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After close to two years since we started writing our six stories for Irrevocable Gifts, we launched the book last Friday 6th December.

Since the book is about gifts and God’s calling, it came to pass that we held our launch in the dance studio of Kum Yan Methodist Church. We discovered on the day itself that we had to take off our shoes to preserve the quality of the flooring. It followed that we all entered on firm footing.

venue

The six of us took turns to share snippets of our stories:

  • Dawn, songwriter, sang us a song with her reading
  • Bernice, editor, read the dialect excerpt of her conversation with her dad
  • Madeline, poet, regaled us with her poetry
  • Favian, artist, shared how Psalm 139 ministered to him through depression
  • Calvin, musician, played two wind instruments and showed us how to pucker up
  • And I, children’s book author, did a simple show-and-tell of how God spoke to me through my child’s voice.

6 authors

This has been such an inspiring project to be part of. I hope that the book will encourage anyone seeking meaning with their creative gifts and calling. Irrevocable Gifts is published by The Group, a grouping of Christian creatives, started by singer-songwriter Dawn Fung.

You can buy your copy from Gracework’s online store.

For friends interested to buy multiple copies as gifts, please contact me directly!

PostPhoto

Ben, Caleb and I going mustard at the launch (for my Mustard Seed Books imprint which published my 4 Toy Titles)

Related Links:

Clean Breast, Child’s Heart & Wise Quips of The Little Prince (Bear)

About a Songwriter, a Publisher, a Poet, an Artist, a Musician & Me

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“Writing and publishing my first children’s book opened my eyes to see God’s hand in my life and brought me into a new season with a new voice. I had worked on multi-million dollar transactions for a decade in my past corporate life but gained no true knowledge from all those experiences. Instead, it took the simplicity of children’s books for me to see that wisdom begins with a childlike heart and the reverent fear of God.”

– extract from An Author’s Muse in Irrevocable Gifts

Irrevocable post 2

Read more on how childlike wisdom gave me great comfort through a dark life season of facing cancer and grappling with doubts about my calling and purpose, together with five other stories by fellow creatives on their creative journeys.

Irrevocable Gifts launches on 6th December 2019 at Kam Yan Methodist Church (music studio). Event details here.

Click this link to pre-order copies of the book.

Related Post:

About a Songwriter, a Publisher, a Poet, an Artist, a Musician & Me

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I’ve been asked several times if I will be writing a book about my journey through cancer. I’ve not seen a need for that. But as “iron sharpens iron”, friend and The Group book project leader Dawn encouraged and inspired me to write about my journey facing cancer through the eyes of author, parent and child of God.

Irrevocable Gifts_Cover - edited

An Author’s Muse is one of six stories that will form part of the anthology Irrevocable Gifts. I’ve had the pleasure of community and fellowship working on this very personal story with five friends:

  • Songwriter Dawn Fung writes about how songwriting has helped her make sense of her past, a vital missing link towards a healing journey in A Songwriter’s Origins.
  • Publisher Bernice Lee shares on how she responded to her inner critic and why she chose the path of editing in An Editor’s Secret.
  • Poet Madeline Ang reveals how her writing is both ministry and messenger in A Poet’s Diary.
  • Favian Ee’s An Artist’s Canvas provides insight on how God’s providence saw him through his artistic journey through depression and other critical points.
  • Calvin Chong details his account of how he learns to play the Chinese xiao and what that process means for him as believer, academic and learner in A Musician’s Discipline
  • I share how God spoke to me through an unlikely source in my journey with cancer and other setbacks in An Author’s Muse.

Irrevocable Gifts is our collection of six heartfelt, soul-baring stories of how God has given us our different creative gifts in our respective areas and spoken to us through these creative mediums. We have also crafted a Reflection Prompts section to encourage creative conversations. We hope this book can encourage many in their journeys of creativity and self-discovery.

Book launch will be on 6th December! Details to follow.

Meantime, you can pre-order your copy at S$10 each through any of us authors. Or better still, this year-end, you can buy 4 copies and get 1 free! 

It makes a good Christmas present and meaningful year-end read!

“For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable” – Romans 11:19  

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It’s been a while since I gave thanks so it’s definitely time to do so!

1. Down Time, Write Time

After a hectic 2013, I am thankful for a deliberately slow start to the year. With Caleb starting nursery school this year, preparation for his 3rd birthday party in January followed by Chinese New Year celebrations, I decided I was going slow on everything else for the first month, then two.

The downtime has been wonderful. It’s helped me unclutter my mind and my study room, catch up with many, many friends through intentional scheduling of weekday lunches and weekend get-togethers, and get rested.

It’s so nice to just have unhurried lunches and read books whilst Caleb is in school.

2. Words Go Round with Book Talks

IMG_0071This week, I had the pleasure of giving talks to over 200 children at Chatsworth International School and German European School Singapore. There was a third school booking which came outside of the programmed time slots. UnfortunatelyI could not manage my Caleb logistics so hopefully, the school and I can reschedule for another time.

I am thankful for Ben who managed to take two half-days off to pick Caleb from school so I could go for the talks unflustered (when my Mum who was to babysit Caleb came down with flu this week).

I also had a pleasant surprise when Paul Tan, Festival Director for the Singapore Writer’s Festival/Words Go Round showed up for my talk. He was randomly attending a few sessions and decided to come for mine. I am thankful for all the additional support of friendly faces!

IMG_0030For my 1-hour Where did Pauper Bear, Rusty Horse and Tiger-Bunny come from? talk, I talked about where story ideas can come from. I shared the stories that sparked the ideas for my books as well as those of the great picture book authors Mo Williams, Joyce Dunbar and Julia Donaldson. I was delighted to see all the buzz during the ideas brainstorming session that followed. As publisher for my own Toy Series titles, I also took the children through the entire publishing process from manuscript to printed book.

The best moment for me was when I was sharing about the inspiration behind The Tale of Rusty Horse. When I asked if anyone knew the story, a boy proceeded to tell the story in vivid detail and accuracy which won all-around applause from the room. When I told him how thrilled I was at his familiarity with the story, he said, “It’s because I love it.” Isn’t that what an author loves to hear?”

IMG_0078The best question of the day (and there were many) was whether I earned a lot of money as an author. I felt I needed to justify that with an honest answer. So I said, “I wish I could say yes, but I’m afraid I cannot!”

3. Write Circles

Last year, I hooked up with a few critique partners through author Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 challenge but the critique group which two of us were trying to form never quite took off.

But, over the last couple of weeks, I met a few like-minded writers who had just joined this year’s 12×12 Challenge.

So, I’m also really happy that my new online critique group took off last week. We share similar philosophies on critiquing manuscripts- “brutally honest, incredibly detailed and happily receptive”. We’ve just started our first round of manuscript exchanges last week and the level of feedback we are giving and receiving from each other has been what I have been looking for my picture book writer’s critique group.

So, thanksgiving all round for all things big and small in the past two months!

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Yesterday, a little panda-mail-nium came knocking on my door that made me ‘beary’ pleased.

I ripped open the package to find Book 2 of the Kai Kai & Jia Jia River Safari picture book series which I have written for Wildlife Reserves Singapore. This series is in commemoration of the opening of the new River Safari, Asia’s first and only river-themed wildlife park, and also part of Wildlife Reserves’ efforts to bring wildlife learning into the classroom.

Book cover photo

In The River Adventure of Kai Kai and Jia Jia, the giant pandas take a boat ride to visit new friends moving into the neighbourhood. There is a surprise at the end of the book when they find out about the newest addition to the River Safari.

The book is retailing at the River Safari and the Panda Exhibit shop. Look out for it at the WRS online shop  along with the first book A New Home for Kai Kai and Jia Jia!

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Top family blog A Happy Mum is hosting a giveaway of an autographed copy of Tibby The Tiger Bunny!

Tibby Cover (final)

Hop over there to take part in this giveaway and also check out Tibby’s review as well as other reviews, giveaways and useful resources for parents now!

BabyEmporiumYou can also now purchase autographed copies of Tibby The Tiger Bunny from Baby Emporium (Harbourfront Centre Singapore, next door to Starbucks)

Other earlier Tibby reviews and related posts:

Top Parenting Blog Simply Mommie reviews Tibby

Perfect Picture Book Friday reviews Tibby

A Picture Book Walk Through Tibby The Tiger Bunny’s Book Launch

Stop Press! Tibby leaps onto bookstore shelves

Tibby The Tiger Bunny Leaps and Roars at the Singapore Writer’s Festival

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Today I participate in Susanna Leonard Hill’s meme Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For this, I will be continuing down my list of all-time favourites which I intend to compile into my Perfect Picture Books Top 10 list.

I bought Randy Cecil’s first book Gator (also one of my all-time favourites) at Page One Bookstore at Vivocity a few years back when it was featured at the entrance glass display, where I loved to browse and previously a corner for storytelling. Sadly, Page One closed, going the way of a few other big bookstores in Singapore in recent years.

So, I was thrilled to subsequently chance upon Duck, the sequel of sorts, as it starts off from the same merry-go-round carousel in Gator, at Times Bookstore. Sadly, like the old school carousel, the picture book shelves in Times have been relegated to the backroom and in its place, Times has expanded its novelty books and toys section. But that’s another story. A less then perfect picture book story.

DuckDuck

By Randy Cecil

* A Junior Library Guild Selection,

*Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award

*A CCBC Choice for 2009

Publisher: Walker Books

ISBN: 978-1-4063-2492-1

Theme:

Love, Friendship and Sacrifice

Synopsis:

“Duck was a merry-go-around animal who longed to fly. She knew her carved wings were not made for flying. But she couldn’t stop thinking about it, even when the merry-go-round was whirling.”

Then one day, a lost duckling walks into the fairground and into her life. As it turns out, the duckling doesn’t know how to fly. And so begins Duck’s quest to help her little friend to find his wings.

I won’t give away the ending except that true friendship sometimes comes with sacrifice when Duck realises that only real ducks will be able to show her duckling friend flight. The story comes to a beautiful ending where Duck will finally get her chance to take off…if only for a moment.

Why I love this book:

I always find myself drawn to stories with love and sacrifice themes (Yes, I love Charlotte’s Web for the same reason). I think these books just find me somehow. I also love stories with a beginning, middle and an ending, one where a character gives something up and grows through the process – all important parts of writing a perfect picture book with the traditional story arc. And most importantly, the main character Duck’s earnestness made my heart soar like how Duck finally took flight, making this a perfect picture book read.

Fun Recycled Craft:

Check out this ENT specialist’s recycled craft out of an old tin can to make a happy stationary duck that can hold your pencils and pens for penning friendship notes! http://cardsandschoolprojects.blogspot.sg/2011/09/recycled-tin-craft.html

Duck -Recycled Tin Craft014

Or if you want to see Duck fly, check out this Flying Duck Hangup. Just replace the Christmas colours with Duck’s colourful scarf, a key component in Randy’s story illustration! http://craftbits.com/project/flying-christmas-duck-hangup/

Cloth flying duck

You might also want to check out this post which collates several links on more crafty flying ducks. For the advanced crafter!http://findmakedo.blogspot.sg/2010/06/crafty-ducks.html

Remember to pop over to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog here for more Perfect Picture Book Fridays reads!

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Murphy, SallyI’m been tagged! This time, the blog hops from author Sally Murphy in Australia over to me here in Singapore.

I had the pleasure of meeting Sally at SCBWI WA’s Rottnest Retreat last June. My first thoughts of Sally were how wonderfully friendly and welcoming she was to me, the lone Singaporean at the Retreat. Although we chatted quite a bit, it was only when I returned to Singapore and requested testimonials to my presentation from Sally and a few others that I discovered how prolific an author she is! So, here’s a bit about my tagger – the lovely Sally Murphy – prolific author, cool mum and uber-cool grandmother all rolled into one!

HeadHogHighResSally Murphy

Sally Murphy wanted to be many things when she grew up – then she realised she didn’t want to grow up! So she’s decided to be a big kid for as long as she can get away with it. Sometimes, though, she manages to masquerade as a grown up, which is just as well because when she’s not writing for children she’s a mother of six, teacher and book reviewer. Sally’s books include verse novels Pearl Verses the World and Toppling, picture books Do Not Forget Australia, Meet Mary MacKillop and Head Hog and lots of others – over 35 books and counting. Read more about her books here.

Sally, thanks for tagging me!

Now, it’s my turn to answer the same four questions going around on this hop:

Q1: What am I working on?

I am currently revising a new picture book manuscript – my first attempt at fractured fairy tales – which is giving me a head fracture. So, I will going to put this aside this week and starting on a new picture book manuscript before I return to revise it further.

Q2: How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Cover-Finding My Voice-3D

My memoir on how I lost my voice and found it back in this new writing chapter of my life

Every author has her own voice and for me, I am always drawn to themes of self-discovery, searching for identity and second chances. I suppose that comes from my own journey of losing my voice to a rare disorder years back and finding it in this new chapter in my life when I became an author and then a mother.

Q3: Why do I write what I write?

It started very subconsciously with my first picture book Prince Bear & Pauper Bear which I wrote as a Book Council winner. Back then in 2007, I didn’t know if this would be my first and last book but I knew it had to be something meaningful and hopefully touch lives. So, out of that aspiration came the story of a teddy bear whose toymaker forgot to stitch him a mouth so he could not speak. He did find redemption and a second chance and also within his heart to extend a hand to uplift proud Prince Bear who fell from his pedestal into the jaws of a puppy!

Since then, I have learnt to listen to my inner voice and continue to write around these themes in my stories.

Q4: How does my writing process work?

It usually starts with the spark of an idea, which could come from a word, or an image from a book or something I watch on television. I play around with that idea in my head and allow it to germinate for a while. When a semblance of a story appears, I write a first draft – which is usually sketchy and shitty. Then comes several rewrites and reworking. Now that I have a few critique partners, I send them an early draft to critique and pick out the glaring gaps in my story. I reached version 17 in my last picture book manuscript draft about a boy and a dinosaur and will leave it aside for now until I can read it again with fresh eyes.

So now, it’s my turn to tag 3 other authors (who will answer the same questions the next Monday) as they hop on:

Catherine3Catherine Carvell

I first met Catherine at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2013 in Singapore. Catherine had heard that I had been selected as the Singapore Representative to attend SCBWI WA’s Rottnest Retreat, the first exchange programme with the Singapore Book Council. She came up to me, told me that she would be heading up to Australia for the SCBWI WA Rottnest Retreat and advised me to pack a beanie because nights could get rather cold. Her beanie comment warmed me up and we totally hit it off after.

Catherine’s debut book Darcy Moon and the Deep Fried Frogs has just been published by Freemantle Press and is already off to a hopping great start! As I type this, she’s already fielded several media interviews, been on a skyped presentation to librarians in Australia and just done a school visit here. I’ve had the privilege of being critique partners with her over the past 6 months since the Rottnest Retreat and cannot wait to see that 2nd manuscript get completed and published as it will be a brilliant book.

SusannaphotoSusanna Leonard Hill

I heard many good things about Susanna before I “met” her through our blogs recently when she very kindly popped over to my blog a few times to say hello and wish Caleb Happy Birthday!

Susanna is the author of several picture books including April Fools, Phyllis!, Can’t Sleep without Sheep, The House that Mack built, amongst many others. Her blog is choc-a-bloc with memes, resources on books and writing and she also mentors young writers through her picture book courses and other writing related activities and competitions. I’ve just joined her Perfect Picture Book Fridays meme and look forward to plugging into her other activities too.

Tina ChoTina Cho

Thirdly, I’m tagging Author Tina Cho who tagged me last year in another Hop going around. Tina is the multi-talented author of 26 guided reading books from Lakeshore Learning and Compass Media. She also authored several rebuses, stories, activities and crafts which have appeared in publications such as Clubhouse Jr., Thriving Family, and Stories for Children Magazine. Most recently, her coloring book, GOD IS SO GOOD, was published by Warner Press (2013). She also has three nonfiction books forthcoming from Legacy Press Kids. Formerly an elementary school teacher, she currently homeschools her 6th grade daughter and 3rd grade son. Though raised in the States, she now resides with her family in South Korea. She recently revamped her blog/website and it is well worth a visit, so hop on over!

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Photo by Norman Ng

Photo by Norman Ng

Today, Mummum talks to Eliza Teoh, author of the popular middle grade Ellie Belly Series and publisher of Bubbly Books. I had the pleasure of being on the same panel as Eliza at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in 2013 where we had interesting conversations on our panel topic Survival and Success as a Singaporean Author. So, I had to hear more about her very successful start to writing and publishing children’s fiction in Singapore.

1)      Tell us 3 things about your past work life before you started writing children’s books.

Eliza: I knew from a very young age – from when I was in Primary 2 – that I wanted to be a writer. That was why even though I was a science student till A-levels (I did Math C, Further Math, Chemistry and Physics!!), I switched to Literature when I went to university. Those days, if you wanted to be a writer, there really weren’t that many career options – jounalist, teacher or academic. So I decided I wanted to be a journalist and signed on as a scholar with SPH. When I graduated, it was my first job. Over the years, I have worked at The Straits Times as a copytaster on the foreign desk, an entertainment reporter for Life! section, a political journalist and a sub-editor.

After the birth of my two children (Gabby and Ellie), I worked as an editorial consultant working with government bodies and corporations. I helped with strategic marketing and communications for these firms.

Some fun stuff I did in between was: Two luxury travel books under Edition Didier Miller’s Chic Collection (Honeymoon Chic and Singapore Chic). I was also a contributor to Chronicle of Singapore – a landmark non-fiction historical book chronicling Singapore’s 50 years of history as seen through newspaper articles.

EB1_cover_cropped_low2) What inspired your popular Ellie Belly series? Have your daughters influenced you in your story contents?

Eliza: Ellie Belly is based on my younger daughter Ellie. Both my daughters – Ellie and Gabby – appear as characters in my Ellie Belly series. The real-life Ellie, being the second child, is more adventurous, daring and cheeky. She gives me so much material for my books. She’s really a strange and eccentric child and many of the things that happen in my books are in some way or other inspired by things she has done.

 3) You went from writing to publishing other authors in a short span of time under your Bubbly Books imprint. What motivated this move, given publishing isn’t the easiest business in Singapore?

Eliza: I approached a few publishers in Singapore to publish my books, but wasn’t too impressed by their operations. I met with an “editor” who was a fresh graduate who told me: “I don’t read children’s books.” Then what was she doing as an editor looking after children’s manuscripts? After too many similar experiences at publishing houses here, I decided that with my own network of sub-editor and editor friends who were more qualified, I could strike off on my own and do a better job.

More importantly, I wasn’t prepared to hand over the copyright of my “baby” – my very first story – to a publishing company. Many publishers here stick to the outdated notion that they must hold on to an author’s intellectual property. International publishers have stopped doing this.

My strategy for a children’s book here is simple: Create something that appeals to both children and parents, because ultimately, it is the parent that pays for the book. And I realised that in Singapore, parents are more willing to pay for a book that has educational elements. That is why most of the books published by Bubbly Books contain facts and learning points. I see that my strategy works because it is being copied by other publishers.

What are you looking for in authors submitting to you?

Eliza: An engaging story with unique characters. It is as simple as that. I have been asked: Do I prefer a good story with terrible grammar, or a boring story that is perfectly well-written with no mistakes? My answer is always: I will take the good story. Bad grammar I can correct. There’s nothing I can do with boring characters and a boring story.

EB6_cover_low4) Which book from childhood has had the biggest impact on you? Why?

Eliza: When I was a child, the selection of children’s books weren’t that great. Most of the books I read growing up were Enid Blyton books. Secret Seven, Famous Five, Wishing Chair and the Magic Faraway Tree. I guess my favourite would be the Magic Faraway Tree. It introduced me to so many interesting characters and worlds. But the lasting impact of Enid Blyton books would be the sentiment that runs through all her books – that good things happen to good people; one good turn deserves another.

5) What are your first words of advice to aspiring authors who see your successful start as their reason to follow suit?

Eliza: Don’t? Ha hahaha. Having done all kinds of writing, from newspaper writing and corporate work to commercial writing and fiction, I have to say that fiction writing pays the worst. The market in Singapore is small and there is no way to earn an income unless you manage to break into overseas markets.

Mummum: Eliza, thank you for taking time out for this interview. It’s amazing how much prolific you have been in a span of 3 years as both author and publisher! Hats off…or more appropriately, pens off to you!

DSC_0364

No Monkey Mayhem in this highchair!

On top of her Ellie Belly Series, Eliza’s Bubbly Books has also published several other titles since it was established in 2011:. . The “Robozonic” series by Caline Tan. She has released 5 books in the series.
. The “Extraordinary Losers” (“exlosers” for short) series by Jessica Alejandro. Her first book was nominated for the prestigious Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award 2013.
. “Mountain of Fire” by Radhika Puri, who is an award-winning journalist.
. “Run” by Gabby Tye (Eliza’s older daughter). This is a dystopian novel set Singapore.

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Today, I’m joining my first meme and it is on a theme close to my heart. Picture Books.

After hearing so much about author Susanna Leonard Hill from the 12×12 picture book writing community, I’m hopping on the picture book bandwagon with Susannah Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Fridays! And what better day to start off than on Valentine’s Day? Love. Picture Books. Get the picture 🙂

Incidentally, today is also the 15th day (also the last day) of Chinese New Year. Families will typically mark this with another reunion dinner, the first reunion dinner being on the eve of Chinese New Year.

So, on this day of love, family and reunions, I start my 1st picture book review with my most loved picture book.

Lost&FoundLost and Found

By Oliver Jeffers

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books

ISBN-13: 978-0-00-715036-9

Theme: Friendship

Synopsis:

“Once there was a boy and one day he found a penguin at his door.”

And this begins a heart-warming tale of the boy’s quest to help the penguin return home. Eventually, the boy builds a boat and rows the penguin back to the South Pole. Their friendship builds up along the way as they brave storms together and stories which the boy shares. As they reach their destination, the penguin looks sad again. That’s when the boy finally realises. The penguin wasn’t lost but lonely.

* Winner of Blue Peter Book Awards 2006, Nestle Children’s Book Prize Gold Award Winner 2005

Lost and Found has also been turned into a short animated film. Watch and read about it here.

I love Oliver Jeffers’ books but this one is still my all-time favourite of the lot because it really pulled at my heartstrings. The sparse language and amazing illustrations pulls you in, the friendship and ernestness of the boy in helping his friend warms you up and the ability to say so much in so little just makes you pick up the book over and over again.

This is also the first picture book I bought back in 2007 when I was trying to decide what type of picture book I wanted to write for the Book Council’s First Time Writer’s Publishing Initiative. In fact, it’s the first picture book I have ever owned. Way back when…in my childhood, there wasn’t a picture book culture in Singapore. So, I started out with Beano and Archie comics, graphic novels and then straight onto Enid Blyton.  I’m definitely making up for lost time now that I have found my love for picture books.

Fun Recycled Craft – Valentine’s Day Mail Boat

On this Valentine’s Day, build a friendship pirate boat which you can use to store Valentine’s Day notes from friends and loved ones.

Pirate boatCheck out how you can make this pirate boat step-by-step from a shoebox from We Made That.

penguin_corkAnd if you need a trusty first mate, check out Fun Family Crafts on how to make a penguin to go on board your friendship boat.

Also visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog for more picture book recommendations and book resources at her Perfect Picture Book Fridays!

Related links:

Top 10 children’s Books for Valentine’s Day

http://susannahill.blogspot.sg/2012/02/perfect-picture-book-friday-slugs-in.html

http://viviankirkfield.com/2012/02/10/perfect-picture-book-fridays-little-toot/

http://www.wendygreenley.com/2014/02/tadpoles-promise-perfect-picture-book.html

http://thiskidreviewsbooks.com/2013/02/08/perfect-picture-book-friday-valentines-day-picks/

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