March 23 – Near Miss Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday commemorates a most auspicious moment in history that never happened! On March 23, 1989 a huge asteroid missed hitting Earth by only 500,000 miles. Did you feel the breeze as it blew by? Yeah, me too! I think we can all remember exactly where we were when we happily escaped suffering the same fate as the dinosaurs. So drink a toast to serendipity and the gravity of natural forces.

Oh No, Astro!

Written by Matt Roeser | Illustrated by Brad Woodard

 

Astro was not a typical asteroid. Instead of zooming around crashing into obstacles, he believed in “personal outer space” and had for millions of years. One day when Astro spies an approaching satellite, he greets him cordially and lays down the rules: “please keep your distance” and “stay in your orbit.” But the satellite ignores him and comes closer and closer until…

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-oh-no-astro-interior-art-satellite

Image copyright Brad Woodard, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

“‘Good gravity! You’ve struck me!” Astro exclaims. He’s just about to “point out to the satellite that it had done considerable damage to one of his favorite craters” when he discovers that he is spinning out of his orbit and out of control. How humiliating! The usually unflappable space rock suddenly finds himself hurtling past Mars. At the same time young astronomer, Nova, is “enjoying a quiet night of stargazing” through her telescope. She catches sight of Astro as he zips past an astronaut, rushes past the Moon, and finds himself on an inevitable collision course with Earth.

As he enters Earth’s atmosphere he begins to break apart, shedding bits of the past, as the universe watches. He lands on Earth with a SMASH! Reeling from the impact Astro slowly opens one eye and then the other. He finds that he’s smaller but in one piece. Standing by is Nova, waiting to welcome him to his new home. “‘My stars,’” he mutters. “‘Dare I say that was…FUN?!’”

And as Astro gazes at the night sky from a fresh perspective with Nova by his side, he asks, “‘What on Earth shall we do next?!’”

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Image copyright Brad Woodard, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

For anyone stuck in the rut of their own orbit, Matt Roeser’s story of the unwitting space traveler is a humorous invitation to explore the universe around them. Roeser’s language—from calling asteroids “rambunctious” and the satellite a “celestial wanderer” to exclamations of “good gravity!” and “Pluto’s revenge!”—is an inspired treat. Kids and adults will laugh at Astro’s attempts to handle his undesirable predicament with dignity. Complacent Astro with his dry-as-space-dust wit and sparkling puns makes a stellar guide on this journey to more self-discovery and life enjoyment.

In the hands of Brad Woodard, deep space is a very cute and cool place! Rendered in flat tones of black, aqua, yellow, red, and white, Woodard’s illustrations give Oh No, Astro! a retro feel for a space-savvy audience. The oblivious satellite floats through Astro’s orbit with wide eyes and a sweet grin, while angular Astro with his stick arms, expressive face, and boldly displayed “No loitering” banner would be a welcome alien intruder in any back yard. Inquisitive and inclusive Nova, in her ponytails and Saturn-patterned dress, is the perfect companion to greet him! The night sky abounds with constellations, but Astro is the real star!

In the final pages, Astro leads readers in a “A Selection of Space Facts” from the  very Manual of the Cosmos, 2nd edition that he used to sort things out in  his own life. A short list of suggested reading is also included.

Kids would love to find Oh No, Astro! on their bookshelf for story times of cosmic fun!

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-1481439763

Visit Matt Roeser’s Website to discover his gallery of book jacket designs!

You can learn more about design and illustration work by Brad Woodard at Brave the Woods!

Near Miss Day Activity

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Name That Asteroid! Word Search

 

Can you find the names of 20 asteroids floating around in this printable Name That Asteroid! Word Search Puzzle? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

March 22 – World Water Day

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About the Holiday

March 22 was designated as World Water Day by the United Nations to bring awareness to the important issue of fresh water for the world’s citizens. Today, 1.8 billion people use sources of water that are contaminated, posing a constant risk of deadly diseases. The Sustainable Development Goals, instituted in 2015, have targeted a deadline of 2030 to provide access to clean water for everyone. This year’s theme is “Wastewater,” and revolves around the development of science and engineering solutions that would allow wastewater to be recycled and used in gardens, green spaces, cooling systems, and irrigation. Now more than ever, we all have a responsibility to keep the environment clean and safe. To celebrate today’s holiday find out how you can help!

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle

Written by Miranda Paul | Illustrated by Jason Chin

 

On a soaking rainy day a sister and brother run up to the house with a turtle they’ve caught in the pond out back. They drink glasses of water and offer a bowlful for the turtle too. “Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup.” Out on the porch Dad is ready with warm mugs of hot chocolate. The ghostly steam tickles their noses. “Whirl. Swirl. Watch it curl by. Steam is steam unless…it cools high.” As the kids return the turtle to the pond they watch a dragon and an eagle play across the sky. “Clouds are clouds unless…they form low.”

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Image copyright Jason Chin, text copyright Miranda Paul. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Through the misty fog the school bus rumbles up the hill as a little garter snake wriggles in the fallen leaves at the end of the children’s driveway. By the time the bus drops the kids off at school the fog has turned to rain. It plinks on the sidewalks and pounds the earth, creating puddles just in time for recess. “Slosh in galoshes. Splash to your knees! Puddles are puddles unless…puddles freeze.”

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Image copyright Jason Chin, text copyright Miranda Paul. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com

The turtle is hiding now that winter’s come, and a group of friends slip and speed across the pond, some playing hockey, some figure skating, and a couple just learning the ropes. Then suddenly it’s snowing! A brilliant red cardinal watches from the birdfeeder as three sneaky kids with snowballs spy on their friends who are building a snowman. With a “smack!” the snowball fight begins. Soon, however, spring is back with rushing streams and “Creep. Seep. Squish in your boots” mud. And that “mud is mud unless…there are roots.”

The apple trees in the backyard soak up the spring rains that feed the red, plump apples that are apples “unless…they get pressed. Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup. Cider is cider…until we drink it up!”

More information about water, including illustrated definitions of water-related terms, percentages of water in a variety of plants and creatures, and its importance to the world as well as suggestions for further reading, follow the text.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-water-is-water-making cider

Image copyright Jason Chin, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Miranda Paul’s lyrical journey through a year of our interactions with water is a beautiful reminder of all the forms water takes. From life-filled ponds to pouring rains to glasses of refreshment, water sustains every creature and plant on earth. Paul’s transitional “unless…” elegantly introduces each transformation in the natural water cycle in a way that children recognize and appreciate. Her rich rhyming and rhythmical language is a joy to read and makes Water an active character in the story.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-water-is-water-drinking-cider

Image copyright Jason Chin, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Jason Chin’s superb artwork is as lush and dynamic as the world around us. Each two-page spread is a masterpiece of atmosphere and details that bring not only water’s cycle to life but also that of the children, growing and playing in and around water throughout the year. As the children shelter from the rain at the beginning of the book, a bushel of apples sits snug against the cider press in the corner of the porch foreshadowing the final pages where fresh cider fuels summer fun. Chin’s children are real kids—joyful and playful, enthusiastically and humorously interacting with nature and each other with the kind of abandon that makes hearts sing. Young readers and adults will love lingering over each page.

Water is Water: A Story of the Water Cycle is the kind of book that can get kids excited about one of the quieter aspects of science—but one that is so important to our daily lives. It would make a wonderful accompaniment to elementary school lesson plans and a gorgeous addition to library and home bookshelves.

Ages 5 – 10

Roaring Brook Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-1596439849

Discover more about Miranda Paul and her books plus resources for teachers and writers on her website!

View a portfolio of artwork by Jason Chin and learn more about him and his books on his website!

World Water Day Activity

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A Sprinkling of Water Words Word Search

 

This tree grew tall and strong by soaking up water through its roots. Can you find the 20 water-related words that are hidden inside this printable tree-shaped A Sprinkling of Water Word Word Search Puzzle? Here’s the Solution.

Picture Book Review

March 21 – World Poetry Day

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About the Holiday

Sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Poetry Day celebrates one of the world’s oldest and most treasured forms of linguistic expression. On this day we honor the poets who translate physical beauty into words, expose social injustice in heartrending verse, and make us laugh with quirky juxtapositions. To celebrate the holiday, attend a poetry reading, revisit poems from your favorite author or discover a new writer, or pen a poem yourself!

enormous SMALLNESS: A Story of E. E. Cummings

Written by Matthew Burgess | Illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

 

Hello! Welcome to 4 Patchin Place, the home of poet E. E. Cummings! This is where he wrote his poetry on a clackety typewriter, stopping only for tea poured out by the love of his life, Marion Moorehouse. How did he become a poet? That is an interesting story! E. E. was born Edward Estlin Cummings on October 14, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His house was full of extended family, a handyman, a maid, and several pets. From an early age he loved to translate the things he saw into words. “His first poem flew out of his mouth when he was only three: “‘Oh, my little / birdie, Oh / with his little / toe, toe, toe!’”

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Image copyright Kris Di Giacomo, text copyright Matthew Burgess. Courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

Estlin’s mother wrote down all the poems he told her and made a little book of them, titled “‘Estlin’s Original Poems.’” When he was six, he expressed his love of nature in a poem about trees, and when his mother asked him what else he saw, he “looked around as if his eyes were on tiptoes and when his heart jumped he said another poem: “‘On the chair is sitting / Daddy with his book. / Took it from the bookcase / Beaming in his look.’”

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Image copyright Kris Di Giacomo, text copyright Matthew Burgess. Courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

As he grew, Estlin was fascinated by the animals he saw at the circus and in the zoo. He drew pictures of them and wrote about them, using the words he loved so well—and even making up his own words. Estlin had a zest for life and for making life fun for himself and his little sister. During the summers, the family traveled to Joy Farm in New Hampshire, where Estlin swam, milked the cow, rode a donkey, and wandered through the fields and forest. His father had built him a little log cabin in the woods, and in the afternoons Estlin went there to draw and write. At home he also had a special place all his own. In an enormous tree his father built a tree house, complete with stove to keep him warm on cold days.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-enormous-smallness-tree-house

Image copyright Kris Di Giacomo, text copyright Matthew Burgess. Courtesy of matthewjohnburgess.com

Estlin had support for his writing at school too. His favorite teacher encouraged him saying, “anything is possible, / as long as you are true to yourself / and never give up, even when the world / seems to say, stop!” From his Uncle George, Estlin received a guide to writing poems. Estlin followed the rules in the book, penning poems nearly every day. When Estlin was 17 he attended Harvard College and began publishing his poems in the school’s magazines. While at Harvard, Estlin realized he had to follow his heart to be happy. He wanted to be like the new artists who were shaping the world—people like Gertrude Stein, Paul Cezanne, and Igor Stravinsky, “artists who were,” he once said, “challenging the way we think and see.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-enormous-smallness-paris

Image copyright Kris Di Giacomo, text copyright Matthew Burgess. Courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

After he graduated, Estlin returned home, but when he had saved enough money he moved to New York and fell in love with the city immediately. He and his friends took in everything new the city had to offer. Soon, however, the United States entered World War II. On April 17, 1917 Estlin volunteered to be an ambulance driver in France. Before he received his assignment, though, he had time to explore Paris. He was “bowled over by the museums, the ballet, and the colorful, crowded streets.” He enjoyed the city so much he returned often during his lifetime.

During the war, Estlin was mistaken for a spy and sent to prison for several months. After the war he wrote a book about his experiences titled The Enormous Room by E. E. Cummings. “The book was published and praised! Estlin was becoming E. E.!” A year later he published his first book of poetry—Tulips & Chimneys. In his poems he experimented with punctuation and using lower case letters instead of capitals.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-enormous-smallness-yes

Image copyright Kris Di Giacomo, text copyright Matthew Burgess. Courtesy of matthewjohnburgess.com

Through his fanciful typography, E. E. “wanted his reader’s eyes to be on tiptoes too, seeing and reading poetry (inaway) that was new.” But some people didn’t understand or like his poetry; it was too strange and too small, they said. But E. E. knew he had to stay true to himself. He believed that “his poems were new and true” and “were his way of saying YES” to everything he loved. As time went on more and more people began to “see the beauty of E. E.’s poetry, and he became one of the most beloved poets in America.”

E. E. Cummings lived and worked at 4 Patchin Place for almost 40 years, but in his mind he would often return to his childhood home. He “could still see himself as a boy gazing out at the sunset”—a memory that he put into words: who are you,little i / (five or six years old) / peering from some high / window;at the gold / of November sunset / (and feeling:that if day has to become night / this is a beautiful way)”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-enormous-smallness-patchin-place

Image copyright Kris Di Giacomo, text copyright Matthew Burgess. Courtesy of matthewjohnburgess.com

Simply put, Matthew Burgess’s enormous SMALLNESS: A Story of E. E. Cummings is a biography that will make you smile. Upbeat and full of the wonder and whimsy that influenced Estlin Cummings’ prodigious talent, the story encourages readers to always follow their heart. Burgess’s easy-going, conversational style invites kids along on the journey of Cumming’s life, stopping off at points that resonate with kids—early imaginary play, school, family vacations, home life, college, travel, and ultimate success. Seeing the support Cummings received throughout his life will inspire young readers just starting out on their own roads of discovery.

Kris Di Giacomo’s enchanting illustrations will immediately capture the imagination of readers. The playful quality of Cummings’ personality and poems is mirrored in each spread as a variety of children’s drawings and typography are sprinkled throughout. As six-year-old Estlin composes poems for his mother, he stands on tiptoe in his nightshirt surrounded by toys; he experiences life from rooftop and treetop and gazes into the night from his tree house; New York lights up with fireworks and the lights of Broadway; and his poems spring from the pages in their own inimitable way.

For children interested in writing, biographies, history, the arts, and the life of the imagination, enormous SMALLNESS: A Story of E. E. Cummings is a perfect choice for their home bookshelves.

A chronology of E. E. Cummings’ life, five poems, and an Author’s Note follow the text.

Ages 4 – 9

Enchanted Lion Publishing, 2015 | ISBN 978-1592701711

To learn more about Matthew Burgess, his books, and his poetry, visit his website!

View a gallery of illustration by Kris Di Giacomo on her website!

World Poetry Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-grow-a-poem-craft

 

 

Grow a Poem

 

A poem often grows in your imagination like a beautiful plant—starting from the seed of an idea, breaking through your consciousness, and growing and blooming into full form. With this craft you can create a unique poem that is also an art piece!

Supplies

  • Printable Leaves Template
  • Printable Flower Template
  • Wooden dowel, 36-inch-long, ½-inch diameter, available in craft or hardware stores
  • Green ribbon, 48 inches long
  • Green craft paint
  • Green paper for printing leaves (white paper if children would like to color the leaves)
  • Colored paper for printing flowers (white paper if children would like to color the flowers)
  • Flower pot or box
  • Oasis, clay, or dirt
  • Hole punch
  • Glue
  • Markers or pens for writing words
  • Crayons or colored pencils if children are to color leaves and flowers

Directions

  1. Paint the dowel green, let dry
  2. Print the leaves and flower templates
  3. Cut out the leaves and flowers
  4. Punch a hole in the bottom of the leaves or flowers
  5. Write words, phrases, or full sentences of your poem on the leaf and flower templates
  6. String the leaves and flowers onto the green ribbon (if you want the poem to read from top to bottom string the words onto the ribbon in order from first to last)
  7. Attach the ribbon to the bottom of the pole with glue or tape
  8. Wrap the ribbon around the pole, leaving spaces between the ribbon
  9. Move the leaves and flowers so they stick out from the pole or look the way you want them to.
  10. Put oasis or clay in the flower pot or box
  11. Stick your poem pole in the pot
  12. Display your poem!

Picture Book Review

March 20 – World Storytelling Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was first held in Sweden in 1991. Established to celebrate the art of oral storytelling, the day invites people around the globe to tell and listen to stories both old and new. To participate attend a special storytelling event in your area or relate some family stories at home. Of course reading terrific books out loud is also a fun way to honor the day!

Bunny’s Book Club

Written by Annie Silvestro | Illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss

 

Bunny would do just about anything to hear a story. “He’d loved them ever since he first heard the lady with the red glasses reading aloud outside the library.” All summer long he listened to stories that took him to thrilling and magical places. But when the weather turned cooler and story time moved indoors, bunny knew he had to do something—“he couldn’t live without books.”

Bunny was afraid that animals weren’t allowed in the library. Finally, after several sleepless nights Bunny “tiptoed through the dark” to the library. But when he got there the door was locked, the windows were bolted, and there were no holes in the building to be found—“until finally he noticed…the book return!” Bunny hopped as high as he could, grabbed the handle, and slipped inside. “Bunny’s eyes sparkled at the sight of the shelves bursting with books.”

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Image copyright Tatjana Mai-Wyss, courtesy of tatjanamaiwyss.com

Bunny hopped here and there through the adventure section, where he found books about “swashbucklers, sharks, and superheroes.” He grabbed as many as he could carry and pushed them through the slot. Back home he read and read, and every night he returned to the library for more books. Pretty soon his house was filled top to bottom with books.

One night while reading, Bunny heard a knock on the door. It was Porcupine, wondering where Bunny has been. When Porcupine found out, he couldn’t believe it. What was so special about reading? The next night Bunny took Porcupine to the library. “‘Whoa,’ said Porcupine.” He immediately wondered if there was a book about balloons. He also found stories “on deserts and dunes, on caterpillars and cocoons” and even one on hedgehogs that made him so happy he hugged it with all his might. Back at Bunny’s and cuddled up with tea and carrot muffins, the two friends read into the night.

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Image copyright Tatjana Mai-Wyss, courtesy of tatjanamaiwyss.com

It wasn’t too long before Bear showed up at Bunny’s wondering about why the light burned so late so often. Bunny handed him a book, and Bear squeezed onto the couch and began reading. Soon, all of Bunny’s friends began dropping by asking for books about space, volcanoes, and mysteries. One night Bunny took them all on a trek to the library. They were so engrossed in their books that they didn’t hear a key turn in the lock, “the clack, clacking of footsteps,” or the light flick on.

It was the librarian! All the animals gasped—they’d been caught! “‘All libraries have rules,’ said the librarian sternly” as she asked the animals to follow her. At the desk, the librarian in the red glasses crouched down and gave each animal their own library card. Bunny was thrilled to know they were welcome at the library. He found the perfect book and “proudly checked out the very first official selection for Bunny’s Book Club.”

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Image copyright Tatjana Mai-Wyss, courtesy of tatjanamaiwyss.com

Annie Silvestro’s sweet story about the lure of stories and the lengths to which a true book lover will go to hear or read one, will enchant young children. The gentle suspense will keep little ones riveted to the story as clever Bunny finds a way into the library, Porcupine and Bear have a few sticky moments, and the librarian catches the crew unawares. Little ones will recognize their own delight in books as Bunny shares his discover with his friends and they form a most cozy book club.

Tatjana Mai-Wyss’s adorable Bunny, Porcupine, Bear and other animals make perfect book club friends for little readers. Mai-Wyss’s soft-hued watercolor illustrations of the tidy library and Bunny’s book-filled home invite children in to poke around and become one of the group. They’ll love following Bunny’s footprints through the library stacks and discovering the cozy comforts of Bunny’s home. The final tw0-page illustration of the friends snuggled together in the warmth of a roaring fire and surrounded by snacks and books is definitely “awwww” inspiring.

Bunny’s Book Club may inspire families to take a special nighttime trip to the library and young readers to create a book club of their own. It would be welcome on any child’s bookshelf.

Learn more about Annie Silvestro and her books on her website!

Discover more about Tatjana Mai-Wyss and review a portfolio of her illustration on her website!

Ages 3 – 7

Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISNB 978-0553537581

World Storytelling Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bunny-puppet

Story Buddy Puppet

 

Hop to it! Have fun telling your favorite stories with this bunny puppet!

Supplies

  • Printable Bunny Template
  • Paper sandwich bag
  • Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Directions

  1. Print out the Bunny Template
  2. Color the Bunny Template
  3. Cut out the bunny’s features
  4. Clue the bunny’s features to the sandwich bag

Picture Book Review

March 19 – National Poultry Day

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About the Holiday

National Poultry Day, held annually between St. Patrick’s Day and the first day of spring, celebrates the importance of poultry to the diets of people around the world. From breakfast to special holidays, poultry is a valuable source of protein and nutrition that’s also delicious! 

What’s Up with This Chicken?

Written by Jane Sutton | Illustrated by Peter J. Welling

 

When Sylvia went out to the barn to collect the chickens’ eggs, something was up with Trudy. She squawked and screeched when Sylvia tried to reach under her, but Sylvia took it in stride and with humor: “‘Don’t get so egg-cited!’” she said. “‘I’ll get your egg tomorrow.’” But the next day Sylvia was met with the same reaction. Trudy wasn’t acting like the other chickens in Grandma’s backyard; if fact, she wasn’t even acting like Trudy! “‘What’s up with this chicken?’” Sylvia wondered.

While she and Grandma enjoyed “omelets with eggs from Sue, Clara, Doris, and Olga,” Sylvia talked about “stubborn Trudy.” Grandma didn’t know what was wrong either. The next morning Trudy was even more obstinate. Not only did she make a racket, she tried to peck Sylvia, and she puffed “herself up to twice her size.” Sylvia also noticed “that Trudy left her roost just once a day to eat, drink, and poop. She was getting skinny.”

Sylvia decided that Trudy must be hungry. She tried to lure her off her nest by offering chicken feed, but while all the other hens “wolfed it down like chocolate,” Trudy remained firmly on her roost. Sylvia tried everything she could think of to move Trudy, but nothing worked. That night she and Grandma consulted The Big Book About Chickens. Here they discovered that “‘Trudy is broody!’” Grandma read on: “‘Broody hens stay on their eggs so they will hatch into chicks.’” But Sylvia and Grandma know that Trudy’s eggs are not the kind that hatch.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-what's-up-with-this-chicken-switching-eggs

Image copyright Peter J. Welling, courtesy of Pelican Publishing

 

Sylvia realized that Trudy just wanted to be a mother, and she wished there were some way to help her. She thought and thought and finally came up with an idea. She ran to Grandma who agreed that Sylvia’s plan was “an egg-cellent idea.” A few days later a box arrived holding four eggs that would hatch. With thick rubber gloves, a dose of determination, and two tries, Grandma was able to lift Trudy off her nest. Sylvia made a quick switch of the eggs, and “Broody Trudy settled down on the new eggs.”

Trudy grew thinner every day but she stayed on her roost, rolling the eggs to keep them uniformly warm and even blanketing them with her own feathers. One day Sylvia heard peeping! She and Grandma rushed out to the coop and were even in time to watch the fourth little chick peck its way out of its shell. They named the new “little yellow fluff balls Sophie, Danielle, Mildred, and Judy.”

Trudy was a proud and protective mother, shielding her chicks with her wings like a “feathery beach umbrella” and teaching them how to find food and water. Trudy went back to her regular routine and began gaining weight. As the chicks grew they got their own nests in Grandma’s coop. But one day Judy squawked and screeched. This time “Sylvia laughed so hard that she almost dropped her egg basket. ‘Broody Judy,’ she said, ‘I know what’s up with you!’”

An Author’s Note about the real-life “Broody Trudy” that inspired the story follows the text.

With a deft and delightful understanding of the puns and humor that set kids to giggling, Jane Sutton has written a fun—and informative—story for animal lovers and anyone who loves a good, natural mystery. Through the well-paced plot and action-packed description, readers learn about a particular behavioral aspect of some chickens and the clever and sensitive way that Sylvia solves the problem. The close relationship between Sylvia and her grandmother adds charm and depth to the story, and their dialogue is spontaneous and playful.

Peter J. Welling’s bright, homey illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the story. Animated Trudy shoos Sylvia away while the other chickens take dust baths, scratch for bugs, and look just as perplexed as Sylvia and Grandma. Humorous touches abound in Grandma’s choice of home décor and Sylvia’s printed T-shirts as well as in the facial expressions of the human and feathered characters. Trudy’s chicks are adorable, and readers will cheer to see Trudy fulfill her heart’s desire.

What’s Up with This Chicken is a wonderful read-aloud for younger kids’ story times and a fun romp that will keep older, independent readers guessing and wondering how it all comes out right up to the end. The likeable characters—both human and chicken—make this a book kids will like to hear again and again!

Ages 3 – 8

Pelican Publishing, 2015 | ISBN 978-1455620852

Discover more about Jane Sutton and her books on her website!

To read an interview with Jane, click here!

To learn more about Peter J. Welling, his books for kids and adults as well as the original lunch bags he made for his children, visit his website!

National Poultry Day Activity

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Egg Carton Chickens and a Basket Full of Games

 

With twelve little chickens you can come up with lots of games to play! This fun craft and game activity is eggs-actly what you need to start hatching some real fun!

Supplies

  • Cardboard egg carton
  • White craft paint
  • Markers: red, yellow, black for the face; any colors you’d like for wings and eggs
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Construction or craft paper in white and a color of your choice

Directions

  1. Cut the notched flap off the egg carton and set aside
  2. Cut the top off the egg carton
  3. Cut apart all the egg cups and trim slightly so they sit flat
  4. Paint the egg cups with the white paint, let dry
  5. Add the face, comb and wings to the chicken with the markers. Make six chickens with one color wings and six chickens with another color wings.
  6. From the egg carton flap cut thirteen small egg-shaped playing pieces
  7. With the markers, decorate twelve of the eggs in pairs—each egg in the pair with the same design
  8. Color one egg yellow and add a beak, eyes, and wings to make it a chick

Games to Play

Tic-Tac-Toe (2 players)

  1. On a 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper draw a regular tic-tac-toe board or make it fancy – like the picket fence-inspired board in the picture
  2. To make the fence-inspired board on a colored background, cut 2 9-inch-long x 3/4-inch wide strips of white paper, cutting a pointed tip at one or both ends. Cut 2 white  8-inch x 3/4-inch strips of paper with a pointed tip at one or both ends. Glue the strips to the background.
  3. Each player chooses a set of chickens with the same colored wings
  4. Play the game as you usually do

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Find the Matching Eggs (2 or more players)

  1. Have one player hide one egg under each chicken
  2. Shuffle the eggs around and form them into three lines of 4 chickens each
  3. Another player lifts one chicken at a time to find matching eggs. If the eggs don’t match, put both chickens back and start again

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Where’s the Chick?

  1. Use as many chickens and eggs as you want (fewer for younger children, more for older)
  2. One player hides the chick under one of the chickens and eggs under the others.
  3. Another player has three chances to find the chick

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You can also design your own games for your adorable chickens to play! With more chickens you can even make a checkers set or replicate another of your favorite board games!

Picture Book Review

March 18 – National Quilting Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday got its start in 1989 when the Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society held a “Quilters Day Out” on the third Saturday of March to honor the history of quilting in that state. The event was such a success that in 1991 the National Quilting Association decided to make it a country-wide event. Since then the idea has spread across the globe. Whether you celebrate National Quilting Day or Worldwide Quilting Day, you may want to take in an event that highlights these “stories in cloth” or even consider becoming a quilter yourself!

The Quilt Story

Written by Tony Johnston | Illustrated by Tomie dePaola

 

Long ago while the snow fell and the log cabin was filled with candlelight, a little girl’s mother sewed her a quilt “to keep her warm.” While “she stitched the tails of falling stars” and Abigail’s, the mother hummed with happiness. Abigail loved to wrap herself in the quilt as she gazed out at the winter night. “Sometimes she saw a falling star” like the ones on her blanket.

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Image copyright Tomie dePaola, courtesy of Puffin Books

The quilt went with Abigail into the woods, where she had tea parties with her dolls. “She had tea. Her dolls had tea. And the quilt had tea all over it.” Inside, her quilt became an elegant gown that she wore on trips into town on her hobby horse—until it tore. Then her mother stitched it up again. The quilt was a secret hiding place for games of hide-and-seek, even though her sisters always knew where to find her. When Abigail was sick, she snuggled under the quilt until she was better.

The time came when Abigail’s family had to move. They packed their Conestoga wagon and headed west, taking the quilt with them in front where “it kept the little girls warm from the wild winds. Warm from the rain. Warm from the sparkling nights.” On new land, in a new place, Abigail’s father built a new home “with his hatchet, chop, chop, chop.” He built Abigail a comfortable bed and even a new rocking horse, but Abigail still felt sad.

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Image copyright Tomie dePaola, courtesy of Puffin Books

Among all the newness, only the quilt had its old, comforting smell. Abigail’s mother “rocked her as mothers do. Then tucked her in. And Abigail felt at home again under the quilt.” Many years passed. The quilt became old and faded, and Abigail packed it away in the attic. There a gray mouse found it. It’s soft warmth provided a bed for baby mice. “When they got hungry, they ate a falling star.” A curious raccoon also found the quilt. She scratched a hole in the quilt and hid her apple in the corner. A cat exploring the attic discovered the quilt. As it rolled on the fragile material, “stuffing spilled out like snow. Then the cat curled up in the snow and purred.”

One day another little girl was looking for her cat and “found the quilt, splashed with patterns of sun.” She immediately loved the quilt and took it to her mother. Her mother filled it with new stuffing and patched the holes. “She stitched long tails on the stars to swish across the quilt again.” The time came for this little girl’s family to move far away. Their new house was clean and fresh and empty. After the long trip everyone was happy to be in their new home—everyone but the little girl.

She wrapped herself in the familiar quilt, and “her mother rocked her as mothers do. Then tucked her in. She felt at home again under the quilt.”

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Image copyright Tomie dePaola, courtesy of Puffin Books

This classic story by Tony Johnston was one of my daughter’s favorites when she was young. She loved the comfort the quilt represented and the texture of the illustrations—both aspects of the story that children will still respond to today. Following the antique quilt from its creation to its rediscovery and new life with a different family is a wonderful way to introduce children to the value of history, family stories, and interconnectedness. The soothing cadence of Johnston’s multigenerational tale is perfect for bedtime or quiet story times.  

Tomie dePaola’s folk-style illustrations in warm muted colors depict the close relationships among the members of two families who both take comfort in a homemade quilt. Under dePaola’s brush the cozy quilt is a canvas of hearts, doves, and shooting stars, symbols of peace, love, and dreams that transcend generations. DePaola’s similar images of two mothers stitching the quilt, two daughters snuggling under the quilt, and two families traveling far from one home to another reinforce the idea that while homes, hairstyles, and clothing may change, hearts do not.

The Quilt Story  would be an often-read addition to any child’s home library!

Ages 4 – 8

Puffin Books, Penguin, 2002 (reissue edition) | ISBN 978-0698113688

You can discover the world of Tomie dePaola‘s art and books as well as his thoughts on being an artist on his website!

National Quilting Day Activity

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Snuggle In Coloring Page

 

There’s nothing cozier than cuddling under a warm quilt. What would your quilt look like? Print out this Snuggle In Coloring Page and decorate the quilt. Then have fun coloring the rest of the page!

March 17 – World Sleep Day

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About the Holiday

Losing out on sleep can really put a crimp in your life. Not only does lack of sleep leave you feeling lethargic and bleary-eyed during the day, it can be detrimental to your overall health. For children sleep deprivation can affect how well they do in school and their behavior. World Sleep Day was established to bring awareness to the importance of sleep and to promote ways of improving sleep for all.

How to Put Your Parents to Bed

Written by Mylisa Larsen | Illustrated by Babette Cole

 

So here you are—night time. Bedtime, really, but you’re not tired. You still have enough energy to “scale a tall tower,” “sail savage seas,” or “paint a masterpiece,” but think about your poor parents. Look at them! They really need to go to bed! You know parents, though—“Parents are not good at going to bed. “‘I have to put in a load of laundry,’” they say. ‘I need to do the dishes.’ ‘Just one more email.’”

Someone needs to take charge, and the family feline—who has been a keen observer of the bedtime dynamics—thinks its pint-sized owner is just that “someone.” So the little girl, living in the midst of a chaotic night with her overscheduled, overworked parents, follows the cat’s pointed paw directions. She takes food out of her parents’ hands, closes the computer, and tells them “‘It’s time for bed.’” The first task is getting them to brush their teeth. The girl squeezes the toothpaste onto the brush and even helps her dad reach his molars.

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Image copyright Babette Cole, courtesy of babette-cole.com

Next, it’s time to make sure her parents dress in their pajamas. But Dad’s on the phone and Mom’s still watching TV. Ugh! First Mom and Dad wouldn’t go to bed, and now they’re falling asleep on the couch and floor! Their daughter keeps them moving in the right direction, though. Once they hit the bedroom, however, they get a second wind and become “unruly when faced with actually getting in bed. Tiny things upset them. They can work themselves into a state.” What to do? The girl remains calm and does not negotiate. Once Mom and Dad are tucked in, it’s story time. A tricky bit—do they only want their favorite story? How many?

At this point, the girl thinks she’s almost finished. But suddenly something unexpected comes up. Mom is missing her favorite pillow. Dad’s socks itch. And they both want to check on the dog. Oh brother! While the girl is handling these crises, her parents are starting a pillow fight! Phew! She gets them all tucked in, gives them each a kiss good night, and takes away their cell phones.

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Image copyright Babette Cole, courtesy of babette-cole.com

Finally, they are off to dream land, and the girl has some time for herself! But wait a minute…. The cat suggests she’s not exactly looking her best. In fact, she looks exhausted. Maybe, the frisky feline thinks, she needs to go to bed.

Mylisa Larsen’s funny role-reversal primer will have kids giggling and adults nodding appreciatively from Page 1 until The End. Speaking directly at readers, How to Put Your Parents to Bed offers sly winks at the many bedtime distractions of today’s families. The witty conspiratorial tone to the cat’s instructions gives kids a secret feeling of clout even while they may recognize their own behavior. And parents will wish they could still act this way at bedtime.

Rebecca Cole’s dynamic illustrations of the recalcitrant parents doing last-minute chores, stubbornly refusing to brush their teeth, jumping on the bed, and fooling with delaying tactics ramps up the hilarity of this bedtime how-to. Kids will want to linger over the pages to catch all the humorous details.

Ages 4 – 8

Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollins, 2016 | ISBN 978-0062320643

Visit Mylisa Larsen’s website to learn more about How to Put Your Parents to Bed and read her blog.

You can learn more about Babette Cole and the worlds she created on her website.

Get ready to laugh with the How to Put Your Parents to Bed book trailer!

World Sleep Day Activity

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Sleepy Time Word Search

 

Can you find the 15 sleep-related words in this printable, star-shaped Sleepy Time Word Search? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

 

Picture Book Review