April 1 – National Siblings Day

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About the Holiday

National Siblings Day gives people a chance to honor the special bond they have with their brothers and/or sisters. Whether you come from a big family or small, are the oldest, youngest, or somewhere in between, your siblings have had a big influence on your life. Today, take a little time to text or call and do a little reminiscing. At home, engage in some special sibling-bonding fun!

Elsie

Written by Nadine Robert | Illustrated by Maja Kastelic

 

Elsie Filpot had six siblings—“Francis, Florian, the twins Flavie and Franzi, Fernand, [and] Felice.” They loved to go fishing on sunny Sundays. On this Sunday, each brother and sister gathered something for the trip. But little Elsie didn’t feel like going. She had “better things to do.” But her siblings shouted, “‘YOU ARE COMING ALONG, ELSIE!’” So Elsie tagged along.

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Image copyright Maja Kastelic, 2020, text copyright Nadine Robert, 2020. Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Outside, each one wanted to take the path through the woods they’d used before. Franzi remembered that the “trail is so pretty.” Francis liked the “wild rose bushes along the way,” and Felice added: “they smell so nice.’” But Elsie wanted to “walk along the brook. It’s faster,’” she said. Her siblings said, “‘DON’T DO IT, ELSIE! FOLLOW US.’” So Elsie followed them down to the river where their little stick fishing rod holders still stood.

Elsie’s sisters and brothers were eager to get started. Felice needed help casting her line, and Francis offered to help. Florian and Fernand had already dipped their lines in the water when Elsie said, “‘I am going to put this little buttercup on my hook.’” Her siblings told her that would never work, but she baited her line anyway. It was lunchtime before they knew it, so they set out a picnic with sandwiches and cake. Elsie wasn’t hungry and said she was going to feed her sandwich to the ducks. When her siblings heard this, they said, “‘DON’T DO IT, ELSIE! THEY WON’T EAT IT.’’ But the ducks did nibble the bit she gave them.

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Image copyright Maja Kastelic, 2020, text copyright Nadine Robert, 2020. Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers.

After lunch Elsie’s sisters and brothers were so full and sleepy that they took a nap. Elsie watched their rods as she continued fishing with her buttercup lure. In time, even Elsie fell asleep. When her siblings woke up, they rushed to check their lines. One was bobbing—Elsie’s! Fernand tried to wake her, but she just wanted “‘five more minutes…just five minutes. Pleeeease!’” When she heard she’d caught a fish, though, she jumped up to go see.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-elsie-river

Image copyright Maja Kastelic, 2020, text copyright Nadine Robert, 2020. Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Each of Elsie’s siblings gave advice on how to bring the fish out of the water. Francis declared that it was “‘a big one!’” Elsie went down into the water with the fishnet, but her brothers and sisters told her that “‘was useless.’” But was it? Everyone was amazed when little Elsie brought up the big fish. The sun was beginning to set, so the Filpot bunnies got ready to go home. Franzi, Flavie, Felice, and Francis carried the fish; Florian grabbed the picnic basket; and Fernand gathered up the rods. And Elsie? She carried her pink umbrella and led the way along the brook. Which her siblings thought was “…AN EXCELLENT IDEA!’”

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Image copyright Maja Kastelic, 2020, text copyright Nadine Robert, 2020. Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Charming and sunny, Nadine Robert’s Elsie combines the feel and rhythms of a traditional classic with the camaraderie and humor that makes for a family favorite today. As each brother and sister chimes in on the plans and execution of their Sunday fishing trip, Robert’s bouncy dialogue is a joy to read aloud and leads to littlest sister Elsie’s contributions and her siblings’ insistent response. On successive readings, children will love joining in on these lines. With the whimsy of little ones, Elsie goes in her own direction, and, to the delight of readers, comes up with the day’s big catch. While the older siblings initially take charge, Robert depicts the family dynamics with love. Elsie’s siblings don’t stop her from doing what she wants and when she does catch a fish with a buttercup and a net, they enthusiastically congratulate her, help her bring it in, and then follow her lead home.

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Image copyright Maja Kastelic, 2020, text copyright Nadine Robert, 2020. Courtesy of Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Maja Kastelic’s tempera and watercolor illustrations are as delightful as a lazy warm summer day. From the Filpot’s enchanting home, decorated with dried flowers and cozy touches, to the rolling green hills that lead to the river and are populated with birds, squirrels, deer, and even a hapless mole who pops out of the ground at an inopportune place, Kastelic gives children plenty of “look at that!” moments on each page. She also adds bits of humor—as in the parade of ants that appears as soon as the picnic basket is opened and the bunnies snooze. Children will want to linger over the pages to match the dialogue to the speakers and to keep up with Elsie as she does her own thing. As the sun goes down and stars fill the midnight blue sky, the story may come to an end, but only until you flip to the beginning to read it again.

Lovely in every way, Elsie will become a quick favorite for kids and adults to share. With lots of opportunities for dramatic readings, the book is perfect for bedtime or energetic story times. Elsie makes an excellent gift and is highly recommended for home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 8

Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020 | ISBN 978-1419740725

Discover more about Nadine Robert and her books on her website.

To learn more about Maja Kastelic, her books, and her art on her website.

National Siblings Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sweet-bunny-candy-jar

A little bit of candy makes any day sweeter! With this Sweet Bunny Candy Jar, you can give a child, a friend, or even yourself a special treat that will make you hoppy!

Supplies

  • Printable Hat Rim and Bunny Ears Template
  • Baby food jar (or any small jar)
  • White fleece, 8 ½ inches by 11 inches (paper, felt, or other material works too)
  • 1 piece of purple foam or paper (Or any color you’d like to make the hat) 
  • Small piece of pink foam, felt, or paper for nose
  • Googly eyes (I used oval)
  • Medium pom-pom or cotton ball
  • Craft paint, purple (or whatever color you’d like to make the hat)
  • Fabric glue or other glue
  • Black ultra-fine or fine tip permanent marker
  • Scissors
  • Large nail (optional)
  • Hammer (optional)

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Directions

  1. Remove label from baby food jar
  2. Clean and dry jar and lid
  3. Trace the hat rim template onto the purple foam
  4. Cut out the rim of the hat and remove the center
  5. Trace the ears template onto the white fleece and cut out

To Make the Body and Face

  1. Cut a 2-inch wide by 7-inch long strip of white fleece
  2. Glue the strip of fleece to the jar under the threaded lip and leaving about ½ inch of glass showing at the bottom
  3. Glue on the googly eyes
  4. Cut a little nose from the pink foam and glue to the face
  5. Make the mouth with the permanent marker on a little piece of fleece, cut out and glue under the nose

To Make the Hat

  1. Paint the lid with the purple paint. Let dry.
  2. With the nail or ice pick and hammer, make a hole on either side of the lid to insert the ears. You can make the hole a little bigger with a phillips head screwdriver
  3. Flip the lid over and hammer the edges of the hole flat
  4. Attach the hat rim to the lid

Option: Instead of making holes in the jar lid, gather and glue together the wide ends of the ears, let dry. Glue ears to lid. If using paper, fold wide end and glue to lid.

To Insert the Ears

  1. Pinch the end of one ear together and push it through one hole in the lid.
  2. Pull it through the hole a bit to form the ear
  3. Repeat with the other ear

Finish the Bunny

  1. Add the foam rim to the lid
  2. Glue the pom-pom to the back of the jar for the tail
  3. Add M&Ms, jelly beans, or other small candy

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You can find Elsie at these booksellers

Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound | Powell’s 

Picture Book Review