March 11 – Worship of Tools Day

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About the Holiday

What would we do without tools? Handheld and big machinery devices help us create buildings, artwork, crafts, and furniture; cook delectable meals; tend the garden; and keep our vehicles and homes in tip-top shape. Even animals use sticks, rocks, and their own paws as tools to get food and build homes. To celebrate today’s holiday make sure your tools are all in order and working, or if you’ve had your eye on a new tool, treat yourself!

Whose Tools?

Written by Toni Buzzeo | Illustrated by Jim Datz

 

There’s a lot of building going on! Where to start? Well, that depends…. “To build a house, start down low” and use these tools: the chalk line, the chisel, the jointer, and the float. “Whose tools are those? The mason’s!” What does he use them for? He’ll tell you himself: “I smooth the cement until it’s flat.” Where do windows go? Way up high! Here are the hammer, the level, the square, and the saw. Can you guess who uses those tools? They belong to the carpenter! He’s cutting the frame where the windows will go.

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Image copyright Jim Datz, 2015, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

It’s important that a house stays dry in rain and snow. What tools help with that? The utility knife, the snips, the nail gun, and the ladder. “Whose tools are those? Do you know?” They’re the roofer’s! What does she do with them? She climbs to the top of the house and nails “the shingles in straight rows.” A house can’t be dark, so the workers will “add some lights that softly glow.” They’ll use a screwdriver, a drill, a linesman pliers, and a wire stripper. Who are they? They’re the electricians! One electrician is busy stringing “the wire from switches to lights.”

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Image copyright Jim Datz, 2015, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

A house needs water too! What kinds of tools are used for that? An adjustable wrench, a pipe cutter, pipe tape, and a pipe wrench. And who uses these tools? The plumber! He turns “the pipe elbows until they’re tight” so there are no leaks! The house is almost finished, and now “on all four walls bright colors flow.” What tools are used to make such a pretty house? A brush, a roller, a roller tray, and masking tape. And who uses them? The painter! Right now she’s putting another coat of green paint on the wall. “The house is still not finished, though. Who’s come to build?” Surprise! “It’s you!”

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Image copyright Jim Datz, 2015, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Children are naturally curious about the tools, utensils, and machinery they see adults using. Toni Buzzeo’s delightful board book introduction to twenty-four tools for the youngest readers will capture their interest and imagination with fun prompts and a house-construction project in process. Buzzeo’s enthusiastic language and guess-who format invites multiple readings during which little ones are sure to memorize the names of all the tools and recognize them in the “real world” when they see them.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-whose-tools-roof-fold-out

Image copyright Jim Datz, 2015, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Through Jim Datz’s cheery illustrations, kids watch as a cozy house comes together from foundation to finished as they learn the shape of each tool and see some being used. Questions are introduced on the left-hand page while the particular tools, drawn with sweet, smiling faces, are named on the right. This page opens to a double spread in which both men and women workers are busily and happily plying their trade. The final image will bring a giggle from kids as they discover that the house being built is actually a house of blocks being carefully constructed by a little girl and boy.

Whose Tools? would make a welcome baby gift and a fun addition to home and preschool libraries for little tool lovers.

Ages 2 – 4

Harry N. Abrams, 2015 | ISBN 978-1419714313

Discover more about Toni Buzzeo and her books on her website.

To view a portfolio of artwork by Jim Datz, visit his website

Worship of Tools Day Activity

Tool-Box-Coloring-Page-[www.getcoloringpages.com]

Terrific Tools! Coloring Pages

 

Tools are terrific when you need to fix something old or build something new! Have fun coloring these tools and their toolbox!

Saw | Wrench | Toolbox

Picture Book Review

January 14 – Organize Your Home Day

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About the Holiday

Sometimes it seems that clutter multiplies while you’re not looking. The beginning of the year offers an opportunity to clean out those closets, pantries, and basements that can be breeding grounds for mess. Getting the house back in shape can be fun if you get the whole family involved. Kids will appreciate being asked for their suggestions on organizing their rooms and may have some pretty creative ideas—just like the boy in today’s book! 

If I Built a House

By Chris Van Dusen

 

While Jack’s mother digs in the garden and their dog snoozes in the sun, Jack is reconsidering his house. It’s just like the others in the neighborhood, he says—“boxy and boring and basically bland. / It’s nothing at all like the house I have planned.” Sure, his house will have function and flow, but the rooms inside are where his real genius will show. Then with the flair of an HGTV host, Jack invites his mom in to see what he means.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-if-i-built-a-house-dreaming

Copyright Chris Van Dusen, 2012, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

First up is the kitchen that has a mind—and arms—of its own. In this “Kitchen-O-Mat,” Jack tells his mom, “You don’t have to cook and you don’t have to clean. / It’s done by a space-age robotic machine. / It makes all the meals, and the food is deeelish. / Then it washes and puts away every last dish.” The living room is every kid’s dream of an indoor playground, with furniture that spins, a ball pit, and two trampolines.

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Copyright Chris Van Dusen, 2012, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

The bathroom is built assembly-line style with no shower or tub—just an ingenious “Scrub-a-Dub-Dub. / Just step on the belt and it washes you clean— / Even the places that you’ve never seen!” Jack’s bedroom’s a penthouse of glass in the round, with a 200-feet long twisty slide that deposits you into the Art Room through a round door in the wall. The wall is great for drawing on too, but “…don’t worry, it’s cool. / Hung way up high, on a big giant spool, / Is a huge roll of paper that hangs to the floor. / Just draw till you’re done, / Then pull down some more.”

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Copyright Chris Van Dusen, 2012, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

If you’ve ever wanted to explore outer space, Jack’s Flying Room is the place for you. With just a flip of the switch on the wall, you’re floating here and there, totally free. In Jack’s house you’d go from flying to racing in the Racetrack Room, which “features a racetrack that loops all around / with superfast go-karts that don’t make a sound.”

Are you more of a swimmer? Well, Jack’s thought of that too with a Fish Tank Room where you can snorkel and dive with turtles, stingrays, an octopus, and all sizes of fish. Tired of houses that just sit in one place? Then you’ll love the room that Jack’s left for last. “Literally speaking, this room is a BLAST! / “So welcome. Sit down, I’ll seal up the hatches. / This Plexiglass Playroom completely detaches!” Powered by jets, you can soar all around the neighborhood. For Jack, “this room is as good as it gets!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-if-i-built-a-house-racetrack-room

Copyright Chris Van Dusen, 2012, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

With all of these features and incredible rooms, Jack tells his mom, “My house will be nifty. My house will be neat. / My house will stand out as the best on the street.” Wistfully dreaming of his modern design, Jack says, “If I built a house, that’s just what I’d do.”

Chris Van Dusen knows how to tap into the mind of a child with all of its fantastic imaginings and anything-is-possible daring. Young readers will love seeing what Jack dreams up in his kid-perfect house that combines the best of features of their favorite playgrounds and attractions. Dusen’s sprightly verses pair uncommon words amid complex sentences, and the jaunty rhythm is a joy to read aloud.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-if-i-built-a-house-front-door

Copyright Chris Van Dusen, 2012, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers.

Dusen’s retro illustrations are bold and vibrant with plenty of cool and ingenious details in each room to fascinate kids. The snaking arms that busily cook in the kitchen, merry-go-round coffee table, replaceable wallpaper, and loop-de-loop racetrack offer the kinds of playful pandemonium that kids crave. If only all smart houses looked this cool.

Funny and imaginative, If I Built a House would be a lighthearted choice to inspire creativity at home or in the classroom.

Ages 3 – 7

Dial Books, 2012 | ISBN 978-0803737518

To learn more about Chris Van Dusen, his books, and his illustration work, visit his website.

Organize Your Home Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-shark-jar-craft

Shark Organizer Jar

 

Does your room need a little organizing? This fun Shark Organizer Jar will take a bite out the messiness and make your room look awesome too!

Supplies

  • Wide-mouth plastic jar, like a peanut-butter jar
  • Gray craft paint
  • White craft paint
  • Black craft paint
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Find a point in the middle of the jar on opposite sides of the jar
  2. Mid-way between these points on the other sides of the jar, find a point about 1 1/2 inches above the first points
  3. From the first point draw an angled line up to the higher point and down again to the lower point to make the shark’s upper jaw
  4. Repeat Direction Number 3 to make the shark’s lower jaw
  5. With the gray paint fill in the jar below these lines to make the shark’s head
  6. Along the jawline, paint jagged teeth with the white paint
  7. Add black dots for eyes on either side of the shark’s head
  8. Let dry

Picture Book Review

June 18 – Father’s Day

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About the Holiday

While celebrations of Mother’s Day caught on very quickly after the first ceremony in 1908, proclaiming Father’s Day as a national institution took a little longer. On July 19, 1910 the governor of Washington State held the first Father’s Day event. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson, trying to attract attention to the holiday with a little technology, unfurled a flag in Spokane, Washington by pushing a button in Washington DC. This clever ploy, however, did not convince the men of the time, who scoffed at a holiday dedicated to fathers as somehow too “domesticated” and “unmanly.” During World War II celebrating Father’s Day began to be seen as a way to honor American troops and to help the war effort. The holiday then entered the mainstream, but it wasn’t until 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation, that Father’s Day became a federal holiday.

The Best Part of Daddy’s Day

By Claire Alexander

 

Little Bertie is proud to introduce his daddy to readers. His dad is a builder who drives diggers and trucks every day. Today he’s going to be in a crane high up in the sky working on a tall tower. “When I’m big,” Bertie says, “I want to be a builder just like him….” But right now Bertie’s dad is dropping him off at school. “‘Have a good day, Bertie!’” he says as he gives his son a hug.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-best-part-of-daddy's-day-breakfast

Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

With the BRRRIIING of the bell, Bertie runs into class, where he’s in for a surprise. “‘Today we’re going to be builders,’” his teacher tells her class, and Bertie knows it’s going to be a great day! First the teacher reads “an exciting story about a digger” then Bertie paints a picture of a crane like his daddy’s. But just as he’s finishing it, a classmate with paint on his shoes tracks green footprints across the paper.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-best-part-of-daddy's-day-school

Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

At lunchtime Bertie trips over his shoelace and spills his lunch. His great day is having some bumps along the way, and Bertie wishes he could see his daddy. Bertie knows just what to do. He runs to the playground and climbs “up, up, UP…to the top of the jungle gym.” Bertie is so high up he “can see the top of Daddy’s tower!” Bertie can even see someone driving the crane and knows it must be his dad.

After lunch the class constructs an enormous tower. Bertie pretends to be a small crane, while his teacher, in her high-heeled shoes, is a big crane, able to place boxes higher and higher. The building they make is amazing! As the day progresses it begins to rain, but when Bertie’s dad picks him up he gives Bertie his hat to keep his ears dry. Bertie is excited to tell his dad about building the tower—it was the best part of his day, he says.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-best-part-of-daddy's-day-going-into-school

Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

At home Bertie tells his dad “the not so good parts” of his day—about his spoiled painting and about tripping and falling. “‘I bet things like that never happen to you, Daddy,’” Bertie says. “‘Well, actually…they do sometimes!’” Bertie’s dad answers, and he tells his son about the bumps in his day—how someone walked across his new, wet cement floor and that he also tripped and fell over an untied shoelace, just like Bertie. But then, his dad says, he went back up in the crane and “‘finished my tower, and I think I saw you, Bertie, on the jungle gym!’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-best-part-of-daddy's-day-running-home

Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of clairealexander.com

“‘It WAS me, Daddy!” Bertie exclaims. Then he asks his dad “if the best part of his day was finishing the tower.” His dad looks at his son snuggled on his lap and answers, “‘Actually, the best part of my day is right now, being here with you, Bertie.” Bertie agrees. “‘I think this is the best part of my day, too.”

Claire Alexander hits all the right notes in her heartfelt tribute to loving father-son relationships. Perfectly paced toward an emotional surprise twist, Alexander’s story is sweet and satisfying. The open communication between father and son adds poignancy, and the truth that while kids are inspired by their parents, parents are equally inspired by their kids may amaze children and will bring a lump to parents’ throats. This father and son aren’t just building towers, they’re building a life-long bond.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-best-part-of-daddy's-day-bath

Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of clairealexander.com

Alexander’s vivid, cheerful watercolor illustrations glow with the enthusiasm and love that Bertie and his dad feel for each other. Large two-page spreads invite kids into Bertie and his dad’s world as they eat breakfast together in the tidy kitchen, say goodbye outside the school gate, and read together in their comfy, overstuffed chair. Kids will love the view of Bertie’s playground with the gleaming glass tower and red crane rising above it and the sweeping vista of the city as seen by Bertie’s dad from atop the crane. A vertical spread of the tall tower Bertie’s class builds adds a fun element to the story and emphasizes the tower’s height for young children. 

The Best Part of Daddy’s Day  is an excellent addition to a child’s bookshelf and makes a wonderful gift. It will quickly become a favorite for bedtime or story time.

Ages 3 – 8

little bee books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1499801965

To see more of adorable books for children by Claire Alexander visit her website!

Father’s Day Activity

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I Love Dad Building Blocks

 

This craft will stack up to be a favorite with kids! With wooden blocks and a little chalkboard paint, it’s easy to make unique building materials. They’re great for gifts, decorating, party favors, or when you just have a little time to play!

Supplies

  • Wooden blocks in various sizes, available from craft stores
  • Chalkboard paint in various colors
  • Paint brush
  • Chalk in various colors

Directions

  1. Paint the wooden blocks with the chalkboard paint, let dry
  2. Write words or draw pictures on the blocks
  3. Have fun!

Picture Book Review

March 6 – International Ideas Month

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About the Holiday

The onset of spring with its  wide-open sunny days seems to beckon to us to open our minds to all sorts of new possibilities. International Ideas Month also invites would-be inventors and clever folk alike to think differently and pay attention to your brainstorms. You never know – there may be a book, a work of art, a new invention, or a solution to a need inside you just waiting to be let out! 

The Secret Subway

Written by Shana Corey | Illustrated by Red Nose Studio (Chris Sickels)

 

In the 1860s the streets of New York were…well, not to put too fine a point on it…disgusting. Made of cobblestone and filled with trash, waste, horse manure, dust, dirt, and throngs of people, the roads made for rough travel. Many people had ideas about what could be done to make the streets safer and cleaner. Some thought a moving sidewalk would work, others talked about double-decker roads or an elevated train system. But while there was a lot of talk, nothing ever got done.

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Image copyright Chris Sickles, courtesy of rednosestudio.com

Alfred Ely Beach, however, peered down from his high office room and studied the street below him. Alfred Beach was a thinker, a publisher, and an inventor. He put his clever mind to work and came up with a solution. He envisioned a train powered by an enormous fan that would travel underground. “People would get where they needed to go as if by magic!” he thought. He couldn’t wait to start building. There was just one problem—he didn’t own the streets. And getting permission to dig them up would be hard. “So Beach hatched a sneaky plan. He would propose building an underground tube to carry mail instead.” As he had imagined, no one objected to this project when he proposed it—not even Boss Tweed, who unofficially ran the city.

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Image copyright Chris Sickles, courtesy of rednosestudio.com

Given the okay, Beach rented the basement of Devlin’s Clothing Store. Every day he sent in workers to dig and every night wagons took away the debris. For 58 days and nights Beach’s men tunneled under the city, moving forward 8 feet each day. At last the tunnel was finished. It was 8 feet across and 294 feet long—large enough to hold a train full of people.

Beach then decorated the basement to be a beautiful, welcoming waiting room. Gaslight lamps and paintings dotted the walls, flowers added color, and a grandfather clock rang out the time. There was even a fountain with goldfish, a man playing a grand piano, and a delicious lunch. When everything was ready, Beach invited reporters, government officials, and distinguished citizens to join him on February 26, 1876 at the “Beach Pneumatic Transit Company.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-secret-subway-designing

Image copyright Chris Sickles, courtesy of rednosestudio.com

That first day Alfred Beach’s guests only admired the train, but they gave it glowing praise. Soon Beach opened his train to the public. With a WHOOSH from a gigantic fan, the train zipped down the track and then back again. “Beach’s train was a SENSATION! All winter while wagons slipped and slid on the slushy streets above, people poured into Devlin’s for the twenty-five-cent ride.”

While riders loved it, some people objected. Shop keepers didn’t want potential buyers underground. Property owners were afraid the digging would hurt their buildings, and some felt Beach wanted too much power. Even Boss Tweed no longer supported it since some of his friends had their own ideas on building a subway. When the governor of New York refused to let Beach expand his train, the project came to a halt.

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Image copyright Chris Sickles, courtesy of rednosestudio.com

The idea didn’t die, however, and “many years later drilling could be heard once again under the streets of New York City” as a train system powered with electricity was being built. Diggers discovered many unusual things buried under the city. Perhaps the most surprising was a brick wall behind which stood a little railroad car rusting in its tracks, a memorial to innovation and the future.

Alfred Ely Beach was one clever man, and Shana Corey tells his story with historical perspective, wit, and suspense. Corey’s language crackles with evocative alliteration, stealth, and action. Kids will be excited to learn of the intrigue and imagination that led to this remarkable snippet of America’s history.

Fans of Claymation will love Chris Sickels’ multimedia artwork that combines sculpted characters, specially built props, photographs, and illustration. Sickels’ characters are nothing short of astounding. Their period clothing, hairstyles, and expressive faces lend an engaging and realistic dimension to the vintage scenes. Sickels cleverly depicts early New York City and people’s alternative ideas to the traffic problem with sketched in schemetics. His use of color and lighting sets the perfect tone for this highly entertaining and educational picture book. Kids will want to linger over each page to catch all the details of The Secret Subway.

For kids interested in transportation, history, inventions, and claymation and other arts, The Secret Subway would be a wonderful addition to their home library.

Ages 4 – 10

Schwartz & Wade, Random House Kids, 2016 | ISBN 978-0375870712

Discover more about Shana Corey and her books for kids on her website!

You will be amazed by the art, books, and animation by Chris Sickels on his Red Nose Studio website!

This Secret Subway book trailer is just the ticket!

International Ideas Month Activity

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Chris Sickels’ Secret Subway

Chris Sickels of Red Nose Studio invites you to build your own Secret Subway with this printable play set, complete with Alfred Ely Beach and a passenger! Click here to download your printable Secret Subway Activity!

Build a Super Subway Car

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Every day, millions of people all over the world travel to work, school, and other activities by subway. Here’s an easy and fun way to build your own subway train from recycled materials. You can make just one car or make a few and connect them to create a long train worthy of any big city!

Supplies

  • Printable Subway Car Template
  • Medium or long toothpaste box
  • Silver paint
  • Glue
  • Paintbrush
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Paint the toothpaste box with the silver paint, let dry
  2. Cut out the windows, doors, and stripe templates
  3. Trim the stripes to fit your box
  4. To make the little sign near the door, trim a small aquare from one of the stripes
  5. Glue the templates to the box

Picture Book Review

February 17 – International Friendship Month

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About the Holiday

Our love for friends near and far radiates across the month of February, bringing us closer. To celebrate International Friendship Month get together with old friends and reach out to others you’d like to get to know better. This month would also be a perfect time to find a penpal, write to a member of the military, or send a card to an old friend you haven’t seen lately. As today’s book shows, friendship is the world’s strongest bridge.

Here to There and Me to You

Written by Cheryl Keely | Illustrated by Celia Krampien

 

“Bridges do more than connect one place to another. They bring the whole world together.” There are so many types of bridges—each just right for their place or function. Some of the most charming bridges are wooden-covered, like Canada’s Hartland-to-Somerville span in New Brunswick, which is the longest covered bridge in the world at 1282 feet (as long as 32 school buses end to end). Some are colorful like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, which is distinctively orange, a beautiful beacon against the blue sky and sea.

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Image copyright Celia Krampien, courtesy of sleepingbearpress.com

In London the bridge isn’t really falling down even though that makes for a fun game! The London Bridge, which crosses the River Thames, was the first stone multi-arch bridge built in Britain.” Over the years the bridge has been renovated many times, and it’s now made of concrete and steel. Drawbridges might be the coolest kind of bridge! It’s fun to watch them split in the middle and rise up, up, up before coming back down after a ship passes. These bridges “date to medieval times when knights in armor—and dragons?!—fought for their castles.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-here-to-there-and-me-to-you-golden-gate-bridge

Image copyright Celia Krampien, courtesy of sleepingbearpress.com

Sometimes bridges don’t have to be fancy to work. Some “bridges can be as simple as a few stones placed across a shallow stream” that give crossers a place to step all along the way. This is known as a clapper bridge. People aren’t the only ones who use bridges either. Places that are home to roaming wildlife—like Banff National Park in Canada—build bridges so animals “such as bears, wolves, moose, and lynx” can cross roads and highways safely.

Trains can also “use bridges to clickity-clack along, carrying people to people. Family together again.” But what if you want to travel from country to country? There are even bridges for that, and they make “a big world seem smaller.” While these types of bridges are strong and sturdy, there are other spans made only of rope and boards that are “rickety, ratchety, swinging and swaying their way to beautiful hid away places.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-here-to-there-and-me-to-you-covered-bridge

Image copyright Celia Krampien, courtesy of sleepingbearpress.com

People can become bridges too! Just try bending backward to touch the ground. Or if you don’t like feeling upside down, there is a simple way that “isn’t so grand. It connects me to you and you to me…through the simple holding of hands.”

Cheryl Keely’s enchanting tour of some of the world’s most beautiful and unusual bridges is sure to engage readers who love architecture, travel, and transportation—or who just have the wanderlust. Keely’s story, punctuated with facts and trivia about different types of bridges, is a lyrical frame for her theme of interconnectedness and friendship, making this a book that resonates on many levels and is a treat to dip into again and again.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-here-to-there-and-me-to-you-edge-of-golden-gate-bridge

Image copyright Celia Krampien, courtesy of sleepingbearpress.com

Celia Krampien’s charming artwork takes readers to the towns and cities, the shores and cliffs that host the world’s bridges. Her realistic depictions show the grandeur of the majestic spans millions of people use every day as well as the rustic simplicity of rope and clapper bridges. Kids will love picking out details of the scenery surrounding each structure as well as recognizing familiar settings they have learned about or, perhaps, traveled to.

Here to There and Me to You is a fresh, uplifting story that will appeal to fiction as well as nonfiction lovers. In addition to being a great addition to any story time, the book has many cross-curricular applications for classrooms and libraries, and would be a welcome find on any bookshelf.

Ages 5 – 8

Sleeping Bear Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1585369966

To learn more about Cheryl Keely and her work as well as to find a fun bridge game, visit her website!

Find a portfolio of illustration by Celia Krampien on her website!

International Friendship Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-holding-hands-puzzle

Holding Hands Interchangeable Puzzle

 

Reaching out to others is a wonderful way to bridge distances and make friends. In this printable puzzle,  all the animals are ready to connect with others—no matter how you put the pieces together! Here is a colored version of the puzzle and one you can color yourself!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print the puzzle
  2. Cut the pieces apart
  3. Reassemble the pieces in any order to have the animals make new friends

Picture Book Review

November 16 – It’s Global Entrepreneurship Week

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires picture book review

About the Holiday

Do you have a great idea to make the world a better place, a job easier, or life just a little more fun? Then this week is for you! All over the world inventors, thinkers, mentors, universities, and investors collaborate at events, conferences, and competitions to discover new products, creative ideas, and alternate ways of doing things. World leaders from 160 countries and more than 150,000 global organizations work together during this week to improve the lives of all.

The Most Magnificent Thing

By Ashley Spires

 

A little pony-tailed girl and her puppy do everything together. They race, eat, explore, and relax. When she makes things, her best friend unmakes them. One day the girl has a brilliant idea—she is going to make “the most MAGNIFICENT thing!” In her mind it’s going to be “easy-peasy.” She knows exactly how it will look and how it will work. With her faithful assistant following at her heels, the girl gathers materials and goes to work on the sidewalk outside her home.

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Image and text copyright Ashley Spires, courtesy of Kids Can Press

The girl “tinkers and hammers and measures” while her assistant “pounces and growls and chews.” When the little invention is finished, they stand back to examine it. Hmmm…it doesn’t look quite right. It doesn’t feel quite right either. In fact it is all wrong! The girl tries again. She “smooths and wrenches and fiddles” while her assistant “circles and tugs and wags.” It still turns out wrong. Determined to make her vision reality, she gives it another go…and another…and another. She makes her invention different shapes, gives it various textures, measures out assorted sizes. One attempt even smells like stinky cheese! But none of these creations are MAGNIFICENT.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-most-magnificent-thing-neighbors-come-by

Image and text copyright Ashley Spires, courtesy of Kids Can Press

People stop by and offer encouraging—even admiring—remarks, but the little girl just gets mad. Can’t they see how wrong her invention is? In her anger the little girl works at a fevered pitch, shoving parts together, her brain fogged by “all the not-right things.” In her haste she hurts her finger. This is the last straw. She explodes and declares that she QUITS!

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Image and text copyright Ashley Spires, courtesy of Kids Can Press

The ever-watchful assistant suggests a bit of fresh air. The girl takes her puppy for a walk and at first her feelings of defeat stay with her. Little by little, though, she pays attention to the world around her and her mind clears. Coming home, she encounters all the wrong things she has made lined up on the sidewalk. Her disappointment threatens to return, but then she notices something surprising—there are parts of each iteration that she likes!

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Image and text copyright Ashley Spires, courtesy of Kids Can Press

After studying each earlier attempt, she knows just what to do! Slowly and carefully she once more begins to tinker. At the end of the day she and her assistant stand back to look. The machine may lean a bit, and be a little heavy, and it may need a coat of paint…but as the girl and her puppy climb aboard, they both agree that “it really is THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING!”

You are never too young or too old for Ashley Spires’ inspiring and inspired story. The journey from idea to realization—so often fraught with disaster (or apparent disaster)—is depicted here honestly and with humor as the on-going process it is. Step-by-step the little girl thinks, gathers materials, tinkers, discovers, tinkers some more, and triumphs. It is this last step that is so “magnificently” presented—it’s only by not giving up that success can be achieved.

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Image and text copyright Ashley Spires, courtesy of Kids Can Press

Spires’ tale is a delight of language—the girl “smooths, wrenches, fiddles, twists, tweaks, and fastens, pummels, jams, and smashes.” Likewise, her illustrations wonderfully depict the changing emotions of this thoughtful, steely-eyed, shocked, and ultimately thrilled young inventor. Her faithful puppy is a charming companion and foil, and kids will love examining the early inventions that lead up to the final product.

The Most Magnificent Thing is a fabulous book to keep on any child’s or adult’s bookshelf for those times when inspiration hits but achievement seems elusive.

Ages 3 – 7 and up 

Kids Can Press, 2014 | ISBN 978-155453704

Discover more books by Ashley Spires on her website!

Global Entrepreneurship Week Activity

CPB - Inventor's Tool Kit II (2)

Entrepreneur’s Tool Kit

 

Every idea begins as a jumble of seemingly unrelated parts. Gathering whatever types of material inspires you and keeping it in a box ready to go when inspiration hits is a great way to support innovation and spark experimentation.

Supplies

  • Small parts organizer with drawers or compartments, available at hardware stores and craft stores
  • A variety of parts or craft materials that can be combined, built with, or built on
  • Some hardware ideas—pulleys, wheels, small to medium pieces of wood, wire, nuts, bolts, screws, hooks, knobs, hinges, recyclable materials
  • Some craft ideas—clay, beads, wooden pieces, sticks, paints, pipe cleaners, string, spools, buttons, glitter, scraps of material, recyclable materials

Directions

  1. Fill the organizer with the materials of your choice
  2. Let your imagination go to work! Build something cool, crazy, silly, useful—Amazing!

Picture Book Review

October 15 -Bridge Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday hosts the largest formalized jumping event in the world and celebrates BASE jumpers, those intrepid souls who test their mettle against the highest points, including buildings, antennas, cliffs, and bridges. Recognized since 1980 Bridge Day is a world-wide event, and while it may not officially be about the bridges, it brings attention to these beautiful architectural marvels while extreme sports aficionados and their fans gather on spans across the globe to have fun.

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray

Written by Dave Eggers | Illustrated by Tucker Nichols

 

“In the beginning there was a bridge.” Well, to back up a bit there was a bay that led to the Pacific Ocean. The opening between the two shores that enclosed the bay was called the Golden Gate. “On one side of the Golden Gate was the Presidio, a military base at the top of the city of San Francisco. On the other side there were only hills, green and yellow, rising high above the sea.” Beyond these hills towns dotted the coastline.

People traveled between these shores by boat or by driving way out of their way. Many times people had thought about building a bridge across the bay, but they were afraid it would ruin the beauty of the land. At last it was decided that a bridge should be built. The year was 1928 and Joseph Strauss, an expert on bridges, was hired to design it. What he came up with looked more like the skeleton of a roller coaster, and while it would be strong, it would also be ugly.

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Image copyright Tucker Nichols, courtesy of mcsweeneys.net

People agreed that for such a beautiful spot, a beautiful bridge was needed. Joseph Strauss then asked for help in developing a plan for the bridge. Leon Moisseiff, known for designing the Manhattan Bridge in New York, came on board. Leon’s idea was for “a suspension bridge, one with swooping lines and tall towers.” The drawings were light and airy and…beautiful. People liked it very much.

“But still the bridge appeared a bit stern in style. So Joseph and Leon asked another person, named Irving Morrow, to help out.” Irving and his wife Gertrude had a different idea about what the bridge could be. With vertical fluting, “art deco flourishes,” pedestrian walkways, and curved lamps lighting the way, “the bridge could be both a bridge and something like art.”

Steelworkers in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey built the pieces of the bridge. They were shipped to California by train and by boat. Finally, it was time to construct the bridge. Men had to dive deep into the icy waters of the Pacific Ocean and climb high into the sky while constructing it. It was estimated that it would take 4 years and thousands of workers to finish it.

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Image copyright Tucker Nichols, courtesy of mcsweeneys.net

First the tall towers were constructed. The day they were finished was one of “jubilation” and awe as“sometimes the things humans make baffle even the humans who make them. One aspect of the bridge that had not been decided was the color, and many people had opinions on that. “The Navy thought it should be yellow and black so that ships and planes could easily see it.”

“The Army wanted it to look like a candy cane for the same reason the Navy wanted it to look like a tiger with jaundice: so that it would be easily seen by planes and ships.” Most people, though, thought the bridge should be painted black, white, or gray like most other monuments, towers, and buildings. Right now, the bridge was orange—coated with a special anti-rust paint. As Irving Morrow watched the bridge go up, he thought this orange was a beautiful color.

He suggested that the bridge be allowed to stay this color. Others thought he was “nuts.” Never had there been an orange bridge before, “and for a good portion of the human race, because something has not already been, that is a good reason to fear it coming to be.” But the people of San Francisco began to see things Irving’s way. Still, gray seemed to be the safe choice.

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Image copyright Tucker Nichols, courtesy of mcsweeneys.net

Irving, who was usually a shy and quiet sort, began to get vocal about his color preference as the completion date of the bridge came closer. Other’s began to echo his thoughts and arguments. “This bridge will not be gray!” they said. At last “the powers that be” agreed with Irving. The bridge remained orange: International Orange, in fact.

But because the wind, rain, and sun are harsh on the orange bridge, it needs to be repainted every year. Every day some part of it is being painted by dedicated workers. Is that crazy? Maybe, “But people love to paint it, and people love to look at it. The Golden Gate Bridge, which is orange, is the best-known and best-loved bridge in the world” because it is “bold and courageous and unusual and even strange.”

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Image copyright Tucker Nichols, courtesy of mcsweeneys.net

San Francisco resident Dave Eggers has written a loving tribute not only about the very distinctive Golden Gate Bridge but to the equally distinctive, quirky, and even courageous Irving Morrow, other architects, and people of the Bay area who saw and championed art where others may only have seen function. Passages of straightforward narration are joined by rivets of whimsically inserted dialogue, soaring description, and moving insight to construct a lyrical story of vision and inspiration that both kids and adults will find fascinating.  

Tucker Nichols’ paper cut illustrations are as playful and full of imagination as a kindergarten classroom. Using simple shapes and a gorgeous palette Nichols crafts portraits, collages, and landscapes that are movingly effective in depicting the San Francisco Bay area, the rising Golden Gate Bridge, and the personalities involved in this fun history of a beloved monument.

This Bridge Will Not Be Gray is a must for school and public libraries, a wonderfully inspiring addition to children’s bookshelves, and a colorful coffee table book for any home.

Ages 4 – 10 and up

McSweeney’s, 2015 | ISBN 978-1940450476

Click here to learn more about Tucker Nichols and his work.

Bridge Day Activity

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Golden Gate Bridge Coloring Page

 

Get out your markers, colored pencils, or crayons and color this printable Golden Gate Bridge Coloring Page!

Picture Book Review