also, my mouth is full of cake :))

Here are a couple examples 🙂

Santa’s Letters All Delivered To South Pole Penguins!  Postal service blames malfunctioning GPS.  The penguins only comment was, “Hrowrrk, Hrowrrk!”

Viking Delegation Arrives At Rockefeller Center.  “We thought you asked for a Norway Truce!” exclaims Harald V whose senior advisor is looking into new hearing aids for the king.

Monopoly Dispute May Ground Sleigh!  “I called first dibs on the shoe!” Dasher yelled as he was hauled off to time out.  Dancer was quoted as saying, “You poopy head!” which earned him a stint in time out as well.  A spokesman for the Clauses said, “This is trouble.  The sleigh won’t fly with only 6 reindeer!”

Post your headline (and as much article as you like :)) in the comments and hopefully yours or someone else’s will give you a great idea for a story!

And finally!!  The moment you’ve all been waiting for!!  Announcing….

The 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!!!
The Contest:  Write a children’s holiday story beginning with any version of “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh.”  You may use that actual opening, or you may change it to any similar version “[Verb of your choice]ing through the [any substance you choose] in a [conveyance of any kind].”  For example, “Dashing through the sand in a two-wheeled donkey cart” or “Sloshing through the swamp in a green and white canoe” or “Flying through the air in a striped hot air balloon…”  You get the idea, I’m sure 🙂  But “Dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh” is completely acceptable too – whatever works for you 🙂  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet,  religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words (because I have to read them all in the week before Christmas! :))
Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Saturday December 15 and Wednesday December 19 at 11:59 PM EST (no WYRI that day), and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official holiday contest post which will go up on my blog on Saturday December 15 and remain up through Wednesday December 19 (no new post on Monday December 17).  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my December 15th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)
The Judge:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to seven (or possibly a couple more :)) finalists which will be posted here on Friday December 21 (no PPBF that day) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed on Christmas Eve and the winner(s) will be announced on Wednesday December 26 (no WYRI that day).  Whoever gets the most votes will be first and so on down to fifth place.
The Prizes!:  When I said the prizes were fantastic, I wasn’t kidding.  In the spirit of the holidays, winners will be named for 1st – 5th place, and will each receive a picture book manuscript critique AND a $20 Amazon gift card to spend on the reading material of your choice AND the incredible fame of being able to say you won (or placed in) the Pretty Much World Famous 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!  The critiques have been generously donated by the following fabulous children’s authors (in alphabetical order by first name :)):
Alison Hertz: author and illustrator of FLAP! (Magic Dreams Publishing, November 2012)
Amy Dixon: author of MARATHON MOUSE (Sky Pony Press, October 2012)
Corey Rosen Schwartz: author of Hop! Plop! (Walker Children’s Books, April 2006), THE THREE NINJA PIGS (Putnam Juvenile, September 2012), and the forthcoming GOLDIROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS and NINJA RED (both coming from Putnam).  Corey also writes the Meter Maids blog with Tiffany (below).
Sarah Frances Hardy: author and illustrator of PUZZLED BY PINK (Viking Juvenile, April 2012)
Tiffany Strelitz Haber: author of THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN (Henry Holt, July 2012).  Tiffany also writes the Meter Maids blog with Corey (above).

Wow!  Would one of those critiques be an awesome prize to win or what?!  And $20 to spend on a book you wanted but didn’t get for the holidays?  Plus bragging rights?  So put on your thinking caps!  Sharpen your pencils!  Fire up your imagination!  And start writing those holiday stories 🙂  You’ve got 2 whole weeks! 🙂

Just to be clear, in case it wasn’t above, in the interest of leaving time and space for the contest and giving y’all time for the busy-ness of the holidays and all the things I know you have going on in your homes and lives at this time of year, my usual posting schedule will be in a complete shambles between Dec. 15 and 26.  I will have a special post on Saturday December 15 (not a usual posting day for me) to kick off the contest, there will be no new post on Monday Dec. 17 (so we can keep posting and reading each other’s stories), no WYRI on Wednesday Dec. 19 (so we can finish posting and reading each other’s stories), no PPBF on Friday Dec. 21 (so I can post the finalists and you can vote), no new post on Christmas Eve (because it’s Christmas Eve :)) and no WYRI on December 26 (so I can post the winners!)  Hopefully that will free you up to write, read all the wonderful entries I sincerely hope we’re going to get, because with 5 such fabulous prizes to give away it would be very sad if we only got 3 entries :(, vote, and still have time for your families 🙂  I think we got somewhere between 30 and 35 entries last year – I hope we can meet or exceed that this year so our critique donors will feel loved and appreciated 🙂

I can’t wait to read your Short & Sweet headlines :), and then I guess I’d better get to work on my sample entry for the holiday contest since I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to write! 🙂

Happy Monday, Everyone!  And please spread the word of the Holiday Contest to anyone you think might be interested.  It’s a chance for some writing fun, lots of blog visits, and maybe even a prize 🙂