“Is there a dog in this book?” by Viviane Schwarz


You might think you have already seen everything from the world of tail tales.  After all, it’s been raining cats and dogs in kid lit for a while. But have you read “Is there a dog in this book?” by Viviane Schwarz? The furry pups and purry felines have never been more entertaining.

Andre, Moonpie and Tiny suspect there is an intruder in their book. A dog. The older cats know of dogs and they are dreading a potential encounter with the yappy, smelly, scary cat hater. They try to find a safe place to hide: behind a sofa, in the piano,  in a suitcase? As the fear of the dog grows in the older cats, so does the curiosity in Tiny. He wants to know what dog is. He wants to pet it. He finds is friendly. Thanks to brave little Tiny, Andre and Moonpie learn that even though they know of some dogs, they haven’t seen all dogs yet. Some dogs are soft, friendly and they love cats. But wait a minute… Where is that dog now? 

Next to bright, humorous illustrations, pages filled with inventive flaps, the book is written in the breaking the fourth wall format, to fully engage the reader in this hysterical hide-and-seek.

But it’s not only the humor that strikes me in this story. It’s more about what a serious message this amusing tale conveys. Andre and Moonpie show us so clearly that it is not always true that the older we grow the wiser we get. Our experiences often lead us to bias, bitterness and various prejudices. As a result we can’t see things with Tiny’s innocence and genuine curiosity. But perhaps we should try? Perhaps every now and then we should try to look at the world the way children do? They clearly have lots of fun exploring and gathering their own, positive, experiences. They can even teach us something new.

The other day, my three-year old taught me for example that if I dropped my IPhone into the bathtub filled with water, it would still work…  I thought otherwise but he proved me wrong. Yeah, I know, that’s not the lesson I had in mind…;-)

“Wolfie the Bunny” by Ame Dyckman


As a big sister of three brothers, I used to struggle with my role as a child. Many a time did I wonder if we would ever connect as siblings. When I was in college, my two youngest brothers were finishing elementary school. I saw them a few times a year at most. But we did connect eventually. Now that we are all grown up, the age doesn’t matter and my brothers are beyond my siblings. They are my friends.

In other words, the thing with siblings is that, sooner or later, they will bond, despite all the rivalry, jealousy, age gap and different personality traits. As read and seen in “Wolfie The Bunny.

While the Bunny Mama and Papa are quite smitten with a new family member, baby wolf, Dot the big sister, just knows better: “He is going to eat us all up!” Wolfie’s growing appetite only confirms that the Bunny family will be next, after the carrots, which Wolfie can’t have enough. Just like he can’t have enough of Dot. He follows her everywhere, including the Carrot Patch, where Dot finally gets a chance to free herself from the unwanted helper. Yet, as the bear at the store tries to turn Wolfie into his dinner, brave Dot is the one to save him. And with what style!

A warm and reassuring story about family dynamics, siblings, adoption, veggies… engagingly and creatively illustrated by Zachariah Ohara. I love reading it with my little boys, who prove this book relatable and relevant on a daily basis.

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School…” by Davide Cali


You would think that with the kids back in school my life has gotten a bit easier. In a way it has. My days are more peaceful, indeed. But as far as the mornings, “hectic” is an understatement. Between making breakfast, packing lunch-boxes, locating the homework folder and backpacks, it is a whirlwind. And then add to it the most stressful of all: trying to leave the house in time in order to avoid “tardies”, a trip to the principal’s office and getting my son in trouble. Been there, done that. Not fun. I’m sure many of you can relate. Not sure if anyone could think of as many outlandish excuses for being late as the boy in today’s book.

So why was he late? 

First he had to go borrow some bread from the neighbors because giant ants had eaten his cereal. Then ninjas attacked him and the school bus got in hands of a massive ape. At some point he shrank and then got huge. He had a breakfast with someone who looked like Red Little Riding Hood. Bigfoot and Yeti got in the way, later, so did a chess game…. But these were not even the real reasons. He had forgotten the backpack!

Hilarious! Extremely fun and action-studded, both the story and Benjamin Chaud’s pictures. It helps to put your own coming-late-to-school in perspective.

“What A Trip!” by Arthur Yorinks


We used to have fish fights with my son. Every time I would make cod or tilapia for dinner, he would throw a fit and simulate choking. Not anymore. Not since we read about a certain Mel eating swordfish. Whether it was the intriguing name or meaty taste, I am not sure, but it did the trick! My son wanted to try it. It was love at first bite!

So who is Mel and why did he eat swordfish?

Mel was a typical boy from New Jersey, who happened to trip and fall… into another dimension. A pointy dimension. Cars, houses, dogs, people… everything was pointy there. Another trip and Mel was back to New Jersey. He tried to explain to his parents and friends about the pointy reality, but nobody believed him. He tried to go back, but nothing worked. Not even eating swordfish or tripping himself. His obsessive behavior worried his parents and he was sent to a special camp for klutzes, from which he was sent home for collecting arrowheads and making spears. Suddenly, as Mel was helping his dad at work, he vanished before his father’s eyes. The second trip to the pointy dimension was even more adventurous. And this time he didn’t have to explain anything to his parents. They knew better to believe him. 

And hopefully you will believe me that this hilarious story by Arthur Yorinks and Richard Egielski’s cartoonish illustrations, make it a great reading treat for the whole family. Before or after the swordfish dinner. Hmm… I might give the asparagus spears a try next time.

Dinosaur Starts School by Pamela Duncan Edwards


With the school year about to start or just started in most schools, a book about the thrill, or trauma, of the first day of school might be a good idea. How to explain to a little kindergartner what it is going to be like at the big-kid school? How to make the first day a positive experience for an anxious five or six-year old? How to prepare for the worst case scenario? Perhaps reading about how Dinosaur and his friend do it might help?

When Dinosaur sulks, roars, stamps his feet and finds numerous excuses why he shouldn’t go to school, his friend tells him about all the fun he can have and all the things he can learn at school. He tells him not to worry about messing up his painting because that might be a way to create something beautiful. And he tells him not to overthink the yucky lunch menu. There is always a salad for herbivores. Dinosaur learns he shouldn’t worry about being shy, because there will sure be other shy dinosaurs with whom he can build sand castles and play tag. After a pep talk like this, there is nothing left for Dinosaur than to smile his “big, toothy, Dinosaur smile”.

And that’s what you will get from your own Dinosaurs after reading this warm and reassuring story, so brightly illustrated by Deborah Allwright. May it be a great school year for everyone!

Children’s Book Academy

Hi there,

I know, it is high time to write a new post. We have read so many great books with the boys over the summer and I just can’t wait to tell you about them. The problem is, it’s been a very busy summer. Next to my usual summerly chaos, I decided to spice my days with some online writing course. As a result, I joined circa 100 other amazing and talented writers and illustrators at the Children’s Book Academy for the Craft and Business of Writing Children’s Picture Books.  The 5 week long course was co- taught by the talented and knowledgeable Dr. Mira Reisberg, the founder of CBA, and the sweet and inspiring Kelly Delaney, Assistant Editor at Random House. Not only was the learning intensive, but also so inspiring that I just can’t stop writing new and improving old stories! And it wasn’t long ago that I thought I was going through some writer’s block! Go figure! Keep fingers crossed for my recent queries. Thanks!

To sum up, I will be back with new posts- very very soon. And secondly, if you are a writer or illustrator, don’t wait any longer and sign up for one of the Mira’s courses @ childrensbookacademy.com  Enjoy!

“If You Give a Cat a Cupcake” by Laura Numeroff


The other day my two-year-old asked for a carrot. I gave him a crunchy, juicy carrot to eat. But the carrot make my son think of an orange crayon, so instead of eating it, he decided to put it to work on his brother’s TaeKwonDo uniform, which apparently made him think of a white sheet of paper… And we were just about to leave for the big brother’s sparring class…

This “artistic” incident made me think of Laura Numeroff’s “If You Give a Cat a Cupcake” and other books from this amusing series, which currently experience a renaissance at our home. We used to read them with my older son, but to be honest, I always found the stories a bit too far fetched and the plot too forced. Well, not any more. My younger son’s logic and his readiness to execute the most outrageous plan prove that there are kids out there who can fully relate to the Cat, Dog or Moose and their outlandish ideas.

From cupcakes, to sprinkles, from sprinkles to the beach… the Cat’s brain makes some unpredictable connections that lead from one adventure to another. A ride on a carousele whale brings him to the science museum and the sand on the way back home, brings back the memories of sprinkles, which, naturally, trigger the thought of cupcakes… 

If your children think the way the Cat and my younger son do, they will love this entertaining story and lively pictures by the Numeroff- Bond duo.

“The Insomniacs” by Karina Wolf


This book recommendation is for my always traveling and always jet lagged husband, and for anybody who has ever had trouble getting on schedule in a different time zone.

Everything changed for the Insomniac family when Mrs. Insomniac took a job across the time zones. Adjusting to a life on another continent wasn’t easy. When it was time to work and study, the Insomniacs wanted to sleep. When everybody else slept, the Insomniacs were ready for action. They tried everything, from drinking milk, meditating to counting to a thousand, but nothing helped.  Finally, the Insomniacs got tired of fighting off their nocturnal habit and decided to embrace it. As they started exploring the night world, they noticed that the night was teeming with life and exciting things to do. From moon bathing, to eating nightshade vegetables, the Insomniacs discovered that perhaps waking up after sunset might suit them after all. One can always study and work remotely. 

What a wonderful celebration of the night! I guess, one can expect nothing less than a great nocturnal story, if the author’s last name is Wolf, right? I think it is the first book about night that is not sleepy or dreamy. It is energizing, actually.  Is it the lunar energy perspiring through the book? And then one must not forget the grotesque pictures by The Brothers Hilts: so dark and mysterious.  Who would think it was the artists’ picture book debut?

To sum up, if you and your little ones should be sleeping now, hope you are having good dreams. But if you are not, because you can’t, stop wasting your energy on tossing and turning. Follow the Insomniacs. Use the energy of the moon. Discover a night owl in you. Have a good night!

“The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!’ by Mo Willems

I always knew that the gift or reading would open a totally new world for my son, I just didn’t know it would be the world of … fast food.

The other day, as we were driving by (note: not driving thru) a house of Big Mac & Co, my six-year-old suddenly asked. “Mommy, when can we go to this M [si:] Donald’s restaurant?” As a language purist I was ready to correct him, but the food purist in me had won and I just beamed with pride. Viva ignorance! As long as it lasts. I know that no later than in high school, he will learn more the pronunciation of junk food.

His interest in the snazzy billboard content and his questions about the fast food menu (“Are tacos  from Taco Bell are as good as yours?”)  made me think about the curious little Duckling from “The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!”

Pigeon finds a hot dog. He just can’t wait to eat it, but here comes a curious duckling with never-ending questions about the treat in the bun… “Would you say that it tastes like chicken?”  Will Pigeon get to enjoy his hot dog? Will the clever duckling finally taste the hot dog?

Just like other books from the Pigeon series, “The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!” will make you giggle on every page. The pictures and dialogues entertain every time you read this book. And you do want to read it over and over again.

By the way, unlike the duckling, my son prefers his hot dogs with ketchup. And unlike the Pigeon, I am not going to let my little duckling outsmart me. We will keep driving by, not driving thru.

“Tickle Monster” by Jossie Bissett

Yes, I know, I said I wouldn’t be writing for a while. And I meant it. Yet somehow, as soon as I verbalized my frustration,  I felt some overpowering need to challenge myself. I am not a person who gives up. I am not a person who can’t. Where there is a will, there is a way, after all. And so, I’ve  magically been finding both an inspiration and a way to fit my blog into my days again.IMG_0889

The book I’d like to recommend today is meant to both entertain you and tire you out. From wiggling and giggling.

A monster that is not scary? That can only be a Tickle Monster from Planet Tickle. Tickling is his greatest talent and when he visits you, no part of your body is safe. From your “adorable footsie” to “boney knee” and “little tum-tum”, Tickle Monster won’t stop tickling you until he is exhausted from fun and laughter.  There will be only one thing left to do before he leaves…

In order to find out what it is, you need to read this hilarious story, filled with amusingly inventive expressions and so brightly and whimsically illustrated by Kevan J. Atteberry.

Reading and writing about monsters reminded me of a bedtime conversation I had with my son (2.5 y/o) the other night.

Konrad: “Mommy, I want more milk.”

Me: “You’ve had enough milk. It’s time to sleep.

Konrad: “I want more.”

Me, trying to be clever: “I can’t bring you milk. There are monsters in the kitchen.”

Konrad, after a bit of thinking: “There are no monsters there. Monsters are only on TV.”

Me, feeling guilty for adding to my son’s nightmares: “You’re right. Monsters are only on TV.”

Konrad: “Go bring the milk then!”


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