Tuesday Debut – Presenting Gnome Road Publishing!

It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means!

Time for another exciting installment of Tuesday Debut!

Today’s debut is a very special one! Not an author. Not an illustrator. But a brand new publishing company!

You have a unique opportunity here to learn about this new resource in children’s literature and get in on the ground floor. Publishers need manuscripts to turn into books, and you are the talented people who write them!

So without further ado, I’d like to introduce Sandra Sutter, Owner-Publisher, and the creative force behind debut Gnome Road Publishing!

Gnome Road Publishing – Logo Design by Wendy Leach

SUSANNA: Hello, Sandra! We had you here on Tuesday Debut with your delightful picture book, THE REAL FARMER IN THE DELL, back in April of 2019, but we are delighted to welcome you again as Owner-Publisher and creative mind behind a brand new publishing company – Gnome Road Publishing! You are a published picture book author.  What inspired you to start a publishing house of your own?

SANDRA: Gnome Road Publishing has been on the horizon for quite a while. I knew in my heart that becoming a publisher was my ultimate goal when I first began writing for children in 2017. I am a behind-the-scenes kind of person, and I love bringing ideas and people together. Once upon a time (in former lives), I was a counselor and a mediator, and those same skills and enjoyment found in collaborating with others seem to be at play. Now, with my experience in the publishing industry, I have the tools and information I need to finally move forward.

SUSANNA: How did you choose the name “Gnome Road Publishing” and what does it represent?

SANDRA: Little did I know when I chose the name (way back in 2019!) that gnomes would be as popular as they have been lately. I’m taking that as a sign of good things ahead. The name comes from a real place (an actual road) in the mountains of Northern Colorado, near where I grew up. It would be much more interesting if I had a story to tell about gnomes and how that relates to a publishing house, but the truth is I simply like the earthy, mythical, and somewhat mischievous nature of gnomes. And, the name reminds me of a childhood place associated with happiness and the outdoors. I think illustrator Wendy Leach, who I hired to design the logo and artwork for the website, was able to capture that feeling and history for me. I really love how it all turned out.

SUSANNA: What do you hope to accomplish/what are your goals/what is your mission as a publisher? (What do you want from authors and illustrators, and what do you hope to provide for readers?)

SANDRA: If you look on the GRP website, you will see two mission statements. One is for the (future) readers of our books, and the other for creatives that come to work with us. I feel a responsibility to not only produce books that children love and want to read time and again, but to also shine a light on the talented people who create these stories. My job as a publisher is to be a bridge that connects authors and illustrators together with children that love good storytelling and reading.

SUSANNA: Can you tell us about your staff members and staff structure? Associate editors, art director, art editors, etc?

SANDRA: Well, there is me at the very top. And then there is me at the very bottom. This is a small, start-up press so I am responsible for almost all aspects of the publishing process. However, that does not mean I work alone. I have a team of helpers, from members of my Acquisitions and Editorial Advisory Board to consultants on design and marketing strategies. And, this is a family-owned business, so I have hands-on support at home, too. As the company grows, I look forward to building a staff dedicated to furthering the GRP mission. 

SUSANNA: What will you publish? Board books? Novelty books? Picture Books? Early Readers? Chapter Books? Graphic Novels? Middle Grade? YA? Fiction and/or Nonfiction? Please be as specific and detailed as you care to be – the more information the better 😊

SANDRA: Can I pick “D. All of the above?” I certainly wish I could publish them all! But starting out, my focus will be on picture books through early middle-grade and a select number of upper middle-grade and young adult novels. As much as I like board books, I am not actively seeking them. Long-term, I am interested in producing novelty books and items under the Gnome Wild! imprint. But all in good time.

Logos and Art by Wendy Leach

SUSANNA: As owner/managing editor, what is your wish list for each category?

SANDRA: The GRP website has a wish list for each of the imprints which I hope provides guidance on what we are looking for (and what I particularly like as a publisher). But no matter the specific topic or style of writing, one thing a story must have is the “R” factor. Re-readability! I want to publish the story a child will pick out at bedtime three times a week, the one with the tattered corners and curled pages from being checked out and loved so much at the library, or the one a classroom of children beg the teacher to read at story-time. Please – send that story to me!  

Another way to answer this question might be to share a few of our household favorites (picture books, in no particular order):

  • Tyrannosaurus Rex v. Edna, the Very First Chicken by Douglas Rees (Illus. Jed Henry)
  • They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
  • The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins (Illus. Jill McElmurry)
  • The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt (Illus. Adam Rex)
  • The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard (Illus. Oge Mora)
  • A Gift for Amma by Meera Sriram (Illus. Mariona Cabassa)
  • Holy Squawkamole! by Susan Wood (Illus. Laura González)
  • Caring for Your Lion by Tammi Sauer (Illus. Troy Cummings)
  • The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
  • Mummy Cat by Marcus Ewert (Illus. Lisa Brown)
  • Read the Book Lemmings by Ame Dyckman (Illus. Zachariah O’Hora)
  • Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales
  • The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (Illus. Patrice Barton)
  • There are no Bears in This Bakery by Julia Sarcone-Roach
  • Teach Your Giraffe to Ski by Viviane Elbee (Illus. Danni Gowdy)
  • Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller (Illus. Anne Wilsdorf)
  • When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Deenihan (Illus. Lorraine Rocha)
  • The William Hoy Story by Nancy Churnin (Illus. Jez Tuya)
  • In the Sea by David Elliott (Illus. by Holly Meade)
  • Predator and Prey by Susannah Buhrman-Deever (Illus. by Bert Kitchen)
  • Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

There are so many more! A few of my older favorites are The Upstairs Cat, The Riddle Monster, and Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. And if you really want to get my attention, get your hands on a copy of This Room is Mine by Betty Ren Wright (Illus. Judy Stang) and send me something like it for today’s market.

SUSANNA: How many titles do you expect to start with and in what genres?

SANDRA: The plan is to start with 4 to 5 picture books, an early reader or chapter book (with series potential) and one or two MG or YA novels each year, with the first releases coming out at the end of 2022 or beginning of 2023. I would like to double that soon thereafter, but again, one step at a time.

SUSANNA: Will authors and illustrators receive an advance?  What will the royalty structure be like?

SANDRA: Yes, authors and illustrators will be paid on an advance against royalties structure in a traditional publishing format. It should be no surprise that advances will not be as competitive as in a large publishing house, but I believe strongly in providing something upfront for work acquired at GRP.

SUSANNA: What kind of experience can an author or illustrator expect to have with Gnome Road?

SANDRA: I am glad you asked this, and I think it goes nicely with the last question on advances. We know we cannot fulfill our mission to readers without a list of talented creatives! Authors and illustrators can expect timely and straightforward communication from the earliest point in working together, through production, publication, and beyond. As an author myself, I know that feeling valued and appreciated is important to having a good experience in this industry.

Authors and illustrators will be working with me and the GRP team closely to make a book the best it can be, starting with an initial discussion about the overall story vision, what happens behind-the-scenes to turn a manuscript into a physical book, and how we plan to market and distribute the title. We expect authors and illustrators to work collaboratively to the best of their capabilities. I know what I am able to do as the publisher, but I also want to know what each of their strengths are and how that fits with our overall goal to get the book into the hands (and hearts) of young readers. We want to identify those strengths and help creatives to successfully continue down their publishing paths. And perhaps this is a good time to answer the next question . . .

SUSANNA: Will authors and illustrators be expected to have existing social media platforms and presence? How much will they be responsible for marketing and publicity?

SANDRA: Yes. No. Maybe. Is that a good answer? It’s 2021. There is steep competition for space on the shelf, whether that be in a store, a library, school, or someone’s home. Every bit of marketing and positive publicity helps. Although we will be working with a distributor and part of the budget for each title will include an allocation for marketing (and reviews), an author or illustrator should have (or plan to develop) a social media platform to assist in these efforts. Authors and illustrators will not have ultimate responsibility for marketing their book(s), but we encourage active involvement in this process. This can come in many forms – not just a social media platform. But having one is almost essential at this point.

SUSANNA: As a new publisher, how do you plan to tackle marketing and distribution?

SANDRA: “Tackle” is an appropriate word for this topic. Although I love the creative aspects of being a publisher, the fact is much of my time is devoted to making quality products (in a physical sense as much as in the stories told) and getting them into the hands of as many readers as possible. I made the decision early on that GRP would use offset printing rather than print-on-demand services. This provides a wider range of options for distribution and marketing, but it also requires more time and money upfront and greater financial risk. This is one reason advances are less attractive than those found at a large, traditional publishing house. It means I must be very selective about choosing manuscripts and take on a limited number of projects so that resources can be put towards finding book buyers and building the brand as a whole. It is a balancing act of trying to attract talent, making quality products, selling them, and also keeping workload manageable and finding help when needed. Interview me again in five years and ask if all of my hair has turned gray. Chances are it will, and largely because of this.  

SUSANNA:  Will you submit your titles for review by top reviewers (Kirkus, SLJ, Booklist, etc) and for awards?

SANDRA: Yes. I feel this is a core component of a marketing and publicity strategy. But I do not want to discount the importance of less formal reviews and publicity found through connections within the greater Kidlit Community. We will work with our creatives on identifying and creating opportunities for personal growth and publicity through avenues like blog tours, podcasts, online promotional groups, book fairs, school and library visits, honor and awards submissions, and bookstore and influencer relationships.

SUSANNA: Do you have any advice for authors and illustrators who are planning to submit to GRP?

SANDRA: Let’s call it “Words of Wisdom”. First, learn your craft, get critiques, and write a good query letter. If you submit no query at all with the manuscript, send a 900-word story for pre-school age children, or fail to use any type of standard formatting, it is almost certain that submission will end up in the “no” pile. Almost. I could be wrong, but why take that chance with your work? Make your submission the best it can be. My Acquisitions Team will always appreciate the effort!

Little Gnome – Logo Design by Wendy Leach

Please come visit, get to know, and follow Gnome Road!

website: https://www.gnomeroadpublishing.com
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/GnomeRoadPub
Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/gnomeroadpublishing/

Submissions Info HERE

SUSANNA: Sandra, thank you so much for stopping by today to tell us about your wonderful new publishing company! It’s so exciting – for you and for us! I think I speak for everyone when I say we can’t wait to see what you will publish!

And thanks to everyone for stopping by to read today!  Have a lovely, inspiration-filled Tuesday!  Maybe today is the day you’ll write your debut picture book 😊

Missed any previous Tuesday Debuts?  Check them out!

Christy Mihaly – Hey! Hey! Hay! A Tale of Bales And The Machines That Make Them

Jessie Oliveros – The Remember Balloons

Beth Anderson – An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin And Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution

Hannah Holt – The Diamond And The Boy

Laura Renauld – Porcupine’s Pie

Annie Romano – Before You Sleep: A Bedtime Book Of Gratitude

Melissa Stoller – Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush

Sherry Howard – Rock And Roll Woods

Kate Narita – 100 Bugs! A Counting Book

Vivian Kirkfield – Pippa’s Passover Plate

Laura Roettiger – Aliana Reaches For The Moon

Matthew Lasley – Pedro’s Pan: A Gold Rush Story

Natalee Creech – When Day Is Done

Margaret Chiu Greanias – Maximillian Villainous

Wendy Greenley – Lola Shapes The Sky

Danielle Dufayet – You Are Your Strong

B.J. Lee – There Was An Old Gator Who Swallowed A Moth

Cathy Ballou Mealey – When A Tree Grows

Pippa Chorley – Counting Sheep

Sandra Sutter – The Real Farmer In The Dell

June Smalls – Odd Animals ABC

Jill Mangel Weisfeld – Riley The Retriever Wants A New Job (self pub)

Kathleen Cornell Berman – The Birth Of Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound

Eleanor Ann Peterson – Jurassic Rat

Sarah Hoppe – Who Will? Will You?

Marla LeSage – Pirate Year Round

Stacey Corrigan – The Pencil Eater

Shannon Stocker – Can U Save The Day?

Nadine Poper – Randall And Randall

Christine Evans – Evelyn The Adventurous Entomologist

Karen Kiefer – Drawing God (religious market)

Susan Richmond – Bird Count

Dawn Young – The Night Baafore Christmas

Heather Gale – Ho’onani: Hula Warrior

Ciara O’Neal – Flamingo Hugs Aren’t For Everyone (self pub)

Theresa Kiser – A Little Catholic’s Book Of Liturgical Colors (religious market)

Lindsey Hobson – Blossom’s Wish (self pub)

Kirsten Larson – Wood, Wire, Wings: Emma Lilian Todd Invents An Airplane

Valerie Bolling – Let’s Dance!

Janet Johnson – Help Wanted: Must Love Books

Susi Schaefer – Cat Ladies

Heather Kinser – Small Matters: The Hidden Power of the Unseen

Kelly Carey – How Long Is Forever?

Mary Wagley Copp – Wherever I Go

Nell Cross Beckerman – Down Under The Pier

Claire Noland – Evie’s Field Day: More Than One Way To Win

Sharon Giltrow – Bedtime, Daddy!

Gabi Snyder – Two Dogs On A Trike

Sarah Kurpiel – Lone Wolf

Vicky Fang – Invent-a-Pet

Lisa Katzenberger – National Regular Average Ordinary Day

Pam Webb – Someday We Will

Abi Cushman – Soaked!

Teresa Krager – Before Your Birth Day

Lindsay H. Metcalf – Beatrix Potter, Scientist

Nancy Roe Pimm – Fly, Girl, Fly! Shaesta Waiz Soars Around The World

Jolene Gutiérrez – Mac And Cheese And The Personal Space Invader

Julie Rowan-Zoch – Louis (picture book illustration debut!)

Janie Emaus – Latkes For Santa

Amy Mucha – A Girl’s Bill Of Rights

Hope Lim – I Am A Bird

Melanie Ellsworth – Hip,Hip…Beret!

Rebecca Kraft Rector – Squish Squash Squished

Perfect Picture Book Friday – A Round Up Of Groundhogs!

It’s the Perfect Picture Book Friday before Groundhog Day (which, as you know, we are very partial to around here 🙂 ) so Phyllis insisted I thought, for fun, that we feature her book I’d share a roundup of Groundhog Day titles – three that have already been reviewed for PPBF and one new one! 🙂

Some of my (and Phyllis’s 🙂 ) favorite Groundhog Day titles:

Punxsutawney Phyllis by Susanna Leonard Hill, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler, Holiday House 2005 (yes, ok, we are biased 🙂 ) – reviewed for Perfect Picture Books by Beth Stilborn


Substitute Groundhog by Pat Miller, illustrated by Kathi Ember, Albert Whitman & Co – reviewed for Perfect Picture Books by Jennifer Rumberger

Substitute Groundhog

Groundhug Day by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by Christopher Denise, Disney-Hyperion, December 2017  – reviewed for Perfect Picture Books HERE


And one that hasn’t been on PPBF yet (as far as I know) that is an older title but was well-loved in my house! 🙂

Gretchen Groundhog It’s Your Day

Greta Groundhog

Title: Gretchen Groundhog, It’s Your Day!

Written By: Abby Levine

Illustrated By: Nancy Cote

Albert Whitman & Co, November 1998, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 5 and up

Themes/Topics: holidays (Groundhog Day), emotions (feeling shy), overcoming a fear

Opening: “It was a dark and snowy night.  Gretchen Groundhog sat in her burrow, worrying.  In a few days it would be February 2, when the world would be watching the little town of Piccadilly.
On that day, for the first time, Gretchen would step from her burrow to stand before TV cameras, newspaper reporters, tourists, all the townsfolk, and a brass band.  Everyone would be waiting as Gretchen looked for her shadow.

Brief Synopsis: Gretchen must carry on the family tradition of stepping out on the morning of February 2 to search for her shadow, but she is too shy to “Go Out” and face the crowd of people.  After much worrying, she musters up courage when she learns that throughout history groundhogs have been afraid to “Go Out” the first time.

Links To Resources: Groundhog Day Crafts and Activities; make your own Groundhog Day prediction: 6 more weeks of winter or early spring???!!! 🙂

Why I Like This Book: Any youngster who has ever felt apprehensive at the idea of being in the spotlight will relate to shy Gretchen.  Lots of children feel shy at the idea of meeting other kids for the first time, or of entering a new classroom, or of standing at the front of the class for a spelling bee or to give a report, so they will easily understand how Gretchen feels at the idea of having to face crowds of people, TV cameras and newspaper reporters.  Gretchen’s courage is bolstered when the town historian’s daughter arrives with a box of notes written by Gretchen’s ancestors (Goody Groundhog, who sailed on the Mayflower; George Groundhog, who fought at Valley Forge; and Gloria Groundhog, movie star 🙂 ), all confessing their fear of “Going Out.”  Gretchen writes a few words of her own for the history box and then finds she can face her fear.  A fun story accompanied by warm, appealing art that lots of kids will enjoy for Groundhog Day!

I hope you enjoy all of these titles as much as Phyllis and 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!!! 🙂

Happy Groundhog Day!!! (and here’s hoping we get an early spring 🙂 )


Perfect Picture Book Friday – Asleep At The Switch


What a week!

All good things, but SO. BUSY!!!  Just back from a New Jersey Booksellers Conference and let me tell you there’s nothing like driving through a Nor’easter made of rain, where your GPS starts by telling you you’ll arrive at 5:54 PM. . . and you actually arrive at 8PM. . . while she gleefully reports from time to time that, “Traffic is getting worse! You will now arrive at 6:24!”  “There is a 27 minute slow down.  You are still on the fastest route.”  “Traffic is getting worse!  You will now arrive at 7:43!”  etc 🙂

I believe traveling by upside down umbrella would have been faster 🙂


Now I’m off to Sheep & Wool for the whole weekend with CAN’T SLEEP and LLAMA, those wooly upholders of fiber arts (as well as MOON and DEAR SANTA just because 🙂 ) where we will do our wooly hair up fancy and admire all the hand-knitted and crocheted sweaters and scarves and mittens and hats and even dresses parading past our little table while the tantalizing scent of apple crisp floats over from the building next door!

I’m putting up this post with the list for all of you to add your books to, but I am literally falling asleep on the keyboard, so I’m going to have to add my book in tomorrow if I have time.

If I don’t that will just be more time for you to read each other’s books! 🙂

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 wild and wooly weekend, everyone!!! 🙂


Perfect Picture Book Friday – Green Green: A Community Gardening Story

Happy Friday, Everyone!

So, over Memorial Day weekend I put my planters full of flowers out on the back porch for summer.  (Please see exhibit A)

Exhibit A


(I refer to them as “flowers” because I grew up in an apartment in New York City where our windowsills were decorated with pigeons and we didn’t have a back porch.  I’ll hazard that some of my “flowers” are petunias.  And some others are possibly geraniums.  But that’s as far out on that limb as I’ll crawl! 🙂 )

Anyway, then we had a violent thunderstorm with fierce wind and giant hail.

I will not depress you with exhibit B – the resulting carnage.  I’ll just say it was sad!  Very sniff VERY sniffsniff sad!

While I am waiting for my poor little flowers to resurrect themselves (which is uphill work for them due to continued rain and not very much healing sunshine), I will share a gorgeous picture book about a garden that does grow 🙂  I think it will inspire us all to go out and spend the weekend digging in dirt 🙂

Green Green

Title: Green Green: A Community Gardening Story

Written By: Marie Lamba & Baldev Lamba

Illustrated By: Sonia Sanchez

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, May 9, 2017, fiction

Suitable For Ages: 2-5

Themes/Topics: community, environmental preservation, gardening, city, nature

Opening: “Green green,
Fresh and clean.
Brown brown,
Dig the ground.”

Brief Synopsis: First a green meadow is wide and fresh and clean for kids to play in, and brown dirt is just right for digging. But buildings grow up around the green space, gradually crowding it out.  Will the community lose their green?

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 1.55.22 PM

text copyright Marie Lamba & Baldev Lamba 2017, illustration copyright Sonia Sanchez 2017

Links To Resources: wonderful resource material at the back of the book gives a guide to making your world more green, helping bees and butterflies, and making bee and butterfly decorations.

Why I Like This Book: Simply told with gorgeous pictures (so beautiful I couldn’t decide which interior spread to share because I wanted to share them all!), this story is perfect to introduce youngest readers to the idea of community gardening.  It’s also empowering because it’s the kids who band together to save the green space.  I love the concept that even if a child lives in the city, he or she can have a garden and care for our earth.  The illustrations are wonderful and offer something for everyone from plants to animals to construction vehicles 🙂

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 1.55.04 PM

text copyright Marie Lamba & Baldev Lamba 2017, illustration copyright Sonia Sanchez 2017

I hope you enjoy it 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!!! 🙂  I’m off to the Children’s Writers of the Hudson Valley Conference.  I hope I’ll see some of you there! 🙂


Oh, Susanna! – What Picture Books Can Help A Child Cope With Loss Of A Loved One?

Good Morning, Everyone!

So sorry to be late with this post!  Cable is coming to Blueberry Hill but it’s not here yet! and heavy HEAVY rain last night took out my internet (just for a change! 🙂 ).  Since I spent the weekend in New Brunswick at NJSCBWI (SO awesome, and SO great to see everyone I got to see!!!) I did not write this ahead of time and schedule the post.

(Okay.  Who am I kidding?  I’m always writing posts at the last minute!  You know me too well 🙂 )

Anyway, although today’s topic is sad, I think it’s a very important one for parents, teachers, kids, and writers, so I hope even though you might not have need of it right now, you’ll tuck it away as a resource just in case the need should arise.

Today’s question comes from Anonymous who says, “I am in the unfortunate and sad situation of needing to find picture books about loss.  My friend has two young kids – ages 6 and 3 – who lost their father 2 1/2 years ago, and now recently lost a cousin to SIDS.  I would love some recommendations for books to help them understand death and deal with it.”

First, let me take a moment to say how sorry I am for all the loss – to your friend’s kids, to your friend, and to you.  So much hardship, so much to cope with at such a young age… it is heartbreaking.

But one of the things books are good for – not just for kids, but for all of us – is helping us to understand the common life challenges we all share, and helping us to know we’re not alone in the experience.  There is comfort in knowing that others know and understand.

I’m sure there are many people besides our questioner for today – parents, teachers, grandparents, and other good friends seeking to help someone they love – who will find the following list of books useful at some point.  Although these are all amazing books, I recommend that you pre-read before sharing with your child.  Some books may not be quite right for your child’s personality or sensibilities or specific situation.  Browse the list and find the ones best suited.

A side note to writers: well-written books on difficult topics are always in demand, precisely because hard things happen even to the very young and they (and the adults in their lives who search for a way to explain) need help to find their way through the tough times.  The books listed below are excellent and may serve as mentor texts for anyone trying to write picture books on painful topics.

Boats For PapaBagley, Jessixa, Boats For Papa (Roaring Brook Press, June 2015): “”They didn’t have much, but they always had each other.” So begins this spare tale of longing and acceptance. Buckley and his mother (a pair of beavers) spend their days near their ocean-front home, gathering driftwood treasures, playing together, and having picnics in the sand. His favorite pastime is using his discoveries to make miniature ships to send out to sea with a note that reads, “For Papa, Love Buckley.” He is sure the boats will reach his father if they don’t wash back up on shore. He works tirelessly over the course of a year to create new and beautiful boats for his absent parent. One evening when he forgets his customary note, he runs back to grab a piece of paper from Mama’s desk and discovers his ships hidden there.That night when Mama goes to retrieve Buckley’s boat, the note reads, “For Mama, Love Buckley.” Bagley’s tender watercolors and lyrical text give weight and volume to a family’s grief. Her portrayal of Buckley’s hope and his mother’s acts of love are heartbreakingly beautiful and authentic. The ambiguity of Papa’s absence allows this story to transcend specifics and gives it a timeless and universal appeal. VERDICT The only thing better than this title for anyone who has experienced loss is the redemptive nature of time.—Jenna Boles, Greene County Public Library, Beavercreek, OH” (from School Library Journal)

Where Is GrandpaBarron, T.A., Where Is Grandpa? (Philomel Books, January 2000): “Where is Grandpa? This question haunts a young boy on the day his grandpa dies. Grandpa has been so richly present in so many places–at the tree house, at the waterfall, at the door ready to carve pumpkins. But where is he now? As the boy searches for an answer, he makes a surprising discovery: perhaps Grandpa is closer to home than anyone ever realized. In this deeply moving tale, the poetic words of T. A. Barron and the luminous illustrations of Chris K. Soentpiet remind us all that a family’s sorrow can be shared–and that even in the greatest loss, love can still be found.” (from the Amazon description)

Sun KissesBernardo, Susan Schaefer, Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs (Inner Flower Child Books, November 2012): “Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs is a beautiful picture book with a simple but powerful message: love lasts forever. Lyrical writing and delightful illustrations provide perfect bedtime reading for any child. The book is also ideal for supporting children through grief, separation anxiety, divorce, illness or other traumatic situations, by wrapping them in a warm and comforting emotional security blanket and opening a dialogue on the nature of love. Even when loved ones cannot be with us, we can feel their presence through our deep connections to the natural world. Sun Kisses, Moon Hugs has received glowing testimonials from parents, librarians, social workers, teachers, hospice caregivers…and most importantly, kids.” (from the Amazon description)

Tess's TreeBrallier, Jess, Tess’s Tree (Harper Collins, August 2009):
“Tess loved her tree.
She liked to swing on it
and sit in its shade
and catch its leaves in the fall.
When Tess’s tree has to come down, Tess is very sad . . . until she finds a way to gather friends and family and celebrate her tree’s remarkable life.” (from the Amazon description)  Reviewer Jack Keely adds: “This emotionally resonant picture book tells the story of Tess who is “nine years, three months, and two days old” and her love for a one hundred and seventy five year old tree. When the tree has to be cut down, Tess must find a way to deal with the anger and sorrow she feels. Jess Brallier has managed to craft a story about dealing with loss and grief in a way that a child can understand, and he has done it with charm, sensitivity, and a touch of humor. The illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds have a subtle, soft focus charm. With expert lines and a wash of color Mr. Reynolds creates memorable images that perceptively illuminate the text.”

When Dino'sBrown, Laura Krasny, When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide To Understanding Death (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, April 1998): ” The authors explain in simple language the feelings people may have regarding the death of a loved one and the ways to honor the memory of someone who has died.” (from the Amazon description)  An added note from reviewers: although this book is written and intended for picture book aged kids and is nicely done, it does touch on many ways that people CAN die including some that may not be appropriate for your child’s specific situation.

Fall of Freddie LeafBuscaglia, Leo, The Fall Of Freddie The Leaf (Slack Incorporated, June 1982): “This story by Leo Buscaglia is a warm, wonderfully wise and strikingly simple story about a leaf names Freddie. How Freddie and his companion leaves change with the passing seasons, finally falling to the ground with winter’s snow, is an inspiring allegory illustrating the delicate balance between life and death.  Both children and adults will be deeply touched by this inspiring book.” (from the jacket)

RabbitynessEmpson, Jo, Rabbityness (Child’s Play International, November 2012): “I am an elementary school counselor and am using the book in my practice.
Sometimes I get requests from parents or teachers for books dealing with very specific grief situations. If I can’t find the perfect fit from my bookshelf I definitely feel frustrated. Rabbityness is a really special story I can use to cover a lot of different grief or tragedy situations. Rabbit disappears in the story – but no one knows why or what happened to him. I like that there’s no answer as to what happened because I can help the child relate their own story to Rabbit.
“One day. Rabbit disappeared. The other rabbits were very sad. They couldn’t find him anywhere. The woods were quiet and gray. All that Rabbit had left was a hole…a DEEP dark hole.”
Wow. The deep dark hole can represent a lot of different feelings for children. The second part of the story shows the other rabbits learning how to cope with their loss. What I see as a healing step for kids is to talk about how to fill the void they might be feeling. What coping skills could they use to fill that deep dark hole…….
Absolutely love this one and see it HELPING me as a counselor and the grieving children I work with throughout the year.” (from an Amazon review by an elementary school counselor)

Fox, Mem, The Goblin And The Empty Chair (Beach Lane Books, September 2009): “In a time long past, in a land far away, a family has suffered an unspeakable loss.
But a lonely goblin has been watching. And he knows what to do to help them heal.
From internationally acclaimed picture book masters Mem Fox and Leo and Diane Dillon, here is a rich and moving original fairy tale about family, friendship, and the power compassion has to unite us all.” (from the Amazon description)

The Next Place
Hanson, Warren, The Next Place (Waldman House Press, August 2002): “”The Next Place” is an inspirational journey of light and hope to a place where earthly hurts are left behind. An uncomplicated journey of awe and wonder to a destination without barriers.” (from the Amazon description)

Death Is Stupid
Higginbotham, Anastasia, Death Is Stupid (The Feminist Press at CUNY, April 2016): “This exploration of death and grieving begins with a boy mourning the loss of his grandma and his bold observation that “When a loved one dies/people can say some/…stupid things”—referring to the platitudes offered to him (e.g., “Just be grateful for the time you had with her.”). Through mixed-media collage, speech bubbles, and simple text, Higginbotham explores a child’s experience of loss: “Dying is not a punishment. But it mostly doesn’t feel fair.” The bold collages, set against a plain brown background, visually reinforce the child’s disoriented swirl of emotion. A few of the images are unclear or ambiguous, but the boy’s grief and responses are kidlike and recognizable. Readers follow along as he contemplates the reactions of his family members, imagines having a conversation with Gramma, and continues to feel her absence in his life. Eventually, he shares cherished memories with his father, and they work together in Gramma’s garden. The author recommends activities that may help (“keep someone and, at the same time, let them go”), such as reading the same books that they enjoyed. She also offers suggestions for dealing with the death of a pet. VERDICT Clearly written to validate and respect a child’s feelings, this book is a useful resource for parenting collections or patrons looking for a relatable exploration of death.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA” (from School Library Journal)

Heart And BottleJeffers, Oliver, The Heart And The Bottle, (Philomel Books, March 2010): “A little girl delights in the boundless discoveries of the world around her with an older gentleman, likely her grandfather. But then the man’s chair is empty, and the girl puts her heart in a bottle to help with the hurt. As she grows older, she loses her sense of wonderment, and it isn’t until she meets another young girl that she finds a way to free her heart again. This book showcases some absolutely captivating artwork. The way in which Jeffers employs pictures in word balloons to convey the limberness of imagination is brilliant: the man points to the sky to talk about constellations, while the girl sees stars as inflamed bumblebees. But what begins promisingly runs into trouble, and it’s not clear who the message is directed toward: children just opening their eyes to the world, or parents who have lost their sense of curiosity? Even if children don’t glean much from the abstractions and subtleties of the narrative, they’re nevertheless in for a treat with the unforgettable visuals of imagination at play. Preschool-Grade 1. –Ian Chipman” (from Booklist)

Invisible StringKarst, Patrice, The Invisible String (Devorss & Co, September 2000): “Specifically written to address children’s fear of being apart from the ones they love, The Invisible String delivers a particularly compelling message in today’s uncertain times that though we may be separated from the ones we care for, whether through anger, or distance or even death, love is the unending connection that binds us all, and, by extension, ultimately binds every person on the planet to everyone else. Parents and children everywhere who are looking for reassurance and reaffirmation of the transcendent power of love, to bind, connect and comfort us through those inevitable times when life challenges us!” (from the Amazon description)

Ida AlwaysLevis, Caron, Ida, Always (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, February 2016): “A beautiful, honest portrait of loss and deep friendship told through the story of two iconic polar bears.
Gus lives in a big park in the middle of an even bigger city, and he spends his days with Ida. Ida is right there. Always.
Then one sad day, Gus learns that Ida is very sick, and she isn’t going to get better. The friends help each other face the difficult news with whispers, sniffles, cuddles, and even laughs. Slowly Gus realizes that even after Ida is gone, she will still be with him—through the sounds of their city, and the memories that live in their favorite spots.
Ida, Always is an exquisitely told story of two best friends—inspired by a real bear friendship—and a gentle, moving, needed reminder that loved ones lost will stay in our hearts, always.” (from the Amazon description)

LifetimesMellonie, Bryan, Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way To Explain Death To Children (Bantam, October 1983): “When the death of a relative, a friend, or a pet happens or is about to happen . . . how can we help a child to understand?
Lifetimes is a moving book for children of all ages, even parents too. It lets us explain life and death in a sensitive, caring, beautiful way. Lifetimes tells us about beginnings. And about endings. And about living in between. With large, wonderful illustrations, it tells about plants. About animals. About people. It tells that dying is as much a part of living as being born. It helps us to remember. It helps us to understand.
Lifetimes . . . a very special, very important book for you and your child. The book that explains—beautifully—that all living things have their own special Lifetimes.” (from the GoodReads description)

The ScarMoundlic, Charlotte, The Scar (Candlewick, November 2011): “When the boy in this story wakes to find that his mother has died, he is overwhelmed with sadness, anger, and fear that he will forget her. He shuts all the windows to keep in his mother’s familiar smell and scratches open the cut on his knee to remember her comforting voice. He doesn’t know how to speak to his dad anymore, and when Grandma visits and throws open the windows, it’s more than the boy can take–until his grandmother shows him another way to feel that his mom’s love is near. With tenderness, touches of humor, and unflinching emotional truth, Charlotte Moundlic captures the loneliness of grief through the eyes of a child, rendered with sympathy and charm in Olivier Tallec’s expressive illustrations.” (from the Amazon description)

Flat RabbitOskarsson, Bardur, The Flat Rabbit (Owlkids, September 2014): “When a dog and a rat come upon a rabbit flattened on the road in their neighborhood, they contemplate her situation, wondering what they should do to help her. They decide it can’t be much fun to lie there; she should be moved. But how? And to where? Finally, the dog comes up with an inspired and unique idea and they work together through the night to make it happen. Once finished, they can’t be positive, but they think they have done their best to help the flat rabbit get somewhere better than the middle of the road where they found her. Sparely told with simple artwork, The Flat Rabbit treats the concept of death with a sense of compassion and gentle humor — and a note of practicality. In the end, the dog’s and the rat’s caring, thoughtful approach results in an unusual yet perfect way to respect their departed friend.” (from the Amazon review) This book received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, but a few other reviewers felt it might be too humorous for children actively grieving, so again, check it out first 🙂

Goodbye BookParr, Todd, The Goodbye Book (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, November 2015): “This picture book shows young children that even when goodbyes bring sadness and unfamiliar emotions, those feelings will ease with the help of time, remembrance, and support. The Goodbye Book addresses the range of emotions someone might feel after a loss, including anger, sadness, lack of joy, and denial, as well as the desire to stop eating or sleeping. Parr explains that even when a person starts to feel better, there could be moments of grief or confusion, but at the end of the day, another person will always be available to provide love and comfort. The colorful illustrations, in an naive, childlike style and outlined in black, feature a goldfish that experiences the emotions discussed throughout the book. Young readers can infer what the goldfish is feeling by looking at the picture, and the imaginative representation gives the book a soothing tone. The Goodbye Book never specifies what the exact scenario is, making it an appropriate choice whether a child is dealing with death or another difficult situation. VERDICT An honest but gentle look at the grief that comes with saying goodbye. An essential purchase for all early childhood collections.—Liz Anderson, D.C. Public Library” (from School Library Journal)

Cry Heart

Ringtved, Glenn, Cry, Heart, But Never Break (Enchanted Lion, February 2016): “Aware their grandmother is gravely ill, four siblings make a pact to keep death from taking her away. But Death does arrive all the same, as it must. He comes gently, naturally. And he comes with enough time to share a story with the children that helps them to realize the value of loss to life and the importance of being able to say goodbye.” (from the Amazon description)


Waterbugs and Dragonflies
Stickney, Doris, Waterbugs And Dragonflies: Explaining Death To Young Children (Pilgrim Press, December 1998): “Waterbugs and Dragonflies is a graceful fable written by Doris Stickney who sought a meaningful way to explain to neighborhood children the death of a five-year-old friend. The small book is beautifully illustrtated by artist Gloria Ortiz Hernandez.” (from the Barnes & Noble description)

The Memory Tree
Teckentrup, Britta, The Memory Tree (Orchard Books, November 2014): “A beautiful and heartfelt picture book to help children celebrate the memories left behind when a loved one dies.
Fox has lived a long and happy life in the forest. One day, he lies down in his favourite clearing, takes a deep breath, and falls asleep for ever.
Before long, Fox’s friends begin to gather in the clearing. One by one, they tell stories of the special moments that they shared with Fox. And, as they share their memories, a tree begins to grow, becoming bigger and stronger, sheltering and protecting all the animals in the forest, just as Fox did when he was alive.
This uplifting, lyrical story about the loss of a loved one is perfect for sharing and will bring comfort to both children and parents. (from the Amazon description)

BadgerVarley, Susan, Badger’s Parting Gifts (HarperCollins, July 1992): “Warm and sensitive illustrations reflect the hopeful mood of this tale about woodland animals learning to accept their friend Badger’s death.” (from Publisher’s Weekly)
“Badger’s friends are overwhelmed with their loss when he dies. By sharing their memories of his gifts, they find the strength to face the future with hope.” (from School Library Journal)

Yeomans, Ellen, Jubilee (Eerdmans Books For Young Readers, January 2010): “This book works beautifully on two levels: it shares the simple joyous experience of a family reunion/picnic and, on a deeper level, if the adult reader chooses, it introduces the child to heaven. The book helps the reader envision a loving, light-filled place that exists beyond life as we know it. Beautiful illustrations, lyrical text. The author should be congratulated for approaching the very difficult idea of “what happens to us after we die” with a very tender hand.” (from reviewer Susan Keeter)

I’m sure this list just begins to scratch the surface.  There are undoubtedly others that have been reviewed for Perfect Picture Book Friday (actually, several of these have been.)  (And Perfect Picture Books also includes books that more specifically address loss of a pet or loss of a beloved item/object.)

If anyone has other titles they highly recommend to add to this list, Anonymous and I would be grateful.

Have a question for Oh, Susanna!?  Please send it to me!!!  Our next installment will be on Monday July 3!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone (in spite of our heavy topic for today!) 🙂