January 24 – Global Belly Laugh Day

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About the Holiday

Laughter is a powerful uniter. Sharing jokes, funny videos, and, laugh-out-loud books is the perfect way to bring a group or family together. Not only is a hearty belly laugh fun, it’s good for your soul and your health! Today’s holiday encourages us to smile, laugh, and engage in all the things that bring us joy. It’s also a day to think about and thank those who share their funny stories, fun times, and laughter with us whether they’re professional comedians or your own family members. So celebrate today by spending time with friends, telling jokes, watching a funny movie, and, of course, reading hilarious books—like today’s! 

Turkey’s Valentine Surprise

Written by Wendi Silvano | Illustrated by Lee Harper

 

On a snowy February 14th at Farmer Jake’s farm, Turkey, Pig, Cow, Horse, the Sheep, and Rooster and the Chickens were exchanging Valentine’s Day cards and candy. One of Turkey’s cards made his wattle wiggle with laughter. “Dear Turkey, You are like no otter! From a Secret Admirer” it read. Turkey loved the valentine so much that he wanted to make one for each of his friends. He decided he would write clever messages and deliver his cards in disguise so his friends would never know who their secret admirer was.

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Image copyright Lee Harper, 2022, text copyright Wendi Silvano, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

But how to get started? The chicks helped him find the “purr-fect” pun, and as Turkey designed his card with a smiling cat on it for Rooster, he came up with a costume that was sure to fool his friend.  Hidden (almost) in a barrel sporting wooden ears, button-and-straw whiskers, and a rope tail, Turkey crept to Rooster’s mailbox. No sooner had Turkey slipped the valentine into Rooster’s box than Rooster picked it up and read it. 

He took one look at the “cat” who had delivered it, and said, “‘I have a feline that you’re not a cat . . . you’re Turkey!'” Then he added, “‘But what a clever valentine!'” Turkey was disappointed that he’d been discovered, but with Rooster’s help made another valentine and disguise to try to surprise Horse. But Horse turned out to be just as perceptive as Rooster. “‘Oh, gobble, gobble,’ groaned Turkey. ‘I wanted it to be a secret surprise.'”

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Image copyright Lee Harper, 2022, text copyright Wendi Silvano, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Cow’s “toad-ally awesome” valentine went awry too, and so did Turkey’s plans for Sheep’s and Pig’s. Still, everyone thought Turkey’s punny valentines were wonderful. Turkey went home to cheer himself up with his own valentines. That’s when he saw a candy “heart that gave him one last idea.” With only two hours before the Valentine’s Dance, Turkey hurried to prepare his surprise. Before anyone had arrived at the barn, Turkey set up his surprise.

Turkey watched as his friends enjoyed his special delicious treat — complete with a witty message to show how much their “secret admirer” loved them. Then he sat down among them and enjoyed some of it himself, excited that “‘No one will ever know it was me!'” But did they?

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Image copyright Lee Harper, 2022, text copyright Wendi Silvano, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Everyone’s favorite Turkey and all the animals on Farmer Jake’s farm are back for the most loving holiday of them all, and Wendi Silvano gives kids plenty to love in her sweet and funny story. Fans of the series know how much the farm animals care for each other, and their feelings are on endearing display here as each animal has a box or bucket overflowing with valentines. When Turkey gets a punny valentine from a secret admirer, he’s excited and determined to give his friends the same thrill.

This idea gives Silvano carte blanche to sprinkle in as many puns as the pages will hold. Turns out the other animals are just as adept at puns as Turkey, giving kids lots to laugh about and, perhaps, even some inspiration for their own valentines. Kids will also be delighted to see Turkey return with his signature disguises. But in his last attempt, does Turkey really bamboozle his friends as their secret admirer? It’s up to readers to say yes or no. A few scattered clues may help them decide. The animals’ obvious delight in their Valentine’s Day cards – apart from the dramatic deliveries – shows their sensitivity to Turkey’s feelings as well as their own affection for their friend.

Lee Harper’s vibrant illustrations put Turkey and the other farm animals front and center as the punny valentines and candy hearts are prominently displayed to set kids giggling. Each of Turkey’s silly disguises will have kids laughing and talking about what he made them from. Turkey’s indomitable spirit is one of the most charming parts of the series, and here his desire to surprise his friends surpasses all of his disappointments in being recognized and keeps him going with infectious glee. 

Turkey’s Valentine Surprise is a laugh-out-loud, feel-great story that makes a terrific read for the run-up to Valentine’s Day or any time of the year as well as a fantastic gift for that special someone. Fans of the series as well as those new to Turkey’s antics will want to bring Turkey’s Valentine Surprise home to roost. The book is also a must for school and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 7

Two Lions, 2022 | ISBN 978-1542023665

About the Author

Wendi Silvano was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has lived in Oregon, Colorado, and Peru. The author of the Turkey Trouble series, she has a BA in early childhood education and taught preschool and elementary school for eleven years. She is the mother of five children and the owner of an assortment of odd pets that are not nearly as clever as Turkey. She now writes from her home in Colorado, where she enjoys hiking, reading, and playing the piano. Visit her at wendisilvano.com.

About the Illustrator

Lee Harper is the author-illustrator of the books CoyoteThe Emperor’s Cool Clothes, and Snow! Snow! Snow! Lee is also the illustrator of the Turkey Trouble series by Wendi Silvano as well as the Woolbur series, written by Leslie Helakoski. Lee has four children, a German shepherd, two barn cats, eleven chickens, and four sheep…but still no turkeys. Yet. He lives with his wife in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Visit him at leeharperart.com.

Global Belly Laugh Day Valentine Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-entangled-hearts-matching-puzzle

Entangled Hearts Matching Puzzle

 

These friends are collecting valentines! Can you help them follow the paths to find more in this printable puzzle?

Entangled Hearts Matching Puzzle

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You can find Turkey’s Valentine Surprise at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

January 22 – Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day

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About the Holiday

Whether you have a cat (or many), enjoy playing with your friend’s cat, or just love watching cat videos, you know that cats are cute, curious, cunning, and completely captivating. They’re also great communicators, and we can learn a lot about what they want and what they don’t want if we pay close attention to their patterns of behavior. Today’s holiday was thought up by Ruth and Thomas Roy of wellcat.com to encourage cat owners to spend extra time with their cats and do just that. By understanding your cats better and and seeing to their needs, both you and your feline will forge a stronger bond, be closer, and be happier living together. 

P Is for Purr

Written by Carole Gerber | Illustrated by Susanna Covelli

 

Do you hear it? That low motor revving with happiness? That Purr with a capital P?  That distinctive hum can only be signaling one thing: a pure love for Carole Gerber’s and Susanna Covelli’s adorable alphabet book that delivers all sorts of information on cats, from different breeds to their cunning behaviors to their unique physical attributes. Beginning with “A” for American Shorthair, readers learn cat-centric vocabulary and surprising facts about this favorite furry pet. Did you know, for example, that American Shorthairs “crossed the sea on sailing ships and kept them free of rats”? And some of those weren’t just any ships. “Ancestors of American Shorthairs came on the pilgrims’ ships to guard their food from rats.”

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Image copyright Susanna Covelli, 2022, text copyright Carole Gerber, 2022. Courtesy of Familius.

At “I” we learn just how felines can be so aloof one minute and then snuggling up to you the next: “I is for Intelligence. / Cats are cunning and they’re smart. / They all know how to get their way / and creep into your heart.” How do they know? In a little cat-paw-clue sidebar, Gerber reveals that “The parts of cats’ brains are connected in exactly the same ways as human brains.”

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Image copyright Susanna Covelli, 2022, text copyright Carole Gerber, 2022. Courtesy of Familius.

In charming rhymes, Carole Gerber answers kids’ (and adults’) questions about which breed of cat is the chattiest, how fast a house cat can run, how cats release their claws, and how a cat tells you it’s time for some affection: “Underbelly, soft and warm. That’s the letter U. / A belly turned up on display? That’s a feline petting clue!” And what about all those whiskers that give cats their very distinguished look? Well, “W is Whiskers. They grow mainly on the face, / and help a cat to feel its way into every space.” 

Susanna Covelli’s fluffy, expressive cats and kittens gaze out at readers with their big, bright eyes, mischievous grins, and even those supercilious frowns we cat-owners know all too well. Tabbies, Siamese, black cats, white cats, a Maine Coon, and even a Sphynx stretch, yawn, leap, lie across knees for pets, groom, play, and sleep in heartwarming and humorous illustrations.

P Is for Purr would be a purr-fect addition to home, school, and public library collections for young children learning the alphabet and becoming readers as well as for cat lovers or those looking to welcome a cat or kitten into their lives. 

Ages 3 – 6 

Familius, 2022 | ISBN 978-1641707411

About the Author

Poet and author Carole Gerber has written sixteen picture books, three chapter books, and more than one hundred elementary science and reading texts for major publishers. Her most picture recent book, A Band of Babies, was named a 2017 Best Book for Children by Amazon editors. She holds a BS in English education and an MA in journalism from Ohio State, and has taught middle school and high school English as well as college news writing and factual writing at OSU. Learn more at www.carolegerber.com.

About the Illustrator

Susanna Covelli was born in a small town in Piedmont, Italy, earned an MA in architecture, and followed her passion for art and decided to attend a specialization course in both traditional and digital illustration at Scuola Iternazionale di Comics in Turin. Her art expresses her own imagination and inspiration from nature, and she has always been attracted by sinuous shapes, Baroque style, and out-of-the-ordinary perspective. You can connect with Susanna on Instagram.

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day Activities

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Match the Kittens Puzzle

 

Little ones can have fun matching up the kitten pairs in this printable puzzle!

Match the Kittens Puzzle

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Purr-fect Friends Maze

 

Kids can help these cat friends get together to play in this printable maze!

Purr-fect Friends Maze Puzzle | Purr-fect Friends Maze Solution

 

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You can find P Is for Purr at these booksellers 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

January 17 – It’s National Skating Month

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About the Holiday

National Skating Month was established by U.S. Figure Skating as a week-long celebration in March 2002 following the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. The holiday gives ice-skating rinks, clubs, and programs an opportunity to invite new families to the ice by offering free lessons and skating demonstrations. If figure skating isn’t your thing, you might like to take your skills to the hockey rink or just to a local pond for some free-style skating. However you choose to enjoy the ice, skating is fun and for everyone! To learn more about the holiday and find resources for bigger groups, visit the US Figure Skating website. To download and print fun skating-inspired puzzles and coloring pages from US Figure Skating, click here

The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

Written by Jocelyn Watkinson | Illustrated by Marcus Cutler

 

Three pigs were just finishing their hockey scrimmage when a wolf sprang from behind some bushes, fangs sharp and claws at the ready to satisfy his hunger since they looked so delicious. But as they quickly took off their skates and packed up their gear, they said, “‘I’m soorry there, Wolf, you are soorely mistaken—'” To which the wolf replied, “‘Oh no! But I’m not! You’re Canadian bacon!'” The pigs jumped on their snowmobile and hurried home to their snow fort in town. 

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022, text copyright Jocelyn Watkinson, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

It didn’t take long for the wolf to catch up with them, and from outside their door, he shouted, “‘Little pigs! Little pigs! Let me come in!'” But they just replied, “‘Not by the pads on our shinny-shin-shins!'” The wolf threatened to blow the fort down, but this was no flimsy home built of sticks or straw. In fact, they told him, “‘there’s not one single flaw!'” The wolf wasn’t going to give up easily and he collected Moose and Bear to help him break in.

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022, text copyright Jocelyn Watkinson, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

When the three pigs had just enough of the wolf’s team’s attack, they came out and challenged them to “‘settle this fight the Canadian way'” with “‘a hockey game showdown.'” With a Canada goose as a ref, they took to the ice, attracting a crowd of spectators. The wolf and his team thought they’d win with ease, but the pigs “deked and they cut: / the pigs couldn’t be caught,” and when they scored, the wolf took to underhanded measures to stop them. 

But the pigs were too quick and too nimble, and they ran up the score. When the ref blew her whistle ending the game, the pigs celebrated saving their home, but the wolf “… full of frustration and hunger and spite, / … threw down his gloves and dove in for a bite.” It looked like the pigs were goners for sure, but Bear and Moose called him out on his poor sportsmanship. Wolf dropped the three pigs, feeling ashamed but still hungry. 

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022, text copyright Jocelyn Watkinson, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Dragging his stick and hanging his head, the wolf trudged off the ice, but one pig called out to him, inviting him to join them in a feast back at the fort. When the wolf saw their spread of poutine, tourtière, beaver tails, butter tarts, and so many other mouthwatering delicacies, he apologized: “‘Pigs, I’m so sorry that I was a brute.'” / “‘There’s nothing for you to be soorry a-boot.'” a pig graciously told him. The pigs, Wolf, Bear, and Moose all made amends and piled up their plates. Then they settled in to watch a game on TV. And as “they put up their feet,” the wolf had to agree that “‘being friends with Canadian bacon is sweet!'”

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022, text copyright Jocelyn Watkinson, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Full of clever rhymes, puns, valuable lessons, and dialogue that winks at Canadian pronunciations, Jocelyn Watkinson’s story flows as smoothly as a hockey puck on ice. Her regional take on the traditional Three Little Pigs story is fast-paced and suspenseful while touching on themes of sportsmanship, remorse and forgiveness, and friendship all framed with high-energy hockey action and plenty of humor. Especially welcome is Watkinson’s depiction of Bear and Moose confronting Wolf when he reneges on his agreement to let the pigs go if they win the game. Standing up to a friend or for what’s right can be hard, but Watkinson shows readers that having the courage of your convictions is honorable, honest, and can often turn a negative situation into a positive experience.

Marcus Cutler scores with his funny, emotion-packed illustrations that will have kids laughing and cheering for the pigs from page to page. Winter sports fans will love all the hockey action and will want to linger over the pigs’ hard-won trophy, on which Cutler had fun hamming it up with the names of some of hockey’s greats, The spread of favorite Canadian foods is sure to inspire game-night treat feasts. Cutler also highlights the important role of Bear and Moose, who ultimately appeal to Wolf’s better nature.

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

In a humorous and foreshadowing scene, Bear halfheartedly scratches at the pigs’ snow fort with one paw while holding a steaming mug in the other as Wolf exhorts his friends to “ram and claw and maul” their way inside. When Bear and Moose finally challenge Wolf to live up to his deal, their disapproval is clearly visible to readers. Wolf’s resulting feelings, as well as their cause, are also evident, giving kids and adults openings for meaningful discussions on behavior.

Whether your kids wait all year for hockey season, are fans of fractured fairy tales, or simply love a great story, The Three Canadian Pigs is a funny and impactful read aloud that’s sure to become a story time favorite all year long and a book you’ll be glad you added to your home, classroom, school, or public library.

Ages 4 – 7

Sleeping Bear Press, 2022  ISBN 978-1534111608

Discover more about Jocelyn Watkinson and her books on her website.

To learn more about Marcus Cutler, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Skating Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-three-canadian-pigs-maze

 

The Three Canadian Pigs Activity Kit

 

The game’s on with the two puzzles and two coloring pages inspired by today’s book! Just download and print them from the Sleeping Bear Press site here:

The Three Canadian Pigs Activity Kit

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-three-canadian-pigs-cover

You can find The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

January 11 – International Thank-You Day

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About the Holiday

Every January 11 International Thank-You Day encourages people around the world to express their gratitude to those who have made their lives better in some way. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to think about how we might thank all those who show kindnesses, provide services, teach us new skills, and share our lives. Teaching children how to express gratitude is a valuable lesson, and sharing today’s book with little ones is a wonderful way to get started. You’ll even find two creative activities that will help kids think about and share thankfulness all year through.

The Thank You Book

Written by Danna Smith | Illustrated by Juliana Perdomo

 

For little ones, “Thank you” may be one of the first phrases they learn when they begin getting out into the world. Thanking grandparents and other relatives, friends, teachers, librarians, store employees, and others becomes a part of every day. But for kids just learning manners and communication skills, prompts to say “thank you” may seem kind of random, confusing, and maybe even a bit intimidating.

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Image copyright Juliana Perdomo, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith. Courtesy of Little Simon.

This is where Danna Smith’s delightfully cheery story about sharing your appreciation comes in. With charming rhymes, Smith answers the questions of why, when, and to whom thanks are appropriate while infusing her story with the positive feelings that thanking someone for their kindness instills in the thanker and the one being thanked.

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Image copyright Juliana Perdomo, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith. Courtesy of Little Simon.

Smith begins with an inviting and easy-to-understand definition of thankfulness that will resonate with young children: “When someone is thoughtful or kind in some way, ‘thank you’ are two very nice words to say.” She then goes on to provide specific examples of times that gratitude is warranted as well as language to help kids express their feelings for specific acts of kindness. As illustrations show children engaged in various activities, readers discover they can say, “‘Thank you for helping.’ ‘Thank you for sharing.’ / ‘Thank you for teaching.’ ‘Thank you for caring.’”

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Image copyright Juliana Perdomo, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith. Courtesy of Little Simon.

But is saying those types of words the only way to show your gratitude? Children (and especially those who are reluctant to talk with people they don’t know well or feel shy about speaking up) learn that there are other ways to show gratitude, including giving hugs, drawings, and tasty treats.

Smith then reveals a well-known secret about saying thank you that will make today’s inclusive kids happy to be part of an appreciative community: “If you start with one thank-you, you’ll find it will grow.” And, indeed, Smith finishes her story by assuring readers that kids all over the world are thanking others for their friendship and kindness.

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Image copyright Juliana Perdomo, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith. Courtesy of Little Simon.

Danna Smith’s sweet board book, with its jaunty rhymes and enthusiasm for sharing gratitude is just the kind of story parents, teachers, and other adults will want to read with their little ones and little ones will want to hear again and again. Her open-ended phrasing allows adults and kids to discuss the types of people who are helpers, sharers, teachers, and care-ers, as well as those within their family and friends who are deserving of thanks and on which occasions. Smith also gives kids ideas for a wide range of ways to say thank you that may use their talents and mean more to them than words. These examples can also spark talks between parents, teachers, and other caregivers on other ways to show thanks. And what if you have a child who just feels appreciation deep inside? They are represented in these pages too.

Juliana Perdomo’s vibrant illustrations of kind acts by friends, parents, teachers, veterinarians, bus drivers, activity instructors, and others will enchant little ones and get them talking about all the times someone has done something nice for them. Readers of all ages can’t help but be filled with gratitude and good feelings when they’re greeted by Perdomo’s smiling and enthusiastic characters. Perdomo mirrors Smith’s text to give kids a concrete understanding of the concepts while filling her pages with cheer and heartfelt gratitude. The idea that saying thank-you can bring people together in a community and around the world is one that will excite kids and encourage them to show their appreciation.

Joyful and inspiring, The Thank You Book would be a favorite read aloud in any young child’s home library and is a must for all daycare, school, and public library board book collections.

Ages 3 and up

Little Simon, 2022 | ISBN 978-1665902922

Discover more about Danna Smith, her books, poetry, and paintings on her website.

You can connect with Juliana Perdomo on Instagram and Twitter.

International Thank-You Day Activities

 

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Thank You! Postcard

 

Do your kids have someone they’d like to thank for a kind act, a gift, or just for being a loved family member or friend? This cheery Thank You postcard makes it easy for kids to show their gratitude and share their love to people close by or far away. This card is also perfect to share for the upcoming holidays!

Thank You! Postcard

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Thankfulness Jar

 

It’s good to remind yourself periodically – or even every day – of all the things you have to be thankful for and all the acts of kindness you’ve received. This activity sheet gives children (and adults who want to participate with their kids) a place to collect all these “thank-you”–worthy experiences. Just write a word or short description inside the jar each time you feel thankful. You might even want to share your appreciation with the people whose names appear in your jar with a note, a picture, a hug, or a homemade craft to show how much they mean to you. 

This Thankfulness Jar also makes a meaningful activity for Thanksgiving Day! Why not print a copy for each guest at your table, provide a pencil, and get everyone sharing what they’re thankful for this year!

Thankfulness Jar Activity Sheet

 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-thank-you-book-cover

You can find The Thank You Book at these booksellers

Amazon  | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review 

January 10 – Houseplant Appreciation Day

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About the Holiday

Missing the green leaves and colorful flowers of spring and summer? Maybe it’s time to recreate the sights of warmer days inside with houseplants! Placed in a sunny window, some plants will continue blooming all winter long, making you feel happier. Houseplants also provide health benefits as they produce oxygen, release moisture into that dry winter air, and improve air quality. Add a few herb plants and even cooking will take on new life. Whether you add just one plant or create an indoor garden, today’s the perfect day to get started.

Luna’s Green Pet

Written by Kristen Pendreigh | Illustrated by Carmen Mok

 

When Luna saw people on her block walking their dogs and playing with their pets, she wished she could have one. “But her apartment building had a very strict NO PETS! policy.” Luna’s friends tried to help out by suggesting other types of pets, including a pet rock, an expensive dog-shaped purse, and an ant farm, but none of these were quite what Luna was looking for. Then one day, she found a small discarded plant in a trash can. She decided it would be the perfect pet.

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Image copyright Carmen Mok, 2022, text copyright Kirsten Pendreigh, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Luna took it home. The plant’s tag read Stephanotis Floribunda, which Luna shortened to Stephanie. Luna gave her pet a “bigger crate, new bedding, and fresh water.” Stephanie took to her new home right away. At night Luna read to her; every morning she took her to the park. Luna’s friends “were not impressed.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-luna's-green-pet-tricks

Image copyright Carmen Mok, 2022, text copyright Kirsten Pendreigh, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Stephanie turned out to be more “rambunctious” than she appeared, climbing the walls and wrapping herself around the headboard of Luna’s bed. Luna trimmed her and got her into shape with “obedience training” and a collar. One day unusual white “clumps of bumps appeared” among Stephanie’s leaves. As the bumps grew, Luna tried washing and hugging Stephanie, but the bumps only got bigger. 

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Image copyright Carmen Mok, 2022, text copyright Kirsten Pendreigh, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Luna decided she’d take Stephanie to the botanist the next day to see what was wrong. During the night under a full moon, though, “the bumps burst open!” Then a “powerful perfume woke Luna.” Luna couldn’t believe her eyes—or her nose. The sweet scent floated out the window and soon attracted bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies during the day and moths at night.

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Image copyright Carmen Mok, 2022, text copyright Kirsten Pendreigh, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

When Luna entered Stephanie in the neighborhood pet parade, she even “won a special prize—Best in Scent.” But Stephanie wasn’t finished with her tricks. A green fruit grew from her branches, and when it burst open Luna found that “a tangle of tufted seeds lay inside.” Carefully, Luna took out one seed for each of her friends and neighbors so they could grow their own Stephanotis Floribunda. And the rest, she let fly away on the “warm night wind” to find new homes where they would be loved as much as Stephanie.

Detailed back matter includes ways in which plants make great pets, a list of ten houseplants that are easy to grow, more information on Stephanotis Floribunda and how to care for it as a houseplant or in a garden.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-luna's-green-pet-nighttime

Image copyright Carmen Mok, 2022, text copyright Kirsten Pendreigh, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Kirsten Pendreigh’s gentle and creative story will charm kids who have a natural tendency to anthropomorphize plants, toys, furniture, and anything they love, imbuing these inanimate objects with personalities all their own. As Luna repots her plant, cares for it, and reigns in its wandering tendrils, Pendreigh enhances her pet imagery by using terms commonly associated with pets, a detail that will also enchant kids. With Luna’s sharing of Stephanie’s seeds, Pendreigh sparks wider ideas of generosity, friendship, and nurturing the environment.

Carmen Mok’s soft-hued, yet vivid illustrations have a quiet grace that allow readers to identify with Lulu’s creative thinking and caring nature. During Lulu’s serendipitous discovery of Stephanie in a trash can, Mok emphasizes Lulu’s personality with a kitty purse, shirt decorated with hearts, and gentle way she examines the plant’s wilted leaves. Kids will love seeing tiny Stephanie grow from a straggly stem into a lush, dog-shaped shrub with the help of some topiary framing.

Any child who has raised plants from seeds or seedlings will understand Lulu’s love for Stephanie and her surprise when Stephanie blooms unexpectedly. Mok’s lovely nighttime spreads spotlight the starlike beauty of the Stephanotis Floribunda flowers and the heady scent that calls out to pollinators. With the appearance of Stephanie’s seedpod, Mok realistically depicts its size, the tufted seeds inside the pod, and how those tufts carry the seeds to new far-flung growing spots.

Unique and heartwarming, Luna’s Green Pet will enchant kids who love pets, plants, a well-told story, or all three and will become a quick favorite to be heard again and again. The book is sure to inspire young botanists and would be a creative way to introduce lessons on plants in school classrooms or for homeschoolers, to spark projects for extracurricular clubs or library programs, and to get kids excited about gardening as well as planting a pollinator space at home. Luna’s Green Pet will enhance any home, school, or public library collection and is highly recommended.

Ages 4 – 8

Sleeping Bear Press, 2022 | ISBN 978-1534111615

Discover more about Kirsten Pendreigh, her poetry her debut book on her website.

To learn more about Carmen Mok, her books, and her art, visit her website.

World Pet Day Activity

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Flip-Flop Plant Holder

 

Have you outgrown your flip-flops or sandals this summer? Well, you can repurpose them with this easy craft that turns summer shoes into a creative way to hang small plants on walls or even windows!

Supplies

  • Child’s flip-flops with elastic heel straps
  • Buttons or charms
  • Small plastic solid-bottom pot
  • Small plant
  • Dirt
  • Hot glue gun
  • Heavy duty mounting strips
  • Small shovel or spoon

Directions

  1. Place the flip-flop toe down on your work surface. With the hot glue gun, attach the buttons to the plastic toe straps of the flip-flops.
  2. Add dirt to the pot
  3. Add plant to the pot
  4. Slip the pot into the elastic strap and gently push down so it is also supported by the plastic toe straps
  5. To hang, use appropriate-weight mountable strips.
  6. To make an interesting and attractive arrangement, use various sizes of flip-flops

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You can find Luna’s Green Pet at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

January 5 – Blog Tour Stop for Everybody Counts!

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I’d like to thank Matt Forrest Esenwine for sharing a digital copy of Everybody Counts! with me for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

Everybody Counts!

Written by Matt Forrest Esenwine | Illustrated by Emma Graham

 

Children are invited to a lively international food festival in this rhyming and educational book that introduces readers to twelve nationalities through their cardinal numbers from 1 to 10 and a favorite dish that kids will be eager to try. As they visit each “booth,” readers learn about the ingredients and how each meal is made and meet an animal commonly found in each country. Along the way, they also gain a sprinkling of history, traditions, and information on the featured language. Kids even discover which number is considered the luckiest in China and why.

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Image copyright Emma Graham, 2023, text copyright Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2023. Courtesy of The Little Fig.

With a verse that plays on the idea of counting, Matt Forrest Esenwine starts off his world tour by prompting readers to look not only for the special attributes of each animal and their country but for those inside themselves and in those around them too: “Everyone is helpful, / in large or small amounts. / Everybody matters. / Everybody counts!” The enthusiasm in these words carry over onto each page spread, which includes a deliciously descriptive rhyming verse, a charming paragraph of explanatory text, and a row of numbers along the bottom, presented in their written form and how each is spelled in the particular language.

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Image copyright Emma Graham, 2023, text copyright Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2023. Courtesy of The Little Fig.

Emma Graham immediately captivates readers with her vibrant opening spread that frames Esenwine’s introductory verse with a series of beautifully patterned plates representing the countries found within the book’s pages. With a page turn, kids are invited into the festival to meet some of the excited participants as they chat with their neighbors and show off their dishes. Graham packs her pages with personality, adorable animals, images of ingredients, and symbols, patterns, landscapes, and colors that give kids plenty to talk about and to jumpstart research projects or new recipes to try. 

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Image copyright Emma Graham, 2023, text copyright Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2023. Courtesy of The Little Fig.

The multifaceted approach of Everybody Counts! is sure to engage kids in many ways—from feeling pride in their own heritage to the sense of accomplishment in learning to count in another language to wanting to try new tastes and foods. For teachers, homeschoolers, parents, and other adults, the book provides an enticing way to introduce geography, language learning, math, and even art lessons. The book’s familiar frame of an international festival can also spark ideas for events in classrooms, schools, and extracurricular clubs or organizations. 

Sure to prompt enthusiasm for story times, educational reading, and a host of extended activities, Everybody Counts! is highly recommended for home libraries and is a must for school and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 8

The Little Fig, 2023 | ISBN 978-1633330559

About the Author

Matt Forrest Esenwine’s children’s poetry can be found in numerous anthologies, including The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry. His various poems and picture books have received numerous positive reviews, including a Kirkus star. Flashlight Night was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the Best Books for Kids and chosen by Kirkus as one of the Best Picture Books of the Year. Matt currently has twelve other books under contract and coming soon. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife, kids, and more pets than he has fingers. You can visit Matt on His website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.

About the Illustrator

Emma Graham is a versatile and experienced illustrator and graphic artist. Since graduating from Norfolk Institute of Art she has build a vibrant portfolio including children’s picture books, private commissions, and Wild In Art sculptures. She was longlisted for the Picture Books Hooks mentoring scheme and a finalist in The Hook at the SCBWI BI conference. As author, she was a finalist in the Stratford Literary Festival’s Salariya Prize for picture books. Emma is commissioned illustrator for the Children’s Appeal at Ipswich Hospital(UK)–a charity raising funds for a full refurbishment of the children’s ward. You can connect with Emma on Her website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter.

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You can find Everybody Counts! at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local, independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

January 3 – Book Tour Launch for Love Made Me More

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I’d like to thank Two Lions and Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy of Love Made Me More for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

Love Made Me More

Written by Colleen Rowan Kosinski | Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

 

An origami crane reveals how it came to be after its origins as “just a piece of paper—orange with white and blue spots” and the day when “a boy folds me many times, giving me a head, tail, and wings” under the watchful eye of his grandmother. The crane becomes an instant favorite, and for the crane, the boy is “My Boy.” The young child places the crane on his nightstand, so that he sees it right before going to sleep and again as soon as he wakes up.

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2022, text copyright Colleen Rowan Kosinski, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Over the years, the origami crane shares in his play, his dreams, and his wishes and it comforts him in his grief of losing a loved one and when shadows scare him. But as the boy grows older, finds new friends and interests, and becomes braver, he talks less and less to the origami crane. And while the crane still sits on his nightstand, the paper has grown dusty.

Then “one day,” the origami crane says,”My Boy places a photograph in front of me. I peek around and see a picture of a girl with an orange, white, and blue shirt. My colors. I fume.” The crane is jealous that “now she is the last thing he sees” at night and the first in the morning. But more years pass, and a day comes when the boy reaches for the origami crane once more. The crane is hopeful that they will play together again as in the past, but instead the boy unfolds it and “scrawls tickling words” on the paper before refolding it.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-love-made-me-more-making-shadows

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2022, text copyright Colleen Rowan Kosinski, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

The origami crane has not been forgotten during all of these years. In fact, the crane’s stature has only grown, now offered to the girl with a love-affirming question hidden inside. “‘Yes, I will marry you,’ she says.” The crane embraces her as “My Girl too” as the boy refolds it. Soon, the origami crane finds itself in the center of a flock floating above a crib where a baby, wrapped in an orange, white, and blue blanket sleeps. “My colors,” the crane thinks happily.

The crane is proud that his flock is “the last thing Our Baby sees each night and the first thing he sees each morning” and that “he loves us.” As the baby grows into boyhood and learns how to make an origami crane himself—with his father’s crane close by—the origami crane realizes that what has made it so much more than “just a piece of paper” is all the love it has been shown and has been a part of.

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2022, text copyright Colleen Rowan Kosinski, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Colleen Rowan Kosinski’s unique story, told from the perspective of an origami crane that has been molded by a boy from a simple piece of paper to become a beloved keepsake, reveals the endurance and transformative power of love. Infused with feelings of belonging and purpose, the story flows through the changes a lifetime brings not only for the boy but for the origami crane. Just as the boy finds friends, meets a girlfriend, gets married, and has a baby, the crane slowly learns to integrate other people and, finally, a flock of origami cranes into its sphere, changes often told with honest emotions and a sense of the years passing by.

When the boy proposes to the girl with the help of the crane and it now accepts his fiancé as “My Girl too,” the crane seems to gain a sense of new life and autonomy when the boy refolds the paper. Instead of defining itself as “his Origami Crane” it now asserts itself as “Origami Crane.” The idea of the importance of being seen, embraced, and given love over an entire lifetime is woven throughout the story and becomes the central theme as the crane realizes that the baby loves it too. Readers take away the knowledge that it is love freely given—and accepted—that makes all the difference in a person’s self-esteem and the way their life evolves.

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2022, courtesy of Two Lions.

Sonja Sánchez’s vibrant and lively illustrations glow with the magic and comfort that the origami crane brings to the boy’s life as a child. Using angled images, strong lines that suggest the creasing that defines the origami crane, and warm earth tones, Sánchez centers her illustrations on the crane. Pages full of movement and color paint a picture of the boy’s childhood spent playing, wishing, and dreaming with the crane always by his side give way to a spread shrouded in brown, where the boy and his friends appear only as silhouettes and the orange crane, pushed to the side of the desk and dwarfed by the boy’s new interests in a computer, guitar, and other objects, is the only bright spot in the brown and darkened room.

Time passes and within two page turns, the boy, grown into a young man, once again has the crane in hand. Its former glow of magic is back as the boy unfolds, writes on, and refolds the paper. A baby comes along and, like his father, sails into imagination and play with the crane, finally learning how to fold his own crane as he grows into boyhood.

Love Made Me More is a singular story to share with children to reaffirm their special bond with a favorite toy or memento, but more: to remind and reassure them of the power of enduring love, expressed in so many ways, to transform people, experiences, and life itself. The book would be a unique, uplifting, and affecting addition to home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 8

Two Lions, 2022 | ISBN 978-1542006200

About the Author

Colleen Rowan Kosinski is the author of A Home Again and the author-illustrator of Lilla’s Sunflowers and A Promise Stitched in Time. She received her BA from Rutgers University in visual art, is an alumna of Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art and Design, and spent many years as a successful freelance fine artist. Colleen calls New Jersey her home and resides there with her family. To learn more, and to watch a tutorial on making an origami paper crane, visit www.colleenrowankosinski.com. You can connect with Colleen on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

About the Illustrator

Sonia Sánchez is the illustrator of a number of picture books, including Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina, A Crazy-Much Love by Joy Jordan-Lake, and The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier. Her books have been nominated for the Eisner Award and named a CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People and a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year. She lives with her husband, her kids, and a sleepyhead cat in Barcelona, Spain. You can connect with Sonia on Instagram.

Love Made Me More Tour Launch Activity

Make an Origami Crane

 

Follow along with this tutorial from Origami Tsunami to make your own Origami Crane to love!

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You can find Love Made Me More at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review