The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Adam Rex

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors
by
Drew Daywalt
Illustrated by Adam Rex

Rating:

I don’t review a lot of children’s books, but I couldn’t resist a post about this new picture book by Drew Daywalt. It’s already a New York Times best seller. We recently purchased it at the library where I work and the children’s librarians love it. So do I!

Daywalt is an American filmmaker and writer. He began his career writing and directing short films and horror films on the YouTube channel Fewdio. He is also the author of the award-winning The Day the Crayons Quit and its sequel, The Day the Crayons Came Home.

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors is a great story about the backyard game every kid knows, usually played to decide something important, such as who is in charge or who gets to go first.

Daywalt’s story brings the three players (Rock, Paper and Scissors) to life in the Kingdom of Backyard, the Empire of Mom’s Home Office and the Kitchen Realm. They are undisputed champions in their own domains, but winning has been too easy and each yearns for a worthy opponent. The match is on once they meet each other. It’s a good natured contest, and it ends with a feel-good message, perfect for teaching a lesson about competition and friendship.

Hilarious from start to finish with terrific illustrations by Adam Rex, this story will engage both young and older children who know all about the game and the power struggles that go on in their neighborhood backyards. Adults will also appreciate Daywalt’s clever story and subtle humor, as well as Rex’s imaginative and colorful illustrations.

I wish my kids weren’t mostly grown because they would have loved this book. But maybe I’ll check it out anyway. You never know…

Interested?  Visit these links for more information.

Amazon
Publishers Weekly review
Kirkus Review
Wikipedia

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Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty
by
Anna Sewell

Rating:

I had never read this well-known children’s book and was very happy to discover a gem of a story about a handsome well-bred horse named Black Beauty, born to a gentle keeper and broken in with expert kindness. When he is sold to Squire Gordon of Old Birtwick Park in England, Beauty’s mother tells him,

I hope you will fall into good hands, but a horse never knows who may buy him, or who may drive him; it is all a chance for us; but still I say, do your best wherever it is, and keep up your good name.

Beauty is lucky at first. His groom and stable boy are equally kind and understand that the best way to treat horses is to treat them well. But his mother was right. A horse’s future is never certain and before long, Beauty is sold to another landowner and things are not quite as nice. With this owner, and others in his future, Beauty maintains a positive attitude and always does his best, even when he must work long hours and suffer from the ignorance of his riders.

Told from Black Beauty’s point of view, Sewell portrays realistic horse characters and shows how they interact with each other and with people, especially their grooms and stable boys. Throughout the story, she shows the right way to care for horses, and points to the many cruel and foolish practices that were common during the mid- to late 1800s. She is particularly critical of the use of check-reins, which forced horses to raise their heads to unnatural angles, all for show. This practice caused great pain, led to back problems and shortened a horse’s life. Inexperienced riders, drunks, lazy grooms and poor diets and stall conditions made horses miserable, but a little kindness, a gentle stroke and an encouraging word could make all the difference.

Sewell works many important lessons into the story, including calling out others who abuse animals, upholding the Golden Rule, standing up for principles and helping others in need. When she wrote Black Beauty, she intended it to be a guide for people who worked with horses, but it became a children’s classic. She shows very clearly how horses and other creatures need to be treated humanely and allows the reader to see into the minds of Beauty and her friends.

Sewell manages to tell a nice children’s story without sugar coating the conditions of the time. I recommend Black Beauty to all readers, young and old.


Image: Wikipedia

Anna Sewell (1820-1878) was an English writer. Her parents were devout Quakers and her mother wrote children’s books. A childhood injury left Anna unable to walk without a crutch and she rode in many horse-drawn carriages to get around, where her love of horses began. As an adult, Sewell suffered from hepatitis and tuberculosis and wrote Black Beauty while confined to bed. It was published in 1877, just one year before her death.


I read Black Beauty as part of my Build a Better World Summer Reading Challenge to read a book that I could finish in a day.

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Food for thought – books with food references in their titles

Image: Pixabay

Whether it’s a direct reference or a more subtle metaphor, there is no shortage of book titles that have something to do with food.  It’s always fun to organize collections this way.  These classics, thrillers, children’s books and modern fiction all have this common food trait:


A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway’s memoir of his days in Paris, where he was part of the expatriate community of writers, artists and creative minds, known now as the “Lost Generation”


Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

Capote’s character sketch of Holly Golightly, a nineteen-year-old runaway in New York who tries to escape her sad past


Eating Bull by Carrie Rubin

Exciting medical thriller that tackles the subject of obesity and the food industry’s role in this serious health problem


In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

In his guide to eating right, Pollan simplifies the dizzying task of figuring out what to eat:  Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.


One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinczes

Entertaining children’s book that uses hungry ants to teach math and a life lesson


Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig

Pete’s mad because it’s raining and he can’t go outside, so his parents turn him into a pizza in this quietly warm children’s story.


Taste by Tracy Ewens

Sophisticated and a little bit spicy romance about young professionals in the restaurant business


The Dinner by Herman Koch

Twisted tale about a seriously messed up and unlikable family with a terrible secret


The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

One of the greatest American stories of endurance ever told.  When The Grapes of Wrath was published, Steinbeck said, “I’ve done my damndest to rip a reader’s nerves to rags.”


We the Eaters by Ellen Gustafson

An argument for ways “we the eaters” can change the world by fighting against big companies like Monsanto and Cargill and buying more organic and whole foods


What do your books in common?

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Little House on the Prairie book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

little-house-on-the-prairie-set

Little House on the Prairie Book Series
by
Laura Ingalls Wilder

(and other titles by Roger Lea MacBride,
Melissa Wiley, 
Maria D. Wilkes and Celia Wilkins)

Rating:
bookmarks-5a

It all started when our youngest son was in second grade. “My teacher is reading us a great book,” he told me one day. “Little House in the Big Woods. Do you know that book, Mom?” I knew the book, written by Laura Ingalls Wilder and, of course, the hit TV show that came after Little House on the Prairie.

So when we were looking for something to read together, he asked if we could read Little House in the Big Woods again. “You’ll like it Mom,” he told me.

little house in the big woods piclittle-house-on-the-prairie

I had the vague memory that these Little House books were more for girls than boys, but when we finished Little House in the Big Woods and then Little House on the Prairie, I remembered that there is plenty in these pages to keep a young boy interested. There are stories in every chapter about hunting and the dangers of living a frontier life. The conflicts between settlers and Native Americans are presented matter-of-factly and that makes them real. Illness and hardship, loss and set-backs occur regularly. Drought and bad weather ruin crops and threaten the family’s livelihood. Wilder also includes long descriptions of how things were made and the hard work that went into building log houses, doors, windows, sleighs and furniture.

But the stories are more than that. There is warmth and kindness in these books. As a mother, I like the family dynamic and the message it sends. The children in these books are far from spoiled and are happy with what they have. Laura Wilder’s writing style is both gentle and straightforward as she tells us what it was like for her to grow up during this time. She doesn’t sugarcoat and I like that.

When we finished the first two books, we moved on to Farmer Boy, one of my favorites. The months passed. We read a chapter each night. We watched Laura grow up. We watched her family move into town, watched Laura meet and marry Almanzo and start her own life. And then came Rose, Laura’s daughter.

farmer-boy-jpg
Ms. Wilder stopped writing at the end of The Laura Years, but Roger Lea MacBride, a long-time family friend, picked up with The Rose Years and continued writing in the same style as Ms. Wilder. We read about Rose and her family traveling in a covered wagon and settling in the Ozarks. We watched her grow into an independent spirit, move to New Orleans to finish high school and start a career.

Not ready to stop, we went backwards in time and read about Laura’s great-grandmother, Martha as a young girl in Scotland, written by Melissa Wiley. Wiley has also written a series about Laura’s grandmother, Charlotte and Laura’s mother, Caroline and she writes with the same pleasing style as Wilder and MacBride.

I recommend this classic series to anyone who is looking for realistic children’s books with the important themes of family, adventure, hardship and perseverance.

Check out all the Little House books!

The LAURA Years, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House in the Big Woods
Little House on the Prairie
Farmer Boy
On the Banks of Plum Creek
By the Shores of Silver Lake
The Long Winter
Little Town on the Prairie
These Happy Golden Years
The First Four Years

The ROSE Years, by Roger Lea MacBride
Little House on Rocky Ridge
Little Farm in the Ozarks
In the Land of the Big Red Apple
On the Other Side of the Hill
Little Town in the Ozarks
New Dawn on Rocky Ridge
On the Banks of the Bayou
Bachelor Girl

The MARTHA Years, by Melissa Wiley
Little House in the Highlands
The Far Side of the Loch
Down to the Bonny Glen
Beyond the Heather Hills

The CHARLOTTE Years, by Melissa Wiley
Little House by Boston Bay
On Tide Mill Lane
The Road from Roxbury
Across the Puddingstone Dam

The CAROLINE Years, by Maria D. Wilkes & Celia Wilkins
Little House in Brookfield
Little Town at the Crossroads
Little Clearing in the Woods
On Top of Concord Hill
Across the Rolling River
Little City by the Lake
A Little House of Their Own

Image source:  lauraingallswilderhome.com

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From the Archives: Books about Water and the Sea

Ocean

With only a few weeks left on our summer calendars, there’s still time to read a book about water and the sea.  Take a look at this mix of classic tales, popular fiction and nonfiction!


Classic fiction

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
What happens to a group of young British schoolboys when their plane is shot down and they land on deserted island in the Pacific?


The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
The classic Hemingway story of Santiago, an old Cuban fisherman who has not caught a fish in eighty-four days


Popular fiction

sea creatures pic

Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel
Set in Miami, Florida, a story about love, marriage, family, death, art, weather and the sea


stiltsville book cover

Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel
All about marriage, family and relationships in a community of stilt houses in the Miami sand flats


The Dressmaker cover

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
Light historical fiction and romance written into the history of the Titanic’s voyage, its passengers and the disaster’s aftermath


the light between oceans pic

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
A story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife, who live alone on an island off Western Australia


The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Fast-paced, coming-of-age fantasy tale for adults about the mysteries of life, death, nature, the past, and the present


We Are Water

We Are Water by Wally Lamb
A rotating narrative about abuse over time and generations, and its range of effects


Mystery

Death in a Red Canvas Chair cover

Death in a Red Canvas Chair by N. A. Granger
Debut mystery novel, the first in a series about Rhe Brewster and her adventures as an amateur detective.  Set in the fictional coastal town of Pequod, Maine


Death in a Dacron Sail cover

Death in a Dacron Sail by N. A. Granger
The second in the Rhe Brewster mystery series, full of New England color and Maine personality


Romance

I also enjoyed reading Tracy's first love story!

Catalina Kiss by Tracy Ewens
Where the Tracy Ewens romance series begins.  Set on the island of Catalina during Prohibition, a light, feel-good romance


Young Adult/Children’s

Casey of Cranberry Cove

Casey of Cranberry Cove by Susan Kotch
Teen love on the Jersey shore, lots of fun shore references for Jersey guys and girls


the cay pic

The Cay by Theodore Taylor
Touching coming-of-age story about an eleven-year-old American boy living on the island of Curaçao during World War II


Tommy's Mommy's Fish

Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish by Nancy Dingman Watson
Tommy wants to give his mother the best birthday present so he heads to the beach to catch the biggest fish he can.


Non-fiction

Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast

Colors of Naples and the Amalfi Coast by Margie Miklas
Coffee table/photo book featuring the people, streets and culture of a beautiful part of Italy, showcasing magnificent coastlines, ancient architecture and vibrant street life


In the Heart of the Sea

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
True survival story of the whaleship Essex, attacked and sunk by an eighty-five foot sperm whale in the Pacific


Read but not reviewed

Billy Budd by Herman Melville
A classic Melville story about the battle between good and evil

Jaws by Peter Benchley
Gripping suspense novel about a killer shark off a Long Island beach

Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Ahab takes on a killer whale.  Classic story inspired by the whaleship Essex

Gift from the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh
Meditations about love, marriage and family written by Charles Lindbergh’s American wife


Do you have any favorite tales about the sea?

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Some thoughts and books for Mother’s Day

Mothers-Day-2016-Cards mothers-days.net
Image: mothers-days.net.jpg

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’m thinking about my mom and about being a mom.  We’ll be spending the day with my parents tomorrow, enjoying a nice brunch and honoring my mother.  I won’t have all my kids with me, but I’ll have the whole crew home next week.  So nice to have a full nest for the summer!

So in keeping the wonderful sentiment of honoring and celebrating motherhood, here are a few books that do just that!


Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish by Nancy Dingman Watson

Tommy's Mommy's Fish

If you don’t know this book, try to get your hands on a copy.  I’m told it’s out of print, but it’s such a wonderful story and a great one to read to your kids.


Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

make way for ducklings

Mrs. Mallard causes quite a stir when she leads her eight ducklings through the streets of Boston, across town to meet Mr. Mallard on the pond in the Public Garden!  It’s a wonderful picture book for little children and for young elementary school kids


An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresinowski

An Invisible Thread

Here’s an incredible story about a woman who befriends a boy panhandling in New York, and begins a thirty-year friendship.  Proof that motherhood comes in many forms.


Text Me, Love Mom: Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest by Candace Allan

Text Me, Love Mom cover

You don’t stop being a mom when your kids leave the nest.  Candace Allan tells us how it feels when the flights begin.


Happy Mother’s Day!

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What’s That Book? Click, Clack, Moo – Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin

Whats That Book

Click Clack Moo

Title: Click, Clack, Moo – Cows That Type 

Author: Doreen Cronin, Pictures by Betsy Lewin

Genre: Children’s Book

Rating: *****

What’s it about? Farmer Brown has a big problem. His cows found an old typewriter in the barn and have learned to type. Farmer Brown hears the sounds, but he can’t believe his ears: “Click, clack, moo. Click, clack, moo. Clickety, clack, moo.” One morning, he finds a typed note from the cows, posted on the barn door. They’re demanding electric blankets because it’s cold. The farmer thinks this is a ridiculous request and refuses to accommodate the cows. The next morning, Farmer Brown is astonished to find a second note. This one says, “Sorry. We’re closed. No milk today.” A big standoff follows and the cows get the hens to join the strike. Because after all, they’re cold too! Farmer Brown gets out his own typewriter and summons the duck, a neutral party, to carry a message. The cows hold an emergency meeting and that’s the beginning of the settlement, or is it?

How did you hear about it? My kids received the book as a gift.

Closing comment(s): This story is a Caldecott Honor Book and it’s easy to see why. My kids loved the silliness of the cows knowing how to type and I loved the author’s sense of humor. The pictures are great too and appeal to preschoolers. It’s a clever story, written for small children, but with a subtle and sophisticated message about human behavior.

Contributor: Ginette

Thanks, Ginette!  Sounds like a fun book!

Have you read something you’d like to share?  Consider being a contributor!  Contact bvitelli2009@gmail.com for more information.

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Who’s That Indie Author Recap: Sep/Oct 2015

Who's That Indie Author pic

What a great response to Who’s That Indie Author!  Thanks to  everyone who has participated so far.  It has been great to “meet” these interesting authors.  What’s the number one challenge for indie authors?  Marketing and promotion. Here’s the place to get started.  If you are an indie author and want to get your name out there,  see the instructions at the bottom of this post.  Join the Who’s That Indie Author community!

Here’s a recap for September and October.  Be sure to click on the author’s name to view the indie author profile.


Michelle Eastman

Michelle EastmanGenre:  Children’s Picture Books
BooksThe Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale & Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie
Favorite BookThe Giving Tree  by Shel Silverstein
Biggest Challenge:  Marketing and promotion

Contact Information: Be sure to check out Michelle’s website at Michelle Eastman Books. You can also find her on WordPress, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


Tracy Ewens

Tracy EwensGenre:  Romance
Books:  Catalina Kiss, Premiere, Candidate & Taste
Favorite BookGreat Expectations by Charles Dickens
Biggest Challenge:  Finding the right support and promotion

Contact Information: Website: tracyewens.com; Blog: fromthelaundryroom.com


A.E. Hellstorm

A. E. HellstormGenre:  Mixed (Horror/Relationship/Crime)
Books:  In the Hands of the Unknown & Lost
Favorite BooksThe Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie, Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Gut Symmetries by Jeannette Winterson
Biggest Challenge:  To be seen

Contact Information: Hellhagproductions.com, Goodreads Author, @Noarenne on Twitter


JR Rogers

JR RogersGenre:  Historical fiction, intrigue & espionage
Books: The Counterfeit Consul; Leopold’s Assassin; Doomed Spy; Mission to Morocco; The Cypriot Agent; The Way Things Were (Anthology); Nazilager (Summer 2016)
Favorite BookThe Sheltering Sky  by Paul Bowles
Biggest Challenge:  Self-promotion and securing reviews from readers

Contact Information: Be sure to visit JR Rogers’ website at authorjrrogers.com. Follow him on Twitter at @authorjrrogers.


Elizabeth Hein

Elizabeth HeinGenre:  Women’s Fiction
BooksHow To Climb The Eiffel Tower, Overlook, Escape Plan (2016)
Favorite BookJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontё
Biggest Challenge:  Explaining how independent publishing works

Contact Information: Connect with Elizabeth through her blog, Scribbling in the Storage Room, her website, elizabethhein.com, Facebook, her Facebook author page, and Twitter.


Gwen Miller

Gwen MillerGenre:  Adoption/Addiction/Memoirs
BooksEchoes of Silence: Letters to a Drug Addicted Mother from the Woman Who Took Her Place ; Apples for Secrets: Former Child Abuse Victims Tell Their Stories for the First Time  (2016)
Favorite BookJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontё
Biggest Challenge:  Marketing & PR without a doubt

Contact Information: Visit Gwen Miller’s website and blog at GwenMiller.co. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest.


Heather Walsh

Heather WalshGenre:  Contemporary Fiction
BooksDented Cans and The Drake Equation
Favorite BookPride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Biggest Challenge:  Attracting new readers as more and more novels are published every year!

Contact Information: Visit Heather’s website at http://hwalsh.com/ for more information and updates.


Evan Asher

Evan AsherGenre:  Contemporary Romance
BooksThe Profiteer , Sweeter for the Pain, A Dangerous Tune by Evan Asher & Rosemary Carr, Untrusting Hearts by Evan Asher & Madison Hartt
Favorite BookThe Mothers by Vardis Fisher
Biggest Challenge:  Making time to write

Contact Information: Website: evanasher.weebly.com ; Twitter: @EvanAsher555 ; Goodreads Author


Susan Kotch

Susan KotchGenre:  Young Adult
BooksCasey of Cranberry Cove ; Casey Whitman, High Flyer (2016)
Favorite BookMemoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Biggest Challenge:  The marketing, for sure!

Contact Information:   Come visit me on Twitter @susankotch, or via my website, susankotch.com.


N.D. Richman

N.D. RichmanGenre:  Upper Middle Grade
BooksBrothers, Bullies and Bad Guys – First in the Boulton Quest Series; Sinners, Survivors and Saints – Second in the Boulton Quest Series
Favorite BookThe Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
Biggest Challenge:  I can never find enough time to write.

Contact Information: http://ndrichman.com/


Are you an indie author looking for some positive publicity? Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

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Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig

pete's a pizzaPete’s a Pizza
by
William Steig

Rating:
5 book marks

Here’s another fun picture book to read to your toddlers and pre-schoolers. We loved reading it at our house because it inevitably led to some silly pizza-making with the kids.

Pete’s in a bad mood because it’s raining and he can’t go outside to play ball with the guys. So his parents decide to cheer him up by making him into a pizza. With a solemn face, Pete goes along with the game and lets his mother and father knead him into a pizza crust and add the tomatoes and cheese (really checkers and pieces of paper). There’s a lot of tickling and giggling in the process, and when the pizza’s ready to slice, Pete runs away and is captured and hugged, just in time to see that the sun has come out.

Steig’s illustrations in this book are wonderful.  They seem simple but they are not – the low-key expressions on Pete’s and his parents’ faces really convey the gentle and playful mood of the story.  That’s something a parent can appreciate while reading along!

Pete and his parents are having fun!
Pete and his parents are having fun!

Once you read this to your kids, they will want to be made into their own pizzas. And the fun will go on at your own house long after Pete has found his friends!

William Steig
William Steig

William Steig (1907 – 2003) was an American cartoonist, writer and illustrator and was a well-known cartoonist for The New Yorker, creating over 2,600 drawings and 117 covers for the magazine. He began writing children’s books later in his career and, in 1969, received the Caldecott Medal for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. His picture book Shrek! was the inspiration for the popular movie series of the same name. Steig received many awards and honors during his long career. His books for children include Dominic; The Real Thief; The Amazing Bone, a Caldecott Honor Book; Amos & Boris, a National Book Award finalist; and Abel’s Island and Doctor De Soto, both Newbery Honor Books. Pete’s a Pizza was published in 1998.

Thanks to MacMillan Publishing and Wikipedia for providing information about William Steig.

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Calendarbears, by Kathleen and Michael Hague

calendarbears cov

Calendarbears: A Book of Months
by Kathleen Hague
Illustrated by Michael Hague

Rating:
****

Some books have rhymes that stay with you long after your children have grown. Calendarbears is a picture book with many rhymes that are now attached to my memories of small children and a cozy place on the couch.

It’s the kind of book you can read over and over because, while the rhymes are simple, each one teaches something and evokes a certain mood about the month it describes. The colorful illustrations are full of the kind of details young kids like to linger over.

We had certain favorites, including the July page with this terrific picture:

Such a grown-up name for this little guy!
Who wouldn’t want to dance with a sparkler?

And I particularly like how the author chose the name Stanton for this rhyme – such a grown-up name for a little boy bear!

Stanton loves
the Fourth of July;
fireworks burst
and light up the sky.

Children’s books have come and gone at our house. Calendarbears was published in 1997 and was one of our favorites. We checked it out at the library many, many times. I checked it out again today and enjoyed the rush of memories!

Kathleen and Michael Hague

hagues

Kathleen Hague is an American author of children’s books, including the best-selling picture book, Alphabears. Michael Hague is an American illustrator and writer of mostly children’s fantasy books. He has illustrated many books, including The Hobbit, The Wind in the Willows, and The Wizard of Oz. They both attended the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles and live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Books by Kathleen and Michael Hague

Alphabears: An ABC Book
Bear Hugs
Calendarbears: A Book of Months
East of the Sun and West of the Moon
Good Night, Fairies
Numbears: A Counting Book
Out of the Nursery, into the Night
Ten Little Bears: A Counting Rhyme
The Man Who Kept House
The Legend of the Veery Bird

Check out Michael Hague’s website for a look at some of his amazing illustrations!

http://michaelhague.com/about/

http://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Hague/e/B001H6OF5C

Do you have a favorite children’s book?  Why is it special to you?

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