No by Claudia Rueda

noNo is a fun picture book that celebrates a child’s independent spirit.  Of course, in this case, the child is a brown bear cub.

“It’s time to go to sleep,” said mother bear.

“No,” said little bear.  “I don’t want to go to sleep.”

So begins the story….with mother bear telling little bear that it will get cold, there will not be any food, winter is long, and the snow will be deep.  Little bear responds that he is not cold, he saved some food, he doesn’t mind a long winter, and he loves snow.

The adventurous cub stays out in a snowstorm building a snowman while his mother goes into their cave.  The snow comes down harder, and the wind blows.  Little bear calls out for his mother and looks for their cave.  When he finds her, little bear tells her: “Winter is very long and you might get lonely.”

The last page shows mother bear and little bear snuggled up together in their cave with snow falling outside.

Rueda’s illustrations are large and simple – yet they convey the bear’s emotions, and help tell the story.

This is a good book to share with young children – especially ones who like to do things their own way.

December 21 – The Winter Solstice

solsticebookThe Shortest Day – Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer, illustrated by Jesse Reisch

Why does it get dark earlier at night in Winter than in Summer?  What is Solstice?  Pfeffer addresses these questions and others in this colorful book about the Winter Solstice.

In the Northern Hemisphere, near December 21, the sun reaches its lowest point on the horizon – making that day the shortest day of the year, or the day with the least amount of daylight.

This day is called the Winter Solstice.  It marks the beginning of Winter.  Humans have recognized this time of the year for thousands of years.  Long, long ago people didn’t know about the Earth’s rotation, tilting, and orbit.  They just knew that they had less and less daylight.  Some thought evil spirits caused the sun to go away, and held ceremonies asking their gods to bring back the sun.  Later people discovered patterns in shadows, or in the sun’s position on the horizon.  They celebrated the shortest day of the year because it meant the days of more light were returning.

Today people still celebrate at the beginning of winter by decorating their houses, lighting the darkness, gathering together, and exchanging gifts.


They no longer worry that the sun will disappear forever.  People know that days get colder when their part of the earth tilts away from the sun.


For more than 5,000 years, people have welcomed the Winter Solstice because it’s a new beginning.


Pfeffer’s text takes readers on a journey from early peoples fearing that the sun will disappear forever, through history to the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Romans, through England and Ireland of 1,000 years ago, to more recent times – with Sweden’s St. Lucia’s Day.

The book includes several pages with Solstice facts, information about the Earth’s tilting as it orbits the sun (including Summer Solstice, Winter Solstice, Spring Equinox, and Autumn Equinox).  Activities include charting sunrise and sunset, measuring shadows, noting the position of the sun over the year, and a way to demonstrate the tilt of the Earth making seasons.

This is an excellent book for children in preschool through grade school — with interesting illustrations, and factual information.

Happy Winter Solstice, everyone!

(I first published a review of this book in December 2012)

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?

Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell by Tanya Lee Stone, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

WhoSaysWomenDoctorsWhen Elizabeth Blackwell was a child, in the 1830’s, women were expected to become teachers, seamstresses, or wives and mothers.  They were not supposed to become doctors.

As a girl, Elizabeth Blackwell didn’t talk about becoming a doctor – she didn’t like blood, and hated being sick.  But, she was a spirited girl with courage.  She “wanted to explore around every corner and….never walked away from a challenge.”

When Elizabeth Blackwell was twenty-four, she visited a friend who was very ill – and who encouraged Elizabeth Blackwell to become a doctor.

“At first, Elizabeth could not believe her ears.  Even if a girl could be a doctor, why would she want to be one?  But Mary’s idea gnawed at Elizabeth.  A female doctor.”

Elizabeth Blackwell thought about the idea a great deal.  Her family supported the idea.  So, she worked as a teacher to earn money and began applying to medical schools.  She did not get enthusiastic responses.

“Twenty-eight Nos in all.  In different ways, the letters all said the same thing:  Women cannot be doctors.  They should not be doctors.”

She was accepted at Geneva Medical School in New York state.  The people in the town stared at her and whispered.  The other students didn’t want her to be there.  Eventually, with much hard work, she proved herself – and she graduated (in 1849) with the highest grades in the class.

Marjorie Priceman’s bright illustrations complement the text.  This is a good book to share and use as a starting point for discussions of limitations, women’s rights, gender roles, and the classic “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

The book has two pages of additional information about Elizabeth Blackwell.  The reader learns that after she graduated from medical school, no one would hire her.  Eventually, Elizabeth Blackwell opened a free clinic in New York City, and taught people about cleanliness and staying healthier.  Elizabeth and her sister, Emily (who also became a doctor), started their own hospital, The New York Infirmary for Women and Children – the first hospital run by women, for women.  Elizabeth Blackwell later opened a medical school for women in New York, helped create the London School of Medicine for Women in England, and helped start the National Health Society.  She died in 1910 at the age of eighty-nine.  Today over half of all medical school students in the United States are women.

Picture Book Month

Picture Book Month

PBMLOGO-COLOR_WEBRESPicture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November.

Every day in November, there is a new post from a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important.

Check out the website at: They’ve put together tons of activities and a calendar with suggestions for each day.  Today, for instance, features the subject of libraries and librarians.

Bookworm Bear recommends:

library lionLibrary Lion by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes (reviewed)





thelibraryThe Library by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small




November is Picture Book Month. Read * Share * Celebrate!

Flora’s Very Windy Day

Flora’s Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall, illustrated by Matt Phelan

FlorasVeryWindyDayFlora got upset when her little brother, Crispin, knocked over her paints, again.  Their mother sent them outside to play.

Flora protested, saying that the wind was so strong it would blow her away.  Then Flora said:  “Of course, I could wear my super-special heavy-duty red boots.  They’ll keep me from being blown away.”

They bundled up, and Flora put on her special red boots. Crispin had only regular purple boots that “couldn’t do anything but keep his feet dry.”

The wind blew, but Flora laughed at it and told it that she was wearing her special red boots so it couldn’t blow her away.  The wind blew harder, but Flora laughed at it.

“However,” said Flora, “you may notice that my little brother is wearing regular old purple boots.”

So the wind blew harder still, and lifted Crispin off the ground.  Flora realized that her little brother was being blown away.  She kicked off her special red boots, and went sailing up after Crispin, and held on to his hand as they were blown away together.  They were frightened at first, but soon realized that the wind was comfortable, like “riding along on a squishy flying chair.”

Several different things approached Flora, asking her to give them Crispin:  a dragonfly, a sparrow, a rainbow, a cloud, an eagle, and the man in the moon.  Each time, Flora said no, “He’s my brother and I’m taking him home.”

Finally Flora asked the wind to let them go home.  The wind replied it would as soon as it found the right spot for Crispin, since Flora wanted to get rid of him.  Flora realized that she didn’t really want Crispin to go away, and the wind took them home.

There likely are times in the lives of most young older siblings when they wish (even briefly) that they didn’t have a younger sibling.  Underneath that momentary frustration, they really don’t wish any harm to the toddler or baby…’s just hard to remember when paints are knocked over, favorite stuffed animals are being chewed on, or a grown-up is busy with baby.  This is a very sweet book showing a big sister who realizes that she really does love her brother.


The Matchbox Diary

The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

the matchbox diaryA young girl visits her great-grandfather for the first time ever.  The girl looks around the room – full of books, boxes, collections, photos, antiques.  The great-grandfather says,

Pick whatever you like the most.  Then I’ll tell you its story.

The girl brings the old man a cigar box full of matchboxes.  The old man tells her the box is full of stories – that it is his diary.

When the girl asks what a diary is, the old man replies:

A way to remember what happens to you.  Usually it’s a book people write in.  When I was your age, I had a lot I wanted to remember, but I couldn’t read or write.  So I started this.  Open the first one.

Each matchbox contains a small object that holds a memory for the old man.  He shares them with the girl.

The first matchbox has an olive pit.  The old man tells of when he was a child in Italy and his family was terribly poor.  His mother would give him an olive pit to suck on when he was hungry if the didn’t have enough food.

One matchbox has a ticket to his first baseball game – in the United States – that he went to with his father.  Another matchbox has printer’s letters – and the old man tells about learning typesetting and working with a printing press.

The final picture shows the girl in a seat on an airplane, putting two objects into compartments in an empty chocolates (or something like that) box – one of them is a printer’s letter.

Through saved objects and stories from memories, readers learn about the life of the old man – from a poor boy in Italy, to traveling to the United State on a ship, to Ellis Island, to time as a migrant worker, to learning to read and write, to learning printing as a trade, and owning a bookshop.

This is a book with a sense of mystery and of history.  It is also a story of a great-grandfather and great-granddaughter getting to know each other.


International Dot Day

International Dot Day – September 15

interntl dot dayToday is International Dot Day, “a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration.”  This creative celebration was inspired by the book, The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds.

A teacher’s guide, some videos, Celibri-dots blog (dot images by authors, illustrators, and other famous folks), and a gallery of images of creative projects folks have done in the past to celebrate International Dot Day.  To learn more about International Dot Day, or to find ideas for activities, visit the website:

Bookworm Bear loves Peter H. Reynolds books.  We’ve reviewed The Dot and Ish here – they are well worth looking for at local libraries and bookstores.

Dot cover smallIsh


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.

Blucy Book Blast

Blucy by Julia DweckI’m trying something a little different today – with a great new book, and a chance to win $100.  I’ve joined in a Book Blast Giveaway for Blucy by Julia Dweck, illustrated by Erika LeBarre.  (Xist Publishing, 2013)  (21 pages, recommended for ages 3+)

See below for information on the $100 Blucy Book Blast Giveaway.

Summary (Amazon): Once in a blue moon, a special pet comes along. When Mandy adopts the best cat at the shelter, she doesn’t realize it has a big secret and an even bigger personality. Features full screen images and pop-up text.

Blucy Facebook Page * Blucy Pinterest Page * Goodreads


Purchase & Special Offer

Xist Publishing is pleased to offer you a special Buy One Get One FREE (BOGO) offer when you purchase Blucy by Julia Dweck. The Deal? If you purchase Blucy (e-book) through Amazon, you will receive a FREE electronic copy of Julia Dweck’s newest book, Mary Had a Sleepy Sheep (released September 5, 2013). All you have to do is forward your purchase confirmation email to and Xist Publishing will send you a complimentary copy of Mary Had a Sleepy Sheep. Don’t wait to take advantage of this great deal!



The Early Buzz

“Julia Dweck scores another winner Blucy! This book is beautifully illustrated, features solid rhyming verse, has a most unusual main character in Blucy the cat, and will surely be loved and appreciated by all cat-lovers! I would recommend this wonderful picture book to children who love cats and for their grown-ups who will recognize their own cat’s behavior in this funny story. .” ~ Mother Daughter Book Reviews

Ms Dweck and Ms Lebarre have created a delightfully humorous read that will no doubt capture the attention of every little mischief maker. The rhythm and rhyme are wonderful and flow so beautifully throughout the book. The illustrations are absolutely exquisite. I honestly wish I could purchase every one of them to put upon my toddlers walls.” ~ WhenIgrowupIwannawriteakidsbook

“The illustrations are amazing and beautiful and the story pulls you in and had Dino telling Mandy and Blucy what to do and got upset when they didn’t listen to him. He was hysterical with some of Blucy’s antics and wanted to know if Balboa could do that to. Really and truly a cute book and one that Dino will keep reading, especially now that he think he’s a catosaurous.” ~ Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

A blue cat? I love color – lots of color and these illustrations are exactly that. The rythmic method used by Julia is perfect for all ages and the content is entertaining for all – including adults. My daughter loves mood rings so she found this book particularly interesting – what about a “mood cat”. I am also a firm believer and supporter of pet adoptions – so another plus for this story…That Blucy is quite a mischievous cat. Blucy has special facts at the end of the story as well as a game for the kids to keep them thinking. I love this book as I have all of Julia’s books and so do my kids. ~ The Stuff of Success

A Phenomenal Children’s Classic. Children & Adults will love and cherish this beloved tale. Julia Dweck has always amazed me with her talent at writing children’s books and Blucy is by far my favorite one yet. I laughed and giggled my way through the whole book and had to read it again several times for the pure joy of the story. The illustrations are fabulous and very colorful and I found myself staring at each page as I read and just loved the details in the illustrations. This is a RECOMMENDED MUST read story that adults and their children will fall in love with. This book will become the best bedtime story that children will want to hear over and over again. ~ Back Words, White Pages


About the Author: Julia Dweck

Julia Dweck, Author

Julia Dweck‘s background in elementary education affords her the opportunity to be in touch with what children want to read and what makes them giggle. She’s collaborated with leading artists in the world of children’s literature to produce over 20 Amazon eBooks. Her titles have garnered placement on Amazon’s bestsellers in children’s color picture books multiple times with two #1 bestsellers: PIE-RITS and Zombie-Kids. These titles have been chosen by Amazon Editors for the prestigious “Kindle Daily Deal.” Many of Julia’s titles have earned placement on Amazon’s top ranked lists based on customer review. In her spare time, Julia is a designer of educational adjuncts for children’s literature, and has worked with such notable publishing houses as Penguin Young Readers. She presented at the 2011 National Center for Family Literacy for her creative use of technology in the classroom.

For more information about Julia Dweck and her books,please visit her website:  Jule Loves 2 Write.

Twitter * Facebook


* Where’s Blucy? *

Before we get to the $100 Book Blast Giveaway, we have a special treat for you. If you head on over to Julia Dweck’s Facebook Fan Page, you will find the “Where’s Blucy?” contest. Julia Dweck fans are invited to post suggestions of “blue” places Blucy could be hiding, (e.g., near Elvis’ blue suede shoes). The most creative answer will win a print of the Blucy cover by the artist, Erika LeBarre. Head on over to Julia Dweck’s Facebook Fan Page to enter and…

Pssssttt… if you enter the contest before August 20th, 2013, you gain 5 entries in the $100 Book Blast Giveaway below!

Julia Dweck - Blucy


* $100 Book Blast Giveaway *

Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest runs: August 13 to September 15, 11:59 pm, 2013

Open: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: A randomly drawn winner will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. If you have any additional questions, feel free to send us an email!

* This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Julia Dweck and by Xist Publishing. *

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Anatole by Eve Titus, illustrated by Paul Galdone

AnatoleAnatole is a happy mouse who lives with his wife and children in a mouse village not far from Paris.  Each evening, mice from the village travel to Paris (by bicycle) to human homes to get food.

One night, while he is in a house finding food, Anatole overhears humans talking about how horrible mice are – dirty thieves who take food and cause nibbled food to be thrown out.  Anatole is deeply upset by this.  His good friend tells him that is just the way things are – that humans are humans and mice are mice – and not to let it bother him.


“But I never dreamed they regarded us this way,” cried the unhappy Anatole.  “It is horrible to feel scorned and unwanted!  Where is my self-respect?  My pride?  MY HONOR?”

Anatole’s wife understands his shock, and wishes there was a way to give the humans something in return for the food — which gives Anatole an idea.

The next night, instead of raiding houses like the other mice, Anatole goes to the Duval Cheese Factory, and finds his way to the Cheese Tasting Room.  He spends a long time there, carefully tasting each cheese and leaving little signs saying if the cheese is good – or if not what would improve it.  Finally, feeling that he has done honorable work, Anatole takes some cheese home to his family.

The next day, the humans in the cheese factory are surprised by the notes, but realize that this Anatole is correct in his judgements of the cheese.  They try his advice in making cheese.  Every night Anatole goes to work tasting cheese and leaving his opinions.  The humans want to know who is helping them, and leave a note asking to meet him.  Anatole replies that he prefers to remain unknown.  Eventually, the humans leave another note – proclaiming Anatole ‘First Vice-President in Charge of Cheese-Tasting’ and offering him as much cheese (and French Bread, and pastries) as he would like, whenever he would like.

And so, Anatole continues working at the cheese factory – an honorable profession – and becomes “the happiest, most contented mouse in all France.”

This is a sweet, slightly old fashioned book, written in 1956.  The illustrations are black and white – and red and blue.  Who knows, it could lead to interesting discussions with children on honor, or on working for something.