Wednesday, April 24, 2019

April Showers and Baby Shower BOOKS! PLUS Welcoming NEW GROGGER, Julie Phend!

By Eileen R. Meyer

You know the saying . . . “April showers bring May flowers.” This April also brought BABY SHOWERS to mind as a close friend’s daughter and son-in-law await the birth of their first child.  This will be my friend’s first grandchild and she hosted a baby shower to help the parents-to-be prepare for the new arrival.

The shower invitation suggested congratulatory cards could be replaced by the gift of a CHILDREN’s BOOK for the couple, establishing this young family’s starter library in one afternoon. What a genius idea! Each gift giver inscribed the book with a special thought or wish for the family. The parents would see and be reminded of these fond wishes every time they read the books to their growing family.

Many of us give classic children’s books as gifts (more on those fan favorites later), but I would like to suggest a few new titles for your baby shower or birthday gift-giving list. Here are some of my current favorites:

Ruth Spiro’s BABY LOVES SCIENCE series 
Young parents love to encourage curiosity and an interest in the world around them. Spiro’s innovative science board books do just that. Published by Charlesbridge, these are “Little books about big ideas: Take your little scientist on a tour of the world around them! Fly high with the basic concepts of aerodynamics, get down to earth with the forces of gravity, think step-by-step like a coder, and celebrate the thermodynamic power of the sun with this collection of four board books.”  Colorful and beautiful illustrations by Irene Chan make these science books a baby and toddler favorite.

Heidi Bee Roemer’s PEEKITY BOO! What Baby Can Do!
A well-know and award-winning poet, Roemer’s newest title is a nurturing rhyming book. "Writing in soft, rolling rhymes, Roemer walks through a toddler’s nighttime routine as doting parents alternate caretaking roles . . . Wohnoutka’s chalky art creates a sense of homey contentment—like a warm blanket."--Publishers Weekly   Roemer effectively uses playful, silly words and this Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt book is sure to be a favorite read-aloud for the young set!

Pat Zietlow Miller’s REMARKABLY YOU
Ever since Miller’s picture book, Sophie’s Squash, first came on the scene in 2013, I’ve been a huge fan of her work.  This new title, Remarkably You, celebrates uniqueness and individuality – and what better message to share with a new little one?  From School Library Journal’s review: “Miller’s story and Barton’s illustrated characters are diverse and encourage young readers to not only be themselves, but to also do good deeds. There is an important underlying theme of treating others with respect and dignity. An excellent upbeat addition to any collection.”

I can’t forgo listing my own SWEET DREAMS bedtime title as a gift-giving option. I’ll let this review provide the sweet details: “A cozy combination of restful rhymes, natural history notes and close-up pictures of snoozing creatures.... Slumber and science in harmonious combination, equally suitable for bedtime reading or for sharing with wakeful groups.”--Kirkus Reviews

And, if the family expecting a baby has little ones awaiting the new addition, I recommend Miranda Paul's new title, NINE MONTHS: Before a Baby is Born. This is the perfect book to share with a young child awaiting a new sibling. Contrasting the baby's development in the womb with the changes and excitement building for the family, this book details "just enough" information about the new arrival for a  young child to understand and digest. Gorgeous art by Jason Chin. Just out in bookstores this month.

Of course, we can’t forget about classic gift-giving options, either. I polled a circle of friends and here were a few of their favorite gift books to welcome a new baby:

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Love you Forever by Robert Munsch
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin Jr.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey and
any of Alice Schertle’s Little Blue Truck books.

BUT WAIT, there’s more.
Spring is a season of renewal – and it is fitting that we have a NEW GROG BLOGGER, my friend and fellow author, Julie Phend! Allow me to introduce Julie to our readers with a short Q & A.

Eileen:  Welcome, Julie! Tell us a little about your background and your interest in joining the GROG blog.
Julie: I’m a big fan of blogs that connect teachers, writers, and readers. We are a symbiotic community—we need each other to create readers and to create books that provide meaningful experiences for young readers. I’ve admired and learned from the GROG blog, and I’m eager to contribute to its ongoing mission to connect these populations.

Julie at a holiday author event

Eileen Can you give us a sixty-second summary of your experiences in children’s publishing?
Julie: In my career as a middle school teacher, I loved connecting students to great books, as well as encouraging them to explore their own talents as writers. My teaching experience led me to my first publication—D-Day and Beyond was written with WWII veteran Stanley Edwards after he visited my classroom to talk about his experiences in the war. This project wakened a dormant dream of writing for publication. I joined SCBWI and began to research a historical novel based on a true story. That led me to an awesome critique group and a whole community of writers who care about children.

Julie with her dog, Duke
Eileen Would you tell us something that people may not know about you …
Julie: In college, I double-majored in English and Theater and discovered a love of Creative Drama with children. I taught creative drama in school and after-school programs throughout my career and produced dozens of plays with children. In almost every case, the kids and I wrote the scripts ourselves. It’s a dynamic creative process that can’t be beat.

Wow, I’ve known Julie as a friend and fellow-critique group member for over a decade and I didn’t know that she had been a Theater major in college!  I’m delighted to welcome Julie to the GROG Blog Family and I’m already looking forward to her first blog post in the coming weeks.

To all our readers--thanks for stopping by and welcoming Julie Phend to our blogging family!


  1. Hello Julie & Eileen -
    We are all arms wide open for our newest contributor! And block/cue/encore - so cool about the theater love.
    My dear Dad was a WW II drill sgt. at Fort Dix, N.J, & I am currently writing a children's Holocaust book, so I am always all ears about more to learn on that potent WW II topic. So pleased to know of your book.

    It is shelves of fun to attend a book baby shower - of the two I've partied at recently everyone was very much into it - couldn't keep track of the titles. Author/Artist Debra Frasier's modern classic On the Day You Were Born, a p.b. that is also a baby journal & board book was a winner, as were others you list here, Eileen. Thanks for the titles new to me as show season approaches.

    1. Thanks Jan - there is NO BETTER WAY to welcome a new baby then with a basketful of books from adoring friends and family! Of course Debra Frasier's classic book should be listed, too! So many awesome gifts for books. Thanks! So excited Julie is joining our ranks - thanks for the warm welcome.

  2. Baby shower books are such fun! Ad so is this post and the intro of our newest blogger, Julie!

    1. THanks, Kathy! Such fun to have Julie Phend joining our blog team. And who can resist book gifts for new babies!

  3. What a fun post, Eileen! I have given Sweet Dreams to several new babies--so glad to know about these other great new titles. And thank you for the warm welcome to the Grog Blog. I'm looking forward to my first post--sharing a writer's journey in the nonfiction WFH children's market--an interview with writer Kara Laughlin.

    1. We are EXCITED to have you on board at the GROG BLOG, Julie! Looking forward to your first article / post in May. :) Thanks for sharing my book with new families - and there are so many great titles for gifts!

    2. We are looking forward to all your articles here, Julie.

      I am always learning so - what does WFH mean?

      Thanks a bunch!

  4. Love the combination of classic and recent baby shower book recommendations. Thanks for sharing, Eileen! And welcome to the Grog, Julie!

    1. Thanks, Michelle-- books do make the BEST gifts, don't they? One of my favorite activities is browsing for new book buys in my fave bookstores. :)

  5. Great list of books! Welcome, Julie!

    1. THanks for stopping in, Angie. There are so many wonderful choices for new baby book gifts - a good problem to have!

  6. Thanks for sharing this awesome list of new baby books. And welcome to the Grog, Julie.

    1. Glad you could stop in! Can't wait for Julie to share some interesting posts - she's a great writer. :)

  7. I'm so glad to see such fresh book selections. People tend to gift the same classic books over and over so these are appreciated.
    I'm looking forward to reading Julie's posts.

    1. Thanks, Claire! I agree - new and old favorites make great book gifts! Thanks for giving us a read :)

  8. What a fun list of books - and a great introduction to Julie! Thanks.

    1. Thanks, Sue! Excited for Julie to join the blogging group with her first post in May. :)