Tag Archives: Literacy

When Your Llama Needs a Haircut

27 Jan




When Your Llama Needs A Haircut

Written by Susanna Leonard  Hill

Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman

Published January, 2018 by Little Simon Books

Upcoming school pictures + reluctant llama = hilarious hairy situations.

Goodreads Review 


Remember that time your mom cut your hair? Yeah, me too… and then the time I gave myself a home perm, YIKES! But this delightful picture book will help you see the humor in hair disasters.

Realistically, does a llama need a haircut? Well I did a little google search and guess what I found… some pretty awful llama hairstyles.



So if you’ve got a llama in need of a haircut, please research all the possibilities before venturing into the barbering trade. And definitely don’t demonstrate on yourself first, especially not the night before school picture day!



Leave Room For The Reader

12 Nov

As writers we are constantly being told to leave room for the illustrator. Basically, that just means that we don’t put every single detail in the text. The illustrator can show most adjectives and adverbs in the artwork, and many times better than we might have imagined ourselves because they use another part of their brain when telling a story. We each have our own talents and we respect each other enough to leave the other room to tell their part of the story.

After a Facebook conversation this evening, I want to talk about the most important, person in the reading experience… the reader!


The reader brings much to the reading experience: prior knowledge, emotions, and bias. That’s why everyone who reads a book has a different idea of what it is about, and feels differently about it  than anyone else. Of course there are some common generalities too… Is a book funny, sad? Does it make you feel happy, insignificant, proud? Will it affect a change in how we think of things?

Children are no different than adults in this respect. Children’s literature evokes deeper understanding of a theme (friendship, fear, sibling rivalry, loneliness, kindness, change) or concept (animals, new baby, trucks, bedtime, grandparents, school, the environment, holidays) for young readers.

When writers and illustrators leave room for the reader, they open new avenues for learning and growing.

The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg, allows children the freedom to believe or not, yet leaves them with a sense of hope and wonder.


In a Cloud of Dust, Alma Fullerton and Brian Deines empower children to show compassion and make a difference in someone else’s life by the example of the characters in the story.


Something Extraordinary by Ben Clanton encourages children to dream and be imaginative, but also to look at ordinary things as extraordinary.


Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood lets children discover that when you accept change you open the possibility for new and fun opportunities that you might otherwise miss out on.


Feet Go to Sleep by Barbara Bottner and Maggie Smith give children a moment, right before they go to sleep to talk about their day. As the main character recounts her daily activities, the reader can make connections to themselves by reciting bits and pieces of their own day as well.


Boats for Papa by Jessixa Bagley does not specifically say what happened to the missing parent, leaving the experience within reach of many children who are missing parents through divorce, military, death, incarceration, or abandonment. Readers are left to fill in the blanks for themselves.

Children can be taught critical thinking skills through good children’s literature. Excellent stories provide just the right amount of text and illustration for the reader to grasp the meaning, and just enough freedom to make their own connections and experience deeper understanding. Children who think critically, do more than restate the text or describe the illustrations, they interpret the story given their own life’s experiences. They make inferences about what was left unsaid and unshown. And they make connections with themselves, the world around them, and other books.

And all of this happens when we leave room on the page for the reader.

Children’s Book Week

5 May


May 12-18 is the 95th anniversary of Children’s Book Week, the annual celebration of children’s literature and the love of reading. This year’s host is Kate di Camillo, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. LeVar Burton, actor, producer, director, and host of Reading Rainbow, is this year’s Impact Award Recipient.

This is the only children’s book award that is voted on by the readers, and not selected by committee. There are several categories including K-2 Book of the Year, 3-4 Grade Book of the Year, 5-6 Grade Book of the Year, Teen Book of the Year, Illustrator of the Year, and Author of the Year. Voting is open until May 12.  You can go to the site below to vote.


Picture book (K-2) nominations for Book of the Year, 2014 

16670130Alphabet Trucks


Bear and Bee


Chamelia and the New Kid in Class


The Day the Crayons Quit


Mustache Baby

Read more about Children’s Book Week at their website.


New Beginnings

25 Sep

Rod Stewart said it, “It’s late September and I really should be back in school.”

It is late September, but I retired last year, so I guess I really shouldn’t be back in school.  So what’s keeping me busy?  Writing!   I’ve got the passion and I’ve got the time, seems like the perfect combination.  But have I got the talent?  That is yet to be proven.

This summer I joined three writing groups here in Cincinnati.  I wrote furiously, shared with critique groups, edited, revised, sent a few manuscripts out into the cold, cruel world, and  gotten some very polite rejection letters.

That’s ok… I’ve also gotten some very good advice and encouragement.

One piece of advice was to start a blog…. check.

So, I’m thinking I should blog about writing, right?  My idea is to make my blog a mini-forum about what I am reading and writing.  I need to research children’s books that are currently being published anyway, so I might as well blog about them as well.  The research should help me get a better handle on the publishing trends, but it might also help you find some really great books that you might want to read for yourself, your children, your grandchildren, or your students.  The other half of my devious plan, is to build up some hype on my own writing as well (evil grin).  I could give you a quick synopsis of what I’m working on, get some feedback from you, and become rich and famous!   I mean enrich the lives of children, right?

Are you with me?

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