March 20 – World Storytelling Day


About the Holiday

Storytelling has been around as long as people have. We seem to have a natural desire to communicate our thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a factual way as well as creatively. Today’s holiday celebrates both the storytellers and their stories that enrich our lives. Sometimes, of course, there are two sides to a story—as you’ll see in today’s book!

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Edwardian Taylor


You know the drill—Once upon a time there was a poor boy named Jack…. One day this waif woke up to a moo-tivating kiss from his cow Bessie and… Wait, wait! Kids, cover your eyes! And, Jack, “put on some pants!” Phew! Disaster averted! Now where were we? Oh, right. So Jack (now well-dressed) was told that because Bessie had stopped making milk, he had to sell her. He protested, but the mysterious narrator protested right back: “I didn’t WRITE the story, Jack. I’m just telling it.”

Down at the market, Jack received five beans in exchange for Bessie. Of course, this is a fairy tale, and the beans are magic. Jack tried all the magical words he knew to get them to work, but they just sat in the bowl smiling up at him. Yeah, these beans have faces. Overcome by hunger, Jack determined to eat the beans, but there was that pesky narrator again ordering him to throw the beans out the window and then go to bed. As you can imagine—what with selling his best friend and hunger gnawing at his belly—Jack was a bit testy and complainy and countered, “Aww, but I’m not tired. This story keeps getting worse and worse.”


Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2017, text copyright Josh Funk, 2017. Courtesy of Two Lions Publishing.

In the morning, Jack discovered that an enormous beanstalk had grown up overnight. It was so tall that Jack couldn’t even see the top. The narrator told him to start climbing. At first, Jack balked, then he tried to stall by offering to get his climbing gear, but the narrator had already determined that Jack “had no possessions.” Finally, Jack agreed to go, but only if the narrator changed the beanstalk’s size. In a classic “be careful what you wish for” maneuver, the beanstalk suddenly began to grow bigger. “Seriously?” Jack said.

Jack was actually enjoying his climb, especially when he spied Cinderella’s castle with Cindy waving from her balcony. Her voice rang across the distance, inviting Jack to a ball that very night. The narrator was not happy with this delay and urged Jack on. Finally, he reached the top, where “he found himself in front of a humongous house.” Jack pegged it right away as a giant’s abode, but he went inside anyway. As he was looking around at all the mammoth furnishings, he heard the giant’s voice: “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman.”

Heck, Jack knew about poetry and recognized immediately that “that doesn’t even rhyme” and offered an alternative: “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I can see the giant’s bum.” This bit of wordplay just enraged the giant—that, plus his fear that Jack was trying to steal all his best stuff. The giant grabbed Jack and was about to…well, listen for yourself: “Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.” Pretty chilling stuff, but even though Jack was facing imminent danger, he was pretty impressed with the giant’s new rhyme.


Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2017, text copyright Josh Funk, 2017. Courtesy of Two Lions Publishing.

That made the giant happy, and Jack thought this moment of camaraderie was the perfect time to let slip to the giant that “there’s a good chance that you’re going to die at the end of this story.” The giant put on a frowny face, and his eyes began to tear up. It seemed the giant didn’t want to die, so he suddenly decided to become a vegan. Listening to this emotional roller coaster, the narrator started to get steamed because he was losing control of the story. “ENOUGH!!!” he shouted.

“GIANT!” he hollered and ordered him to chase Jack down the beanstalk. “JACK!” he yelled and told him to chop down the beanstalk. All this shouting only served to bond Jack and the Giant in an oversized friendship. They commiserated together and planned to make a taco salad from one of the giant’s recipes. After that they went to Cinderella’s party, where they told everyone about their adventure. And who’s complaining now? You got this—the narrator!

P.S. And, of course, they all lived happily ever after by splitting the giant’s fortune and opening a restaurant named Where Have You Bean? for a whole host of fairy tale customers!


Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2017, text copyright Josh Funk, 2017. Courtesy of Two Lions Publishing.

In Josh Funk’s newest romp, Jack takes matters into his own hands as he revamps his famous story into one that turns out “happily ever after” for all the characters. Along the way readers will laugh at Jack’s feisty repartee with the unseen narrator as he’s swept up in a larger-than-life scenario and uses his wits—and wit—to finally tell his own story in his own way. Young readers will appreciate Jack’s independent spunk, and adults will respond to his sweet nature.

Edwardian Taylor’s noodle-limbed, big-eyed Jack knows how to tug at readers’ heartstrings. Soulfully saying good-bye to Bessie, gazing at his nearly empty plate in anguish, and warily approaching the giant’s castle, Jack will quickly have readers empathizing with his plight and cheering him on as he outwits the gigantic red-bearded giant and turns him into a friend and business partner. And while the giant may be big, kids will soon see that he’s really a softy. Children will love all the big and small details on every page, from the leafy beanstalk to cute Cindy-rella to the gold-coin-laying goose. And if you’ve never seen a purple cow…here’s your chance. The final spread of a packed Where Have You Bean? restaurant gives kids an opportunity to show their knowledge of fairy-tale characters.

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk makes for a spirited and funny read aloud, and would be super performed by a group in classrooms or by clubs, or even by friends or siblings.

Ages 4 – 8

Two Lions, 2017 | ISBN 978-1542045650

Enter the world of Josh Funk and discover more about him and his books as well as plenty of book-related activities on his website!

Learn more about Edwardian Taylor and view a portfolio of his artwork on his website!

World Storytelling Day Activity



This is Not a Yardstick! Yardstick Craft


Need to measure something—like the height of your garden, the amount of rain that fell, or even the number of books you have? You can do it in style with your very own This is Not a Yardstick! yardstick craft.


  • 50-inch wooden stake, available at craft stores
  • Small wooden leaves, 45 – 50, available at craft stores 


  • Light green and dark green foam sheets 
  • Green paint, light and dark
  • Black marker
  • Paint brush
  • Strong glue
  • Flower pot
  • Oasis or clay
  • Ruler
  • Pencil



  1. Paint the wooden stake with the green paint, let dry
  2. With the ruler mark the stake in 1-inch increments along the edge of the stake

How to Make the Leaves

  1. If using wooden leaves, paint half light green and half dark green
  2. If using foam, cut 1 3/4-inch tear-drop shaped leaves (half from light green foam, half from dark green foam), 45 – 50 or as needed
  3. Cut two larger leaves, one from each color to decorate the top of the stake
  4. Draw a line down the center of each leaf’
  5. Write the number of the inch marked on each leaf, from 1 to 45 or higher with the black marker, alternating colors

How to Attach the Leaves

  1. Glue the leaves to the stake, attaching the odd-numbered inch leaves to the left side of the stake and the even-numbered leaves to the right side of the stake.
  2. Attach half of the leaf to the stake, letting the tip stick out from the side
  3. Glue the two larger leaves to the top of the stake

How to Store Your Yardstick

  1. Put the oasis or clay in the flower pot
  2. Stick the stake into the flower pot to keep it handy

Picture Book Review

March 19 – National Let’s Laugh Day


About the Holiday

This world-wide holiday encourages laughter—that spontaneous emotion that makes things better. Humor is universally embraced, bringing together people from all walks of life to enjoy a bit of fun or craziness together. To celebrate today, think back to some times when you had a really good laugh, when something or someone surprised you with the unexpected, or to your favorite funny childhood TV show, movie, or book. Then enjoy the day with your friends, your kids, your pets… or all three with today’s book!

George the Hero Hound

By Jeffrey Ebbeler


“George was a good old hound dog” and the best kind of farm dog. Even before the rooster crowed, he was helping Farmer Fritz with his chores. Farmer Fritz needed a lot of help because there were always slop buckets to carry, the old rusty tractor was always breaking down, and the cows were always “plotting to get out and feast on the cornfield.” But it wasn’t so bad because there was always an afternoon nap on the porch waiting for him. In fact, “he had a good life for a hound dog.”


Copyright Jeffrey Ebbeler, 2018, courtesy of

But one day Farmer Fritz packed up his belonging, put on a Hawaiian shirt and caught the bus to a retirement cabana on the beach where cows, pigs, and, sadly, even dogs weren’t allowed. But George wasn’t alone for long. Soon the Gladstone family moved in with all of their city apartment things and two kids, Owen and Olive. The Gladstones were happy to see the old hound dog. The little boy wanted to be the one to name him.

“George could tell right away that the Gladstone family would need a whole heap of help. There’d be no afternoon naps on the porch for a while.” When Mr. Gladstone tried to fix the tractor, it was George who found the missing part that made it work. When Mr. Gladstone saw that the old dog camouflaged among the rusty tractor parts, he said, “Maybe we should call you Rusty.” But before that name could take hold, the tractor took off on its own. When the tractor smashed through the cows’ fence, George went to work rounding them up and herding “those sneaky cows back into their pen, where they belonged.”


Copyright Jeffrey Ebbeler, 2018, courtesy of

George toddled into the house for a drink of water, but Mrs. Gladstone swept him right back out again, saying, “You are the dustiest dog! I ought to call you Dusty.” George loped off to his dog house when something blue fluttering from a tree caught his attention. Owen came running. It was Olive’s blue scarf, but where was Olive? “George took a good sniff of Olive’s ribbon—he was a hound dog, after all—and off they went.” George followed the scent through the corn field, across a stream, and over a hill. There they found Olive having a tea party with a chicken.


Copyright Jeffrey Ebbeler, 2018, courtesy of

Owen thought George was such a good tracker that they should call him Rover. Happy to have helped find Olive, George figured he’d certainly get his nap now. But they reached the farm just in time to see the tractor crash into the barn and Mrs. Gladstone, who was up a ladder, drop her can of red paint. It landed on George’s head, turning him…”Red!” It was Olive’s first word. Maybe, thought Owen, Red would be a good name for the old hound.


Copyright Jeffrey Ebbeler, 2018, courtesy of

After that day George didn’t get too many naps. But that was okay. Turned out “that he liked herding Olive a lot more than he liked herding cows.” He also taught the Gladstones everything he knew about running the farm and dealing “with those crafty cows.” George was so clever he even devised a plan to “drum up business” on Farmer Fritz’s beach, where the retirees loved the Gladstone’s sweet corn. “Now, if only George could teach his new family one last thing…his name!”


Copyright Jeffrey Ebbeler, 2018, courtesy of

Jeffrey Ebbeler’s sweet hound dog George will capture readers’ hearts as he manages the farm, the wily cows, and the clueless Gladstones with good humor and aplomb. With such a good nature and so many talents, it’s no surprise that George is special to each family member. Ebbeler’s vibrant illustrations are full of humor that will keep kids laughing as the cows plan their escapes, Farmer Fritz and Mr. Gladstone tinker with the tractor on the fritz, and a goggle-eyed chicken becomes Olive’s playmate. Kids will especially like hunting for all the cows hiding, showering, camping, hot-air ballooning, and getting into other shenanigans throughout the book.

A fun and funny read aloud, George the Hero Hound is a day-brightener for any story time at home or in the classroom.

Ages 4 – 8

Two Lions, 2018 | ISBN 978-1503941762

Discover more about Jeffrey Ebbeler, his books, and his art on his website.

National Let’s Laugh Day Activity


Silly Balloons


You can have lots of silly fun with balloons! Try some of these ideas—they’re sure to make you laugh!

Goofy Faces

Blow up a balloon and draw a funny face on it. Rub the balloon on your shirt or a blanket and stick it to the wall, your shirt, or even your mom or dad!

Crazy Hair

Rub a blown-up balloon on your shirt or a blanket (fleece works well) then hold it near your hair and watch it go a little crazy!

Bend Water

This bit of balloon magic will amaze you! Rub a blown-up balloon on a blanket (fleece works well). Turn on a faucet to a thin stream of water. Hold the balloon near the stream of water and watch it bend toward the balloon. 


This is a fun game for two or more people played like volleyball—but with balloons! All you need is a balloon and a line on the floor. Players form teams and bat the balloon back and forth over the line, keeping it in the long as possible. A team wins a point when the opposing team can’t return the balloon.

Picture Book Review

March 18 – National Sloppy Joe Day


About the Holiday

You know when a sandwich gets its own holiday that it must be pretty popular! While there are many theories on the origin of this hot sandwich, no one can dispute that it’s oh, so tasty! Whether you like to take a bit of time adding special ingredients to your sloppy joes or the ease of using a canned sauce, today’s honored meal is always delicious – and is probably a favorite of the little boy in today’s book!

Sloppy Joe

Written by Dave Keane | Illustrated by Denise Brunkus


Joe sits on the sofa, his hair tousled and a mischievous grin on his face. On the end table sits a framed photo of Joe, his hair tousled and a mischievous grin on his face. He tells you, “‘Mom says I’m the first kid in history to take a school picture with gum stuck in his hair.’” What’s the boy’s take on the situation? “‘You can barely notice.’” Joe moves to his room, scattered with toys, books, clothes, sports equipment, and who-knows-what-else. Well… Joe does. It’s just that he can’t find his “bearded dragon, a few of his crickets, and a grilled cheese sandwich” from last summer.


Image copyright Denise Brunkus, 2009, text copyright Dave Keane, 2009. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

Joe is so messy that everyone is always fussing over him, trying to improve his appearance. Joe says he’d “rather be raised by alligators.” Is it hard for Joe to be so sloppy? Nah, he’s always been that way! Grandma and Grandpa know all about how messy Joe can be when he eats, so when the family visits they spread newspapers under his chair and all the way into the living room to catch any rolling meatballs.


Image copyright Denise Brunkus, 2009, text copyright Dave Keane, 2009. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

Sloppiness isn’t Joe’s only talent, though. He’s also the best frog catcher in the neighborhood. Where does he keep them? Let’s just say they like to surprise Joe’s mom when she puts away the laundry. His dad is always happy to have Joe help out too, even if he did spill a little paint when fixing the fence, knock the bird bath over with hose spray, and snip the flowers off the bush while trimming it 


Image copyright Denise Brunkus, 2009, text copyright Dave Keane, 2009. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

Are there downsides to being so sloppy? Maybe one or two—like when his friend’s mom won’t let him in the house even though he wiped his feet and that time when his best jokes didn’t get him out of trouble. When that happened, Sloppy Joe decided to become Neat Joe. He dressed in his best clothes, combed his hair, and cleaned up his room. He even gave the dog a bath. And he didn’t stop there. He set the table for dinner, complete with weed centerpieces and frogs holding place cards.


Image copyright Denise Brunkus, 2009, text copyright Dave Keane, 2009. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

But his family hardly noticed. It turns out they all had the flu. So Joe sprang into action with cold socks for their foreheads, homemade soup, germ spray, and some new jokes that, admittedly, made them groan a little louder. With all this care taking, Joe’s clothes have become a bit disheveled and the kitchen is a little messy, but when Grammy gets there to help out, she’s sure to notice a difference. So what does his family “think of the new Neat Joe? ‘He reminds me of the old Sloppy Joe,’ Dad says. ‘And he’s a very special kid,’ Mom says.”


Image copyright Denise Brunkus, 2009, text copyright Dave Keane, 2009. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

Dave Keane taps into that free-wheeling kid messiness that happens when curious kids meet dirt, animals, food, toys, chores…well, just about anything. Keane’s classic storytelling will have readers giggling at Joe’s shenanigans while appreciating that underneath all the stained clothes, muddy shoes, and tangled hair lies a heart of gold.

Drawn with Denise Brunkus’s distinctive flair, Joe is rumpled, disheveled, oblivious—and happy. With frogs in his pockets, a pair of aviator glasses on his head, and a room filled top to bottom with stuff, Joe is a whirlwind that will make kids laugh with recognition. Children and adults will want to hunker down together to point out all the funny details of both Sloppy and Neat Joe’s world.

For laugh-out-loud story times at home and in the classroom, Sloppy Joe can’t be beat.

Ages 4 – 8

HarperCollins, 2009 | ISBN 978-0061710209

Discover more about Dave Keane and his books on his website

National Sloppy Joe Day Activity


Recycling is Neat! Coloring Pages


Getting messy is fun, but cleaning up can be fun too! Enjoy these printable activities about recycling.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycling Coloring Page | Recycle in the Park Maze

Picture Book Review

March 17 – It’s National Women’s History Month


About the Holiday

National Women’s History Month is all about celebrating women who broke barriers with their intelligence, creativity, courage, persistence, and unwavering confidence in their abilities. In every discipline, women brought new perspectives, experiences, and talents to make an impact and undeniable, unforgettable contributions that made the world better. Today’s book highlights a true original whose success is no mystery

Kate Warne: Pinkerton Detective

Written by Marissa Moss | Illustrated by April Chu


As Kate read the newspaper advertisement from the Pinkerton Agency for the third time, she knew that this was the job for her. It said: “Wanted: Detective. Must be observant, determined, fearless, and willing to travel.” But in 1856 no one would hire a single woman, so Kate decided to present herself as a widow.

Kate had been raised by her father, a printer. Books had always been her companions, and she knew how to make up a story—even the story of her life. “So Kate Carter became Kate Warne…exactly the kind of person you’d want to hire as a detective.” As soon as she walked through the door, Allan Pinkerton began writing down his impressions of Kate. He thought she was a client seeking help. From her manner and appearance, he knew he would take her case—whatever it was.

But when Kate told him she was applying for a job, he told her he “had no need for a washerwoman or cook.” Kate told him she was there to apply for the detective position. Pinkerton had reservations. The dangerous work was “not at all the sort of thing a woman could do,” he said. But Kate disagreed. She told him that she would be able to go into places his male detectives could not and could be the confidant of women witnesses. Pinkerton told her he would think it over.


Image copyright April Chu, text copyright Marissa Moss. Courtesy of Creston Books.

The next day Kate was at the office as soon as it opened. “Today, you’ve made some history,” Pinkerton told her, “You’re now the first woman detective in the country.” He handed her a file marked The Adams Express Case. As she read the case, Kate felt a thrill of excitement. “The Adams Express Company transported money and valuables for businesses all over the South, by rail, steamboat, and stagecoach.” Valuables were well protected by locks that couldn’t be picked.

But $40,000 had disappeared. One suspect stood out from the rest—Nathan Maroney, the manager of the Montgomery office where the packages had come from. He had been the last person to lock up the carrying pouch before the messenger, Mr. Chase, transported it to Atlanta, where it was found to be empty. Maroney was arrested, but there was little hard evidence—only a slit in the pouch that had not been there before Maroney was accused.

Kate considered the problem then remembered the sleight of hand tricks huskers used to fool people. She figured out how Maroney had stolen the money, but they needed more evidence and a confession. While a male agent pretended to be a fellow thief named “John White” in the same jail cell as Maroney, Kate befriended Maroney’s wife, Belle, pretending to be Madame Imbert. While Belle didn’t confess to the theft, she did ask her new friend for advice on where to hide valuables. Kate told her she hid her valuables in the basement or buried them in the garden.


Image copyright April Chu, text copyright Marissa Moss. Courtesy of Creston Books.

When Belle left town to visit her husband in jail, Kate took the opportunity to do some snooping at her house. Just as Kate found a freshly dug mound behind crates and barrels in the basement, she heard Belle returning home. She hurriedly put everything back in place and rushed upstairs. Belle was suspicious of the dust on Kate’s dress, and Kate knew she and the other agents had to act fast. She alerted another agent who crawled through the basement window while Belle slept. He tidied up the basement, and the next morning when Belle checked her hiding place, everything was in order. She could still trust her friend she thought.

The Pinkerton Agency plan was going like clockwork. Inside the jail cell, Maroney put his faith—and his money—in the detective’s hands. Maroney wrote to Belle, telling her that John White was going to help them. He instructed her to give John White all the money he had stolen. White was going to plant some of it on Mr. Chase, use some of it to bribe a judge to find Maroney not guilty at trial, and keep the rest for Maroney to collect later. At first, Belle didn’t trust John White, but one sentence from her friend “Madame Imbert” eased her mind and she went along with her husband’s plan.

As the ingenious plan was hatched and carried out, Kate made sure that all the money was secure. The money made its way to the Pinkerton agent “Mr. White” with Belle and Maroney none the wiser. As Maroney’s trial proceeded, and he heard Mr. White called as the first witness, Maroney suddenly changed his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty.” “The reputation of the Pinkerton agency was made. So was Kate Warne’s.”

Kate became one of the agency’s most valuable detectives. She was even put in charge of a women’s division and hired many more women who became “some of Pinkerton’s strongest agents.” But Kate Warne, the first woman detective in America, would always be considered the best.


Image copyright April Chu, text copyright Marissa Moss. Courtesy of Creston Books.

An Author’s Note explaining more about the Pinkerton Detective Agency and the first woman detective follow the text.

Children who love mysteries will be enthralled with this true tale of the first woman detective in America and her explosive first assignment. Marissa Moss’s suspenseful, compelling storytelling and excellent pacing reveal the facts of the case, Kate’s insightful reasoning, and the clever ruses the agents used in outsmarting and capturing the thief. Moss infuses the story with the feeling of the time period and a sense of pride in this little-known piece of women’s history.

April Chu’s detailed period drawings take kids to the mid-1800s to follow Kate Warne as she solves her first case. Depictions of Kate’s father’s printing press, the dirt roads traversed by horse-drawn wagons and carriages, the Adams Express locked pouches and secure rail car will excite history and mystery buffs. The full cast of characters are clearly portrayed, allowing young readers to become detectives themselves as they see the action through Kate’s eyes. The dramatic finale to the case will have children on the edge of their seats whether they are hearing the story aloud or reading it themselves.

Kate Warne: Pinkerton Detective is a thrilling picture book introduction to both biographies and mysteries for children. It offers a unique look at the contributions of strong women in history and is an excellent selection for school, public, and home libraries.

Ages 5 – 13

Creston Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1939547330

Visit with Marissa Moss on her website to discover more about her, her books, and loads of fun activities!

View a gallery of artwork by April Chu on her website!

National Women’s History Month Activity


Mysterious Mystery Word Search Puzzle


Do a little sleuthing to find the twenty mystery-related words in this printable Mysterious Mystery Word Search Puzzle! Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

March 16 – World Sleep Day


About the Holiday

Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the best things you can do for yourself. But a long, deep sleep can be so elusive. Today’s holiday was established to spotlight the issues of sleep problems and offer the latest findings in medication and management options. A restful night’s sleep often begins with a pre-bedtime routine that’s relaxing and prepares you for sleep. Children also benefit from nighttime routines. One of the best is bedtime storytime!

My Bed

By Anita Bijsterbosch


The sky is dark and the stars are out. Reindeer, Bear, Hare, Fox, Bunny, Mouse and Mouse, and Mole and Mole have been playing, but their eyes are getting droopy. It’s time for everyone to sleep. “‘Time to go to bed!’ Reindeer says.” She makes her way to the little white bed with the pink blanket, takes off her blue slippers, and begins to snooze. But her head, propped up with pillows, hangs off one end, and his back legs hang off the other. It makes you wonder: “…is this really Reindeer’s bed?”


Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, 2018, courtesy of Clavis Publishing.

“No! This is Raccoon’s bed.” Raccoon hangs her pink hat on the bedpost and tucks her pink slippers next to the bed. Then she climbs under the pink blanket and goes to sleep. “Good night, Raccoon.” Reindeer says. Now Reindeer remembers! She sleeps in the top bed of the red bunk bed. She climbs in and pulls up the green blanket with yellow dots and the pink blanket with light pink dots. But they’re so small they don’t cover her at all.

But this isn’t Reindeer’s bed either. The top bunk is Mole’s, and after she hangs her pink hat with the light pink dots on the bedpost and pulls up the pink blanket, she’s fast asleep. The bottom bunk is Mole’s, who hangs her green and yellow hat on the opposite bedpost, pulls up the green and yellow blanket and drifts off to dreamland. Reindeer puts her slippers back on and goes in search of her bed once again.


Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, 2018, courtesy of Clavis Publishing.

It doesn’t take long before she finds one blue and one orange hammock hanging from the ceiling. “‘This is my bed, Reindeer says. ‘Just look at how nicely I’m hanging here!’” She puts a slipper on each of the four train cars on the little track and shuts her eyes. She had just begun to doze, however, when Mouse, wearing a blue hat and slippers, and Mouse, wearing an orange hat and slippers, came over to take back their beds. “‘Good night, Mouse and Mouse.” Reindeer says.


Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, 2018, courtesy of Clavis Publishing.

Next, Reindeer tries the blue canopy bed, but that is Fox’s bed. The little green car bed is cozy, but that one belongs to Hare, and the tiny daybed is much too small for Reindeer but fits Bunny just right. Finally, Reindeer finds a beautiful wrought-iron bed with a blanket as wide as the night sky and a soft pillow. “‘Aha!’ Reindeer calls. ‘This is my lovely bed. I fit in it perfectly!’” Unfortunately for Reindeer, “Bear fits in this bed too.”


Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, 2018, courtesy of Clavis Publishing.

Reindeer puts her slippers on again and keeps looking. At last she spies a nice green bed with an antler decoration on the footboard. But something isn’t quite right. “‘Look!’” Reindeer says. ‘I found the perfect bed for me. But Owl is asleep in my bed.’” Suddenly, Owl wakes up, jumps out from underneath the covers and puts on her hat. “‘Hoot!’ Owl hoots. ‘I sleep during the day. Now it is your turn.’”

Reindeer snuggles in with a “‘Thank you for keeping my bed warm’” to Owl. “Then she falls fast asleep.” As Owl flies by each window, she sees everyone snoozing soundly. “Good night, everyone. We all sleep best in our own bed.”


Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, 2018, courtesy of Clavis Publishing.

Anita Bijsterbosch adorable game-within-a-book makes bedtime fun while encouraging little ones to sleep in their own bed. Each page is cleverly designed as clues in the animals’ clothing colors and patterns match up with beds and blankets. Young readers will love hunting for these hints as well as noticing who is missing from the page before they open the gate fold to discover the answer.  Bijsterbosch’s vibrant and cheery pages also give adults plenty to talk about with children, including putting toys away before bedtime, use of nightlights, counting, colors, and even a little science about nocturnal animals. Kids will giggle as Reindeer scrunches herself into tiny beds and smile at the camaraderie of this group of friends. The emphasized phrasing of “my bed” reinforces the idea that everyone has their own most comfortable bed to sleep in.

My Bed would make a terrific gift and an excellent addition to home bookshelves for little ones transitioning to a “big kid bed” or just for bedtime or nap time story time.

Ages 2 – 6

Clavis, 2018 | ISBN 978-1605373874

Clavis sent me a copy of My Bed to check out. All opinions are my own.

Discover more about Anita Bijsterbosch her books and her art on her website

World Sleep Day Activity


Bedtime Fun Coloring Page


These little monkeys are monkeying around before going to sleep. You can have fun coloring them before you go to sleep!

Bedtime Fun Coloring Page

Picture Book Review

March 15 – It’s National Craft Month


About the Holiday

Does just walking through the door of Michael’s or A.C. Moore make your heart beat faster? Do your cabinets overflow with bottles of paint, glitter, ribbon, lace, and empty bottles and boxes? If so, then March is the month for you! This month we celebrate the creative energy and unique perspectives that result in beautiful, one-of-a-kind decor or clothing, fun group projects for kids and adults, and successful home-based businesses. Homemade love is also one of the best ways to show friends or family members how you feel—as you’ll see in today’s book. There are so  many reasons and ways to indulge your love of all things crafty this month—so what are you waiting for?!  

Sister Day!

Written by Lisa Mantchev | Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez


As Lizzie and her big sister, Jane, sit on a quilt watching the clouds, Lizzie tells how she loves that Jane has “the best imagination” and “can make up all kinds of things in her very own head.” Lizzie wants to play dress up, but Jane says, “not now.” How about telling a story? Jane can’t do that either because she’s going to her friend Emma’s house soon. “‘Maybe when you get home?’” Lizzie asks. “‘Maybe,’” says Jane.


Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright Lisa Mantchev, 2017. Courtesy of

Jane is gone all day. Night falls and still Jane isn’t home. Lizzie waits in the window seat and watches and watches. Finally, Jane is home! Lizzie shows her the fort she made using all the blankets. It will be perfect for telling stories under, but now Jane has to do her homework. “‘You’re always busy.’” Lizzie says. The next day the sisters look at the calendar. It’s almost full except for one Saturday. Suddenly, Lizzie has an idea for a wonderful surprise. She takes the pink crayon and “circles, circles, circles that Saturday.”


Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright Lisa Mantchev, 2017. Courtesy of

On Monday while Jane has soccer practice, Lizzie works on a dragon referee. On Tuesday instead of copying Jane’s jumps and twirls at ballet, Lizzie puts “tutus on sugarplum fairies.” On Wednesday during Jane’s piano lesson, Lizzie tunes up her imaginary orchestra. Thursday is karate day, and while Jane does her moves, Lizzie “sneaks, sneaks, sneaks to a quiet corner to finish up [her] surprise.” On Friday Jane goes to Emma’s again after school, and Lizzie gets help from Mom baking Jane’s favorite treat.


Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright Lisa Mantchev, 2017. Courtesy of

Early Saturday morning, Lizzie grabs her sketchbook, her scissors, and some tape. It takes an hour and the whole roll of tape to make the surprise. Then Lizzie goes to Jane’s room. She knocks on the door. When there’s no answer, Lizzie opens the door. Jane’s room is empty. Lizzie runs “downstairs, yelling, ‘Mom, have you seen Jane?’” When Lizzie enters the kitchen, she finds Jane “wearing a T-shirt covered in glittery glue.” She made them at Emma’s house, Jane says as she hands one to Lizzie. 

Lizzie puts it on and pulls Jane into the living room. Pictures and decorations cover the walls, and delicious cupcakes and drinks are on the table. “‘Surprise! I wrote you a story!’” Lizzie says. “‘Happy Sister Day!’” As Jane looks around, she tells Lizzie, “‘You didn’t just draw a story, Lizzie. You made a whole lot of magic.’” Lizzie hugs her big sister. “‘It runs in the family,’” she says.


Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright Lisa Mantchev, 2017. Courtesy of

Lisa Mantchev captures the happiness and disappointments of sibling relationships in her sweet story. In today’s busy family life, sisters—and brothers—don’t always get to spend as much time together as they might like. Mantchev reveals, however, that close bonds remain in the heart. Young readers will be enchanted by this loving sister duo and the surprise ending that shows a shared understanding and devotion between them. Sister Day! may inspire families to hold special sister and or brother days to let siblings connect and develop their unique relationship.


Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright Lisa Mantchev, 2017. Courtesy of

In her beautiful, light illustrations, Sonia Sánchez replicates the positive, happy relationship between Lizzie and Jane. As each day brings a new activity for Jane, readers will recognize the reality of a younger sibling waiting for the older one to finish. As Lizzie uses this time to draw her story, children will see that even though Lizzie and Jane aren’t together, they are thinking of each other. Lizzie’s imagination is creatively shown through transparent fantasy creatures who keep Lizzie company during Jane’s absence. Sánchez’s lovely color palette and delicate, detailed drawings invite children to spend time with these best-friend sisters.

Sister Day! would make a wonderful gift and a charming addition to sisters’ home libraries

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1481437950

Discover more about Lisa Mantchev and her books for children, young adults, and adults on her website!

National Craft Month Activity


I Love You Jar


Show your friends or family members how much they mean to you with this jar full of love!


  • Small to medium size decorative jar or a recycled jar
  • Red felt or heavy paper
  • Scissors


  1. Cut enough small hearts from the red felt or paper to fill the jar one-half to three-fourths full
  2. Fill the jar with the hearts
  3. Give it to your friend, sister, brother, mom, dad—anyone you love—and watch them smile!

Picture Book Review

March 14 – Moth-er Day and Interview with Author Karlin Gray


About the Holiday

Did you know that some moths are even more beautiful than butterflies? It’s true! Adorned in vibrant oranges, greens, blues, and reds and with patterns more intricate than the finest fabrics, moths are some of nature’s loveliest creatures. With spring right around the corner, moths will once again be emerging in woods, fields, and gardens, so today take a little time to celebrate these often overlooked insects and learn more about them and their habitats.

Sleeping Bear Press sent me a copy of An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth to check out. All opinions are my own. I’m also partnering with Sleeping Bear Press for an Extraordinary Giveaway! Learn more below.

An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth

Written by Karlin Gray | Illustrated by Steliyana Doneva


As a grayish-brown moth flits among the leaves framed by the full moon, he says, “I’m an ordinary moth, / as you can plainly see. / A dusty, grayish, dull insect— / nothing-special me.”  He compares himself to the Luna Moth “who floats in graceful green” and to the Spider Moth who’s “so cool at Halloween!” He’s nothing like the Hummingbird Moth who mimics its namesake bird, and he can’t hide like the Wood Nymph Moth that looks like “birdy dung.” He’s much smaller than the Atlas Moth and not as pretty as a butterfly. While all of these are special—extraordinary even—this little guy thinks he is just “a dusty, grayish moth— / very ordinary.”


Image copyright Steliyana Doneva, 2018, text copyright Karlin Gray, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

But then a little boy runs through the yard shouting “‘A moth! A moth!’” The moth freezes against a wall, afraid and unsure and hoping to hide. But when the moth sees the excitement in the boy’s eyes, he moves “toward his joyful light.” He lands in the boy’s hands, uncertain still if he’ll be shooed away. And sure enough, the boy’s sister screams, “‘Ew, a bug!’” When she knocks her brother’s hand away, the moth flies off.


Image copyright Steliyana Doneva, 2018, text copyright Karlin Gray, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

The moth hears the boy tell his sister, “‘Hey, it’s an insect—not a bug— / and my favorite kind!’” then he sees the boy trailing him “all through the yard. / with her two steps behind.” She thinks the moth is nothing special, but her brother disagrees. And as the moth alights on his finger, he shows her why. What looks like dust are really “‘scales that keep him warm at night. / And they flake off in a web so he escapes all right.’”


Image copyright Steliyana Doneva, 2018, text copyright Karlin Gray, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

The little girl’s a bit more interested but thinks his color is “kind of blah.” The boy explains that the moth is the color of tree bark and can camouflage himself during the day while he sleeps. Then at night he’s ready to fly, guided by moonlight and the scents he smells through his antennae. Now the little girl thinks the moth is pretty cool. She calls their mom to come and see, and when Mom wants to know what bug they found, “the girl says, ‘Mom—a moth’s an insect, / and out favorite kind!’”

Hearing that, the moth soars in the moonlight with a new self image—“So how ‘bout THAT?! / I’m someone’s FAVORITE! / Little grayish me— / proof of how / EXTRAORDINARY / ordinary can be.”


Image copyright Steliyana Doneva, 2018, text copyright Karlin Gray, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Ten Extraordinary Facts about Moths, as well as an activity for constructing a moth observation box follow the text.

Through her vivacious rhymes, Karlin Gray elevates the “ordinary” back-porch moth to star status with fascinating facts that will lure kids to discover more. The conversational verses echo a sweet sibling relationship while the moth, overhearing them, begins to appreciate himself. The bookending of the children’s story with the moth’s thoughts—first comparing himself to other moths and later realizing his own merits—will encourage readers to think about the nature of nature and about the importance of positive interactions with others. Told from the moth’s point of view, the story also has a deeper meaning, reminding readers that, like this moth, people also have special talents  that make them exceptional. Taking extra time to really learn about another’s unique qualities and to get to know them is exciting and has benefits for all.  


Image copyright Steliyana Doneva, 2018, text copyright Karlin Gray, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Steliyana Doneva’s gorgeous illustrations of moths and butterflies will dazzle insect-loving kids and convert the more squeamish. Doneva captures each delicate marking and texture of the little grayish moth as it flits in the light and camouflages itself on the wall and tree. The moth is also well spotlighted against Doneva’s vibrant backyard oasis where the little boy and his sister discover him. Nighttime scenes sparkle with starlight, and the full moon brings out the rich blues of an evening sky. The boy’s enthusiasm for moths and nature is infectious and will captivate young readers, enticing them to look closer at the world around them.

An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth is a beautiful, eye-opening book that would spur further discovery for nature and science lovers at home and in science or STEM classrooms.

Ages 4 – 8

Sleeping Bear Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1-58536-372-8

Discover more about Karlin Gray and her books on her website.

View a portfolio of work by Steliyana Doneva and learn more about her on her website.

Download and have fun with these An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth Activity Sheets!

An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth Matching | An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth Fill in the Blank

It’s An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth Giveaway!

 I’m thrilled to partner with Sleeping Bear Press in this giveaway for An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth!

I’m giving away two awesome prize packages:

  • Prize 1 is a copy of An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth and a Sleeping Bear Press Tote Bag
  • Prize 2 is a Skype visit by author Karlin Gray for classrooms or schools

To be entered to win, just follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and retweet a giveaway tweet during this week, March 14 – 21. Already a follower? Thanks! Just retweet for a chance to win.

A winner will be chosen on March 22.

Giveaways open to US addresses only. | Prizing provided by Sleeping Bear Press.

Moth-er Day Activity


Beautiful Moths Game


Moths go through many stages of metamorphosis—from egg to caterpillar to cocoon— before they finally emerge as a moth. In this game, help six moths emerge from their cocoons to win!




  1. Print a Tree Branch Game Board and set of Moth Cards for each player
  2. Print one Moth Playing Die
  3. Choose a player to go first
  4. The first player rolls the die and places the matching moth card on one of the cocoons on the Tree Branch Game Board
  5. Play then moves to the player on the left
  6. Players continue to roll the die and place moths on each cocoon
  7. If a player rolls a moth that they already have placed on their game board, they pass the die to the next player and wait for their next turn.
  8. The player who fills their Tree Branch with moths first is the winner

Meet Karlin Gray


Today I’m excited to talk with Karlin Gray about how moths became extraordinary in her eyes, what types of characters she’s drawn to, and what might be the best holiday in the world

Did you like to write as a child? How did you get started writing books for children?

Yes, I did like to write as a child. When I was little, I would retell stories like Alice in Wonderland, changing the names and some details. Someone must have explained ‘plagiarism’ to me and, eventually, I learned to write my own stories.

I started writing picture books when my son was a toddler (about seven years ago). I joined a local writing center where I workshopped all three of my contracted books, including AN EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY MOTH.

Before you began working in the publishing field and writing for children, you worked for newspapers. Can you talk a little about that experience? What did you like most about it? Has it influenced your work for children?

After college, my first two jobs were graphic design positions at weekly newspapers in Northern Virginia and D.C. I loved learning about the publishing process—how words and images were selected, designed, printed, and distributed. It’s a fast-paced, exhausting business. But those jobs taught me to work on a deadline which helps me as a children’s book writer, for sure!

What inspired you to write about moths?

My son. When he was three, he announced that the moth was his favorite insect. I imagined that moth was having a bad day—comparing himself to “cooler” moths like the Luna moth or Spider moth—and then overheard my son’s statement. It’s a nice reminder that sometimes it takes just one kind comment to improve someone’s day.

What do you think makes the “ordinary” extraordinary?

Perspective. My son saw something special in a creature that I never really considered. But his interest piqued my interest, so I did some research. That led me to learning several amazing things about moths. Now, instead of shooing them away, I celebrate moths in An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth.

What was your process in writing An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth?

Once the first line popped into my head—“I’m an ordinary moth, as you can plainly see…”—the story was set in rhyme. Usually, I research then write a story. But here, I did my research as I wrote the manuscript. The first draft took a couple days and was MESSY. I workshopped the manuscript on and off for two years, tightening the story, rhyme, and meter. I eliminated a whole stanza where the ordinary moth compares itself to other moths like the poodle moth. Trust me, it wasn’t easy cutting out the poodle moth! But, like they say, sometimes you have to kill your darlings.

Do you have a favorite place to write? If so, can you describe it a little? Do you have a favorite thing on your desk or in your writing space?

In my house I have an office but I don’t do much writing there. I usually move from the dining table to the kitchen table to the outside table when it’s warm.

In an earlier interview, you mentioned that you had “stories about presidents, magicians, explorers, athletes, mermaids, monsters, scarecrows, cats, mice, and one sad moth” in your desk drawer. What types of characters—or personalities—attract your creative interest? Do you have a preference for nonfiction? If so, why?

Oh yeah, I guess I’ll have to change that since the “sad moth” is out of the drawer and on the cover of a book. I’m a sucker for characters whose “flaws” are really their strengths, and I love a good finding-your-tribe story. Both nonfiction and fiction stories appeal to me but I enjoy the challenge of taking a true story and translating it into a picture book—selecting a character and timeframe, finding dialogue and active details, setting the tone and style, and staying true to the facts as well as the heart of the story.

In your website biography you have links to “things you like.” These are amazing and range from The American Mural Project to Storyline Online to the Landfill Harmonic. Can you talk about what draws you to these types of projects? Why do you think they are important not only for those directly involved in them, but for all kids—and adults?

Those two projects have a lot of heart. I met Ellen—she is a tiny person who has a big personality and a HUGE dream. The fact that one person had a goal to make the biggest indoor art installation is worthy of a book right there! And the Landfill Harmonic group—kids making music with trash!—was made into a book, Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood. I think both of those stories appeal to kids because it shows them that there are no limitations in art.

What’s the best part about writing for kids?

So many things…but probably the best is when kids tell me that they want to be a writer when they grow up. My response is always: “If I could do it, you can do it.”

You share your books at school and bookstore events. Do you have any anecdote from an event you’d like to share?

Twice a month I volunteer at a nearby school where I read books selected by the teacher. When I read my first book NADIA to the kids, the first graders had a hard time believing that I was the author. They knew me as someone who visited every other week and read a book from their shelves. They didn’t know me as a writer so that was a fun surprise for them.

What’s up next for you?

My next picture book is a biography of Serena Williams—SERENA: THE LITTLEST SISTER—and will be published in early 2019.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Probably New Year’s Eve. We can see the town fireworks from our back deck so we invite a few families over for a casual get-together. It’s a nice way to end the year and the kids love staying up past midnight.

And, until your email, I didn’t know there was a Moth-er Day. (Not to be confused with Mother’s Day.) Very cool. The moth is also celebrated during National Moth Week in July:

Do you have any anecdote from a holiday that you’d like to share?

When I was 10-14 years old, I lived in Japan because my dad worked with the military. I remember feeling sorry for Japanese kids because they didn’t celebrate holidays like Christmas or Halloween. But once I discovered that they had an even better holiday—Children’s Day!!—then I just felt sorry for myself.

Thanks so much for this great chat, Karlin! I wish you all the best with An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth and all of your books!


You can find An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth at these booksellers:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Sleeping Bear Press

You can connect with Karlin Gray on

Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Picture Book Review