PPBF: A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:


Title: A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting

Author: Michelle Robinson

Illustrator: David Roberts

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2016

Suitable for ages: 3-6

Theme/Topic:  Bears, Survival Tips, Humor

Opening Spread: Going for a walk in BEAR Country? You’d better make sure you know your bears.

Brief Synopsis: (from Amazon)

Do you dream of seeing some real, live bears? Then this essential guide to bear spotting, filled with offbeat humor and quirky illustrations, is for you!

In this perfect read-aloud, sure to delight kids and parents alike, a young aspiring bear spotter ventures into bear country . . . But coming face-to-face with the furry creatures themselves, whether black or brown, can be dangerous, and our protagonist–accompanied by a trusty teddy bear–might need to use some unconventional means to stay out of trouble and avoid being (gulp!) eaten.

Resources: The National Park Service has tons of information available on bears. Stuffed bears could also be used to act out scenes from the book.

Why I Like This Book: This books is funny from the first page! While the child is ready for an outdoor adventure, the narrator keeps warning the child about bears. As a person, who always hopes to avoid bears, I laughed out loud while reading this book. Michelle Robinson’s pacing is excellent and the second the narrator says “Don’t worry. Chances are you won’t even SEE a bear.” You KNOW when you turn the pages things will get more interesting. This book has been one of my favorites from 2016.

For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.

I write {picture books and memoir}. I design {websites}. I eat {chocolate}.

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PPBF: Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:


Title: Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes

Author: Tim Wynne-Jones

Illustrator: Brian Won

Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2016

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Theme/Topic:  Action, Adventure, Humor, Imagination, How to Tie Your Shoes

Opening Spread: S.A.M. is digging for the Lost City of Raisins … He is tracking down the treacherous green spitting bug, balancing on high places, and stealing home.

Brief Synopsis: (from Candlewick)

Secret Agent Man (S.A.M.) needs new shoes. His mom — er, sidekick, “K” (short for Kay) — takes him shopping. But the operation will be dangerous: to start with, Shoe Store Man looks shifty. “Frisk him,” says S.A.M. With the help of a Team of Expert Spies and keen observation skills, will Sam find that his brand-new tiger-striped shoes convey a new superpower . . . and that he can now tie his own shoelaces? Imaginative play is the mission in this witty picture book with retro illustrations that cleverly merge S.A.M.’s escapades with the ordinary world. Roar!

A charismatic young boy turns an everyday outing into a thrilling, top-secret adventure in this energetic, offbeat picture book.

Resources: Here’s a whole website on Top Spy Secrets. We may need to go around and rename parts of our house based on the spread I mention below.

Why I Like This Book: The first spread sets up agent Secret Agent Man or S.A.M.’s imagination as he plays and the second spread immediately lets us know the reality of his world. It’s a fun story from the first page to the last. My favorite spread is near the end as S.A.M. tries to find K (his mom). He looks int he Secret Chamber of Silence, the Holding Cell of Despair, Torture Chamber, Rocket Silo, and the Darkest Valley of Doom. Most parents will laugh at this. I was going to be secretive about what each item represents, but Illustrator Brian Won has this spread on his website. Take a look. I hope it makes you smile like I did. I discovered this one while searching the library’s online collection for shoe tying books.

For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.

I write {picture books and memoir}. I design {websites}. I eat {chocolate}.

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One thought on “PPBF: Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes

  1. What a hoot! I really love the use of imagination in this book. Have a great grandson who’d like this! Thanks for such a great share. Since you have Enzo, I always like to see what you share so I can find books for grandsons.

Halloweensie Contest 2016

Halloween Tracks

Happy Halloweensie! It’s that time of year again when children’s writers gather ’round the cauldron to craft a story in 100 words or less. Author Susanna Hill is the gracious founder of the contest. She and her assistants deserve tons of treats for reading all the contest entries.

This year, each 100-word or less entry must contain the words spider, ghost and moon. Variations of the words are allowed. Stories should be kid-friendly and contain no illustration notes. Here are the rules, if you want to participate. You have until the strike of 11:59 p.m. EDT.

Here’s my 2016 entry:

Halloween Tracks 

By Stacy S. Jensen

Oliver saw the tracks every Halloween.

They were colorful with a sweet aroma and looked like scat. Oliver never ate it, but other owls did.

“Who?” he wondered made them. He flew over the streets in the moonlight searching



And, in circles for the critter.

He saw bunnies, coyotes, and spiders and almost gave up.

Until, he heard …




Oliver followed the noises to a little ghost.

“Your tracks!” Oliver screeched.

“My candy,” Ghost cried.

Oliver helped Ghost collect his spilled loot.

“Here’s a treat!” Ghost tossed a candy to Oliver. “Happy Halloween!”


Word tells me I’m at 98 words!

There will be plenty of entries at Susanna’s blog. I am always impressed by the very talented work created in this contest and also how similar our thought process can be. I’ve been a happy Halloweensie participant since 2011 — 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

I hope you all have a spooky, fun-filled Halloween!


P.S. I’ve been re-working my website in recent weeks between other projects. It’s not “done,” but decided Halloweensie is more important than “done.”

I write {picture books and memoir}. I design {websites}. I eat {chocolate}.

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22 thoughts on “Halloweensie Contest 2016

PPBF: Douglas, You Need Glasses!

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:


Title: Douglas, You Need Glasses!

Author and Illustrator: Ged Adamson

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016

Suitable for ages: 3-7

Theme/Topic:  Glasses, Being Unaware, Humor

Opening Spread: Nancy and Douglas were chasing squirrels.

Brief Synopsis: (from Amazon) Meet Douglas, a dog with a big problem: he needs eyeglasses but doesn’t know it, and his bad eyesight tends to land him in some pretty hairy situations.

Readers will laugh along with the new picture book character Douglas as he chases a leaf that he mistakes for a squirrel, walks through wet cement because he can’t see the warning sign, and annoys the neighbor’s dog by mistakenly eating out of his bowl. And when Douglas’s owner Nancy finally takes him to what is clearly an eyeglass store and Douglas asks, “Why are you taking me to a shoe store?” everyone will be giggling.

After an eye exam confirms that Douglas needs glasses, and Nancy helps him find the perfect pair, readers will rejoice with Douglas as he sees all the amazing things he’s been missing!

Both kids and parents will laugh out loud—and may even recognize themselves!—while reading this utterly irresistible, hilarious picture book.

Resources: Articles on children wearing glasses. Encouraging your child to wear glasses.

Why I Like This Book: Douglas was a random find at the library. We spend much of May and June reading picture books about children with glasses after Enzo began wearing his own. It’s fun to laugh along as Douglas makes his discovery of how glasses can make a difference.

For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.

I write {picture books and memoir}. I design {websites}. I eat {chocolate}.

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8 thoughts on “PPBF: Douglas, You Need Glasses!

  1. Gosh, if the dog will put up with needing glasses, kids can’t complain too loudly. When my daughter was in second grade, three of her friends needed glasses. Instead of being glad she didn’t need them, my daughter began complaining of blurry vision, hoping to score a pair of glasses, too. Fortunately for my wallet, the eye doctor sensed she was having glasses envy and worked hard to prove my daughter had perfect vision. This book sounds like a funny and fun approach to needing glasses.

  2. Don’t you just love it when you stumble onto a book at the library! This sounds hilarious! I’ve got to find it. My son would get a kick out of it, too. Thanks!

PPBF: I Didn’t Do My Homework Because …

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:


Title: I Didn’t Do My Homework Because … 

Author: Davide Cali

Illustrator: Benjamin Chaud

Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC, 2014

Suitable for ages: 6-9

Theme/Topic:  Homework, Fantasy

Opening Spread: “So, why didn’t you do your homework?” [Teacher character asks]

[Boy] “I didn’t do my homework because … An airplane full of monkeys landed in our yard.”

Brief Synopsis: (from Amazon) How many excuses are there for not doing homework? Let us count the ways: Giant lizards invaded the neighborhood. Elves hid all the pencils. And then there was that problem with carnivorous plants…. The excuses go on and on, each more absurd than the next and escalating to hilarious heights. Featuring detail-rich illustrations by Benjamin Chaud, this book is guaranteed to amuse kids and their parents, not to mention anyone who has experienced a slacker student moment—and isn’t that everyone?

Resources: There is a companion book called I Didn’t Do My Homework Because … Doodle Book of Excuses. Homework tips from Scholastic.

Why I Like This Book: Homework can be a struggle. This book offers a number of fantasies on why one’s homework isn’t finished. We’ve had fun reading this book and thinking about all the fun ways to explain why homework is not completed. Of course, at the end of the week, the reality is that homework is complete.

For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.

I write {picture books and memoir}. I design {websites}. I eat {chocolate}.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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11 thoughts on “PPBF: I Didn’t Do My Homework Because …

  1. Cute concept – reminds me of another book called something like 1001 excuses… My hope is that enlightened elementary school teachers will quit giving homework and tell kids to go outside and play, splash in puddles, climb a tree, help turtles cross the road, teach their old dogs new tricks, create magic shows, shoot baskets, fly kites, go sledding…

  2. Can’t believe I thought that my son had written the book on why he hadn’t done his homework…I’ve got to check this one out and have my son read it.