Here Comes the Easter Cat

Here Comes the Easter Cat, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Claudia Rueda, was a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Cat thinks it’s time to give the Easter Bunny a bit of competition. While the Easter Bunny is hopping around delivering eggs, Cat will hop on his motorcycle and give boys and girls some chocolate. He’s not prepared, though, for just how tiring all his preparation is. Cat is ready for a nap.

Imagine Cat’s surprise when he learns that the Easter Bunny doesn’t get naps. He has to do all that work with no rest? Well, that simply will not do. When the exhausted Easter Bunny comes by to deliver eggs to Cat, Cat takes it upon himself to help his tired new friend.

Will Cat give up his plans for Easter domination? Or does he now have even loftier ambitions? Find out when you read Here Comes the Easter Cat!


I’ll be reading this book aloud to my K5 students this week ahead of our Spring break/Easter holiday. I hope they find it as charming as I do, and I hope it tells them a little about being kind, problem-solving, and, yes, having lofty ambitions.

Here Comes the Easter Cat may lead young (and older) readers to explore even more “substitutes” for holiday or other famous figures. What if, instead of Cupid on Valentine’s Day, we had a porcupine or something? The possibilities are as endless as the imagination.

If you’d like to promote this book to your young readers, feel free to use the book trailer below:

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Dog vs. Cat

Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall is a nominee for the 2016-17 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

Dog and Cat are both going to live with Mr. and Mrs. Button. Unfortunately, these two very different pets have to share a room. Everything starts out okay, but it doesn’t take long for them to start annoying each other.

Dog is messy, chatty, and likes to sniff everything. Cat is neat, quiet (except at night), and claws everything in sight. They decide to divide up their room, but that doesn’t end well, either.

When there’s a new arrival in their home, Dog and Cat realize they must put aside their differences and figure out how to deal with the situation–together.

Will Dog and Cat be able to find common ground? Will this new arrival change everything? Find out when you read Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall!

Dog vs. Cat is a charming book that will appeal to readers young and old. Young readers will enjoy the story of how Dog and Cat are different and eventually come together. Older readers will delight in the fun little details in the illustrations. With any age group, Dog vs. Cat is a wonderful read-aloud and is perfect for discussions about perspective, working together, and appreciating differences.

I created the book trailer below to promote Dog vs. Cat in my own library. Feel free to use it in yours!

Gaby, Lost and Found

Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes was a nominee for the 2015-16 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.

The past few months have not been easy for Gaby Ramirez Howard. Her mother has been deported to Honduras, her distant father has moved into the house and often forgets to pay bills or go grocery shopping, and mean girls at school ridicule her because of her mom’s situation. Gaby just wants her mom to return and for things to go back to normal. She’s tired of going hungry and worrying about the future. Gaby waits for the day her mom will come back and they can be happy again, but the wait is getting to her.

Gaby’s life is not all bad, though. She has loyal friends, and she’s excited about her sixth grade class’ new service project–volunteering at the Furry Friends Animal Shelter.

Gaby loves her work at the animal shelter. She dotes on the sweet kittens, plays with the dogs, and writes profiles of the animals to convince people to adopt these lovable pets. Her profiles, paired with pictures of the animals, are posted around the community, and Gaby is thrilled that people are reading them and coming into the shelter to give the animals forever homes.

There’s one cat at the shelter who Gaby would love to have for her own. The cat, Feather, was abandoned by her previous owners, and Gaby feels a certain kinship with the little cat. She knows what it’s like to be left alone and wondering if she’ll ever feel truly safe and loved again. If only Gaby could adopt Feather and give her the home that she deserves…

As the days pass, worries about Feather’s future and her mom’s return plague Gaby. Her worries are affecting her friendships, her work at the shelter, and Gaby is doing things that she knows she shouldn’t. And when she receives news that derails all of her thoughts of a happy family, Gaby doesn’t know what to do. She feels so lost…

But maybe, just maybe, there’s hope for Gaby. Maybe she and Feather can somehow find forever homes of their very own…

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes, written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean, is nominated for the 2013-2014 South Carolina Picture Book Award.

I can see Rocking in My School Shoes being hugely popular as a beginning-of-the-school-year read aloud. Luckily, there’s also an amazing website (http://www.harpercollinschildrens.com…) that goes along with all of the Pete the Cat books, so those of us with less-than-great singing voices don’t have to do the singing ourselves!

It’s easy to see why so many of my students like all of the Pete the Cat books. (I can’t keep them on the shelves!) Pete is kind of a cool cat, the stories are predictable, rhythmic, and easy to read, and they are full of colorful illustrations.

Waiting for the Magic

Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan (author of the Newbery Award winning Sarah, Plain and Tall) is super-short, but it packed quite the emotional wallop. I laughed, I cried a bit, and I craved a bit of the magic the characters were looking for in this book. I think animal lovers will especially adore this book, but everyone will find something to love and relate to.

William, his sister Elinor, and his mom are facing a difficult situation. Dad has just walked out, and none of them knows when–or if–he will return. So how do they cope? Mom decides to take William and Elinor to the local animal shelter to adopt a pet. Most people would return home with a dog or cat, but this family is a little different. They adopt four dogs and one cat! All of the animals seem to get along, though, so it kind of works out.

This family still misses Dad, but the animals help to fill the void that their father left behind, especially when William discovers just how “magical” these animals are. (Elinor has always known about the “magic.” It took William a little longer to experience it.) If someone is young, old, brave, honest, or joyful, he/she can communicate with the animals. One just has to open his mind and heart. The “magic” will find its way in.

When Dad eventually returns (after an unexpected development), Elinor is eager to forgive and welcome him back home. William is not so willing to let go of his father’s abandonment. His furry friends guide him toward forgiveness, and with their assistance, the entire family–with a few extra special additions–grows closer together than ever before. Can the whole family experience the “magic” that comes with loving their special pets (and each other)? Read Patricia MacLachlan’s Waiting for the Magic to discover just how magical love, joy, bravery, and forgiveness can truly be.

Waiting for the Magic is a heart-warming, poignant book that, in my opinion, might make you look at the animals around you a little differently. This book is a very easy, quick read, but the message is one that everyone–no matter the age–will find inspiring.

Waiting for the Magic is nominated for the 2013-2014 South Carolina Children’s Book Award.

Pie

Pie by Sarah Weeks is a nominee for the 2013-14 South Carolina Children’s Book Award. This was a really fast, easy read, but it pulled at my heartstrings a little bit…and it made me really want some pie. It also contained a bit of a mystery that readers will be as eager to unravel as Alice, our totally relatable main character, was. Technically, Pie is a work of historical fiction (it takes place in 1955), but it doesn’t really read that way. In my opinion, this book is totally accessible to all readers, and almost everyone will be able to find something they can identify with.

Alice Anderson’s world is turned upside down when her beloved aunt, Polly Portman, passes away suddenly. To everyone else, Polly was the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, but Alice thought of Polly as her best friend in the entire world. She doesn’t really care how much everyone else missed Polly’s pies. Alice simply misses her Aunt Polly…until something happens that puts Alice–and her aunt’s cat Lardo–into the center of a mystery.

It seems that Aunt Polly’s highly coveted pie crust recipe was left to Lardo in her will. And Lardo was left in the care of Alice. Why would Polly–a very smart and not at all crazy woman–leave her prized recipe to her cat? How did she even do this? Of course, everyone is curious about this, but Alice is starting to think that someone is curious enough to commit crimes–like burglary and catnapping–to somehow get greedy hands on this recipe that her aunt valued so much.

Alice tries to take her concerns to her parents and even the police, but no one (except her friend Charlie) believes her. So Alice and Charlie do some investigating of their own. Suspects abound, especially since everyone seems determined to take Aunt Polly’s place as the Pie Queen of Ipswitch. It’s up to Alice to figure out who the real culprit is. Will she be able to solve the mystery? And what will she learn about herself along the way? Read Pie, a sweet mystery by Sarah Weeks, to find out!

With each chapter starting with a delectable pie recipe, I plan to really market this book to my students who frequently check out cookbooks. (A lot of kids are into cooking. Who knew?) This is a really sweet (pun intended) book that, yes, does contain a bit of a mystery, but also explores the bonds of family and friendship. It also teaches an important lesson about using one’s own talents and not worrying about what someone else may be good at or the recognition they may receive (a message that even I needed).