How to Draw a Pig Puppet by Qin Leng

Qin Leng has received a lot of praise for her beautiful illustrations since the release of Happy Birthday, Alice Babette. Today she is lending her talent to our blog to offer you a drawing tutorial: How to Draw a Pig Puppet, inspired by the puppet theater Alice visits during her walk in the park.

Happy Birthday AliceBabette Drawing Tutorial


Download a printable version.

Check out our printable resources for parents, teachers, and librarians.

Happy Birthday, Alice Babette by Monica KullingQin Leng lives and works as a designer and illustrator in Toronto. She graduated from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema and has received many awards for her animated short films and artwork. She has published numerous picture books in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Sweden, Hong Kong, and South Korea. She has also illustrated for Save the Children and UNICEF. Her newest book is Happy Birthday, Alice Babette, written by Monica Kulling.

New Releases from Groundwood this April

It may be April Fool’s day, but this is no joke. There are several titles coming out this month, all with fun illustrations and beautiful stories.

Super Duper Monster Viewer by Kevin SylvesterSuper Duper Monster Viewer
written and illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
Available: April 1

Imagine that you are holding a device that will allow you to see the monsters that live invisibly all around us. All you have to do is follow the simple instructions and . . . total chaos!

Technology isn’t always easy, and this monster viewer disguised as a book is no exception. If you hold the viewer too high, all you see are the tops of the monsters’ heads. Too low, and all you see are their feet. And things don’t get any better when the monsters themselves try to help out.

Full of puns and visual jokes, Super-Duper Monster Viewer pokes gentle fun at our obsession with technology and the next cool thing.


Happy Birthday, Alice Babette by Monica Kulling

Happy Birthday, Alice Babette
by Monica Kulling, illustrated by Qin Leng
Available: April 1

It’s Alice’s birthday! But her friend Gertrude seems to have forgotten. No matter, Alice goes out and enjoys her day just the same. A beautiful spring afternoon in Paris — what could be better? Little does she know that her dear friend has a few surprises up her sleeve.

Inspired by the lives of artist Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Monica Kulling’s warm and whimsical narration is perfectly balanced by Qin Leng’s bright and energetic illustrations. This is a sweetly joyful story of love, friendship and creative inspiration.

My Book of Birds by Geraldo Valério

My Book of Birds
written and illustrated by Geraldo Valério
Available: April 5

Geraldo Valério is an artist who loves birds, from majestic Golden Eagles and Snowy Owls to brilliant cardinals and jays to the tiniest of hummingbirds. Here he presents his favorites, with beautiful collage illustrations and brief descriptions that highlight intriguing facts about each one.

The illustrations show a variety of feathered creatures in their natural habitats as they hunt for food, impress their mates, nest, and care for their young. The concise, accessible text provides information ranging from clever techniques for finding food to remarkable physical features to fascinating behaviors. But above all, Geraldo Valério shares his passion for birds in this lovingly created album, inspiring young readers with their beauty and the excitement of discovery.

Includes an introduction, glossary, index and sources for further information.

Go Home Bay by Susan Vande Griek

Go Home Bay
by Susan Vande Griek, illustrated by Pascal Milelli
Available: April 5

In 1914, Tom Thomson spent the summer at a family cottage on Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay, where he taught the ten-year-old daughter, Helen, how to paint. Author Susan Vande Griek and illustrator Pascal Milelli have imagined this time through Helen’s eyes, providing an intriguing glimpse into the famous painter’s life.

The story, told in lyrical free verse, has a quiet charm, while the illustrations capture the natural beauty that inspired some of Thomson’s most memorable paintings.

An author’s note provides more information about Tom Thomson’s life.

Kabungo by Rolli

by Rolli, illustrated by Milan Pavlovic
Available: April 5

Ten-year-old Beverly is an ordinary girl with an extraordinary best friend. Her name is Kabungo, and she lives in a cave on Main Street. No one knows where she comes from or who she really is, but life is never dull when Kabungo is around.

Beverly tries to teach her friend about the ways of the modern world — the importance of teeth brushing, understanding strange holidays like Halloween, learning how to read. But Kabungo doesn’t take well to being civilized, and she can be stubborn, bossy, and plain infuriating. Sometimes Beverly gets so mad that she just wants to move to Cincinnati.

Then, just when you least expect it, Kabungo will do something surprising (and when you’re best friends with a cavegirl, you’re not easily surprised).

Gertrude and Alice: Gay Icons — Guest Post by Monica Kulling

For Women’s History Month we’re dedicating our March posts to women and their stories.

Gertrude and Alice: Gay Icons

Over the years I’ve written a few biographies. My first subject was handed to me on a silver platter, so to speak. An editor I was working with asked me if I’d consider writing about Amelia Earhart’s mysterious disappearance. I agreed to give it a go. Without the new evidence now available, I wasn’t able to solve the mystery of the intrepid aviatrix. However, I did conclude that I admired her courage and jaunty sportiness. Since then, every woman I’ve written about — that list includes Harriet Tubman, Margaret E. Knight, Emily Carr, Lillian Gilbreth and Mother Jones— has impressed me with her courage, artistry, inventiveness, industry, intelligence and feistiness.

So, what do I admire about Gertrude Stein and her life partner Alice B. Toklas? I most certainly admire their devotion to one another, their intellectual rigor, their joyful approach to living. They created a salon at their home at 27 rue de Fleurus where many an aspiring artist dropped by to talk shop, eat brownies and basically bask in the glow of Stein’s genius. And oddly, that self-proclaimed genius still inspires. It’s tough to put one’s finger on why this is so, given that most of Stein’s writing is indecipherable and borders on the ridiculous. Then again, how can you not admire a person who exudes such self-assurance; who, in fact, made undaunted self-confidence her métier? And that is one of the things I hope kids will take away from Happy Birthday, Alice Babette. Trust yourself. Dare to fail. Dream big.

Monica Kulling is the author of over forty books for children, including the popular Great Idea series, stories of inventors. The third book in the series, In the Bag! Margaret Knight Wraps It Up, was nominated for the 2012 Governor General’s Award for illustration and chosen as the 2012 Simon Wiesenthal Honor Book. In addition, Monica’s work has been nominated for numerous Silver Birch Express and Golden Oak awards. Her recent picture books include Lumpito and the Painter from Spain, Mister Dash and the Cupcake Calamity and The Tweedles Go Electric. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto.

Crokinole! Play with the Tweedles and Monica Kulling


It has been suggested that crokinole is the secret star (thank you, Carolyn!) of The Tweedles Go Online. The vintage board game keeps the Tweedle family entertained and happy in each other’s company. It also, ultimately, restores the peace. Can one ask for more from a tabletop parlour game?

The year is 1903, and the good-natured Tweedles are bound and determined to follow the inventive trends of the day. When not tooling around in their electric car (see The Tweedles Go Electric), they are engaged in a boisterous (and somewhat newly invented) game called “crokinole.” Eckhardt Wettlaufer, of Sebastopol, Ontario, devised the game in 1876. It was likely named after a crunchy French cookie, croquignole, and was once one of the most popular game in North America!

How do you play crokinole? The game centers on a wooden board with a hole in the middle and discs that each player must flick into the centre hole while trying to displace the other players’ discs. Attaining any level of proficiency requires tremendous eye-hand coordination and a gentle touch — skills young Franny clearly possesses, but Mama does not.


Why crokinole? When asked to write a second adventure for the Tweedles, I had only one puzzle piece — the telephone. Then, over coffee with Sheila, the sparks flew! Suddenly, I was searching for the word “crokinole.” I didn’t know the game. I’d never met it. The word — that is, only the first syllable — popped into my head. “It’s cro … cro … you know, that game.” “Crokinole,” responded Sheila. Well, I haven’t yet played the game, but I still love the word. It has become, as it is for Frankie, my rallying cry. “Crokinole!”


The Tweedles Go Online


Monica Kulling is the author of over forty books for children, including The Tweedles Go Electric and The Tweedles Go Online as well as the popular Great Idea series, stories of inventors. Going Up! Elisha Otis’s Trip to the Top, the fourth in the series, was a finalist for the 2013 Norma Fleck Non-Fiction Award. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto, Canada. Visit her at

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