Perfect Picture Book Friday – Little Tiger AND Little Panda!!!

It’s an extra special Perfect Picture Book Friday today, my friends!

Today we’re celebrating a writer who, like so many of us, shows up and does the work, writing stories, practicing and perfecting her craft day after day, month after month, year after year in whatever time she can find between her work as a preschool teacher, her family, and life in general.  And in the kind of happy outcome that inspires us all, her hard work and perseverance are paying off!

I first got to know Julie Abery (bio and links at end of post) when she began entering my writing contests 5 or 6 years ago with one delightful story after another, several of them featuring the Teensy-Weensy Witch 🙂  In March 2015, she took my class and I had the privilege of working with her for a month while she wrote a wonderful story about a Paper Owl.  She started a blog called Little Red Story Shed (doesn’t that just make you want to go there?!) and then in September of 2017 I was thrilled to see the announcement in PW that she had sold her first two books!!!

I am so happy to share them with you today, just three days after their book birthday!

Although board books and not technically picture books, sometimes it’s fun to share books and activities for youngest readers – the early preschool crowd 🙂 So let’s dive in and have a look at these delightful little books! 🙂

Little Tiger Cover Little Panda Cover

Title: Little Tiger / Little Panda

Written By: Julie Abery

Illustrated By: Suzie Mason

Amicus Ink, March 12 2019, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 3-5

Themes/Topics: Little Tiger: baby jungle adventure, mother/child love, language fun (rhyme); Little Panda: baby snow adventure, mother/child love, language fun (rhyme)


Little Tiger:
Little Tiger
in the morning sun.”

Little Panda:
Little Panda
spies a snowy day.”

Brief Synopsis: Both stories are “day-in-the-life” adventures in which the little one romps and plays and experiments… but mama is always close by to watch over and keep them safe.

Links To Resources: Special Resources straight from the author!!!

Hi Susanna.

Thank you so much for inviting Little Tiger and Little Panda to Blueberry Hill. We have been looking forward to visiting you on Perfect Picture Book Friday for sucha long time!

We are so happy that you and your granddaughters loved our books sooo much! How about a little painting fun to go with the books.

Little Tiger and Little Panda handprints…

Pandahand         tigerhand

They are TIGER-ific!

Fun and easy to make, just don’t forget to have a bowl of soapy water to wash those paint-covered hands.

Or, how about making bookmark corners? We discovered these origami corners on the RedTedArt website, here is the link on how to make the panda version (

This is me learning how to fold the origami bookmark corner.

And this is what the finished article looks like.


How stu-PANDAS is that!

We hope that you enjoyed the Little Tiger and Little Panda craft time. And we are happy to announce that there will be two more books in the Little Animal Friends series publishing with Amicus Ink same time next year!

Thank you so much for taking time to stop by and share these wonderful activities with us, Julie!!!

Why I Like These Books: the stories are sweet, engaging, and accessible to youngest readers/listeners.  The rhyme is fun to read aloud, with perfect rhythm and fun internal rhyme as well as end-of-line-rhyme (e.g. “Little Panda winking, blinking spies a snowy day.  Little Panda stumbling, tumbling, bumbles out to play.”) Both stories let us play and explore along with baby animals, always feeling the safety of mama’s watchful eye and the warmth of her love. Lovely, gentle reads, perfect for bedtime or any time!!!

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do 🙂

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

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂


Julie Abery is a children’s author and Pre-K teacher. Originally from England, she has spent half of her life living in Europe, bringing up her three (now grown up) children and experiencing new languages and cultures. She now calls Switzerland home.

Julie is looking forward to welcoming; her debut board books Little Tiger and Little Panda publishing in Spring 2019 with Amicus Ink with a further two in the Amicus Little Animal Friends series publishing in Spring 2020 ; a nonfiction picture book biography entitled Yusra Swims from Creative Editions (TBA); a true story Mr. Joao and Dindim the Penguin, Kids Can Press (Fall 2020) and nonfiction picture book Sakamoto and the Sugar-Ditch Kids from Kids Can Press (Spring 2021).

She is represented by Essie White of Storm Literary Agency.


Twitter: @juliedawnabery

Facebook: @julieabery

Extra! Extra! Meet The Baby Scientists!


So I know last week I said that this week we’d be back to normal.

But something came up, and I had to add an extra post.  When friends ask me to share their excitement I can’t say no! 🙂

I think it’s something you’ll enjoy, though, because it is a Surprise Book Cover Reveal and you guys are the very first to get to see it!!!

I hope you all feel stupendously special! 🙂

Laura Gehl and Daniel Wiseman, (whose illustrations you might have seen on this blog once or twice before 🙂 )

lion_needs_a_bath_cover elephant_has_sniffles_cover  llama_needs_haircut_cover monkey_bed_cover

have a brand new series of board books coming out in 2019!  The series is called Baby Scientist, and will begin with the release of

BABY OCEANOGRAPHER (HarperFestival April 30, 2019)

BabyOceanographer c

and BABY ASTRONAUT (HarperFestival May 7, 2019)!


Don’t they look fabulous?

And YOU get to see them first!!!

Not only do you get to see the covers first, but Laura and Daniel were kind enough to share Five Fun Facts each about the creation of this new series! (Since we over here are always curious about the writing/illustrating process and where books come from 🙂 )

Let’s hear from Laura first!

SUSANNA: Hi Laura.  Thanks for joining us! Where did you get the idea for these books?

LAURA: I’ve loved both science and writing since I was a kid, but as an adult I can see that many other adults I meet are intimidated by science. When people talk to me about my writing, they often say, “I hope to write a book one day too.” But when people talk to me about my science background (I have a PhD in neuroscience), they say, “Wow, I could never do that.” The prevailing belief is that writing is much easier than science (false!). The idea of this series is to show kids that scientific careers are fun, approachable, interesting, and relevant. Instead of wondering, “Could I be a scientist?” I want kids to wonder, “Which type of scientist should I be?” I want kids who read these books to grow up thinking, “Of course I could be a scientist! Why not???”

SUSANNA: Did you want to be an astronaut or an oceanographer when you were a kid?

LAURA: No, but I did want to be a chemist! Marie Curie was my hero, and I memorized the periodic table in elementary school. My daughter, age 8, wants to be an astronaut. My dedication for BABY ASTRONAUT is to her (Shh! She doesn’t know yet!).

SUSANNA: Was it hard to make the information you researched accessible to this age group?

LAURA: I used to write about science for children’s magazines, so I did have a lot of experience framing difficult concepts in age-appropriate language. The hardest part of making science accessible to young kids is that sometimes in order to write something in simple enough terms, it is no longer exactly accurate. For example, BABY ASTRONAUT says, “On Earth, gravity stops us from floating into the air. In space, there is less gravity. Baby floats through the air. Baby’s food floats too. So does her toothbrush!” All of this is correct—but it is also a bit misleading. There IS less gravity in space. And astronauts DO float through the air. In reality, though, at 200-250 miles above Earth, where the International Space Station is in orbit, Earth’s gravity is still strong. The real reason astronauts float is because they are in constant free fall—but the science of that is tricky even for adults to understand. So I kept it super simple, and we just have to hope that BABY ASTRONAUT inspires future scientists who will one day understand the complexities of microgravity.

SUSANNA: What are the most interesting things you learned while writing these books?

LAURA: For BABY ASTRONAUT, we were specifically focusing on astronauts as scientists, so I read a lot about the different science experiments happening on board the International Space Station. That was fascinating! One experiment showed that 3D printing works normally in space. This is key for deep-space missions, because the astronauts will be able to print items they need on these very long missions.

I also learned how much is still unknown in the field of oceanography. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, eighty percent of our oceans are unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored. Just the thought of all of that exploration yet to

come gives me chills. I hope lots of little readers will be inspired to grow up to be oceanographers. Imagine the discoveries they could make!

SUSANNA: What fields of study will the baby scientists tackle next?

LAURA: The next two books in the series will be BABY PALEONTOLOGIST and BABY BOTANIST. I was never a dinosaur-focused kid. In fact, I was at the Museum of Science in Boston over Thanksgiving and realized I had never once, in all my visits over the years, stopped by the dinosaur exhibit there. But researching paleontology was particularly intriguing, and now I really want to visit an active dig site. I found out there are some sites where you can go with your kids and help excavate fossils. How cool would that be?

SUSANNA:  VERY cool!!!  Thanks Laura! Now let’s hear from Daniel!  Hi Daniel!  Thank YOU for joining us too!  What made you want to illustrate these stories?

DANIEL: So many things! I loved the idea of introducing scientific principles in a fun way to very young children. I loved the theme of each book (there are 2 more in the series). I also love to take on book series where each book involves a different main character, because it affords me the opportunity to vary the ethnicity of each one. It’s always a priority of mine for every child to be able to see themselves in the books I help create. Lastly, at the same time I signed on to illustrate this series I was also about to have a new little one in my own family. So it seemed timely that I could dedicate a set of baby books I illustrated to the new baby in my life. One of the greatest joys of book making is that I’m creating something that can live on with my family for generations.

SUSANNA: Did you want to be an astronaut or an oceanographer when you were a kid?

DANIEL: When I was young (maybe 10 or 11), I was fascinated with the ocean. I told everyone I was going to be a marine biologist, even though I didn’t know what one really did! It came about after I was gifted a massive photography coffee table book documenting the work of underwater photographer David Doubilet. I was mesmerized by the vastness of the underwater world, all the different creatures, and landscapes (seascapes?). If you think about it, it’s sort of a bizzaro outer-space filled with real life “aliens”. So cool! I think if I wasn’t an illustrator I’d try my hand at some sort of life-science field. I’m fascinated by our world, and all the secrets and treasures it holds.

SUSANNA: Did you have to do a lot of research to be able to draw accurate illustrations?

DANIEL: I did do a fair amount of research…with the help of Chelsea, our art director, fact-checking my sketches. I even learned a few things myself! Like what an electrical outlet looks like on the ISS, and that there’s a fifth ocean called the Southern Ocean. I had no idea. The bigger challenge with these books was to strike a balance between portraying accuracy while keeping the illustrations playful and fun for little ones to look at. I was given a lot of creative freedom to add goofy details like hats on dolphins, and faces on planets. That made illustrating these books a blast!

SUSANNA: Which is your favorite illustration from the astronaut book? The oceanographer book? Why?

DANIEL: In BABY ASTRONAUT there’s an illustration depicting the difference between gravity on Earth and (the lack of) gravity in space. I really loved thinking up funny things to have floating around the space shuttle and space station. This particular illustration involves broccoli, carrots, ranch, a jelly sandwich, toothpaste, and a toothbrush…Did I mention I took some artistic liberties with these books?!

For BABY OCEANOGRAPHER, I really like the spread of the baby floating on a big wave inside his submarine. For each book I included a little sidekick friend for the baby, and in this spread his crab buddy is hanging on for dear life to the top of the submarine. I really enjoyed finding funny things for this crab to do to add a little more humor and fun to each illustration.

SUSANNA: How did illustrating these fact-based stories differ from the straight fiction you’ve done previously? Was it easier or harder?

DANIEL: I wouldn’t say it was any easier or more difficult. Every book is different, and presents different challenges. These were the first books I’ve illustrated that included baby characters. Drawing babies can be a bit daunting when they need to perform complex actions in the story. Babies, by nature, don’t really do anything except lay there and eat, so drawing them manning submarines, driving boats, and shooting off into space was a funny challenge I gladly accepted. I took a few creative liberties with my baby characters, giving them longer limbs and super baby abilities, while still trying to keep them little and cute.

Daniel also thought we might be interested in seeing a little of the illustration process, so he was kind enough to share a couple of sketches and a couple spreads of finished art!

First, here’s the sketch:


And this is how the art looks finished!



Pretty cool, isn’t it?

Many thanks to Daniel and Laura for sharing their new books here first!  And for giving us all some insight into how they were created!

The books are available for preorder.  Undoubtedly you can request your local independent book store to order them for you, or, if you’re an online shopper, they’re available for preorder on IndieBound,  Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Thanks for stopping by to read even though it’s Monday!  Have a marvelous day, everyone! 🙂

(And if you have questions or comments for Laura and/or Daniel, I imagine they’ll check in 🙂 )

Oh, and P.S. – if you’re in the mood to keep reading about where books come from, Miracle On 34th Street is featured on Kathy Temean’s Writing And Illustrating blog today!

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Diva Delores And The Opera House Mouse PLUS 5 Fun Facts From The Author AND A Giveaway!

Hurray!  It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and boy do I have a treat for you today!

It’s Diva Delores’s debut!


Isn’t she gorgeous?! 🙂

You’re going to get to see this beautiful book AND hear from the author AND the publisher is generously doing a giveaway, so one lucky commenter from the US or Canada will be chosen at random to receive a copy of the book!

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

First, a look at the book!


Title: Diva Delores And The Opera House Mouse

Written By: Laura Sassi

Illustrated By: Rebecca Gerlings

Sterling Children’s Books, March 2018, nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: friendship, manners, opera

Opening: “Fernando loved chocolate
and cheese on dry toast,
and popcorn and gumdrops,
but what he liked most . . .

was feasting on Mozart,
Puccini, and Strauss,
and lending a paw
at the Old Opera House.

Brief Synopsis: Fernando the mouse loves everything about opera.  He wants to help Delores with her debut, but the diva thinks she deserves bigger and better help!  It takes a few opening night jitters to get Delores to truly appreciate her helpful little friend.

Links To Resources: Teacher Approved: Seven Things Kids Can Learn From Diva Delores; Opera Facts For Kids; discuss what it means to be a “diva” and dress up one of your stuffed animals as a diva!  (AND, you can use the 5 Fun Facts from the author below as bonus material to go along with the book! 🙂 )

Why I Like This Book:  The fun of this book is in the setting – an opera house – and the main characters – who both love opera!  Although the story is really about friendship, manners, and appreciation, the fact that it takes place in an opera house and involves operatic performance makes it educational as well as original and fun.  (Picture books writers – this is how you make a theme like friendship original, fresh and fun by putting your own twist on it!  Add this to your mentor text list 🙂 )  The story is told in fabulously-written rhyme which makes for a fun read-aloud, and artist Rebecca Gerlings does a gorgeous job of capturing both the feel of an opera house and the personalities and expressions of our heroes 🙂

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

As an added bonus, I thought it would be fun to learn a little about the story behind the story and Laura’s writing process/path to publication with this book, so I asked her to share five fun facts about writing this delightful, creative, and original story.

Here’s what she had to say:


FACT #1 The journey from spark to publication took seven years.

I got the original idea for my story while participating in Tara Lazar’s wonderful STORYSTORM challenge, or Picture Book Idea Month as it was called back in 2011.  I then worked on the story off and on for five years. I played with plot, rhyme, character development – everything but setting, really – until finally it was ready to sub in 2016. It was acquired by Sterling Children’s Books that spring and took another two years to be published, which is typical for picture books.

FACT #2  Diva Delores wasn’t always a seal.

Originally, I imagined everyone at the opera house, including Diva Delores, as human, except of course, for Fernando the mouse. The team at Sterling , however, felt that mixing humans with a talking mouse might be problematic so early on we decided that all the characters in the opera house world would be animals. Early ideas for Delores included a hippo and an ostrich. Ultimately, illustrator Rebecca Gerlings used her wonderful talent and imagination to create the delightful seal Delores who we now know and LOVE!

FACT #3 I chose an opera house setting, because an opera, IMHO, is a lot like a picture book.

Both tell a full story in very few words with magnificent characters. Because there are so few words each word/note must work charmingly to move the story forward. Finally, both are gorgeously illustrated – one with stunning sets and props and the other with delightful painted spreads.

FACT # 4 I didn’t attend my first opera until I was in college.

I attended university about 90 minutes from Manhattan and my freshman year signed up for a special bus-excursion field trip to the Met to see TURANDOT!  I loved everything about the evening.  It was a magical introduction to opera, which I hope my book is too.

FACT #5 According to my kids, I am hard to be around when I am working on a rhyming manuscript.

This is because I click and tap to the beat as I write. I also, apparently, talk to myself in rhyme as I am writing. Worse yet, I sometimes even do this in public places, like if I’m out walking the dog or if I’m working at a coffee shop. This is mortifying to my children, but it works for me. And isn’t part of a mother’s job to embarrass her children?

Thanks for having me, Susanna!

Thank YOU so much for joining us, Laura, and for sharing all that interesting back story!  I am the first to admit that, although I love music, I know absolutely nothing about opera, so I love the whole concept!  (Also, Delores and Fernando are darling 🙂 )

Diva 2
BIO:  Laura Sassi has a passion for telling humorous stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, 2014)and GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, 2015), DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling, 2018) and LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018) She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children, and a black Cockapoo named Sophie.


To join Laura on the rest of Delores’s Blog Tour, please stop off and visit these other fabulous blogs:

Diva 3

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

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Don’t forget, Sterling has offered to do a giveaway. They will send one book to one lucky winner in the US or Canada. It will not be signed because they are sending but it will be fresh off the press!  Just leave a comment below by Tuesday March 20 at 5 PM Eastern to get yourself in the running for the random drawing!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂