The Bear Ate Your Sandwich

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, by Julia Sarcone-Roach

BearAteSandwichcover“By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich.  But you may not know how it happened.  So let me tell you.  It all started with the bear.”

The narrator tells of a happy bear in a forest who finds a truck with baskets of berries in the truck bed.  After the bear eats and falls asleep, the truck drives out of the forest and into a city.

Warm, colorful illustrations (acrylic paint and pencil) tell the story of the curious and playful bear’s journey from the forest to the sandwich.  The illustrations show the bear climbing and exploring, scratching his back on a lamp post, walking through wet cement, and looking for things to eat.  The bear follows his nose to a park and sees the sandwich.

“Your beautiful and delicious sandwich all alone.  He waited to make sure on one saw him (not even the sandwich) before he made his move.  It was a great sandwich.  The bear loved it.”

The bear is surprised to find dogs in the park and runs away — eventually getting back to his home in the forest.

A cute twist in the ending reveals a Scottie dog standing over a scrap of lettuce, telling the story to a little girl.  So who ate the sandwich?  The dog?  Or a bear?  Share this picture book with young children – you’ll all enjoy the fun sandwich-eating bear story.

Our Tree Named Steve

Our Tree Named Steve, by Alan Zweibel, illustrated by David Catrow

1treeStevebookA father writes a letter to his children, who are away visiting grandparents.  The letter tells the story of a tree, and also of the family through the years.

The family bought some land to build a house.  When they all went to see the land, the children found a large tree that held their attention.  The youngest child, who couldn’t say ‘tree,’ called the tree ‘Steve.’  The parents asked the builders not to cut Steve down during the house construction.
Steve was there from the start, and became a part of the family’s life, holding swings and jump ropes, standing as third base, or a hiding place.

“Yes, right there in the center of our yard, this weird-looking tree grew to become the center of our outdoor life.  Through all our barbecues, campouts, dance parties…Steve adjusted to our every need.”

Steve stood through snowstorms, an overflowing sewer, a tree doctor visit, and many other events.

“Through the years Mom and I have tried to show you, in a world filled with strangers, the peace that comes with having things you can count on and a safe place to return to after a hard day or a long trip.”

The father concludes the letter explaining that a storm came through their area, and that they couldn’t save Steve from the storm.  The huge tree snapped and fell over.

“But even in his final moments, when he could have fallen on our house, Sari’s swings, Kirby’s house, or Mom’s garden, Steve performed his last trick and protected all of us to the very end, and friends like this are hard to find.”

The book ends with a picture of a new tree house in another tree, perhaps made of Steve’s wood, and the family dog standing on a huge stump.

The illustrations are lively, and bring the story to life.  This is a fun picture book to share with your family.

The Secrets of Stonehenge

The Secrets of Stonehenge by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom

secretsofstonehengeIn this non-fiction picture book, Manning and Granstrom take a close look at Stonehenge.  This is an informational picture book for slightly older children, or for preschoolers and up with a strong interest and longer attention span.

Manning and Granstrom begin their book in Stone Age Britain 10,000 years ago, and continue through the Neolithic age with first farmers 6,000 years ago, the idea of gods and goddesses 5,000 years ago, to the beginning of Stonehenge 5,000 years ago.  Construction progressed in stages – with the digging of a ditch, bank construction and digging of Aubrey holes (that likely held wooden posts) 5,000 years ago.  The 80 bluestones came from the Welsh mountains on boats and rafts 4,500 years ago.  And, the giant saren stones were moved from Marlborough Downs after that (still 4,500 years ago), carved into shape, raised into pits, and capped with lintel stones.

The authors discuss the technology of the times, and how the people might have moved, carved, and raised the stones – and that it might have taken most of the people in the South of England.  The authors also explore what the stones might have been for – and what sort of ceremonies might have taken place there.  They discuss the importance of the solstices – midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset.

Pages also discuss nearby Durrington Walls that might have been a gathering and feasting place associated with Stonehenge.  The authors talk about the ancient peoples, how archeologists find clues in graves and near important gathering places, and important discoveries like the Amesbury Archer and the Stonehenge Archer.

There is a glossary of terms at the end of the book, as well as a short, illustrated timeline on the inside covers.

This is an excellent book for introducing readers to the mysteries of Stonehenge.

To learn more about the authors, visit


Gravity by Jason Chin

gravity book“Gravity makes things fall to Earth.  Without gravity, everything would float away.”

Chin’s non-fiction picture book explains gravity in a way that everyone, even the youngest listeners, can understand.  The simple text is accompanied by colorful, engaging illustrations.

The illustrations follow a young boy playing with space toys on a beach, then follow the toys into space demonstrating what would happen if gravity didn’t exist.  The toys fall to Earth later in the book, surprising three other children who are selling lemonade.  The boy on the beach is then surprised by lemons and a pitcher of lemonade.  The mini story and illustrations will keep readers smiling and interested as they learn about gravity.

Chin follows the story with two illustrated pages that give a more in-depth explanation of gravity.  Topics covered include:  defining gravity as an invisible force, mass and gravity, distance and gravity, measuring gravity, and orbiting around the Sun.

This great book teaches about gravity in a fun, easy-to-understand manner.  Chin also has written Redwoods, Coral Reefs, and Island.

The Magic Rabbit

The Magic Rabbit by Annette LeBlanc Cate

themagicrabbit “Ray and Bunny lived together in a tiny apartment in the city.  They were business partners.  Ray was a magician, and Bunny was his loyal assistant.

They were also best friends.  They did everything together.”

So begins a fun story about two friends and a little magic.

Each Saturday Ray the magician and Bunny, the rabbit, performed a magic show outside in the downtown area.  One day, things were pretty crowded downtown.  As Ray said the magic word (Abracadabra), and Bunny was getting ready to leap out of the magic hat in a shower of glittering stars, a juggler on a unicycle crashed into them.  Bunny was tossed from the hat, and chased away by a dog.

Ray looked for Bunny.  And, Bunny looked for Ray.  Bunny found a park, and even little bits of pretzel to nibble on.  But, Bunny couldn’t find Ray.  When it got dark, Bunny really wished he and Ray were together at home.

Bunny hopped down a dark alley to rest and discovered some popcorn….and some glittering stars from their magic show.  Bunny was able to find more glittering stars – and a trail of stars that led him back to Ray.

This is a sweet story of friendship, shown from the bunny’s point of view.



First Day of School

School is back in session for many families around the country.  Students starting new schools, students returning to the same school, and students starting school for the very first time…..and teachers starting school again, too.

I posted this last year, so this is a post from the vault.  I really just love this picture book – good for sharing with anyone who has those first day jitters.

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Judy Love

FirstDayJittersIt is the first day of school.  Sarah Jane Hartwell hides under her covers and says she isn’t going to school.  It’s a new school, and she doesn’t know anyone there – and she doesn’t want to go.

“That’s just it.  I don’t know anybody, and it will be hard, and…I just hate it, that’s all.”

Mr. Hartwell tries saying different things to reassure her, and to get her out of bed.  Finally Sarah tumbles out of bed and gets dressed.

Mr. Hartwell drives her to school.  Her hands feel cold and clammy.  She is nervous.  Mr. Hartwell points out the school principal.

“You’ll love your new school once you get started….There’s your principal, Mrs. Burton.”

Mrs. Burton shows Sarah to her classroom, reassuring her along the way through the crowded hallways.

“Don’t worry.  Everyone is nervous the first day.”

Then, Mrs. Burton introduces Sarah to the class.  And, in a nice twist, we learn that Sarah is the teacher.

This is a fun picture book for the start of a new school year, or for children switching schools after the school year has started.  The illustrations don’t show enough of Sarah for the reader to guess that she is an adult – keeping the surprise until the end. Sometimes it helps if children know that even teachers get nervous the first day of school.  A good picture book to share as the start of school approaches.

Up and Down

Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers

upandDownbook“Once there were two friends… who always did everything together.  Until the day the penguin decided there was something important he wanted to do by himself…”

Jeffers funny and sweet story of the boy and the penguin is a tale of friendship, of trying new things, and finding out who you are and what matters most to you.

The penguin wanted to fly.  He tried different things like jumping off a high place, and trying to float with a helium balloon.  The boy helped the penguin try different things, and looked in books for answers.  Together, they headed into the zoo to get advice from the birds there.

While there, the penguin saw an ad – a circus needed a new performer for the cannon act.  The penguin rushed off and was hired for the job.  The boy looked everywhere for the penguin – even with the other penguins, but none of them knew how to play his favorite game.

The boy and the penguin missed and worried about each other all night.  When it was time for the penguin to do the fired-from-the-canon act, he wasn’t as excited as he’d expected to be.  And, he missed the boy.  As the penguin shot out of the canon, the boy rushed into the circus to find his friend.  The penguin was frightened and worried as he flew, and he missed the boy.  But, the boy was there to catch him.

“The friends agreed that there was a reason why his wings didn’t work very well…because penguins don’t like flying.”

Jeffers simple color illustrations bring the story to life.  This fun picture book is the sequel to Jeffers’ Lost and Found.

You can find out more about Oliver Jeffers’ books at:


Muddigush by Kimberley Knutson

MuddigushThe snow is melting where I live.  Maple sap is running and sugar houses work to turn sap into syrup.  Hillsides and yards have stretches of white patches – and lots of mud.  Around here, we call this mud season.

Knutson captures a child’s joy in playing in mud and muddy water in her picture book, Muddigush.  Knutson brings the muddy experience to life with her silly descriptive words.

“That sludgy mudge

grabs at our boots

making squelchy slimy smucky sounds.

Smucky mush

Smacky mush

Squooshy slooshy muddigush!”

The child and two friends play in the mud – splashing in puddles, making channels in the muddy water, making mudpies, and having a wonderful time.

Eventually the water and mud dry up:  “The sqoosh and the qoosh are gone.”  And the children return to their homes.  The main character child takes off rain gear and boots, then washes hands.

“Muddigush washes clean

and the water turns black

as it gurgles

and slurgles

and snurgles

down the drain.”

Knutson’s collages beautifully illustrate the story.

This is a good book to share with children – then put on rain gear and go outside for puddle splashing or mud pie-making.

The Tree Lady

The Tree Lady – The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry



Kate Sessions grew up in the woods of Northern California in the 1860’s.  Kate loved exploring the woods and didn’t mind getting dirty while playing.  In the 1860’s girls were not encouraged to study science.  But, Kate wanted to learn.



“Kate felt the trees were her friends.  She loved the way they reached toward the sky and how their branches stretched wide to catch the light.”

In 1881, Kate graduated from the University of California – the first woman to earn a degree in science from that university.  She took a teaching job in San Diego after graduation and found that town to be a desert-like place with very few trees.

After two years, Kate left teaching and worked to find trees that would grow in the dry soil.  She requested seeds from gardeners all over the world, and went to Mexico to hunt for trees that might thrive in San Diego.

Before long, Kate had a tree nursery – and her trees were planted all over town.  In 1909, the city officials announced the Panama-California Exposition would come to San Diego in 1915.  In preparation for this, they wanted more trees for the city park, Balboa Park.  Kate felt Balboa Park needed thousands more trees.  She invited friends to help and held tree-planting parties.

When the Exposition opened in 1915, Balboa Park had millions of trees and plants.  Visitors marveled at the wonderful plants and gardens and strolled in the cool shade.  Kate was given many awards over her lifetime, and continued working with and planting trees until her death in 1940.

“Back then, few could have imagined that San Diego would become the lush, leafy city it is today.  But all along, year after year, Katherine Olivia Sessions did.”

This is wonderful picture book about a woman who changed a desert town into a city filled with plants and trees – with the act of planting trees.  She was called “The Mother of Balboa Park.”  Kate Sessions used her courage, her love of trees, and her scientific knowledge to do this.  The author included a page with more detailed information about Kate Sessions.  A good book to share!

Groundhog Day 2014

groundhogdaybookToday Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, predicting 6 more weeks of winter.

How does Phil know what to do?  How does he gain his weather-predicting skills?  Perhaps he attended Groundhog Weather School as presented by Joan Holub and illustrated by Kristin Sorra.

This clever picture book is packed full of interesting facts about groundhogs, weather, shadows, and seasons.  There is a spread on famous ‘Furry Hognosticators,’ like Punxsutawney Phil, from various parts of the United States.  A final page includes more information about how Groundhog Day began.

Groundhog Weather School presents all this information in a fun, colorful format – a graphic novel/comic book style – that gives information without seeming to overload the reader.  Groundhog Weather School is an excellent choice to share with children – even into the upper grade school years due to its format and information.