Picture Book

Observations of a Master Marketeer

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I've made lots of guides for Don Tate and always enjoy doing so. But the one I made for Strong as Sandow: How Eugen Sandow Became the Strongest Man on Earth was my best experience with a Tate project ever. Not only is this picture book one of the most fascinating non-fiction stories of all time (Which makes my job tons of fun!), I got to watch a master marketer in action. Being that I’ve got a non-fiction picture book to promote soon enough, you can bet I'm watching this master in action – close! Here are few things I've learned, thus far:

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  • Be generous with information: Don has created a website dedicated to this story. Check out http://strongmansandow.com/. You’ll find lots and lots of information about his creative process, historical facts, great images, and links to fascinating videos! I’m planning on doing something very similar with Play Like a Girl, which reminds me, I’d better grab a domain for the PLAG website, a.s.a.p.
  • Connect with readers in a personal way: I love how Don's friendly voice rings true in his posts. Consider the post titled "What’s Up With The Medallion Hanging from Sandow’s Neck?" In it, Don explains the how some facts, and the omission of others, served to guide his decisions regarding what to include in the story.  Being that Sandow's religious affiliation is unclear, yet the star medallion suggests otherwise, Don chose to leave the medallion off of the "dude" in his illustrations. Best not mislead his readers with ambiguity.  
  • Be an expert in your topic: Don is a fitness fanatic, pure and simple. He’s a swimmer, a yogi, a “gym rat”, and was once a body-builder himself. We capitalized on his expertise in the Educator’s Guide by adding a weekly Fitness Plan using his illustrations as graphics. Hopefully kids will become inspired to become as strong as Sandown...and Don, too.

I want to wish Don all the very best with his book launch being held at Book People in Austin on Saturday, September 9. He’s been planning the launch for a year now (Take note, Deb.). It’s sure to be a colossal event, particularly because he is featuring modern-day strongman Andrew Perlot as a main attraction. He and Don are sure to wow the crowd. I wish I could be there with him.

Don, my friend, I’m with you in spirit! Have a grand time!

I Geeked Out on This Guide, Big Time - GRACE HOPPER: QUEEN OF COMPUTER CODE

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code is an inspirational story about a dynamic, tenacious, and accomplished woman whose entire life was guided by insatiable curiosity.  It was clear from the beginning that Grace Hopper was going to make a lasting impact on the world. As a child, she was driven to understand how and why things worked as they did. Her tolerant mother accepted her daughter’s continual dissections of alarm clocks and other household items as “Grace just being Grace”.  As an adult, Grace’s perpetual need to question the scientific status quo, coupled with her deep patriotic devotion, affected every project she was involved in, as well as the people she served along the way. Grace Hopper was one of kind, to say the very least.

As a teacher, I’ve worked with lots of kids like Grace Hopper. Brainiacs obsessed with math and science. Kids that won’t take an adult’s word for an answer. Instead, they are driven to comprehend why and how about everything and will not stop questioning until they do. (I once had a batch of students that found memorizing the numeric sequencing of pi to be entertaining! Good times, right?) Because of my experiences with Grace’s clones, I particularly enjoyed creating a guide for Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code. Ideas for projects kept on coming.

One of Grace Hopper’s most remarkable scientific contributions was developing computer code using the English language, rather than relying totally on the binary system.  In the guide, I created a lesson in which young readers could experience the tediousness and attention to detail computing with base-two, the binary numeric system. To think that Grace Hopper had to use that system to write code all the time! Yikes!  

There is also a manipulative historical timeline in this guide. Because Grace’s life was so extraordinary, readers deserved an elaborate one.  The dated timeline strip is documented with tabs describing key events in her life which coincide with others noting historic occurrences of the day, highlighted by labeled phrases derived from a lively list poem found in the introduction to the book.  I can just imagine Grace Hopper Mini-Me’s huddled around the timeline and the other projects in the guide, exploring the life and times of this astonishing woman.

I only wish I could be there with them.

Adventures of a Debut Author - A Lesson in Networking with Kris Remenar

I’ve been snooping around discovering ways that clever Kris Remenar has been promoting her darling Groundhog’s Dilemma (Charlesbridge, 2015). She’s one smart debut author, I have to tell you.  

I invite you to take some time to peruse her exceptional website. Of course, being a librarian, Kris has a wealth of resources at her fingertips.  Take a moment and see how generously she shares her knowledge and expertise. I like the way the website reflects her likeable, charming personality, too. Nicely done.

My sleuthing uncovered an insightful Let’s Get Busy podcast Kris did with her acclaimed illustrator (and husband!) Matt Faulkner. The interviewer is Matthew Winner, elementary library specialist and cofounder of All the Wonders. I am so glad to have discovered this resource. After you’ve scoured Kris’ website, pop over to check it out. All the Wonders is packed with podcasts, videos, crafts, and projects. Oh, man! My head is spinning with ideas galore!

Friends, these folks will be good to get to know when my (our) time draws near.

In addition to the cool podcast, the talented and wonderful author Vicky Lorencen sponsored a Groundhog’s Dilemma giveaway. Giveaways are great to generate enthusiasm for new projects. I’ll find out how Vicky managed it. It’ll be good for a debut author to know, right?

Kris also asked the ReaderKidZ to do a review, which is printed below. We jumped at the chance to do so! Truth be told, Kris and Matt have created a masterpiece.  Groundhog’s Dilemma is a book that kids and their parents will, undoubtedly, want to read over and over again. On the surface, the story and illustrations are engaging and great fun. Dare to go a little deeper and the reader will discover the tenacity it takes to be true to oneself.

~      ~      ~      ~      ~

Fair-minded Groundhog is caught in a conundrum. The seasonal prediction he makes on Groundhog Day pleases some of his friends, but not all. Bear and Hare want six more weeks of winter. Squirrel and Sparrow, most definitely, do not. Groundhog explains that he’s not in control of the weather. Instead, he merely “Calls it like he sees it.”

When springtime eventually arrives, the animals of the forest resort to manipulation and bribery hoping to influence Groundhog’s future shadow-watching declarations. His social calendar overflows with invitations to baseball games, dining opportunities, and entertaining experiences unlike those he’s ever known! Truth be told, he enjoys the attention. However, come February 2, there will be a price to pay. Will Groundhog be able to truthfully state what his shadow reveals or will he be swayed in efforts to please others?

Groundhog’s Dilemma (Charlesbridge, 2015) explores themes of friendship, integrity, and honor is the most delightful ways. Debut author Kris Remenar’s sparse, tongue-in cheek text is hilarious, lively, and perfectly complimented by husband Matt Faulkner’s incredibly detailed illustrations. Groundhog’s Dilemma is both funny and poignant, one that readers will enjoy time and time again.

POET: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF GEORGE MOSES HORTON by Don Tate

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton is the story of a man who was born with words inside of him – words full of life and love and wonder. Poetic words. Musical words. Profound and philosophical words. Thoughts and perceptions that had to be expressed. However, young George Moses Horton was enslaved. There would be no formal education for this brilliant boy. And, yet, he was driven to find a way to express the poetry he had composed in his mind.

At first, he learned the alphabet by listening to the white children’s lessons. Then he taught himself how to read his mother’s hymnal.  Eventually, after a series of remarkable events and opportunities, George Moses Horton grew to become the first southern African-American man to be published.

Written and illustrated by Don Tate, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton is an inspirational account of man’s determination to become the person he was intended to be, despite the oppression he endured.  To deepen the understanding and appreciation for George Moses Horton’s life and accomplishments, Peachtree Publishers is offering a free, downloadable Teacher’s Guide consisting of discussion questions, an author spotlight, a historical timeline project, and other activities.

The Guides by deb Library is Now Open!

You are invited to take a tour of a collection of the various types of guides I’ve created over the years. Guides for YA, middle grade, picture and chapter books – you name it, I’ve made it.  Access this link and you’ll find discussion questions, games, puzzles, and projects galore for some of the best books in the business!

The experience of organizing this collection of .pdfs was much like the nostalgic feelings one gets when flipping through a stack of old family photographs. Hard to believe that I began creating guides six years ago. Yet the books and the lessons created to compliment them are still as intriguing as they were back then.

I’m grateful to have the honor of partnering with so many great authors and illustrators on such a wide variety of projects. What a joy it is to explore opportunities for readers to connect with their stories in a creative ways. Access the link and see for yourself! Check out the science experiments and reader’s theater scripts and poetry and crafty, paper folding activities and… and… and... Such fun!

So, my friends, welcome to the Guides by deb Library of Reading Guides. Stop by and browse the lists. Additional titles will be added weekly. I’ll be sure to let you know when they arrive.

In the Canyon by Liz Garton Scanlon

Want to learn how to squeeze the Grand Canyon into a water bottle? Download the Discussion & Activity Guide for Liz Garton Scanlon’s latest picture book, In the Canyon, to find out how.

And they said it couldn’t be done.

You’ll find loads of other fun activities in the guide, too. Plenty of great information, projects, and games inspired by a young girl’s hike and the fascinating discoveries she makes along the way. From petroglyphs to condors, big-horned sheep to the tiny ground squirrel, and so much more!

Buy the book, download the guide and enjoy!

The Guide that Found Its Way to the Land Down Under - The Poppy Lady

 Click on image to access the CCSS-aligned Discussion & Activity guide.

Click on image to access the CCSS-aligned Discussion & Activity guide.

On Memorial Day weekend I received an email from Barbara Elizabeth Walsh, a teacher guide client of the most delightful kind. She wrote to say that, not only was the guide we created for her incredible The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans (Calkins Creek) being received very well, she had some very exciting news to share. Teachers in Australia were using the guide as part of a nation-wide project commemorating the Anzac Centenary! Well, what to do know?

Anzac Day is one of Australia's most important national commemorative occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The Australian Government has launched the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience, a special traveling exhibition which will visit 23 locations across the continent.  Apparently, the guide created for Barbara’s Poppy Lady will be rolling along with them!

The good folks at the 5000 Poppies Project state, “Between 2014 and 2018 Australia will commemorate the Anzac Centenary, marking 100 years since Australia’s involvement in the First World War. And in 2015, there will be a large number of activities commemorating 100 years since the Anzac Gallipoli landing.  The 5000 Poppies project is a grass roots community tribute of respect and remembrance, inviting crafters across Australia to participate in this meaningful and heartfelt project.”  Kids across the nation are participating in the project, too. Educators are well equipped with information and curriculum to keep those grass roots spreading.

The 5000 Poppies Project Teacher Guide can be accessed HERE. On page 4, you’ll find a lovely piece about Moina Bell Michael, the beloved Poppy Lady. Beneath the article is information about Barbara’s book and a link to our Discussion and Activity guide. Take a moment to scroll down the 5000 Poppies Project guide to discover a plethora of stunning poppy patterns. Wow! They’re much more intricate than the simple crepe paper pattern offered in our guide. That’s for sure.

After reading about Anzac Day and the honorable way Australians and New Zealanders celebrate it, I am over-the-top excited that The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans will be a part of the commemoration. It’s terrific to know that the time-line, poetry prompts, and other lessons in the book’s Discussion and Activity will be a part of the celebration!

I wonder if the 5000 Poppies Project accepts poppies made in Michigan...

Your Mommy Was Just Like You - A Celebration of the Spirit of Mother's Day

I began making guides for folks before the Common Core was cool. Even then, I was creating hands-on, project-based content that is entertaining, yet academically sound - the kind of stuff that both the kids and the folks that care for them would appreciate, and have been enjoying every minute of doing so for a long, long time.

Recently, author Kelly Bennett asked if I would go back and align all of the guides I previously made for her with the Common Core State Standards. I was glad for this opportunity as I would be able to revisit the work I had done almost three years ago in the light of present-day standards. That's kind of exciting, in a nerdy sort of way.

Kelly's Your Mommy was Just like You is just as charming as I remember it being. I love the way it celebrates humanity, in all it's messy forms. In it, tales of a mother's childhood are told to a child. The grown up is presented as an awkward, fantasy-loving, mistake-making kid. This book brings the "nobody's perfect, everybody has an off day" message home, loud and clear.

I encourage you to read this delightful book. Review the guide, too, if you'd like. There are a couple activities in there that will make your Saturday simply delightful, on being creating a Daisy Chain, as demonstrated in the video below.

SWEET DREAMS, WILD ANIMALS: A STORY OF SLEEP by Eileen Meyers

Below is a video showing how to make a Hibernating Bear Craft which is part of a CCSS-Aligned Discussion & Activity guide created for Eileen Meyer’s SWEET DREAMS, WILD ANIMALS: A STORY OF SLEEP.  The book guide can be downloaded at the author’s website at www.eileenmeyerbooks.com or right here!!!!

Synopsis: Fourteen animals, including the cuddly koala, the hairy anteater, and the wise owl, are featured in this lyrical bedtime story about the unusual ways that animals sleep. Natural history notes explain how each animal sleeps, from the magnificent frigate bird, which naps while flying hundreds of feet above the sea, to the walrus, which sleeps with its tusks anchored in floating ice. Whimsical watercolors of dozing animals will help any weary child fall to sleep with a smile.

Book Title: SWEET DREAMS, WILD ANIMALS: A STORY OF SLEEP

Written by: Eileen Meyer

Website: www.eileenmeyerbooks.com   

Illustrated by: Laurie Caple

Website: www.lauriecaple.com      

Published by: Mountain Press Publishing Company

ISBN: 978-0670012855

 

A Celebration of Color - My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood (a re-posting)

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This will be my second Michigan autumn. The vivid colors of the changing leaves, brilliant sunsets, and the rosy-red cheeked children continue to make me smile. Everyday is a celebration of change and color. So, this week, I'd like to focus on a guide I made for Tameka Fryer Brown's charming my cold plum lemon pie bluesy mood. The story explores the connection of the change of mood and its corresponding color. This book is a tribute to sibling rival survival and the tenacity it takes to do so.

 Folks, let me say that the story is lively, entertaining, and very clever. However, if you take a close look at the connection of theme and art, there is a whole lot of shaking going on. It's deep. Really deep. That being said, the guide consists of discussion questions, writing prompts, and basic color theory lessons that lead the reader to an intimate awareness of how color affects and/or reflects emotions.

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One of the most rudimentary-yet-satisfactory activities presented in the guide is Color Mixing. In it, the child experiences the joy of transposing primary colors into secondary and tertiary just by the drip of an eye dropper. It's a very simple activity that lends itself to some profound results.

I encourage you, on this blustery autumn weekend, to take a look at this guide. Better yet, check outmy cold plum lemon pie bluesy mood, the book that inspired the lessons within.

A CCSS/STEM Activity Guide for THE INVENTOR'S SECRET: WHAT THOMAS EDISON TOLD HENRY FORD

 Click on image to purchase book.

Click on image to purchase book.

It is a shame that this great book won't hit the market until September, 2015. I'm just dying to show you the projects, games, and experiments included in the guide.  I must have been channeling my inner Edison, because ideas for activities never stopped coming. This was one of those guides I had to force myself to quit creating projects for! Wait till September and you'll see what I mean.

Not to worry, though. Access the you tube video below to get a sense of the energy, inspiration, and  just plain fun that this great book offers to young readers. 

Title: The Inventor's Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford

Author: Suzanne Slade

Illustrator: Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Synopsis:  Both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford started off as insatiably curious tinkerers. That curiosity led them to become inventors—with very different results. As Edison invented hit after commercial hit, gaining fame and fortune, Henry struggled to make a single invention (an affordable car) work. Witnessing Thomas's glorious career from afar, a frustrated Henry wondered about the secret to his success.

This little-known story is a fresh, kid-friendly way to show how Thomas Edison and Henry Ford grew up to be the most famous inventors in the world—and best friends, too.

Follow-up Guide for Picture Day Perfection

Don’t let this silly face on the Picture Day Perfection cover fool you in any way. Author Deb Diesen’s hilarious book is picture perfect to teach advanced elements of story and that’s just what we did in a follow-up guide crafted for grades 3 to 5. This book, pared with the attached guide, will make teaching the complicated (and sometimes kind of - yawn - boring) topic of elements of story fun, as well as unforgettable!

Practice comprehending literary terms with Picture Day Perfection Bingo.This guide is rich with literary terminology such as rising and falling action, exposition, climax, resolution, and aspects of the three act structure. Being that Picture Day Perfection’s intriguing circular plot line has such a clever twist at the end; students of all ages will delight in returning to the text with the intent of connecting the action on the page to the classic story arc.  And, for the ultimate opportunity to practice the application of skills, students can participate in a Readers’ Theatre production. The script is divided into specific acts and scenes, all correlating with the elevated concepts presented in the guide.

I have to say that creating two age-appropriate guides for the same book was a fascinating experience. We went from sequencing the months of the year in the proper ordinal pattern to chatting it up using high-level literary lingo.  Please take a moment to download the guide and see what I mean.

Featured Guide of the Week - Picture Day Perfection

Deb Diesen is the queen of the plot twist! In her Picture Day Perfection, we’re riding along with our sullen protagonist on his way to the photographer’s stool, even feeling a little bit sorry for the messy mix-ups this kid is enduring, to discover that he had it all planned out – perfectly! That little twit. He had me right where he wanted me the whole time. 

Not only did Deb craft a clever tale, Dan Santat’s illustrations kept me smiling with each page turn. Y’all, this book is straight up funny! If you’ve got a kooky kid in your life, this one’s for them. Get it. They’ll love it. And, if you’re hoping to lead said kooky kid into a deeper study of foundational skills in literature, download the guide. Strike while enthusiasm is hot, right?

Along with series of pre and post reading discussion questions, the guide presents writing and illustrating prompts, a study of adjectives (which Deb highlights masterfully in the text), a calendar/sequential numeric activity, and a super fun construction paper photography craft that I just have to tell you about.

I have a passion for making quirky, inexpensive kiddie crafts. Give me some tape, construction paper, and a sunny afternoon and watch me go! And, that’s just what I did with an activity for this Picture Day Perfection guide. The catch is, though, I don’t live in Texas anymore, where the sun shines brightly almost every day of the year. No. I live in Michigan now, where gun-metal grey skies dominate the calendar. This change in locale made the processing portion of this project a little bit more challenging.

When you download the guide, you’ll see that sunshine is a key procedure element and, when I was making a sample for the guide, I couldn’t find any! I chased whatever rays I could find by taping and retaping the ‘photo’ to just about every window all around the house.  My husband cracked up when he pulled up after work to find this fellow taped on the picture window facing our front lawn, for the entire world to see!

What will the neighbors think, right? We decided that they’d better get used to it.

Download the guide here and see what I mean. I hope you have as much fun with the projects as I did making them.

An Educator's Guide for T is for Texas

I want to home with the armadillo…

Well, shoot.

If I can’t go back to Texas, I’ll just have me some fun creating an Educator’s Guide about my beloved Lone Star State. Thanks to my good friend author Anne Bustard, that’s exactly what I got to do!

Just take a quick moment and check out the fun projects this guide is filled with, projects that tickle the creative side of the brain as well as the academic.

Why, we’ve got an awesome alphabet matching game and crossword puzzle, each with their very own answer sheets.

What’s not to love about this macaroni-backed armadillo? Isn’t he darling?

And, those fingertip bluebonnets are just about as a cute as a pig’s ear, don’t you think?

Each of the crafts has a writing component that’ll make both the kids and teachers holler, “Hi-dee-ho!”

Y’all, instead of hopping a flight to the heart of Texas, why don’t you simply download the Educator’s Guide right here and have some southern-fried fun.

It helped to take care of my homesick, bluebonnet blues for a little while. For that, amigo, I am mighty grateful!

Ten Rules of a Super Hero

Book Title: Ten Rules of Being a Super Hero

Author/Illustrator: Deb Pilutti

Genre: Picture Book

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books - Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

ISBN: 978-0805097597

Click here to download the Common Core State Standards aligned Educator's Guide created for grades K-2.

Overview: In order to be a real superhero, you have to follow some important rules:

Rule #1: A superhero must ALWAYS respond to a call for help.

Rule #2: Saving the day is messy. But everyone understands.

In this handy guide, Captain Magma and his trusty sidekick, Lava Boy, take young readers on an adventure to learn all ten rules of being a good superhero (Amazon.com).

The Dino-Sports Series

Click on image for publisher's informationAuthor: Lisa Wheeler

Illustrator: Barry Gott

Genre: Picture books

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books

Titles included in guide: Dino-Soccer - ISBN: 9780761367895, Dino-Hockey - ISBN: 9780822561910, Dino-Basketball - ISBN: 9780761363934, Dino-Football - ISBN: 9780761363941, Dino-Baseball - ISBN: 9780761344292, Dino-Wrestling - ISBN: 9781467702126

 Click here to download the Common Core State Standards aligned Discussion & Project Guide created for grades K-3.

Overview: Play-by-play sports action series of picture books for 4-8 year olds featuring teams of Carnivorous dinosaurs against plant-eating dinos (Good Reads).

Travels with Charlie: Down South

Click on image for publisher's informationAuthor: Miles Backer

Illustrator: Chuck Nitzberg

Genre: Non-fiction Picture book

Publisher: Blue Apple Books

ISBN: 978-1-60905-353-6

Click here to download the Common Core State Standards aligned Discussion & Project Guide created for ages 6 to 9.

Overview: Part travelogue, part I SPY, part Where’s…Charlie!


Find a pirate museum. Look for Key West. Then find Miami where the beach is the best!
Is he on a Bourbon Street balcony? Riding the Ferris wheel on Atlantic City’s Steel Pier? Hiding out in a Nevada ghost town?

Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly

Click on image to purchase the book.Author: Anne Bustard

Illustrator: Kurt Cyrus

Genre: Non-fiction Picture book

Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books

ISBN: 0689866678

Click here to download the Common Core State Standards aligned Discussion & Project Guide created for ages 5 to 9.

Overview: A time or two ago, out West Texas way, a boy named Charles Hardin Holley was born. He was named after his granddaddy Charles and his granddaddy Hardin. But his mama called him Buddy.

That Buddy could shoot marbles with the best, hit homers in the red dirt, and pelt cans with his slingshot. But come sixth grade, when Buddy met up with a guitar, he never let it go. And later, when Buddy heard a new sound--part country, part gospel, and part blues, he got fired up.

It was the birth of rock 'n' roll.

Wooby & Peep: The Story of an Unlikely Friendship

Author: Cynthea Liu

Illustrator: Mary Peterson

Genre: Picture Book

Publisher: Sterling Publishing

ISBN: 9781402796449

Click here to download the Common Core State Standards aligned Discussion & Project Guide and Reader's Theatre created for ages 4 to 8.

Overview: Opposites attract and become fast friends in this quirky, funny picture book.

Wooby lives in a nice, quiet neighborhood where everyone minds his own business. And he likes it that way. Then noisy, energetic Peep moves next door with her banging and smashing and crashing. She even gives a “wild” PARTY! At first, shy Wooby is beside himself—until he realizes that he and Peep have more in common than he ever imagined. Hilarious comic-book panels throughout add fun and joy to this unique story.

A Kiss Means I Love You (Concept Picture Book)

Click on image for publisher's information.Author: Kathryn Madeline Allen

Photographer: Eric Futran

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4186-9

Awards: 2013 Baker's Dozen: The Best Children's Books for Family Literacy, Pennsylvania Center for the Book; 2013 Gradiva Award for Best Children's Books Finalist; 2013 Texas 2 x 2 Reading List; A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book 2013 - Picture Books; Best Books for Babies 2013

Click to download the Common Core State Standards Discussion and Activity Guide created for Ages 2-6/Grades PreK-1

Overview: A Kiss Means I Love You is charming a book that helps you teach children the meanings of facial expressions and gestures. Children will wave, clap, and cheer along with you as you read the light, rhyming verse paired with delightful photos of young children.