May 25 – It’s National Pet Month

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About the Holiday

Let’s give a shout-out to our best friends! Who are they? Our pets, of course! Small (or large) and fury (or feathered or scaled or finned), our pets give us unconditional love and loads of happiness. Just watching them navigate their day is entertaining and educational. National Pet Month was established to celebrate these in-home pals and remind pet owners to ensure that their pets have everything they need to live a long and healthy life. This month take extra time to have fun with your pet!

Pirate’s Perfect Pet

Written by Beth Ferry | Illustrated by Matt Myers

 

In the vast ocean teeming with sharks, Captain Crave noticed a small bottle bobbing just off the port side of his ship. With a bound from the plank, he dove into the sea and retrieved it. As he balanced himself on the tip of a shark’s nose and the bottle on the tip of his hook, the captain’s crew cheered and held up scores of 8.6 to 10 for his performance.

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Image copyright Matt Myers, 2017, courtesy of Myerspaints.com.

Back on deck, Captain Crave uncorked the bottle and unrolled the message. It was a letter from his mum. She had found a “lovely list” in Be Your Best Buccaneer magazine and was sending it on along with a doubloon for his treasure chest. He passed the list on to his first mate, who read aloud: “‘Think you’re the Perfect Pirate Captain? Use our handy checklist to be sure.’”

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Image copyright Matt Myers, 2017, courtesy of Myerspaints.com.

On the list was “Ship?” “‘Check,’ replied the captain.” He could also check off courage and daring, treasure, eye patch, and hook; he was still working on peg leg. But then the first mate got to “pet.” Captain Crave was surprised, but he wanted to be the best buccaneer he could. “‘Well, shuck me an oyster and set sail for land. We needs to find me a pet,’” he said.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pirate's-perfect-pet-first-mate

Image copyright Matt Myers, 2017, courtesy of Myerspaints.com.

When they landed on the beach, they were happy to see that “they caused quite a commotion, as good pirates should.” They immediately began searching for a pet. The crab was “‘too cranky,’” the octopus was “‘too clingy,’” and the clam was “‘too quiet.’” They left the beach and headed to a farm, where again they caused a commotion. They checked out a goat, a donkey, and  a goose, but none of them seemed perfect either.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pirate's-perfect-pet-beach

Image copyright Matt Myers, 2017, courtesy of Myerspaints.com.

When they entered the zoo, you can imagine the commotion they caused. Here, they tried out an elephant that was “‘too big,’” a koala that was “‘too cuddly,’” and a lion that was just “‘Yikes!’” But the trip wasn’t a total loss. By the end of it, Captain Crave was able to check “peg leg” off the Best Buccaneer list. The zookeeper had an idea on where the pirates could look and drove them straight to the Pet Emporium.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pirate's-perfect-pet-peg-leg

Image copyright Matt Myers, 2017, courtesy of Myerspaints.com.

The pirates couldn’t believe how many pets there were to choose from. Captain Crave took a stroll around the shop and then heard a squawk. Just as he gazed upward, he was bombarded by a splat. “‘I’ve been poop-decked,’ he yelled.” His crew were incensed and chased the parrot around the store. They even wondered if they should eat it.

But Captain Crave took a good long look at the parrot, who had landed on his hook. He could see that the parrot was brave, he knew that it had “caused quite a commotion,” and when he asked the parrot, “‘Do ye happen to know—in land, sea, or sky—any pirate-worthy pets?’” The parrot had an answer. Giving up his mum’s shiny doubloon, Captain Crave left the Pet Emporium with the perfect pet on his shoulder.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pirate's-perfect-pet-pet-emporium

Image copyright Matt Myers, 2017, courtesy of Myerspaints.com.

Readers will love Beth Ferry’s raucous and riotously funny pirate adventure where the treasure sought isn’t gold or jewels but something more valuable—a beloved pet. Along the way, kids will adore Ferry’s dialogue-rich storytelling that includes plenty of clever “pirate speak” and a brilliant bit on how the Captain attains his desired peg leg. With a nod toward a bird’s talent for target shooting, Ferry taps into her audience’s sense of humor, and as the captain finds his perfect pet, kids will also giggle at the parrot’s puns.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pirate's-perfect-pet-zoo

Image copyright Matt Myers, 2017, text copyright, Beth Ferry, 2017. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Matt Myers’ pirate crew is one wild bunch of scallywags—or are they? With a love for mum, pink bunny slippers, and a treasure chest that includes candy and a teddy bear, this mob seems closer to their readers in personality than to historical swashbuckling swaggerers. Kids will laugh out loud as Captain Crave and his pirates run amok at the beach, farm and zoo; “try on” possible pets, and discover the perfect companion.

Amid the commotion, Myers’ vibrant and detailed illustrations ramp up (plank up?) the humor: the ship’s figure head joins in the judging of the captain’s daring-do, a goat nibbles the captain’s pants, exposing his polka-dotted boxers, the no-feeding warning above the lion’s cage includes a picture of a boot with a slash across it, and even the skull on Captain Crave’s hat demonstrates its opinion of the new crew member.

For pirate—and pet—lovers Pirate’s Perfect Pet is a treasure to be added to home, school, and library bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

Candlewick Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0763672881

Discover more about Beth Ferry and her books—available now and upcoming—on her website.

Step into the galleries of Matt Myers to view an incredible array of artwork on his website.

National Pet Month Activity

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Find the Pet Maze

 

Finding the perfect pet can take time! In this printable Find the Pet Maze, a young detective is on the case! Can you help? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

May 21 – It’s National Moving Month

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About the Holiday

Summertime is a natural choice for those moving to a new city, town, or even country. If there are children in the family, the school break provides time for everyone to get to know their new neighborhood before starting school in the fall. Warm, more predictable weather also helps make a move go more smoothly. There are also a lot of online and personal services to answer your moving questions. To welcome newcomers to your neighborhood, introduce yourself and perhaps put together a basket of items to help them acclimate themselves to their new home.

Bruce’s Big Move

By Ryan T. Higgins

 

Oh no! Is that a For Sale sign outside Bruce’s home? You know, the hillside abode with the yard littered with toys, games, and an old hat? What’s going on? Well, let’s turn the page and find out!

If you don’t know already, “Bruce was a bear who lived with four geese because he was their mother (just go with it and check out Mother Bruce). He also shared space with three mice “because they would not leave” (maybe, but weren’t they kind of invited? For the answer to that you’ll want to check into Hotel Bruce). Mice, it seems make themselves very much at home—in every square inch of every room. You wouldn’t believe the mess! (Or what a generous Mom Bruce is!). 

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Copyright Ryan T. Higgins. Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

As you might imagine “Bruce’s house was crowded, chaotic, and loud,” and it all made Bruce very grumpy. Bruce thought and pondered over how he could get rid of those mice. He tried plan after plan, but none of them were successful. Those crafty mice just turned everything on it’s head. For instance, when Bruce told them to get “Out,” they appreciated his concern that they “get some fresh air.”

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Copyright Ryan T. Higgins, 2017. Courtesy of Disney Hyperion.

There was only one thing to do. Bruce packed up his belongings, settled his four kids in the sidecar, and moved away. “Finding a new house for a mother bear and his four geese can be difficult.” The tree-top nest was too shaky, the submerged shipwreck was too wet, and the new construction by turtle builders was too behind schedule. Eventually, Bruce found the perfect home on the edge of a lake and surrounded by meadows. It even came with plenty of friendly neighbors (well, no house is perfect-perfect).

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Copyright Ryan T. Higgins, 2017. Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

The greatest thing about this house, though? No mice! Bruce felt so happy, he smiled. Yeah, really…didn’t you see it? The geese, though, were not so happy. They stood around with sad eyes and dejected postures. “Bruce tried cheering them up . . . .” He flew a kite, took them to the beach, and took them to art class. Even Bruce’s biggest smile . . . um . . . grimace?. . . no, smile—definitely a smile . . . could distract his kids from missing the mice.

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Copyright Ryan T. Higgins, 2017. Courtesy of Disney Hyperion.

But then “the moving van arrived” with some very familiar-looking movers. In fact, these little guys were ready to move in! So, the geese were happy, and the mice were happy. But Bruce? Not so much. The housewarming party was a fantastic success. All the woodland animals came, and “Bruce’s house was once again crowded, chaotic, and loud.” And even though “Bruce didn’t like it one bit,” he had to admit “it felt like home.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bruce's-big-move-tea

Copyright Ryan T. Higgins, 2017. Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion

Ryan T. Higgins’ is the perfect dad/mom/writer/drawer for the curmudgeonly charming Bruce, nudging his creation into a new and hilarious situation in this third installment of his beloved Bruce books. As Bruce tries to gain one moment of peace, kids will giggle and laugh out loud at the antics of the pesky mice who cannonball into Bruce’s bubble bath, soak in his cup of tea, and turn his house into a shambles of stuff. When Bruce finally packs up and moves out, readers can’t really begrudge Bruce his quiet time, but they’ll cheer to see those wily mice back on the scene.

With his flair for gleeful chaos and flawlessly expressive faces. Higgin’s creates a family atmosphere any reader can relate to. Bruce may look grumpy, but as he gazes into the sweet, innocent eyes of his geese and takes full measure of those high-spirited mice, astute readers know that behind that frown lies a soft heart. Kids will love watching Bruce and the geese ride his old-fashioned motorcycle, meeting a new cast of characters, and basking in Bruce’s pearly-white smile. When the story and art come full circle in the tender ending, readers will be happy to have Bruce in their neighborhood.

Bruce’s Big Move is an enchanting and funny story on its own and a very worthy addition to the series. Whether you’re already a Bruce fan or just becoming one, the book is a fantastic addition to home, classroom, and public libraries.

Ages 3 – 8

Disney Hyperion, 2017 | ISBN 978-1368003544

Get movin’ and watch this Bruce’s Big Move book trailer!

National Moving Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-foam-travel-suitcase

Travel Memories Portfolio

 

If you’re moving or traveling this summer, use this handy, easy-to-make portfolio to keep postcards, pictures, and other memorabilia from your traveling or sightseeing trips.

Supplies

  • 12-inch x 18-inch foam sheet in brown or your favorite color (or use a manila folder)
  • Stiff decorative scrapbook paper or single-color paper
  • Stickers, buttons, or scrapbooking decorations 
  • Foam or craft glue

Directions

To Make the Travel Bag

  1. Fold the foam sheet in half
  2. Glue along each edge, leave the top open
  3. Decorate the bag with the stickers 

To Make the Handles

  1. Cut two 1-inch x 10-inch strips from the scrapbook or other paper
  2. Three inches from the right end of the each strip, make a triangular fold
  3. Three inches from the left end of each strip, make a triangular fold
  4. Glue one handle on each side at the top of the bag

Picture Book Review

April 30 – It’s National Humor Month

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About the Holiday

On this last day of National Humor Month (also known as April), take some time to enjoy a laugh with a friend or family member or even a pet. It’s a perfect day to share some laugh-out-loud funny stories like the one in today’s book.

The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse

Written by Mac Barnett | Illustrated by Jon Klassen

 

Early one morning a mouse came face to face with a wolf, “and he was quickly gobbled up.” The mouse was very elegant in his speech and proclaimed, “‘Oh woe!’… ‘Oh me! Here I am, caught in the belly of the beast. I fear this is the end.’” Imagine his surprise when he heard a not-so-elegant voice tell him to “‘Be quiet!’” because the mouse was disturbing his sleep. The mouse demanded to know who was there.

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Image copyright Jon Klassen, 2017, text copyright Mac Barnett, 2017. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Suddenly, the wolf’s belly was illuminated by the flame of a candle, and the mouse saw a duck sitting up in bed. “‘Oh,’” he said. The duck was a bit perturbed by the mouse’s low-key response, especially since he had been wakened in the middle of the night. Now, though, it was the duck’s turn to be surprised as the mouse told him that it was not the  middle of the night outside, but only morning. The duck admitted that he wished “this belly had a window or two,” and then graciously offered to make breakfast.

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-review-the-wolf-the-duck-and-the-mouse-breakfast

Image copyright Jon Klassen, 2017, text copyright Mac Barnett, 2017. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

The mouse declared the breakfast “‘delicious,’” and inquired where the duck found jam and a tablecloth. He may also have been curious about the dishware, the bread, and even the table, chairs, and framed picture, but he was satisfied with the duck’s answer that “‘you’d be surprised what you find inside of a wolf.’” As the duck continued to talk about his home, the mouse was astonished to learn that the duck lived there. “‘I live well!’” the duck said and went on to explain: “‘I may have been swallowed, but I have no intention of being eaten.’”

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-review-the-wolf-the-duck-and-the-mouse-lunch

Image copyright Jon Klassen, 2017, text copyright Mac Barnett, 2017. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Making lunch was a joint effort, and when the mouse asked if the duck missed living outside, he emphatically stated, “‘I do not!’” It seemed that when he was outside, the duck was full of the fear of being eaten. Inside, he was free of that worry. The mouse considered the wisdom of this notion and asked if he could live there too. The duck agreed and then played a record and danced a celebratory jig.

All this commotion was making the wolf feel sick. He attributed his aches and pains to something he ate. The duck was no doctor, but he was clever. He shouted up from the depths of the wolf’s belly and gave him “the cure.” According to the duck, ingesting “‘a hunk of good cheese…a flagon of wine…and some beeswax candles’” would do the trick and make him better.

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Image copyright Jon Klassen, 2017, text copyright Mac Barnett, 2017. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

That night the mouse and the duck ate like kings and toasted the wolf’s good health. But the wolf was not feeling robust. In fact, he felt worse. A passing hunter heard the wolf groaning. He raised his gun and pulled the trigger, but he missed. Realizing what the blast meant, the duck yelled for the wolf to “‘run for our lives!’” In trying to escape, however, the wolf got tangled in the roots of an old tree.

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-review-the-wolf-the-duck-and-the-mouse-dinner

Image copyright Jon Klassen, 2017, text copyright Mac Barnett, 2017. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

The duck and the mouse determined that that very night they would “‘ride to defend [their] home.’” When they were ready, the wolf opened his mouth, and the mouse and duck—armed with a hockey stick, protected with sauce pan and colander helmets, and yelling “‘Charge!’”—flew out and chased the hunter. “‘Oh woe!’” he cried. “‘Oh death! These woods are full of evil and wraiths!’” He ran and ran until he left the forest, and he never returned.

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-review-the-wolf-the-duck-and-the-mouse-hunter

Image copyright Jon Klassen, 2017, text copyright Mac Barnett, 2017. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

The wolf was humbled by the sacrifice the mouse and the duck had made for him and offered to grant any request. “You can guess what they asked for.” And while they continue to dance the never-ending night away, “the wolf howls at the moon. ‘Oh woe! Oh woe!’ Every night he howls at the moon.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-wolf-the-duck-and-the-mouse-charge

Image copyright Jon Klassen, 2017, text copyright Mac Barnett, 2017. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Remember when the Big Bad Wolf gobbled up Granny and Little Red Riding Hood and they survived in his belly until the huntsman cut them out? How was that possible? Mac Barnett reveals the inner workings of this conundrum in this laugh-out-loud fable. The archaic, melodramatic dialog will have readers giggling and participating aloud, as they have to agree with the ingenious duck’s “when life gives you lemons…” philosophy. It’s a good attitude to adopt as we all “get swallowed up” at some point. The trick is learning how to turn misfortune into fortune—or at least a fortunate happenstance. The suitably silly, non-sentimental circumstances will delight kids who relish a bit of the macabre—and, really, who doesn’t?

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-review-the-wolf-the-duck-and-the-mouse-hunter-runs

Image copyright Jon Klassen, 2017, text copyright Mac Barnett, 2017. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Jon Klassen brings his signature deadpan style to this funny story, enhancing the humor with his matter-of-fact drawings that let the scenes speak eloquently and humorously for themselves. As the recently gobbled-up mouse sits gazing forlornly into the wolf’s cavernous belly, readers will experience a tickle of suspense imagining what else lies within. When kids see the stash of good stuff the duck has amassed, their little eyes will grow wide with delight. This amusingly dark tale is fittingly lit with candlelight, the errant blast of the hunter’s gun, and the full moon that hears the wolf’s lament. 

Put the The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse on your bookshelf and it won’t stay idle long. For quirky, comical home, classroom, and library story times this book can’t be eat…I mean beat.

Ages 4 – 8

Candlewick Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0763677541

Discover more about Mac Barnett and his books on his website.

You’ll find a gallery of illustration work by Jon Klassen on tumblr.

You know you want to gobble up this The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse book trailer! 

National Humor Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-made-you-laugh-word-search

Made You Laugh! Word Search Puzzle

 

Humor and laughing are such a part of our lives that there are lots of words for this universal emotion. Can you find all the words for laughter in this printable puzzle?

Made You Laugh! Word Search PuzzleMade You Laugh! Word Search Solution

Picture Book Review

April 26 – Kids and Pets Day

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About the Holiday

When kids and pets grow up together, the bonds they share are beneficial to both. Pets teach children about unconditional love and help them develop a nurturing personality. The day-to-day needs of a pet teach kids important life lessons about responsibility, health and happiness, and even putting others first. Visits to the veterinarian can spark an interest in animal science and a love of other animals. Today’s holiday was established to celebrate the relationship between children and pets and also to remind adults of safety issues involved when young children play with pets. If you’re considering adding a pet to your family, perhaps today is the day!

Lola Gets a Cat

Written by Anna McQuinn | illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw

 

Lola loved cats, and while she had a room full of stuffed cats in all colors and sizes, she wanted a real kitten of her own. Her mother told her that “looking after a cat is a lot of work.” Lola wanted to learn more, so Mommy took her to the library to get a book about cats. Lola learned lots of interesting information about cats and how to take care of them.

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Image copyright Rosalind Beardshaw, 2017, text copyright Anna McQuinn. Courtesy of Charlesbridge.

Lola decided to pretend that Dinah, one of her stuffed kitties, was real. She made a special bed for Dinah from a shoe box and blanket. She made a chart and checked off when she fed, bathed, and played with Dinah. Mommy saw what a good job Lola did with Dinah and agreed that Lola could have a cat. First, Lola and Mommy went to the computer to “find out how to adopt one.” Then they went to the animal shelter where Jeremy showed “them three perfect cats.”

Lola looked at the orange tabby, the black cat who was napping, and the playful gray ball of fluff. Even before Lola made her choice, the little gray one chose her! Jeremy gave Lola a list of all the things she’d need at home to make the little kitten feel comfortable and happy. The next day, Lola and Mommy went shopping at the pet store, and Lola and Daddy set up a special corner in the house with the cat’s toys and bed.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lola-gets-a-cat-feeds-dinah

Image copyright Rosalind Beardshaw, 2017, text copyright Anna McQuinn. Courtesy of Charlesbridge.

Finally, everything was ready. Lola and Mommy went back to the shelter. The kitten was afraid to go into the carrier at first, but including her own blanket made her feel safe. At home, Lola watched her new kitten explore her corner and new things. Lola named her cat Makeda, “the name of an African queen.” Every day, Lola took “excellent care of Makeda.”

Lola’s friend Ty was excited to meet Makeda and even brought her a present. Makeda now feels at home—especially when she’s cuddling with Lola! At night Lola reads a story to Makeda before bedtime. She loves Makeda, and reading to her “is the best of all.”

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Image copyright Rosalind Beardshaw, 2017, text copyright Anna McQuinn. Courtesy of Charlesbridge.

Anna McQuinn’s little Lola is loved by young readers for her curiosity, gentle nature, and can-do spirit. Lola’s sweet personality overflows in this story as she decides that she’d like a pet and then demonstrates to her mommy and daddy that she understands the responsibility. Through her charming storytelling, McQuinn invites little readers to be part of Lola and Makeda’s journey and share in their warm friendship. Lola’s supportive parents offer guidance but allow Lola to thoughtfully make her own decisions and show what she can accomplish.

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Throughout her colorful illustrations, Rosalind Beardshaw’s Lola shows intelligence, self-confidence, and pride as she practices tending for a cat, learns about cat behavior and care, listens to the animal shelter manager, and gets everything ready for her new cat. Detailed images realistically depict the items a cat requires, a bit of the procedure of adopting a shelter cat, how to give a new pet space to assimilate into their new environment, and a good example of a pet-care chart, giving those contemplating a new pet a good primer for children. The quiet joy that infuses each page, makes Lola and Makeda  perfect companions for little readers.

Whether new to the Lola series, adding to a collection, or looking for a character and story a little one will fall in love with, you’ll find that Lola Gets a Cat is perfectly at home on family and classroom bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 5

Charlesbridge, 2017 | ISBN 978-1580897365 (Hardcover) | Paperback available for preorder. Release date May 15; ISBN 978-1580897365

Kids and Pets Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-match-the-kittens-puzzle

Match the Kittens Puzzle

 

These kittens all have a twin, but they got mixed up while playing! Can you find the pairs again in this printable Match the Kittens Puzzle?

Picture Book Review

April 10 – National Siblings Day

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About the Holiday

Today we celebrate our brothers and sisters! Whether you’ve had a lifetime with your siblings or are just getting started with a new little person to grow up with, today is for remembering and making memories to be cherished. To honor the day, spend some time together with your siblings or get in touch and have a bit of fun!

Mela and the Elephant

Written by Dow Phumiruk | Illustrated by Ziyue Chen

 

When Mela headed out to explore the banks of the Ping River, her little brother wanted to go too, but Mela would only take him if he had something to give her in return. When he said he had nothing, Mela told him, “‘Then you stay home.’” When she reached the river, she jumped into her uncle’s boat to try and catch the big fish that swam in the sparkly water. She tossed out her net and nabbed the fish in her net, but he swam on, carrying Mela downstream. Soon, Mela found herself deep in the jungle.

When “the boat caught against a tangle of tree roots, Mela stepped out onto a large rock.” She looked around and realized she was a long way from home.  A crocodile happened by and Mela asked him if he could tow her boat back home. “‘What will you give me for my help?’” the crocodile asked. Mela told him he could have her fish, and the crocodile agreed. But as soon as Mela gave him the fish, he grabbed it and swam away.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mela-and-the-elephant-mela-leaving

Image copyright Ziyue Chen, 2018, text copyright Dow Phumiruk, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Mela had just begun to walk in the direction of home when “a leopard slinked into sight.” Mela asked her if she knew how to get to the village. She did, but would only show Mela if she gave her something. Mela thought, then took off her sweater and gave it to the leopard, saying, “‘It will keep your cubs warm on cool nights.’” The leopard “snatched it up and leaped away.”

Mela continued on and was soon walking down a narrow path, where three monkeys swung from vines in the trees. Again Mela asked for help finding her way home. “‘What will you give us if we help you?’ one chattered. Mela held out her backpack.” It would be helpful for carrying fruit, she told them. As soon as the largest monkey grabbed the backpack, the three disappeared into the forest.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mela-and-the-elephant-mela-fishing

Image copyright Ziyue Chen, 2018, text copyright Dow Phumiruk, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Mela began to cry. She had no idea how to get home, and night was coming. Just then “she heard the rustling and snapping of branches.” She looked up to see an elephant approaching. The elephant asked Mela if she were lost. When Mela said, yes, the elephant offered to give her a ride. Mela told him that she had nothing to give him. But the elephant said, “‘It would make my heart happy to help you. I don’t need anything else in return.’”

Then he allowed Mela to climb up his trunk and onto his back and they started off. When they reached the village, Mela thanked the elephant and he gave her a last hug with his trunk. The next day when Mela’s brother asked to accompany her to the riverbank, she remembered what the elephant had taught her and agreed to take him. And “from then on, she offered many kindnesses to others, asking nothing in return.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mela-and-the-elephant-riding-elephant

Image copyright Ziyue Chen, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

In her lovely story, Dow Phumiruk reminds children that the heartfelt rewards of kindness are more precious than material gain. Such inner happiness often radiates to others, creating strong bonds and long-lasting happiness. It’s interesting to note that Mela is actually inherently thoughtful, offering each potential rescuer an object that is useful to them. But this inner generosity is lost when she interacts with her brother and brushes off his friendship. Through her experiences in the jungle, however, she comes to empathize with her brother. Back at home, she embraces and includes him, and shares the lesson she’s learned with others as well.

As Mela wanders deeper and deeper into Ziyue Chen’s lush jungle of Thailand, readers will understand that while she may be lost, she is also finding her way on her path in life. The animals that approach her initially look friendly and helpful, but as soon as they have their payment, they turn their back on Mela and desert her. The elephant, on the other hand, has kindly eyes and a gentle manner. The final scene in which Mela takes her little brother by the hand as they begin an adventure together demonstrates her change of heart and growth along life’s road.

An Author’s Note includes information about the history, geography, and customs of Thailand, where there story is set, introducing readers to the diverse culture of the country.

Mela and the Elephant employs a mix of traditional storytelling with today’s focus on kindness, empathy, and generosity. The book would make an excellent addition to home and classroom libraries for story time and to prompt discussions about compassion and helpfulness.

Ages 4 – 8

Sleeping Bear Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1-58536-998-0

Discover more about Dow Phumiruk, her books, and her art on her website

To learn more about Ziyue Chen, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Come along on the adventure with this Mela and the Elephant book trailer!

National Siblings Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hand-print-elephants-craft

Elephant Handprint Craft

 

This easy craft is fun for siblings to do together and can make a nice decoration for a child’s room or a gift for mom, dad, or other family members.

Supplies

  • Craft paint in two colors of the children’s choice
  • Yellow craft paint
  • Black fin-tip marker
  • Crayons, markers, or colored pencils to make a background
  • Paper
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Paint one child’s hand and press it on the paper. The thumb is the truck and the fingers the legs.
  2. Paint the second child’s hand and press it on the paper near the other “elephant.” A couple of examples are: the elephants standing trunk to trunk or trunk to tail 
  3. After the paint has dried, draw on ears and an eye
  4. Add a sun with the yellow paint
  5. Add grass, trees, or other background features

Picture Book Review

 

Picture Book Review

April 8 – National Zoo Day

The View at the Zoo by Kathleen Long Bostrom and Guy FrancisAbout the Holiday

Zoos are wonderful places to see and learn about exotic animals from around the world. In addition to creating educational exhibits, zoological experts are involved in the preservation of endangered species. To celebrate the day, you might visit your local zoo, donate your time or money to further a zoo’s mission, or consider “adopting” a zoo animal—many zoological institutions offer this fun and rewarding program.

The View at the Zoo

Written by Kathleen Long Bostrom | Illustrated by Guy Francis

 

“Rise and shine! Attention, please! Monkeys get down from those trees!” So calls the zookeeper as he begins his rounds, waking up the zoo animals to greet another day of visitors. Once the bear cubs are up, the lion’s mane is combed, the elephant has wiped his nose, and the giraffes are standing tall, the gates are flung open.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-view-at-the-zoo-snake

Copyright Guy Francis, 2010, courtesy of Ideals Children’s Books.

The day is full of excitement, observations, and education—“My, what silly things they do, all these creatures at the zoo.” Some creatures walk and waddle to an inner beat. Some carry babies in pouches or on their backs while others are noisy—howling and shrieking. And look at how some love to eat! There are those who primp to stay neat and clean, and those that will nip your fingers if you get too close!

Yes, the zoo is full of intriguing specimens! As the sun goes down the visitors head for the exit, and the animals watch them leave. It’s been another good day. Those people sure put on quite a show! The owl exclaims, “What a hoot! Folks have no clue the view that we have at the zoo!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-view-at-the-zoo-parrots

Copyright Guy Francis, 2010, courtesy of Ideals Children’s Books.

The View at the Zoo is a perfect union of words and illustration. Kathleen Long Bostrom’s text tells the story in a jaunty rhyme that will have kids giggling all the way through. Guy Francis’s lush, detailed illustrations are full of humor and reveal the real “watchers” of the story. Kids will have fun picking the animal and people pairs out of the crowd who are “dancing to their own inner beat,” carrying babies on their backs or in pouches, making noise, chowing down, getting clean, and flashing dangerous teeth. This zoo is colorful, wild, and populated with animals happy to study the exotic creatures on the other side of the fence.

Ages 3 – 6

Worthy Kids/Ideals Publishing, 2015 | ISBN 978-0824956691 (Paperback)

Discover more about Kathleen Long Bostrom and her books on her website.

To learn more about Guy Francis and his books and view a portfolio of his illustration work, visit his website.

National Zoo Lovers Day Activity

CPB - Zoo Day Word Search II (2)

Round up the Animals! Word Search

 

Cand you find the fifteen animals in this printable Round Up the Animals! word search? Here’s the Solution.

March 26 – It’s National Optimism Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sammy-in-the-spring-cover

About the Holiday

With its longer days, warmer weather, and blossoming flowers and trees, springtime puts us in a brighter frame of mind. There’s inherent optimism in seeing birds build nests and hearing the cheeps of baby birds, in shedding the coats and boots that weigh us down, and even in looking forward to summer vacation. Little ones love exploring during spring, just like Sammy in today’s book!

Sammy in the Spring

By Anita Bijsterbosch

 

Sammy watches out his window as the birds sing and feed their babies. Sammy wants to play outside and asks his stuffed horse Hobs to come with him. He puts on his socks and shoes then grabs his bike and puts Hobs in the basket. “Sammy likes riding on his bicycle. The flowers smell so good! He can see yellow, white, and pink flowers.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sammy-in-the-spring-bike

Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, 2018, courtesy of anitabijsterbosch.nl.

After his bike ride, Sammy jumps on his scooter and fits Hobs into the basket on the front. They tow a little car behind them. Squirrels scamper in the trees, a family of bunnies peeks through the grass, and butterflies flutter in the air. One even lands on Hobs’ nose! Behind a bush, Sammy spies some sleeping hedgehogs. But the time for hibernating is over. “‘Hey, hedgehogs, wake up! Spring has come,’ Sammy whispers.”

When the hedgehogs wake up, they keep Hobs company while Sammy plays with his car. Then it’s time to drive the tractor and tend the garden. They meet three woolly lambs. “How sweet they are! ‘Baaa, baaa,’ the little lambs bleat.” Next Sammy digs holes in the ground and plants carrot, strawberry, radish, and cucumber seedlings. After all that playing and hard work, Sammy and Hobs go back inside to wash up and have a nice dinner together.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sammy-in-the-spring-lambs

Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, 2018, courtesy of anitabijsterbosch.nl.

Little ones will be happy to spend time with Sammy and Hobs as they enjoy a spring day together in Anita Bijsterbosch’s adorably inviting story. The imaginative relationship that toddlers and young children have with their favorite toys is charmingly reflected here as Sammy includes Hobs on his bike, scooter, and tractor rides, shows him the lambs and hedgehogs, and gives him his own apple to eat at dinnertime. Bijsterbosch’s language is bright and cheery and paced with the same eager excitement of children playing and exploring.

Bijsterbosch’s bold images and brilliant colors are beautifully displayed in this large board book that cleverly uses full and half pages to show transitions in the action. Smiles abound as Sammy and Hobs meet birds, hedgehogs, lambs, bunnies, and even a tiny pink worm. Young readers are sure to smile too.

A joyful book that little ones will want to hear again and again, Sammy in the Spring would make a great take-along for picnics and other outdoor activities and a sweet addition to home and preschool libraries.

Learn more about Anita Bisterbosch, her books, and her art on her website.

Ages 2 – 5

Clavis, 2018 | ISBN 978-1605373676

National Optimism Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sunny-daisy-paper-plate-craft

Sunny Daisy Craft

 

This cheery springtime flower is easy for little ones to make with some adult help and can brighten any room!

Supplies

  • Small paper plate
  • Green straw
  • Yellow paint
  • Green paper
  • Tape
  • Small flower pot (optional)

Directions

  1. Paint a circle in the center of the plate, let dry.
  2. Make petals by cutting around the plate about every 1 ½ inches angled toward the center
  3. Fold some petals forward and some back to give the flower dimension
  4. Cut leaves from the green paper
  5. Tape the straw to the back of the plate
  6. Display your flower!

Picture Book Review