Tag: books

One a Day: Spine Poetry



I bet you guys could re-arrange these into something better.

What a neat selection of books. Congrats to Penny, Tara and Deborah and their respective illustrators for their new picture books. They are wonderful!





The Happiness of Pursuit and A-Z Theme Reveal

images (2)

Anyone read this book? It’s so inspiring. It’s all about…


quests! Did you guess from my doodle? No? Really?

This book is about Chris’s quest to visit all the planet’s countries by age 35. The quest is not just the action it’s the deadline and the specific nature of the challenge.

Chris discovered that there are many other people taking up quests of their own so he wrote about them in this super book.

I wondered if writers were on a quest but it has to be more specific. You can also have a mini quest. For example in April I am going to do the A-Z Blog challenge. That’s a quest of sorts. There’s something you do every day and a deadline. One a Day is a mini quest too. But a real juicy quest has interesting challenges to it. Read the book and you’ll know what I mean. One guy lived his life like a computer game and ended up buying an island. Cool!


I was so inspired after reading it and it made me want to travel. Ronovan persuaded me to do the A-Z blogging challenge in April which I’ve never done before but always enjoyed the blogs from it.

My theme for A-Z is going to be vacation pictures. I sincerely hope there is something on each picture that relates to a letter of the alphabet. I’d better get my photos all ready before the 1st April 😉

So who’s up for doing the A-Z challenge then? And do consider reading Chris’s book. Turning everyday writerly things into mini quests is so much more adventurous!

Have a great day!


Merry Christmas!

This is just about the most fun-packed I have ever had and the week has barely begun. Spitfires and Annie movie still to come. I’m definitely in Christmas mode after the school Christmas carnival and the yummy food at Phil’s work Christmas party!

Before I break for the holidays I’d like to share some totally random awesomeness with you513fsIX4xhL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-51,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_And while you are reading that you might need a snack


Then you have a bit of work to do voting for your favorite holiday contest entry here

and join in celebrating Clar Bowman Jahn’s thunderclap for her fun donkey rescue book here.

untitled (12)

I fancy doing something similar for Weirdo Zoo, maybe on the next National Zoo day.

Did you also know that it is Quentin Blake’s birthday today. Eric of three ghost fame is celebrating on his Happy Birthday Author site.

Our talented Teresa has a round  up of her beautiful  doodles

And a special shout out to my poetry pal Robyn Campbell the riding star of poetry. Isn’t her haiku simply divine:

Branches unstirring

Bare, exposed, for all to see

Winter’s souvenir.

untitled (10)



A Poetry Feast!

IHi folks! It’s a P.A. day here Friday which is code for the kids are home from school so we will be at our friend Lisa’s house with her daycare kids playing :0)

In my absence I leave you with some magnificent poems and books of poems.

A really fun tongue twister from Jeanne.


and a beautiful villanelle from Freeda.


I am currently reading renowned poet, Steven Withrow’s first poetry collection,

Crackles of Speech. It is the best poetry I’ve ever read some of which is a bit beyond my comprehension *coughs*. You know when you read something and you think one day I might be able to write something like that. Err not with this, wow!



I have also just received yesterday (thanks Michelle) Everything is a Poem by former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis. Fabulously entertaining so far! The most versatile poet indeed!


Hope you enjoyed this impromptu poetry mash up. Have a great weekend!


http://catherinemjohnson.com  @CathM_Johnson  Catherine_mrsj@hotmail.com


The Curious Demise of a Contrary Cat

bafb94774c93edc117fd58b71d8df7d4 (2)

Just pretend it’s Halloween still 😉 The Curious Demise of a Contrary Cat is too good no to share! Written by Lynne Berry and illustrated by Luke LaMarca.




Witch is making a spell and keeps expecting cat to fetch all the ingredients. Cat has no interest in fetching anything so witch hatches a clever plan to get her own back.

Activities: Get kids to role play the story and take turns being the cat and the witch. Which do they prefer and why?

I loved this book it was so much fun and had lots of repetition which always makes for a great picture book. The limited colour scheme was quite funky too.

Check out this cat’s laugh it’s hilarious!

There are more perfect picture books at Susanna Hill’s amazing library of picture books.

Have a great weekend!



Reluctant Readers

Well it’s Monday and I’m still wading through the flood of doodles in my inbox 😉 Hopefully I’ll get pick one by next week. (Send your doodles to catherine_mrsj@hotmail.com)

I’ve got two reluctant readers at home, though I think the youngest will catch up now that two teachers and mum and dad are bombarding her with flash cards and books.

It’s a very frustrating time when kids who can read don’t want to. As writers we know it’s as simple as them finding an author they can connect with. For my oldest I thought it was Jack Stalwart. He has a whole shelf of them but now he’s done that he’s picky again.

“So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall.” — Roald Dahl

I’m on the hunt for ideas, suggestions and recommended books for reluctant readers and will share them here.


Today’s recommended books are over at Imagination Soup website. Melissa Taylor has a whole reading list for reluctant readers that looks really fun. Check it out here. You can even buy the books direct from her site.

Here’s a few tips:

Can anyone conjure up a wacky poem to get kids reading?

Have a great Monday!

If you are interested in writing more poetry, come and join us at Poetry Bootcamp on Facebook and share a poem or two.

Catherine Johnson writes and illustrates poetry for kids. Her latest book is Zompoemz ebook of kids poems.


Water Can Be…

Happy Valentine’s Day and international book giving day! I love, love, love Water Can Be… so appropriate for the day:


The lovely and talented, Laura Purdie Salas blew us away with A Leaf Can Be… book of beautiful poetry and illustrations and now she is back with Water Can Be… I just cannot do it justice in a review on here so I thought I’d just have a laugh instead.

An Ode to Water

Water Can Be…cold


…a buffalo




The End (It’s okay I can wait until you’ve finished laughing..or not)

Laura has a great feature every Thursday called 15 words or less where you write a poem. It is very popular, you can join in this week’s here.

Laura’s book of poems about books, Bookspeak is also divine. I can’t wait get Water Can Be. Can you?


Linda at Teacher Dance is hosting Poetry Friday with a Valentine special. http://www.teacherdance.org/2014/02/sweet-valentine-poetry-friday-here.html?m=1


Gathering Sparks

Just before I take a blogging break for a week (hooray!), here is a lovely Perfect Picture book .

Gathering Sparks by Howard Schwartz, illustrated by Kristina Swarner,

Roaring Brook Press, August 2010, Fiction written as a homage to the Jewish tradition of tikkun olam

Suitable for: All grades

Themes/Topics: Being kind, Jewish traditions, tikkun olam.

Opening and brief synopsis:

Once, when you were little,

your grandfather came to visit.

That night the moon was full and

the sky was filled with stars.

Your grandfather said,

“The sky’s so clear tonight. Let’s go outside.”

Synopsis: ‘A grandfather lovingly teaches his grandchild a lesson about the centuries-old concept of tikkun olam. Gently told and gorgeously illustrated, this intergenerational picture book offers a soothing and universal message for our troubled times.’

Links to resources: back story About the author Jewish teaching resources

This is the most beautiful book I have read in a while and the message is wonderful. If everyone gathered sparks like this, the world would be a better place.

See you after March Break madness! Have a lovely week.


The Doctor’s Lady Valentine

It’s Valentine’s Day! My secret contest can be revealed. The task was to find a picture that encapsulates the romantic quote I picked out from The Doctor’s Lady (Historical Romance – the perfect Valentine’s read)

‘His fingers closed around hers with the softness of a caress. And when his thumb brushed against the pulse in her wrist, her heart tumbled into a dizzying spin.’

Those who entered can put their links in the comments (or I’ll just click back on your names). Maybe Jody will pick a winner who will receive either a signed copy of The Doctor’s Lady or a $15 gift card. The choice is yours.

You can visit Jody’s awesome blog here and read reviews of The Doctor’s Lady here.

And here’s a lovely book of children’s poems written by famous poets, called Valentine Hearts, holiday poetry selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins.

And check out these super Valentine’s posts:

Come and read the entries for Susanna’s fun Valentine’s contest

Colin Falconer has a wonderful valentine’s post about the origins of Valentine’s Day. Check it out here.

This one has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day but you have to see it it’s too funny! Ellie Soderstrom

Susie gives us a cute story from her early Valentine days here and a funny one from Jenny Hansen too.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


One Snowy Night

via google images

One Snowy Night written and illustrated by Nick Butterworth,

Harper Collins Children’s Books, September 2011, Fiction

Suitable for: All grades

Themes/Topics: Winter is definitely a theme here and so is friendship and compassion. Percy the park keeper had a warm bed for the night, he was perfectly fine, he didn’t have to be helpful if he didn’t want to. But he was and that makes him compassionate, which is a lovely attribute to teach your children. Children could say what they would do in that circumstance.

Opening and brief synopsis:  It’s cold in the park in winter. But Percy the park keeper doesn’t mind. He puts on his warm coat and his big scarf and wears two pairs of woolly socks inside his wellington boots. Percy likes to be out in the fresh air.

Synopsis: (via Harper Collins) 
Percy the Park Keeper always feeds the animals in the park where he lives. But one cold winter’s night Percy discovers that his little friends need more than food and he must find a way to help them find a warm place to sleep for the night.

Percy’s hut is nice and warm but Percy discovers that if you invite one animal in you’ll have to invite them all in and his hut is only small – it’s certainly going to be a squash!

Links to resources: I struggled to find resources for this book, except for these Visual aids, however I think kids would love to act this story out in the classroom and pretend to be the different animals seeking shelter for the night.

This book is adorable and it really seems like one Susanna would love. It is just her own writing style and subject. The illustrations are so cute too!

This book is listed under the Perfect Picture Book tab on Susanna’s blog. Please check it out some time.

Have a lovely weekend!