Five Favorite Children’s Authors & Illustrators

1.  My girls have been loving the Penny books by Kevin Henkes.  I find his stories and illustrations just charming.

Illustration by Kevin Henkes

Reading these got me thinking about other author/illustrators of children’s books we love.  They include:

2. James Mayhew:  My girls love the Ella Bella Ballerina books.

3. Ben Hatke:  I’ve followed his artwork on his blog for a long time, and it is just delightful (as are Ben and his wife and daughters, whom I have the pleasure to know).  Truth be told, I haven’t read the Zita books to my girls yet; I think Girl 1 is just now getting to the point where she could follow it.  My 9-year-old brother really enjoyed them, and I’m looking forward to reading them to my kids.

Zita the Spacegirl

Did you know books have trailers nowadays?  Check out the Zita spacegirl trailer.

4.  Arnold Lobel: His Frog and Toad books are favorites from my childhood that I’m rediscovering with my girls.  I love his wry little observations on life.


Also, I’m realizing my marriage works because, although I’m like Toad, my husband is like Frog.  (Inside joke, sorry.  You’ll have to read the books.)

A delightful claymation series was made out of the Frog and Toad books a few decades ago.  You can watch them on You Tube.  So cute.  (They’re included on this Curious George DVD.)  I think my girls are put off by Toad’s gravelly voice, but I love it.

5.  Richard Scarry: Another favorite from my childhood.  Beware the newer spin-off’s.  Not as good. Go for the originals, like the Please and Thank You Book.  It made me the joy and pleasure I am to be with today.  😉

The only downside is that his books are sooooo long.  But they’re worth it.

Linking up with Hallie for Five Favorites and Jessica for What We’re Reading Wednesday.  Thanks ladies!

Homemade Play Dough (With Jello!) For the Reluctant DIY-er

My eldest daughter, at age four, really likes playing in the sandbox and with play dough. She really needs to work with her hands in that way. Today is drizzly and cold, so the sandbox is out. All her play dough dried out a while ago. What to do with the looooong afternoon looming before me?

These days I avoid leaving the house when I am outnumbered by children. (I’m not brave like Ana.) So going out to buy more is out for now.

I’ve been reading about the DIY link-up at Time Flies. I didn’t plan to participate because, ordinarily, I hate crafting. I’m okay with DIY (do it yourself), but I don’t much care for DIM (doing it myself). I mean, why make play dough when I can buy a three-pack of it (off-brand) at the Dollar Tree? But like I said, going to the store this afternoon is O-U-T, so here I am throwing my hat into the crafting ring. (Does this count as crafting??)

Here’s the recipe I followed, from Modern Parents Messy Kids:

I saw that this recipe calls for Jello! and remembered an ancient box of Jello languishing in the back of my pantry. I don’t have food coloring on hand, so this seemed like the way to go.


The ingredients are here. (I don’t want to copy it without permission.) If you don’t have Jello, you can try this recipe. I haven’t tried it myself, but it’s from Martha Stewart. So it must be a good thing. 😉

We mixed all the ingredients. I didn’t have regular cooking oil, so I used extra-virgin olive oil. Nothing but the finest ingredients for my girls! It looked disgusting at first, but it worked out fine.

This is how it looked before cooking:


This is how it looked after about 15 minutes on the stove. I stirred almost constantly; amazingly, the girls amused themselves. It was the consistency of a store-bought tub of cake frosting.


I then kneaded it for another 15 minutes or so, adding about one-half cup flour a few spoonfuls at a time, until it was no longer sticky and felt like regular play dough.

IMG_1441[1] IMG_1439[1]


Be sure to read the directions here for all the details. Apparently this dough will last several weeks if you keep it covered and in the refrigerator.

Thank you Ana for hosting this link up!

Related articles