Kid Lit Village Review: Frank and Bean, Food Truck Fiasco

Hello Readers! I’m excited to share a new book review with you. Today, I’m featuring FRANK AND BEAN: Food Truck Fiasco by Jamie Michalak and Bob Kolar. It is an early chapter book, published by Candlewick Press. It is part of the Candlewick Sparks series. I received a copy for review.

Kids will gobble up this hilarious second adventure starring Frank and Bean, who prove that, win or lose, true friends can make any competition go down easy


Frank likes peace and quiet. He likes his tea, his book, and his yoga mat. He is just settling in to enjoy them, when . . . honk! honk! honk! Here comes Bean with his new food truck! It is fun on wheels! It’s a rolling party! Bean is going to Food Truck Friday to sell his donuts. Bean’s donuts have zip. They have zing. They are sure to win the competition! Frank has something to sell, too. He has oatmeal. Oatmeal is boring. It needs zip. It needs zing. What if Bean’s donuts could help Frank’s oatmeal? What if donuts and oatmeal could work together, just like friends? Dry wit meets stylish, comical artwork as introspective Frank and gregarious Bean return in a tale for anyone who likes food, unlikely friendships, and laugh-out-loud funny adventures.

FRANK AND BEAN: Food Truck Fiasco

My Review:

I loved the contrast between the two characters, Frank and Bean. The zen, yoga loving Frank with his food tent vs. Bean, the loud partying, zippy donut maker. I think children will enjoy the story, there’s no doubt. I did find it a bit odd that Frank is a hot dog who prefers healthy food like oatmeal. And that bean, prefers donuts. But, to be fair, the rest of the characters are pretty random as well. Mad dog sells cupcakes, Crayon sells pizza and Mr. Pinecone sells pancakes. But maybe the randomness is part of the charm. When it comes to early readers, it has a great sense of fun, and books like this are needed to capture young readers hearts so… Bravo!


Jamie Michalak is the author of Frank and Bean, illustrated by Bob Kolar, which Booklist called “absurd, over-the-top, and laugh-out-loud funny.” She also wrote Joe and Sparky books, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz, and the picture book Dakota Crumb, Tiny Treasure Hunter, illustrated by Kelly Murphy. Jamie Michalak lives in Rhode Island.

Bob Kolar is the illustrator of many books for children. In addition to the first book about Frank and Bean, he illustrated AlphaOops! by Alethea Kontis, Nothing Like a Puffin by Sue Soltis, and Slickety Quick: Poems about Sharks by Skila Brown. Bob Kolar lives in Missouri.

Thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Village blog. 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: Annely So, Illustrator

Hello and welcome back to Kid Lit Village, where children’s authors and illustrators are featured. Today, I’m thrilled to interview Annely So, who is a member of my local SCBWI group, in fact, she serves as Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI Canada West. We have something else in common too: we are both teachers of nature school. Annely has been teaching nature kindergarten for several years. But today, I’m excited to show you her illustration work. I know you will LOVE it!

Annely So, Illustrator, photo credit: Hope, age 2.5 !!!

Outdoorsy-girl, dancer of sorts, music maker, writer, illustrator, photographer, educator, hacker of many things and general mischief seeker. Find me on Vancouver Island.

Welcome to the Kid Lit Village blog!

We think it’s so cool that your profile picture was taken by a 2.5 year old!

by Annely So

What appeals to you about illustrating books for children?

I find visual storytelling very appealing and I also love how children respond to beautiful stories where the words are complemented by illustrations.

What challenges you as an illustrator?

Working full time as an outdoor education teacher and actively participating in outdoor activities, dance and movement classes, and playing music, as well as other aspects of daily life, makes the precious time for illustrating too short or limited. 

I also find hands and eyes difficult to draw!

Who do you admire as an illustrator and why?

There are so many illustrators that I admire that this list could go on for weeks!  The ones I draw inspiration from are often author-illustrators who are able to use words and pictures together to weave a story. 

Here are just a “few” favourite author-illustrators:

Ezra Jack Keats, Christian Robinson, Vanessa Brantley Newton, Jon Klassen, Julie Morstad, Isabelle Arsenault, Lauren Child, Elise Gravel, Emily Gravett, Mo Willems, Antoinette Portis, Marie-Louise Gay, Oliver Jeffers, Melanie Watt, David Small

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

As a child, my favourite story was The Snowy Day by Jack Ezra Keats.  I loved copying the actions of Peter and would make footprints and drag sticks in the snow. I even put a snowball in my pocket more than once.  It is still one of my favourite picture books and I find myself flipping through the illustrations noting the collages, vintage wallpaper, fabric prints, and clothing fashions. 

by Annely So

Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis is a favourite book in my Nature Kindergarten classes and as a daily ritual, a student acts out a scene with a “not a stick” and we guess what it is.  The imagination that is generated from this book is unreal. 

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen is one of the most cleverly juxtaposed text and illustration works I have seen in picture books.  Every time, I read this book, I notice something new in the illustrations.  These illustrations tell more than the words do alone.  And when you notice the nuances, they are hilarious.  When reading this book to young children, some notice things in the images and some don’t which leaves room for so much conversation, confusion, and laughter.

Another classic from my childhood is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  What appear to be simply drawn ink illustrations are actually emotive and provocative images.

One of funniest books I have read about food pickiness would be I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child.  Charlie creatively guides his little sister Lola through funny stories and little white lies to try new foods.  The mixed media collage and digital illustrations give the impression that a child had made them, but the book including the typography are cleverly illustrated and designed by Lauren Child herself.

by Annely So

Can you recommend any resources for developing your talents as an illustrator?

Joining writing and illustration communities are really helpful for developing your talents as an illustrator.  In person and online groups are super important, as you can find like-minded people, mentors, and collaborators this way.

A few groups that have been useful in my journey:

-SCBWI is an international group that supports picture book makers with conferences, workshops, meet ups and loads of information online.  Locally we have a group that meets in person and online.  I also participate in an online group of BC illustrators who meet 2 times a month online. 

by Annely So

-Victoria Urban Sketchers-part of the international Urban Sketchers who do live drawing sessions in various venues

-Kraken Komiks Collective-a group of Vancouver Island Based comic book artists that collaborate on anthologies and do comic jam sessions together

-52 week illustration challenge on FB

-The Illustration Station on FB

-They Draw Illustrators Circle with Salli and Nate

-The Storyteller Academy-with Arree Chung

There are also a lot of free or inexpensive online video resources on writing, art, illustration and more.

-YOUtube-just type in illustration or the medium of choice


-Creative Bug

-Sketchbook Skool with Danny Gregory and Koosje Koene

by Annely So

How do you select what goes into your portfolio?

This is something I will continue to work on and I am always looking for guidance on this.  But I usually choose topics thematically and seasonally to showcase in a portfolio.

Describe the techniques and materials you use to create your illustrations.

As someone who is less talented at drawing and more gifted at “making” things, I generally use a lot of different mediums depending on the project I am doing.  I have many mediums for sketching, paints, collage materials, fabrics, wool, and found objects I use to build or make an illustration.  In the past 2 years, I have enjoyed learning to use Procreate on the iPad and love the layering and feeling of building an illustration.

You can reach out to Annely and see more of her work here! Thank you for being on the blog today, Annely!

Thank you for stopping by Kid Lit Village blog. 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 Continues

Hello Readers, I just wanted to let you know that Kid Lit Village will continue, just less frequently than before. I have posted about this before but I know some may have missed that from earlier.

I LOVE doing the interviews, connecting with children’s book creators and learning about their new book releases. Sharing picture books is a delight for me and I hope it helps you discover new ones you perhaps hadn’t heard about yet.

I have to take care of my own writing life though, and that’s why the posts are less frequent. I’m trying to balance so that I can have a published book myself to share with the world. It’s a tough market out there at the moment!

Photo by S Migaj on

So here’s the bottom line. I plan to work on my own writing. Yes. At the same time, Kid Lit Village posts will continue once a month here. I’m super excited about some books coming out from the writing community.

The best part is… there are a few coming from my critique partners!!! Yay! I’m especially excited to share those with you. So keep coming back and reading, okay?

Have a wonderful week!

Querying Picture Books

Did you know I’m in the query trenches right now? I started querying more seriously at the end of 2020, so I’ve been at it less than two years. Here’s a bit about what it’s been like for me.

I’ve spent 3 years writing, revising and critiquing before starting to query. Those years have been helping me grow as a writer.

Early on in the query process, I got a request for more work, rushed things, and sent some manuscripts that were not quite ready, but I think that’s a really common mistake. How do you know for sure when your work is ready? The more I write, the more I critique work of others, the more I read picture books that have been recently published, the better I can tell.

I must admit, I’ve made other mistakes. DO NOT query when you are sleepy and need to get to bed. YIKES! That was not a good way to put my best foot forward. The thing that makes me feel better is that agents get so many queries, I doubt they’ll remember my mistakes. Like the time I sent a query letter and manuscript for two completely different picture books. Sigh.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m building bits of momentum.

-a mentorship in 2021

-a poem accepted this January

-an honourable mention in the PB Party Contest this March

-some positive agent feedback on queries.

-champagne rejections

-this month, a request to send more work after an agent critique.

-and a maybe after I followed up on a query that had no reply after the allotted time period.

This is what keeps me trying! Picasso knew what he was talking about.

Is it my time yet? I don’t know. But I do know I plan to keep trying. Publishing is a long game and I’m in it for the long haul.

What are your querying tips? Picture books are a tough market. Let’s help each other reach our goals and bring more beautiful books into the world.

Young readers deserve the best!

Kid Lit Village: Jellies in the Belly

I’m thrilled to have a new guest on the Kid Lit Village blog today. As you may know, I am Canadian, and I love to feature books by Canadian authors and illustrators. Add to that the fact that I teach nature preschool and am drawn to books with topics related to the natural world and clearly, Jellies in the Belly – an Atlantic Sea Turtle’s Journey is the perfect picture book to feature here. Author/Illustrator Carol McDougall is joining us today to share more about her book and give us a behind the scenes look at her creative process.

Jellies in the Belly: A sea turtle’s journey

Jellies in the belly. Swim far sea turtle, swim far . . .

Join the leatherback sea turtle’s beginnings in tropical sands and during its huge migration through northern seas and back again.  During its journey, the leatherback helps balance the ocean and protect fish by feeding on jellyfish. We are reminded of this endangered animal’s challenges and determination. The story ends with a step-by-step instructional guide for children to create their own ink and watercolour leatherback images to enhance learning, creativity, and fun.

Carol McDougall

Carol, thanks for being a guest on the Kid Lit Village blog. It’s a pleasure to host another Canadian book creator.

Why do you write books for children?

I enjoy writing and illustrating books for children to engage them in an interesting animal story in a new and original way.  I use art integration so that children can create their own art shown in the story through step-by-step directions at the end.  My latest book, Jellies in the Belly – an Atlantic sea turtle’s journey (releases summer 2022 and is available for pre-order) has directions for painting a leatherback sea turtle with ink and watercolour.

  • Tell us the inspiration for your book.

I moved from the west coast of Canada to the east coast about five years ago.  I spend a lot of time outside taking photographs of nature and visiting museums like The Rooms in St. John’s for inspiration.  One day there was a display by Whales Release & Stranding, a local non-profit that helps marine mammals in distress.  I was surprised to find a leatherback skeleton as I thought sea turtles lived in tropical waters.  Once I discovered an art technique to represent the leatherback, I started to do more research.  Discovering that leatherback eat jellyfish, which are a major threat to young fish, provided me with a strong connection to the fishing culture in Newfoundland.

  • What part of being a writer/illustrator do you love the most?

There are two parts of writing and illustrating which I love equally. Firstly, I am awed by young readers and their creativity and learning.  During the creation of my first book A Salmon’s Sky View, I used my manuscript to inspire my Masters degree by researching creativity and literacy gains in 5 classrooms, which were raising wild salmon for release.  Secondly, it is deeply satisfying to hear someone say they got goose bumps when they read my book or to show me art young readers did.  I was also deeply humbled to be awarded the Science in Society award for best youth book in 2009 from the Canadian Science Writers Association (now known as the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada).

  • What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

Through my books, I hope readers will gain a love of reading and creating art as well as a deeper understanding and love for nature. 

Carol, that’s so lovely. Your books will do exactly that. What a great give for a young reader, an art lover, or a nature lover!

Connect with Carol and look for her books with the links below:

Kid Lit Village Interviews Resume May 16!

art by Paula Nasmith

Just a quick note to let you know that Kid Lit Village will resume on May 16th! Thanks for your patience while I prepare some new interviews for you to enjoy.

My new schedule will feature interviews once a month!

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 (me) and Paula Nasmith, please subscribe to my newsletter.

Cynthia Mackey