Gracie’s Best Ever Reading List-“Little Bunny’s Book of Thoughts”

I have been unsure what to have as a first post for a new year. Usually I will begin the year with a retrospective look at popular posts from the previous year, but 2020 was an odd year and this first week of 2021 has been an even odder week. And so I am beginning the year by sharing the book my chickens have been reading and reading again.

“Little Bunny’s Book of Thoughts” by Steve Smallman was a gift to ourselves for Christmas, and we couldn’t be happier! This is currently our newest, most treasured book. My chickens and I unanimously say, “We love you, Little Bunny!”

As you can see from the picture, it is a small book, about 6 inches by 6 inches. It is in the little maple rocking chair my grandparents bought for me when I was very young. I would have loved this book back then, even before I had learned to read.

The illustrations are charming and delightful. They beautifully express the emotions that are a part of life, both on a bad day and on a good day. You will likely want to turn the pages slowly to enjoy the short lines of poetry that accompany each drawing of Little Bunny. This is a great “pre-reader” book because a child can still read the pictures and make up the words that go with them.

This book is filled with wisdom as Little Bunny’s day goes from having a not-so-good day to having a phenomenally good day. Little Bunny shows us it’s all in how we look at things. We can turn an “ears-down” day into an “ears-up” day.

Steve Smallman, the book’s author and illustrator, has created what I believe will be a treasured classic. My chickens and I certainly treasure it! This is a book I wish I had written and illustrated, but there is only one Little Bunny, and there is only one Steve Smallman!

“Little Bunny’s Book of Thoughts” is what I call a “sit beside and read to” book. That is how it is best shared with very young children, but probably in a much bigger rocking chair than the one in today’s photo! They will enjoy the drawings. They will enjoy the rhyming words. They will love Little Bunny. And they will especially love you for sitting beside them and sharing this exceptional book.

You too are likely to find yourself saying, if only to yourself, “I love you, Little Bunny.” At least that’s what all of my chickens have said every time I’ve read this book to them.

“Little Bunny’s Book of Thoughts” is available through Amazon. You can use this link to see the Amazon preview of the inside of the book and order a copy as a gift…even if only for yourself!

Signed copies are also available through the publisher and there is also a great video that gives an idea of what the book is like inside on the publisher’s website.

Seriously, can you look at the cover of this book and not smile right along with Little Bunny? I bet you can’t!

John’s Reading List For Writers…“Writing Picture Books” by Ann Whitford Paul

The end of this week will mark the sixth week since submitting “How To Explain Christmas To Chickens” to a publisher in England named Chicken House, Ltd. for their “Open Coop” submission day. (The six-week mark is when we will know whether we have been selected or not.) While waiting, I thought it might be good to share a few books which were helpful to me during the writing process. These may be helpful to those of you who are writers hoping to be published.

Although the title may make you think this book is not for you unless you write children’s picture books, there is valuable information here for any writer, regardless of intended audience or preferred genre. Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul taught me a great deal about writing any kind of book. (There is even a section on poetry which Amelia found very helpful and inspiring.)

Her book helped me consider how the elements which make a good picture book also make a good novel. For example, instead of the two-page spread, there is the chapter. The things which make you want to turn the page of a good picture book are the same things which make you want to turn the page of a good novel.

As I was writing, How To Explain Christmas To Chickens, if I couldn’t imagine a chapter as one or more two-page spreads, I knew something was probably wrong with it. If there were big sections which couldn’t be illustrated, I began to question their necessity. This wasn’t because I wanted to write a picture book, but because I wanted to write a book that would “draw” pictures in the minds of my readers and keep them turning the pages.

Writing Picture Books provides many important general keys to writing a story of any kind and for any audience. In fact, when reading many of its passages, it is unlikely you would realize you were reading about writing children’s picture books. This may not be a book to add to your shelf at home, but if you are a writer or an aspiring writer of any type of book, it will likely give you some helpful advice and may be available at your local library.

Never underestimate the power of a picture book! Even as adults, we can find our favorite picture books from childhood sneaking into everyday conversations. I’ll bet you remember The Little Engine That Could and “I think I can, I think I can.” One of my own favorite expressions lately is, “I’m just a Pokey Little Puppy today.” (Of course, even pokey little puppies can have naughty days!)

Wouldn’t it be great to be the author of a book that created such lasting memories for your intended audience? No matter their age? No matter their preferred genre?

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

Gracie’s Summer Reading List…“Molly’s Story” by W. Bruce Cameron

Molly’s Story by W. Bruce Cameron

This book was not a “quick sell” for my chickens because it isn’t about chickens or eggs. But amazingly, it does have a “chicken connection” which caught their attention. Let me explain.

Each of the books in this series is about a different dog with a special purpose. Molly has the ability to detect cancer in people before they even know they have it. She is a cancer-sniffing dog.

While writing this book, W. Bruce Cameron turned to a close friend, Dina Zaphiris, who trains dogs with this special ability. She had not been able to have a dog of her own when she was growing up because her family had chickens. She trained her family’s chickens to do tricks and to come when their names were called. When she grew up, she got her own dogs and became a certified animal trainer.

That part caught the attention of my chickens. If someone who knew about chickens was somehow connected to this book, then that was okay with them. After we finished this story, they have decided they wouldn’t mind it if we eventually get a dog as long as it likes chickens and will guard them.

“There were many parts of the story that made me nervous and worried about Molly and her little girl named CJ. I didn’t like the mother, Gloria, or her boyfriend, Gus. I was really mad at Gloria for turning Molly in as a stray dog and pretending she didn’t know Molly. That was not true, and she should not have done it. Gus grabbed CJ’s arm and wouldn’t let go. Molly defended her. The scariest part of all was when CJ and Molly ran away from home for days and days. Well, I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone, but I will say there were a lot of very intense parts.” – Gracie

“I thought it was interesting how Molly liked being with her little girl even inside the house. I’m not sure what that is like because chickens are more independent, and we like being outside whether our people are inside or not. We don’t really perform tricks to get treats, though we certainly don’t look down on those who do. We think, and rightly so, laying an egg every day is all of the performing we should ever need to do. Molly saved someone’s life in this story, and that was my favorite part. Molly was very smart and very brave.” – Bessie

“I could really relate to Molly because she had a difficult time figuring things out. There is a lot to figure out in life, and I need all of the help I can get. This book didn’t really help me understand people any better, but it did help me to understand dogs better. If we ever get a dog to watch over us, I will know better what to expect. They seem a lot easier to understand than people.” – Pearl

“I liked that Molly is the one who was telling her story herself. Maybe one day I will tell my own story, or maybe a story about my best friend Amelia. I do wish the book had explained how Molly learned to write. Did she use a pencil and paper? Did she use something like a typewriter? I think I will need to know how to do that. There is typing called ‘hunt and peck,’ and I think chickens would be very good at it.” – Emily

“One of the best parts is when Molly writes ‘People really do very strange things.’ That is so very true! I’m glad Molly said that. I know people aren’t lucky enough to be chickens (or dogs), but maybe people will take the hint.” – Amelia

“Molly’s Story” is suitable for ages 8 to 12 and grades 3 to 7 and is available through Barnes and Noble along with other books in this series such as “Ellie’s Story” and “Bailey’s Story.” Each book is about a different special dog. The overall theme of the entire series is “Every dog has work to do. Every dog has a purpose.” The price on the back of each book is $7.99, however Barnes & Noble is offering them for less. Summertime discount codes offer additional savings.

Just so you know, “My Life With Gracie” isn’t getting anything from sharing this book with you. We don’t collect anything if you click the link here. Some websites work that way, but for us, it’s about reading. Children (and chickens) need to read and be read to, whether it’s what we write or not!