April 25 – National DNA Day

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About the Holiday

National DNA Day commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003 and the discovery of the double helix of DNA in 1953 that have led to advanced research in the medical, science, and other fields. As part of the observance, students in grades 9 through 12 can compete in an essay contest for monetary prizes and grants.

When I Grow Up

By Anita Bijsterbosch

 

In Anita Bijsterbosch’s adorable and eye-catching animal kingdom book, little ones will identify with their counterparts in the wild who are also just starting out on their journey through life. Opening to the first page, children enter the jungle, where a lion cub romps among the foliage. He looks directly at the reader as he tells them, “Now I’m just a little lion and I can only growl softly. But someday….” This lead-in to the future invites kids to turn the half-cut page and discover the cub all grown up and able to “roar so loudly that all the animals can hear me!”

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When I Grow Up is available in Dutch and English versions. Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, courtesy of anitabijsterbosch.nl

Next, children visit the bayou, where a young crocodile can now only wade through puddles. On the next page, though he’s big enough to “jump into the deep water to swim with my friends!” Little Toucan is just learning how to fly. With a monkey, a lemur, and a bird looking on, he tells readers a secret: “I pretend to fly when I jump. But someday…I’ll be a big toucan and I’ll spread my winds. Then I’ll fly high in the sky!”

In the savanna, a baby giraffe lifts her head toward the treetops. She says, “Now I’m just a little giraffe and I can barely touch the leaves with my nose.” When she gets older, however, young readers can see that meals and snacks of tasty leaves will be within easy reach.

Curled around a thin branch, a little snake dreams of the day when he will be long enough to wrap around the whole tree—many times. Turning to the last page, Little Elephant happily splashes in the water and sprinkles her friends, but someday she knows that she will be big enough to use her trunk “to spray everything and everyone!”

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When I Grow Up is available in Dutch and English versions. Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, courtesy of anitabijsterbosch.nl

Toddlers and older youngsters beginning to learn about the vast world around them will delight in this early science book that combines the sturdiness of a board book and the sensory-stimulating interactivity of a lift-the-flap book. Anita Bijsterbosch’s vibrant illustrations engage little ones’ visual senses with bold images of the animals as well as smaller pictures of birds, insects, and flowers for them to discover. A tiny red bird with rakish green head feathers seems to be friends with all of the animals, and readers will love pointing him out on every page.

Little ones will recognize the animal traits spotlighted through Bijsterbosch’s straightforward and easy-to-understand language and will be reassured that they too will soon grow big enough and old enough to do what the “big kids” do.

With sweet illustrations and opportunities for multiple types of learning, When I Grow Up would make a great baby shower or new baby gift as well as a nice addition to a toddler’s growing home library.

Ages 2 – 5

Clavis Publishing, 2017 | ISBN 978-1605373348

You’ll find more books and artwork by Anita Bijsterbosch on her website!

National DNA Day Activity

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Mom and Baby Elephant Coloring Page

 

This mommy elephant and her baby are out for a walk. Give their world a little color with your crayons or pencils and this printable Mom and Baby Elephant Coloring Page!

Picture Book Review

April 23 – World Book and Copyright Day

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About the Holiday

Sponsored by UNESCO, World Book and Copyright Day encourages families and individuals to rediscover the joys of reading and promotes the availability of a wide range of books in all languages and for the disabled. It is also an opportunity to highlight the power of books to promote our vision of knowledge societies that are inclusive, pluralistic, equitable, open and participatory for all citizens. Each year publishers, booksellers, and libraries choose a World Book Capitol for a one-year period. This year Conakry, Guinea was selected in part “on account of the quality and diversity of its program, in particular its focus on community involvement.”

You can get involved too! Why not start today? With so many amazing books to discover, reading daily is a luxury worth indulging. For kids, there may be no cozier or more comforting routine than snuggling up next to mom or dad or cuddling under the covers and getting lost in a wonderful story before falling asleep.

Good Night, Little Sea Otter

Written by Janet Halfmann | Illustrated by Wish Williams

 

As twilight paints the sky pink, purple, and gold, Little Sea Otter gets ready to sleep in her kelp forest bed. Mama Otter fluffs her baby’s fur and snuggles with her, but Little Otter is still wide awake. “‘I forgot to say goodnight to the harbor seals,’” she tells Mama. The baby waves her “soft, silky paw toward the rocky shore” and says goodnight. The harbor seals all along the craggy cliffs wish the little otter goodnight in return.

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

Hearing the seals’ goodnight song, the sea lions join in, their loud barks echoing in the air. “‘Good night, father sea lions. Good night, mother sea lions and baby sea lions,’” Little Otter calls. Curious about all the commotion, a seagull swoops down and learns that it’s bedtime for Little Otter. The two say “Good night” to each other, and as the seagull flies away to find his own place to sleep, Mama Otter tries to tuck in her little pup.

“But before she could say another word, Little Sea Otter dipped her furry face into the chilly water.” There she sees a whole ocean full of fish to greet. She says “Good night” to the yellow fish, the orange fish, and the purple fish. Of course she can’t forget the long fish or the short fish, the striped fish or the spotted fish either. All these fish are happy to wish the tiny pup sweet dreams too. Mama Otter points out other sea creatures getting ready for bed—different types of crabs, snails, sea stars, anemones, clams, and more. Little Otter says “Good night” to each in turn.

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

From every part of the ocean sea turtles, lobsters, octopuses, rays, jelly fish, sea horses, eels, and others bubble a chorus of “Good night” to Little Otter. She listens and responds to each one and then asks Mama if she has forgotten anyone. “‘Yes, you did,’” Mama says, “scooping her up in her paws. ‘You missed ME!’” Little Otter giggles and says “Good night.” Mama Otter hugs her tight and rolls over and over in the kelp, wrapping them both “in ribbons of seaweed” that will keep them secure on the ocean currents as they sleep.

Little Otter gazes up into the night sky and says “Good night” to the moon and the stars. As Little Otter’s eyes finally close and she drifts into sleep, Mama kisses her gently on the head and the sea whispers, “‘rock-a-bye.’”

Little Otter’s repeated phrase of “Good night” gives children plenty of opportunities to read along. Kids and adults who enjoy the beach and marine environments will also be delighted in the scientific facts about sea otters organically sprinkled into the text.

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Image copyright Wish Williams, text copyright Janet Halfmann. Courtesy of starbrightbooks.org

Janet Halfmann’s gentle bedtime story is a sweet reminder for children of all the people in their life who love them and are thinking of them every day. As Little Sea Otter puts off sleep with just one more “Good night” and then another and another, Halfmann reveals with lyrical language the wide world of the sea and the creatures in it. Mama’s patient support of her pup’s curiosity and connections to her world provide tender moments between mother and child, as do their final bedtime rituals before drifting off to sleep. The readiness of the ocean creatures to respond with their own heartfelt wishes for the little pup suggest that this is a nightly and eagerly anticipated ending to each day by all.

Wish Williams’ beautiful, vivid illustrations are stunning and detailed, offering a magical realism that is perfect for this book’s wide-eyed audience. Little Otter and her sea creature friends are adorable, their smiling faces glowing with their happiness to see each other and finish the day together. While the fish and other sea creatures are colorful, the hues are true to their natural counterparts. The blue-green ocean swirls and foams along the rocky shore at twilight while whitecaps glitter in starlight when the sun goes down.

The lovely nature of the mother/child relationship, opportunities for child participation, and gorgeous art make Good Night, Little Sea Otter a welcome addition to home bookshelves for quiet story times and bedtime.

Ages 2 – 6

Star Bright Books, 2010 | ISBN 978-1595722546 (English Edition).

Star Bright Books offers Good Night, Little Sea Otter in bilingual editions in 8 other languages. To view them click here.

Learn more about Janet Halfmann and her other books on her website!

World Book and Copyright Day Activity

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Sleepy Sea Otters Coloring Page

 

Say “Good night” to these sweet sea otters before going to bed by coloring this printable Sleepy Sea Otters Coloring Page.

Picture Book Review

April 20 – National Adopt a Greyhound Month

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About the Holiday

Established eight years ago by The Greyhound Project, National Adopt a Greyhound Month aims to promote the adoption of retired racing greyhounds. These smart and gentle animals make wonderful family companions. To learn more about adoption or how you might volunteer or help out, visit The Greyhound Project website.

A Greyhound, a Groundhog

Written by Emily Jenkins | Illustrated by Chris Appelhans

“A hound. A round hound” sleeps curled into itself like a smooth stone. He wakes and pokes his head in the air. “A greyhound.” Nearby is a hole, small and dark. A furry creature pokes his head in the air. “A groundhog.” The greyhound stretches and bows— his head down, his tail up. The groundhog also stretches—his arms lifted, his teeth exposed by a yawn.

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Image copyright Chris Appelhans, text copyright Emily Jenkins. Courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

“A groundhog, a greyhound, a grey little round hound. / A greyhound, a groundhog, a found little roundhog.” Round and round they run. They chase and lope and leap. “Around and around and around and around. The ground and a hog and some grey and a dog.” Like a whirlpool they spin and twirl and race and swirl, over and under.

The greyhound and groundhog pull up short from “around and around” to watch a butterfly that astounds. Then myriads astound, fluttering like confetti on the air. The greyhound and groundhog dash after them to “a bog and a sound / and a log on the ground”—an obstacle course and a playground for rolling “around and around and around and around!”

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Image copyright Chris Appelhans, text copyright Emily Jenkins. Courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

Emily Jenkins’ twisting, twirling rollercoaster of a story is a euphoric celebration of carefree capering with a friend. Playing off the springy, bouncing sound of “ound” and the sharp, squat staccato “og,” Jenkins’ perfect read-aloud transports readers and listeners into the midst of an alliterative maelstrom that will leave them breathless and giggling. The momentary pause to marvel at the beauty of nature is superb suspension, leading to renewed exuberance and finally contented repose.

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Image copyright Chris Appelhans, text copyright Emily Jenkins. Courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

The gorgeous mottled watercolors of Chris Appelhans’ sleek grayhound and perky groundhog meld and contrast on the page as the two frolic and tumble together then run and chase. Combined with the curved text, the images create the sense that the very pages are engaged in the swirling, spirited play of the greyhound and groundhog. The pair’s happy faces reveal the joy of being together, and the pastel backdrop of flowers, butterflies, and a mirror-still bog enhance the beauty of this joyful book.

A Greyhound, a Groundhog is a can’t-miss gift for any occasion and a wonderful addition to any child’s bookshelf for cheery, energetic story times.

Ages 3 – 8

Schwartz & Wade, 2017 | ISNB 978-0553498059

Discover more about Emily Jenkins and her books as well as book-related resources and activities on her website!

View a portfolio of artwork by Chris Appelhans on his website!

National Adopt a Greyhound Day Activity

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Graceful Greyhound Coloring Page

Greyhounds are one of the fastest animals on the planet, but don’t rush through coloring this printable Graceful Greyhound Coloring Page.

Picture Book Review

April 11 – National Library Workers Day

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About the Holiday

Held annually on the Tuesday of National Library Week, National Library Workers Day honors all of the staff across the country in libraries big and small. Librarians have a vast wealth of knowledge to help readers find just the right book, aid researchers in discovering the perfect resources, create engaging programs for children and adults, and keep up to date on publishing trends. Without libraries and librarians, our lives would be much less rich. Today, visit your library, check out a book or two, and thank your librarian!

Library Day

Written by Anne Rockwell | Illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell

 

On a particular Saturday a little boy makes his first trip to the library with his dad. Dad has a stack of books to return, and before the two go through the door, Don gets to drop the books in the return slot. First stop is the children’s room, where story hour is about to begin. While Don settles in, Dad heads for the grown-up shelves to look for a new book to borrow.

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Image copyright Lizzy Rockwell, text copyright Anne Rockwell, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

There are already four children sitting in a circle around the librarian, Mrs. Edmonds. Don recognizes one of the boys from the playground and sits next to him. Mrs. Edmonds has chosen to read The Three Sillies today. Next, Mr. Miguel “reads a story from his homeland of Puerto Rico.” The story is about a donkey, and Don and the other kids laugh “when Mr. Miguel goes, ‘Hee-haw! Hee-haw!’ as loud as he can.”

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Image copyright Lizzy Rockwell, text copyright Anne Rockwell, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

After story hour, the other little boy, Jack, introduces himself and shows Don around the children’s room. There are shelves with movies and a rack full of magazines. Don especially likes the magazine about dogs and one about farm animals. Mr. Miguel notices that Don likes reading about nature and shows him a book about snakes. Don shows Mr. Miguel a book he also likes about a truck. “‘You can take them all home,’ Mr. Miguel says.”

Next to the picture book shelves, Don sees a baby “sitting on the floor with lots of books to read. Except the baby is reading her book upside down.” She burbles as she looks at and turns the pages, “but her book is still upside down.” By this time Jack has gone home, but Don continues to explore. Two bigger kids are playing chess, two girls are making bookmarks, and an older boy is working on the computer.

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Image copyright Lizzy Rockwell, text copyright Anne Rockwell, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Don finds a comfortable chair and begins paging through the book on snakes. Just then a librarian sets a new book on the shelf next to him. It’s about apples and pumpkins—two things Don likes—so he grabs that one to take home too. When Dad comes back, Don shows him the four books he wants to check out. Sure! Dad says. “And then he says, ‘But you will need your own library card.’” Don is thrilled. “My own library card!” he thinks.

At the front desk, Don hands Mrs. Edmonds his books. To get his library card, Don tells her his name and address then waits “a few minutes while lights on her machine go on and off as it rumbles.” In a minute, Mrs. Edmonds hands him a card with his “own name written on the back.” Then Mrs. Edmonds scans his card and the books and tells Don the books are due in two weeks.

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Image copyright Lizzy Rockwell, text copyright Anne Rockwell, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

As Don and his dad are leaving the library, they notice a poster for The Gingerbread Man Puppet Show. “‘Would you like to go see that puppet show next Saturday?’” Don’s dad asks. “‘I sure would!’” Don exclaims before taking his dad’s hand as they cross the street toward home.

Anne Rockwell’s gentle and engaging introduction to the library is full of the joy and wonder little ones have when visiting this favorite place. Her straightforward storytelling is both inviting and comforting as readers learn about the various spaces in a children’s room and the programs offered. Rockwell captures the excitement children feel in finding books that reflect their interests as well as the thrill of getting their own library card.

Lizzy Rockwell’s bright, colorful illustrations provide charming snapshots of a library children’s room that will delight readers. All the pleasures of a trip to the library are here, from making new friends to giggling during story time to discovering the wealth of fun things to do. After reading Library Day, kids will be eager to visit their local library!

Ages 3 – 8

Aladdin, Simon & Schuster, 2017 | ISBN 978-1481427326

Discover more about Anne Rockwell and her many books on her website!

View galleries of artwork and learn more about Lizzy Rockwell and her books on her website!

National Library Workers Day Activitycelebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mouse-with-books-coloring-page

Library Mouse Coloring Page

 

This mouse likes to read almost as much as you do! Print this Library Mouse Coloring Page and have fun!

Picture Book Review

April 8 – Draw a Picture of a Bird Day

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About the Holiday

With the onset of spring, our feathered friends are busy building nests and hatching little ones. The return of birds to backyards, parks, and beaches as well as the increased activity gives budding nature artists the perfect opportunity to try their hand at sketching these favorite colorful creatures. Whether you prefer to make detailed renderings or simple line drawings, today’s holiday should inspire you to grab your pencil or paints and create!

Birds & Other Animals with Pablo Picasso

First Concepts with Fine Artists | Illustrations by Pablo Picasso

 

Pablo Picasso, “one of the most famous artists who ever lived,” was a prodigy who loved to draw animals of all kinds. Perhaps best known for his abstract portraits and his colorful canvases, Picasso also created line drawings, many of which were “inspired by poems about animals written by his friend Guillaume Apollinaire, a famous French poet.” The illustrations in Birds & Other Animals with Pablo Picasso come from Picasso’s notebooks and, combined, make a wonderfully conceived concept book for little ones.

Opening to the first page, readers meet three birds, one perhaps a little more steady on its feet than the others. Four more birds follow on the next page, a few gamely trying to stand on one leg like the regal flamingos behind them. From the tropical home of the flamingo, readers next travel to a snowy clime, where “penguins are birds who waddle over snow.”

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All artworks by Pablo Picasso © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2017. © 2017 Phaidon Press

“Cock-a-doodle-doo!” Don’t snooze! The rooster wants you to know that he is a bird too! Of course, “some birds fly,” and many insects have wings too. Flies fly and wasps fly. How about grasshoppers? They prefer to hop! Who else likes to hop? “Bunnies hop…especially to get away from hungry foxes. Does [the] fox look hungry to you?”

Some animals seem to be hungry all the time—like the squirrel on the next page (you know how squirrels are!) and the camel, whose “humps are small. When she eats, her humps will grow!” Do you like dogs? “This little dog has no humps—he’s long like a hot dog!” His friend is a big dog who can do tricks. Horses can learn tricks too and perform for people. They can even rear up and stand on two legs! You know who can’t stand on two legs? Right! Fish! “They swim! Turtles swim too.”

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All artworks by Pablo Picasso © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2017. © 2017 Phaidon Press

But we were talking about birds, weren’t we? There are some birds that are like fish. The pelican is a bird who likes to swim—of course, it likes to eat fish too. The ostrich is too big for either flying or swimming, but it can run—really fast! There are so many kinds of birds, aren’t there? Peacocks have long, colorful tail feathers, and owls like the nighttime. Yes, there are so many birds, “beautiful birds.”

The First Concepts with Fine Artists series by Phaidon Press is one of my favorite new collections for babies, toddlers, and even older kids. As an art lover, I’m impressed with the variety of styles and artists introduced to young children who will be attracted to the colors, shapes, and movement in the chosen artwork. As someone who works with words, I love the way the art is tied together with engaging and conversational text.

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All artworks by Pablo Picasso © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2017. © 2017 Phaidon Press

Birds and Other Animals with Pablo Picasso will enchant little ones with whimsical line drawings of animals that embody charming poise and personality. Each page invites readers to create stories of their own about the characters they see, and both children and adults will enjoy running a finger along the line to discover that most of the animals in this sturdy board book are created from one smooth stroke. Along the way, kids learn facts about certain animals, discover how shapes work together, and find objects to count. 

Line it all up and Birds and Other Animals with Pablo Picasso rewards readers with sophisticated fun. The book would make a lovely new baby gift or a delightful addition to young children’s home libraries.

Ages 2 – 5

Phaidon Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714874180

Draw a Picture of a Bird Day Activity

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Flight of Fancy Bird Drawings

 

Birds come in all shapes and sizes—which kind of bird is your favorite? With these two printables you can learn how to draw a bird and color a pair of birds who are busy collecting flowers!

Learn to Draw a Bird | Birds Carrying Flowers

Picture Book Review

March 12 – It’s Women’s History Month

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About the Holiday

From its beginning as a single-day observance in 1911 , the celebration of women’s achievements and contributions throughout history grew to a week-long event in 1982 and finally to encompass the entire month of March in 1988. During this month we remember the trail-blazing women of yesteryear who used their creativity, intelligence, and perseverance to promote rights for women while contributing their own innovations to science, art, social reform, medicine, and other disciplines as well as today’s pioneers who carry on their legacy and make our world a better place. 

To the Stars! The First American Woman to Walk in Space

Written by Carmella Van Vleet and Dr. Kathy Sullivan | Illustrated by Nicole Wong

 

As a child Kathy Sullivan loved to explore. Her father designed airplanes, and when he brought home blueprints, she carefully studied every line and curve. When she saw airplanes in the sky she wished she were on them, flying to exciting locations all over the world. Maps and foreign languages fascinated her. “Their strange symbols, exotic tales, and musical sounds made her feel like the world was waiting for her.” Kathy wanted to see that whole world and thought maybe she’d like to be a spy or a diplomat, but her friends and other adults told her those weren’t jobs for women.

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Image copyright Nicole Wong, courtesy of nicole-wong.com

But Kathy always followed her heart. She loved going fishing with her dad and brother and finishing the day with a swim. She “delighted in how her arms and legs moved in slow motion underwater.” Kathy was still a teenager when she learned how to pilot a plane. At first the busy instrument panel made her nervous, but she quickly learned how to manage all the “dials, buttons, and numbers.”

Kathy got a taste for the thrill of space when she bravely jumped at the opportunity to ride in a Breezy—an open air framework plane. Sitting at the very tip of the airplane, in front of the pilot, Kathy had a bird’s eye view. “The wind rushed past her face so fast it pushed her cheeks back. Higher! Faster! Young Kathy looked at the ground below her feet. She felt like she could see the whole world.”

As an adult, Kathy put all of these experiences to good use as she studied complex science that would lead her to NASA. And when she became the first American woman to walk in space, she fulfilled her childhood dream to see the whole world!

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Image copyright Nicole Wong, courtesy of charlesbridge.com

Carmella Van Vleet and Dr. Kathy Sullivan, have written a compelling biography of Dr. Sullivan that not only tells the story of her adult achievements, but also reveals the childhood and teenage motivations and influences that fostered her journey to the stars. As each event in Kathy’s young life is introduced, it is followed by an adult accomplishment: Kathy’s poring over her father’s aircraft blueprints leads to a spread of college-age Kathy studying charts in textbooks. Her enjoyment of swimming underwater is followed by an illustration showing her NASA training underwater. Her initial introduction to a plane’s instrument panel informs her later responsibilities inside the spacecraft. And the question she once asked herself as a child—what kind of job would allow her to see the whole world—is answered as the astronaut Kathy gazes down at Earth from space.

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Image copyright Nicole Wong, courtesy of charlesbridge.com

Nicole Wong’s lovely, realistic watercolor and ink paintings clearly show readers Kathy Sullivan’s trajectory from curious girl to accomplished astronaut. The blueprints that Kathy studies are filled with schematics. The aqua water she swims in swirls and bubbles in the wake of her cannonball dive, and the crisscrossing fields lay like a mottled green quilt under the Breezy. Especially stunning and effective are the illustrations of Dr. Sullivan’s work with NASA. Kids will love the up-close view of the spacecraft’s instrument panel with its myriad buttons and dial. Likewise, they will find the gorgeous two-page spreads of the space shuttle’s launch, the view from the cockpit, and Kathy’s spacewalk particularly thrilling.

Following the text is a personal note from Kathy Sullivan to her young readers. More extensive biographical notes reveal how Dr. Sullivan discovered her love of science as well as information on the NASA missions she supported. Two more pages highlight the women of the first space-shuttle class, which included Kathy Sullivan, and other firsts by eight other women in space.

To the Stars is a wonderful book to teach children that following their own heart is the best path to future happiness and personal accomplishment. It’s a beautiful addition to any budding scientist’s or adventurer’s library!

Ages 5 – 9

Charlesbridge, 2016 | ISBN 978-1580896443

To find fun activities for To the Stars—including how to make space play dough—as well as other books by Carmella Van Vleet, visit her website!

To learn more about Nicole Wong and view a portfolio of her artwork, visit her website!

Women’s History Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-astronaut-coloring-page

 

Astronaut Coloring Page

Would you like to be an astronaut? Draw yourself in this spacesuit and then grab your crayons, pencils, or markers and have fun with this printable Astronaut Coloring Page!

Picture Book Review

March 1 – Horse Protection Day

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About the Holiday

Established in 2005 by pet lifestyle expert and animal behaviorist/advocate Colleen Page, Horse Protection Day raises awareness of horses that are treated cruelly or are unwanted and abandoned or euthanized. Horses are loving pets and work animals with a proud history of crucial participation in the building and farming of our nation and others. To honor today’s holiday, consider donating to the cause of protecting horses or—if you have the land and means—to adopting a homeless horse.

Tony

Written by Ed Galing | Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

 

Tony “was such a wonderful horse.” Every morning, long before the sun came up, Tom would hitch him to the wagon and they would deliver milk, butter, and eggs to customers around town. “Tony was all white, large, sturdy, with wide gentle eyes and a ton of love….” While Tom jumped out of the wagon and carefully carried the products to waiting doorsteps, Tony stood silently by.

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Image copyright Erin E. Stead, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

At one house the lights were always already burning even though it was only 3:00 a.m. The occupant of the house would come out and gently pat Tony, whose eyes shone as he bowed his head to receive the daily affection. Before moving on to the next house, Tom and the narrator always exchanged pleasantries. “Wouldn’t miss Tony for the world,” the customer would respond, adding compliments for Tony. 

These kind words made Tom smile as he seated himself once again in the wagon, and while the narrator watched them continue down the street, he “knew that Tony did a little dance.”

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Image copyright Erin E. Stead, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Ed Galing’s touching memoir to a special horse and a daily routine that brought camaraderie and comfort to the story’s narrator reminds readers that happiness can be found in the simplest of actions, and profound love in the connections between people and animals. Implicit in this minimalist snapshot of a short, early morning meeting are all the mornings—perhaps years-worth—carried out in exactly the same fashion that have forged the bond between Tony and the narrator.

Underlining the story is the basis for this bond—the affection and respect the narrator gives Tony and receives in return. It is perhaps not too much of a stretch to imagine a young child similarly encouraged by such compliments. The early morning setting (also prime time for many babies) lends a dreamy mystery to the tale—who is the narrator, why are they up so early, and how old are they? (certain illustrations give intriguing clues)—that children will enjoy imagining and discussing.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tony-houses

Image copyright Erin E. Stead, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Erin E. Stead’s pencil-drawn illustrations, beautifully introduced by a page of vellum that sets the tone, are quiet, peaceful vignettes of Tony as he hitches up in the morning and takes Tom on his rounds. Bathed only in the glow of the light over the barn, a street light, or the light from the narrator’s open door, Tony makes his way through the dim streets with graceful dignity. Tony is gorgeously and expressively drawn.

As he waits outside the narrator’s house, Tony’s head is turned toward the doorway in expectation, and again as he pulls away from the curb, he gives one last look back. Children will love seeing the way milk and other farm products were once delivered and will respond to the gauzy sage and amber backdrop that makes Tony a perfect quiet time or bedtime book.

Tony is gentle, heartwarming triumph and a wonderful book to spur family-history stories. It would be a welcome addition to any child’s bookshelf.   

Ages 3 – 6

Roaring Brook Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1626723085

Learn more about Erin E. Stead and view a gallery of her illustration work on her website!

National Horse Protection Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-horse-coloring-page

Horse Coloring Page

 

Horses are such beautiful creatures! Enjoy this printable Horse Coloring Page!

Picture Book Review