Wednesday, April 12, 2017


I recently participated in a picture book reading challenge called ReFoReMo 2017, which stands for for Research Month. The idea was to read a select group of picture books each day, for a month. The books were selected for different reasons. Those who participated read books that were good examples of how to write: rhyming picture books, alphabet books, biographies, other nonfiction text, etc.

The list of books was a long one, with about 150 titles to read throughout the month. I read all of the books that I could (a few weren't available through my local library). I enjoyed most of the books I read, some a lot more than others.

I learned a lot from this reading challenge. I wanted to share some things with my readers. So, I took it upon myself to categorize the books I read according to topics. These topics are not necessarily those that were used during the reading challenge. I also took it upon myself to write short reviews of most of the books that I read. I didn't review them all as there were just too many of them. As you will notice, some books are included in more than one category. Over the next few days, I will be uploading blogs about these books, complete with book covers. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Here are books from two categories. (The first category had only one book in it):


A ball comes bouncing into a little mouse's house, waking him up. What happens next results in a lively romp through the alphabet.

This is a different kind, and a delightful kind, of alphabet book. The text is very minimal. The story is told mostly with words starting with each of the 26 letters of the alphabet, with very little text added to that. The illustrations really tell the story, as they should in a picture book.


AND TWO BOYS BOOED by Judith Voirst (being brave)

"On the morning of the talent show, I was ready to sing my song." So begins this delightful tale of a young boy who has entered his classroom's talent show. He is all geared up and ready to sing his song in front of the class because he has practiced "a billion times." But, when his turn comes, will he be able to go through with it?

This is a story any child will be able to relate to. We have all had stage fright at some time in our lives. It's good for a child to know that other children might feel the same way they do.

The text is full of wonderful repetition that keeps the story flowing and that kids will love. As an added bonus, some of the pages have flaps the reader can lift for additional illustrations.

BLACK DOG by Levi Pinfold (being brave)

When a very big, very scary looking black dog shows up in front of the house, the whole family goes into panic mode - - except for the youngest child, called Small. All of them want to hide, except for Small.

Small goes outside by himself and greets the dog face-to-face. He's not scared at all even though he is very small and the dog is very big. Small "brings him down to size" and then takes him into the house where the dog is welcomed by the whole family.

This is a cute story about being brave.

DIARY OF A WORM by Doreen Cronin (taking responsibility)

A worm is given the responsibility of taking care of the class pet. The class pet is a gnat, named Nat. Of course, he is very small and is hard to see. The worm opens the gnat's cage to put in a leaf. Later when the worm comes back to look in the cage he can't find the gnat.

What should he do now? Should he tell the truth or try to cover up his mistakes?

This is a great story that kids can relate to. It's about taking responsibility for your actions. It's also written in an easy-to-read format, rated as a Level 1 reader for beginning reading.

GIVE AND TAKE by Chris Rashka (arguing)

Which is better, to give or to take?

A farmer picks apples from one of his trees. In the process, a wee little man, who calls himself Take, lands in the farmer's basket. Take encourages the farmer to take as much as he can. That doesn't sound like a bad thing, but it can be.

The next day, the farmer picks more apples and this time, a little man named Give lands in his basket. You guessed it, Give encourages the farmer to give as much as he can. That doesn't sound like a bad thing, either, but it can be.

What will the farmer do? How can he balance Give and Take?

This is an interesting story. It sounds like a fable. It's also a good life lesson for kids.

HORRIBLE BEAR! by Ame Dyckman (temper tantrums)

When the string breaks on a little girl's kite, she follows it up a mountain to a bear's cave. The bear is sleeping. She walks right in to his cave. Just as she reaches for the kite, the bear rolls over and crushes it. The girl is furious! She yells, "Horrible bear!" Then she stomps out of the cave and back to her room, where she throws a tantrum and accidentally breaks a favorite toy.

But Bear is angry, too. He decides to get even. He stomps his way to the girl's house.

What follows is something any child can identify with as every child has thrown a fit and had to deal with the consequences.

HUG MACHINE by Scott Campbell (hugging)

A little boy calls himself Hug Machine. He hugs everybody and everything, including mailboxes and trees.

But, will he hug prickly things?

This is a great book that kids will relate to, especially the "huggers".

LAUNDRY DAY by Jexissa Bagley ("helping")

Tic and Tac get bored. They need something to do. Everything their mom suggests they have already done. They need something new.

Mom suggests helping her hang the laundry on the line. That sounds like fun. Mom shows them how to do the job and they get to work. They find they are good at hanging laundry and that they like doing it. They are so good at it, that Mom leaves them to finish the job while she goes to the market.

What could possibly go wrong?

In this super kid-friendly book, Tic and Tac might get a little carried away when they hang things on the line by themselves. But, Mom knows just what to do about it!!

LEAVE ME ALONE! by Vera Brosgol (grouchiness)

An old woman, who lives in a small house with a big family (with her grandchildren) wants some peace and quiet so she can knit. But, of course, the kids won't leave her alone.

So, she packs up all her belongings and just leaves the house. When she goes she shouts, "Leave me alone!"

She climbs part way up a mountain and finds a quiet-looking spot. But, she can't knit there because the bears won't leave her alone. Further up the mountain, the goats won't leave her alone. She even climbs to the moon, but the moon men won't leave her alone, either.

So, how can she find any peace of quiet so she can just knit?

Although an old woman is the main character of this book, this is the type of story that a young child who is stuck in a noisy household will be able to identify with.

MAYA WAS GRUMPY by Courtney Pippin-Mathur (grouchiness)

"Maya was grumpy. She didn't know why she was grumpy. She was just in a crispy, cranky, grumpy, grouchy mood."

She grumped and snarled and glumped and clumped and thumped and growled and scowled throughout the day until Grandma found a delightful way to make her forget about being grouchy.

Grumpiness is something any child (and any adult) can relate to. Author Courtney Pippin-Mathur tackles this subject with wonderful language, great humor and creative illustrations.

PANDA PANTS by Jacqueline Davies (wanting things their way)

A little panda wants a pair of pants. His parent (not clear if mom or dad) tries to talk him out of it. His parent keeps giving him all the reasons why pandas don't wear pants and the child keeps giving his parent all the reasons why he wants a pair anyway.

When the little panda finally gets a pair of pants he discovers that they might not be so wonderful to wear after all.

I love the way the story ends.

PENGUIN PROBLEMS by Jory John (thinking their lives are terrible)

Penguin is not happy. He has sooooo many problems.

He doesn't like cold weather or the cold water. He doesn't like to hunt for food or to be hunted as food. He just has sooo many problems -- and nobody cares.

Then, a timely encounter with a walrus gives him a new perspective on life. Perhaps things will be okay after all.

THOSE SHOES by Maribeth Boelts (jealousy)

A young boy wants a specific pair of shoes. They are black high tops with two white stripes. Many of his friends have these shoes, and he wants them, too. But, Grandma says she doesn't have money for new shoes because he needs new boots for the winter.

When the boy's shoes fall apart one day at school, the principal gives him a pair of new shoes, ones with a little kid logo on the sides. They are not the shoes he wants but they are the only pair the principal has to offer that fit him. He hates the shoes, but he takes them anyway.

When Grandma sees his new shoes and realizes how much he hates them, she takes him to the shoe store to check out the shoes he wants. When she sees price tag of the shoes, she realizes she can't afford them.

Will the young boy ever get the shoes he wants? Will it matter if he does or he doesn't?

This book touches on many topics such as poverty, peer pressure and friendship. It's a great book for every kid to read, whether they can afford to buy "those shoes" or not.

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