A Surprise for Little Owl

I’m participating in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie Story Contest. The task – tell a complete story in 100 words or less that uses the words potion, trick, and cobweb in any form. Here goes!

A Surprise for Little Owl   (99 words)

by Rose Cappelli

Little Owl and Mama lived in the gnarly oak by the house with the crooked porch. On Halloween, costumed kids scurried to the house for treats. Little Owl longed to join the fun.

“You’re too young,” said Mama. “Witches with magic potions turn little owls into crows!”

Little Owl had a trick up his wing. He wrapped himself in Spider’s cobwebs, borrowed Oriole’s nest-sack, and flew to the crooked porch where…

…a witch perched …waiting. Little Owl quivered and shivered.

The witch hoot-cackled “Hellooooo.” 

Little Owl knew that sound! A familiar feather peeked from her cape.

“Mama!” he cried.

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The Boy and the Toad: A Modern Fable

The generosity of the Kid Lit community never ceases to amaze me. There is so much support from everyone! Today I’m participating in the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy hosted by Kaitlyn Sanchez and Lydia Lukidis. My submission and the picture that inspired it are below.

The Boy and the Toad: A Modern Fable

Andy loved leaves.  Leaves for heaping and leaping, blowing and throwing. Leaves of red and yellow, brown and orange that crunch…crunch… crunched under his feet. One day, Andy spotted a tiny toad in his leaf pile. To Andy’s surprise, the toad whispered:

Please do not disturb my home

nestled in this rich dark loam.

Andy created a toad abode to keep his new friend safe. He found a hollow log, placed it near the pond, and packed in a pile of leaves and rich soil. The toad whispered:

Thank you for this cozy nest

where I can hibernate and rest.

Soon the bright fall colors gave way to winter white. Andy crunched on snow instead of leaves, hoping his toad friend was safe. One morning, as the last of the icicles drip-dropped from the trees, Andy visited the toad abode. The toad whispered:

  It’s time for me to gobble pests –

      protect the leaves that you love best.        

That fall, Andy’s leaves were bigger and brighter than ever – perfect for heaping and leaping, blowing and throwing!

No kindness is ever wasted.

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Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Amazing Idea of You

Today is a twofer! I am participating in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday and Laura Renaud’s #DebutReviewChallenge.

Title: The Amazing Idea of You

Author: Charlotte Sullivan Wild

Illustrators: Mary Lundquist

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication Date: February 5, 2019

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Individuality, creative potential

Opening:       Hidden in this apple

            is the idea of a tree

wrapped tight in this shiny seed.

Take a bite

drop a bit

the idea might take root


shoot up

into the blue.

Summary (from the inside book cover): Illustrations and simple text reveal that there is potential in every seed to be a tree, in every tadpole to be a frog, and in every child to be a unique and creative adult.

Resources: The author includes an activity guide, resources, and additional activities on her website (www.charlotteswild.com). 

Why I Like This Book: The simplicity of the text and illustrations make this book ideal for young readers. Through her lyrical language, Charlotte Sullivan Wild compares what happens in nature to the potential in all of us. The illustrations complement the text so well and tell an additional story of the growth of a child and the idea within her. This book celebrates possibility!

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Perfect Picture Book Friday: A Voice for the Spirit Bears

Today I am participating in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday. Be sure to check it out here.

Title: A Voice for the Spirit Bears: How One Boy Inspired Millions to Save a Rare Animal

Author: Carmen Oliver

Illustrator: Katy Dockrill

Publisher: Kids Can Press, 2019   Non-fiction

Intended Audience: Ages 6-9 (and up)

Themes: environmental activism; perseverance; animal habitats

Opening page: Simon peered through a telescope from a lookout post in Yellowstone National Park. Hours ticked by. Rain soaked his clothes. Still, he didn’t budge.

Synopsis: (from the publisher): As a child, Simon Jackson found navigating the world of the school playground difficult. He felt most at home in the woodlands, learning about and photographing wildlife. As a teenager, he became fascinated with spirit bears, a rare subspecies of black bear with creamy white fur. These elusive creatures were losing their habitat to deforestation, and Simon knew he had to do something to protect them. He decided he would become the voice for the spirit bears. But first, he would have to find his own.

Resources: In addition to the wonderful back matter included in the book, you can find a teaching guide on the publisher’s website here. There is also a video on Carmen Oliver’s website here.

For Susanna’s complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

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Perfect Picture Book Friday: Sweety

Title: Sweety

Author/Illustrator: Andrea Zuill

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2019


Age Range: 3-7 years

Theme: Finding the courage to be yourself; fitting in

Opening Lines: Sweety was awkward. Even for a naked mole rat. Her own grandmother called her a little square peg. Sweety didn’t exactly know what that meant. But she did know that she didn’t always fit in.

Synopsis (from Amazon): Sweety is awkward, even for a naked mole rat. She has protruding front teeth, thick glasses, and some very unusual hobbies, including interpretive dance and fungus identification. She’s intense and passionate–and her peers don’t always get her. But surely there are other mushroom lovers out there? As Sweety sets out to find them, she comes to realize–with a little help from her cool Aunt Ruth– that being Sweety is actually pretty awesome. With heart and humor and a whole lot of charm, Andrea Zuill delivers a story about learning to embrace everything that makes you you–and that’s something many kids are going to relate to.

Why I Like This Book: The charming illustrations pair perfectly with the text to remind kids that although it isn’t always easy to fit in, it is important to stay true to yourself. A great book for anyone looking to find their people! Sweety is a very likable character who will steal your heart.

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In Honor of Lee Bennett Hopkins

Give children poetry. It is one of the best gifts you can give them…a gift to last a lifetime. -Lee Bennett Hopkins

Lee Bennett Hopkins – poet, educator, mentor – died earlier this month. Today on Poetry Friday, many are celebrating his life. This master of poetry compiled numerous poetry anthologies for children which I often used in my teaching. In his anthology, Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems (Simon & Schuster, 2010), Hopkins begins each section by introducing the season with an original poem. All of the poems have the same structure which I borrowed to honor him with my own poem today. I used a place of beauty loved by children and adults, Longwood Gardens, as inspiration.


purples and

scarlets in

wonder-filled rooms

always –

always –

bountiful blooms













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Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou: A Review


I spent time this weekend reading and reviewing lots of new picture books. This one is definitely a favorite.

Title: Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou

Author: Bethany Hegedus

Illustrator: Tonya Engel

Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.

Rise! is a remarkable book about a remarkable woman, Maya Angelou. Bethany Hegedus’s lyrical language written as poetry flies off the page, creating perfect images that take us from knowing Maya as a young child to her roles as performer, writer, mother, and activist. The complications and dark times of Maya’s life are treated respectfully and serve to help us understand how much she had to overcome. The exquisite craft of the writing coupled with the illustrations of words swirling across many pages of the book are a celebration of language in itself. They remind us of the important role words played in Maya’s life: “…the twisting, turning/conga line of language/that pulses across the page.”

The book opens with a touching tribute from Maya Angelou’s grandson and concludes with an author’s note, a timeline, additional resources, and photographs.

This is a book that will touch your heart and soul and be a reminder that Maya Angelou’s words “…will always rise/rise/rise.”

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