She said, “I need books on pumpkins, leaves and apples.” I explained specific books on those themes were checked out, but I could add her to the request list. I offered Baby Bear Counts One while she waited for the other books to arrive.


I opened the book showing  the title page illustration with the oak tree, falling leaves, squirrel and acorns.  The illustrations are created by printing linoleum blocks in black ink on paper.  Next, they are hand colored with a fall watercolor palette.  The power of the ink block prints and the warmth of the watercolors bring Baby Bear Counts One to life.

Preschool teaching themes are simple.  Seasons, colors, number, etc.  I’ve been a preschool teacher.  I know how monotonous books on specific themes can be. So  I introduced the teacher to another Ashley Wolff book, Baby Bear Sees Blue.

The teacher checked out both Baby Bear books.  I told her I am at the library every Wednesday night.  She’s been back; eager to find new books for those important preschool themes she’s taught for over 20 years.

I just heard some geese flying overhead while writing this piece.  I laughed.  It’s a scene straight from the book.  “Mama looks to the sky.  Honk!  Honk!  Honk!  “Who is calling to us Mama?” asks Baby Bear.  “Those are the geese,” says Mama, “flying south before winter comes.”  There’s a group of Canadian Geese who winter at ML’s Papa’s pond.  Who knows?  Maybe they’re in flight to Georgia.

DISCLOSURE:  I follow Ashley Wolff’s blog and she follows mine.  She provided helpful advice on how to tame my daughter’s curly hair.  There haven’t been any tears since she told me to drop the shampoo and just condition ML’s hair.  This in no way influenced my opinions about Baby Bear Counts One.  If anything, I didn’t gloat as much as I should have about this book.

As for her blog, take a look.  You’ll get insight into how she created this beautiful book and many others.


Those Aren’t the Words: Song Variations


ML loves to sing. She makes up her own songs or changes the words in songs she knows. Below are picture books we enjoy with variations on childhood songs.

In Old MacDonald Had a Woodshop by Lisa Shulman and illustrated by Ashley Wolff, the tool sounds are fun to sing – zztt zztt, rurr rurr, tap tap, chip chip, scritch scratch, squeak squeak, and swish swash. Spoiler alert – the animals are using a saw, drill, hammer, chisel, file, screwdriver, and paintbrush to build a barn.

Ten in the Bed by Jane Carbrera features a variety of occupations; a trumpeter being the most unusual. There’s a snorer too. Who knew you can have a career in snoring?

Iza Trapani has written and illustrated at least a dozen variations on childhood songs. Our favorite is The Bear Went Over the Mountain, which features the five senses. It’s hard to believe, but there aren’t many quality picture books featuring the five senses. My first thought when the library received the book, “Finally an answer to every preschool teacher’s request” The bear sees a mama duck that chases him up a tree, hears a snake hissing, smells a skunk, touches a porcupine, and tastes honey until he is buzzed away.

ML’s Last Day of Kindergarten

ML graduates from kindergarten today.

We started the year by reading Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate and illustrated by Ashley Wolff On the 100th day of school, I planned to read Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the 100th day of Kindergarten. But it was checked out.

Life got busy. I forgot about it and the other Miss Bindergarten books:

Miss Bindergarten Stays Home From Kindergarten
Miss Bindergarten Takes a Field Trip with Kindergarten
Miss Bindergarten Plans a Circus with Kindergarten

I can’t believe it’s time to read another Miss Bindergarten book, Miss Bindergarten Celebrates the Last Day of Kindergarten. Or maybe not, ML told me last night, “I wish it was the first day of kindergarten. I love Ms. Shaw so much!”