November 20 – It’s National Adoption Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-moldilocks-and-the-three-scares-cover

About the Holiday

National Adoption Month was instituted in 1976 as a week-long celebration of adoption and raise awareness for the urgent need for adoptive families for children and youth in foster care. The holiday was expanded to include the entire month of November in 1995. This year’s theme is Youth Voices: Why Family Matters. This month gives adoptive families and families considering adoption a chance to talk about their experiences and find resources for this important type of family-building. To learn more, visit the American Adoptions website.

Moldilocks and the Three Scares: A Zombie Tale

Written by Lynne Marie | Illustrated by David Rodriguez Lorenzo

 

“In a big haunted house—with room enough for four, there lived three Scares: Papa Scare, Mama Scare, and Baby Scare.” One cold night Papa Scare prepared a midnight snack of “sliced finger sandwiches” and “Alpha-Bat Soup.” Mama Scare was working in her lab and wishing she had an assistant, while Baby Scare wished he had someone to play with. When the food was ready, Papa poured a tub of soup for himself, a medium-size bowl for Mama, and a tiny bowl for Baby. But the soup was so hot that they couldn’t eat it and decided to take a walk while the soup cooled.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-moldilocks-and-the-three-scares-soup

Image copyright David Rodriguez Lorenzo, 2019, text copyright Lynne Marie, 2019. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Meanwhile, Moldilocks, a zombie, was sleepwalking through the graveyard when she smelled the aroma of the Alpha-Bat Soup. Finding the house empty, she climbed in the window and headed for the kitchen. Papa’s soup was too hot; Mama’s soup was too cold; but Baby’s soup was just right—so “she gulped it all up.” With a full belly, she went in search of somewhere to sit and found three chairs in front of the TV.

First, “she strapped into Papa’s chair,” but it was too hard. Mama’s chair was too soft. But Baby’s chair was just right—until it’s bony seat snapped. Moldilocks decided it was time for a nap anyway, so she looked for a place to sleep. Papa’s slab was too hard; Mama’s sarcophagus was too tight; but Baby’s bed was just right. “She buried herself under the sheets and fell asleep. Zzzzzz…”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-moldilocks-and-the-three-scares-mildilocks

Image copyright David Rodriguez Lorenzo, 2019, text copyright Lynne Marie, 2019. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

When the Scares came home, they immediately noticed that someone had been tasting their soup and that Baby Scare’s bowl was empty. Then they discovered that someone had broken all of their chairs—leaving Baby’s chair nothing but a pile of dust. Their ghost dog, Plasma, tracked Moldilocks to the bedroom, where the Scares learned that someone had been lying on Papa and Mama’s beds and found Moldilocks snoozing in Baby’s bed.

“‘How dare you…’” Papa bellowed to a quivering Moldilocks “‘…eat without us!’” Then Mama Scare hugged Moldilocks and told her she could be her lab assistant. And Baby Scare wondered if she’d like to play “Corpse and Robbers” with him and his “Deady Bear.” Mama Scare gave Moldilocks another squeeze and said, “‘A little ghoul is the perfect addition to our family!’” Moldilocks agreed, and they all “lived hauntingly every after.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-moldilocks-and-the-three-scares-soup-eaten

Image copyright David Rodriguez Lorenzo, 2019, text copyright Lynne Marie, 2019. Courtesy of Sterling Children’s Books.

Lynne Marie’s monstrously cute take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears offers up a tale of a family who would love to add another member to play, eat, and work with. When Moldilocks wanders into their empty house and makes herself at home, her discovery by Papa, Mama, and Baby answers all their “nightmares,” and they happily welcome her into their family. Full of spooky puns and funny allusions to monster culture, Marie’s storytelling will have kids howling with giggles. A gently suspenseful twist reveals the deeper layer to this fractured fairy tale—one of inclusion, belonging, and adoption.

David Rodriguez Lorenzo’s eerie and comic illustrations abound with bats, tombstones, spiderwebs, skulls, and bubbling cauldrons, and readers will love the spookily stylish décor of the Scare’s home. But the heart of the story lies in Lorenzo’s depictions of the monsters as a close family and Moldilocks as a little zombie looking for a place to call home.

Moldilocks and the Three Scares: A Zombie Tale is A frightfully fun addition to home, school, and library fractured fairy tale collections.

Ages 4 – 8

Sterling Children’s Books, 2019 | ISBN 978-1454930617

Discover more about Lynne Marie and her books on her website.

To learn more about David Rodriguez Lorenzo, his books, and his art on his website.

National Adoption Month Activity

cpb - monster love maze

Monster Love! Maze

 

Help this little monster collect all the heart snacks in this printable puzzle.

 Monster Love! Maze | Monster Love Maze Solution 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-moldilocks-and-the-three-scares-cover

You can find Moldilocks and the Three Scares: A Zombie Tale at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

September 20 – A Crazy-Much Love Blog Tour Stop

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-crazy-much-love-cover

About the Holiday

I’m thrilled to be celebrating Read a New Book Month by participating in the blog tour for A Crazy-Much Love and hosting a giveaway of this heartwarming book. I received a copy of the book to check out, and all thoughts are my own. You’ll find details about the giveaway below.

A Crazy-Much Love

Written by Joy Jordan-Lake | Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

 

A mom and her daughter walk along, gazing at each other. “You are the one, precious child—did you know?” she says, starting the story the little girl knows by heart but wants to hear as much as the mother wants to tell it. Long before the little one had joined their family, her mom and dad dreamed about her and prepared for her, waiting and waiting. “It was you,” her mom says, that they loved before they even saw or hugged or held her.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-crazy-much-love-crib

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2019, text copyright Joy Jordan-Lake, 2019. Courtesy of Two Lions.

The future mom and dad “counted the hours and struck off the days” until they could bring their baby home and let her know she was “safe and warm and so crazy-much loved.” Finally, the day came and they traveled by plane and train, never stopping, until they held their child in their arms and told her that they’d love her “forever and ever and far beyond that.” And the baby responded with a look like she “felt it right down to [her] toes.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-crazy-much-love-laugh

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2019, text copyright Joy Jordan-Lake, 2019. Courtesy of Two Lions.

At home, the little girl’s new extended family was waiting to welcome her—even the dog, who licked her toes and made her laugh. That’s when they knew, her mom tells her, that “our crazy-much love for you would grow and grow more and spill out the windows and bust down the doors.” And there were all those “firsts” that filled their hearts: first bath, first steps, first word, and first sentence, in which she echoed back all the love she had received—”“I love you much!’”

As she grew, there were more firsts to come: riding her bike and going to school. These milestones brought her parents such joy for how “crazy-well [she] had grown.” And now, when they all snuggle together, the little girl asks the questions she already knows the answers to but loves to hear them always. “‘How much is the crazy-much love?’” and “‘How long does it last, the crazy-much love?’” They all shout the answers as one, while Mom and Dad hold their daughter tight so that she knows she is “the greatest of crazy-much gifts.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-crazy-much-love-travel

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2019, text copyright Joy Jordan-Lake, 2019. Courtesy of Two Lions.

That heart-swelling love parents have for their child or children bursts from every page of Joy Jordan-Lake’s shimmering ode to adopted children. While there are mentions of waiting for a phone call and long travel, and the parents are shown looking at photographs (these are shown from the back and could also represent ultrasound images), the feelings of anticipation and joy this mom and dad express are familiar to all parents. Jordan-Lake’s long, lyrical sentences echo the excited rush of emotions that bubble up inside at unexpected moments.

The repeated phrase “It was you”—changing to “It is you” on the final page—will raise a lump in parents’ throats as it embodies that totality of history, the present, the future, and the endless awe that parents hold in their hearts for their one or for each of their children individually. Hearing these words while cuddled on a lap or snuggled up in bed, children will absorb the tender outpouring of love and embrace their place in the family and the world.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-crazy-much-love-pictures

Sonia Sánchez fills her eye-catching pages with motion and light, mirroring the effervescent love between parents and child that is returned to them as well. Star lights twinkle above the baby’s crib, a brilliant sun sends the plane carrying the couple on its way around the world, and feelings, depicted with colorful floating circles and hearts, flow from mother, father, and child and fill the air. This family’s special bond is celebrated with smiles, laughter, hugs, and snuggles on every page, reinforcing their “crazy-much love.”

A Crazy-Much Love is a book all parents or caregivers will want to share with their child or children. It makes a fabulous gift for new parents and will be a favorite on home, school, and public library shelves.

Ages 3 – 7

Two Lions, 2019 | ISBN 978-1542043267

Joy Jordan-Lake is the author of multiple books for adults, including A Tangled Mercy, a Goodreads Hot Reads Selection and Kindle bestseller, and Blue Hole Back Home, winner of the Christy Award in 2009 for Best First Novel. A Crazy-Much Love is her debut picture book. She holds a PhD in English and has taught literature and writing at several universities. She is a mother to two biological children and one child adopted from China, and her experiences inspired this book. She lives outside Nashville with her family, including two fluffy dogs. You can learn more about Joy Jordan-Lake at www.joyjordanlake.com.

Sonia Sánchez is an award-winning Spanish illustrator. Her debut picture book, Here I Am, written by Patti Kim, received two starred reviews and was nominated for the Eisner Award for Best Painter. Her artwork has been selected for the prestigious Society of Illustrators Original Art Show twice, and her books have been 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 son, and a sleepyhead cat in a blue house near the Mediterranean Sea.

A Crazy-Much Love Giveaway

I’m excited to partner with Two Lions in a Twitter giveaway of:

One (1) copy of A Crazy-Much Love written by Joy Jordan-Lake | illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

To enter Follow me @CelebratePicBks on Twitter and Retweet a giveaway tweet.

This giveaway is open from September 20 through September 26 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on September 27.

Prizing provided by Two Lions

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | No Giveaway Accounts 

Read a New Book Month Activity

CPB - Heart Jar

Do you wish there was a way to remind your child or children how much you love them and how your love grows even when you’re not with them? With this jar just a quick glimpse shows them what is in your heart.

Supplies

  • A clear, plastic jar with a lid
  • Red felt
  • Scissors

Directions

1. Cut red hearts from the felt

2. Whenever you feel that tug of love for your child, add a heart to their jar. In no time it will start filling up, just as your heart is full of them. Here are some ideas for when to add a heart or two:

  • Add the same number of hearts as your child’s age
  • Add one heart for each thing you love about your child (write those traits on the hearts)
  • Give a new heart whenever your child does something nice for someone
  • Add hearts for milestones and accomplishments
  • Encourage your child to pass the love along! Tell them they can give a heart from the jar to other family members or friends

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-crazy-much-love-cover

You can find A Crazy-Much Love at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

November 19 – National Adoption Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-story-I'll-tell-cover

About the Holiday

National Adoption Day is a national collective initiative to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care who are waiting to find permanent families. Sponsored by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, The Alliance for Children’s Rights, and Children’s Action Network, National Adoption Day was instituted in 2000, and since then has made the wishes of nearly 58,000 children come true. Last year 4,000 children in foster care found forever families on this day.

The Story I’ll Tell

Written by Nancy Tupper Ling | Illustrated by Jessica Lanan

 

A mom and her child snuggle in a big comfy chair reading a book together. “Someday,” the mom thinks, “when you ask where you came from, I’ll tell you a story.” She considers telling her child that they came from a faraway land, carried in a hot-air balloon that gently drifted down “like a feather” into the backyard. “‘You’re home now,’ I said. Then I wrapped you in a blanket as red and silky as the balloon’s sails.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-story-I'll-tell-someday

Image copyright Jessica Lanan, text copyright Nancy Tupper-Ling. Courtesy of Lee & Low

Or perhaps she will remember it differently: the blanket was fashioned from the silver cape worn by a mysterious horseman who rode into town with the baby in his saddle bag. Maybe, instead, it was an angel: “Wrapped in her arms, you followed a trail of lanterns around the world until you reached our doorstep. How your eyes sparkled when I first saw you.” But, no. She thinks back over the years and once again hears a lark singing high in the birch tree. “When I climbed to the top,” the mom will say, “you were cradled in the branches. Did you know I’d never let you fall? Your hands fluttered like leaves when the clouds passed by.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-story-I'll-tell-balloon

Image copyright Jessica Lanan, text copyright Nancy Tupper-Ling. Courtesy of Lee & Low

The child’s mom might use her own grandmother’s tale of how she, herself, was found in the cabbage patch. But she would alter the setting slightly to a riot of tiger lilies that peppered her baby’s cheeks with pollen-like freckles. Or the child may have arrived in town with the August moon, the illustrious honoree riding on the dragon float as musicians played and lion dancers performed. “Your smile was as wide as the ocean when I cradled you.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-story-I'll-tell-wave

Image copyright Jessica Lanan, text copyright Nancy Tupper-Ling. Courtesy of Lee & Low

Maybe the baby’s parents weren’t at a parade, but walking along the seashore when their child “floated in on a wave. No, not a wave! I’d say there was a dragon queen who kept you by the sea to raise you as her own….I waited inside until the dragon queen fell asleep. Then I tiptoed inside and rescued you from her dark cave.” Even as she imagines all these stories, however, the child’s mother knows they will not be believed, “because it will be hard to fool the brightest child in the world.”

The true story, however, is just as marvelous and magical as any invention. So when the child is old enough to wonder, the mother says, “I will tell you how we gathered you in a silk blanket and flew on wings through the sky. Your eyes sparkled like the ocean below, and your hands fluttered as clouds passed by.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-story-I'll-tell-birch-tree

Image copyright Jessica Lanan, text copyright Nancy Tupper-Ling. Courtesy of Lee & Low

Bringing a child into a family is always an awe-inspiring experience, almost inexplicable in the changes it creates in the heart. Sometimes the true story doesn’t seem to begin to accurately reflect the wonder of it all. Nancy Tupper Ling plumbs the depth of these feelings in The Story I’ll Tell, offering lyrical imaginings drawn from the fairytales, myths, and legends that are part of our global inheritance and enlighten our lives.

As a mother plans what she will someday tell her adopted child, readers learn that each of her various scenarios contain aspects of the actual story. Throughout, Tupper Ling offers assurances of the anticipated and enduring love the parents have for their child. While the ethnicity of the adopted child is not stated, images suggest that the baby was born in China. The book is also written without gender pronouns and illustrated with gender-neutral clothing and the short hair of most babies, making this a universal book.

Jessica Lanan’s gorgeous, ethereal paintings perfectly reflect the emotional power of Tupper Ling’s text. With each page the baby comes to the mother and father anew, highlighting not only the moment that the child became theirs but also the waiting that took place beforehand. Each two-page spread glows with sunlight, lantern light, or starlight and is connected by a swooping ribbon of imagination that carries aspects of the child’s heritage in its wake. Lanan’s vibrant palette of reds, blues, yellows, and greens depicts the joy of both parents and their child. Every page is infused with exquisite beauty and invites readers to linger to appreciate the full impact of this story.

The Story I’ll Tell makes a wonderful gift and is a must for all adoptive parents and their children. It is also an exceptional book to be shared with all children.

Ages 2 – 8

Lee & Low Books, 2015 | ISBN

Discover more books for children and adults by Nancy Tupper Ling on her website!

View a gallery of Jessica Lanan‘s illustration work for children’s and middle grade books

National Adoption Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-heart-framed-drawing-page

I Love My Family! Portrait

 

Use this printable heart-framed I Love My Family! Page to draw a portrait of your family!

Picture Book Review