Animal Friendship Picture Books & Giveaway!

Animal Friendship Picture Books & GIVEAWAY!

Please welcome Maria Gianferrari today who is making lists of her favorite books in honor of her debut picture book out next week! You might recognize Maria from blog comments here; she always has the best book recommedations!


Mia kindly agreed to participate in my blog tour to celebrate the release of my debut picture book, Penny & Jelly: The School Show, illustrated by Thyra Heder, which will be published by HMH Books for Young Readers on July 7th. Penny & Jelly: The School Show by Maria G.

In honor of my main character, Penny, who’s a list-maker, here are my Top 5 book recommendations pertaining to some of the book’s themes. Since Penny’s best friend is her canine companion, Jelly, these are some of my go-to picture books that highlight friendship.

Go-to Picture Books that Highlight Friendship

Frog & Toad series by Arnold Lobel

A classic friendship story—Frog and Toad always have each other’s backs.

George & Martha series by James Marshall

Two hilarious hippos like to play pranks on one another.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead

When zookeeper Amos gets sick, his animal friends come to the rescue.

Two Speckled Eggs by Jennifer K. Mann

Birthday girl, Ginger finds a friend in odd Lyla Browning, who smells like old leaves, in this heartwarming story.

Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon

A sweet and touching story of friendship between a penguin and a pinecone that must returned to the forest.


Non Fiction Picture Books Of Unlikely Friendships

Tarra & Bella by Carol Buckley

A friendship between a stray dog, and a retired circus elephant that will melt your heart.

Owen & Mzee by Isabella & Craig Hatkoff

Another true friendship story between an orphaned baby hippo and a giant tortoise.

Suryia & Roscoe by Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, Barry Bland and Thea Feldman

A fabulous friendship between an orangutan and a stray dog. The photos are so sweet!

Two Bobbies by Kirby Larson & Mary Nethery

A poignant and true story of a friendship between a dog and a cat orphaned after hurricane Katrina. Get your tissues ready!

Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer Holland

47 Stories highlighting all kinds of inter-species friendships creatures such as snakes, capybaras, iguanas, donkeys, goats, potbellied pigs, cats & rats, etc., with wonderful photographs.

One of Penny’s great strengths is her creativity. These books celebrate creativity and self-expression.


Picture Books Celebrating Creativity

My Pen by Christopher Myers

Brilliant black and white sketches come to life in this story about the power of the pen and imagination.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

A prim and proper Victorian tiger explores his wild and colorful side. And it’s contagious.

The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

I absolutely LOVE this book! Like my main character, Penny, Roget expressed himself through his word lists. The text is lovely and lyrical and so spot on, and Sweet’s stellar illustrations bring it to life.

The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Jan Greenberg & Sandra Jordan

An amazing biography of an artist well ahead of his time. His creations are wild and weird and will astound you.

A Poem in Your Pocket by Margaret McNamara, illustrated by G. Brian Karas

This book makes me weep with joy and will make you love poetry. The main character, Elinor, struggles to find her voice, and write the perfect poem in time for the school assembly with a visiting poet.


And even though there are no birds in the story, I’m a bird nerd, so here are some beloved bird book recommendations.

Beloved Bird Picture Books

You Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen & Heidi Stemple, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

A lyrical bird lullaby, with stunning illustrations by Melissa Sweet (can you tell she’s also one of my favorite illustrators?)

Have You Heard the Nesting Bird by Rita Gray, illustrated by Kenard Pak

I love the refrain and rhythm of this gentle story, with lovely artwork.

Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward (illustrated by Steve Jenkins)

Spectacular collage art by Steve Jenkins, coupled with Ward’s soothing story, make this a winning picture book with a familiar beat. Can you hear what it is?

Alex the Parrot, No Ordinary Bird: A True Story by Stephanie Spinner, illustrated by Meilo So

Based on the true story of Alex, the famous African grey parrot, trained by psychologist Irene Pepperberg. He could understand thousands of words, count, calculate and speak. I also enjoyed her book about their relationship, Alex & Me.

Unbeatable Beaks by Stephen Swinburne, illustrated by Joan Paley

A fun, rhythmic read aloud that explores cool bird beaks and their functions.


And last but not least, here are some of Penny & Jelly’s favorite dog books.

Favorite Dog Picture Books

Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Ooh-la-la! I LOVE this book, and you will too! Merveilleux!

Hound from the Pound by Jessica Swaim, illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Rollicking rhyme from Swaim and adorable illustrations of Hound and his slew of shelter dog friends. McElmurry’s illustrations are sweet and funny.

My Father the Dog by Elizabeth Bluemle, illustrated by Randy Cecil

This is oh, so LOL funny, and a such great read aloud.

Little Dog Lost by Monica Carnesi

Based on the true story of a dog stranded on an ice floe in the Baltic sea, and his rescue by research vessel, R/V Baltica, where he’s christened Baltic, and finds a new home.

Dogku by Andrew Clement, illustrated by Tim Bowers

A stray pooch named Mooch finds a forever home in this heartwarming haiku story.


Signed Giveaway of Penny & Jelly: The School Show

To win a signed copy of Penny & Jelly: The School Show, please fill out the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Penny & Jelly: The School Show by Maria G.Maria writes both fiction and nonfiction picture books from her sunny, book-lined study in northern Virginia, with dog, Becca as her muse. Maria’s debut picture book, Penny & Jelly: The School Show, illustrated by Thyra Heder, will be released on July 7th, 2015 (HMH Books for Young Readers). A companion Penny & Jelly book titled, Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars, will be released in June 2016. Maria has five additional books forthcoming from Roaring Brook and Boyds Mills Presses as well as Aladdin Books for Young Readers in the coming years. To learn more about Maria, visit her website or on Facebook. And you can visit Penny & Jelly at their website. I love talking books! Thanks so much for letting me stop by, Mia!


To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book. Animal Friendship Picture Books & Giveaway! I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay the postage and handling for my giveaways.

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Friday, June 26th:  Kidlit411

Monday, June 29th:  Miss Marple’s Musings

Tuesday, June 30thPragmatic Mom

Wednesday, July 1st:  Watch Connect Read

Thursday, July 2nd:  Kidlitfrenzy

Friday, July 3rd:  Writing for Kids While Raising Them

Monday, July 6th – Friday, July 10th:  Emu’s Debuts

Monday, July 13th:  Bildebok

Tuesday, July 14th: HMH Picture Book Parade

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Thanks so much for hosting me, Mia!!

  2. Leslie N

    My favorite: The Kissing Hand.

  3. Great lists. I love birds too, though I don’t think I’ve earned the title Bird Nerd yet. Congratulations on your debut!
    Rebecca recently posted…Moose’s First Public Appearance (a.k.a. my first signing)My Profile

  4. Love the lists! One of my favorite bird books is When Agnes Cawes by Candace Fleming.
    Heather Ayris Burnell recently posted…Happy Book Birthday to Paul Greci!My Profile

  5. Sheri Dillard

    You always have the best book recommendations, Maria! I’ll check them out! Congrats on Penny & Jelly! I can’t wait! 🙂

  6. Saw Maria’s book on another blog. What a great summer read. Also like the great book shares. I especially like the “unlikely pairing” stories.
    Patricia Tilton recently posted…A Handful of Stars by Cynthia LordMy Profile

  7. Thanks so much, Sheri!! XO to you!!

  8. Kids who like these books will probably also enjoy this suspenseful nonfiction title: Eight dolphins of Katrina : a true tale of survival written by Janet Wyman Coleman ; illustrated by Yan Nascimbene. Recounts the true story of eight bottlenose dolphins and their trainers who survived the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

  9. ~ linda

    Great lists! You have some real favorites of mine in here. Glad you are my neighbor at The Book Nook!

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