November 20 – It’s Human-Animal Relationship Awareness Week

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-cover

About the Holiday

Animals and humans coexist on Earth in so many amazing ways. Our pets are beloved family members, we interact and care for the birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and other backyard animals that we see every day, and we are mindful of and should be caretakers of the wild animals that inhabit the plains, mountains, and seas of our planet. Human-Animal Relationship Awareness Week was established by the Animals & Society Institute, which “helps improve and expand knowledge about human-animal relationships in order to create safer and more compassionate communities for all.” Over this week people are encouraged to think about companion animals, assistance animals, animals in shelters, and the safety and well-being of the animals in our care. To celebrate, spend more time with your pet and consider donating to your local animal shelter or wildlife organization.

Children Make Terrible Pets

By Peter Brown

 

One day Lucy Beatrice Bear was practicing ballet when she smelled someone nearby. She ordered whoever it was to come out. “Squeak,” said the little boy. When he emerged from his hiding place and Lucy got a good look at him, she was delighted. “OH. MY. GOSH! You are the cutest critter in the WHOLE forest!” she exclaimed. “Squeak,” said the boy.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-meets-squeaker (2)

Copyright Peter Brown, 2010, courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young People.

Lucy picked him up and raced home. She burst in where her mom was reading and held him up. “Look what I found outside! I call him Squeaker because he makes funny sounds.” She begged her mom to let her keep him. Lucy’s mom scolded her daughter for bringing a child into the house, reminding her, “Don’t you know children make terrible pets?” But Lucy pleaded and showed her mom how cute he was and assured her that he would be no trouble.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-can-I-keep-him

Copyright Peter Brown, 2010, courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young People.

Finally, Lucy’s mom relented—but with one stipulation: Lucy had to take care of him herself. Lucy agreed and told her mom that she’d see that this child would be “the best -+pet EVER.” Lucy and Squeaker did everything together, but while they had fun playing, eating, and napping together, having Squeaker as a pet wasn’t all a bed of roses. For one thing, he was hard to litter box train. He also ran wild and tore up the furniture, tracked in mud, threw food, and even swung from the chandelier.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-playing-together

Copyright Peter Brown, 2010, courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young People.

Then suddenly, Squeaker disappeared. Lucy searched everywhere, but just as she was about to give up, “her sensitive nose caught a whiff of her Squeaker.” Lucy followed her nose all through the forest until she finally found him. But as Lucy watched Squeaker having a picnic lunch with three other humans outside a house, “Squeaker didn’t seem like a pet anymore.” Sadly, Lucy said goodbye to Squeaker and headed back home. On the way she thought about how much she would miss him but decided it was all for the best.

When she got home, she told her mom all about it and had to agree that her mom had been right. “Children do make terrible pets,” she said. But she knew the elephant she found would be just perfect….

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-children-make-terrible-pets-Lucy-agrees-with-mom

Copyright Peter Brown, 2010, courtesy of Little Brown Books for Young People.

Peter Brown’s flip-flop of the “Mom-can-I-keep-him” story will have all readers laughing along—pet owners because they know what a new animal in the house can do, adults because they know what shenanigans little ones can get up to, and kids because…well, the story’s so funny. Brown’s dialog between Lucy and her mother perfectly reflects children’s unbridled zeal when they really, really want something and a parent’s wariness of giving in to a request. On the final page as Lucy finds another pet to love, kids share the knowledge of their own boundless capacity for enthusiasm.

Brown’s illustrations delight with the uninhibited zest kids have for adventures as well as their ability to move on from a disappointment to something new. Lucy’s eager expressions will make kids giggle and adults smile knowingly. Squeaker’s silent acquiescence to being adopted by Lucy and his wild behavior humorously depict children’s readiness for pretend play.

Ages 4 – 7

Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010 | ISBN 978-0316015486

You can learn more about Peter Brown, his books, and his art as well as find coloring pages and activity sheets on his website.

Human-Animal Relationship Awareness Week Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-matching-animal-matching-game

Animal Matching Game

 

There are so many animals to love! Play this fun matching game to find pairs of favorite animals!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print two sheets of the Animal Matching Cards for each player
  2. Color the cards (optional)
  3. Cut the cards apart
  4. Scramble the cards and lay them out face-side down
  5. Choosing one card at a time, turn one face up and then another.
  6. If the two cards match leave them face up
  7. If the two cards do not match lay them face down and try again.
  8. As you find matching pairs, leave the cards face up until all the pairs have been found.
  9. If playing against other players, the first to match all their animal cards is the winner

Picture Book Review

November 16 – It’s Family Stories Month

Celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Harry-and-Clare's-Amazing-Staycation-Cover

About the Holiday

All families have stories—some funny, some poignant—about family members, friends, and events from the past and even just last week or yesterday! Today’s holiday encourages people to gather together and share their stories, Oral storytelling has been part of people’s lives and culture since ancient times. It’s a wonderful way to stay connected to your own family heritage and build bonds that last forever. The stories your children will be telling start now in the everyday and special moments they share with others.

Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation

Written by Ted Staunton | Illustrated by Mika Song

 

Vacation began on Monday. So did the rain. Harry and Clare decided to go to Mars. After all it was only as far away as the family room and looked quite the same—“except for the volcanoes” that spouted lava all over the rug. Harry found traversing the alien landscape harder than Clare. He had to carry all the luggage while she carried the snacks; and while Clare ate the snacks, Harry was busy drowning in quicksand.

Tuesday dawned gray and rainy. Fortunately, Harry and Clare “could ride a Pasta Linguini racer around an indoor course in the supermarket.” The field was fierce, and Harry told Clare to turn left, but Clare didn’t listen. “‘I’m driving,’” she said. “Following a dizzying skid through the frozen food, Clare let Harry park them in the checkout line.” And while Harry was hanging on tight with both hands as Clare directed, she ate both of their granola bars.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-harry-and-clare's-amazing-staycation-lava

Excerpted from Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation by Ted Staunton. Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Mika Song. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

The downpour continued on Wednesday. The pool seemed the perfect respite, but just as Harry was about to transform into a dolphin doing spectacular dives, “he was captured by a pirate queen who made him walk the plank instead.” Harry’s fortunes only turned bleaker when later that day Teacher Clare caught Harry eating his snack during lessons and sent him to the principal’s office.

Unfortunately, the principal looked a lot like Clare, and she passed a stiff sentence: “‘People who eat during arithmetic are not allowed to eat at all.’” Suddenly, Harry had an idea, but the principal—who mumbled through a mouthful—told him not to speak. Harry was not to be so easily dismissed, however.

As soon as the principal released him, he grabbed a snack and headed up High Staircase Mountain. When he heard the Abdominal Snowman close at his heels, he quickly hid the cookies in his pocket. At dinner, Harry was able to sneak more provisions into his pocket and keep them safe as he performed a high-wire trapeze trampoline act on the couch and jumped through hoops for Clare the Lion Tamer.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-harry-and-clare's-amazing-staycation-hippo

Excerpted from Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation by Ted Staunton. Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Mika Song. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

On Thursday the sun finally came out, and Harry and Clare took a jungle tour. The jungle “looked a lot like the park, except for the vines and wild animals.” As they ran through the thick vegetation, Clare and Harry avoided umpire bats and leaped over sandbox hippos on their search for a “‘sunken ship guarded by a monster octopus.’” All this time Harry held on to the idea he’d had.

Then, just as they were being threatened by elephant hummingbirds, Clare realized they’d forgotten to bring snacks and said they’d have to turn their dragons around and go back. Harry, however, simply climbed off his bike dragon and pulled a baby carrot from his pocket. Clare was nonplussed. “‘Where did you get that?’” she wanted to know, but Harry just took something else from his stash and continued munching.

“‘Is that a cookie?’ Clare asked. Harry swallowed. ‘Asteroid burger,’ he said….‘I have asteroid burgers and volcano sticks.’” Clare listened to her grumbling stomach and accepted some of both. She even accepted Harry’s idea that the treasure was in a cave under a mountain as long as an octopus monster still guarded it.

Harry and Clare played for hours. Harry discovered “prehistoric park-bench dinosaur skeletons,” and Clare dispersed a group of squirrel sharks. On the way home Harry and Clare split the “last of the volcano sticks and asteroid burgers. They made a nice combination.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-harry-and-clare's-amazing-staycation-playground

Excerpted from Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation by Ted Staunton. Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Mika Song. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

In his imaginative tale of a rainy school staycation, Ted Staunton captures the sibling power structure with wit and wisdom. Readers will appreciate Harry and Clare’s daily—almost moment-to-moment—inventiveness that mirrors children’s supple imaginations. As a younger brother, Harry bears the brunt of Clare’s bossiness, but in the process begins to grasp where the real clout lies. By biding his time, he quietly advocates for himself and changes the dynamics to both of the children’s benefit. Staunton’s funny dialogue and situations ring true, as do the clever uses of everyday items and places to spur the siblings’ creativity. The final line offers a sweet future for this loveable brother and sister.

Mika Song ingeniously transcribes Harry and Clare’s imaginings into action-packed illustrations full of personality. The sibling relationship unfolds through humorous scenes and animated facial expressions. Harry sinks in bubbling lava while Clare eats snacks at a safe distance; Harry and Clare get caught behind an elderly “racecar” driver in the grocery store: Harry is pulled up short by his changing fortunes on the diving board; and Teacher Clare teeters in her mother’s shoes. Song’s fresh color palette lends an open, airy feeling to the story, and her adorable siblings make for exciting companions for readers any day.

Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation would be a cute addition to any child’s bookshelf for story times and to spur imaginative play. The book could also be a great jumping off point for discussions of empathy and understanding between siblings and/or friends.

Ages 4 – 8

Tundra Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1770498273

Discover more about Ted Staunton and his books on his website!

You’ll find a portfolio of artwork, comics, and books by Mika Song on her website!

Family Stories Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-printable-snakes-and-ladders-game

Snakes and Ladders Game

 

Family game night is a great place to create memories that become future stories! Here’s a printable Snakes and Ladders game for you to enjoy! Just watch out for that green snake!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print the board game template
  2. Determine which player goes first by rolling the die. The player with the highest roll goes first.
  3. The first player rolls the die and moves along the game board, starting at square 1, the number of spaces indicated on the die.
  4. Other players take turns rolling the die and moving along the board.
  5. The first player to reach square 100 is the winner

Ladders: When a player lands on a space with the bottom of a ladder in it, the player moves up to the space at the top of the ladder and continues to play from there.

Snakes: When a player lands on a space with the head of a snake in it, the player slides down to the space with the snake’s tail in it and continues to play from there.

Picture Book Review

October 24 – National Food Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-on-the-farm-at-the-market-cover

About the Holiday

National Food Day encourages people to “eat real,” which means skipping the processed, sugary, fatty, and factory-raised foods and enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and sustainably raised proteins. Eating better benefits not only your health but the environment as well. Today, check out any special events featuring locally grown foods in your area or look for the healthiest options at your grocery store!

On the Farm, At the Market

By G. Brian Karas

 

On the Farm

On the Monterosa Vegetable Farm Leo and his workers are preparing for tomorrow morning’s farmers market. “Some vegetables are packed up tonight, while others will be picked early tomorrow. The workers know that greens are best picked soon after the sun rises, when temperatures are still cool.” When the vegetables are picked, they’re washed, packed into crates, and loaded into trucks. After the sun has set and before going home, Leo ensures everything is ready for the morning. “He snaps a bean in half and tastes it. ‘Perfect,’ he says.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-on-the-farm-at-the-market-vegetable-farm

Copyright G. Brian Karas, 2016, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Meanwhile at the Amazing Cheese Dairy Farm, Isaac is teaching Rachael how to make their delicious cheese. First, milk must be converted into curds. Isaac shows Rachael just how to stir the warming milk with a special paddle. Once the curds are formed, Rachael scoops them out of the vat and puts them into molds and then onto shelves to age. Tomorrow, the Amazing Dairy Farm will be bringing mozzarella, queso blanco, and cheddar to the market.

Gary’s farm is all indoors. He is a mushroom farmer, and his crops grow in a special room, sprouting on ‘cakes’ placed on shelves as well as from plastic bags that hang from the ceiling and give the room a feeling of being in a forest. The cakes and bags are filled with “a mixture of hay, sawdust, and water” that give the mushrooms nutrients. The air in the room is misty and cool. To prepare the mushrooms for market, Gary trims them with scissors and snugs them into foam crates.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-on-the-farm-at-the-market-mushroom-farm

Copyright G. Brian Karas, 2016, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

At the Market

Early Sunday morning the farmers assemble in the parking lot that sponsors the farmers market. They each erect a tent and tables, struggling with the wind that fills their tents “like balloons.” The market manager, Sharon, offers cups of hot chocolate to all of the workers while “friends catch up with one another.” At 10:00 customers begin to arrive, perusing the tables of their favorite farmers.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-on-the-farm-at-the-market-setting-up-stands

Copyright G. Brian Karas, 2016, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Amy, owner of the Busy Bee Café, scouts ingredients for her delicious menu. From Leo, she chooses Swiss chard, leeks, and tomatoes. In no time the number of customers has grown, and long lines appear at each farmer’s table. Babies and children enjoy the relaxed atmosphere as well as “farm-fresh ice cream and cookies.” Friends chat, happy to see each other again. Food isn’t the only attraction at the farmers market. Soon, the Blackberry Fiddlers set up on stage to provide entertainment.

Next, Amy stops by the Amazing Cheese Farm stand and picks up a wheel of cheddar for that night’s special. “‘What’s for dinner at the Busy Bee tonight?’ Isaac asks. ‘One way to find out,’ Amy says, and winks.” Last, Amy visits Gary’s Mushrooms and buys some of each type. Peering into Amy’s basket, Gary can guess what Amy’s special of the day will be. “‘Should I save you a seat?’ Amy asks him. ‘You bet,’ Gary says.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-on-the-farm-at-the-market-customers

Copyright G. Brian Karas, 2016, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

At the end of the day, the crowd has thinned. The farmers begin packing up their leftovers and taking down their tents. The camaraderie of market day continues at the Busy Bee Café, however, where the Blackberry Hill Fiddlers have set up once again and the farmers, their families, and their customers have gathered to enjoy Amy’s special Market Pie.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-on-the-farm-at-the-market-busy-bee-cafe

Copyright G. Brian Karas, 2016, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Brian Karas’s charming visit to farms and the farmers market is both educational and heartwarming. With emphasis on the loving care both the farmers and the café owner display toward the crops and their use, On the Farm, At the Market is a wonderful introduction for young children to the farm-to-table movement. Karas’s descriptions of three distinct farming methods are clearly explained with engaging characters that kids will embrace. The structure of the book—divided into two sections and offering interconnecting stories—is well chosen to explain the relationships among the farmers, families, workers, and customers.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-on-the-farm-at-the-market-friends

Copyright G. Brian Karas, 2016, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Karas’s homey gouache, acrylic, and pencil illustrations are perfectly suited to his subject. Colorful two-page spreads of the farms and market, combined with smaller snapshots of particular processes and special moments, allow readers to fully understand the concepts as they enjoy the inclusiveness of this tight-knit, supportive community. There is a peaceful wistfulness to the muted image of Leo standing in the waning twilight, happy with a day well spent; a sense of wonder in the misty atmosphere of Gary’s mushroom farm; and a palpable excitement as customers gather at the farmers market. The final scene at Amy’s Busy Bee Café offers a glowing conclusion to this cyclical story.

Ages 4 – 9

Henry Holt and Co, 2016 | ISBN 978-0805093728

To learn more about G. Brian Karas and his work, visit his website!

National Food Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-garden-board-game

Grow a Vegetable Garden Board Game, copyright Celebrate Picture Books, 2017

Grow a Vegetable Garden Board Game

 

With this fun game you and your family and friends can grow gardens inside! Roll the dice to see whose garden will fully ripen first!

Supplies

Directions

Object: The object of the game is for each player to fill their garden rows with vegetables. Depending on the ages of the players, the required winning number of rows to fill and the number of vegetables to “plant” in each row can be adjusted.

  1. Print one Game Board for each player
  2. Print one set of Playing Cards for each player (for sturdier playing items, print on card stock)
  3. Print one Vegetable Playing Die and assemble it (for a sturdier die, print on card stock)
  4. Cut the vegetables into their individual playing cards
  5. Color the “dirt” on the Garden Plot with the crayon (optional)
  6. Choose a player to go first
  7. The player rolls the die and then “plants” the facing vegetable in a row on the game board
  8. Play moves to the person on the right
  9. Players continue rolling the die and “planting” vegetables until each of the number of determined rows have been filled with the determined number of vegetables.
  10. The first person to “grow” all of their veggies wins!

Picture Book Review

October 13 – World Egg Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-egg-kevin-henkes-cover

About the Holiday

What an amazing thing the egg is! Today’s holiday celebrates its role in feeding families the world over. From ancient times people have relied on the protein and other nutrients in this compact package to stay healthy at an affordable price or from their own farm. World Egg Day was declared at the International Egg Commission Conference in Vienna in 1996 to recognize and promote the benefits of eggs.

Egg

By Kevin Henkes

 

As this sophisticated paneled picture book opens, four eggs await their fate. One is pink, one is yellow, one is blue, and one is green. On the next page three of the eggs begin their journey with a crack, crack, crack; but the last one? The green one? It remains a smooth egg. With a “surprise!” a pink baby bird hatches from the pink egg. The yellow egg breaks open and a yellow bird chirps “surprise.” When the blue egg breaks a blue baby bird pops free with one more “surprise!” But the last egg? The green one? It remains an intact egg.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-egg-kevin-henkes-eggs-cracking

Copyright Kevin Henkes, 2017, courtesy of Greenwillow Books.

The pink bird strides away from her former home with a quick “good-bye.” The yellow bird takes to the sky with a cheery “good-bye.” And the blue bird skips off  with a joyful cheep “good-bye.” But the last egg? The green one? It still remains a silent egg. All alone now, the green egg waits. It waits and waits and waits through a full sixteen-day calendar.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-egg-kevin-henkes-birds-saying-goodbye

Copyright Kevin Henkes, 2017, courtesy of Greenwillow Books.

Finished with her walk, the pink bird is back to check on the green egg. She hails the yellow chick, who is also returning, and calls out to the blue bird, who runs in to see what’s up. They discuss this anomalous egg and come up with a plan. They lay their ears against the shell and “listen.” Then they begin tapping away. “Peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck.” This egg has one tough exterior! They peck and peck until, finally, they hear a “crack.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-egg-kevin-henkes-alligator

Copyright Kevin Henkes, 2017, courtesy of Greenwillow Books.

The egg splits to reveal an eye-popping “surprise!” The last egg? The green one? It doesn’t hold a green chick, but a green crocodile! The birds fly away from the dangerous snout. Now the baby croc is “alone” and “sad.” The little birds see how “lonely” the crocodile is and slowly, one-by-one they return. They fly closer and closer until they are all sitting atop the crocodile’s back.

The crocodile takes his new friends on a ride down to the water’s edge. He wades in and follows where the pink bird directs. Then these new friends sit quietly and watch the sun set. The orange sun sinks lower and lower toward the horizon, changing shape and beginning the journey all over again.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-egg-kevin-henkes-sunset-2

Copyright Kevin Henkes, 2017, courtesy of Greenwillow Books.

Kevin Henkes’ adorable read-aloud is as complex as the egg itself. On the surface it is a comforting and touching tale of friendship, but crack it open and the story takes on deeper meaning. Themes of patience, working together, diversity, acceptance, and even ideas of expectations and preconceived danger are waiting to be explored during repeat readings. The graphic-novel nature of the illustrations allow readers to form bonds with the four eggs as a ready-made group, increasing kids’  curiosity and interest in that fourth egg that just won’t hatch.

Pastel colors differentiate each bird as do simple gestures that little ones will recognize as personality traits. In the final pages, the lines separating the panels disappear as the four friends gather to watch the sun go down, and their life together begins.

Ages 3 – 8

Greenwillow Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-0062408723

You can meet Kevin Henkes, learn about his books, and discover resources, videos, and more on his website.

World Egg Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-egg-carton-chicken-double-chickens

Egg Carton Chickens and a Basket Full of Games

 

With twelve little chickens you can come up with lots of games to play! This fun craft and game activity is eggs-actly what you need to start hatching some real fun!

Supplies

  • Cardboard egg carton
  • White craft paint
  • Markers: red, yellow, black for the face; any colors you’d like for wings and eggs
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Construction or craft paper in white and a color of your choice

Directions

  1. Cut the notched flap off the egg carton and set aside
  2. Cut the top off the egg carton
  3. Cut apart all the egg cups and trim slightly so they sit flat
  4. Paint the egg cups with the white paint, let dry
  5. Add the face, comb and wings to the chicken with the markers. Make six chickens with one color wings and six chickens with another color wings.
  6. From the egg carton flap cut thirteen small egg-shaped playing pieces
  7. With the markers, decorate twelve of the eggs in pairs—each egg in the pair with the same design
  8. Color one egg yellow and add a beak, eyes, and wings to make it a chick

Games to Play

Tic-Tac-Toe (2 players)

  1. On a 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper draw a regular tic-tac-toe board or make it fancy – like the picket fence-inspired board in the picture
  2. To make the fence-inspired board on a colored background, cut 2 9-inch-long x 3/4-inch wide strips of white paper, cutting a pointed tip at one or both ends. Cut 2 white  8-inch x 3/4-inch strips of paper with a pointed tip at one or both ends. Glue the strips to the background.
  3. Each player chooses a set of chickens with the same colored wings
  4. Play the game as you usually do

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-egg-carton-chicken-tic-tac-toe

Find the Matching Eggs (2 or more players)

  1. Have one player hide one egg under each chicken
  2. Shuffle the eggs around and form them into three lines of 4 chickens each
  3. Another player lifts one chicken at a time to find matching eggs. If the eggs don’t match, put both chickens back and start again

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-egg-carton-chicken-matching

Where’s the Chick?

  1. Use as many chickens and eggs as you want (fewer for younger children, more for older)
  2. One player hides the chick under one of the chickens and eggs under the others.
  3. Another player has three chances to find the chick

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-egg-carton-chicken-where's-the-chick

I’m sure you can also design your own games for your adorable chickens to play! With more chickens you can even make a checkers set or replicate another of your favorite board games!

Picture Book Review

October 6 – It’s National Carry a Tune Week

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-abc-cover

About the Holiday

Celebrating its 17th year, Carry a Tune Week, sponsored by the Center for American Music Preservation (CAMP), invites everyone to enjoy American music from the past. If you have a favorite tune, today’s the time to sing, hum, or whistle it! If can’t choose a favorite, CAMP has you covered. This year’s tune is the theme song from the movie Casablanca. You must remember that! Oh! I mean…You must remember this: “As Time Goes By.” If you’d like to check out tunes from previous celebrations, visit the American Music Preservation website.

Twinkle, Twinkle, ABC

Written by Barney Saltzberg | Illustrated by Fred Benaglia

 

When you hear the words twinkle, twinkle, little star, it’s almost impossible not to think of the nursery song. When you hear the letters ABC, you might again think of a nursery song. In fact, you’re thinking of the same tune! And that tune? It sure is a catchy one! So catchy that once learned those songs, they stay with you forever. Barney Saltzberg has taken delightful advantage of this whimsy in Twinkle, Twinkle, ABC.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-abc-sliding-on-l

Image copyright Fred Benaglia, 2017, text copyright Barney Saltzberg, Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

The sing-along, read-aloud starts like this: “Twinkle, twinkle, ABC, / A mixed-up, mashed-up melody. / A twinkly star, an alphabet, / Just how silly can we get? / Twinkle, twinkle, ABC. / Next time won’t you play with me?” From there the song takes flight with kids soaring over a city on the wings of birds. Next, the skyscrapers become multi-colored pillars for the kids to hop on and leap over. Coming back to the alphabet, readers are treated to: “Twinkle, twinkle, ABC, / Don’t forget D E F G. / A cow can MOO, and twirl and spin, / Left leg out, right leg in. / Twinkle, twinkle, ABC, A mixed-up, mashed –up jamboree!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-abc-birds

Image copyright Fred Benaglia, 2017, text copyright Barney Saltzberg, Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Now the children meet up with a bear, who leads them on a tightrope walk while they “Growl” and “GRRR.” That bear is pretty talented too, strumming a banjo on his knee to introduce H I J K L M N O P. Moving to the forest, the kids play a game of hide-and-seek with Q R S T U V and swing from branches like leaves blown in the wind. Just in the nick of time, a colorful caterpillar strolls by wearing sensible shoes, a jaunty hat, and the letters W X Y and Z. The jangly jingle begins again and the friends grasp hands and sing. But are they getting sleepy after their busy day? “We TWEET and MOO and GRRR and WHOOSH, / Singing, quietly, softly, shush. / Twinkle, twinkle, ABC. / A mixed-up, mashed-up, zzzzzz.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-abc-dancing

Image copyright Fred Benaglia, 2017, text copyright Barney Saltzberg, Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Barney Saltzberg’s exuberant combination of two favorite songs will have kids up and dancing on the first read and singing along on the second and all subsequent reads. Along the way Saltzberg uses familiar lines from both songs and even throws in a bit of direction from the Hokey-Pokey. Saltzberg’s perfect rhythm and rhymes make this book a joy to read or sing aloud. and his bouyant words will inspire plenty of action-packed story times.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-twinkle-twinkle-abc-holding-hands

Image copyright Fred Benaglia, 2017, text copyright Barney Saltzberg, Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Adding to the fun are Fred Benaglia’s lively and fanciful illustrations in which three children ride birds, slide on the letters of the alphabet, and play on a tightrope. Along the way they meet an orange, banjo-playing bear, a tutu-wearing cow, and a snazzy caterpillar who also join in the fun. The rhythm of the song is even helped along with clever placement of the letters, as when Q R S are divided from T U V by a tree trunk, reminding singers and readers to pause for just a moment between the runs. Benaglia’s color palette is vibrant and his perspectives eye-catching, making this “mixed-up mash-up” a letter-perfect book.

Twinkle, Twinkle, ABC is a picture book kids will love to interact with. It would make a much-appreciated baby gift or birthday gift and an often-read or sung addition to classroom and home libraries.

Ages 1 – 4

Phaidon Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714875071

Discover more about Barney Saltzberg and his books on his website.

View a gallery of illustration and art work by Fred Banaglia on his website.

National Carry a Tune Week Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-instrumental-game

It’s Instrumental! Game

 

Carrying a tune is easier when you’re accompanied by musical instruments. Play this game to acquire a full orchestra to back up your singing!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print the Paper Cube Template, cut it out and assemble the cube die.
  2. Print the Musical Instruments cards, cut out cards, and separate the instruments into piles
  3. Players take turns rolling the die cube to collect musical instrument cards
  4. The first player to collect all 6 instrument cards is the winner

Picture Book Review

September 17 – It’s Better Breakfast Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-cover

About the Holiday

What makes a better breakfast than a tall stack of pancakes? With so many varieties—from buttermilk to buckwheat to chocolate chip—and so many toppings, such as syrup, fruit, and jam, you could have a different breakfast nearly every day of the year!

Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book

Illustrated by Lotta Nieminen

 

Sometimes a novelty book comes along that transcends the “kid” category and provides fun and “Ooooh!’ moments for readers of all ages. Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book offers just this kind of delicious excitement. Opening the cover is like walking into a cozy kitchen, finding your favorite recipe and gathering all the necessary ingredients. The first two-page spread presents in visuals and words the recipe and the utensils and other cooking items needed to make pancakes.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-an-interactive-recipe-book-ingredients

Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

With the second two-page spread, cooking begins! A scoop of baking powder, two tablespoons of sugar, and half a teaspoon of salt are added to the bowl. But what about the cup of flour? Readers get to add that themselves with a pull tab that simulates the flour joining the other ingredients in the green mixing bowl. The clever cut of the opening and the mottled and powdery appearance of the illustrated flour gives the sensation of actual pouring.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-an-interactive-recipe-book-measuring-milk

Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

Next, readers get to measure out the cup of milk with the help of a pull tab that gives kids control over the amount being served. Four marks on the side of the measuring cup provide an opportunity to talk about fractions and the ¼, ½, and ¾ lines that are also incorporated into real glass measuring cups or the separate cups that come as part of a set. Once the milk is ready, it goes into the mixing bowl with the melted butter and the egg.

Grab your whisk and get stirring! A wheel on the side of the page lets kids “combine” these wet ingredients from their individual parts into a cohesive yellow batter. Now that the batter is ready, it’s time for “STEP 4: Ladle the batter into separate circles in the hot, buttered frying pan.” Readers will love pulling the tab that releases the batter into the pan—leaving just a drop of batter to sizzle on its own (and you know how good those crispy drops can be!)

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-an-interactive-recipe-book-flipping-pancakes

Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

The batter is bubbling—which means it’s time to flip the flap jacks! As the spatula appears from the top of the page, kids can lift one of the little round yellow pancakes from the fry pan and turn it over. Ingeniously, the reverse side is delectably browned. A turn of the page invites by-now-hungry readers to follow “STEP 6: When both sides are browned, stack the finished pancakes on a plate.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-an-interactive-recipe-book-on-plate

Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

A pancake-sized round indentation on the plate just begs to be filled with the browned pancake from the previous page. Adding the pancake to the sunny plate, kids will feel as if they are holding the spatula and carefully slipping it atop a stack ready to be eaten.  The last page encourages readers to “add butter, syrup, fruit, jam, lemon juice, honey, or whipped cream and taste what you’ve made! Delicious!”

Lotta Nieminen’s Pancakes! is so wonderfully conceived in its bold vibrant images and simple recitation of a pancake recipe. The crisp lines and absence of labels on the ingredients’ packages, puts the focus on the shapes, providing a chance for discussion of concepts such as rectangle, circle, half-circle, cylinder, oval, and triangle; flat and round; and bigger and smaller. Ideas such as hot and cold, measuring, pouring, mixing, stacking and others can also be introduced. The brilliant interactive elements invite kids and adults alike to play with this book over and over.

The sturdy board pages and convenient size make this a perfect take-along for trips to the market, picnics, appointments, sibilings’ activities, or other outings where waiting is required. For kids and adults who like to help out in the kitchen, love to cook, or are attracted by all things culinary, Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book makes a terrific gift and must have for home bookshelves. 

Ages 2 and up

Phaidon Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-0714872834

To view a gallery of graphic design and illustration work by Lotta Nieminen, visit her website!

Better Breakfast Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancake-game

Pancake Flip-Out

 

Pancakes are served in a stack because they’re so delicious each one doesn’t last long! This game gives you the chance to see how many pancakes you can flip onto a plate! You can play this game several ways:

To Play Pancake Toss

  1. Give each player the same number of pancakes and see how many they can toss onto the plate during their turn
  2. Make a target with the plate in the middle and draw 3 concentric circles around it. Hitting the target can earn you 20 points. Getting your pancake in the first circle around the plate earns you 15 point, the second circle is worth 10 points, and the third is worth 5 points. Rotate through the players as many times as you like and add up the points at the end. The player with the most points wins!
  3. Instead of tossing the pancakes with your hands, try throwing them with a spatula!
  4. Make up your own rules—and have fun!

To Play With Dice

  1. Choose a number of pancakes that each player must add to their plate—say, maybe, a baker’s dozen.
  2. Take turns rolling the dice and adding the number of pancakes rolled to the plate. The first player to reach the agreed-upon number is the winner.

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print enough copies of the Pancakes and Breakfast Plates for the game you choose and cut them out. Playing pieces can be printed on card stock or on paper. 
  2. If printing on paper, you can glue the pancakes and plate to poster board, or cardboard to give the pancakes more weight for throwing and the plate more support
  3. Once dry, the game pieces are ready for fun!

Picture Book Review

September 5 – Cheese Pizza Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pizza!-an-interactive-recipe-book-cover

About the Holiday

If you’re wondering what you should have for dinner or lunch…or…heck—even breakfast!—ponder no longer. It’s Cheese Pizza Day, which gives you carte blanche to indulge in this hot, bubbly favorite any time today. And even though the official holiday only mentions cheese, I don’t think anyone will mind if you add a few toppings!

Pizza! An Interactive Recipe Book

Illistrated by Lotta Nieminen

 

Out of the frying pan and into the oven, Lotta Nieminen cooks up another delicious “cook in a book” offering. This time kids are making pizza! The first two pages lay out all the ingredients and utensils they will need to create a scrumptious cheese pizza. Once the flour, yeast, sea salt, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, olive oil, sugar, and water are assembled, it’s time to get out the bowls, spoons, measuring cup, knife, and damp dishtowel.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pizza!-an-interactive-recipe-book-ingredients

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

In Steps 1 and 2, little chefs combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a small bowl. As they “let it sit for a few minutes until bubbly,” they grab the large bowl. With the magic of a pull tab, the dusty flour and tiny salt crystals flow into the bowl. Next it’s time to “drizzle in the olive oil” and add the yeast mixture. The pull tab makes sure nothing spills! Now, push the spoon back and forth to mix it up into one “big clump of dough!”

Step 4 is even more fun! Kids get to knead the squishy dough before putting it in the bowl and covering it with the cloth. One to two hours later—or with the turn of the page!—the dough is ready to be placed on cooking sheets. Now, preheat the oven to 500 degrees! Just roll the wheel and watch the numbers rise. When you get to 500, you can stop! Open the oven door and pop those pans right inside.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pizza!-an-interactive-recipe-book-adding-flour

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

When the crusts are ready, take them out of the oven and use the wooden spoon to swirl on the tomato sauce—Ooo! It’s kind of mesmerizing! Step 9 is where the toppings come in. Would you choose peppers, ham, pepperoni, mushrooms, garlic, basil, olives? Or maybe a bit of everything!? Now that all the toppings are…on top, it’s time for “Step 10: Bake for another 10 minutes, or until the crusts are golden brown.”

Hmmmm! The pizzas look sooo delicious! Quick, get the pizza cutter and cut a slice! Lift it out with your fingers…and eat! (Well, pretend to anyway!)

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pizza!-an-interactive-recipe-book-slice

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Lotta Nieminen’s Cook in a Book board books for kids (and anyone who enjoys cooking and playing) are fun from yummy beginning to delectable end. The text of Pizza! is a recipe that young and adult readers will be tempted to try themselves, but the true joy resides in Nieminen’s smart, sophisticated illustrations. Each page entices readers to interact with the directions with delightfully sequenced actions that invite repeat play. The yellow kneadable “dough” is an ingenious inclusion, and is as much of a stress reliever as it is fun.

Throughout, Pizza! offers plenty of opportunities for children and adults to talk about cooking, utensils, ingredients, and even memories of times spent together. The wheel on the oven is a great way to teach kids about rising temperature and counting by twenty-five. The final page fulfills the promise of the book with a sturdy slice of pizza that can be removed and enjoyed.

Pizza! makes a wonderful gift for children and a unique hostess, new home, bridal shower or other gift for adults. It would be a welcome addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 6 and up

Phaidon Press, 2017 |ISBN 978-0714874098

Discover a gallery of graphic design and illustration work by Lotta Nieminen on her website!

Cheese Pizza Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pizza-toppings-word-search

 What’s Your Favorite Topping? Word Search

 

Cheese pizza is great on its own! It also makes the perfect canvas for lots of toppings! Can you find eighteen delicious ingredients in this printable What’s Your Favorite Topping? Word Search? 

 

Picture Book Review