Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Blog Tour: Duck and Hippo – The Secret Valentine!

Duck and Hippo are back, spreading their messages of friendship and celebration, with their fourth adventure!

Duck and Hippo: The Secret Valentine, by Jonathan London/Illustrated by Andrew Joyner,
(Dec. 2018, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781503900356
Ages 4-7

It’s Valentine’s Day, and Duck has a fun idea to bring her friends together to celebrate! Hippo, Elephant, Pig, and Turtle all receive mysterious cards, inviting them to meet their Valentine at the park at 4 p.m. Each friend has their own idea of who it could be, and when they get all dressed up and arrive at the park with their gifts, they’re in for a big SURPRISE!

The Duck and Hippo books are just adorable, and The Secret Valentine does away with the idea of having one set Valentine: everyone gets to share the day here! Sharp-eyed readers will spot Duck as she hides before being discovered, as she delivers her Valentine invites. There are great sound effect opportunities, too: there are water SPLOOPS, pizza dough SPLATS, street sweeping HUSHA-SHUSHA-SHUSHAS, and more, all emphasized with bold, colorful, oversized fonts. Great to get the kids pantomiming along! The whole idea of the book is perfect for a storytime or classroom Valnetine’s party: everyone gets a Valentine, and everyone gets to celebrate together. Like every Duck and Hippo book, the heart of the story is friendship and sharing – a lovely message to pass along! Jonathan London and Andrew Joyner have created adorable, memorable, children’s book characters with Duck, Hippo, and their friends. I look forward to spending time with them again and again.

Learn how to draw Duck and Hippo in this free downloadable activity page!


Jonathan London is the author of more than one hundred children’s books, including the Froggy series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz, which has sold more than fifteen million copies. Jonathan lives in Graton, California. Learn more at

Andrew Joyner is an Australian illustrator and author whose work has been published in more than twenty-five countries. He has created the artwork for many picture books, and he is author and illustrator of a chapter book series about a warthog named Boris. Andrew lives in South Australia. Learn more at



One lucky winner will receive a copy of DUCK AND HIPPO: THE SECRET VALENTINE courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance!

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Do Not Open the Box: A Picture Book Guessing Game!

box_coverDo Not Open the Box, by Timothy Young (Dec. 2015, Schiffer Books), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764350436

Recommended for ages 3-6

A little boy named Benny sees a box with a sign taped to it that says, “DO NOT OPEN”. Well, that just sends Benny’s imagination into overdrive: what could be in the box? Could it be something cool, like the robot he’s wanted? Or could it be something scary, like a monster? Maybe his sister put something in there to scare him!

The cartoony artwork is printed against a background made to look like corrugated cardboard, making the story look like it’s been written and drawn on a cardboard box. Sentences are simple and short, written in a rounded font and in blue to stand out against the brown cardboard background. Each spread has Benny wondering what could be in the box, and a rendering of his imagination. Kids will have loads of fun with this book: especially with the end reveal.

Bring out your own box for storytime, and have kids guess what could be in it! They can draw what they think, or they can call it out, but it’ll get their minds working and they’ll learn more about how guessing can lead us to the answers, if you provide hints and information as you go along. I could hide a teddy bear in a box and tell the kids that something furry is in the box; using trial and error, they can figure it out.

I read this book with my 3 year-old, and he loved it. He had a fun time guessing what was really going to be in the box, because nothing was too outlandish for us! “Could there be an OCTOPUS in the box? How about a REAL DINOSAUR?” Have fun with a read-aloud!




Timothy Young also wrote The Angry Little Puffin, which is an adorable book that G-man (my little guy) LOVES. Now that I’m remembering that, I need to order that for my library, too; that’s a great storytime book, and so is Do Not Open the Box. Give your readers’ imaginations a workout and add this one to your collection.