New Books To Check Out!

 by Carrie Ann

Little Miss Austin: Pride & Prejudice
words by Jennifer Adams, art by Alison Oliver
Gibbs Smith/Raincoast Books
board book

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite stories; I’m a romantic at heart I guess. BabyLit from Gibbs Smith/Raincoast Books is a fun way to introduce children to the world of classic literature. Little Miss Austin: Pride & Prejudice is a sweet counting book focusing on elements from the story: 1 English Village; 2 Rich Gentlemen (Mr Bingley and Mr. Darcy). Each spread focusing on one number (up to 10) with the number in large type on the left side and a simple drawing to illustrate the number and story on the right. The book helps reinforce number recognition with the large number and counting elements in the illustration. Even without the Pride and Prejudice references it is a lovely counting book but who doesn’t want to count the courting couples or sisters? Even the cover art makes the book look like a piece of literature versus just a board book. I’m looking forward to seeing more classics come out in this collection.

Ones and Twos
by Marthe Jocelyn and Nell Jocelyn
picture book
24 pages
Tundra Books
This lovely rhyming book follows two girls and a bird. The copy is fun, focusing on the numbers two and one: one bird, two eggs. One girl, two legs. The collage-like illustrations are colourful and extend into the bottom border of the page where readers can enjoy finding pairs and explore patterns. My 4-year old loved picking out the patterns (one, two, one, two) as well as finding examples of one and two in the images themselves. Ones and Twos adds an early concept book appeal with a delightful story to go along with it.

If I Could Keep You Little
picture book
32 pages
Sourcebooks/Raincoast Books

I love Marianne Richmond’s books, like the Night Night book I mentioned in an early post. If I Could Keep You Little is a book for parents as much as kids. Although it’s not a new book (released in 2010), this fall season always seems to be a time of reflection. Perhaps it’s the timing with back to school. We cherish the special moments and stages our kids are at right now like singing them lullabies or dressing them in cute outfits. Sometimes we wish they would never grow-up, never loose their dependence on us, but we also know these new accomplishments bring other special moments to share. Parents will recognize their own feelings painted through the lovely pages. This books is a great way to talk about your child’s development and achievements and might also address some fears they may have about growing up.

Happy Birthday, Hamster
picture book
36 pages

Birthdays are such an important thing for kids. The day is all about them. They want to feel special and they want their friends and family to feel excited for them too. Happy Birthday, Hamster follows Hamster and his friend dog as they do some errands: visit the bakery, toy store, and card shop. Hamster can only think about his birthday but dog just seems to be doing errands. But the surprise is on Hamster when they get home to find a party waiting. I love the story pattern in this boo: description of all the fun things in the shop, Hamster’s ideal choice, what dog ends up getting, then moving on to the next shop. The images are colourful and fun, the way a party book should feel. On the shop page the author uses rhymes to describe what’s in the shop, kids will love being pulled in when asked what they would choose.

I want to thank Crystal from Raincoast Books, Sylvia from Tundra Books and Nikole from Scholastic Canada for my review copies.

What are you reading with your kids today?


Carrie Anne is a contributing writer on No Time For Flash Cards , she is a mom of 3 , and is the Managing Partner and Editor-in-Chief at

Easy Paper Plate Tree Frogs

We  love frogs and since finding many in our back yard we have been reading all about them, and the other day we made a fun and easy for all ages craft. My daughter loved using the Do-A-Dot paint markers for the first time and my son have fun working on fine motor skills rolling up the frogs sticky tongue.  After we snuggled in our book nook and read some favorite frog books .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper plate , some green paint, red and black paper, scissors and glue. 
  2. Start by cutting your paper plate in half and painting it green. My daughter loved this step and would have happily done it all day. Becareful if you choose to use these with younger children , the suggested age is 3+ because the top can come off ( check out our original review) watch constantly !  Also they aren’t as washable as some paints so you might want to grab a smock.  
  3. While the paint dries, cut out some red eyes.
  4. Black pupils
  5. Red tongue.
  6. Have your child roll the tongue up tightly.
  7. Add glue to the back side of the plate.
  8. Add the eyes.. and if you are a toddler take them off again…and add them…
  9. Add the pupils.
  10. Add glue to the front and add the tongue.
  11. Let dry.
I get asked all the time how I do crafts with two kids at the same time. The answer is sometimes I don’t. For me crafts are an amazing time to be with my kids and work together. Since my daughter is still so young she needs diligent supervision when using many tools and materials so sometimes we take turns. These frogs were made one on one with me while the other child played in the playroom. Sometimes we do it all at the same time , sometimes we don’t. They both have benefits .

Books About Frogs

Too Many Frogs

Too Many Frogs by Sandy Asher is a funny tale about a introverted Rabbit and a friendly Froggie who is a little clueless that he is imposing on Rabbit’s politeness when he invites himself over to listen to stories every night. Rabbit eventually breaks down and has had enough when Froggie brings his whole family reunion with him one evening to hear the stories as well. You will like how this story ends , the goofy but warm characters and expressive illustrations.

Once Upon a Lily Pad by Joan Sweeney is a cute book about two frogs that lived on the lily pads in Claude Monet’s gardens. I love the theme of life cycles in this story with the frogs hibernating and having more than one set of tadpoles… and eventually the painter not reappearing. It’s actually a great gentle book to start a open discussion about death without having to go into the thick of things right away. I love how it sparks interest in the painter and his beautiful work as well as can be used as a launchpad for an outdoor painting activity ( en plein air) . So many ways to use this book.

Leap Back Home to Me by Lauren Thompson gave me goosebumps and made me want to give the author a high five. The little frog leaps away from mama frog going further and further away but leaps back home to his mama each time with then end being spot on with the text changing from ” then leap home to me” to ” when you leap back home , here I’ll be”. My heart was aching seeing the little frog grow so fast! I love this book. It’s got very simple repetitive text ( great for emergent readers!), the illustrations by Matthew Cordell are goofy and sweet. They match the text perfectly so they give great clues to readers who may be struggling with a word. As a read aloud this book is awesome , not only because the repetitive text has a great rhythm but as the little frog gets more independent and goes further from home the things he is leaping over are pretty goofy and will get more than a few laughs from any audience you are reading it to!

Books About Knights

knight books for kids

We love knights!  I am so thankful that my son is interested in knights because not only are there lots of story books about them, there are fantastic non fiction choices too. Here are our  reviews of a few books about knights that we have read recently.

books about being different

Small Knight and George by Ronda Armitage is a gem! This story is funny, cute and a great message about not being what we think we should be but rather who we truly are. Small Knight is not so sure about being, brave and fighting but he does know how to make a friend. When he sets out to slay a dragon he ends up befriending one. A great book for all kids . Even though my son is presently all about battles and weapons he still likes and relates to this more peaceful story of a knight. As soon as I read it to him I was searching for the next in the series.

Imagine You’re a Knight! by Meg Clibbon is a fantastic book for children interested in what being a knight is all about. There are so many great details and answers given that I am eager to read more in this series. My son loves this book and not just because it answers his many questions about knights but also because it’s the type of book that you can open and close as time permits , reading a little or a lot and still enjoying it. I like the humor and illustrations by Lucy Clibbon. It’s a great choice for 4 and older. 3 year olds might find it to be too much.

Knights & Castles (Insiders) by Phillip Dixon is a visually stunning book. This is not a book intended for preschoolers . But kids eager to learn more about medieval life, how castles were constructed and the realities of being a knight ( and other social positions) will appreciate it.  I urge parents to read through it first because it’s geared towards older elementary through adult and explains the history in great ( not necessarily preschool appropriate) detail.  My son loves this book, mostly due to the incredibly illustrations that offer a look back in time.  As a mom who has a degree in history I adore these books but make sure to read it with him to explain the more complex information that is included.

The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke is a tale about a princess named Violet who was raised with her 3 older brothers  by her father after her mother dies in childbirth. Her brothers are trained to be knights and she to learns to joust , ride horses and sword fighting.  Her brothers ( like most) tease her and tell her that she’ll never be as strong and it’s a maid who tells her that she won’t be as strong but she can be smarter. That message stood way out for me and is why I think this is such a great book. When her father sets up a tournament for Violet’s hand in marriage she takes things into her own hands. She shows everyone how she is smarter than all the other knights and with hard work trains to  win her own hand in marriage . I love this book not only as a great empowering one for girls but also to show boys that girls don’t have to fit a specific mold either.

My Favorite Michael Laura Heiman is such a wonderful book about pretend play. In it a little boy Michael dresses up as all sorts of roles from business man to knight to pirate. Eventually he pops out with no costume and his mom tells him that she likes him as all those other roles but that this everyday Michael is her favorite. Kids who love to dress up and get deep into pretend play will like this book. My son who is almost never without his sword and shield and loved this book, since taking it out of the library a few days ago it’s been read many many times.

The Bravest Knight by Mercer Mayer had my son smiling on the edge of his seat until the end. The story is about a little boy who imagines he’s a knight living a thousand years ago. He imagines he is a squire who is loyal to a knight and even saves the knight from time to time. My son loved this, especially the part about the squire saving the knight. Then in the end the knight battles a troll and dies. You don’t see it but after that the little boy decides maybe living back then wouldn’t be so cool. I was like really Mercer Mayer? He’s dead? What?! I totally didn’t pre-read it either ( will I ever learn??) and my son was stunned.  Thankfully my resilient bossy 4 year old  announced I needed to turn back the page and re read it saying the knight was just inside eating . So yeah we loved most of the book.

Take Care, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas such a sweet book about three little dragons who agree to cat sit a wizard’s pets and the Good Knight who helps them get it right. The story is filled with mishaps when the dragons who can’t read yet try to figure out the wizard’s written instructions. The outcome is hilarious and will have your children giggling. I also love the message about using pictures to give clues for reading, but to remember to ask “Does this make sense?”

5 Great Children’s Book Authors

Parents often ask me which books they should be reading to thier kids. My answer is always books that their kids like. Reading is so important and making it fun and enjoyable right away is a great step in the journey to making your children life long readers. Which is why I love doing themed book reviews so you can easily find great books that suit your child’s interests. That said I do have some favorite authors I want to share, here are my 5 of my favorites.

Todd Parr

What I love about Todd Parr is that his books are incredibly inclusive. Every child can relate to some character in his books and his use of bright colors make his books a fun read for all ages. My favorites are the I Love You Book and The Family Book.

Anne Rockwell

There are a few authors that I always check for when I go to the library, Anne Rockwell is one of those. Her books are usually simple and many like her adorable book President’s Day bridge the divide between fiction and non fiction, telling a story while explaining facts as well.

Robert Munsch

No author’s work have created such discussion here as Munsch’s  I Love You Forever. It seems like everyone either loves or hates that book, but I am not suggesting this author based on that book. I am including Robert Munsch because of all his other books like Stephanie’s Ponytail, The Paper Bag Princess and Zoom that tell stories of strong girls and are hilarious. He writes smart funny boy characters too, but I adore his sassy strong girls.

Kevin Henkes

No other author writes about children’s frailties, anxieties and inner voice the way Henekes does. I love how accepting his books are, how sensitive the parents in his books are and the humor put in only for parent readers. Wemberly Worried is a great book for the first day of school , Julius The Baby of The World was one of my favorites for preparing my son for becoming a big brother and Shiela Rae The Brave is one of my son’s absolute favorite books ever.

Eric Carle

Did you think I could possibly leave him out? Don’t be discouraged by the marketing of  The Very Hungry Caterpillar in shampoo, pillow cases, birthday cards… there is a reason people want these products, because the book is fantastic, as is the author/ artist. While the debatably over exposed Caterpillar is my favorite book I also love the Grouchy Ladybug for teaching time and House For A Hermit Crab for teaching about months of the year and even moving . That’s what I love about Carle, his simple books have such depth of teaching possibilities.

 Who is your favorite picture book author?

Picture Books About School

Whenever a big change is on the horizon my first place to turn to is the library to grab books that will help explain, ease anxiety and excite my kids. These school themed books are perfect for going to school for the first time or heading back after a fun summer off.

Maisy Goes to Preschool: A Maisy First Experiences Book by Lucy Cousins is not groundbreaking , it’s text is very formulaic but that doesn’t matter to most young readers who are being introduced to preschool for the first time. My daughter loved this book and my son loved helping me read it to her. It was sweet to see my son tell his little sister all about what she will do at preschool between reading. The book covers all the basics and one thing that really stood out was the page showing Maisy and other students in the potty. The reason I liked this was that for many children a big step at the same time as starting preschool is potty training. The bright colors absolutely thrilled my toddler.

First Year Letters by Julie Danneberg is a really great book about a new , eager teacher and her loyal class. My son loved this book because it was filled with funny mishaps during a teacher’s first year of teaching. The mishaps include runaway pets, falling buffalo, visits from the fire department not once but twice, and more every day things like barf. If you have a child like mine that thinks barf is funny, they will love it. I love the premise, letters written by students much like journal entries with coordinating illustrations. It made me want to get back to teaching and my son asked me if he’d get to have a teacher like that some day. I hope he does!

Miss Mingo and the First Day of School by Jamie Harper is a delightful book. Miss Mingo is a flamingo and teacher who wants to know about her students on the first day of school. She starts the exercise by sharing some fun facts about being a flamingo , like why she is pink, and before you know it the whole class of different animals are sharing. This book not only shows kids that it’s okay to share about themselves but it is full of fun facts about animals in the fine print. I learned something I never knew about a Narwhal! It is a bit long for a toddler but each page highlights new animals and it’s easy to skip a few for those that aren’t ready for a book of this length. This is going on my buy list!

The Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz made my daughter squeal at the bookstore when we read it . She loves babies and this book was full of them. The text is the song ” Wheels on the Bus” tweaked a little to be babies on the bus and illustrated with Karen Katz’s adorable babies.  I can not read it without singing though so I sang it loud and proud in Barnes and Noble to my delighted daughter.

I Love School! by Philemon Sturges is a great simple book. I am a fan of this author and his basic books that kids love. He manages to cover all the things that happen at school from the start to the end of the day in an easy rhyming text. What makes this book stand out for me is that the boys and girls were both playing with dolls, something that you see in classrooms every day but rarely in books, it was a nice touch.