Just in Time for Valentine’s Day



The Cat is back! Just in time for Valentine’s Day. If you’ve already fallen in love with Deborah Underwood and Claudia Rueda’s irascible Cat in Here Comes the Easter Cat, Here Comes Santa Cat, and Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat, you will have a special Valentine’s Day indeed as you read Here Comes Valentine Cat. What? You’ve never met Cat? Well, then you need to get yourself to your favorite bookstore right away!

Here Comes Valentine Cat (Dial Books, 2015) is fun to read for kids and adults. I had a few laugh-out-loud moments and the end is sweet. I love the dance between text and illustrations in picture books and this book is a tango between a cat who communicates with signs and an ever-prodding narrator. Fun is the only reason you need to enjoy this story, but Here Comes Valentine Cat also offers up a satisfying empathy lesson. I can imagine follow-up discussions with children about friends and classmates where it would helpful to see another’s point-of-view, to let go of our preconceived notions. Parents and teachers are already masters of that ever-prodding narrator role. Kids will love ‘playing’ cat.

Cat may be irascible, but down inside Cat has a very soft heart. And my heart was warmed from reading Here Comes Valentine Cat. I think you’ll enjoy it too.


For some free Valentine’s to print out and make see Penguin Publisher’s site:


To see more of Deborah’s books go to: http://www.deborahunderwoodbooks.com/



Reach for the Stars with Interstellar Cinderella

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Meg Hunt (Chronicle Books 2015) is the long-overdue retelling of the classic Cinderella fairy tale.  It is a perfect way to instill confidence and independence in young readers.  This story empowers young girls to chase their dreams and shrug off the stereotyping traps of media and culture.  It’s message is just as important for boys to read.  But there’s no need to worry about how to get kids to read Interstellar Cinderella.  Written in verse and using words not yet imagined when the original Cinderella was written, Underwood weaves a magical tale that’s fun to read for kids and parents.

Teachers could use this book to introduce a writing unit on fractured fairy tales. This was a favorite writing exercise when I taught fourth grade.  Using Interstellar Cinderella as a model, also gives kids permission to make up words, which is a sure way to entice any reluctant writers in the class.

Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, Interstellar Cinderella is a winner and deserves a place on your bookshelf to be read over and over.



A Brilliant Bear Report

The Bear Report by Thyra Heder (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015) is brilliant!  Heder is able, in spare text and unforgettable illustrations, to convey a message of understanding toward another species with which we share earth.  This is often the goal of my writing – to have readers develop empathy toward all the life that makes up our complicated ecosystem.  The Bear Report is the story of a girl, Sophie, bored with her homework assignment on polar bears.  But when a polar bear visits her and whisks her off to the arctic, Sophie learns that the polar bear and his world are anything but boring.  Heder takes a little magic and some polar bear facts to transform Sophie from bored to engaged.  Fun to read and full of facts about polar bears, The Bear Report is sure to vanquish boredom in any reader.

If you’re interested in a reading and writing lesson plan to accompany this text, please see my lesson plan at Teachers Pay Teachers.