September 30 – International Translation Day

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About the Holiday

Established in 1953 by the International Federation of Translators, today’s holiday celebrates the translators in every language who work to break down barriers and bring great literature to all people across the globe. Everyone’s story matters, and it is through access to a wide range of books that readers acquire deeper understanding of the commonalities and unique experiences that make us all citizens of the world. For children in bilingual and multicultural homes the ability to read and hear books in their native tongue as well as their adopted language is especially comforting and promotes greater literacy and language learning. With eight bilingual editions available, today’s book is a great example of the importance of translators’ work!

Good Night, Little Sea Otter

Written by Janet Halfmann | Illustrated by Wish Williams

 

As twilight paints the sky pink, purple, and gold, Little Sea Otter gets ready to sleep in her kelp forest bed. Mama Otter fluffs her baby’s fur and snuggles with her, but Little Otter is still wide awake. “‘I forgot to say goodnight to the harbor seals,’” she tells Mama. The baby waves her “soft, silky paw toward the rocky shore” and says goodnight. The harbor seals all along the craggy cliffs wish the little otter goodnight in return.

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann, courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

Hearing the seals’ goodnight song, the sea lions join in, their loud barks echoing in the air. “‘Good night, father sea lions. Good night, mother sea lions and baby sea lions,’” Little Otter calls. Curious about all the commotion, a seagull swoops down and learns that it’s bedtime for Little Otter. The two say “Good night” to each other, and as the seagull flies away to find his own place to sleep, Mama Otter tries to tuck in her little pup.

“But before she could say another word, Little Sea Otter dipped her furry face into the chilly water.” There she sees a whole ocean full of fish to greet. She says “Good night” to the yellow fish, the orange fish, and the purple fish. Of course she can’t forget the long fish or the short fish, the striped fish or the spotted fish either. All these fish are happy to wish the tiny pup sweet dreams too. Mama Otter points out other sea creatures getting ready for bed—different types of crabs, snails, sea stars, anemones, clams, and more. Little Otter says “Good night” to each in turn.

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann, courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

From every part of the ocean sea turtles, lobsters, octopi, rays, jelly fish, sea horses, eels and others bubble a chorus of “Good night” to Little Otter. She listens and responds to each one and then asks Mama if she has forgotten anyone. “‘Yes, you did,’” Mama says, “scooping her up in her paws. ‘You missed ME!’” Little Otter giggles and says “Good night.” Mama Otter hugs her tight and rolls over and over in the kelp, wrapping them both “in ribbons of seaweed” that will keep them secure on the ocean currents as they sleep.

Little Otter gazes up into the night sky and says “Good night” to the moon and the stars. As Little Otter’s eyes finally close and she drifts into sleep, Mama kisses her gently on the head and the sea whispers “‘rock-a-bye.’”

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann, courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

Janet Halfmann’s gentle bedtime story is a sweet reminder for children of all the people in their life who love them and are thinking of them every day. As Little Sea Otter puts off sleep with just one more “Good night” and then another and another, Halfmann reveals with lyrical language the wide world of the sea and the creatures in it. The readiness of the ocean creatures to respond with their own heartfelt wishes for the little pup suggest that this is a nightly and eagerly anticipated ending to each day by all.

One might imagine that in addition to “Good night” Little Otter’s nightly repertoire includes the request to be told all the names of the fish and sea animals, just as children love to look through pictures of family and friends and learn their names. Mama’s patient support of her pup’s curiosity and connections to her world provide tender moments between mother and child, as do their final bedtime rituals before drifting off to sleep.

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann, courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

Wish Williams’ beautiful, vivid illustrations are stunning and detailed, offering a magical realism that is perfect for this book’s wide-eyed audience. Little Otter and her sea creature friends are adorable, their smiling faces glowing with their happiness to see each other and finish the day together. While the fish and other sea creatures are colorful, the hues are true to their natural counterparts. The blue-green ocean swirls and foams along the rocky shore at twilight while whitecaps glitter in starlight when the sun goes down.

Little Otter’s repeated phrase of “Good night” gives children plenty of opportunities to read along. Kids and adults who enjoy the beach and marine environments will also be delighted in the scientific facts about sea otters organically sprinkled into the text. The lovely nature of the mother/child relationship, opportunities for child participation, and gorgeous art make Good Night, Little Sea Otter a welcome addition to home bookshelves for quiet story times and bedtime.

Translations

Star Bright Books also publishes Good Night, Little Sea Otter in eight bilingual editions. For information on each click on the links below:

Arabic/English | Burmese/English | Burmese Karen/English | French/English | Hmong/EnglishNavajo/English | Portuguese/English | Spanish/English

Ages 2 – 6

Star Bright Books, 2010 | ISBN 978-1595722546 (English Edition)

Learn more about Janet Halfmann and her other books on her website!

International Translation Day Activity

We Are All Family English/Spanish Word Search

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Find the names of family members in both English and Spanish in this printable heart- shaped We Are All Family Word Search! Here’s the Solution!

 

Sleepy Sea Otters Coloring Page

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Say “Good night” to these sweet sea otters before going to bed by coloring this printable Sleepy Sea Otters Coloring Page.

Picture Book Review

September 29 – It’s National Piano Month

The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield picture book review

About the Holiday

Invented around 1700, the piano was not an immediate hit with composers and performers. It took several decades before musicians embraced its versatility, and over the next 150 years the piano underwent many changes in tonality, size, and shape. In the 19th century the instrument became larger and more powerful to accompany soloists in concert and on tour with large orchestras. At the same time, individuals and families took the piano to heart – and hearth – as it became the primary source of home entertainment and piano lessons a must for all children. The United States became a major producer of pianos, with factories in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. New technology in the twentieth century provided other types of entertainment that came to toke precedence over the piano, and domestic sales declined.

Today we celebrate the beauty of the piano—both in shape and sound—and all the musical artists who play and compose for this storied instrument.

The Bear and the Piano

By David Litchfield

 

One day a bear cub happens upon a piano in a clearing in the middle of the forest. Wondering what it could be, he approaches and lays his paw on the keys. The strange thing goes PLONK!—such an awful sound. The bear cub leaves, but is drawn back again and again for days, months, and years. Over time the bear grows up and learns to play the piano. The music is beautiful and transports him to strange and wonderful places.

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Image copyright David Litchfield, courtesy of davidlitchfieldillustration.com

Other bears soon gather in the clearing to hear the “magical melodies” the bear plays. The bear is happy entertaining his friends. One night a girl and her father hiking in the forest come to the clearing. They listen and then tell the bear what his strange instrument is. They invite him to move to the city with them, where he will be able to play grand pianos for hundreds of people. The music he will play and hear “will make your fur stand on end,” they tell him.

The bear is conflicted. One on paw he knows that leaving the forest will make the other bears sad; on the other he longs to explore the world, to play the piano better, and master more intricate music. He decides to go with the girl and her father.

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Image copyright David Litchfield, courtesy of davidlitchfieldillustration.com

In the city the bear is a sensation! He quickly becomes a celebrity with his name on marquees and playing to sold-out crowds. The bear records albums that go platinum, he appears on the covers of magazines, and wins awards. His experience is everything he could ever wish for. But deep in his heart there is another longing. He misses the forest and his friends there.

He decides to leave the city and rows a boat across the expanse of water to his old home. Excitedly he runs to the clearing, but when he arrives everything has changed. His piano is gone and there are no friends to greet him. The bear worries that everyone is angry at him for leaving, or worse—that they have forgotten him.

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Image copyright David Litchfield, courtesy of davidlitchfieldillustration.com

Suddenly an old friend peeks around the trunk of a tree. The bear hails him with a hearty “Hello!” The other bear remains silent, however, and then turns and runs into the trees. The bear follows, plunging deeper and deeper into the forest. Suddenly he stops. In front of him is a sight that makes his fur stand on end.

There, protected in the shade of a tree and surrounded by the albums, magazines, t-shirts, and other mementos of the bear’s success sits the old piano. The bear’s friends have not forgotten him and they are not angry. They are proud and welcoming. The bear tells them all about his adventures then sits down to play again—for the most important audience of all.

David Litchfield’s very original and moving story is such a wonderfully conceived microcosm of the changes life brings. Stumbling upon a talent, cause, or inspiration; opening up to other influences; and acting on hard decisions are all part of growing up. These concepts are honestly and sensitively presented in The Bear and the Piano, and the reassuring ending brings comfort as well as a tear to the eye.

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Image copyright David Litchfield, courtesy of davidlitchfieldillustration.com

Litchfield’s touching illustrations—rendered in gorgeous hues of browns, greens, yellows, and blues—brim with yearning and mystery. The piano sits in a misty glow, silent and draped with vines, when the cub discovers it. While the bear grows and learns to play, the air clears and the colors become brighter. When the bear moves to the city, the pages glint and swirl with the glow of marquees and concert halls announcing his enormous achievements. But as he sits on a rooftop one night contemplating his life and looking out toward his old home, the lights around him are the elements of normal life—lamps in apartment windows, stars, and the moon glimmering on the water. His nostalgia to be home will resonate with both kids and adults.

The Bear and the Piano makes a wonderful gift for any age—especially as a graduation or new-job gift—and is a must-have for anyone’s personal library.

Clarion Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016 | ISBN 978-0544674547

To learn more about David Litchfield, his books, and his artwork, visit his website!

While I take a few personal days during this month, I am reposting earlier reviews updated with new links, interior art, and book trailers.

Watch the beautiful The Bear and the Piano book trailer!

National Piano Month Activity

CPB - Record Bulletin Board

Make a Record Chalkboard Bulletin Board

 

Do you play the piano or another instrument? Would you like to make a record some day? Why wait? In this fun craft you can create your own record bulletin board—and even create your own label art! While this record may not spin on turntables around the world, it will drop in a more important place—your very own room!

Supplies

  • Printable Record Label for you to design
  • Foam board, or a corkboard at least 12-inches x 12-inches square
  • Adhesive cork
  • A 12-inch round plate, record, or other round object to trace OR a compass
  • Chalkboard paint, black
  • X-acto knife
  • Paint brush or foam paint brush
  • Mounting squares

Directions

  1. Cut a section from the adhesive cork a little larger than 12 inches by 12 inches
  2. Affix the cork to the foam board
  3. Trace the 12-inch round object onto the cork/foam board OR use the compass to make a 12-inch circle
  4. With the x-acto knife, carefully cut out the circle (adult help needed for children)
  5. Cut out a ¼ -inch circle in the center of the record bulletin board
  6. Paint the cork, sides and inside the spindle hole with the black chalkboard paint. Let dry
  7. Print the label template and design your own record label
  8. When the paint is dry, glue your label to the center of the bulletin board
  9. Hang your bulletin board with the mounting squares
  10. Decorate!

Picture Book Review

September 28 – Good Neighbor Day

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About the Holiday

With our busy lifestyles it’s sometimes hard to get to know our neighbors. We might give them a quick wave and smile as we’re driving in and out, but finding time to stop and chat can be more difficult. Today’s holiday encourages us to get to know our neighbors and become friends. Why not take the opportunity to say “hi” to someone on your block or in your building or even share a special note of thanks for being a great neighbor!

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

Written by Michelle Cuevas | Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

 

A man in a red stocking cap and clam digger pants sits at his kitchen table with a cup of coffee, sharing space with a tabby cat. His day as the “uncorker of ocean bottles” is about to begin. He follows the path from his isolated house on the hill down to the water’s edge, where he keeps “his eyes on the waves, watchful for a glint of glass.” When he sees a bottle floating past, it is his job to retrieve it and read the message inside.

“Sometimes to deliver a bottle, he needed only to stroll to the nearest village. Other times, he would journey until his compass became rusty and he felt loneliness as sharp as fish scales.” Some messages have been buffeted by the seas for a long time, and while some messages are sad, most make their recipients very happy, “for a letter can hold the treasure of a clam-hugged pearl.”

Although the man doesn’t mind living alone and loves his job, he sometimes feels a niggling wish to receive a letter himself. It is a fleeting dream, however, and as likely as finding a mermaid’s toenail on the beach,” because the man “had no name and no friends who would ever write him a letter.” One day, thoiugh, the man opens a very singular message: “I’m not sure you will get this in time, but I am having a party. Tomorrow, evening tide, at the seashore. Will you please come?”

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Image copyright Erin E. Stead, text copyright Michelle Cuevas, courtesy of Penguin Random House

Without a name or an address the Uncorker is at a loss as to how to deliver this very important invitation. It is such an intriguing invitation, in fact, that the man finds that he wants to go himself. With reasoned purpose, the Uncorker rides his bicycle into town to investigate who might know something about the letter. The maker of cakes studies the note but can offer no insight beyond the fact that he, too, would like to attend such a get- together.

At the candy shop neither the owner, nor a woman buying candy, nor a young girl know anything about the note, but they too wish they had been invited. The Uncorker meets others—a sailor, a seagull, and a one-man band—but no one can help him. The man goes home feeling dejected. Never before has he failed to deliver a message. Lying awake in bed he decides the only thing he can do is to meet the sender of the letter the next night at the seaside and apologize.

He arrives early with a gift of seashells and discovers the seashore “draped in seaweed and starfish. Candles floated in clamshells, There were sand sculptures and umbrellas.” Standing in the festive atmosphere are the maker of cakes, the candy shop owner, the woman and her daughter, and all the others the Uncorker had met in his search the previous day. As the rest of the group play music, the little girl asks the Uncorker to dance, and although the man says he isn’t sure he knows how, he twirls the little girl on the golden sand.

Later, sitting quietly the party gazes out at the ocean that has brought them together. The Uncorker has opened a gift chosen specifically for him and is enjoying a piece of cake while “his heart was a glass vessel filled to the brim.”

Michelle Cuevas’s unique story of a man adrift in life without the anchor of family or friends is a gorgeously written reminder that companionship is often waiting if we just invite it in. With moving language and fresh, evocative metaphors—in two of my favorites, loneliness is “as sharp as fish scales,” and some messages are “very old, crunchy like leaves in the fall”—Cuevas gently nudges readers to acknowledge the little voice inside and discover what else the world has to offer.

Erin E. Stead’s warm green, gold, and gray-hued illustrations rendered in delicate lines and gossamer washes are as wistful as the Uncorker himself. The man’s calm resolve is echoed in the serene ocean water, the soft companionship of his cat, and the tidy seaside town. There is a wonderful quiet, unhurried feeling to each page which seems to allow not only the Uncorker but the reader to enjoy contemplative moments. The final scene of the party happily enjoying the view and each other’s company fulfills not only the Uncorker’s deepest longing, but that of readers as well.

For it’s beauty and message The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles should find a place on every child’s and school library’s book shelf. Adults will enjoy this book as much as children and it would make a wonderful coffee table book.

Ages 4 and up

Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin, 2016 | ISBN 978-0803738683

Discover more books by Michelle Cuevas on her website!

View a gallery of artwork and children’s book illustration by Erin E. Stead on her website!

Good Neighbor Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bottle-of-friendship-craft

Bottle of Friendship

 

Sometimes a small gesture means so much more! With this easy craft you can make a unique-to-you message for a neighbor or friend that can later also be used as a vase. After making the Bottle of Friendship, take it to a recipient or leave it on the doorstep as a nice surprise!

Supplies

  • Recycled glass or plastic bottle, or a decorative bottle from a craft store
  • Glitter (Or Glitter Glue)
  • Glue
  • Real or imitation flowers
  • Small piece of paper
  • Thread or string

Directions

  1. Wash and dry the bottle
  2. Along the bottom (or in any design you’d like) spread the glitter glue. If using glue and glitter separately, spread glue and sprinkle with glitter.
  3. Let the bottle dry
  4. Write a note of thanks or friendship on a small piece of paper
  5. Roll and tie with thread or string
  6. Add flowers and the note to your bottle
  7. Deliver!

Picture Book Review

 

September 27 – It’s Fall Hat Month

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About the Holiday

As the weather turns cooler in certain parts of the world, it’s time to pull out those old favorite cozy hats or buy a stylish new one to keep your head and ears warm! Whether you like wearing felt hats, knit hats, furry hats, or even top hats—like the character in today’s book—this is the season for you!

Mr. Brown’s Fantastic Hat

By Ayano Imaí

 

Mr. Brown lived alone and, if you asked him, he’d tell you he liked it that way. He “had no friends and he didn’t want any.” If you were privy to his secret thoughts, however, you’d learn that Mr. Brown was actually very lonely. Mr. Brown liked to take long walks, and when he went out, he always wore his “smart,” distinctive hat. “One day while Mr. Brown was sleeping, a woodpecker flew down and started tapping a hole in his hat, thinking, ‘What a wonderful nest this hat would make!’”

When Mr. Brown woke up he was shocked to discover that a bird had moved into his hat. Someone living this close to him was not what Mr. Brown had in mind at all. Then to Mr. Brown’s dismay the “woodpecker soon told all his friends about the wonderful new home and invited them all to join him.” Soon Mr. Brown’s hat was full of holes—and birds! You might think a regular hat would not have enough room for so many residents—but Mr. Brown’s hat was no ordinary one. As more and more birds moved in, his hat grew taller and taller!

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Image copyright Ayano Imaí, courtesy of minedition

As the days went on Mr. Brown discovered that he was beginning to enjoy the birds’ singing and their company. Now Mr. Brown had renewed purpose in his daily walks: “He loved to show off his hat. Everywhere he went it was full of the music of singing birds.” People on the street took notice and wanted to emulate Mr. Brown. All over town people began wearing tall hats, “but the birds preferred to stay with Mr. Brown no matter how hard people tried to persuade them.”

One day as autumn settled in, Mr. Brown noticed that all the birds had flown away. He was sad and didn’t understand where they had gone or why they had left him. He wondered if he would see them again. The idea of a quiet life no longer held the appeal it once did, and Mr. Brown missed his friends. He tried to convince himself that he didn’t care that the birds had left, but he continued to fill the feeders and watch out for them every day.

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Image copyright Ayano Imaí, courtesy of minedition

Even though it was time for Mr. Brown to take a long winter’s nap, he tried to stay awake, worried that there would be no one to care for the birds if they returned. But nature took its course, and Mr. Brown fell into a deep sleep. One morning after a particularly vivid dream in which Mr. Brown could hear the birds singing, he woke to a tapping sound. He went to the door and peered out.

Spring had come and with it Mr. Brown’s hat had grown roots and sprouted branches and leaves. The old holes were filled with their previous tenants. The sight filled Mr. Brown with joy, and he finally could admit to himself that sharing his life with friends “was better than being alone.”

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Image copyright Ayano Imaí, courtesy of minedition

Ayano Imaí’s gloriously beautiful book plumbs the nature of solitude and loneliness as well as the value of friendship with an honesty that is at once heartrending and uplifting. For so many quiet, introspective people—children and adults alike—navigating the world of small talk, casual relationships, and making friends is similar to traveling uncharted territory, where the language and mores are foreign. It can become easier to tell oneself that it doesn’t matter, when in reality it matters a great deal. Many times happiness comes when one finds their niche or, in some surprising way, a niche finds them.

Imaí tells the story of Mr. Brown and his fantastical hat in straightforward narration, but more profound meaning is revealed in her illustrations. Mr. Brown, it is discovered, is a brown bear who has taken on the aspects of humans. He walks upright, carries an umbrella and bag, owns a home, and wears a hat. His fur is even the same color as the townspeople’s clothing. But while he may be among people, he is not of them. His home has a grass floor which sprouts mushrooms and weeds; another weed pokes out from the bristles of his brush; a tree branch juts from a wall; and mushrooms share space with the laundry on the drying line.

Mr. Brown comes from nature and belongs with nature, so it is no surprise that the birds flock to him and prefer him to humans, who in an ironic twist long to be like Mr. Brown. I especially like the ending of Mr. Brown’s Fantastic Hat, in which Mr. Brown stays true to himself. He does not suddenly discover his “wild” side and become someone that he is not. He is able to remain a quiet, introspective bear while also embracing his friends, his love for them, and his place in the world. He finds inner happiness and loved ones to share it with.

Ages 3 – 8 (and up)

minedition, 2014 | ISBN 978-9888240845

Fall Hat Month Activity

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Favorite Fall Hat Matching Puzzle

 

Each child has a favorite hat for cooler weather. Follow the paths in this printable Favorite Fall Hat Matching Puzzle to find out which hat each child chooses!

Picture Book Review

September 26 – Family Day

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About the Holiday

The purpose of today’s holiday is simple—to fully appreciate the family one has, whether it is small or large, with a whole crew of siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and others. The founders of Family Day, which is celebrated on different dates around the world, wanted people to relax their busy schedules and spend time with those they love in a meaningful and fun way. The great thing about family is they are always there for you when you need them most—as we see in today’s book!

Meet the McKaws

By Ged Adamson

 

Captain Stan and Tiny McKaw, Stan’s parrot first mate, love everything about being pirates—“Sailinng the seven seas, fighting battles, and searching for treasure! What could be better? Yes, life is pretty perfect for Stan and Tiny” until…Tiny’s parents come to visit. Mr. and Mrs. McKaw aren’t on board 5 minutes before the squawking begins. Mrs. McKaw takes exception to Stan: “‘He doesn’t’ look like much of a captain to me. He’s just a boy!’” And while Mr. McKaw is trying to apologize for his wife’s behavior, he lets out “a huge, disgusting BURP!”

Tiny’s mom is appalled at the state of the ship, calling it “a messy old wreck,” and Tiny’s dad starts in with a long, meandering story of his days as a pirate, complete with a treasure map, a deserted island, the Kraken, sword fights, canon fire, a treasure chest, and even a commendation. I think you get the picture. Problem is…Mr. McKaw never was a pirate.

Maybe a nice sit-down dinner will clear the air and get things started off on the right pegleg again. With a big grin the cook presents the special meal he has prepared in the McKaw’s honor, but after “just one mouthful, both the McKaws were violently sick. ‘Horrible! Horrible!’” cries Mrs. McKaw. The poor cook bursts into tears and runs back to the galley. Perhaps nighttime will bring a little relief. But no, Mr. McKaw snores and Mrs. McKaw nags in her sleep.

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Image copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy of gedadamson.com

The next morning Captain Stan wakes up to the worst insult of all—guano dots his royal blue pirate coat. Even this offense, thought, pales in comparison to what Stan sees next. Perched between his parents sits Tiny in a crisp white shirt and tie with his feathers slicked back. This is the last straw. “GET OFF MY SHIP!!” yells Captain Stan. Mr. and Mrs. McKaw waste no time in flying the coop, but there’s no respite for Captain Stan and Tiny for dead ahead is a colossal storm.

The ship is no match for the lightning, crashing waves, and fierce winds. The cook, the cabin boy, Captain Stan, and the remains of the broken brigand are washed into the roiling sea. “Just when all seems lost, however, Tiny gives a great SQUAWK! ‘It’s Mr. and Mrs. McKaw!’” cries Stan. “‘And my aunts, uncles, cousins…everyone!’” says Tiny. The parrots rescue everyone and fly them safely to a nearby island—Blue Feather Island, which just happens to be Tiny’s home.

All the members of the parrot family help Stan build a new ship, and in the process he discovers a new perspective on Mrs. and Mr. McKaw’s personalities. “Mrs. McKaw’s bossiness turned out to be very useful” as she delegates jobs, and Mr. McKaw keeps the crew entertained while they work “just by being Mr. McKaw.” The two are even hungry enough to eat up everything the cook prepares, much to his delight.

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Image copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy of gedadamson.com

With a new ship finally complete, it’s time for the McKaws to take wing. Stan thanks them for all their help and apologizes for throwing them off his ship. On her part, Mrs. McKaw apologizes for being rude and thanks Stan for taking care of Tiny. And what about the new ship? It might be even better than the original with a bold parrot-emblazoned sail and a parrot figurehead pointing the way. As the crew sets sail, Captain Stan acknowledges, “‘You know, Tiny, I’m really glad I met the McKaws.’”

With the dash of a swashbuckler and the true aim of a compass, Ged Adamson depicts the high and low tides of family life in this high seas adventure. His humorous portrayals of personality traits that can drive family members crazy will resonate with kids and adults alike as they laugh through the travails Captain Stan and Tiny suffer during a visit by Tiny’s parents. In a sweet turn of events, though, Adamson reminds us that when storms come—in whatever form—the momentary squalls are forgotten, the anchor of family relationships is dropped, and everyone battens the hatches together.

Adamson’s vivid illustrations of Captain Stan in his sharp pirate garb, colorful (in more ways than one) Mr. and Mrs. McKaw, and the well-fitted wooden ship will delight pirate fans of all ages. Mr. McKaw’s imaginary stories are cleverly portrayed as chalk drawings on a black background, and the sea swirls with cool hues of blue and turquoise. Like Captain Stan readers will be glad they have a chance to Meet the McKaws and will want them to visit again and again.

Ages 4 – 8

Sky Pony Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-1629146188

Discover more of Ged Adamson’s work on his website!

Meet Ged Adamson and learn about his inspirations, his writing life, and his other books in this funny and insightful Q & A!

Family Day Activity

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Original Avast! Pirate Treasure Map Board Game design by Conor Carroll copyright 2016

Avast! Pirate Treasure Map Board Game

 

Gather your family around and set out to discover buried treasure and the treasure of spending time together! This printable, original board game has all the excitement of a pirate voyage across the bounding main, including shark attacks, mutiny, the Kraken, mermaids, mateys, and more!

Supplies

Printable Avast! Game Board and Game Pieces

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-avast!-pirate-game-tokens

Original artwork copyright Conor Carroll and Celebrate Picture Books, 2016

Directions

  1. Print the Avast! Board Game pages (Options: print on white paper, parchment-colored paper, or on card stock. To make white paper appear old – as in the picture – paint with a tea wash before taping together. See directions for tea wash below)
  2. Tape together the 4 pieces of the map. (Option: map pages printed on regular paper can be  glued to a piece of poster board to make the game board more sturdy.) 
  3. Print the Avast! Pirate Loot Tokens
  4. Cut out the Avast! Pirate Loot Tokens
  5. Print the Avast! Game Cards
  6. Cut out the Avast! Game Cards

To use a tea bag to make the map look old:

  1. Steep a black tea tea bag in 1/4 cup boiling water for 3 minutes
  2. Squeeze the tea bag dry over the cup and discard
  3. With the paint brush, paint the 4 pages of the map with the tea before taping them together
  4. Let dry or dry with a hair drier set on Low.

To Play the Game

  1. Each player chooses a Pirate Loot Token as their playing piece to move along the board
  2. Shuffle and stack the Game Cards
  3. Choose which player will go first
  4. Players choose the top card from the pile and follow the directions to move spaces on the game board.
  5. After moving, players should put their game card in a discard pile
  6. If Game Cards run out before the end of the game, flip over the discard pile and use the cards again
  7. The first player to arrive at the X on the map finds the treasure and is the winner!

Picture Book Review

September 25 – World Dream Day

MIss Maple's Seeds by Eliza Wheeler Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

Dreamed up by a professor at Columbia University in 2012, today’s holiday is not for the sleepy  but for those wide awake to all the possibilities in life. It’s a time for adults and kids to really think about their hopes and dreams and plan how to achieve them. So sit down with a group of friends or by yourself and let your imagination soar – don’t let the day or opportunities pass you by! 

Miss Maple’s Seeds 

By Eliza Wheeler

 

Late in the summer, Miss Maple hurries to prepare for some very special guests. She has searched all summer for “orphan seeds that got lost during the spring planting,” and now bluebirds are carrying baskets full of these little pods so full of potential to her home. Once they arrive she “learns each seed by heart.” There are poppy, wild rice, maple, water lily, pine, impatiens, apple raspberry, sunflower, acorn, pea, fern seeds, and as many more as make up our world.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-miss-maple's-washing-the-seeds

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of Nancy Paulson Books, Penguin Books

As she lovingly tends to each one, she whispers to them, “Take care, my little ones, for the world is big and you are small.” Miss Maple takes her little charges on field trips and shows them the world they will inhabit—muddy soil along riverbanks, grassy fields, and thickly populated forests. She cautions them about “weedy characters” who can show up even in a “bustling garden.”

At night Miss Maple snuggles each seed into a comfortable bed and reads to them by the light of fireflies. During the winter Miss Maple entertains other guests—woodland creatures who gather in her maple tree home to share food, stories, and songs. With the spring come rains and new lessons that teach the seeds how to burrow into the ground.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-miss-maple's-seeds-bedtime-story

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of Nancy Paulson Books, Penguin Books

In May Miss Maple knows it’s time for her little ones to “find roots of their own.” She sends them out into the world, knowing that she has prepared them well for what they will become. Her seeds say goodbye and sail off to begin their futures, leaving Miss Maple alone. But soon another summer day comes, and Miss Maple sets off to gather more orphan seeds, because “the world is big and they are small.”

Eliza Wheeler’s Miss Maple’s Seeds is a lovely metaphor for the nurturing relationship between children and their parents or caregivers. At once comforting and liberating, Wheeler’s sweet tribute reveals the hopes and dreams adults have for each child they raise and finally let go to bloom into what they are meant to be.  

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-miss-maple's-lantern-boats

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of Nancy Paulson Books, Penguin Books

Wheeler’s beautiful language floats as quietly and unhurried as a leaf on a gentle breeze, and her luminous artwork is breathtaking in its fully realized details of the greater world Miss Maple’s seeds and all of us inhabit. Each season is gorgeously rendered in soft blues, roses, browns, and yellows, and Wheeler imbues each little seed with personality without anthropomorphism. The reader may well wish they could be friends with these future beauties and with Miss Maple as well.

Miss Maple’s Seeds would be a wonderful gift for high school graduates, teachers, and anyone who loves taking care of children. It’s timeless message also makes it a perfect choice for quiet reading times or bedtime and a welcome addition to anyone’s bookshelf.

Ages 3 – 7, all ages

Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, 2013 | ISBN 978-0399257926

Discover the world of Eliza Wheeler‘s books and art on her website! Download an activity sheet for Miss Maple’s Seeds here!

While I take a few personal days this month, I am reposting earlier reviews updated with new links and interior art.

World Dream Day Activity

CPB - Flower Pot

Hopes and Dreams Flower Pot

 

Ideas, hopes, and dreams are like seeds, sprouting and growing into fruition with a bit of attention and care. With today’s craft you can create a flower pot of your own design. Then fill it with “dream seeds” of your favorite flower or plant. As you tend to the plant and it grows, tend to your own dreams and watch them grow as you achieve your desires.

Supplies

  • Terra cotta pot in any size
  • Acrylic multi-surface paint in various colors
  • Flower seeds
  • Soil

Directions

  1. Paint your terra cotta pot—be creative!
  2. Let paint dry
  3. Fill pot with soil
  4. Plant flower seeds

Picture Book Review

September 24 – International Rabbit Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-little-rabbit-who-liked-to-say-moo-cover

About the Holiday

Established in 1999 by UNESCO, Mother Language Day celebrates cultural diversity and promotes the protection of endangered languages. Events include multicultural festivals where all voices are heard and social cohesion, cultural awareness, and tolerance are honored.

The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo

By Jonathan Allen

 

Little Rabbit sits in the farmer’s field listening to the animals talk and learning their languages. “Moo,” Little Rabbit repeats, “Moo.” A calf responds and questions Little Rabbit. It turns out that Little Rabbit knows and likes many languages. Calf joins Rabbit in the fun. “Baa,” they say together, which summons Lamb. The three friends decide to try “Oink.” With each new noise, the group expands and enthusiastically continues their linguistic experiment.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-little-rabbit-who-liked-to-say-moo-quack

Copyright Jonathan Allen, 2008, courtesy of Boxer Books Ltd.

Finally, after a rousing chorus of “Quack,” Duckling asks , “Why are you all saying quack? You’re not ducks.” Baby Donkey is the first to answer. “I like Quack.” “So do I…Me too,” the other young animals pipe up. “Is quack your favorite animal sound?” Duckling asks. Each animal then reveals with pride that, while they like other noises, they prefer their own. But what about Little Rabbit, who doesn’t “have a big noise?” Will Rabbit’s answer begin the game again?

The wide-eyed, smiling animals in this adorable picture book by author-illustrator Jonathan Allen perfectly captures the joyous camaraderie of good friends discovering the world together. The book is a wonderful introduction for young children to the ideas of inclusiveness and self-esteem. Kids will love the repetition as each new animal joins the group, and will have as much fun saying each sound as Little Rabbit and the other farmyard friends.

Ages 2 – 5

Boxer Books Limited, 2015 (Board Book) | ISBN 978-1910126257

International Rabbit Day Activity

CPB - Rabbit Puppet made

Paper Bag Rabbit Puppet

 

With this easy and fun craft you can make your own little rabbit who likes to play with you and talk in other languages! Make up stories of your own – what does your little rabbit like to do?

Supplies

  • Rabbit Puppet Template
  • A paper lunch bag
  • Markers, crayons, or colored pencils
  • Cotton Ball
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape

Directions

  1. Print the Rabbit Puppet template.
  2. Color the parts of the rabbit and cut them out.
  3. Place the flat paper bag on a table with the bottom flap facing you. Glue or tape the eyes, and the nose and whiskers to the bottom flap. Attach the ears, placing the tabs behind the top of the bottom flap. Attach the paws to the body below the bottom flap. Attach the cotton ball tail to the opposite side of the bag.  
  4. When it’s dry, use your puppet to read The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo again and play along, making the other animals’ sounds.
  5. Then let your Little Rabbit try saying “Hi” in the languages below.

Learn to Say “Hello” in Other Languages

  • Spanish: Hola (oh-la)
  • French: Bonjour (bon zhur)
  • German: Hallo (hă-lo)
  • Chinese: Nin Hao (nee hah)
  • Filipino: Kamusta (ka-muh-stah)
  • Italian: Ciao (chi-ow)
  • Japanese: Kon’nichiwa (ko-nee-chee-wah)
  • Turkish: Merhaba (mĕr-hah-bah)

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-little-rabbit-who-liked-to-say-moo-cover

You can find The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review