Squirrels Are Featured Characters


 My Newest Book!

Welcome to the World 

September 2020

Kirkus Review!

"A family of red squirrels introduces a new baby to the waiting world in James and Brown's latest collaboration. 

A single day of games and exploring stands also for a baby's first year of discovery and family. The day begins with yawns, sunshine, toys, and smiles. From there, the squirrel kit ventures outside to sing songs, dance, and play hide-and-seek. Back inside for bathtime bubbles, a snuggly story, and finally sleepy goodnights. A quiet, parental voice narrates, addressing the baby directly, and the sparse text carries readers through a day of welcoming "hellos" ranging from pet names ("Hello, sunshine"; "Hello, cutie") to words that capture the moment ("Hello, wiggles"; "Hello, cuddles"). In typical fashion, Brown's illustrations capture the sprawling fun of outdoor games as deftly as they do the quiet intimacy of a bedtime routine. Rich, warm tones of sunshine and ruddy fur invite readers to cozy up, whether in a lap or under covers or snuggled next to a new sibling. Despite the predictably traditional family setup (clothing and accessories suggest an opposite-sex set of two parents), what could easily tumble into saccharine, shower-gift banality manages instead to convey the immediacy and timelessness of a delightful day with loving caregivers. 

A single day, a first year--a lovely addition to little ones' shelves. (Picture book. 0-4)"

Here's what illustrator
Petra Brown shared 
about the adorable squirrels.

From Petra Brown: “No rabbits, this time it’s Eurasian red squirrels. Although this is an American book, I’ve based all the characters on European wild animals, because I really wanted to do red squirrels… I do think they are such lovely colourful little creatures with tufty ears, great fun to draw and paint. I have to admit though, I’ve only ever seen red squirrels once. Whilst on holiday in Normandy, France, I was thrilled to see about six of them performing gymnastics on a tree outside the gîte where we were staying. There are supposed to be red squirrels on Anglesey in The Newborough Forest, not too many miles from where I live. They were introduced by the Anglesey Red Squirrel Project. But greys are the local squirrels around my area. I really enjoyed working on the ‘Hyde Park Squirrels’ series written by Nick Croydon. They were red squirrels too.”

Daddy Loves You! 

Daddy's joining my family
 of "Loves You" books.

March 2020 


I’m the author of almost two dozen books for children
 including a "family" of "Loves You" books: 
Grandma Loves You!, Grandpa Loves You!, 
Mommy Loves You! Auntie Loves You! 
and I'm currently working on Daddy Loves You! 
(It will be published in the spring of 2020.)

I'm the author of two Christmas books 
(Santa's Christmas Train and Grandma's Christmas Wish). 
I was born on Labor Day and married on Memorial Day. 
I definitely love holidays, 
but that’s not all I write about. 

Want to learn more? 
I hope you’ll enjoy visiting my website
 to read some information about me 
and my books. 

I love to read, write, and roam!

Happy Reading! 

Dr. Helen Foster James

So Happy to Announce!

With Love, Grandma
July 2018

Kirkus Reviews reviewed With Love, Grandma

Author: Helen Foster James Illustrator: Petra Brown
Review Issue Date: June 15, 2018 Online Publish Date: May 28, 2018 
A hedgehog grandmother takes a monthlong vacation with friends while continually staying in touch with her beloved grandchild through a volume of correspondence. Taking a break from the usual routine of "Camp Grandma," this active grandparent embarks on an adventurous excursion enjoying the woods, hiking, participating in painting classes, kayaking, visiting the beach, and even finding a "super bookstore." Taking time out for herself is important, but Grandma continually thinks of her little one and relays a series of endearing messages in letters and postcards that arrive almost daily in her grandchild's mailbox. Each begins with a term of endearment for the child and a line or two about what new experience Grandma is enjoying, always linking it to something the two, elder and youngster, did together in the past or will do once again when "Camp Grandma" resumes. "Dear Doodlebug, I took a painting lesson outside today," leads to the assurance that "We'll paint together at CAMP GRANDMA. Let's walk to the park and paint whatever we see." Although it is chronological, the story is not linear, asking readers to glean it from the specifics of each letter or note. Soft pencil and delicate watercolors show an engaging, vigorous grandmother enjoying her outings with smiling fellow forest animals while complementary scenes lovingly portray her memories of days spent with her grandchild. Should encourage dialogic reading and discussion—and hugs. 

About With Love, Grandma . . . Every grandma knows that her love for her grandchildren can span great distances! So when Grandma heads out on an adventure of her own, she stays in touch with her grandchild through a series of sweet letters and memories. Grandchild follows Grandma through her notes until Grandma finally returns home--and opens up Camp Grandma for a visit full of fun, grandma snuggles, and games. This tender story from the author and illustrator team behind Grandma Loves You! proves that a grandma's love knows no bounds.


Auntie Loves You! 

September 2018

About Auntie Loves You! . . . This touching tribute to an Auntie's love celebrates the sweet bond between an aunt and her little bunny. From tender snuggles to play and giggles, author Helen Foster James and illustrator Petra Brown capture the unique relationship in loving color.

Daddy’s Girl—April 2017 

What’s more fabulous than a tea party? 
Tea with Daddy, of course! 
This exuberant story begins before the honored guest arrives, 
with much ado—preparing, decorating, and accessorizing. 
And when Daddy makes his entrance, 
it’s clear that the little hostess couldn’t be more thrilled. 
Perfect for daddy-daughter reading time, 
this new picture book and its warm conclusion 
are sure to serve up smiles and tug at heartstrings.

Published by Ideals Children's Books


Kirkus Review

A young girl enjoys tea with her dad.The narrator prepares for the day carefully with handmade signs, a beautifully set table, and some primping and accessorizing. Her excitement is palpable in James' rhymes (though the words don't always match the girl's youth): "That's his knock. / My daddy's here! / Be my guest / and sit right there. // Welcome / to my special tea. / Glad you're here / to be with me!" Dad is all smiles and arrives bearing flowers for his girl. The daughter enumerates (at some length) all the festive elements of a tea party, giving readers ideas for their own. The blissful expressions on both faces at the end of the tea say it all: "Here's a hug, / my daddy dear. / I just love / that you are here. / Love and hugs, / and kisses too. // Daddy, / tea is best with you." Pink and yellow are the predominant colors in Corke's watercolor illustrations, and readers will be left in no doubt that this is a girly-girl: boas, crowns, beads, bangles, sparkly shoes, and a beribboned hat. Dad and daughter are both white and brown-haired.

Publishers Weekly 

In this resolutely cheery story, a girl welcomes her father as the guest of honor at her tea party, a time-honored playroom tradition. The girl, who narrates, dons her sparkly finest for the occasion, and her father follows suit, allowing his daughter to dress him up with a paper crown and boa. It isn't a story with much emotional range--James's honeyed verse sticks to the girl's gushy sense of excitement and gratitude for her father's participation: "Teas and cakes we'll each have some--/ Sip, sip, sip, and yum, yum, yum!" Likewise, Corke's cozy paintings aren't especially distinctive, but they certainly convey the tenderness shared between father and daughter. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)

Feathered Quill Book Review 

It's tea time! What a perfect time for a little girl to prepare a party with her stuffed animals, and her guest of honor...her daddy! 

Daddy's Girl is a delightful story about a young girl who is all excited about her upcoming tea party. Before her special guest arrives, she has to prepare the table. She grabs "Little Bear," her stuffed teddy, and together they set the table, arrange the flowers, and get some yummy treats ready. Then it's time to dress up in ribbons and bows, add some glitter and bling and then wait for that special guest. When daddy knocks on the door, the party can start! 

Daddy and his little girl are soon joined by several other guests including frog, turtle, monkey and cat. The little girl dresses her stuffies in their best bows and ribbons, and they all enjoy some treats. With plenty of hugs and kisses from Daddy, there's no doubt that this is the best tea party ever! 

Told in perfect flowing rhyme, author Helen Foster James has written a winner of a story about a little girl and the close bond she shares with her daddy. The story is very upbeat and happy, with smiles all around. The artwork, with a strong pink influence, is delightful and adds a tremendous amount to the story. If you're looking for a great gift for the little girl in your life, consider this one - you won't be disappointed. 

Quill says: A happy, sparkling, uplifting story about a little girl who has the perfect tea party with her daddy.

April 2017

Board Book Editions of

Grandma Loves You! 


Grandpa Loves You! 

Spring 2017 
Mommy Loves You! 

Mommy Loves You! has arrived just in time for Valentine’s Day! 

“From the author-illustrator team that created Grandma Loves You! comes a touching story just for Mommy and baby. Told in charming verse with the signature bunny characters, this book celebrates the deep love a mother has for her child, this pair’s adventures and tender moments will warm the heart.”

And . . . keep a look out for Grandma Loves You! and Grandpa Loves You! in board books this spring!

Press Release 

Celebrate a Mothers Love with


From the author–illustrator team behind the popular Loves You series (Grandma Loves You! and Grandpa Loves You!) comes a tribute to the most enduring bond of all, that between a mother and her child. In tender rhyming text, Mommy Bunny tells Baby of the love she feels in her role as a mother.

My heart’s full of love that blossoms and grows
from your little nose to those teensy toes.
You are my moonbeam, my stars in the sky.
My hopes and my heart, my cute, honey pie.

Accompanied by enchanting artwork, touching endearments express the devotion found within a mother’s heart. A heartwarming gift for every mother (and all mothers-to-be). Along with a presentation page, the book also provides space for a keepsake photo and a letter.

Author Helen Foster James is a former teacher and coordinator of library media services. She received her doctorate from Northern Arizona University. This is her seventh book with Sleeping Bear Press. Other books include Grandma Loves You!, Grandma’s Christmas Wish, S is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet, Little California, and Paper Son: Lee’s Journey to America.

Petra Brown has been a children’s book illustrator since 2006 when her first picture book If Big Can…I Can, written by Beth Shoshan was shortlisted for the Booktrust Early Years Awards for Best Emerging Illustrator. Since then she has been illustrating for publishers in the U.K. and abroad. Her books with Sleeping Bear Press include: Rags: Hero Dog of WW I, Grandma’s Nursery Rhyme board books, and of course, Grandma Loves You! Petra lives with her partner in Wales.

Please consider this book for a review or reading recommendation. To arrange for an interview with the author or illustrator, or for jpegs of cover or interior art, please contact 
Tara Lehmann at 734.619.6226 

Mommy Loves You!
 (Jacketed HC) 978-1-58536-941-6 $15.99
Ages 0-4 / eBook available
32 pages / 10 x 10 inches  


Daddy Loves You! 

Daddy joined the "Loves You" 
family of books in March! 

Grandpa Loves You!

I love these reviews! 


A grandfather rabbit celebrates the birth of a new baby bunny and recounts the many adventures they will have. Grandpa—complete with bushy, white brows and gray, furry coat—is delighted when his grandbunny is born. Sweet prose follows the cotton-tailed duo. "Life is much better / with you, little one, / cutie pah-tootie, / my bundle of fun." They fly kites together, tell jokes, and burrow together in the ground. A large cast of woodland creatures scampers through the pages to watch the two bunnies frolic and play. Soft autumnal hues and piles of crunchy leaves warm this sentimental ode. Not tipping to saccharine too much, Grandpa gives wise words of advice: "Be brave and take chances, / have fun and enjoy, / each moment, my love, / my pride, and my joy." As with the previous works by this author-and-illustrator team (Grandma Loves You, 2013 and Grandma's Christmas Wish, 2014), a special section to write a letter from grandpa to grandchild and include a photo is appended in the back. A beloved grandparent gift purchase to be sure but also a toddler-friendly inclusion to an intergenerational storytime. 

Publishers Weekly
"In this inspiration-minded companion to Grandma Loves You! and Grandma’s Christmas Wish, the straw-colored bunny from those books spends time with his grandfather. Writing in rhyme, James narrates from the perspective of the elder rabbit, while Brown shows the two rabbits playing in an autumnal woodland, flying a kite, burrowing into the ground, and swinging from a tree. Throughout, the grandfather offers encouragement to the younger bunny: “Be brave and take chances,/ have fun and enjoy,/ each moment, my love,/ my pride, and my joy.” Using a lemony palette, Brown’s soft images convey the joy of first experiences under the guidance of a doting loved one. A letter template with the salutation “a special letter for my grandchild” appears at the end, allowing gift-giving grandparents to personalize the story."

Childrens Bookstore Staff Review

Welcoming a new baby into the family is an important life event for a grandparent. Seeing the new generation enter the world is a time of celebration and reflection. Author Helen Foster James captures the emotions and experience of becoming a grandparent, more specifically a grandmother, in a beautiful and heart-felt poem to a new grandchild from his or her grandma.

The poem begins at the moment when the grandma bunny meets the new baby; "The moment I saw you. I fell in love. Honey, my bunny, my sweet turtledove". Each page contains a new stanza and an illustration of grandma bunny and the new grandchild sharing loving and memorable moments together.

The story seems to culminate one the stanza: "I tickle your toes and you hold my hand. You are the reason I am called grand".

Petra Brown's whimsical illustrations bolster the poem and complete the emotional phrasing of the book. Her bunnies are expertly personified such that a reader can easily identify with his or her own experience as a grandchild or grandmother. The artworks is soothing and colorful. The illustrations work together, creating a feeling of warmth on the pages.

The book itself is published as a keepsake gift for a new grandchild. There is an inscription page at the front of the book. The end papers of the book consist of a page that contains the phrase: "A Special Letter to My Grandchild" at the top with space for a hand-written letter. The opposite end paper has space for a photograph of grandma and grandchild.

The opportunity for personalizing the book will be sure to stir loving memories of the grandmother-grandchild relationship. This is a beautiful book that is sure to become a treasured possession for many families.

Great Time at Warwick's Bookstore in La Jolla, California

I had the best time at Warwick's bookstore in La Jolla, California today. I was book signing with my buddy and co-author of "Paper Son: Lee's Journey to America," Virginia Shin-Mui Loh (aka Virginia Loh Hagan.) What an amazing group of supportive and creative people showed up to let us share our newest work. Patty Fares from Urban Safaris, my buddy Linda Kent from World Book, the amazing nonfiction writer Kathleen Krull, and a host of other talented folks including Joy Chu and Cindy Clevenger. It was such a treat for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all involved!

Hugs to all!

Little America Is Featured at Cracker Barrel!

Little America can now be found at Cracker Barrel restaurants throughout the United States. But, there isn't a single Cracker Barrel in California. Bob and I hit the road and drove to Yuma to get some comfort food and take a photo of Little America by Cracker Barrel's "Made in America" theme display.

I wonder what the woman looking over my shoulder is thinking?

If you visit a Cracker Barrel, please take a photo of you and Little America and email it to me!

S is for S'mores: A Camping Alphabet will be featured this summer at Cracker Barrel. Yes. There will be another trip to Yuma in my future.

Paper Son: Lee's Journey to America is fresh off the press!

It's been my pleasure to visit with Mt Woodson Elementary School and Rosa Parks Elementary School this week. We had such a lovely time together talking about reading and writing, and students had fabulous questions for me. 

Here are some reviews:

Booklist Reviews "Paper Son: Lee's Journey to America"

Star Review! Twelve year-old Lee does not want to leave China. Yet the responsibility for supporting his grandparents weighs heavily on his heart. He is to be a “paper son,” and he studies a coaching book that details the life he supposedly lives with his American father so he can dupe immigration officials in California. After tense goodbyes, Lee is off across the Pacific, only to be detained on Angel Island (“the Ellis Island of the West”) with other Asian immigrants. They are treated like prisoners and fear deportation, but Lee knows that he must prove that he belongs with the family listed on his documents and is more than just their son on paper. In this poignant tale of home and heartbreak, which recalls Allen Say’s Grandfather’s Journey (1993), readers learn about the emotional toll that is part of so many immigration experiences. Ong’s lightinfused paintings match the narrative’s subdued tone, and Lee’s dignity is evident in his upright posture as he bravely faces a new life in a foreign place. It’s not a story often told for this age, and readers will be drawn to Lee’s quiet determination as he grapples with the complexity of knowing that “I didn’t want to come, but now I need to stay.”

School Library Journal Reviews "Paper Son: Lee's Journey to America"

Lee, 12, lives with his grandparents. His parents have died, but it was their wish that he go to America for better opportunities. In 1926, conditions are difficult in China, and the boy’s loving grandparents sadly agree that leaving would be the best thing for him. Immigration laws restrict Chinese people from entering the United States, so Lee’s family purchased a “paper son” slot for him. A Chinese man already living in America will say that Lee is his son to get him into the country. As Wang Lee becomes Fu Lee, he must learn minute details about his new family in order to pass the interrogations at the Angel Island Immigration Station. While often called the “Ellis Island” of the west, Angel Island was often about stopping immigrants rather than welcoming them. People could spend weeks, months, or even years there, waiting to pass the tests or appealing deportation rulings. Since being a “paper son” was illegal, secrecy was paramount. The story concentrates on Lee’s feelings about traveling alone to America, staying on Angel Island, and navigating the questioning. Failure would mean deportation, giving up the chance to help his grandparents, and losing the money his family paid. Large-scale illustrations, full-page and two-page bleeds, realistically portray the time and place and will help young readers with context. The authors provide a helpful summary of Angel Island history. Use with Milly Lee’s Landed (Farrar, 2006) and Laurence Yep’s Dragon Child (HarperCollins, 2008) to give young readers a fascinating glimpse into this elusive chapter of American history.

Examiner.com Reviews "Paper Son: Lee's Journey to America"

“Paper Son: Lee’s Journey to America” by Helen Foster James and Virginia Shin-Mui Loh and illustrated by Wilson Ong is a compelling story about a 12-year-old boy from a rural Chinese village who must travel to America to provide for his family in China.
When Lee’s parents are killed by bandits, he learns that they spent all their money and borrowed even more to buy him a “paper son slot” for Lee to go to America and live with a family, work and send money home. His grandparents work to pay off the remainder of the debt — a huge amount by Chinese standards in 1926.
The narration makes it clear that Lee and his grandparents live on the edge of poverty. “Lee knew that they needed farm equipment and a new roof. He remembered nights he’d gone hungry dreaming of steamed fish with brown sauce and long noodles with chicken and bok choy.”
And although Lee really doesn’t want to leave the only family he has left, he listens as his grandmother reminds him that, “In Gum Saan, mountains are topped with gold and streets are paved with silver. Our mountains are topped with wars and our streets are paved with bandits.”
Lee must study his “coaching book,” a book filled with information about his new family. It includes the most minute details about their life; information he must memorize so that the immigration officials will believe that he is related to his new “paper” family.
Lee studies hard and every night his grandfather quizzes him on the details. “How many windows are in the Fu house?” When Lee makes a mistake, his grandfather reminds him how important this is. If he fails to convince the authorities that he is the Fu’s son, they will lose the money and he will be deported.
The story follows Lee as he crosses the ocean and ends up in San Francisco. The passengers on the ship take a boat to Angel Island Immigration Station. There they will be given a physical exam and tested to make sure they are related to an American.
This book teaches readers about the promise of a new country and the lengths that people — young and old — were willing take to get there. The last page is about the history of Angel Island and the immigrants who entered America from the Pacific Ocean.
This picture book is for older readers. The themes (immigration, war, poverty, role playing) are perfect for third and fourth graders studying communities and the history of America.
“Paper Son” would be a great title to use when studying immigration. Teachers should use this book and one of the many books available about European immigration to compare and contrast how the immigration process worked — a study which fits in perfectly with Common Core State Standards.

Kirkus Reviews "Paper Son"

The journey from China to the United States and the experience on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay are fraught with anxiety and peril for 12-year-old Wang Lee.
In order to gain admittance, he takes the “paper son” name Fu Lee, taking the place of someone whose records had burnt in the 1906 earthquake and fire. If he does not pass the examination on Angel Island (the Ellis Island of the West), he will be returned to China. Like many hopeful emigrants, he has carefully memorized each small detail in a “coaching book”: the number of windows in “his” house, its location vis-à-vis neighbors and other minutiae of another family’s home in China. The entire experience is expensive and traumatic, and waiting in the barracks on Angel Island is tiresome, strange and frightening, all at once. To lose family, name and everything else that one knows takes a brave person, desperate for the opportunity that Gum Saam can provide. Fu Lee meets these demands in a book that clearly shows the boy and his fears and hopes. Ong’s paintings of place and persons make the journey, setting and experience come alive. Backmatter on Angel Island provides historical context.
An effective and empathetic depiction of the Angel Island experience. (Picture book. 8-12)

Here are the details: 
Author: Helen Foster James and Virginia Shin-Mui Loh
Illustrator: Wilson Ong
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press (May 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1585368334
ISBN-13: 978-1585368334

S'mores Cheer!

I was visiting the Vista School District library techs last week thanks to a kind invitation for their district librarian, Linda Goodballet. Thank you Linda!

LeDawn Penrod from Mission Meadows Elementary in Oceanside, shared her S.M.O.R.E.S cheer with me. Thank you LeDawn! Give LeDawn's S'mores Cheers a try!


S'mores is the treat
I love the best!

Take a marshmallow
and a chocolate bar
Squish between a
graham cracker —

there you are!

Happy S'mores making and eating!

Paper Son and Angel Island

I'm pleased to announce the historical fiction, picture book manuscript I co-wrote with Virginia Loh about a paper son will be published by Sleeping Bear Press! It will be one of the titles in their series, Tales of Young Americans.

Paper sons emigrated from China to America through Angel Island. To learn more about paper sons and the Angel Island Immigration experience, visit the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation website at: http://www.aiisf.org/

Virginia Shin-Mui Loh is also the author of The Jade Dragon (Candlewick, 2006).

The book will be published in 2014 or 2015. More information to come!

Book of the Year Award

Little California and Little America received Creative Child Awards Program Book of the Year (combined award in the board books category).

Their website is www.creativechild.com.

The books are listed on page 50 of their online catalog.

Had to share!

Happy Holiday Season!

Midwest Book Review

The Easy Reader Shelf

Little America
Helen Foster James, author
Jeannie Brett, Michael Glenn Monroe, and Helle Urban, illustrators
Sleeping Bear Press
Suite 200
315 East Eisenhower Parkway
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
9781585361793 $9.95 www.sleepingbearpress.com

Little America is a board book for beginning readers, written in the format of ten rhyming riddles about American treasures. For example, riddle five is "Baked in the oven, round and sweet, try a slice for a tasty treat," and the answer is "Apple Pie," naturally. Bright, colorful illustrations add the perfect touch to this delightful addition to the "Little" board book series for the very young.