December 31 – Universal Hour of Peace Day

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About the Holiday

The idea of Barbara Condron, the Hour of Peace encourages people worldwide to live conflict free for the hour between 11:30 p.m. December 31 and 12:30 January 1 and enter the new year in a spirit of love and hope. The holiday was first celebrated on October 24, 1995 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the United Nations and the autumnal equinox. In 1996 the holiday was moved to January 1st and took place at noon GMT. It now spans the transition from the outgoing year to the new year.

Peace is an Offering

Written by Annette LeBox | Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

 

Peace comes in many forms, as simple as “an offering” of “a muffin or a peach. / A birthday invitation. / A trip to the beach.” Peace is being thankful for the wonders of nature, a parent’s love, the coolness of rain or morning dew, even a steaming “bowl of hot stew.”

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Image copyright Stephanie Graegin, 2015, text copyright Annette LeBox. Courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

Peace is those times when we are together, in a hug, with sweet words, or cuddling to hear a story. Peace comes in reassurance to the questions that might worry: “Will you wait when I’m slow? / Will you calm by fears? / Will you sing to the sun / to dry my tears?”

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Image copyright Stephanie Graegin, 2015, text copyright Annette LeBox. Courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

Where is peace found? In so many places! In a picture or a “belly laugh.” And even when tragedy strikes or “in your darkest hour,” peace can be found, for “peace is a joining, not a pulling apart. It’s the courage to bear a wounded heart.” Peace is finding safety and a “freedom from fear.” It’s found when you “offer a cookie…comfort a friend…sing a quiet song.” When you’re open to catching “a falling star” then peace will “walk beside you / wherever you are.”

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Image copyright Stephanie Graegin, 2015, text copyright Annette LeBox. Courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

Annette LeBox builds beautiful phrase upon beautiful phrase until midway through her inspiring story when she takes readers gently by the heart and shows them the way forward through any event that disrupts inner peace. LeBox reveals that capturing or recapturing those simple joys that make up a fulfilling life—and more importantly offering that kindness, help, and inclusion to others—brings hope, healing, and happiness not only to others but to yourself as well.

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Image copyright Stephanie Graegin, 2015, text copyright Annette LeBox. Courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

Stephanie Graegin excels in pairing text with quietly powerful images of togetherness and the tranquility such closeness brings. As diverse groups of friends, siblings, and families go about their day at school, eat out, navigate puddles and long walks, and enjoy time playing and laughing with each other, readers will be moved by Graegin’s tender details and will enjoy following and pointing out the characters who return from page to page. Images of loss (a mother hugs her two children close as they sit on a park bench overlooking a cityscape and little boy gazes at a picture of his dog) offer poignant opportunities for adult and kids to discuss life changes and events in the news that affect us all. Illustrations of uplifting ideas and gestures that children can use to express their vision of kindness and peace will inspire young readers.

A stirring and heartfelt look at the ways children and adults can share peace, comfort, and encouragement, Peace is an Offering is superb book to add to home, school, and public libraries.

Ages 3 – 8

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015 | ISBN 978-0803740914

Discover more about Annette LeBox and her books on her website.

To learn more about Stephanie Graegin, her books, and her art on her website.

Universal Hour of Power Day Activity

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Soaring with Peace Coloring Page

 

A peaceful feeling inside can make your spirits soar like balloons in the air. Decorate the balloons in this printable page in your favorite colors (maybe even add a bit of glitter!) and hang it where seeing it will make you happy.

Soaring with Peace Coloring Page

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You can find Peace is an Offering at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

December 30 – It’s Cat Lovers Month

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About the Holiday

As 2018 gives way to 2019, we give one last bow to those friends that keep us smiling, whether at home or in cute pics and videos online. Who are they? Cats! With their “who me?” looks, disregard for privacy, and utter confidence that they rule the house, cats and kittens make life better in so many ways. If you’re thinking about adding a furry family member to your home this coming year, check out the sweet cats at your local animal shelter.

Quackers

By Liz Wong

 

Quackers, a little orange tabby, wants to say hello! “Meow.” Quackers is a duck. “He knows he’s a duck because he lives at the duck pond with all the other ducks.” Not only that, but all of his friends are ducks. Sometimes, though, when he looks around at all the white feathers and orange beaks, he feels a bit out of place, and communicating is sometimes difficult. There’s also the issue of food—some of the things he’s given to eat are pretty slimy or tiny or hard to chew, and duckweed seems to be on the menu all the time. The worst, though? Getting wet.

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Copyright Liz Wong, 2016, courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers.

One day, Quackers meets another duck who looks like him and sounds like him. In his joy, Quackers blurts out, “‘I’ve never met a duck who understands me!’” The gray kitten, Mittens, is confused at first and then understands and then laughs. At last, she invites Quackers to follow her. They end up at a farm where Mittens lives with “a whole flock of strange ducks. Ducks just like Quackers.”

Mittens shows Quackers how they “chase mice,” which Quackers prefers to swimming; “drink milk,” which is more delicious than duckweed; and clean themselves, which Quackers is a bit iffy on. Soon, Quackers is napping with his new friends. As much as he enjoys being a cat, Quackers starts to miss the duck pond. He even finds that he has a craving for duckweed. He scampers back and discovers that “most of all, he missed his friends.”

Now Quackers splits his time at the pond and the farm. Sometimes he’s a duck, and sometimes he’s a cat. But all the time “he’s just Quackers, and that makes him completely happy.”

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Copyright Liz Wong, 2016, courtesy of Knopf Books for Young Readers.

As mom to a cat who thinks he’s part person and possibly part dog, I fell in love with Liz Wong’s little Quackers and little readers will too. Kids will giggle as Quackers sits contentedly on a lily pad, accepts slugs and snails as snacks with a meow-nimum of fuss, and explains to Mittens that he’s a duck.  Readers, who are beginning to develop their own identity, will be cheered when Quackers embraces both his duck and cat sides. They’ll understand that it’s what’s inside a person that matters and that being yourself is the best thing you can be. Wong’s adorable kittens and ducks will charm kids, and her simple hand-lettered text and speech bubbles create a cozy reading experience that’s like a sweet hug in a book.

Full of humor, self-acceptance, and inclusion, Quackers should find a home on any child’s and classroom’s bookshelf.

Ages 3 – 7

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0553511543

Discover more about Liz Wong, her books, and her art on her website.

Cat Lovers Month Activity

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Match the Kittens Puzzle

 

These adorable kittens all have a twin, but they’ve gotten mixed up while playing. Can you find the matching pairs in this printable Match the Kittens Puzzle?

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You can find Quackers at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

December 29 – National Tick Tock Day

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About the Holiday

Tick tock. Tick tock. Do you hear it—that steady march of time counting down the hours until 2018 is just a memory? Are there things that you wanted to do this year that you just haven’t gotten to? No worries! There are three days left to finish that project, call that friend, get more organized, or whatever is niggling at the back of your mind. So get moving—but remember, there’s a whole new year coming up to fill with joy.

The Noisy Clock Shop

Written by Jean Horton Berg | Illustrated by Art Seiden

 

“Mr. Winky mended clocks. He took care of shabby clocks with dirty faces, poor old clocks with broken hands, and lazy clocks that wouldn’t run.” When the clocks were fixed, Mr. Winky wound them and waited for their owners to come back for them. Mr. Winky’s shop was alive with tickety-ticks, tick-tocks, cuckoo-cuckoos and even a tinkly song from the Swiss clock.

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Image copyright Art Seiden, 1950, text copyright Jean Horton Berg, 1950. Courtesy of Grosset & Dunlap/G&D Vintage, 2015.

One day when Mr. Winky was enjoying all the sounds in his shop, Mr. Glum dropped by to chat. But when he heard all ticks, tocks, bongs, and cuckoos of the various clocks, he stuck his fingers in his ears and said, “‘How can you stand this awful noise? I was going to visit with you awhile, but I can’t hear myself think!’” And he left the shop, “slamming the door behind him.”

Mr. Winky’s feelings were hurt and he tried to think of a clever comeback to say the next time he ran into Mr. Glum. But suddenly, amid all the ticks and tocks, bongs, and cuckoos, Mr. Winky couldn’t hear himself think either. He ran out of the shop. Outside on the sidewalk things seemed quieter. But as soon as he stepped off the curb, he heard the “squoonk” of a taxi cab, the “squeech” of brakes and the “clang-clang-clang” of the trolley.

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Image copyright Art Seiden, 1950, text copyright Jean Horton Berg, 1950. Courtesy of Grosset & Dunlap/G&D Vintage, 2015.

Mr. Winky decided he had to leave the city, so he went to the train station and boarded a train to the country. But even here he heard the crunch, crunch of the peanuts he was snacking on, the who-oooo-oooo of the train whistle, the clickety-clack of the wheels on the track and the “pickety-pick, pocket-pock” of the conductor punching tickets. This was just too much, so Mr. Winky got off at the next stop.

He found himself on a country road. There he found a farmhouse where he could spend the night. Before dinner he went out to the water pump, which squeaked as he washed his hands, and while the dinner was delicious, the clinking of utensils and clanking of plates made him run up to his room as soon as he was finished.

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Image copyright Art Seiden, 1950, text copyright Jean Horton Berg, 1950. Courtesy of Grosset & Dunlap/G&D Vintage, 2015.

The next morning, he took off for the woods and at first it was quiet, but then a squirrel began chattering, a crow caw-cawed, leaves and twigs rustled and snapped underneath his feet, and he even “ran smack into a big brown bear.” Mr. Winky turned around and ran out of the forest, past the farmhouse, and all the way to the train station, where he bought a return ticket to the city.

He hurried through the city,  where the “clang-clang” of the trolley, the “eeee-eeee-eeee” of the firetruck siren, the “squoonk” of the taxi horn filled the air, and rushed through the door of his shop. It was so good to be back. But something was wrong. Mr. Winky checked his workbench, opened the cash register, and felt for his eyeglasses, but everything was as it should be. Then he realized it was too quiet in the shop.

The clocks had all stopped ticking and tocking, cuckooing and tinkling because they hadn’t been wound. Mr. Winky couldn’t stand the silence. He set to work winding each clock. “Soon all the clocks began to talk,” and Mr. Winky was happy. “‘I dearly love a cheerful shop,’” he said. “‘And who wants to hear themselves think, anyhow?’”

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Image copyright Art Seiden, 1950, text copyright Jean Horton Berg, 1950. Courtesy of Grosset & Dunlap/G&D Vintage, 2015.

Jean Horton Berg’s classic tale has lost none of its power to enchant young readers even in this day of digital timepieces. Her story of discovering or rediscovering those things that make us happiest will resonate with kids and adults and awaken awareness of the people, objects, and work that bring the most joy. Berg’s fast-paced, humorous storytelling is filled with onomatopoeia that kids will love to echo, and Mr. Winky’s return to his beloved clock shop mirror’s a child’s happiness to come home after a day at school or out in the world.

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Image copyright Art Seiden, 1950, text copyright Jean Horton Berg, 1950. Courtesy of Grosset & Dunlap/G&D Vintage, 2015.

Children who may be unfamiliar with the intricate beauty and even quirky personalities of old-style clocks will be charmed and intrigued by Art Seiden’s spirited and detailed illustrations of Mr. Winky’s shop. As Mr. Winky escapes into the city and country, kids will discover plenty of familiar sights as well as some treasures of the past, such as a hand water pump and an electric trolley car. But the clocks are the stars and may inspire kids to learn more about these objects that needed their workings wound and hands turned and once stood in places of honor in nearly every home. The story may even spur a visit to a clock-repair shop—if one still exists in your neighborhood.

A timeless story that generates giggles as well as thought, this G & D Vintage reissue of the 1950’s favorite The Noisy Clock Shop makes for a fun story time at home or at school.

Ages 3 – 6

Grosset & Dunlap, G&D Vintage Edition, 2015 | ISBN 978-0448482163

National Tick Tock Day Activity

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Cuckoo Clock Coloring Page

 

The chirp of a cuckoo clock keeps you on time—or at least aware of the passing of time! Here’s a printable Cuckoo Clock Coloring Page for you to enjoy!

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You can find The Noisy Clock Shop at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

December 28 – Christmas Bird Count

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About the Holiday

For 118 years the Audubon Society has held a bird count in North America, Central America, and South America from December 14 through January 5. The count is conducted by professionals and volunteers who sign up to monitor various areas designated in 15-mile-wide diameter circles. The information and statistics gathered help to keep track of bird populations and aid in protecting our beautiful feathered friends. During the snowy, cold winter months, remember to set out seed and suet for birds to eat. For more information or to get involved, visit the Audubon Society website.

Some Birds

By Matt Spink

 

The variety of birds in the world is astounding! With their unique coloring, songs, and behaviors, our feathered friends provide entertainment and beauty wherever we are. Most times, we only need peer out the window or gaze into the sky to find a fascinating array of life. In his illustrated poem Matt Spink takes readers on a flight of fancy to show the charm, power, and even quirkiness of birds. “Some birds are big / some birds are small / and some birds are just incredibly tall,” the book starts.

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Copyright Matt Spink, 2016, courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers.

How do these birds get around? Sure, they fly but “some birds swoop,” others “soar high,” and still others walk or waddle or hop. And when they get hungry? “Some birds eat worms until they go pop!” Some birds get the itch to swim, tweet, squawk, or twitch, and while some cling to trees making rat-a-tat-tats, others build nests to escape “from sly cats.” Though some birds live in cages, “most birds are free. / A much better life, I’m sure you’ll agree.”

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Copyright Matt Spink, 2016, courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Matt Spink’s sleek birds, each as shining as a stained glass window and as detailed as an Amish quilt or Native American carving, embody the distinct personalities that make these creatures so endearing. With expressions that will make kids giggle and brilliant color combinations that will inspire their creativity, Some Birds is a page-turner.

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Copyright Matt Spink, 2016, courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Matt Spink’s Some Birds is a mosaic of wonder for young and older readers, and would make a vibrant addition to home bookshelves. After all, who among us does not yearn to “fly free?”

Ages 2 – 5

Harry Abrams, 2016 | ISBN 978-1419720703

Christmas Bird Count Activity

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Feathered Friends Coloring Page

 

Watching birds flit and fly through the sky is a pleasure of being outdoors or just gazing through your window. Enjoy this printable Feathered Friends Coloring Page of a parent bird and their little one!

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You can find Some Birds at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

December 27 – Make Cut-Out Snowflakes Day

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About the Holiday

Making paper snowflakes is a fun wintertime activity that brings the outdoors in on snowy days or clear ones. This craft originates in the art of origami—a variation called kirigami. While both origami and kirigami involve folding paper, kirigami entails unfolding the paper and making cuts in desired places to create an effect. Cut-out snowflakes combine the two as the cuts are made while the paper is still folded. Today, get out some paper and scissors and make your own snowflakes to hang!

Snow

Written by Cynthia Rylant | Illustrated by Lauren Stringer

 

Just as every snowflake is unique, each snowfall is different, bringing with it a special feeling. There are the snows that come during the night “like a shy friend, who is afraid to knock, so she thinks she will just wait in the yard until you see her. This is the snow that brings you peace.” There are also snows made of big, wet flakes that pile one on top of each other in such a way that you know you will be leaving school or work early and navigating the slippery roads until you’re home and happy with the magical interruption.

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Image copyright Lauren Stringer, 2008, text copyright Cynthia Rylant, 2008. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

Some snows are just a dusting, just enough to make you notice even the smallest tree branches and the tiny footprints of sparrows. But there are also snows “so heavy they bury cars up to their noses, and make evergreens bow,” and are perfect for curling up to take a nap.

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Image copyright Lauren Stringer, 2008, text copyright Cynthia Rylant, 2008. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

Children love snow and don’t mind pulling on coats and boots and mittens because it means that they will be going outside to catch snowflakes on their tongue and sled down high hills. “The snow loves them back,” giving them snow angels and snow friends and a fresh way to see how beautiful the world can be. The impermanence of snow reminds us all “that nothing lasts forever except memories.”

Back home, a snow day is a perfect time for enjoying something hot to drink, playing games, or having thoughtful talks while “the flowers sleep and the sun sleeps and the soft green gardens are waiting.”

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Image copyright Lauren Stringer, 2008, text copyright Cynthia Rylant, 2008. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

Cynthia Rylant mesmerizes with her lyrical passages that personify snow and reveal its power to transform not only the world but our hearts as well. Whispering, waiting, concealing, and enhancing, Rylant’s snow is a friend, a playmate, and a teacher showing us a quieter world of surprising and tender details and encouraging us to look inside even as we are watching it fall outside.

In her breathtaking illustrations, Lauren Stringer brings Rylant’s vision to life while juxtaposing images of exuberant children with lovely flakes, swirls, and blankets of snow that reinforce the uniqueness of both. As a classroom full of students gaze out of the window anticipating early release, their happy, diverse faces are framed by beautiful snowflakes, each one different. A little girl sleeps soundly in her bed as snow, piling in a skirt of drifts around a tree and forming a sleepy twin, waits for the morning’s discovery. After a day of playing outside, the girl and her grandmother walk home in a winter wonderland tinted pink by the setting sun. As they sit indoors, cozy and planning the spring garden, a bunny sniffs the cold, crisp air. Spring is coming, but for now, the snow is the star.

A wonder-filled story for cozy reading on snowy days or for when the snow is missed, Snow is a magical addition to home, classroom, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 7

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-1328740557 (Paperback) 

Discover more about Cynthia Rylant and her books on her website.

To learn more about Lauren Stringer, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Make Cut Out Snowflakes Day Activity

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It’s Snowing! Matching Puzzle

 

Can you find the pairs of identical snowflakes in this printable puzzle?

It’s Snowing! Matching Puzzle

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You can find Snow at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

December 26 – National Thank-You Note Day

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About the Holiday

The presents have been given and the packages unwrapped. What comes next? The thank yous! Today has been set aside for all recipients to jot down thoughts about how much they appreciate their gifts and send thank-you cards to the givers. To celebrate today’s holiday, make writing thank-you notes a fun family event. Grab some plain cards or paper and let kids draw the cover of the card and then fill it with lots of thanks, good wishes, and, of course, love! There’s even a printable template to use at the end of this post!

The Thank You Book 

Written by Mary Lyn Ray | Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin

 

Saying “thank you” is good manners, of course, but “it’s also for when something wakes a little hum—a happy little hum—inside you and you want to answer back.” Each day begins with a thank you for the sunrise and for breakfast too. Outside, there’s a whole world of wonders to be thankful for, places to play, and crafts to make.

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Image copyright Stephanie Graegin, 2018, text copyright Mary Lyn Ray. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

“Thank you is for laps and books…. It’s also for when hurt or sad or not-so-good gets better.” Thank you is for the things that keep us warm and for holidays full of surprises. We give thanks for home and family as well as “for this earth we ride on, and for the stars beyond.” We’re thankful for the simple joys of bedtime—PJs, stories, and goodnight kisses.

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Image copyright Stephanie Graegin, 2018, text copyright Mary Lyn Ray. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

Thank you is for all the things we know and for those we don’t. It’s for what makes each one of us “glad that we are us.” And for everything both big and small, “we wrap a hug around each day—to say another thank you.”

Mary Lyn Ray’s tribute to the moments, things, and interactions that bring happiness to life is a thoughtful and joyful reminder of all the gifts we share with others. Her lyrical text takes a child’s view of the things both big and small that they can count on to fill a year with wonder.

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Image copyright Stephanie Graegin, 2018, text copyright Mary Lyn Ray. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

Stephanie Graegin populates this world with adorable animals and enthusiastic kids going about their days together at home and with their friends, enjoying celebrations and quiet times, waking up in the morning and going to sleep at night. Each charming image holds the comfort and delight of sharing our lives with others.

The Thank You Book is a gem that highlights companionship, friendship, and the wide range of relationships and things we have to give thanks for every day. It is an enchanting book to add to home, classroom, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 7

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2018 | ISBN 978-0544791367

Discover more about Mary Lyn Ray and her books on her website.

To learn about Stephanie Graegin, her books, and her art on her website.

National Thank-You Note Day Activity

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Personalized Thank-You Card

 

Often the best gift you can give someone is a “Thank You!” With this printable Thank-You card, you can let someone know how much you appreciate them by drawing and writing a special message.

You can even get creative! Write a story, draw a picture, make a cartoon, or use a little glitter! You can also attach this to something you bake or make. Why not give the important people in your life a personalized thank you? It’s guaranteed to be appreciated!celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-thank-you-book-mary-lyn-ray-cover

You can find The Thank You Book at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

December 25 – Christmas Day

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About the Holiday

Christmas is anticipated all year round for the joy of giving, the fun of receiving, and the message of hope the holiday gives. Honoring the birth of Jesus, Christmas is a religious observation celebrated with hymns, special services, prayers, and remembrance of others. Incorporating long-held traditions from around the world, the holiday also welcomes Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Papá Noel, Ded Moroz (“Grandfather Frost” in Russian), Julenissen (“Christmas Gnome” in Norway), and many other names, who brings gifts to children on Christmas Eve. The day inspires family dinners, home baking, parties with friends, and togetherness.

The Christmas Cat

Written by Maryann Macdonald | Illustrated by Amy June Bates

 

“Jesus was beautiful, like all babies,” but on the night he was born he cried and cried. Mary tried everything to comfort him—a warm blanket, feeding him, rocking him—but nothing soothed him. Looking on, the other animals longed to help. “Doves fluttered down from the rafters, settling on the creaky stable door.” Although their coos were soft and musical, the baby did not stop crying.

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Image copyright Amy June Bates, courtesy of amyjunebates.blogspot.com/

The gentle brown cow tried next, lowing the lullaby she used on her own calf, but Jesus cried louder. And even though the donkey meant well, her braying “made Jesus cry loudest of all.” Then from a hiding place a little kitten crept “step by careful step” toward Mary and Jesus. Leaping lightly onto Mary’s lap, the kitten “nuzzled Jesus’s neck. Then he began to purr, a calm, contented purr that came from deep inside.” Jesus gazed at the tiny kitten, and as he touched the soft fur his crying quieted. The barn grew silent and the new family and all the animals slept soundly.

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Image copyright Amy June Bates, courtesy of amyjunebates.blogspot.com/

As time passed and the kitten grew into a cat, he and Jesus became close companions, playing together under the fig tree. When it was naptime, “it was the cat’s turn to watch over the baby and purr him to sleep.” But one day their peaceful life was shattered. Jesus’s father, Joseph, learned through an angel that King Herod was looking for Jesus. Harod had heard rumors that Jesus would grow up to be king one day. “Herod’s soldiers, the angel said, were racing toward Bethlehem, hoping to find the baby Jesus and destroy him.”

Joseph, Mary, and Jesus hurried to leave their home, packing everything they had to go now—in the middle of the night—to escape detection and flee to Egypt. With all their goods piled onto their donkey, Mary and Joseph were ready to leave. But where was Jesus’s cat? “Mary and Joseph combed through the tall grass, searched the shadows near the fire and looked high in the branches of the fig tree. But the cat was nowhere to be found.”

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Image copyright Amy June Bates, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

It was much too dangerous to linger, and so, sadly, the family left Bethlehem without their beloved pet. In the chill night air, Jesus was uncomfortable; he missed his cat. “He clenched his tiny fists and screamed.” Joseph worried. Were the campfires on the horizon Herod’s soldiers? Could they hear Jesus crying? Both Mary and Joseph missed the calming influence of their cat. Suddenly, Jesus heard a familiar wail. Out of the basket tied to the donkey’s flank popped his companion. Jesus reached out for him, and the cat leaped into his arms.

After the two had greeted each other as long lost friends, they fell asleep to the cat’s tender purring as “the donkey carried them far away from Herod’s soldiers and their terrible swords, far away to the safe land of Egypt. Love had saved them.” As the two grew older together, they loved each other as only a pet and it’s child can. “They were meant for each other…from the very first Christmas night, in the bright starlight.”

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Image copyright Amy June Bates, courtesy of amyjunebates.blogspot.com/

In her Author’s Note following the text, Maryann Macdonald reveals that her story is inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of La Madonna del Gatto or the Madonna of the Cat, in which the baby Jesus is depicted holding and playing with a cat as he sits on his mother’s lap, as well as legends of a cat that lived in the stable where Jesus was born.

Maryann Macdonald’s gentle story of the baby Jesus soothed by a kitten on the night he was born and saved by this same pet on his flight to Egypt will captivate young children. The focus on the child-animal bond will delight little ones with pets of their own and makes the Christmas story immediately accessible. Macdonald’s lyrical language beautifully portrays the emotion and setting of the story, and she establishes the danger faced by the family with age-appropriate suspense.

Amy June Bates enhances the story with gorgeous traditional paintings of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, the stable and its animals, and the nighttime journey to Egypt. Her watercolor, gauche, and pencil illustrations glow with warm ambers, greens, and midnight blues. The barn animals are sweetly gentle and earnest in their attempts to soothe the crying baby, and the realistic portraits of the family demonstrate their love for each other. Children will especially like the images of Jesus and his pet cat cuddling and playing together. The final illustration of Mary, Jesus, and their cat echoes the drawing by Leonardo da Vinci that accompanies the Author’s Note.

For pet owners and animal lovers, The Christmas Cat would make a meaningful addition to their holiday collection.

Ages 3 – 6

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2013 | ISBN 978-0803734982

To learn more about Maryann Macdonald and her books, visit her website!

To view a portfolio of artwork by Amy June Bates, visit her blog!

Christmas Day Activity

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Cute Christmas Cat Coloring Page

 

This cute kitty is all decked out for the holiday! Have fun with this printable Cute Christmas Cat Coloring Page!

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You can find The Christmas Cat at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review