Tuesday, February 8, 2022


 I recently attended a webinar "Feel the Feelings: Crafting Picture Books" with Bethany Hegedus, author and founder of The Writing Barn. As a result, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is front and center in my brain.  Bethany emphasized that readers should be able to take away kindness, empathy, understanding, bravery, and inclusion after reading picture books. 

Here are five SEL components: 

            • Self-Management
            • Social Awareness
            • Relationship Skills
            • Responsible Decision-Making
            • Self-Awareness

Pay attention to these--because there will be a test!

Without further ado, here are two picture books from Sleeping Bear Press.


Author-illustrator Jennifer Sattler is no stranger to my blog. Her illustrations are dynamic and there's always a cleverly disguised "message" within a playful story that children will understand--without being preached to.

Here's the first page:

Vole, (like many of us) followed her comfortable, predictable routine. 

But, one day when she woke up, she wanted something different--she
wanted an adventure!

In her organized fashion, 

She set off, backpack ready with all of her essentials, and everything went according to plan. Until she met,


Vole tried everything to get the rock to move out of her way so she could complete her adventure. She talked to it. She showed it her map. She tried to cajole it.

Nothing worked.

Until the sun started setting and Vole realized that the rock was lovely.

After Vole redid her map, she rested against the rock.

Which SEL skills does Jennifer Sattler subtly communicate to the reader in ROCK AND VOLE? Leave me your thoughts in the comments.


This fun picture book was inspired by author, Susan Blackaby's observations of the symbiotic relationship between egrets and cows. The dynamic illustrator, Scott Brundage was featured on my blog here

Here is the opening spread:

When the flock of egrets whirled off to explore the sea, one little egret preferred sticking close to his cow.

While the egrets were gone, the cow told him stories about the places she'd seen and the food she'd eaten. All the talk about kites and kayaks and toasted marshmallows gave the little egret ideas. With his cow encouraging his explorations, the egret flew off and found a view of the ocean that took his breath away!

But, he looked down, saw the herd far below and thought, 

"Where's my cow?"
Queasy, the egret gulped.
Sputtered. Plunged.

Fearing he'd never find his cow, he wouldn't fly far from home.

His cow encouraged him to try again and look for the cow with twitching ears.

As the following illustration shows, that didn't work!

While cow suggested other unworkable plans about how his egret could find her,

the egret gains confidence in flying further and further away. Each time the egret returned with a gift for his cow: a shell, a string, and a twisty stick. 

Finally, egret came up with a solution that would help him find his cow. When he looked from high in the sky and wondered where she was, he spotted...

Test time! Which SEL components are expressed in WHERE'S MY COW? Leave your answers in the comments below.


For a chance to win, leave a comment with your email address, or send me an email if you prefer. If you share this on social media, you will get one extra chance; if you follow my blog you will get another chance. Tell me what you have done and I will enter your name accordingly. Winner must live in the continental U.S and please let me know which picture book you are interested in winning. Giveaway ends Friday, February 11 at 6 PM. 


Storylady said...

Taking tests is hard work when you are retired.

In Rock and Vole, I see self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making (on vole's part). Rock seems to just be the immovable object.

In Where's My Cow?, the egret makes many decisions, maybe not all responsible. He has social awareness, and self awareness.

I would love to win either one of these titles--my granddaughter would enjoy so much.

Carol Baldwin said...

There are no wrong answers, Gwen! Your name starts the list.

Unknown said...

Rock and Vole! love the tittle, very clever!
Multi talent. An author and illustrator, wow!
Hewi Mason

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Hewi. You're in--and yes, she is very talented!

Danielle H. said...

In the first book, I see Vole learning self-management and self-awareness. In the second, Egret learns social awareness and relationship skills. Thank you for featuring these books and giving your readers a new perspective to view them with. I shared on tumblr and happily follow your blog: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/675731563879792640/two-fun-picture-books-with-important-messages

www.carolgordonekster.com said...

I'd say self-management for Vole and Egret - learning to adapt is such an important life skill! Great post. Thanks.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Danielle and Carol! Happy to have you post your comments.

Unknown said...

This looks adorable!!

Carol Baldwin said...

Yes, they are, Monica. And I know a little girl who would love them both!

Rosi said...

Self-management is such an important skill for youngsters to learn and is apparent in both books. And both look very cute. Thanks for the post.

Tiffany said...

Rock and Vole is just wonderful! I see remarkable self-management skills.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Tiffany. You're in!

Janet Frenck Sheets said...

As someone who is frustrated by obstacles, I can identify with Vole! As for SEL, relationship skills? I guess I'll have to read the book to find out. (Blog subscriber; sharing on Twitter.)

Carol Baldwin said...

Yes, relationship skills, Janet! Thanks for following my blog.You're in!!

Trish said...

Where’s My Cow - such a cute book. Relationship Skills, self management, social skills. Kindness, perseverance and bravery. My grands would enjoy!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Trish. YOu're in! (And it is a cute book!)

Building Picture Books

  Did I hook you with that title? Did you think this blog post was going to be about how to create a picture book? Homonyms can be clever--a...