August 19 – World Honey Bee Day

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About the Holiday

Established in 1990 by American beekeepers and once known as Honey Bee Awareness Day, this holiday has grown to world-wide stature. The importance of honey bees to sustainable farming cannot be overstated. In recent years the mysterious depletion of bee colonies has threatened not only the population of these beneficial insects but also the industries that rely on them. There are many ways to celebrate! If you have a yard or garden, plant bee-attracting plants such as lavender or marjoram, have a cup of tea—with honey, of course, or consider donating to the preservation of bees.

Bee: A Peek-Through Picture Book

By Britta Teckentrup

 

As the sun comes up over the meadow of poppies, a bee gets ready for her day. She flits through the forest, blending her quiet buzz with the songs of the birds in the trees. “As she travels here and there, / A gentle humming fills the air.” With no map to guide her, the bee knows exactly what route to take to visit each colorful flower. “Gathering nectar as she goes, / From every foxglove, every rose, / Dusty with pollen, the little bee / Buzzes, buzzes, busily.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bee-a-peek-through-picture-book-dawn

Copyright Britta Teckentrup, 2017, courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

The flowers attract the little bee with their sweet perfume, and with the sun as her compass, she finds them all. As she flies from flower to flower, tree to tree, she picks up and leaves bits of pollen that will create more blossoms.  But when she looks out over the field, the bee sees more flowers than she could ever hope to visit. The bee hurries back to her hive to tell the others about the smorgasbord waiting for them.

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Copyright Britta Teckentrup, 2017, courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

In droves they leave the hive, gliding over a pond, navigating an orchard, and continuing on. “The bees pass over a woodland stream. / Droplets sparkle and pebbles gleam. / Water trickles, bubbles, and weaves. / A weeping willow trails its leaves.” As the bees stop here and there along the way, they give life to new flowers and plants, expanding the wildflower meadow that is home to so many creatures.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bee-a-peek-through-picture-book-nectar

Copyright Britta Teckentrup, 2017, courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

Readers can see that Britta Teckentrup’s beautiful tribute to bees is something special before they even open the book. On the cover, a sunset-hued flower stretches into the blue sky. Through its die-cut center, children can see the complexity of the flower and, in its very middle, a honey bee harvesting nectar. Teckentrup’s lyrical story of a bee’s day is complemented by gorgeous illustrations of the vibrant wildflowers that call to the little bee. Each page is rendered in a breathtaking palette that surrounds young readers with the mysteries of the natural world—and in the center is the bee, going about her job as squirrels scamper, deer silently look on, and butterflies flutter nearby.

Children will adore following the bee—and later, more and more bees—through open windows to the final two-page spread of a meadow in full bloom. All along the journey, the bee has made friends with woodland, pond, and orchard creatures, and young readers will delight in finding each of them hidden in this glorious field.

Ages 3 – 7

Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-1524715267

Discover more about Britta Techentrup, her books, and artwork on her website!

World Honey Bee Day Activity

CPB---Busy-Buzzy-Bee-Maze

Busy Buzzy Bee Maze

 

Can you help the little bee find her way through this printable Busy Buzzy Bee Maze? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

August 11 – It’s National Sandwich Month

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About the Holiday

Most people are familiar with the story of how the Earl of Sandwich created the first sandwich and parlayed his invention to world-wide stature as it became part of nearly everyone’s daily routine. And it all got started during a card game in the British town of Sondwic, which became Sandwic, and finally Sandwice—which means “Market town on sandy soil.” Seems the Earl got hungry but didn’t want to get his cards stained with greasy fingerprints, so he ordered his meat between slices of bread, and a new culinary star was born. Celebrate this month’s holiday by trying some of the many types of sandwiches made popular in various regions of the country and areas around the world!

Sam’s Sandwich

By David Pelham

 

With a gleam in his eye, Sam entreats his sister to grab the bread and butter to make a sandwich. Starving and eager to “raid the pantry,” Sam’s sis urges her brother to slather on the butter. “‘Don’t worry, Sis.’” Sam smirks. “‘You’ll never / eat a tastier sandwich…ever!” But perhaps Sam’s eyes glint a little too much. While Samantha celebrates the crispy greenness of the lettuce leaves, “as a tasty little filler, / Sam popped in a… [caterpillar].”

Next Samantha adds “big tomatoes, red and round, / while in the garden Sam had dug / a hole and found a slimy…” (What do you think? Yes—“slug”). Another layer sports cheese and ants, topped with watercress and a creepy fly. Cucumber makes any sandwich yummy, but Sam’s wiggly worm? That’s kind of crummy.

Watching the sandwich grow, Samantha can hard wait to dig in: “‘Add some hard-boiled eggs as well.’ / Samantha drooled and cracked a shell. / But Sam had seen a silver trail / that led him to a crunchy…” (shall we say it together?—“snail”). A spider rests in the pile of salami, and in the tier of onion rings, Sam gets creative, plopping down a small tadpole.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sam's-sandwich-tomatoes

Copyright David Pelham, 2015, courtesy of candlewick.com

Samantha pronounces the sandwich finished, and with a flourish sauces it up with a squirt of ketchup. “But Sam still felt that it might need / a creepy-crawly… [centipede].” Even though Samantha is licking her lips, she remembers the beloved sibling who helped her build such sustenance. As she reached “toward the plate and grabbed the bread, / “‘Would you like some, Sam?’ she said.”

Magnanimous to the end, Sam begs off: “‘I’m full. I’m stuffed. I really am. / so you can have it all,’” said Sam.”

This edition, published for the 25th anniversary of David Pelham’s classic book of sibling trickery, is pure fun and eye-poppingly realistic. Opening the thick “bread” cover reveals layer after layer of sandwich fixin’s on the right hand side. The bright images of tomatoes, boiled eggs, lettuce, cucumbers, and the rest of the ingredients look good enough to eat—until readers fold out the edges to discover Sam’s special additions. The rhyming text is ingenious and sly, begging kids to shout out the name of the creature Sam has sprinkled into Samantha’s lunch.

Guaranteed to make kids laugh, Sam’s Sandwich is a terrific addition to a child’s bookshelf for home story times and take-along reading.

Ages 3 – 8

Candlewick, 2015 | ISBN 978-0763678081

Check out what lurks between the bread in this Sam’s Sandwich book trailer!

National Sandwich Month Activity 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sandwich-scramble-puzzle

Scrumptious Sandwiches Word Scramble 

 

Sandwiches are fun to build and delicious to eat! The only hard part is trying to figure out which kind to have. Maybe this list will help! Print this Scrumptious Sandwiches Puzzle and unscramble the names to pick your favorite. Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

Picture Book Review

August 7 – National Lighthouse Day

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About the Holiday

Lighthouses have been protecting ships at sea since earliest times. From fires to gas lamps to electric lights, these warning signals have alerted sailors to reefs, heavy fog, and other dangerous conditions. Once operated by keepers who lived in or near the lighthouse, these beautiful structures are now mostly run automatically. Their color, iconic shapes, and intriguing lore make lighthouses a favorite site along the shoreline. If you live near the water, celebrate today by visiting a local lighthouse museum. If you are more landlocked, do a little research or read a good book about lighthouses.

The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge

Written by Hildegarde H. Swift | Illustrated by Lynd Ward

 

The little lighthouse “was round and fat and red. It was fat and red and jolly. And it was VERY, VERY PROUD.” It stood between New York and the Hudson River, which carried boats of all kinds as it rolled on and on, looking for the sea. As the boats passed the little lighthouse, they talked to it. The big steamer had a deep booming voice while the narrow canoe spoke with a gentle whisper, and the tugboat always gave a cheery hello. The lighthouse did not answer during the day, but at night “a man came to tend the little red lighthouse.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-little-red-lighthouse-and-the-great-gray-bridge-tugboat

Copyright Lynd Ward, 1942. Courtesy of Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.

He opened the side door with a key from his jangling ring and “climbed its steep and winding stairs, up, up, up, to the very top. He took off the thick white cap that let it sleep by day.” He turned on the gas, and in a few minutes the lighthouse began to speak. “Flash! Flash! Flash! Look out! Watch me! Danger, danger, danger! Watch my rocks!” It felt very proud, knowing that the boats needed it to stay safe.

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Copyright Lynd Ward, 1042. Courtesy of Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.

When a heavy fog descended, the keeper came and wound a big clock inside the lighthouse. The clock ran an iron bell that rang to warn the sailors who couldn’t see the lighthouse flashing. With two voices, the lighthouse felt even more proud. “I AM MASTER OF THE RIVER” it decided. But one day construction workers arrived. They dug and dug and then began building enormous girders that reached high into the sky. Then the men attached thin silver cables to the structure. When the cables were in place, the men celebrated. The little lighthouse didn’t know what was happening.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-little-red-lighthouse-and-the-great-gray-bridge-workmen

Copyright Lynd Ward, 1042. Courtesy of Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.

At night, the lighthouse continued to speak with its flashing and ringing voices. During the day, it watched as the huge gray thing grew larger and larger. It was wonderful and powerful, thought the lighthouse. Soon the bridge spanned the Hudson River from shore to shore. “It made the little red lighthouse feel very, very small.”

Then one night a great, bright light shown from the top of one of the bridge’s towers. “Flash! Turn! Flash!” it said in a loud voice. The lighthouse thought it was not needed anymore. Its light was so little while the bridge’s was so big. The lighthouse worried that the keeper would forget to turn its light on or that it would even be torn down. That night as it got darker and darker, the keeper did not come. The lighthouse felt strange.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-little-red-lighthouse-and-the-great-gray-bridge-storm

Copyright Lynd Ward, 1942. Courtesy of Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.

That night a storm roiled the sea. It threatened the boats, and though they looked for the little red lighthouse, they couldn’t find it. There was no bell, and the fog was so thick the bridge light couldn’t shine through. The tug hit the rocks and was smashed. The bridge called down to the lighthouse, “‘Little brother, where is your light?’” The lighthouse was surprised. It told the bridge that it thought it wasn’t needed anymore. But the bridge explained that its light was to alert airplanes, not the ships far below it. “‘You are still master of the river,’” the bridge said. “‘Quick, let your light shine again.’”

But the lighthouse couldn’t turn itself on. It was afraid that the keeper would never come again, and that this was the end for it. Suddenly, the lighthouse heard jangling keys and running steps. It was the keeper hurrying to turn on the light. “‘This will never happen again,’” the man said. Now the lighthouse realized that is was needed. It sent its beam out into the dark night, and soon its bell began to toll too. The lighthouse was glad and even thought it knew it was little, it was “still VERY, VERY PROUD.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-little-red-lighthouse-and-the-great-gray-bridge-both-shining

Copyright Lynd Ward, 1942, Courtesy of Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt Books for Young Readers.

Hildegarde H. Swift’s classic story of the Hudson River lighthouse will enchant readers. The little red lighthouse makes a charming narrator for its tale that teaches kids about the importance of lighthouses while also showing them that even though one may be little, they can still have a profound effect on those around them. The pride and worries of the lighthouse will resonate with young readers, and they will cheer when the light is turned back on and the lighthouse regains its proper place. Swift’s lyrical language will keep children riveted to this fictionalized account of a historical event.

Lynd Ward’s evocative illustrations, rendered in red, blue, black, and white, are both strong and whimsical and seem as fresh today as they were when the book was first published. Features on the ships, lighthouse, and bridge make organic faces, personalizing these characters for children, while Ward’s depiction of the storm as a specter grasping at ships is striking and emphasizes the importance of the lighthouse.

The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge is a multi-layered story for all readers. Children interested in lighthouses, bridges, boats, and construction will be especially drawn to this book.

Ages 4 – 7

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2002 | ISBN 978-0152045715 (hardcover); 978-0152045739 (paperback)

National Lighthouse Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-shining-lighhouse-maze

Shining Lighthouse Maze

 

Lighthouses protect ships from rocks, fog, and other dangers. Can you help the beam from the lighthouse reach the tugboat that is approaching in this printable Shining Lighthouse Maze? Here’s the Solution.

August 3 – It’s Back to School Month

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About the Holiday

I know, I know…you’re not ready to go back to school yet! But all over the country, teachers, administrators, parents, and…yes, kids…are preparing for the day when school opens again for another year. Now’s the time to pick that folder that’s just right, find a new backpack, buy some new clothes, and decide that this year is going to be the best year yet! And as today’s book shows—even school is getting ready for school!

School’s First Day of School

Written by Adam Rex | Illustrated by Christian Robinson

 

During the summer an empty lot was cleared and leveled. Bricks were brought in and stacked in neat order to become a school. A sign reading Frederick Douglass Elementary was placed above the door. “’That’s a good name for me,’ thought the school.” On most days Janitor came to the empty school to buff floors, wash windows, and spruce up the classrooms for opening day. The school liked the peaceful days with Janitor.

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Image copyright Christian Robinson, 2016, text copyright Adam Rex, 2016. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

It wouldn’t always be this way, though, Janitor told the school. Soon teachers and all kinds of children would arrive, wanting to play and learn. The school didn’t think he liked the sound of that, but Janitor reassured him. Still, the school was wary. On the first day, kids poured off buses and jumped out of cars. They ran through his halls, sat in all the rooms, and opened and closed his doors and lockers. They even scrambled around the jungle-jim.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school's-first-day-of-school-jungle-jim

Image copyright Christian Robinson, 2016, text copyright Adam Rex, 2016. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Then the school heard some older kids talking on the playground. “‘This place stinks,’ said one, and the school gasped. ‘I hate school,’ said another with puffy hair to the agreement of his friends. The school sagged a little.” There was even one little girl with freckles who didn’t want to come into the school at all and had to be carried in. “‘I must be awful,’ the school whispered to himself.” That afternoon when the puffy-haired kid took a drink from the fountain, the school “squirted him in the face. Then he felt bad about it.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school's-first-day-of-school-kids-arriving

Image copyright Christian Robinson, 2016, text copyright Adam Rex, 2016. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

In one kindergarten room, the kids were sitting on one of the school’s rugs. When the teacher asked each student to say their name, they all did, except for the freckled girl. “‘I don’t like school,’” she said to herself, and the school thought, “‘Maybe it doesn’t like you either.’” At last, the ruckus died down, and the school felt a little more peaceful. But then, suddenly, his fire alarm rang and all the children had to leave. They all “walked to the other side of the field and stared at him. He was so embarrassed.” When the kids finally came back in, he held his doors open and said, “‘Sorry. Sorry’” to each one—even the girl with freckles.

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Image copyright Christian Robinson, 2016, text copyright Adam Rex, 2016. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

At noon the students ate lunch. At one table a boy told a joke that made another boy blow milk out his nose. While the school thought this a bit icky, he did have to admit it was a pretty funny joke. “Even the girl with freckles liked it.” Back in the kindergarten room, the kids learned about shapes and then drew pictures. The freckled girl drew a picture of the school. The school was impressed. It looked just like him. The teacher even hung the picture on the bulletin board.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school's-first-day-of-school-girl's-picture

Image copyright Christian Robinson, 2016, text copyright Adam Rex, 2016. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

At 3:30 after the kids had gone home, the janitor returned. The school told him all about the day; about the mistaken fire alarm, and the joke, and the little girl’s picture. Janitor told the school that it sounded as if he’d had a big day. The school was surprised. “‘Do you think you could invite everyone to come back tomorrow? Especially that little freckled girl.’” The janitor thought he could do that. Later, when the work was all done, Janitor and the school watched the sun set together. The school admitted that at first he had thought he was the janitor’s house. He guessed that another building was his house. Yes, the janitor said, “‘but you get to be a school. That’s lucky.’ And the school thought he was probably right about that.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school's-first-day-of-school-older-kids

Image copyright Christian Robinson, 2016, text copyright Adam Rex, 2016. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Adam Rex performs a pretty neat trick in personifying a new school building on his first day of school. By infusing the school building with the same emotions as children, Rex lets kids see how their comments, actions, fears, nerves, and successes look from the outside and allows them to embrace their own feelings and empathize with others. Happy with the comfortable camaraderie and routines of life with Janitior, Frederick Douglass Elementary is wary of changes that the first day of school will bring. Like any child leaving home for the first time, the school is a little shocked, uncertain, shy, and thoughtful. And to add a bit of humor, Rex gives the school a small attitude of schoolyard justice. The ending rings true while flipping the idea that teachers live at school and revealing that school is a lucky thing all around.

Christian Robinson captures the heart of the story with his simply drawn yet expressive kids, who smile, scowl, laugh, play, and make friends. The homes and school building are equally emotive, with doors and steps that register happiness or thoughtfulness as the day progresses. Robinson’s bright, distinctive color palette and diverse school population invite readers in to find friends and enjoy a first or another year of school.

School’s First Day of School is a fantastic book to share with kids as the school year approaches and during the first days or when going to school gets tough. The book would be a charming addition to classrooms and home libraries.

Check out more books, art, and other fun stuff by Adam Rex on his website!

Discover more about Christian Robinson, his books, and his artwork on his website!

Back to School Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pencil-maze

Pencil It In Maze

 

School and pencils go together like, , , kids and a fun puzzle! Find your way through this printable Pencil It In Maze!

Picture Book Review

July 31 – It’s National Picnic Month

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About the Holiday

Somehow food always tastes better when eaten outdoors. This month’s holiday gives you a chance to test that theory, by packing a basket or cooler and heading out to a forest, beach, park, playground, or backyard picnic table near you! Whether your repast is simple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or an elegant spread, you can enjoy the company of friends and family in the great outdoors!

Picnic

By John Burningham

 

The curly-haired boy and pony-tailed girl who live in the house on the hill packed a picnic lunch and headed out. At the bottom of the slope they met three friends—Sheep, Pig, and Duck. Boy and Girl invited this dapper trio to join them, and they took off single-file to find a picnic spot. How could they have missed seeing Bull? Well, Bull saw them and began a chase.

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Copyright John Burningham, 2014. Courtesy of Candlewick Press

“Duck, Pig, Sheep, Boy, and Girl ran as fast as they could toward the woods to hide from Bull.” They successfully dodged him by hiding behind some trees. Do you see them? After Bull gave up the chase, the five friends came out of the woods, hoping to begin their picnic. But the day was full of mishaps—first Sheep’s yellow hat blew away then Pig’s ball rolled down the hill. Can you help find them?

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Copyright John Burningham, 2014. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

With their possessions safely back where they belong, the little troop continued their search for the perfect spot but was delayed again when Duck lost his scarf. At last they found a place in the field to put down their blanket. They ate and played games until it was time to go home. Exhausted, they trudged up the hill toward home. The friends weren’t quite ready to part yet, though, so Girl and Boy invited Sheep, Duck, and Pig for a sleepover. If you’d like to join them, there might just be room for you too!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-picnic-john-burningham-friends-together

Copyright John Burningham, 2014. Courtesy of Candlewick Press

 

John Burningham’s story of a simple outing turned day-long odyssey will delight small children. Incorporating suspense, “oh-no!” moments, and questions eliciting interaction, Picnic invites readers to join Boy, Girl, Duck, Sheep, and Pig on their excursion. The easy-to-find objects hidden in the illustrations will give even the youngest readers a sense of inclusion, camaraderie, and accomplishment. From page to page and event to event, kids will keep giggling and following these engaging characters.

Burningham’s familiar and beloved artwork lends a lighthearted, cheerful atmosphere to the friends’ day, and the colorful, oversized format is as open and welcoming as the airy field they picnic in. Girl, Boy, Duck, Sheep, and Pig frolic in lively scenes, and the hidden objects they search for take just a perfect moment’s scan of the page for young children to find.

Picnic is sure to be a favorite story-time request and would be a fun addition to home libraries.

Ages 2 – 5

Candlewick, 2014 | ISBN 978-0763669454

National Picnic Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-picnic-basket-matching-puzzle

Match the Picnic Baskets Puzzle

 

Six friends packed three identical picnic baskets, but somehow they were mixed up! Help the kids find the picnic baskets that are the same, so they can eat lunch. Print the Match the Picnic Baskets puzzle here!

July 24 – National Cousins Day

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About the Holiday

Today we celebrate cousins—those family members who are close in age and in our hearts. Often getting together with family means getting to play with cousins who can become best friends. As we grow up and move on to other cities for school or jobs, it’s easy to lose touch. If you live far away from family, take the opportunity today to text, email, or call a special cousin and catch up. If you live close, why not plan a get together with your cousins or for your kids and their cousins?

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin

By Duncan Tonatiuh

 

Charlie runs through the house shouting with excitement. He’s gotten a letter from his cousin Carlitos who lives in Mexico. They’ve never met, but Charlie would like to. In his letter Carlitos tells Charlie that he lives on a farm where they grow maize. He has a burro, pollos, and a gallo that crows and crows. Charlie sits right down and writes a letter in return.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dear-primo-a-letter-to-my-cousin-biking

Copyright Duncan Tonatiuh, 2010. Courtesy of duncantonatiuh.com.

He tells Carlitos that he lives in a city. From his window he can see a bridge and skyscrapers. He writes: “Skyscrapers are buildings so tall they tickle the clouds. At night all the lights from the city look like stars from the sky.” To get to school, Carlitos says, he rides his bicicleta. Perros bark and run after him as he passes. Charlie goes to school on the subway that is like a “long metal snake” underground.

At recess Carlitos and his friends play fútbol. Charlie would call it soccer. Carlitos likes when another player passes him the ball and he kicks it into the net for a gol. Charlie likes scoring too. He plays basketball with his friends during recess. When he gets the ball he dunks it through the net for two points.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dear-primo-a-letter-to-my-cousin-recess

Copyright Duncan Tonatiuh, 2010. Courtesy of duncantonatiuh.com.

After school Carlitos helps his mama cook cheese quesadillas. Charlie grabs a slice of pizza on his way home from school. When Carlitos finishes his homework, he goes outside to play. He likes to shoot canicas and watch them roll, and he’s good at spinning the trompo. But his favorite thing to do is fly his papalote and watch its tail flutter as it soars into the sky. In the afternoon, Charlie says, he plays with his friends outside on the stoop. They jump rope and play hopscotch then they go inside to play video games. Sometimes it gets so hot that Carlitos and his friends go down to the río to go swimming. Charlie and his friends cool off in the spray of the fire hydrant when the firefighters open it for them.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dear-primo-a-letter-to-my-cousin-cooling-off

Copyright Duncan Tonatiuh, 2010. Courtesy of duncantonatiuh.com.

Carlitos spends the weekends at the mercado selling the maize and prickly fruit, tunas, that his family grows on their farm. They also buy food they will need for the next week from other vendors. Weekends are market days for Charlie, too. He goes to the grocery store with his mom and checks off the items on their list as they put them in the cart.

Sometimes there are fiestas in town, Carlitos tells Charlie. The parties last for two or three days. “At night there are cohetas that light up the sky and mariachis who play and play.” Charlie replies that there are special celebrations in his city too where he watches parades with marching bands and people in costumes. Carlitos wishes Charlie could see the churros, cowboys who ride their caballos and twirl their reatas. Charlie thinks Carlitos would be amazed at the break-dancers in his neighborhood who can flip and spin on their heads.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dear-primo-a-letter-to-my-cousin-snack

Copyright Duncan Tonatiuh, 2010. Courtesy of duncantonatiuh.com.

In Mexico, Carlitos writes, there are so many traditions. On Dia de los Muertes families honor those who have passed away, and in December there are parties called Posados with piñatas full of sweets and fruit. Charlie writes that in America we have traditions too. Two of his favorites are Thanksgiving, when he gets to eat turkey, and Halloween, when he dresses up in a costume and goes trick-or-treating for candy.

He’d like to write more, Charlie says, but his mom is calling for him to brush his teeth and get ready for bed. It seems Carlitos ended his letter on the same note. And as each boy pulls up the covers, they have the same idea: “My primo should come visit me!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dear-primo-a-letter-to-my-cousin-same-idea

Copyright Duncan Tonatiuh, 2010. Courtesy of duncantonatiuh.com.

Duncan Tonatiuh’s charming tribute to family and cultural similarities told through two letters written by cousins engages young readers on many levels. Filled with Spanish vocabulary, Carlitos’s letter introduces children to Spanish words for familiar things as well as to new ideas. Spanish-speaking readers find the same experience through Charlie’s letter to Carlitos. By juxtaposing similar daily and special events on each page or two-page spread, Tonatiuh emphasizes the fact that people are the same wherever they live.

Tonatiuh’s now well-known folk-art illustrations let kids travel to sites in Mexico and America as they get to know Charlie and Carlitos. Striking and vividly detailed images on each page invite kids to compare the lives of the two cousins and point out the similarities and differences.

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin is an engaging multicultural book for home and school libraries. The book is a perfect way to introduce Spanish words and Mexican culture to kids learning about their world.

Ages 5 – 8

Harry N. Abrams, 2010 | ISBN 978-0810938724

Discover more about Duncan Tonatiuh, his books, and his artwork on his website!

National Cousins Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-cousins-connect-maze

Cousins Connect! Maze

 

Can you help the cousins get together to play in this printable Cousins Connect! Maze? Then you can color the page! Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

July 22 – It’s National Zookeeper Week

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About the Holiday

Going to the zoo is a fun summertime event. This week we honor the zookeepers and aquarists who care for the nation’s zoo and aquarium animals and work to protect the species in the wild. Through research conducted at zoos and aquariums around the country, scientists learn more about how to protect animals and their environments from danger.

Zoo Zen: A Yoga Story for Kids

Written by Kristen Fischer | Illustrated by Susi Schaefer

 

“Lyla is ready / to try something new. / Can she learn yoga / from friends at the zoo?” In her room Lyla dresses in comfy clothes and rolls out her red yoga mat. She remembers the bear who “grabbed onto his feet” as she does the same while lifting her legs in the air. Two slithering cobras teach Lyla their moves, and from three eagles Lyla learns to stand as if ready to fly.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-zoo-zen-a-yoga-story-for-kids-bear

Image copyright Susi Schaefer, 2017. Courtesy of Sounds True Publishing.

“Lions stalk and they prowl, / in this pride there are four. / Hands pressed to her knees, / Lyla bellows a roar.” Next come five camels who bend their knees back when they sit. Lyla kneels too and grabs onto her heels. She bends backwards while relaxing her neck and in no time “she’s got the knack.” But Lyla needs a bit of a rest. Six alligators lounging in the river show her it’s easy to relax on her tummy.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-zoo-zen-a-yoga-story-for-kids-lions

Image copyright Susi Schaefer, 2017. Courtesy of Sounds True Publishing.

After her rest, Lyla’s ready for more. She gets an assist from seven dolphins passing by as she bends at her hips and lays her forearms flat on the mat. While they swim away, “eight gorillas screech. / Lyla folds in half, / clasps hands under feet, / and lets out a laugh.” Nine lizards gathered on a rock invite Lyla to be one of them. But what will she do for a tail? With one leg outstretched and one near her hand, she can look like a lizard sunning on land.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-zoo-zen-a-yoga-story-for-kids-dolphins

Image copyright Susi Schaefer, 2017. Courtesy of Sounds True Publishing.

At the pond are ten frogs having high-jumping fun. With her legs stretched out wide and her arms as a prop, Lyla looks like those frogs as they get ready to hop. The flamingo stands steady on only one leg. It says, “Remember to breathe / use only your nose. / Inhale and exhale. / Stay calm in each pose.” With the thought to “always be present / right here and right now,” Lyla finishes her yoga with a thankful bow.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-zoo-zen-a-yoga-story-for-kids-lizards

Image copyright Susi Schaefer, 2017. Courtesy of Sounds True Publishing.

Kristen Fischer’s charming rhymes that describe the moves for each pose are sure to entice children to try yoga. Pairing the poses with familiar animals brings comfort and fun to this popular relaxation practice. With each page, the number of animals grows, making Zoo Zen a cute counting book as well. Kids will love learning ways that they can de-stress and clear their mind after or before a busy day.

Susi Schaefer’s adorable Lyla with a frothy updo of blue and black curls invites young readers to join her and some friendly zoo animals in fun yoga poses. Each move is depicted clearly in Schaefer’s colorful, textured illustrations. The animals not only demonstrate the poses but offer a little advice on placement of hands, feet, arms, and legs. The happy zoo animals and smiling Lyla are perfect friends to help introduce young readers to the benefits of yoga.

For children interested in learning yoga, Zoo Zen: A Yoga Story for Kids is sweet and gentle and would be a welcome addition to home bookshelves. Its engaging rhymes support multiple readings as kids learn the poses.

Ages 4 – 8

Sounds True, 2017 | ISBN 978-1622038916

Discover more about Kristen Fischer, her books, and her work as a freelance writer on her website!

View a gallery of artwork by Susi Schaefer on her website!

National Zookeeper Week Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-strike-a-yoga-pose-word-search-puzzle

Strike a Yoga Pose Word Search

 

Many yoga poses for kids are named after animals you can see at the zoo. Find the names of twenty yoga poses in this printable Strike a Yoga Pose Word Search and then try some of them! Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review