June 16 – Fresh Veggies Day

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About the Holiday

Fresh Veggies Day is all about fresh food! Locally grown and freshly picked vegetables and fruit are healthy and so delicious! During summer the supermarket and farmers’ market shelves are bursting with ripe, colorful foods that make tasty treats. To celebrate, head out to your neighborhood farm stand or favorite store and explore the offerings!

Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market

Written by Michelle Schaub | Illustrated by Amy Huntington

 

Come spend a day mingling with the farmers, crafters, musicians, kids, dogs, and customers who make shopping local a fun community event—after all, “It’s market day. / Hooray, hooray! / Spy the wonders / on display: / rainbow carrots, / herb bouquets, / heaps of berries, / sample trays.” So “join the party; / don’t delay! / Come celebrate; / it’s market day!”

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Image copyright Amy Huntington, text copyright Michelle Schaub. Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.

For the growers, the day starts before you are even awake. They are Early Risers who “toil by silver light. / Harvest, sort, / wash, and load. / Hop in trucks, / Hit the road. / Just as dawn / pinks the sky, / they arrive, stretch and sigh.” They put up their booths and Pile Up their displays with meticulous care. Take Farmer Rick whose “cauliflower towers / take him eons to align. / His pyramids of peppers / show impeccable design….But when Miss Malory arrives, / Rick sports a wary smile— / she always picks her produce from / the bottom of the pile!”

In addition to fruit and vegetables, there is often a booth that entices with homemade bread and Delightful Bites. “Alluring aromas float over tent tops—a whiff of vanilla, a whisper of spice. / A hint of some cinnamon dusted on cupcakes, a sniff of plump blackberries tucked into pies.” There are loaves and croissants and muffins and more all waiting for you to try.

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Image copyright Amy Huntington, text copyright Michelle Schaub. Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.

Part of the fun of a farmers’ market is the Necessary Mess. “It clings to boots / and radish roots / and smudges mushroom caps. / It likes to hide / tucked deep inside / all crannies, grooves, and gaps….This film of dust, / a thin brown crust— / a mess you can’t avert. / But don’t you know? / No crops would grow / without a lot of dirt.”

Sometimes it’s just too hard to wait to eat the goodies at the market. One nibble…well…maybe two or three—no one will ever know. Except perhaps for those telltale Clues in Blue: “Blue splatters on our T-shirts. / Blue speckles on our shoes. / Blue splotches on our baskets. / Our footprints? They’re blue too…. ‘Who gobbled up the berries?’ / We both were reprimanded. / We tried to hide the evidence— / but we were caught… / BLUE-handed.”

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Image copyright Amy Huntington, text copyright Michelle Schaub. Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.

With twilight the market closes. The farmers pack their trucks, the honey sellers say good-bye, and “the musician’s notes have hushed.” The shoppers have gone home where their “cupboards brim with bounty, / while families dream away, / imagining the wonders / to come / next market day.”

An Author’s Note on “Fresh-picked reasons to spend a day at the market” follows the text.

In eighteen humorous, insightful, and evocative poems, Michelle Schaub takes readers to a farmers’ market to experience the sights, sounds, aromas, and fun of a day spent with a community of people in the open air. From the transformation of a vacant lot to checking off the traits of summer to an imagined conversation between a Green Zebra Tomato and Dinosaur Kale, Straub’s light touch and jaunty rhythms will make readers smile from the first page to the last. Kids and adults alike will be inspired to visit their local market again and again—in person and through these delicious poems.

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Image copyright Amy Huntington, text copyright Michelle Schaub. Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.

As envisioned by Amy Huntington, this farmers’ market is alive with gorgeous vibrant and subtle colors that invite readers to explore the crates of vegetables and fruit, drool over the home-baked pastries, dance along to the banjo and fiddle players, and follow the dogs who enjoy a day out as much as their humans. A diverse community of adults and children enjoy the fun in each illustration that will have readers lingering over every page.

A perfect take along on a day’s outing to a farmers’ market, picnic, playground, or other jaunt, Fresh-Picket Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market should find a welcome spot on any classroom, public library, and home bookshelf.

Ages 4 – 9

Charlesbridge Publishing, 2017 | ISBN 978-1580895477

Learn more about Michelle Schaub, her books, and her poetry on her website!

Discover more about Amy Huntington and her books on her website!

You’re going to dig this Fresh-Picked Poetry book trailer!

Fresh Veggies Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-vegetable-garden-word-search

Plant a Vegetable Garden Word Search

 

There are so many kinds of vegetables to plant in a home garden! Can you pick out the names of twenty veggies in this printable Plant a Vegetable Garden Word Search? Here’s the Solution.

Picture Book Review

June 15 – Smile Power Day

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About the Holiday

We smile at people all day long, don’t we? I mean there’s 🙂  😀  🙂  😉  and so many more! But how about the real kind? Giving a warm smile to a friend, a stranger, or—especially—someone who looks as if they need one, makes everyone feel better! Today, be happy and welcome all with a smile!

Welcome

By Barroux

 

A polar bear is sitting on the edge of an ice floe enjoying some relaxing time with his friends when he hears an ominous noise. “CRACK! The ice breaks! ‘We’re drifting away!’” his friends cry. In no time at all the three polar bears are adrift in the middle of the sea in need of a new home. They float and float, but “the water goes on forever!” To pass the time the friends play games: “‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with W…’”

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Copyright Barroux, courtesy of little bee books and simonandschuster.com

Perhaps days go by. The bears ride out a storm with dark skies and huge waves that threaten to sink them. It’s scary and the trio wants “to find a new home right now!” At last, their ice floe—smaller now—approaches a sandy shore. “Land! We’re saved,” cheer the polar bears. They ask the cows on the beach if they can live there, but the cows take exception. The bears are “too furry…too tall…and too bear-ish.” And with a “Sorry!” the cows turn the weary travelers away.

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Copyright Barroux, courtesy of little bee books and simonandschuster.com

Once again on their own, the bears have no choice but to let the current steer them. With standing room for only one on their icy raft, they near another beach where a single panda relaxes on pillows in the midst of expansive land. “Yes! This could be our new home,” the polar bears shout. The panda ponders the situation for only a moment before stating, “‘…you are too many. Look around, there’s just not enough room! You can’t live here.’”

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Copyright Barroux, courtesy of little bee books and simonandschuster.com

As the polar bears continue on their journey, their “little ice boat has almost melted,” and they are running out of time. They bob next to a tall sea wall. “‘Help us!’” they plead. Behind the wall two giraffes lounge on the beach, too lazy to investigate the noise they hear. The ice floe has melted to a thin disk. The bears are hanging on and about to give up hope when they find an empty island. They jump to shore just in the nick of time and begin enjoying their new home.

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Copyright Barroux, courtesy of little bee books and simonandschuster.com

It’s not long before a dinghy floats into view with three monkeys on board. “‘Excuse me, we’re looking for a new home. Can you help us please?’” they ask. The polar bears stop their game of badminton and step forward. “‘Hmmm,’” they think. “‘You are…

Welcome!’”

With vibrant blue, full-bleed pages as wide open as the sea itself and three endearing long-nosed polar bears, Barroux has crafted a poignant tale with depth and far-reaching applications for readers of all ages. Inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis, Welcome stands on its own as an uplifting story of friendship and inclusiveness, but also offers an excellent means for beginning a discussion on the world events that children see and have questions about. Employing a bear’s first person point of view and incorporating a child-centric perspective on travel—from the humor of the I Spy game to the perseverance of the bears—Barroux sets just the right tone for his audience.

With sparse text and repetition of the bears’ simple request, the subject matter is handled with sensitivity, not fright, which allows children to understand that the theme of the story is relevant on many levels. Whether the “traveler” comes from near or far, is a classmate, teammate or neighbor, or is even the reader or someone else feeling adrift in a certain situation, children will see that all deserve welcome.

Ages 4 – 8

little bee books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1499804447

You can view a gallery of illustration work for children, adults, and more by Barroux on his website!

Smile Power Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-UN-day-puzzle

Give Me Your Hand! Puzzle

 

In this printable Give Me Your Hand! Puzzle, everyone is welcomed with a handshake. Offering friendship to all, the interchangeable pieces can be mixed and matched as the animals become buddies with one another.

Supplies

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Copyright Conor Carroll, courtesy of celebratepicturebooks.com

Directions

  1. Print the puzzle: to make the puzzle sturdier: Print on heavy stock paper or glue the page to poster board
  2. Color the pictures with colored pencils or crayons
  3. Cut the pieces apart
  4. Switch the pieces around to make many alternate pictures
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Copyright Conor Carroll, courtesy of celebratepicturebooks.com

Picture Book Review

June 12 – It’s Adopt a Cat Month

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About the Holiday

Cats make wonderful pets! They can be cuddly or completely independent, but their playful personalities make for lots of laughs and love. If you own a cat, spend some extra time with your pet and ensure that all of your feline friend’s health needs are being met and are up-to-date. If you think you might like to adopt a cat into your family, visit your local animal shelter for cats and kittens who are looking for a forever home.

Lily’s Cat Mask

By Julie Fortenberry

 

Lily was starting school so her dad took her shopping. “Lily wasn’t sure she wanted to get new things for school, but her father said it would be fun.” After buying some clothes and meeting a woman they knew who gushed at how much Lily had grown, Lily was tired and wanted to go home. “But then she saw the cat mask.” It was the only one on the shelf, and Lily’s dad surprised her by buying it for her.

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Copyright Julie Fortenberry, 2017, courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

Lily put it on immediately and wore it on the way home. She wore it to tea parties with her toys, to family parties “when she wanted to be invisible. And when she wanted to be noticed.” When she wore it to her doctor’s appointment, the doctor spoke in meows. One day she lost her mask. Her dad made her a rabbit costume, and while that was fun for a while, Lily was happy to finally find her cat mask.

Lily wore her cat mask for many occasions. She wore it when she didn’t want to talk—like when she met her new teacher. “She liked to hide her face when she felt mean and couldn’t get nice.” She even blew out her birthday candles and made a wish wearing the mask. When school started, Lily was only allowed to wear her mask on the playground, but once in a while she put it on, hoping no one would notice. Then it was sometimes put in the teacher’s desk drawer.

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Copyright Julie Fortenberry, 2017, courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

One day, the teacher made a very exciting announcement. The class was going to have a costume party, and everyone could wear a mask or dress up however they wanted. On the day of the party, there were characters, animals, and bugs of all kinds. But then Lily looked across the room and saw the best costume of all—another cat! During recess the new friends played on the swings and meowed happily together.

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Copyright Julie Fortenberry, 2017, courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

Julie Fortenberry’s story of a quiet, hesitant child who discovers a unique way of interacting with the world around her offers openhearted acceptance and understanding for children who are observant and thoughtful integrators. The reaction of Lily’s father, teacher, doctor, and family members to her cat mask is uplifting and provides excellent modeling. The straightforward storytelling highlights Lily’s sweet personality as well as the empathetic responses her costume elicits.

Fotenberry’s illustrations of adorable Lily and her experiences at home, at school, at the doctor’s office, and at the mall are full of joy. The colors are fresh and vibrant, but also calm and peaceful, mirroring Lily’s feelings when wearing her cat mask. The images demonstrate and validate Lily’s preference to watch and participate in events from her own distance.

Lily’s Cat Mask provides the opportunity for much discussion with children, especially about meeting people, Lily’s birthday wish, where Lily sits and plays at parties and at school, and when Lily makes a friend. The book is highly recommended for classroom and school libraries and would make a welcome addition to home bookshelves as well.

Ages 4 – 7

Viking Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0425287996

Discover more about Julie Fortenberry and view a gallery of her books and artwork on her website!

Adopt a Cat Month Activity

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The Cat’s Meow Word Search

 

There are so many beautiful types of cats! Can you find the names of twenty-one breeds in this printable The Cat’s Meow Word Search puzzle? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

June 11 – National Corn on the Cob Day

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About the Holiday

One of the culinary delights of summer is corn on the cob. Whether your favorite kernels are yellow, butter and sugar, or white, corn on the cob is sweet hand-held comfort food that goes with dinner, picnics, barbeques, and any summertime party. By now, most places have piles of corn to pick from. Shucks! Today might be the perfect time to cook some up and enjoy!

Bob & Rob & Corn on the Cob

By Todd McQueen

 

Bob is a fedora- and glasses-wearing squirrel who has his eyes on a lonely piece of corn on the cob. Rob is a party hat-wearing squirrel who’s got his little paws secured around corn on the cob handles and is about to take a bite. You can tell that “these two squirrels love corn on the cob.” A dapper duck and a mannerly, bib-wearing dog does too. (Hey! Who’s that little silver guy looking for Mama?) But rabbit Ella Mae Dobbs, who’s “a bit of a snob” does not like corn on the cob.

A chicken in her stocking cap and a piggy with a curl on top also love corn. (Wait! That adorable silver machine with the claw-like fingers is back looking for Mama.) “Ella Mae Dobbs loves pan-seared tofu. With carrots cut curly and hot cheese fondue.” This pronouncement sounds odd to the rest of the crew, so “the duck looked at Rob. The pig looked at Bob. But they just kept on crunching their corn on the cob.” (While our little silver friend—who sports a thin antenna and a fine set of teeth—is looking straight off the page. Could you be his Mama?)

While the robot wants Mama, and Ella Mae wants a kabob, Bob whispers to Rob that he’d like “to see Ella eat corn on the cob.” They offer a deal—Bob will try carrots and Rob will try tofu, but only if Ella tries corn on the cob. But Ella says, “Oh boo.” Bob’s already taken a bit of a carrot, and Rob’s nibbled tofu from a fork. And Ella Mae? She’s contemplating the corn on her plate as the robot peers over the table.

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Image copyright Todd McQueen, 2104, courtesy of Sky Pony Press.

With his long robot arm, the little guy reaches and grabs onto one handle as Ella decides that maybe, just maybe, with some seasoning the corn could be…. But suddenly, like a weightlifter, the Robot lifts the corn over his head! He slices! He dices! He adds tomato, zucchini, broccoli, and eggplant in a spectacular kabob! Then with a flame that shoots from his hand, he grills it all up until…Pop! Pop! Pop!…this culinary masterpiece lands on Ella’s plate. She declares it “interesting!”

So it’s true—“Bob and Rob love corn on the cob. They even love tofu.” (Well, that last part’s a little fib.) But they all agree on one thing: “that nothing’s quite as fun as POPPED! corn on the cob.”

And what about our little robot buddy? He finally found his Mama—a shiny corn cutter and popper all in one!

Todd McQueen’s tribute to corn on the cob is a funny read-aloud that—of course!—stars two squirrels eager to chomp into their favorite sweet delicacy. Their wish to share their snack with stubborn Ella Mae sets up a bounding duel of wits that is sure to make kids laugh. The addition of the little robot who’s lost his mama adds a bit of mystery, and when he suddenly whips up a whopper of a kabob, a surprised “Whoa!” is sure to pop from wide-eyed young readers. The story is a delicious reminder that even if friend’s tastes differ, they can usually find something to agree on.

McQueen’s dry wit shines through in his illustrations of various famous corn-eaters trying to attract a very chic and sophisticated rabbit to join in the fun of simple corn on the cob. The shiny robot is a cutie, who kids will love to follow from page to page. The duck and Rob’s obvious dislike of tofu should make little ones giggle, and kids who like counting will be happy with all of the corn cobs waiting to be pointed out.

A perfect book to read while munching on popcorn or to take along to a barbeque or picnic, Bob & Rob & Corn on the Cob is just right for free-and-easy summertime reading.

Ages 3 – 6

Sky Pony Press, 2014 | ISBN 978-1628735918

Corn on the Cob Day Activity

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Crazy about Corn! Maze

 

A group of friends are having a barbeque, but they need some corn on the cob. Can you find your way through this printable Crazy about Corn! Maze to deliver it to them? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

June 10 – Worldwide Knit in Public Day

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About the Holiday

Knitter Danielle Landis established Worldwide Knit in Public Day to demonstrate that knitting is not just for women of a certain age—and there are plenty of people who agree with her! Girls and boys, women and men enjoy this relaxing and productive hobby. The fuzzy hats, cozy scarves, and warm sweaters that grow from two thin needles are amazing and are some of the best parts of winter. If you are a knitter, take your yarn and needles out for the day. If you don’t yet know the skill of knitting, today’s a perfect time to start!

Ned the Knitting Pirate

Written by Diana Murray | Illustrated by Leslie Lammle

 

“Listen to the legend of the crew that sailed the deep / aboard a tattered pirate ship they called the Rusty Heap.” These pirates were as fierce as they come, with a captain who took no guff and rag-tag mateys who went about their sailing, swabbing, eating, and looting with a song on their lips. Let’s take a listen: “We’re tougher than gristle and barnacle grit. / We heave, and we ho, and we swab, and we…KNIT!!!” Knit??

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Image copyright Leslie Lammle, text copyright Diana Murray. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

You bet! Ned loves to knit! But the captain not be feeling it. In fact, he put his peg foot down. “I won’t be hearing that! / A scurvy pirate doesn’t knit, nor wear a fuzzy hat.” There was no time for knit-picking though; the crew was ready to do some looting. They rowed the dinghy out to an island and started to dig. And lo and behold, they uncovered chests of gold. While the rest of the pirates danced and sang about their good fortune, though, Ned leaned back against a tree and continued working on his knitting.

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Image copyright Leslie Lammle, text copyright Diana Murray. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

That night the galley was alive with great cheer as the pirates celebrated. “We’re pirates, we’re pirates, out sailing the sea, / as scary and hairy as any could be. / We’re grouchy and slouchy. We don’t ever quit! / We slurp, and we burp, and we gulp, and we…KNIT!!!” Arrrgh! The captain blew his top! He was so steamed “he turned as red as lobster stew.” But Ned wasn’t going to back down—until the captain threatened him with walking the plank.

Sadly, Ned went back to his bunk and packed away his fuzzy hat, “his needles, his balls of yarn, and skull-trim applique. / He folded up his blanket with the jolly roger crest, / and stashed it with the knitted scarves, the mittens, and the rest.” In the middle of the night, the crew was awakened by an ominous splash, and the captain hollered for all hands on deck.

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Image copyright Leslie Lammle, text copyright Diana Murray. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

There, just off the starboard side, they saw “the briny ocean beast, / who loved to snack on pirate ships—his favorite floating feast. / His tentacles were thick with slime, his eyes a ghastly yellow, / and cannonballs bounced off his sides as if his skin was Jell-O.” The beast was snacking on the ship’s sail when Ned hurried back to his bunk and pulled out his trunk. He readied the catapult and with a sproing whipped his knitted blanket straight at the beast.

The monster fell back into the sea, cozily covered by the fuzzy blanket. With a yawn, he fell asleep—not to wake again for one hundred years. The happy pirates danced a jig, sang their song, and…learned to knit. After all, the sail needed mending and they all needed new fuzzy hats. The captain even got a specially made cape. Now when they sing their pirate ditty, it goes like this: “Were pirates, we’re pirates, out sailing the sea. / We do what we likes, and we likes to be free. / We’re tougher than gristle and barnacle grit. / We heave, and we ho, and we swab, and we…KNIT!!!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ned-the-knitting-pirate-ned

Image copyright Leslie Lammle, text copyright Diana Murray. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Diana Murray’s sea yarn is a fun addition to the pirate picture book genre with an original hero, a slimy nemesis, an ingenious solution, and a rollicking rhyme that weaves it all together. Ned, with his knitted tri-corn hat and fresh face is a bit of an outsider who sticks to his needles, despite the needling he gets. He makes for a good role model for kids who might be doubtful about showing their true likes and personalities in a group. Kids will love this book as a read-aloud and will want to join in on the pirate song. Young readers may even be inspired to learn to knit to make their own special cozy.

Leslie Lammle’s briny deep is home to a crew of rakish pirates who among them boast bare feet, one eye patch, one wooden leg, a hook hand, and, of course, a shoulder-sitting parrot. Kids will love sitting around the table with the mates and captain as they dish up some grub, and laugh when the captain blows his top at Ned’s constant knitting. Lammle’s ocean beast is scaly and toothy, but not too scary for little ones, and kids will appreciate Ned’s quick thinking. Readers will enjoy following the mermaid and trying to predict what will happen next in the story. During a second read, kids will see that she was trying to warn the pirates all along.

For kids who like pirate stories and crafts, Ned the Knitting Pirate will find a purl-fect spot on their bookshelves.

Ages 5 – 9

Roaring Brook Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1596438903

You’ll find more about Diana Murray and her books on her website!

Check out a gallery of illustration work and books by Leslie Lammle on her website!

Worldwide Knit in Public Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-knitting-word-search

Knitting is Kneat! Word Search Puzzle

 

Knitting is a fun and creative hobby! Can you find the eighteen knitting-related words in this printable Knitting is Kneat! Word Search Puzzle? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

June 3 – Repeat Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday recognizes that some things are just so fun or compelling that you want to do them again and again (ok, yeah…and maybe even again). So if you have a favorite song, show, or activity that you just can’t get enough of, hit that Repeat button and enjoy!

Before and After

By Jean Jullien

 

In this original and funny concept book, kids learn the idea of “before” and “after” with repeated examples of cause and effect. Opening the book, readers meet a Before soon-to-be mom and dad standing belly to belly. Turning the page, they see After, where a now-svelte Mom smiles as the baby hugs Dad, while riding atop a soft seat. Moving on, a rakish cat begins grooming her paw in a portrait of Before. Soon After she is sparkling clean, and her coat is smooth.

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Copyright Jean Jullien, courtesy of Phaidon Press, 2017

Hmmm…what are those yellow sticks or straws or pasta noodles Before they become ?? Ha! Nailed it! After, those lines became a nice, hot, plate of spaghetti and meatballs! On the next page a child with very long hair is wearing a mischievous look Before. But—Ack! After, that hair has been cut very, very—did I mention very?—short, and the child’s expression is a little bugged out! What’s next? Way After—when the hair is back to its starting point and contentment reigns.

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Copyright Jean Jullien, courtesy of Phaidon Press, 2017

Are you a half-full or a half-empty kind of person? Either way the glass and bottle are partly full Before, and the glass and bottle are partly full After—but in differing amounts. Ah! The age-old question has made an appearance: Which came Before? The egg? And which came After? The chicken? Or is it the other way ‘round?

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Copyright Jean Jullien, courtesy of Phaidon Press, 2017

At the amusement park, a dad and child—every hair in place—wait in the roller coaster car Before. The dad is all smiles; the child a little wary. After, they sport the wind-blown look, while the child is all smiles and the dad is a bit shaken up. So what caused this change? During—which was a loop-the-loop, up-and-down, high-speed, no-hands thrill! A summer day takes its toll on the girl in the next scene: Before, she arrives at the beach with her shades firmly in place. But After a day of fun in the sun, those shades have left a pale mask on her now-burned face.

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Copyright Jean Jullien, courtesy of Phaidon Press, 2017

And so we have come to…The Beginning? Yep, that is definitely the beginning of a Dalmatian. Let’s flip the page and see…Ah, yes! And so we have come to The End! (Or the tail—however you’d like to look at it.)

Jean Jullien’s humorous concept book will have kids and adult readers giggling and wondering what comes next page after page. While the text is minimal, the images offer a wealth of opportunities for kids to build prediction skills and talk about how Before became After. The bold images and backgrounds from a modern color palette—as well as the double fold-out roller coaster spread—will engage readers and make Before & After as much an art book as a fun learning tool.

A fun take-along book on outings or for waiting times, Before & After can spur your own game of contrasts.

Ages 2 – 5

Phaidon Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714874081

View a portfolio of artwork by Jean Jullien on his website!

Repeat Day Activity

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Flying Origami Find the Differences Puzzle

 

These two kids are making origami. While these pictures may look like repeats, there are ten differences. Can you find them all in this printable Flying Origami Find the Differences Puzzle?

Picture Book Review

May 31 – It’s Get Caught Reading Month

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About the Holiday

As we say goodbye to Get Caught Reading Month, let’s remember all of the great stories we’ve read and eagerly anticipate those that still await us in the days and months ahead! The long, relaxing hours of summer vacation are nearing, giving readers even more time to enjoy their favorite pursuit. So why not make a list of titles you’d like to explore this summer, and lead it off with today’s book that tells the true story of a very original teenager!

The Original Cowgirl: The Wild Adventures of Lucille Mulhall

Written by Heather Lang | Illustrated by Suzanne Beaky

 

Unlike most girls in the 1890s, Lucille didn’t skip rope “with her mama’s clothesline, she twirled it like a lasso. Whoosh…whoosh…snap!” While Lucille’s papa thought his daughter would be a great help around the ranch, her mother considered riding horses and roping steers unladylike. Lucille wasn’t interested in the regular pursuits of becoming a lady, however. Sewing and cooking were boring, and “riding sidesaddle was slower than a snail climbing a greased log.”

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Image copyright Suzanne Beaky, courtesy of suzannebeaky.com

By the age of ten, Lucille was well versed in “mending fences, training racehorses, and herding cattle.” When she asked her father for her own herd of cattle, he told her that she could have one when she was old enough to rope and brand her own—something she could already do. Lucille’s mother worried about her when she patrolled the pastures where her cows grazed. They were threatened by “longhorns, wolves, and coyotes so mean they could turn the strongest cowboy into buzzard food,” but Lucille could snatch those varmints with her lasso in no time flat. The only thing Lucille was afraid of was not being allowed to work on the ranch, so she hid her bumps and bruises.

When Lucille was thirteen, her papa took her along on some rough-riding and roping competitions he had organized. When people saw how talented she was, word got around. Newspapers called her a “daring young girl who ‘held the audience in a breathless spell’” and said she was “‘the envy of half the men.’” But now that she was a teenager, Lucille’s mama sent her to a boarding school where she was to learn how to be a lady.

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Image copyright Suzanne Beaky, text copyright Heather Lang. Courtesy of albertwhitman.com

When she returned home at the end of the year, her papa presented her with a gift—a “beautiful sixteen-hand chestnut horse named Governor. Right off, Lucille could see that he would make a perfect trick horse. That summer Lucille, her papa, and the other cowboys were invited to perform for Vice Presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt. At first Lucille’s mother said no, but she later relented, with the stipulation that “it would be Lucille’s last appearance.”

Lucille was a star, demonstrating her riding and roping skills for 25,000 people. Teddy Roosevelt was so impressed, he suggested Lucille have her own show. Soon, Lucille was traveling around the country, thrilling audiences by breaking broncos, lassoing and branding steers, and performing tricks like roping “five galloping cowboys all at once.”

Lucille entered her first professional steer-roping competition when she was just fifteen. She was the first women ever to compete in this kind of event. Some cowboys laughed at her, but she didn’t care. When the steer was released from the pen, Lucille took off after him. Her first throw of the lasso landed but broke. Quickly she tossed another and “flipped him up like a flapjack.” She jumped off her horse and in 29 ½ seconds tied the steer’s feet. Her time was “faster than all the men!”

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Image copyright Suzanne Beaky, courtesy of suzannebeaky.com

Lucille went on to break the world record for steer roping. Plenty of people still thought Lucille belonged in the home instead of on horseback. “But her home was always on a horse with the sun on her cheeks a lariat coiled in her hand, and the boundless Oklahoma prairie rolling out in front of her.”

More information on and a timeline of Lucille Mulhall’s life follow the text.

With her folksy storytelling, Heather Lang transports readers to the prairies of the Wild West, where a girl with phenomenal riding skills captured the attention and hearts of Americans. Young readers will be fascinated by Lucille Mulhall’s development from a 10-year-old prodigy to the star of her own stage show in only a few short years. Lang’s expressive period-perfect vocabulary allows all kids to ride the range while they learn about this young woman who broke stereotypes, championed the cause of women, and still serves as a role model for all who wish to live life on their own terms.

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Image copyright Suzanne Beaky, courtesy of suzannebeaky.com

With her downhome, action-packed illustrations, Suzanne Beaky lets kids watch as Lucille lassos a wolf, ropes a steer, preforms tricks, and celebrates her record-breaking performance. Lucille is a wide-eyed force of nature in her split skirt and braids as she twirls her rope for serious ranch business and for entertaining the crowds, whose stunned expressions reveal just how original Lucille was. Clothing, hair, and mustache styles, as well as depictions of horses, steers, and the vast green prairie make The Original Cowgirl as fun as it is informative.

For kids interested in the Wild West, early American history, biographies, or a story about true individuality, The Original Cowgirl: the Wild Adventures of Lucille Mulhall is a great addition to home bookshelves and public and school libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Albert Whitman, 2015 | ISBN 978-0807529317

Discover more about Heather Lang and her books on her website!

To find out more about Lucille Mulhall through videos, photographs, and fun activities, click here!

Learn more about Suzanne Beaky and view a gallery of her artwork on her website!

Get Caught Reading Month Activity

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Yee-haw! Word Search

 

Can you lasso the eighteen Wild West-inspired words in this printable Yee-haw! Word Search? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review