August 28 – Pony Express Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday commemorates the intrepid souls who risked life and limb to bring our ancestors important letters in a timely manner. Towns across America hold special, fun events to remember the riders who took to heart the postal carrier’s motto: “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Find a local festival or maybe reenactment and have a little Old West fun!

You Wouldn’t Want to be a Pony Express Rider! A Dusty, Thankless Job You’d Rather Not Do

Written by Tom Ratliff | Illustrated by Mark Bergin

 

So, you’re 16 years old and lookin’ for a job. There’s not much out there, and the pay stinks. Then you see a broadside advertising jobs with a newfangled technology. The description seems pretty good, exciting even—just up your alley. “WANTED: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred.” And here’s the kicker—you make $25 per week! Heck most people only make $25 a month!

You decide to apply for this Pony Express position, and your life takes off in a whole new direction—to California, to be exact! William Russell, Alexander Majors, and William Waddell own the company. It’s real name is the Central Overland California and Pike’s Peak Express Company, but that’s quite a mouthful, so the enterprise is fondly known as The Pony Express. It’s a rapid mail-delivery system that promises letters and packages will go from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California (2,000 miles/3,200 km) in only 10 days. Can you imagine?!

Planning begins in January of 1860 and is completed in less than four months. Hundreds of horses are bought and about just as many riders are trained (they have to learn how to change horses in two minutes or less). Along the route 157 relay stations are also constructed. All this is to supply communication for the many pioneers who are steering their Conestoga Wagons out West, battling floods, snow, disease, and those pesky obstacles called the Rocky Mountains to find a better life for themselves and their families. 

You’re young, enthusiastic, and want to be part of this new landscape. You strap on your company-given “two revolvers, rifle, and Bowie knife,” have your horse shod, and take the Rider’s Oath: “While in the employ of A. Majors, I agree not to use profane language, get drunk, gamble, treat animals cruelly, or do anything else that is incompatible with the conduct of a gentleman.” Well, Dang! (Oops!)

The route West is fraught with danger, so forts and trading posts pop up along the way to protect and supply Pony Express riders. The pioneers also keep an eye out for you, so it’s handy to get to know them. While you ride you can be assured that you have the latest in mail-carrying gear. A special saddle modeled on those used by Spanish vaqueros (cowboys) is more comfortable for the long miles, and a mochila (a leather pouch that fits over the saddle) is stuffed full of the mail.

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Image copyright Mark Bergin, courtesy Scholastic

You were right about the job being exciting! Every day brings a new experience: dehydration, heat exhaustion, blizzards, frostbite, floods, 6-to-10-hour hard rides, plus you’re a target for outlaws and bandits. It’s worth it all, though, to bring a smile to someone’s face when they open a letter from their far-away sweetheart—and all for only $5.00 a letter (that’ll be about $120 in 2016). Just be thankful it’s not a business letter—that’ll set ya back $30, which is…uh…umm…well, a heck of a lot (oops!).

In 1844 some upstart named Samuel F. B. Morse invented the telegraph that uses a code of electrical signals to deliver messages. It only takes 5 years for all the major cities to be connected, and as more people move west, so do the poles and electrical wires.”In June 1860, congress authorizes construction of a telegraph line to California. If the telegraph ever reaches the West Coast, you will most likely be out of a job.” One thing about this Morse Code, though. Because “messages sent long distances have to be copied and recopied several times, mistakes are common.” Betcha in the future, though, there will be some kinda automatic correction system, and errors will be left back here in the past.

It’s 1860—a presidential election year—and the campaign has been ugly and hard fought. The country is divided, and fast delivery of the election results is crucial to keeping the United States together. You are part of saving the country, as the news of Abraham Lincoln’s victory reaches California from Washington in only 7 days and 17 hours—a cross-country delivery record! Within a year, the U.S. is at war and danger looms for the Pony Express riders. To protect the riders and the mail, the Overland Stage Company (soon to be known as Wells Fargo) and their enclosed stagecoaches take over.

And the Pony Express? Well, as you probably know, it’s losing money and limping along, what with the competition and the war and all. In October 1861 the transcontinental telegraph is completed and the Pony Express stables its horses. And you? You’ll be fine. With all the experience you’ve gained, you can easily find a job as a scout to guide folks over the trails to their new Western homes.

These “You Wouldn’t Want to Be…” series of books brings history to life by revealing the seamy side of events—and aren’t those really the most fascinating? Tom Ratliff corrals a heap o’ info on the Pony Express and the pivotal changes the United States experienced during the 1860s. While the text trots out fun sidebars, the short chapters are loaded with concrete facts about the development of the American West as it grappled with the need for faster and better communication.

Mark Bergin depicts the concepts presented with bold, vivid cartoon-inspired illustrations of the pioneers, riders, inventors, and townspeople who made up the Pony Express system. The people’s faces register well-earned skepticism, fright, and weariness, but also pride and excitement to be on the cutting edge of technology. Maps portray the 2,000-mile route from America’s middle to its western sea.

The Pony Express may be long gone, but as this book affirms, the more things change the more they stay the same. Teachers, researchers, and anyone interested in history will want to hoof it to add You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Pony Express Rider! to their collection.

Ages 7 – 10

Scholastic, Inc., 2012 | ISBN 978-0531209479

Pony Express Day Activity

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Pony Express Mail Carrier Coloring Page

 

Can you color this printable Pony Express Mail Carrier Coloring Page as quickly as a rider could deliver the post? You’ve got 10 days—so don’t rush!

Picture Book Review

August 25 – Kiss and Make Up Day

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About the Holiday

Even the best friends and closest relatives get into spats once in a while. The important thing is trying to see the issue from the other person’s point of view and finding a way to patch things up. Today’s holiday is all about saying “I’m sorry” or explaining the situation that started the argument in the first place. On the other side, it’s all about listening and accepting the apology.

Best Frints in the Whole Universe

By Antoinette Portis

 

Yelfrid and Omek live on the planet Boborp. They have been best frints since they were little blobbies. Staying frints on Boborp can be hard because “teef are long and tempers are short.” Which makes Boborp a little different than Earth, right? Hmmm… But just like here on Earth having frints is a good thing. And as “Yelfred and Omek know, best frints are the best frints of all.”

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Image copyright Antoinette Portis, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Yelfred and Omek do everything together, like eating streeeetchy noodles for yunch and playing eye ball in the peedle pit. The peedle pit is full of dangerous spikes and sometimes the eye ball gets stuck in the middle of the pit. “‘Bad frow! You go get it!’” Yelfred says. To which Olmek answers “‘Bad kratch! You go get it!’” This can go on for hours—even until nighttime when Boborp’s two moons rise in the sky.

Of course there are blurfdays on Boborp and frints share their blurfday presents. Like if one frint got a spossip they’d let their best frint fly it, right? Hmmm…. But the spossip owner might say “‘No! You’ll schmackle it to bits’” while the other counters, “‘I’m the best driver on Boborp! Let me have a turp!’” But sometimes frints can’t take “No” for an answer, and they borrow the spossip anyway, and sure enough the spossip might get schmackled.

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Image copyright Antoinette Portis, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

That’s when the teef can come out easier than the words, and things get a bit messy. One frint might even lose their tail, and the words, when they do come out, may not be so polite: “‘YOU SMACKLED BY SPOSSIP, you double-dirt bleebo!’” Frintship can be pretty hard under those circumstances. But real frints find a way to make up. Tails can grow back (even better than before), and spossips can be fixed with a spewdriver, glume, a sturpler, twire, and lots of taypo.

And on planet Boburp, frintships can grow back too—just like on plant Earth!

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Image copyright Antoinette Portis, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

What kid won’t love hearing and saying the words “blobbies,” “yunch,” “peedle pit,” “spossip,” and all the others?! Antoinette Portis’s tribute to the diversities and commonalities of friendship will have kids rolling with laughter. Portis’s made-up vocabulary promotes literacy while introducing the concept of foreign language learning. Portraying arguments and positive resolutions shows kids that while differences occur even between the best friends, mutual cooperation and loyalty wins out.

The boldly colored alien landscape of BoBurp with its oddly familiar toys, celebrations, games, food, and other objects will captures kids’ imaginations, and all the spikey mountains, plants, noodles, and peedle pits give physical form to the theme that sometimes friendship is fraught with danger, but relationships can be smoothed out.

Ages 3 – 7

Roaring Brook Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1626721364

Follow the little bunny on Antoinette Portis‘s website to discover more of her books!

Kiss and Make Up Day Activity

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Otherworldly Friends Template

 

Imagine you and your friends lived on another planet. What would you look like there? What would you be called? Use this printable Otherworldly Friends Template to create this otherworldly world!

Picture Book Review

June 23 – Let It Go Day

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About the Holiday

No, this isn’t a day dedicated to re- re- re- re- re-watching that movie. It’s a day to take a step back and take stock of the feelings you’re keeping inside or the little irksome quirks that drive you crazy. Are they really worth all the stress? Today’s a day to find inner peace, make amends, or turn disadvantage into advantage.

It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon

By Jarrett J. Krosoczka

 

Most people wake up each morning with great ideas for a having good day, but sometimes things don’t work out the way they’re planned. For kids, small mistakes, accidental mishaps, and unexpected disappointments can loom large. Frustrations and perceived unfairness can elicit tears or anger, and it’s sometimes hard to know how to comfort an unhappy or upset child.

In It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon Jarrett Krosoczka acknowledges that sometimes bad or sad things happen, but he reveals to kids how looking at the event from a different perspective or through someone else’s eyes can bring consolation and even happiness. As the title states, it’s hard for kids to watch a balloon suddenly slip through their fingers and float away, but imagining all the other people who will see it and smile can help. Having a picnic on the beach when the unthinkable happens? “It’s sad to drop your sandwich in the sand…but it’ll make some seagulls very happy.” And you know it will make you laugh to watch those crazy guys swooping, diving, and squawking over that now-crunchy snack.

The idea of sharing hurts with others to create a new scenario or a different kind of enjoyment while forming closer bonds is another positive way to turn disappointments into teachable moments that benefit all. As most kids know “it’s never fun when you break a toy…” but with a upbeat attitude they can have “fun fixing it with Grandpa.”

Wet shoes? Melting Ice-cream cone? Scraped knee or new baby sitter? In Jarrett Krosoczka’s hands these letdowns can lead to new freedom, innovation, distinction, and joyful experiences. It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon can help anyone see “disaster” in a whole new light!

Krosoczka’s illustrations ingeniously depict the way an unexpected mishap or disappointing moment can make someone feel—alone, exposed, and vulnerable. Left-hand pages present the problem while the right-hand page shows the crestfallen child in full color on a black-and-white sketched background. The positive transformation becomes a two-spread, full-color of happy pride and fun abandon. Life can be full of little bumps in the road, keeping a copy of It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon on the shelf can help smooth the way.

Ages 3 – 7

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015 | ISBN 978-0385754798

Visit Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s Website to see more of his books and discover fun activities!

Let It Go Day Activity

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Worry Buddy

 

Sometimes worries don’t seem as bad when they are shared with someone else or to at least set aside for awhile. With this craft you can make a friend to help lesson worries, disappointments, fears, and anxieties. And it’s pretty good at hugs too. Older children may like to create this as a sewing project, while younger kids can make it easily with fabric glue. Make your Worry Buddy as unique as you are!

Supplies

  • Fleece or felt in different colors
  • Buttons, two larger in the same color and two smaller in a different color
  • Fiber fill
  • Fabric glue or thread
  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil

Directions

To Make the Body

  1. Cut a 16-inch piece of fleece
  2. Fold the fleece in half
  3. Glue the sides together (older children may enjoy sewing the sides together with simple straight stitches)
  4. Leave the top open
  5. Turn the body inside out
  6. Fill the body with fiber fill

To Make the Hair

  1. Cut a 5-inch piece of fleece or felt
  2. Fold the fleece or felt in half
  3. Glue or sew the folded fleece into the opening in the body
  4. Cut the fleece or felt in ¼-inch strips across the top

To Make the Face

  1. Glue one set of larger and smaller buttons together, repeat with the other set
  2. Glue or sew the buttons to the top part of the body
  3. Cut a nose and mouth out of fleece or felt
  4. Glue or sew the nose and mouth to the face

To make the pocket

  1. Cut a 5-inch piece of felt in the shape of a square-bottom or rounded bottom pocket
  2. Fold down an inch of the top
  3. Glue or sew the pocket to the middle of the body

To share problems with the Worry Buddy, write worries or fears on a slip of paper and put them in the Worry Buddy’s pocket. Your Buddy will keep those problems so you don’t have to.

June 22 – It’s Great Outdoors Month

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About the Holiday

June, with its lazy feel and longer days, is the perfect month to spend time outdoors. Great Outdoors Week was established in 1998, but it quickly became apparent that only seven days were not nearly enough to enjoy everything nature has to offer. In 2004 the holiday was expanded to encompass the entire 30 days of June. So whether you enjoy activities on land or water, pack a picnic, grab some toys or equipment, and get out to play! Or if you just like quiet time, take a book and find a shady spot to read! Or if you love discovering new places, slip on your walking shoes and explore! Or…well, there’s just so much to choose from…!

Bringing the Outside In

Written by Mary McKenna Siddals | Illustrated by Patrice Barton

 

For kids there’s something magical about an open door. Going out leads to unexpected adventures, blissful messiness, and astonishing discoveries. Coming in means comfort, encouragement, and that homey feeling of being wrapped in love. Bringing the Outside In is an exuberant celebration of this harmonious juxtaposition for every season of the year.

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In springtime four children in jackets and boots and their adorable puppy race to play on a blue, blustering day. Under soft, billowing clouds they leap into puddles, dig in the dirt, pick wildflowers, and play tug-of-war with the wind. Happily sated and with “Worms in our clutches / Wind in our hair, / Boots full of puddle, / Mud everywhere!” the kids skip toward home. They are greeted with smiles, towels, hooks for their coats, and a mop for the drips. Even the puppy knows it’s time for “Wiping it off, / Mopping it up, / Dumping it / out again.”

With the repeated chorus “We’re bringing the outside in, oh, / Bringing the outside in…” the spring turns to summer and the four kids are visiting the beach with pails, swim fins, goggles, float, and a ball to toss. With buoyant abandon they collect sea shells, meet hermit crabs, get properly soaked, and revel in the warm sunshine. The sun, sand, and sea follow them home, where they kick off their sandals, gather at the mudroom’s big double sink, and pin their suits on the clothes line while “Shaking it off, / Washing it up, / Drying it out again.”

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Autumn once again finds the kids outside amid its brilliant colors and “Bushels of apples, / Leaves stuck on clothes, / Acorns in pockets, / Smells in our nose!” Back inside the kids make art of some of the apples and leaves they’ve collected, untangle more leaves from hair, clothes, and the puppy’s ears, and sweep even more out the door. With the onset of winter the kids plop in the snow, build snowmen, sled, and eat icicles. After a fun-filled afternoon and with “Slush on our seats” and a “nip in our fingers,” they know it’s time for “Bringing the outside in, then…Brushing it off, / Warming it up, / Thawing out again.”

A full year has passed, but the enchantment of spring, summer, autumn, and winter have not been forgotten outside. As the kids, comfy in their matching pajamas, huddle on the round rug poring over a box of photographs and souvenirs of their escapades, they’re happily “…keeping the outside in, oh, / Keeping the outside in….” And whenever they want to relive the “Treasures collected, / Pictures in heaps, / Stories remembered, / Memories for keeps!” that box contains, all it takes is a quick “digging it up” and “dusting it off” and “bringing it out again!”

Mary McKenna Siddals’ effervescent tribute to the joy of outdoor play perfectly captures the bouncy wonder young children exhibit in the freedom of a natural environment. Using evocative, lyrical language, Siddals imbues simple childhood pleasures with poetic resonance. The repeated phrases make this a great read-along, read-aloud book, and the children’s actions could easily be turned into fun movement games for school or family story time.

Patrice Barton’s endearing illustrations of the adorable ethnically diverse children at play are inspired and inspiring. Vivid swirls and streaks create splashing water, wind-whipped hair, swinging tires, and plenty of drips, drops, and delight. Children will love seeing themselves so affectionately depicted and will want to linger over the details on every page. One wonderful aspect of Bringing the Outside In is that the children can represent friends or they could be siblings.

Bringing the Outside In is a must for school libraries and would be a wonderful, often-read addition to a family library.

Ages 3 – 8

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0449814307

Visit Mary McKenna Siddals’ Website to discover more about her and her books! You’ll also find lots of hands-on and online activities for Bringing the Outside In and her other books as well as teachers’ resources, and lesson plans.

Join in the fun with Mary McKenna Siddals on the Bringing the Outside In Facebook Page!

Visit Patrice Barton’s Website to view more of her adorable artwork, books, and blog posts!

Great Outdoors Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bringing-the-outside-in-painted-pails-craft

Personalized Painted Pail

 

A trip to the beach or park isn’t complete without a pail to collect shells, seaweed, sea glass, pebbles, sticks, nuts, or other things in. But why should all the cool stuff be on the inside? With this craft you can decorate your pail to show your unique personality!

Supplies

  • Plastic or metal pail
  • Craft paint in various colors
  • Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating, for multi-surface use
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Paint designs on the pail
  2. When paint is dry spray with acrylic coating to set paint
  3. Let dry

June 13 – Sewing Machine Day

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About the Holiday

Patented in 1790 by Thomas Saint, the sewing machine revolutionized the textile industry. No longer did clothes and other fabric items need to be made by hand. The sewing machine made this job faster and less tedious. Long a favorite hobby for clothes makers and crafters of all types and ages, sewing is creative and fun! If you like to sew celebrate today by making something new or sharing your talent with a beginner. If you’ve never sewn, consider trying it—needle crafts, either by hand or using a sewing machine can become a life-long enjoyable activity!

Sewing School 2: Lessons in Machine Sewing

By Amie Petronis Plumley & Andria Lisle | Photography by Justin Fox Burks

 

Sewing and crafting are popular hobbies shared between friends and family. Skills that were once passed down from generation to generation are being rediscovered by kids and adults alike through widely available craft and sewing chain stores and books like the Sewing School series. In this second edition, kids are taught everything they need to know to feel comfortable at a sewing machine and create awesome projects they can really use.

Divided into five sections, Sewing School 2 is easy to navigate and builds on skills presented in previous chapters. The first section “Getting Started” provides 13 lessons that cover choosing a sewing machine, the elements of a well-stocked sewing kit, learning about different fabrics, how to do basic stitches and techniques, and laying out and cutting patterns.

With clear photographs on every page, kids will easily be able to understand the concepts being described. “Anatomy of a Sewing Machine” points out each part of a machine, from the spool spindle to the take-up lever, presser foot, stitch selector, and more. The most common stitches are depicted here too—straight, reverse, stay, and reinforcement stitches share the page with short discussions of what a bodkin and pinking shears are for.

Budding sewers will learn about the right and wrong sides of fabrics, how to sew “right” sides together and turn the project inside out, and the way to stuff a pillow and finish the opening. One chapter is devoted to starting off right as well as tips on guiding the material through the machine.

After kids have been introduced to the basics, it’s time to try out those new skills! Four sections containing five projects each let kids make items for all the important aspects of their lives. “In My Room” shows them how to make a pillow with a space for secret messages, a welcome sign, a pocket organizer, a sleepy teddy bear, and a striped blanket. The “Let’s Go” section is perfect for kids on the run. Projects include a coin holder, a handy pouch for carrying extras, and a safe place for their electronic gadgets.

The projects in “Time to Play” prove that sewing results in plenty of fun! Things like stuffed guitars, microphones, backpacks, game boards, and decorative hangings are just a stitch away. Finally it’s time to take sewing outside with a section titled “The Great Outdoors.” Kids will wonder how they ever got along without their snack pouch, belt with pocket, water bottle carrier, scarf, and portable tree stump—huh? You’ll just have to get the book and see!

Each project comes with a one-to-three star difficulty rating, a list of all materials needed, a list of the skills used, how to personalize each project, and tips for adult helpers.

The final pages help kids out when things just don’t go as planned, how to do hand-sewn work, and tips for adults who are working with a group.

Amie Petronis Plumley and Andria Lisle have created a wonderful resource for anyone wanting to get in on the fun of sewing. The easy-to-understand directions and conversational tone of the book will put kids at ease, and Justin Fox Burks’ photographs of children using the concepts and happily displaying their work will make beginners excited to start sewing. Burks’ up-close photos of the parts of the sewing machine as well as each technique make Sewing School 2: Lessons in Machine Sewing a leader in its field.

Ages 7 and up

Storey Publishing, 2013 | ISBN 978-1612120492

Sewing School Takeaway Project

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Save-My-T-Shirt Pillow

 

Sometimes it’s so hard to give away a favorite t-shirt! With this project from Sewing School you don’t have to! Use your hand-stitching skills to create a pillow that will make your room even more awesome! Click here for the Save-My-T-Shirt Pillow directions.

Sewing Machine Day Activity

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So You Like to Sew Word Search

 

Sewing has a vocabulary all its own! Find the words related to this fun hobby in this So You Like to Sew Word Search puzzle! And here’s the Solution!

June 8 – National Best Friends Day

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About the Holiday

What would we do without our best friends? They’re the ones we go on adventures with, laugh with, commiserate with, even cry with. And no matter what, we know they’ll always be there for us. Best friends can be people we’ve known all our lives or ones we’ve just met; they can live far away or in our own home. Best friends don’t even have to be people—beloved pets or favorite toys are sometimes just what we need. Today is the perfect time to celebrate your best buddy. Get together with them, call, or text. Relive some favorite memories or make some new ones!

Painting Pepette

Written by Linda Ravin Lodding | Illustrated by Claire Fletcher

 

If you peek in the great room window of the grand yellow house at #9 Rue Laffette in Paris, you will most likely see cuddled on the comfortable seat Josette Bobette and her beloved stuffed rabbit Pepette. It’s their favorite place. Looking past them you will see that the great room is filled with fine art. On the walls hang portraits of the family—Josette’s mother is there as well as grand-mère and grand-père, the three Bobette sisters, and even their schnoodle Frizette.

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“One day Josette noticed something strange. There was no portrait of Pepette!” Josette determines to find an artist to paint a special portrait of her best friend. The pair heads out to Montmartre, where the all the best artists set up their easels to paint and sell their work. It doesn’t take long for a man in a striped shirt to stop them.

“‘Those ears!’” he cries. “‘Never have I seen such majestic ears. I must paint this rabbit’s portrait!’” Pepette blushes at such an effusive compliment, and Josette exclaims, “‘Magnifique!’” It appears Josette has found just the artist to create Pepette’s portrait. The painter waves his brush with a flourish, declares his painting a “masterpiece,” and holds it up for inspection. Josette gazes at a Pepette with two noses and three ears. Diplomatically, she proclaims the picture “nice” but not quite Pepette. Her best friend agrees.

Just then a man with a thin, curved handlebar mustache spies the pair. Admiring Pepette’s whiskers, the artist begs to capture “the very essence of her rabbitness!” He immediately sets to work, and in no time a most unusual portrait emerges. Pepette seems to melt from a tall red wall. Josette considers it and her reaction carefully. “‘It’s imaginative,’” she says. “‘But you’ve painted Pepette quite, well, droopy.’” Pepette agrees.

As Josette and Pepette enjoy a Parisian snack on the curb of Montmartre, a rakish young man happens along. He is arrested by Pepette’s nose, which he likens “‘a faint star twinkling in a misty, velvet night.’” Josette has a good feeling about this artist and follows him across the square to his easel. Pepette poses on a red tufted stool as the artist paints a rabbit soaring through the clouds. He proclaims the finished portrait “‘one of my best works’” as he displays it to the crowd. Josette likes the clouds but tells the painter that Pepette is afraid of heights and not fond of flying. Pepette agrees.

By now Pepette is the most sought-after model in Paris, and another artist rushes up, captivated by her beauty. The balding man in a dapper suit and round spectacles peers at Pepette. “‘What a colorful lady—balloon blue, pansy pink, and radish red!’” A little suspicious of his vision, Josette allows him to paint Pepette. “‘Ta da!’” the man exclaims, revealing the magic of his brush. Josette studies the canvas with its vibrant dots, dashes, and splashes. While she admires the colors, she reminds the artist that Pepette isn’t pink.

“‘Ah, yes,’” nods the painter. “‘But through art we can see the world any way we want.’”

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With the sun setting low in the sky, Josette politely says thank-you and goodbye to the artists. She and Pepette have enjoyed their day, but it’s time to go home. Curled up once more on the window seat, Josette sighs. She had so hoped to have the perfect portrait of Pepette—one that showed her velvety grey listening ears, her heart-shaped nose, and her soft arms that give tight hugs. Suddenly, Josette has an idea! Gathering all her art supplies, she creates the perfect likeness—as special as Pepette herself!

An author’s note on the last page describes the creative atmosphere of 1920s Paris, home to writers, artists, musicians, and fashion designers, that gives a frame to her story. The artists that Josette meets are inspired by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Marc Chagall, and Henri Matisse.

In Painting Pepette Linda Ravin Lodding has written a multi-layered story of love, friendship, and unique vision. Through the sweet relationship between Josette and Pepette and with a sprinkling of humorous self-congratulation on the part of the artists, Lodding nudges readers to appreciate that while art can reveal and obscure, reflect and transcend reality, ultimately the success of a piece—complex or simple—lies within the viewer’s heart. Lodding’s lyrical language trips off the tongue and is a joy to read—it’s like following Josette as she skips happily through Paris.

Claire Fletcher’s striking pen and ink illustrations pay delicate homage to cityscapes of a bygone Paris. Adorable Josette in her white pinafore over red-dotted dress, red shoes, and big red bow along with her enchanting rabbit are the perfect tour guides through crowded Montmartre and an introduction of art history. Soft tones of yellow, rose, and green illuminate the apartments and cafes of the square where colorful shoppers and artists mingle. Fletcher’s renderings of Pepette’s various portraits will not only make kids giggle, but entice them to learn more about each artistic style. The final endpapers reveal that the four fine-art portraits now hang in the Muse of Paris, while readers already know that Josette’s perfectly perfect portrait of her well-loved friend has taken its rightful place on the wall in the Bobette great room!

Painting Pepette is a beautiful addition to any child’s bookshelf and a lovely way for teachers to initiate a discussion of art history and get kids excited about artists and different art styles.

Ages 4 – 9

little bee books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1499801361

Follow Josette through Paris as she searches for just the right artist to paint a portrait of her best friend Pepette and comes to a surprising discovery in this beautiful trailer:

Discover more books by author Linda Ravin Lodding on her website.

Illustrator Clair Fletcher invites you to find more of her artwork by visiting her online gallery.

Best Friends Day Activities

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Painting Pepette Reading and Activity Guide

 

little bee books has created an interactive activity so you can continue exploring Josette’s world and your own artistic talent! Just click here—Painting Pepette Reading and Activity Guide—to start having fun!

Stuck on You Magnets or Picture Hanger

 

Best friends stick together whether they’re near or far, right? Here’s a fun craft that you and your friends can make to show how magnetic personalities attract each other! If your best friend or friends are far away, why not make them one too? Or make the alternate picture hanger! Be creative—use inside jokes, favorite characters, or shared experiences to make these  crafts personal!

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For Magnets

Supplies

  • To get you started, here are two printable Best Friends Templates! Template 1 Template 2
  • Poster board
  • Large, 1 ½-inch clear glass stones (decorative fillers), available in craft stores
  • Markers or colored pencils OR find images online to print out
  • Medium to large flexible magnets, available in craft stores
  • Super glue
  • Toothpicks
  • Scissors

Directions

  • Place the glass stone on the poster board and trace around it
  • Draw your design in the circle on the poster board
  • Cut out the circle
  • With the toothpick, apply glue around the very edge of the design side of the circle
  • Attach the circle to the flat side of the stone, let dry
  • Trim the cardboard circle if needed
  • Attach the magnet to the back of the cardboard with glue

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For Map Picture Holder

Supplies

  • Use a mapping program to find a map of your town and your friend’s town
  • Poster board
  • Large, 1 ½-inch clear glass stones (decorative fillers), available in craft stores
  • Twine
  • Super Glue
  • Toothpicks
  • Scissors
  • Heavy duty mounting squares

Directions

  1. Find maps of your and your friend’s towns
  2. Zoom in so the name of your and your friend’s towns are displayed well. You will be using about a 1-inch area around the towns’ names.
  3. Take a screen shot of the maps
  4. Print the maps
  5. Place the glass stone on the map and trace around it
  6. Place the glass stone on the poster board and trace around it
  7. Cut out the circles on the map and poster board
  8. With the toothpick, glue the map to the poster board, let dry
  9. With the toothpick, apply glue around the very edge of the map side of the circle
  10. Attach the circle to the flat side of the glass stone, let dry
  11. Trim the cardboard circle if needed
  12. Repeat with the other map
  13. Attach a length of twine to the back of each glass stone
  14. Attach heavy duty mounting squares to the back of each glass stone
  15. Attach stones to the wall and hang pictures on the twine

June 7 – It’s National Fishing and Boating Week

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About the Holiday

National Fishing and Boating Week promotes the fun of getting out on the water and enjoying time in the sun. Whether you glide in a sailboat, zip around in a motorboat, or leisurely row a kayak, dingy, or other craft, the freedom of the open ocean or river is enticing. Fishing is also a wonderful way to spend time together outdoors. To celebrate this week go boating or learn a new skill, grab your fishing pole and cast your line, or do both together!

Fish

By Liam Francis Walsh

 

A boy with fishing poles and tackle box in hand and faithful dog at his heals pass a runner as they sprint toward a rowboat. The boy takes the oars and is soon off shore. The pair cast their lines overboard, and soon the little boy brings up an F. Another try snags an I. The boy happily aims his line in another direction, but his dog sees danger on the horizon—a rising C. He tries to warn the boy, but when they turn around again, the waters are calm.

This is one successful fishing trip as the boy’s line again grows taut. He pulls up his catch. A Q—not a keeper. He unhooks it and throws it back as his dog pokes at him in alarm. Again, when the boy looks, the water is peaceful. The two fish in contented silence until the boy catches a big one. The beast runs with the boy’s line, even pulling him out of the boat.

The boy holds his breath as he’s pulled into the depths amid swirling schools of H, B, M, O, and V. Not deterred from his quest, the boy swims toward an H, but it slips from his grasp. The boy tumbles and sinks, but eventually grabs the H and zooms to the surface. He cheers! They’ve caught an F, I, S, and H!

His dog points—something’s coming for them! Suddenly, they’re surrounded by a swarm of Bs and the sharp fins of As. The C swells, swamps the small dingy, and the F, I, S, H are lost in it’s wake. The boy stares dejectedly into the water, but his dog taps him on the back. He has a surprise to share. When the boy turns around, his dog reveals that he’s been a successful fisherman too!

With their quarry safely stowed, the boy rows back toward shore. He leaps out and darts through a group of disoriented road racers toward a sign that reads N I. No one it seems knows what to do. The boy offers his string of letters, and with the FINISH marker complete, the racers cross the line in victory!

With a well-barbed hook, Liam Francis Walsh reels in readers with his fabulous, funny fish story. Wordlessly, but with plenty of visual wordplay, Walsh tells the tale of a boy with a great idea and his eagle-eyed companion with emotion, action, and lots of heart. The bold blue, black, white, and red illustrations have an engaging quality—at once loaded with old-fashioned charm and modern sophistication. Fish is a wonderful addition to anyone’s bookshelf or coffee table. This is one catch you don’t want to let get away.

Ages 5 – 9

Roaring Brook Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1626723337

National Fishing and Boating Week Activity

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Tackle the Tackle Box Game

 

A good fisherman always needs a well-stocked tackle box. Play the Tackle the Tackle Box Game to earn lures, bobbers, hooks and more to fill your box. The first player to complete their set is the winner! for more fun you can color the tackle box items any way you like. There are even three extra cards per set for you to draw your own tackle box items!

Supplies

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Directions

  1. Print one Tackle the Tackle Box Game Board for every player
  2. Print one set of Tackle the Tackle Box Game Cards for every player
  3. Each player can color a set of playing cards
  4. Cut the cards apart
  5. Gather all the cards and set in separate piles
  6. Roll the die to determine who goes first, highest roll goes first
  7. The first player rolls the die, and adds the item that corresponds to the number on the die. The list is below.
  8. Play continues with each player rolling the die and collecting cards
  9. If the player rolls a number for a card that he or she already has, the die passes to the next player
  10. The first player to fix their tackle box is the winner!

Each number of dots on the die corresponds to these cards:

1: Fish Lures

2: Hooks

3: Worms

4: Fishing Line

5: Flies

6: Bobbers

Picture Book Review

Picture Book Review