October 27 – National Black Cat Day

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About the Holiday

There may be many pet holidays—and even cat holidays—but today we celebrate one particular feline: the black cat. Sure, black cats are in vogue this week leading up to Halloween because of their shadowy appearance, stealthy moves, and—of course—that superstition. But that’s part of the problem for these loveable animals. The notion that black cats are unlucky make them the least adopted type of cat. Black cats are just as cuddly, sweet, and purrfectly suited to be your companion as any other cat. If you’re considering adopting a cat or kitten, think about giving a black cat a forever home.

The Scariest Book Ever

By Bob Shea

 

On the very first page a little ghost lets kids know just what kind of book they’re holding—a scary one! It’s so scary that even before the first page—back on the title page—there were “dark woods” that are “probably crawling with hungry monsters with smelly breath, sharp fangs, and pointy claws.” At least the ghost hopes so. He also hopes he doesn’t spill his orange juice on himself, but you know how that goes—once you think about something, it happens.

Now the ghost is soaking wet and naked as a window. He can’t go into the forest like that! He sends you off into the woods alone and promises to meet you “in a couple of pages.” You see that the woods are full of pointy trees, whose shadows all create arrows pointing to one particular spot. “Well?” the ghost asks, “What do you see? A dark hole?” The ghost’s wide, owl-like eyes glow from the darkness, and he warns readers that “nothing ever good comes out of a dark hole!” He reassures them that they can stay here and help “with the haunted housework” which includes cleaning the bathroom. “That’s scary, right?”

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Copyright Bob Shea, 2017, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

But you go back, and what’s this? Out of the hole pops the cutest little bunny you ever did see! Her cheeks are pink and she’s wearing an adorable coat. A smiling snail, ladybug, and worm have also come to say hello. Back to the ghost who’s now up to his elbows in is rubber gloves (ghosts have elbows, right?). He wants to know all about the scary thing that came out of the hole. He’s even got some guesses: “Snakes made out of bees? A spider in a crabby mood? Broccoli?”

The ghost thinks the whole story of a sweet bunny is some kind of trick to get him into those frightening woods. But he’s happily scared right where he is, thank you very much. Can’t you see the ferocious black kitten lapping up milk with her little pink tongue? But you are pretty brave. Look at you–you just went back into the forest, where the bunny is giving out invitations to a Spooky Party to all of her friends.

The ghost wants to know what you saw…no he doesn’t…yes he does…no he doesn’t! Ok, so when he hears it, he doesn’t believe it. “Whimsical woodland creatures? Invitations? To a party? Nice try. What’s next, pumpkin picking in a pumpkin patch?” But as you’re leaving again, the ghost realizes his skepticism is a bit off-putting, so he tries to lure you back with doughnuts—“Spooooooooky doughnuts.” Meanwhile, the bunny is leading a parade through the forest, where the trees seem to be getting smaller and smaller. Sure enough the “whimsical woodland animals” have been visiting a pumpkin patch and these smiling little gourds are coming along to the party too.

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Copyright Bob Shea, 2017, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

“OOOOOOOHHHHH….” No, the ghost isn’t trying to be scary; his belly just aches from all the doughnuts he ate. See them? If you think the story about the pumpkin patch is going to rouse the ghost, you’re sadly mistaken. The ghost thinks it’s just a tall tale and does a bit of scolding: “Gimme a break. You think I died yesterday? I’m not falling for that. I’m staying right here.” And while he’s at it, he’s upset that the kitten has been so frightened that all she can do is pounce and play with a soft pink ball of yarn.

But you know how readers are—always turning the page! So here we are, and everyone is doing crafts and eating treats. The ghost figures since he “didn’t hear any screaming” and there were just crafts and cupcakes that the “woods aren’t that scary after all.” He decides to drop in—but just to “save you from the cupcakes.” He means “the super scary monsters.” But what’s this?! Horrible monsters like bats and Frankenstein and bandits and jack o-lanterns. There’s even another ghost. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!”

The ghost zips away, giving you a very stern tougue lashing, “Why didn’t you warn me? Are you trying to scare me more to death?” But the kitty sets him straight about the whole costume party thing, so he goes back—kitty first though. And when he gets back, everyone’s taken off their costume, and the ghost can see who’s underneath. “Oh, ha, ha, ha! Very funny,” he chuckles. No one loves a costume party more than a naked ghost.”

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Copyright Bob Shea, 2017, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

Bob Shea has written one scary funny book for little readers, who will guffaw at the juxtaposition of frightening and cute and the ghost’s examples of some pretty scary stuff. Shea’s chatty ghost who sends readers into the woods and then wheedles, scoffs, and chides them afterward is an adorably sympathetic spirit—one that kids will take to heart from the first page.

Shea’s unique style and humor as well as one very cool printing trick that allows for a “naked ghost” to appear on the page will make readers Oooo and Ahhhh—in a good way. Black- and blue-toned pages alternate with candlelight-yellow ones to mirror the little ghost’s deep, dark fears and the festive reality of the bunny’s party. The final reveal not only puts the ghost at ease but also any readers who may feel a bit of trepidation about Halloween or the unseen in general.

The Scariest Book Ever is not just for Halloween as readers will love the garrulous ghost and the giggly, gentle nudge to try something new any time of the year. The book makes for fun and dramatic read-aloud story times at home, in classrooms, and at the library.

Ages 4 – 7

Disney-Hyperion, 2017 | ISBN 978-1484730461

This could be the scariest The Scariest Book Ever book trailer!

National Black Cat Day Activity

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Cats and Pumpkin Coloring Page

 

Halloween may be scary, but these two kittens and happy pumpkin are sweet! Give yourself a treat and enjoy this printable Cats and Pumpkin Coloring Page.

Picture Book Review

October 25 – National Animal Safety and Protection Month

About the Holiday

This month’s holiday was established by the PALS Foundation to promote safe practices of handling and caring for pets and other animals. There are many ways in which you can participate. If you have pets, make sure they’re up-to-date on all of their  health needs, ensure that they are microchipped and tagged in case they are ever lost, and spend time with your pet, which benefits their emotional and physical health. Wild backyard animals can also use your help. As cold weather approaches make plans to feed the birds and small animals that must rely on supplemented food during the winter. You can also visit a zoo, aquarium, or wildlife refuge and learn more about animal behavior and care. Volunteering at or donating to an animal shelter is another wonderful way to take care of animals in your local area.

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Don’t Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs

 

By Wendy Wahman

 

There are “Dogs! Dogs! Everywhere!” Big dogs and little dogs, long-haired dogs and curly-haired dogs, purebreds and mutts. They’re bounding, leaping, wrestling, and bow-wow-wowing. Three kids come running into the park to meet all the dogs but before they do, a hand stops them. The children smile and ask if they can pet the woman’s six dogs. The woman appreciates that they are so polite and reveals that five of her dogs would love a pat, even the tiny Chihuahua sitting on her loooong, pointy shoe. But her sixth puppy, “Maddie might bite.”

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, Don’t Lick the Dog, 2009. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

The youngest tyke jumps forward, eager to meet the soft poodle, but the woman’s elegantly gloved hand cautions, “Easy now, take it slow / when meeting dogs / that you don’t know. / Don’t stick your nose in Stella’s face— / until you’re friends, / she needs her space.” The woman also explains that dogs like to meet new people with a sniff and a lick and advises the kids to stand still while the dogs check out their shoes and curl their fingers in while offering the back of their hands.

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, Don’t Lick the Dog, 2009. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

Small pups like Bootsy are scared when “noisy kids arrive.” But if you pretend to be shy as well, “she’ll come to you; / just give her time.” Even if you’re excited to see a dog, gentle strokes are what they like best, and they will gobble up treats served from a hand held as flat as a plate. Dogs show their love with a “lick, lick, lick!” But when you find “too much is ick, / it’s all right to say enough / to all that sloppy kissy stuff.”

Some dogs like to jump and hug, but if this dance is not for you, “cross your arms and turn your back / when Jake jumps up and barks like that.” Just like people at different times, some dogs want to be left alone. If you hear a growling, grrr-ing rumble, you should know that “this spells trouble.” If you “stand up straight, / stay very still,” and “let her walk away, / she will.”

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, Don’t Lick the Dog, 2009. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

Yes, dogs are fun and like to play, but they “aren’t toys to…poke or chase or tug or tease,” they each have their own personalities. So show that you have good dog manners, and you’ll make lots and lots of canine friends.

Ages 4 – 8

Henry Holt & Company, 2009 | ISBN 978-0805087338

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A Cat Like That

By Wendy Wahman

 

A sweet back cat sits on a flowered patchwork hill dreaming of the perfect friend: one who doesn’t “yell in [her] ear and knows “all the right games, with all the best toys, like a paper bag and catnip mouse, Ping-Ping balls and a twirly bird.” That friend would know just how to stroke behind her ears, under her chin, and right at the base of her tail. But no tickling tummies—that’s for dogs. Another no-no is experimenting to see if cats really do land on their feet—because sometimes, the cat says, she doesn’t.

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, A Cat Like That, 2011. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

The sleek black kitty would “pick a friend who wouldn’t drag [her] around. I’m not a cat like that!” she thinks. A best friend would let her hide and not seek her out, and would let her “bask in the sun” for as long as she liked. A real pal would allow dining to be a solitary affair—well, just the cat and her prey. And her claws? She’d like to keep those to herself too. That friend would also give her privacy at her box and when bathing.

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, A Cat Like That, 2011. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

A real friend would recognize her moods—the little flicks of a tail when happy and the big swishes when not. How would someone know they had been picked as a bestie? They’d feel that sweet kitty winding around their legs and purring, and she’d send them “a kiss with [her] eyes by blinking slowly…” And if the cat got a kiss like this back, she’d know she had found a forever friend. If that cat “could pick a best friend in the whole wide world,” do you know who she would pick? Yes, that’s right! She’d pick you!

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Copyright Wendy Wahman, A Cat Like That, 2011. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

Every little one or older child reacts to dogs and cats in their own way. Some love to meet new animals while others are shy or even afraid of them. Wendy Wahman offers two excellent picture books that explain the rules that allow kids to form successful bonds when engaging with cats and dogs. In Don’t Lick the Dog, Wahman’s advice is shared in humorous rhyming verses that help readers remember the particular behaviors that dogs respond to.

Kids will love the park full of dogs with their distinct looks and personalities all drawn with Wahman’s singular sophistication and style. As the owner of the six dogs is revealed, readers will giggle at her long nose and pockets brimming with treats. Kids will also enjoy following miniscule Bootsy as she rides along on her owner’s shoe from page to page. Each behavior by dogs and children is shown clearly so that readers can fully see and understand how to approach any dog.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-cat-like-that-petting

Copyright Wendy Wahman, A Cat Like That, 2011. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

A Cat Like That turns the adoption process around and reveals the inner thoughts of a feline contemplating the friend she’d pick—all in keeping with a cat’s personality. Wahman’s smart, bold, and vibrant artwork creates eye-catching portraits of a cat’s day. Shown in purple light against a black background the lithe cat playfully pounces on a ball, explores the inside of a paper bag, and chews a catnip mouse. She snoozes under a vivid yellow bedspread and lounges in the golden rays of the sun. As the happy cat winds her tail around a new friend’s leg and purrs contentedly in their lap, kids will wish they had a cat like that.

Both Don’t Lick the Dog and A Cat Like That would be valuable additions to home and classroom libraries to teach children how to approach and engage with cats and dogs, whether they are their own pets, friends’ pets, or animals that are unfamiliar to them.

Ages 4 – 8

Henry Holt & Company Books for Young Readers, 2011 | ISBN 978-0805089424    

Discover more about Wendy Wahman, her books, and her art on her website.

Stop right there and watch this Don’t Lick the Dog book trailer!

You’ll love a A Cat Like That and a book trailer like this!

National Animal Safety and Protection Month Activity

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Homemade Dog or Cat Toy

 

With just a little bit of fleece, you can make a toy that both dogs and cats will love to play with! You can make one for your friend’s pets too!

Supplies

  • Fleece, 18 inches long or longer. You can use a single color or mix two or three colors or patterns.
  • Scissors

 

Directions

For throwing, tug-of-war, and joint animal/child play

  1. Cut three strips of fleece 1 to 2 inches wide and at least 18 inches long
  2. Holding all three strips together, knot them at the top by making a loop and pulling the ends through
  3. Braid the three strips together
  4. Knot at the strips together at the bottom as you did the top.

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For throwing or batting

  1. Cut three strips of fleece ¾ to 1 inch wide and about 8 inches long
  2. Holding all three strips together, knot them at the top by making a loop and pulling the ends through
  3. Braid the three strips together
  4. Knot at the strips together at the bottom as you did the top

Picture Book Review

September 3 – It’s Happy Cat Month

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About the Holiday

A happy cat is a joy forever! Today, we celebrate those feline pets who give their owners so much happiness. To honor the holiday, why not give your kitty a special treat. It’s also a great day to make sure that your cat or kitten is current on all medical appointments to keep your pet healthy and happy!

Black Cat, White Cat

By Silvia Borando

 

“Ever since he was a kitten, Black Cat has been entirely black….from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail.” White cat is entirely white “from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail.” Black Cat likes to roam during the day and watch the black swallows swoop through the sky. White Cat prefers nighttime when the twinkling stars gleam.

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Copyright Silvia Borando, courtesy of Candlewick Press

Black cat becomes curious about the night, though, and asks his friend Blackbird what he could see in the darkened sky. Blackbird doesn’t know because he is asleep in his nest during the night. Blackbird suggests that Black Cat go out when the sun goes down and “see what you can see.” At the same time White Cat wonders what the daytime holds. She asks her friend Snowy Owl, but Snowy Owl doesn’t know because she is always asleep by the time the sun comes up. Snowy Owl suggests White Cat go out during the day and “see what she can see.”

Copyright Silvia Borando, courtesy of Candlewick

Copyright Silvia Borando, courtesy of Candlewick Press

With good wishes from their friends, both Black Cat and White Cat head off on their new adventures, and somewhere between day and night, Black Cat meets White Cat. They tell each other where they are going and invite the other along with them. They agree, and so “White Cat takes Black Cat to discover the night.” Then Black Cat introduces White Cat to the day.

“The night is full of wonder. ‘Purr, purrrr, look at those glittery, fluttery fireflies,’” Black Cat says. “And the day is full of surprise. ‘Meow, look at those busy, buzzy bumblebees,’”  White Cat exclaims. Black Cat shows White Cat all of his favorite daytime things, such as “daisies, doves, and butterflies…” while White Cat dishes up the most delicious nighttime goodies—“snakes, bats, and mice.”

From then on Black Cat and White Cat are inseparable whether it’s daytime or nighttime. “So inseparable, in fact, that they have one, two, three, four, five, SIX… KITTENS! And can you guess what color they are? Orange!”

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Copyright Silvia Borando, courtesy of Candlewick Press

In her adorable book that proves opposites really do attract, Silvia Borando presents two cute cats that live in only half the world until their curiosity and friendship broaden their horizons. Borando’s gentle, lyrical language elevates this concept book to include the ideas that treasures can be found outside one’s comfort zone and that mutual sharing of one’s life and favorite things leads to strong relationships–even magic and sometimes the seemingly impossible! The soft curves of the figures and stark white-on-black and black-on-white pages make for striking illustrations that will delight even the youngest child.  The final spread of the six orange kittens will delight little readers.

Wonderful for story time or bedtime, Black Cat, White Cat is a sweet addition to home libraries for young readers.

Ages birth – 5

Candlewick, 2015 | ISBN 978-0763681067

Whether it’s day or night, watch this Black Cat, White Cat book trailer!

Happy Cat Month Activity

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Cute Cat and Kittens Coloring Page

 

Here is a happy cat and her new little kittens! Enjoy coloring this printable Cute Cat and Kittens Coloring Page!

Picture Book Review

June 26 – It’s Adopt a Cat Month

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About the Holiday

Just as it sounds, this holiday celebrates all the benefits of owning cat. With so many beautiful breeds of cat to choose from, there’s a perfect pet waiting for you! If you’ve been considering adding a cat or kitten to your family, why not visit an animal shelter and give one – or even two – cats a purr-fect home?

The White Cat and the Monk

Retold by Jo Ellen Bogart | Illustrated by Sydney Smith

 

In the nighttime a white cat approaches a monastery. He slips through a window and pads along a darkened corridor and down stone steps. He creeps behind a barrel, a vase, and a pitcher standing in a row and adds his shadow to the black mosaic on the floor. He leaps the last few steps and hurries along to the doorway that is leaking a bit of light.

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Image copyright Sydney Smith, text copyright Jo Ellen Bogart. Courtesy of Groundwood Books.

He slips his paw under the door. This a secret signal alerts the occupant of the room, who opens the door to this playful feline. “I, monk and scholar, share my room with my white cat, Pangur,” the old man explains. He lifts Pangur into his arms and strokes him before releasing him to pursue his “special trade.” The monk also returns to his trade—studying ancient manuscripts to understand their meaning.

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The  monk is a dedicated scholar, revealing, “Far more than any fame, I enjoy the peaceful pursuit of knowledge. I treasure the wealth to be found in my books.” Pangur is a dedicated scholar of another kind, studying “the hole that leads to the mouse’s home.” In that moment both man and cat become hunters—one for meaning and the other for prey.

The two do not disturb each other for each is content in his pursuit. Pangur at last “finds his mouse” as the monk finds “light in the darkness.”

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Image copyright Sydney Smith, text copyright Jo Ellen Bogart. Courtesy of Groundwood Books.

Jo Ellen Bogart’s quiet and graceful retelling of Pangur Bán, a beloved Irish poem from the 9th century is a welcome respite in this age of multitasking and mega-activity. With sparse, but compelling and lyrical language, Bogart uncovers the companionable relationship between the monk and his cat as each follows their heart together.

The fine textured pages of Sydney Smith’s illustrations recall the beauty of parchment as the smooth gray-and-gold line drawings of the monastery’s architecture and characters give way to the vibrant colors of ancient manuscripts and the natural environment. The contentment and friendship of the monk and the cat are sweetly drawn in the characters’ mirrored actions as well as in the depictions of a long-held affection between man and beast in the panels of the manuscript the monk studies. As the monk states, “Ours is a happy tale.”

Reassuring and reaffirming, The White Cat and the Monk honors the individual challenges and quests that make us who we are and would be a wonderful addition to regular quiet-time reading.

Ages 4 and up (this book will be enjoyed by both children and adults)

Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1554987801

You’ll find a gallery of artwork by Sydney Smith on his tumblr!

Adopt a Cat Month Activity

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Fishing for Playtime Cat Toy

 

Cats love to chase after bouncing, sliding objects, and they love fish. While this toy may not taste as good as fish, it sure smells better and doesn’t require worms or hooks to attain!

Supplies

  • Old or new child’s sock
  • Fiber Fill
  • Yarn or string
  • Fabric paint or markers
  • Small bell (optional)
  • Catnip (optional)

Directions

  1. Paint or draw fins and eyes on the sock
  2. Fill the sock with fiber fill
  3. Add a teaspoon of catnip (optional)
  4. Add a small bell (optional)
  5. Use the yarn or string to close the opening with a strong knot
  6. Leave a long section of yarn or string to pull or dangle the toy

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

May 11 – It’s Get Caught Reading Month

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About the Holiday

When you love to read, you want to share the excitement that books hold. Get Caught Reading Month encourages people to pass along their love of all things written by asking folks to take pictures of themselves reading their favorite book and uploading those images to social media. Movie and TV celebrities, sports figures, authors, illustrators, teachers, mom, dads, grandmas and grandpas, and kids of all ages take part in this favorite annual event. Why don’t you?!

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read

Written by Curtis Manley | Illustrated by Kate Berube

 

One summer Nick, Verne, and Stevenson did everything together. Nick is a little boy and Verne and Stevenson are two very different cats. Nick and Verne loved to spend time near the water—Stevenson tolerated it. Nick and Verne slept happily in a tent under the stars—Stevenson barely shut his eyes. While Nick rode his bike Verne eagerly sat in the front basket—Stevenson hunkered down in a box on the back. But when Nick sat down to read, both cats had similar ideas of fun—like lying on top of the book—and Nick could hardly read a sentence.

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Image copyright Kate Berube, text copyright Curtis Manley, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

“So Nick decided to teach them how to read. He made flash cards and started with easy words” like “ball,” but Verne and Stevenson just wanted to play with the ball. While the three had a picnic on the lawn, Nick brought out his flashcards and “pointed to the word food. The cats ignored him.” When the cats snoozed Nick woke them with a sign. “‘This is no time for an N-A-P!’” he said. Neither cat responded well, so Nick tried a new tactic. He made word-shaped flash cards. Verne took a nibble of “F-I-S-H,” but Stevenson hid under the bed.

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Image copyright Kate Berube, text copyright Curtis Manley, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Nick began to see that Verne liked stories about cats and fish. “Verne loved fish. He followed along as Nick read, learning the sounds of the letters.” He even read by himself, discovering new stories, especially 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea. But Stevenson? When Nick spelled words for him, he merely ran under the porch, hissing. By this time Verne was reading so many books that he got his own library card and Nick needed help carrying all of his books home. Nick and Verne had fun acting out their favorite stories, but they missed Stevenson.

One day “Verne discovered a treasure under the bed—a great stack of Stevenson’s pirate drawings. “‘Wow!’” Nick whispered. “‘Stevenson drew a story.’” Nick and Verne put the pages together and began to write words to go with them. When the story was finished, Nick, Verne, and Stevenson “squeezed under the porch, gave Stevenson an eye patch, and read The Tale of One-Eyed Stevenson and the Pirate Gold. Stevenson listened and followed along. He didn’t run away. Or hiss. Not even once.”

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Image copyright Kate Berube, text copyright Curtis Manley, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Suddenly, Stevenson couldn’t get enough of books.  Even before Nick woke up, Stevenson could be found with his nose in Treasure Island or another adventure book, and whenever Nick and Verne played pirates, Stevenson joined in. He helped bring down “scurvy mutineers” and found buried treasure. Now the three readers do everything together. They “hunt for dinosaurs in the lost world behind the garden…race around the yard in eighty seconds…and journey to the center of the basement.” And while they all like to read on their own, they also like it when someone reads to them. “Hmmm…,” Nick thinks, maybe next he could teach his cats to talk. “‘Meow,’ says Stevenson.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-summer-nick-taught-his-cats-to-read-grumpy-stevenson

Image copyright Kate Berube, text copyright Curtis Manley, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Curtis Manley’s adorable tribute to reading and learning to read, using cats with very different personalities, is inspired. Just as some people respond more to the words while others are attracted by the pictures, Verne and Stevenson have their own relationships with books. The names of the cats and their preferred reading material are also reminders that books are personal, and disinterest in one type of story does not reflect disinterest in all stories. Manley’s text makes for a joyful read-aloud as his language and phrasing is evocative, lyrical, and imaginative.

In perfect accompaniment, Kate Berube brings this creative story to life, illustrating the tender relationship between Nick and his pets as well as emphasizing the humor and distinct personalities inherent in orange-striped Verne and smoky-gray Stevenson that influence their journeys to literacy. Depictions of the various books Verne and Stevenson are drawn to highlight the literary references in the trio’s further play. Readers will want to stop and peruse the page of library shelves, where such books as “Harry Picaroon and the Swashbuckler’s Stone”, “Harold and the Purple Canon”, “Millions of Rats”, and “Where the Wild Pirates Are” wait to be checked out in the Pirates section.

Kids will eagerly want to adopt The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read, and it will snuggle in nicely on children’s bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-1481435697

Discover “the facts, fictions, poems, and numbers” of Curtis Manley on his website!

View a gallery of Kate Berube‘s art on her website!

Get Caught Reading Month Activity

CPB - Cat Bookmark (2)

Feline Fine about Reading Bookmark

 

This want-to-be literary lion feels fine about reading! Let it hold your page while you’re away! Print your Feline Fine about Reading Bookmark and color it!

Picture Book Review

February 7 – It’s Haiku Writing Month

The Maine Coon's Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers by Michael J. Rosen and Lee White picture book review

About the Holiday

National Haiku Writing Month—also known as NaHaiWriMo—encourages poets and poetry lovers to write one haiku a day for the entire month of February. Why was February chosen for this literary challenge? Perhaps the fact that the haiku is the shortest form of poetry and February is the shortest form of month makes them natural allies. While a haiku may be short, it is full of emotion and impact, not unlike its host month. If you have haiku inside of you, write them down and share them with others!

The Maine Coon’s Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers

Written by Michael J. Rosen | Illustrated by Lee White

 

Fortunately for poetry—and cat—lovers there are as many types of felines as there are ways to describe them. With wit and keen insight, this collection of haiku depicts the mystery, stealth, crouching, and curiosity of twenty breeds of cats.

The remains of a shredded plant elicits an unanswerable question in Ragdoll: “why today the cat / who sleeps beneath the ivy / halved the blameless hearts.”

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Image copyright Lee White, text copyright Michael J. Rosen. Courtesy of Candlewick Press

Any cat owner who finds vases or lamps overturned will appreciate Siamese: “a toppled lamp shade / moon moth must be here somewhere / batted from the dark.” It is commonly known that cats own their domain, a fact acknowledged in British Shorthair: “paws plant mud-daisies / along the polished hillside / parked on the cat’s street.”

In these lines felines become baseball players, gymnasts, ghosts, and mist, as in Bombay: “paired shadows prowling / in nightfall, but just two lights / pierce that darkness” and Norwegian Forest Cat: “caught among branches / fog descends the trunk headfirst / one foot at a time.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-maine-coon's-haiku-norwegian-forest-coon

Image copyright Lee White, text copyright Michael J. Rosen. Courtesy of Candlewick Press

While the haiku form is necessarily rigid, the supple rhythms of Michael Rosen’s phrases perfectly capture the vast array of quirks, moves, attitudes, and friskiness that make cats such favorite pets. These poems are in turn sweet, spirited, and humorous—just like their subjects.

Lee White similarly highlights the bounding, creeping, prowling, and snoozing postures of all manner and colors of the breeds represented here. The Turkish Angora, stealthily creeping across a room, is painted as transparent as it leaps through the door, becoming more opaque as it reaches mid-page and disappearing from the edge of the book, leaving only its back end behind. The Abyssinian plunks its head and whole body across the open book on its owner’s lap, its eyes closed in dreamy sleep, and the Scottish Fold indomitably maintains its perch in the magnolia tree, determined not to fall like the raining petals.

Ages 5 and up (any cat lover will enjoy these poems)

Candlewick Press, 2015 | ISBN  978-0763664923

Get to know Michael J. Rosen and discover books for kids and adults, poems, videos, work for radio and TV, and more on his website!

View a beautiful gallery of artwork for books and personal illustration by Lee White on his website!

Haiku Writing Month Activity

CPB - Cat Bookmark (2)

Hang in there, Kitty! Bookmark

 

Do you love to read? Do you love to write? If you said yes to either or both of these questions, then here is a kitty that wants to hang out with you! 

Supplies

  • Printable Hang in there, Kitty! bookmark template
  • Card stock paper
  • Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Print the Hang in there, Kitty! bookmark (printing on card stock will make a sturdier bookmark)
  2. Color the bookmark
  3. Cut around the toes of the front paws, leaving the top of the paws attached to make flaps that will hang over the page you want to mark

Picture Book Review