Kid Lit Village Review: COME, READ WITH ME

Hello lovely readers! Welcome to Kid Lit Village blog. I’m glad you’re here today.

On Fridays, I post children’s book reviews. I keep them short and to the point so that it is easy to sift through and find the books you want. Today, I’m featuring COME, READ WITH ME by Margriet Ruurs and Christine Wei.

This is a beautiful book that invites the reader in! A celebration of reading with a nod to the classics in children’s literature.

5 Stars

What are your favourite picture books that celebrate and encourage reading? Share in the comments!

Kid Lit Village Review: MY MONSTERPIECE

Dear blog reader,

Welcome to Kid Lit Village! I’m glad you’re here. On Fridays, I do picture book reviews. Today I’m reviewing My Monsterpiece by Amalia Hoffman, published by Yeehoo Press.

My Monsterpiece is chock full of beautiful, playful art. The book itself is playful, humorous, and so creative. Children will want to read it again and again. It will be great inspiration for your child’s inner artist.

5 Stars

What are your favourite art themed picture books? Share in the comments!

Kid Lit Village Review: Bird Count

Welcome to the Kid Lit Village blog! Thanks for stopping by today. Whether it’s your first time here or you’re a returning reader, I’m happy you’re here!

It’s Friday and that’s when I post my book reviews. Today’s feature is BIRD COUNT by Susan Edwards Richmond and Stephanie Fizer Coleman.

This book is perfect for my nature preschool class! I loved the introduction to citizen science, the tally marks as a method of counting, and the introduction to a various birds. A great book to help you learn about birds alongside your children.

5 Stars

What are your favourite nature themed picture books? Share in the comments!


Hello Readers! Thanks for stopping by Kid Lit Village this week. I’m thrilled to feature HE LEADS: MOUNTAIN GORILLA, GENTLE GIANT by June Smalls, illustrated by Yumi Shimokawara. Last year, I featured another of June’s books, SHE LEADS: THE ELELPHANT MATRIARCH. It’s a pleasure to have June back on the blog as a guest for a second time.

HE LEADS: Mountain Gorilla, the Gentle Giant

Synopsis: He is the king. He leads his family, his troop.
His silver back shows his age and experience.
He guides them through thick forests and steep mountains.

The majestic mountain gorillas live in family groups, led by a powerful silverback. Juxtaposing the apes’ awesome strength and surprising gentleness, He Leads tells the story of family loyalty and love. With stunning, lifelike illustrations and facts on each page, this beautiful picture book is a monument to these endangered gentle giants.

June Smalls

June, it is such a pleasure to have you on the blog! I’m excited about this latest book in your series. Children will love learning more about these endangered animals.

Tell us about the inspiration for your book.
After writing SHE LEADS: THE ELEPHANT MATRIARCH I started thinking about he, she, they type themes. Once I decided to go that direction, I started thinking more on what is surprising about different male-led animal groups. With the elephants in SHE LEADS, the focus was empowering strong, intelligent, and caring females. HE LEADS needed to be similar. I chose the mountain gorilla for both their power and their gentleness. When I started researching I watched a film where a curious young male gorilla, who could have flipped over heavy logs with ease, gently poke and nudge a young owl that had come close. He didn’t harm it at all. The male is aggressive when he needs to be, but will play with the babies, showing them how to do chest beats the way we might play pat-a-cake with our own babies. He’ll fight to the death to protect his troop, but avoiding danger always seems to be their first choice. Once I learned all this, I knew they were the stars of the next book.
Up next is THEY LEAD: THE WOLF PACK in 2023 which shows the teamwork used to keep a wolf pack safe, healthy, and happy.

I love the two sides to the gorilla: the power and the gentleness. Great qualities in a leader, for certain. And the wolf pack story sounds amazing too!

What part of being a writer do you love most?
I love discovery! Sometimes that discovery is a topic I want to learn about. Other times, it is the way I can present the story or information I want to share, like the dual narrative in the LEADS series. Or it might be the direction a story or character takes me that I never expected. It is magical and often unexpected and keeps writing always feeling new.

That sense of discovery is so wonderful, isn’t it? You never know what’s around the next corner.

Tell us how you build yourself up in the face of rejection.
Rejections sucks, but I try to be logical rather than emotional in regards to it. Rejection happens to us all the time. It is easy to forget that it isn’t personal. For an agent or editor to take on our work they have to love it, be capable of selling it, be confident that they can bring it to the next level, and convince others of the same. Many times an agent knows they wouldn’t be a great advocate, or an editor loves a manuscript but can’t convince their sales team to get on board. And sometimes still, it may just not be their cup of tea. The same way we don’t like every dish we are served or purchase every novel we skim through at the store. When we focus on the next step, it lessens the angst and stress. Still sucks to be rejected, and it is okay for it to feel sad too. We have emotions and it is ok to own those feelings as long as it doesn’t hold us back from the next steps toward our goals.

Great advice, June. Thank you!

What do you hope readers will gain from your book?
For HE LEADS, and the first book in the series, SHE LEADS, I hope it opens conversations about what makes a good leader. I hope it makes readers curious about amazing endangered animals. Mostly, I hope it reminds young readers that every big or powerful or impressive person or creature started off small. We all are born with potential, the ability to learn, and the ability to grow.

Leadership is a topic that can connect with children and adults, alike. I see such potential in the young children I teach as leaders, now and in the future. I love giving them opportunities to lead and they love it too.

June, we wish you the best with your book series! Thank you for sharing your insights here on Kid Lit Village!
Connect with June!
Twitter: @June_SmallsWebsite:

Thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Village blog today! Please support all our Kid Lit Village authors in whatever way you can. Leave a comment here, request their books from the library, or post a review!

If you’re curious about books by Cynthia Mackey and Paula Nasmith, please subscribe to my newsletter.

Cynthia Mackey

Kid Lit Village Review: Doe’s Dandelions

Hello Lovely Readers! It’s Friday and that means time for a short but sweet picture book review. I’m happy to share my review of Doe’s Dandelions by Laura Renauld. The book is illustrated by Jennie Poh and published by Beaming Books! I’ve also got a great interview with Laura Renauld on the blog all about this book.

Doe’s Dandelions acknowledges the invasive nature of the weedy dandelion and celebrates the joy of the dandelion in the most kid friendly way. Doe and her friends are charming. The book is filled with beautiful moments from the ‘tiny suns’ spotted by squirrel to the snacking delights shared by porcupine. It is a joyful celebration of friendship and finding ways to appreciate something that might otherwise be unappreciated. The textures and patterns in Jennie Poh’s illustrations are gorgeous. The final petal parade celebration makes for a delightful ending to this spring time story.

5 stars

I must add that when I asked my preschool class their favourite part of the book, it was the petal parade! We might just have to have our own petal parade so that they can experience the same joy as Doe, Bear, Porcupine, and Squirrel.


Hello Lovely blog readers! Welcome back to Kid Lit Village blog. I’m excited to share DOE’S DANDELIONS with you, illustrated by Jennie Poh, published by Beaming Books. I’m interviewing the author, Laura Renauld, who is a repeat guest on the blog. She was here for another book in the same series, which I absolutely loved, SQUIRREL’S SWEATER. Laura’s latest book, DOE’S DANDELIONS released on March 7, 2023! In a few days, I’ll be posting my review of DOE’S DANDELIONS so look for that on Friday. Scroll down for the interview with Laura!

Cynthia Mackey, author and Kid Lit Village interviewer

Who am I? My name is Cynthia (Cindy) Mackey; I’m a nature preschool teacher by day and a picture book writer by night. Early mornings are great for writing too! I started this blog in 2020, hoping to help picture book authors who couldn’t get out in person during the pandemic and have just kept going, in an effort to give back to the writing community that has given so much to me since I started a regular writing practice in 2017. It has been my pleasure to interview and share new book releases for children and I’m honoured that so many authors and illustrators have been guests here on the blog – Kid Lit Village.

Laura Renauld, children’s book author

Welcome to the blog, Laura! Thanks for taking a little time to answer some questions.

     What appeals to you about writing books for children?

As a picture book writer, I love seeing my text, black and white on the page, transform into a full color, illustrated book through the talents of another creative. The illustrator brings another layer (or layers) of story to the project. Kids and their teachers are amazed when I tell them that authors and illustrators usually don’t communicate. As a writer, I’m happy to “give up control” and only take on 50% of the storytelling. The surprises waiting in the illustrations and the depth they bring to my text are worth it! 

      List 5 favourite picture books. Explain what you like about them.

CAVEBOY CRUSH by Beth Ferry and Joseph Kuefler – Join the fun for this hilarious and unexpected take on boy meets girl. Grand gestures, occasional pitch-perfect rhyme (when employed), and laugh-out-loud CRUSH illustrations create a read-aloud I return to again and again.

IN MY MOSQUE by M. O. Yuksel and Hatem Aly – This book is WELCOME in picture book form. Gorgeous illustrations, lyrical language filled with sensory details, and snapshots of worship offer a window into the community of a mosque.

THE POMEGRANATE WITCH by Denise Doyen and Eliza Wheeler – This child-centered story in verse reads like the best kind of classic. Exquisite rhyme, engaging action, and a twist you don’t see coming makes this picture book one of my very favorites.

TRUMAN by Jean Reidy and Lucy Ruth Cummins – This picture book is a masterclass in perspective and a charming friendship story. By the end, you will love Truman as much as his Sarah does!

COME ON, RAIN! by Karen Hesse and Jon J. Muth – Lyrical language and hazy watercolors capture a sweltering summer moment right before the relief of rain. Each word is precise and perfect.

3.      Can you recommend any resources for developing your talents as a writer?

First, SCBWI regional conferences. That’s where I learned about the business of children’s books when I was first starting out. They are also great places to network with other creatives. It’s how I found my very first critique group.

Second, It is the best resource online. If you have a question about kidlit, you will find an answer (or 3!) here.

Third, online writing challenges. I love starting the new year with Tara Lazar’s Storystorm challenge. It fills my notebook with ideas! Susanna Leonard Hill hosts fun holiday-related writing events and November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), just to name a few.

Fourth, workshops and webinars. Some of my favorite offerings have been presented by Highlights Foundation, The Writing Barn, Whale Rock Workshops, and SCBWI.

Last, READ and WRITE! There’s nothing that can replace the joy and education of immersing yourself in the genre you want to write. Then give it a go!

Laura, thanks for sharing your expertise with us.

Here’s a peek at one of the interior spreads from DOE’S DANDELIONS!

     Did writing a series of books pose any challenges for you? Was there anything you particularly enjoyed about doing a series?

After writing my first book, PORCUPINE’S PIE, which is a fall story featuring four woodland animal friends, it made sense to try writing a book set in a different season. Since I have four characters, I thought it would be fun to keep the same friends, but give each of them their own story. The challenge with this was developing the personality and voice of each character, while being consistent to the series. I also had to stay within the confines of my own story structure: alliterative title, seasonal festival with alliterative name, and a plot where the main character has to journey through the woods and interact with each of the friends. Overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed having those parameters in place. It helped to narrow down potential plots and moved the story along in a familiar way.

Thank you for having me!

Laura, thanks for being here. We loved learning more from you!

Connect with Laura Renauld


Twitter: @laura_renauld

Facebook: @kidlitlaura

Instagram: @laurarenauld

Goodreads: Laura Renauld

And now a little more about me, the face behind the blog!

I am a children’s author too… with two self-published books and my debut picture book in traditional publishing, IF A BUMBLEBEE LANDS ON YOUR TOE, coming in 2024 with Yeehoo Press!

If you’re curious about books by Cynthia Mackey (me), please subscribe to my newsletter.

I hope you’ll stop by next week for the another interview! You’re welcome any time.

Kid Lit Village Review: JUST A WORM

Hello Readers! It’s Friday and time for a short and sweet book review. I’m pleased to feature JUST A WORM by Marie Boyd, published by Greenwillow, an imprint of Harper Collins. Earlier this week I did a blog review with Marie so be sure to take a moment and read the interview to learn more about the making of the book!

JUST A WORM is a picture book that is both delightful and educational, I love the way Marie incorporated many garden insects into the story. The three dimensional quilled illustrations are something special. What a great way to introduce little people to the creatures you might find in your garden!

5 stars

“JUST A WORM by Marie Boyd is just delightful!”