August 10 – World Lion Day

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About the Holiday

The organization Big Cat Rescue established today’s holiday to bring awareness to the declining lion population. Habitat depletion, climate change, poaching, and other dangers have taken their toll on these majestic animals, and they are now on the endangered list. Global organizations aim to reverse the trend through education, protection, and governmental policy.

Lion Lessons

By Jon Agee

 

Passing signs for yoga lessons, violin lessons, Spanish classes, knitting classes, karate classes tutoring, a little boy turns into a shop advertising Lion Lessons in 7 Easy Steps. A closet to the right of a poster depicting “Great Lions in History” contains the appropriate garb—lion costumes. The boy steps into the body and attaches the mane. “It’s not easy getting your Lion Diploma,” the boy tells readers. “I know. I took lessons.”

His instructor, a lion himself, reveals that there are seven steps to becoming a lion. But first comes stretching. Converted yoga poses—“the Upward Lion, the Downward Lion, the Upside-Down Lion, the Rolling Lion, and the Flying Lion”—prepare them for the class to come. And, oh yes, they must shake their manes.

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Image copyright Jon Agee, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers

Step One to becoming a lion is “Looking Fierce.” The instructor demonstrates how to do it, complete with bared claws, gnashing teeth, and glinting fangs. The boy attempts these poses, but his instructor isn’t impressed. Step Two is “Roaring.” The boy steps up to the microphone and gives it his loudest growl. The sound barely registers on the noise meter.

Step Three is “Choosing What to Eat.” The instructor folds out the menu, with its wide choice of meats: “free-range muskrat, wombats, organic iguana, grass-fed gnu, all-you-can-eat antelope, sloth, prairie-raised anteater, and wild warthog.” Where’s the spaghetti? the boy wonders, only to learn that lions don’t eat spaghetti. Next up is Step Four: “Prowling Around.” Practice takes place in the forest where the boy learns to hide in the bushes and behind trees without letting his tail show.

Step Five is “Sprinting” and requires meeting the instructor at a faraway tree in five minutes; it took the boy one hour. After Sprinting comes “Pouncing.” The lion maneuvers the boy behind a woman talking on her phone and says, “‘It’s simple. You get a running start and then you jump on that lady.’” The boy protests that he will scare her to death. “‘Uh,’” says the lion, “‘that’s the idea.’” So the boy gets a running start and leaps—right into the lady’s arms. “‘What a cute little kitty-cat!’” she says.

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Image copyright Jon Agee, courtesy of Dial Books for Young Readers

Step seven is “Looking Out for Your Friends.” The boy peers through the telescope and sees a kitten: friend. The dog chasing the kitten: not a friend. The boy lets out a “ferocious roar.” He bares his claws, gnashes his teeth, paws the ground, shakes his mane and sprints across the field. When he’s within striking distance, he pounces…and saves the kitten! “‘Bravo!!’” congratulates the lion.

And that is how the little boy earned his diploma and became a hero to all the neighborhood cats in the bargain!

What kid wouldn’t like to be a lion—if even for a day? To be king of the classroom, or king of the playground, or even king of the house would be awesome. Jon Agee taps into that childhood (and adulthood?) mind set with his story of the little boy who channels his inner big cat to save a little cat from the neighborhood bully dog. Agee’s droll allusions to other popular classes enhances the humor for both kid and adult readers. Instead of yoga pants or a karate gi, the boy dons a lion uniform and proceeds on to perform lion-inspired exercises. While seemingly simple give-and-take, the dialogue between the two characters contains more dry wit that will have kids agreeing with their picture book counterpart and giggling at his predicament.

The over-sized pages and full-bleed colorful spreads allow for king-sized laughs. This is one lion instructor who takes his job seriously no matter how unsavory the menu or pouncing practice may seem to humans. Jon Agee never fails to entertain, and Lion Lessons continues the fun.

Ages 4 – 8

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0803739086

To learn more about Jon Agee and his books and view a gallery of his illustrations, visit his website!

World Lion Day Activity

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Wooden Spoon Lion Puppet

 

Unleash your inner lion! With this craft you can make a ROARingly cute lion puppet!

Supplies

  • Wooden mixing spoon
  • Yellow Fleece
  • Brown felt
  • Colorful Fleece or felt
  • Fabric glue
  • Light brown marker
  • Dark brown marker
  • Hot glue gun or super glue

Directions

  1. To make the lion’s face
  2. Draw a nose, mouth, and eyes on the front/bowl of the spoon

To make the mane

  1. Measure the rim of the spoon from one side of the handle to the other
  2. Cut a strip of yellow fleece as long as rim measurement and 4 inches wide
  3. Fold the piece of fleece in half long-ways
  4. Glue the open edges of the fleece together
  5. Along the folded side cut a fringe, leaving the loops intact

To make the ears

  1. Cut round ears from the brown felt

To assemble the lion

  1. Glue the ears to the back of the spoon
  2. Glue the mane to the back of the spoon

To make the bow

  1. Cut a 3-inch x 1 ½-inch piece of colorful fleece or felt
  2. Cut a long thin strip of fleece or felt
  3. Pinch the bow in the middle and tie with the longer piece of cloth. Trim as necessary
  4. Glue the bow to the handle

To make the tail

  1. Cut three thin 4-inch-long strips of yellow fleece
  2. With fabric glue, glue the tops of the strips together
  3. Braid the strips
  4. At the bottom, glue the strips together, leaving the ends free
  5. Fold the top of the tail and push it into the hole in the handle of the spoon

August 9 – Book Lovers Day

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About the Holiday

For readers today’s holiday might be the best day of the year! With so many fantastic books to discover, one day doesn’t seem like enough! To make the most of it get up early and go to bed late, call in sick (Shhh…don’t tell them I told you to), order take out for lunch and dinner or read in a favorite restaurant, hire a baby sitter, go to the library or local bookstore….Just find a way to have quiet time to yourself—like Roger in today’s book!

Roger Is Reading a Book

By Koen Van Biesen | Translated by Laura Watkinson

 

Roger is a minimalist. His room consists of a black padded stool, a hook holding an orange coat, scarf, and umbrella, an extendable lamp jutting from the wall, and a basset hound pining for its leash crumpled on the floor. And—oh yes—there is Roger. Roger is sitting on the stool, reading. The little volume is engrossing, and Roger, in his tweed cap, plaid bowtie, green sweater vest, white shirt, orange outlined pants, and blue striped socks tucked into white shoes, is pondering a page.

Suddenly from the other side of the wall/left-hand page comes a resounding BOING BOING. It’s Emily bouncing a basketball! Roger flips his lid and the dog’s ear springs to attention. Emily, herself, and her room are a sight to behold. Emily’s thick unruly hair sports an enormous butterfly, she wears a number 2 on her pink dress, and her room is cluttered with the trappings of her hobbies. Roger rises, sets his book on the stool, and knocks on the wall while his dog offers his leash with hope. Emily stops her bouncing to listen.

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Image copyright Koen Van Biesen

Ah! Silence reigns once more and Roger goes back to his book. But what’s this?! Emily is singing. The song is “LALALA” loud! Once again Roger knocks—“KNOCKITY KNOCK.” His dog wags his tail at the door. Okay, order has been restored and Roger, a little distracted, goes back to reading. What on Earth??!! “BOOM BOOM BOOM” Emily is playing the drum. The noise shakes Roger to his core. A shoe flies off, the lamp leaps upward, the book bounds away, Roger whips his head around. “KNOCK KNOCK KNOCKITY KNOCK” Ugh! Thinks Emily. Not this too!

“POK POK POK” Emily juggles colorful clubs while poor Roger rubs his eyes, his book languishing in his hand. Even the basset hound has a paw over his snout. “TRIP TRIP TRAP” Emily is now practicing ballet. Despondent Roger has turned his back on the whole thing—as has his dog and his lamp. The book lies abandoned in the corner. “BAF BAF BAF” Emily is boxing! Something must be done! Roger paces. “Is Roger reading? No, Roger is not reading now.”

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Image copyright Koen Van Biesen

“Book down. Coat on. Scarf on. Light off. Roger has made up his mind.” “KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.” Roger knocks on Emily’s door. With a package. Emily tears it open. “OH…A book.” Roger returns to his room and his coat and scarf to the hook. He turns on the lamp and sits down on the stool. “Shhhh! Quiet. Emily is reading. Emily is reading a book.” It’s about juggling and basketball and other things. She holds her stuffed giraffe for company. “Shhhh! Quiet. Roger is reading. Roger is reading a book.” His failthful dog lies nearby for company.

Late into the night they read, their rooms illuminated only by a single lamp. “WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF ….” Both Roger and Emily jump, startled out of their reverie. There’s only one thing to do. Roger and Emily take the dog for a walk.

With just a glance at the cover of Koen Van Biesen’s Roger Is Reading a Book, readers know they are in for a treat. The distinctive artwork defies simple explanation. Part outline, part optical illusion, the illustrations combine the immediacy of an art installation with the humor of a New Yorker cartoon. You feel for Roger, who just wants to sit quietly and read his book. But perhaps also for Emily, alone, who is trying to fill the empty hours. And of course for Roger’s basset hound, who has a very real need to go out.

The trio’s circumstances come together on a rainy afternoon to create escalating hilarity and finally the perfect solution. The minimal text, displayed in various sizes and colors of type, enhances the droll nature of Roger and Emily’s contest of wills and allows for the illustrations to depict Roger’s growing discontent and Emily’s dedication to her activities. Roger’s basset hound and lamp are funny foils empathizing with Roger’s pain.

The unique art and fun animated read-aloud opportunities presented in this picture book make Roger Is Reading a Book a must for kids’ (or adults’) libraries.

Ages 4 – 8 (and up)

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2015 | ISBN 978-0802854421

Book Lovers Day Activity

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Read aLOUD Bookmark

 

Make some noise for your favorite book with this bell-tastic bookmark! It’s easy to make, and everywhere you go you’ll give your book a ringing endorsement!

Supplies

  • 3 novelty shoe laces or three strands of thin ribbon in different designs
  • 6 small jingle bells

Directions

  1. Cut the shoelaces or ribbon to the length you want for your books
  2. Knot the three shoelaces or strands of ribbon together at one end
  3. Braid the three shoelaces or strands of ribbon together
  4. Knot the strands together at the top, leaving about two inches of unbraided shoelace or ribbon hanging
  5. Thread the bells on a piece of string or cord
  6. At the knot tie the bells around the shoelaces or ribbon

Picture Book Review

July 31 – Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day

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About the Holiday

Today is the day to be musically experimental. Intriguing, inventive instruments that make a wide variety of sounds exist in every corner of the world. From Russia comes the contrabass balalaika, a triangular stringed instrument. The cimbalom, a concert hammered dulcimer, originated in Hungary. And only the Welsh could give us an instrument with no vowels: the crwth. Glass, water, and lightning are also used to make beautiful sounds, and the Holophonor—a musical instrument and hologram projector all in one—is perfect for Elvis sightings wherever he is! So, play a different instrument or research one, and read the inspiring story in today’s book!

Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

Written by Susan Hood | Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

 

Ada Ríos is growing up in Cateura, a town built of trash as the main garbage dump for the capital city of Paraguay. Every morning the refuse trucks rumble into town to deposit their loads—1,500 tons of trash every day. The citizens of Cateura—gancheros or recyclers—go to work sifting through the mounds and tearing into bags looking for anything valuable enough to recycle or sell. Cardboard is worth 5 cents a pound, plastic 10 cents a pound.

Ada knows the landfill can hold surprises—“Her father, a ganchero, had found appliances, toys, perfumes, and antique watches.”—but she can never imagine what it holds for her. When Ada and her sister were little, their grandmother watched them while their parents worked. They loved to listen to music, to sing, and to learn stories of musicians and the sounds of different instruments. Ada fell in love with the violin.

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Image copyright Sally Wern Comport, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

As the girls grow older and go to school, they venture farther into town, but there is little to fill their time. Many kids join gangs or get into fights. When Ada is 11 her grandmother signs her and her sister up for music lessons being offered by a new man in town named Favio Chávez. “Ada’s heart sang out” when she hears the news. On the first day ten children show up to play the five instruments available. But a bigger problem looms: the three guitars and two violins cannot be taken home for practicing as they are magnets for thieves. In Cateura a violin is worth more than a house.

But Favio Chávez has an idea. With help from Nicolás Gómez, a ganchero and carpenter, they pull bits and pieces from the landfill. An old broken drum and an X-ray film become a workable drum, water pipes become flutes, packing crates become guitars and violins, and oil drums become cellos. “Ada chose a violin made from an old paint can, an aluminum baking tray, a fork, and pieces of wooden crates. Worthless to thieves, it was invaluable to her. It was a violin of her very own.”

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Image copyright Sally Wern Comport, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The children practice tirelessly outside in 100-degree heat until the initial “screeches, twangs, and tweets hit all the right notes. Their class became ‘a small island’ where Chávez taught them to respect themselves and one another.” They become known as The Recycled Orchestra. Music now fills the air, adding a soundtrack of beauty to the grueling work. The orchestra is soon invited to play concerts in Cateura and the capital city of Asunción. When word spreads of their talent, they receive offers to play from other cities and even other countries.

When Ada is 16 The Recycled Orchestra is invited to tour with a world-famous rock band. As Ada takes the stage in front of 35,000 people in Bogotá, Colombia, she is afraid, but the audience cheers for them and sings along as they play. On that night the children discover a new life. “Buried in the trash was music. And buried in themselves was something to be proud of.”

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Image copyright Sally Wern Comport, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

An extensive author’s note plus a photograph of The Recycled Orchestra, websites, and videos follow the text, as well as a list of sources.

Ada’s Violin is also available in a Spanish edition—El violín de Ada: La Historia de la Orquesta de Instrumentos Reciclados del Paraguay.

Susan Hood has brought to light an incredible story of perseverance, hope, and the ability of music and other arts to provide opportunities and self-confidence that change lives. Told with unstinting honesty and sensitivity, Hood’s biography of Ada Ríos, Favio Chávez, and The Recycled Orchestra will inspire all who read it. The well-paced text offers revealing details on every page and flows with a lyrical quality that enhances the effect of the story and its impact. From the first sentence to the last, both children and adults will be riveted to The Recycled Orchestra.

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Image copyright Sally Wern Comport, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Sally Wern Comport’s paintings beautifully capture the human spirit that shines through and drives people to astonishing achievements even in the most adverse conditions. With intricately created collages of rich hues, Comport depicts the town of Cateura and the mountains of trash the citizens work and play on. Warm lighting illuminates faces full of dreams and love, and readers will linger over depictions of the instruments workshop and cheer along with the concert audience as the children receive recognition. The full-bleed, two-page spreads echo the expanded world music gave to the children in the orchestra and the adults who heard them as music score confetti flutters throughout.

Both school classrooms and home libraries will benefit from the stirring message of Ada’s Violin.

Ages 4 and up

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-1481430951 (English edition); 978-1481466578 (Spanish edition)

Discover more about Susan Hood and her books, plus fun activities for kids and information for teachers and parents on her website!

View a gallery of Sally Wern Comport’s artwork on her website!

Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day Activity

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Make Your Own Musical Instrument

 

Inspiration for sound can come from almost any object! Look around your house or classroom and discover the music in boxes, cans, blocks of wood, plastic egg cartons or deli containers, and more. Add string or wire for plucking, sticks for drumming, or beans for shaking. With a little glue, tape, or hardware and some creativity, you’ll be making your own rhythms in no time!

Supplies for the instrument shown in the picture above

  • Tin can
  • Two small L brackets
  • Piece of wooden molding, 2 1/2 feet by 1 1/2 inches by 3/4 inches
  • Five small strips of wood to raise the wire off the neck of the instrument. I used long wooden fireplace matches cut into 1 1/2″ sections 
  • Thin wire
  • Small circular hook screw or regular screw
  • Two tacks
  • A nail, screw, or piece of wood that will fit horizontally in the mouth of the can
  • a small nail to make a hole in the can
  • Hammer
  • Strong Glue
  • Paint
  • Foam decorative dots

Directions

  1. Paint the wood and let dry
  2. Paint the small strips of wood and let dry
  3. Decorate the can with paint, sticker, duct tape, or paper
  4. With the hammer and small nail, make a hole in the center of the bottom of the can
  5. Wrap one end of the wire around the nail and glue so it is firmly in place
  6. Feed the other end of the wire through the hole in the bottom of the can
  7. Screw or glue two L brackets to one end of the wood molding so that the bottom of the L is flush with the bottom of the wood molding and there is space between the brackets. This makes the neck of the instrument
  8. Screw the circular or regular screw into the top, center of the wooden molding
  9. When the wooden strips are dry, glue three side by side 3 inches from the top of the molding. Glue two more matches, one on top of the other on the center strip.
  10. When the L brackets are dry, glue them (and the neck of the instrument) to the can, making sure the brackets are on either side of the hole in the can. Make sure the wire is out of the hole. 
  11. When the brackets are firmly attached to the can, pull the wire to the top of the neck. Settle it in the center of the small pieces of wood, so that the wire is not touching the neck.
  12. Wrap the wire around the screw at the top of the molding until it is firmly in place and the wire is taut. 
  13. Secure the wire to the neck with the tacks
  14. Mark the “frets” with the foam dots

Picture Book Review

 

 

 

July 27 – Dog Days of Summer Q & A with Ged Adamson

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About the Author

Ged Adamson is a writer and illustrator living in London with his partner Helen and their son Rex. His most recent book Douglas, You Need Glasses! was published by Random House and released this past May. Two previous books—Elsie Clarke and the Vampire Hairdresser (2013) and Meet the McKaws (2015)—were published by Sky Pony Press. Ged has two books hitting shelves in the summer and fall of 2017—Shark Dog from HarperCollins and I Want to Grow from Boyds Mills Press. Ged’s cartoons have appeared in magazines, such as Punch and Prospect, as well as in books and on film. He has worked as a storyboard artist and a caricaturist and also works as a composer for TV and film.

About the Holiday

Here we are in the Dog Days of Summer—that time from July 3 to late August—when the air is still, the sun is bright, and the beach beckons. Although the phrase “dog days” conjures up images of Fido panting and lethargic, the term actually refers to the dog star Sirius—the brightest star and, in Greek mythology, the hunter Orion’s dog. To the ancient Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred when Sirius rose and set with the sun, lending its warmth to the day.

Q & A with Ged Adamson

Today, Celebrate Picture Books is featuring another rising star—Ged Adamson. Ged took some time to talk about his work, his inspirations, and that stellar, spectacles-wearing canine Douglas of:

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What books did you enjoy most as a child?

 

I wasn’t a great reader of chapter books as a child and I don’t remember us having picture books in the house but we did Roald Dahl stories at school. James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were favourites.

My mum and dad were avid readers. My dad had some great books. As well as novels, he had a lot of factual books about artists and history. One that I loved was about The Illustrated London News and it was full of beautiful Victorian etchings of everyday life in London. There were always books of cartoons by people like Giles and Frank Dickens. And we had loads of Charles Schultz Peanuts paperbacks.

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My grandad was Scottish and we used to get a Scottish newspaper every weekend called The Sunday Post. There was a comic section for kids. The two main strips in it were The Broons and Oor Wullie. The characters inhabited a kind of 1950s world which I loved. We would get The Broons and Oor Wullie annuals every Christmas.

The first proper books I read of my own accord were collections of short horror stories that I borrowed from my older brothers. Reading them, I would be scared to death but I couldn’t stop. We did some great books in school that I really enjoyed like Animal Farm by George Orwell, A Kestral For A Knave by Barry Hines and Lord of the Flies by William Golding. And in the school library they had some decent novels for older kids and they had Tintin and Asterix the Gaul in French.

What influenced you to write Douglas, You Need Glasses!?

 

It was a little drawing I did of a dog in glasses smoking a pipe. Like most doodles, it was done without really thinking. But I was trying to come up with ideas for stories at the time so I wondered if I could do something with this character.

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Image copyright Ged Adamson

I wear glasses myself so I thought I could use some of my own experiences with short sightedness to develop Douglas’s story. It went through many stages though. In one early idea, Douglas’s newly perfect vision causes him to be too honest about people’s appearances. Another had him befriending a group of insects.

I’d just started to take my illustration style in a different direction, and I wanted to do something that would be visually strong. So from the way Nancy is dressed, the coloured see-through trees, the skate park, the eye chart, through to the big glasses at the end. I was trying to create images that the reader would remember. And most importantly I wanted the story to be funny!

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Image copyright Ged Adamson, coiurtesy of gedadamson.com

Can you describe your process when writing and illustrating a picture book?

 

It will start with an idea. Sometimes, as with Douglas, that will come from a doodle. The next stage is sketches and thinking a lot about the shape of the story. Who are the characters? How will the art look? What is the story saying—what’s its message? I’ll talk to people whose opinions I respect and see what they think—my Agent Isy being one.

The next step is putting together three or four spreads so you get a feel for the tone of the story and how it will look. All the time I’m throwing in bits of text but this changes constantly. I never have a manuscript separate from the images for this reason. To me, the words and pictures can’t exist apart from each other. That’s why I’m always uneasy supplying a manuscript with submissions!

All through this process of me working on a story—and then if I’m lucky, with the publisher—I’ll be chopping things out and adding stuff to solve problems. In my next book, Shark Dog, I’d put a cute little penguin in the final spread. I really liked that penguin! But he had to go because the scene changed from an Arctic sea to a tropical one. And that is a pretty minor change in the grand scheme of things. You have to be prepared for the editor asking to make major overhauls to your book before it goes to the printers.

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Image copyright Ged Adamson

Can you describe your work space a little?

 

It’s a small room, but it’s mine! I think, no matter how tiny it is, how you arrange the space where you work is important. I like to feel it’s my world and part of my personality. The centre of it is occupied by an old desk with an iMac on it. I replaced my chair recently and I love the new one. It’s like something from an ‘80s quiz show and super comfy. I sometimes record music in there so there are instruments as well as art stuff. There are things I’ve picked up from junk shops and our local market. There’s an old sofa against one wall which is so great when I want to have a break.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ged-adamson-interview-ged's-writing-space

Most furniture in our house is second hand. I have bits of paper stuck to the wall with lists of things I need to get done and new book ideas. I’ve got a few pictures up too. There’s one which is just a scene of a rough sea, nothing else—it’s an old framed print. There’s something weirdly relaxing about it. I like that I can look out the window and see the backs of the tall Georgian houses on the other side of the railway tracks. It’s a very London view. I’d like to have a bigger space to work in but I do love my little room.

What is the favorite object on your desk and why?

 

I want to say something like “Ah, that would be the skull of my great grandfather. He spent his life studying the speech patterns of elk”. But I think it has to be my computer. Though it keeps dropping out of connection which is driving me mad. What the hell, Apple? 

What is the best part about writing picture books?

 

I remember working on the art for my second picture book Meet The McKaws. I could see the snow coming down outside the window of my little room. I suddenly thought, “I’m really happy doing this”! I hadn’t had that same feeling doing anything else.

Actually, the best part of writing picture books is what I’m experiencing right now with Douglas. People are getting in touch and saying they love the book and the characters. The response from readers is what you look forward to and when you get so much positive feedback for something you spent a long time working on, it’s such a great thing.

But there are other aspects that I love too. Working with talented editors and art directors is a lot of fun and you learn valuable stuff from them too.

It’s also thrilling to see your book on the shelves in a book shop!

What are you working on next?

 

I’m just finishing work on two books that will be out next year. The first is Shark Dog. It’s about a strange but very friendly animal that stows away on an explorer’s boat. HarperCollins is doing that one. The second is called I Want To Grow, and it’s about a little dinosaur called Herb who gets frustrated that his human friend Muriel is getting taller and he’s not. This one’s with Boyds Mill Press.

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image copyright Ged Adamson

I’m also working on two new ideas. One of those is about a rainbow and it’s almost ready for submission, so I’m excited to see what publishers think.

I can’t properly call this a holiday themed blog without asking you a couple of questions about special dates, so here goes:

What is your favorite holiday?

 

Because I’ve always done stuff that doesn’t involve a nine to five working week, I feel slightly guilty that I don’t appreciate holidays. Even weekends. On Twitter and Instagram there’ll be loads of people going, “IT’S THE WEEKEND! HURRAY!!” and I’ll be like, “oh yes, yay!”

I do like Christmas though. My son is still quite little so it’s lovely to experience that kid version of Christmas again through him. I’m not the least bit religious, but I really like when people come to our road and sing carols. The TV’s good and there’s lots of drinking and eating. I mean, what’s not to like about that? 

Do you have an anecdote from any holiday you’d like to share?

 

I remember a school Summer trip where we all stayed for a week in an old country house in the middle of woodland. Rumours began circulating that the place was haunted. Everybody started to get nervous. This wasn’t helped by a drunken teacher one night on his way to bed telling everyone “Don’t worry, the ghosts won’t harm you”. We were now all terrified and a kind of hysteria took over. We started counting the minutes until we could be reunited with our families. Somebody said they saw a ‘misty figure’ as they made their way back from the disco hut. Panic ensued. Even on the coach home there was a sense of looming disaster. Back at school in September, it wasn’t talked about much. I think everyone was embarrassed that we’d allowed ourselves to get into such a state.

Has a holiday ever influenced your work?

 

In Shark Dog, the explorers and their new pet set off to the seaside in their Morris Minor. For me that is a very English holiday scene but obviously you don’t see many of those cars any more. My mum and dad didn’t drive so our holidays would involve hours on a coach to somewhere like Wales or Devon. In the new story I’m working on, there is a spread with a multitude of people getting off those kind of coaches. It definitely took me back to being a kid!

In Meet The McKaws, the story centres on a pirate’s parrot’s family members visiting for a few days. This is an aspect of holiday periods that is fraught with danger!

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celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ged-adamson-interview-meet-the-mckaws-rebuilding-the-ship

Image copyright and courtesy of Ged Adamson

I’d like to thank Ged for his insightful and engaging answers to my questions that prove that the Dog Days of Summer are definitely the best (especially when that dog is Douglas)! 

 

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Ged is giving away a copy of Douglas, You Need Glasses! plus other goodies! Just click to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

You Can Connect with Ged Adamson on

Twitter | Instagram | Ged’s Website

You Can Find Ged Adamson’s Books at

Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Ged Adamson’s blog tour continues! Don’t miss it!

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Review of Douglas, You Need Glasses!

By Ged Adamson

 

Something may be amiss with Douglas. When Nancy and her playful pooch went out to chase squirrels recently, Douglas ran after a falling leaf while the squirrel escaped up a tree. It’s not the first time something like this has happened. You see, Douglas is a bit nearsighted. Sometimes he mistakes the stair post for Nancy, and his difficulty gets in the way of things (well, mostly Douglas gets in the way of things). He misses important signs—like the one that would have prevented him from tracking wet cement all over the skate park, where there are NO DOGS allowed—and he’s always causing something of a ruckus. Sometimes he even enters the wrong house! But when a game of fetch buzzzzzed toward disaster, Nancy decided something had to be done.

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Image copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy gedadamson.com

She took Douglas to the eye doctor where he tried to read a most dog-friendly eye chart. His test revealed that he needed glasses. He found the shelves of Dog Glasses, which offered many options, and had fun trying some on. Each one made him feel different. In one pair he was a rock star; in another a scholar; and in yet another a hippy. He wore them all until he discovered the perfect pair!

On the way home he saw the world in a way he never had before. “‘Wow! Everything looks amazing!’” Douglas said. And it was!

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Image copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy gedadamson.com

Ged Adamson’s funny look at a nearsighted dog will make kids laugh from the first page to the last. Earnest Douglas, going about his doggy days under a bit of a skewed perspective, is so endearing that readers cannot help but love him even as they giggle at his exploits. Adamson’s vibrant multi-hued trees, colorfully clothed kids, and vivid backgrounds with stylish sketched-in details gives the book a fresh, jaunty appeal for a lively, fun story time. Kids facing the prospect of wearing glasses will find lots to give them reassurance and confidence in this book.

Douglas, You Need Glasses is a great addition to any child’s bookshelf!

Ages 3 – 8

Schwartz & Wade, Random House Kids, 2016 | ISBN 978-0553522433

Dog Days of Summer Activity

 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-spool-puppy-craft

Make a Stellar Spool Puppy

 

No matter where you go and whether you have a real dog or not, you can take this little guy along with you. And just as you would pick out your favorite from an animal shelter, you can make this puppy look any way you’d like!

Supplies

  • Printable ears and nose template
  • 2-inch round wooden spool, available at craft stores
  • 1 skein of yarn in the color you choose. Yardage needed will depend on the thickness of the yarn.
  • Felt
  • Craft paint
  • Paint brush
  • Fabric or strong glue
  • Thin gauge wire
  • Dowel or pencil to wrap wire around to make glasses

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Directions

  1. Paint the dowel the color you want your dog to be, let dry
  2. Trace the ears on the felt and cut out (or draw your own ears)
  3. Trace the nose on the felt and cut out
  4. When the spool is dry glue the ears to the body of the spool, allowing the ears to stick up from the top of the spool
  5. Wind the yarn around the spool back and forth until the dog’s body is the size you’d like
  6. Glue the yarn in place with fabric or strong glue

To make the face

  1. Glue the nose over the hole on one end of the spool
  2. Draw the mouth and tongue under the nose with a marker
  3. You will draw the eyes on after the glasses are in place

To make the glasses

  1. Wind the wire around a ½-inch dowel, thick pencil, or rounded handle to make two circles.
  2. Leave about two inches on either side of the circles for the ear pieces of the glasses.
  3. Adjust the size of the circles to fit the spool as glasses.
  4. Put the glasses on the face of the spool, tucking the ear pieces into the yarn on each side
  5. Draw eyes in the center of the glasses

To make the tail

  1. Cut a small square of felt and stuff the edges into the hole on the other end of the spool
  2. You can make the tail as long as you like

Picture Book Review

July 24 – Amelia Earhart Day

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About the Holiday

On July 24, 1897 Amelia Mary Earhart was born. With astounding bravery and perseverance, Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She was an author; a founder of the Ninety-Nines, an organization for women pilots; an instructor and career counselor; and she broke many aviation records. Her disappearance over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 remains one of the most baffling historical mysteries.

I am Amelia Earhart

Written by Brad Meltzer | Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos

 

Even as a child Amelia Earhart chafed at the idea that girls could only wear dresses, play with dolls, and have “unladylike” adventures. At the age of seven Amelia and her sister built a roller coaster in their backyard by placing two planks against a shed and making a car from a packing crate with roller skate wheels on the bottom. They even greased the wood to make it “super-fast.”

Amelia took the first ride. With the wind in her face she launched off the end of the ramp, catching air and her first feeling of flight. She crash landed a minute later, but declared the experience, “awesome!”

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Image copyright Christopher Eliopoulos

When Amelia was 23 she met Frank Hawks, who took her on her very first flight for ten dollars. It only took her ten minutes to realize that “she had to fly.” To save money for flying lessons Amelia took on many jobs. She worked as a truck driver, a stenographer, and a photographer. In time she learned to fly and within six months of becoming a pilot, she bought a bright yellow biplane that she named Canary.

Amelia admitted that she wasn’t a natural or even the best pilot, but she worked hard to learn the skills she needed. She also bravely dared to do what others wouldn’t or couldn’t. Because of her determination she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic and then the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. At a time when people still traveled from America to Europe by boat, no one thought a woman would be able to fly that far.

To make the flight required the kind of grit that Amelia possessed. The trip took 14 hours and 56 minutes with no stops and no breaks, and when Amelia landed she broke the record for the fastest Atlantic flight ever. She broke other records too, including the woman’s altitude record and a speed record. Despite her success, whenever she set a new goal there were always people who told her she couldn’t do it. But she never let that stop her.

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Image copyright Christopher Eliopoulos

Her life and achievements serve as inspiration to all who aspire to great heights. Amelia’s advice? “Whatever your dream is, chase it. Work hard for it. You will find it. It is the best lesson I can give you.” And she added this reminder: “I hope you’ll remember that the greatest flight you’ll ever take, is the one no one has tried before.”

Part of Brad Meltzer’s I am… series of biographies, this portrait of Amelia Earhart highlights the traits of bravery and individualism—evident from her youngest years—that fueled her passion for adventure and breaking barriers. Perfectly suited for its audience, the text is conversational and includes funny asides from young Amelia to her readers. The repeated repartee between those who doubted her and Amelia (“you sure this is a good idea?” and “This isn’t a good idea. It’s the best idea!”) emphasizes Amelia’s determination and self-belief that will inspire kids to think likewise about their own dreams. The book follows Amelia from her childhood through her young adulthood and into her record-breaking years with well-chosen facts that illuminate but do not overwhelm. As this is a book to inspire children to reach for their dreams, the book makes no mention of Amelia’s eventual disappearance over the Pacific Ocean, instead leaving kids with wise words from this most iconic and fascinating adventurer.

Children love the accessibility of Christopher Eliopoulos’ I am… series illustrations! Enthusiasm and joy radiate from Amelia Earhart’s face as she races to meet the world head-on. Her dismay with typical “girl stuff” as well as her excitement when flying is evident in her very kid-like expressions. The scenes of Amelia building and riding her homemade roller coaster will make kids’ eyes widen in delight. Amelia’s various flights and planes are beautifully rendered in both up-close views of her aircraft as well as panoramic spreads showing her flying through clouds, over fields, and across the ocean. The full-bleed, vibrant and action-packed pictures will rivet kids’ attention to Amelia’s life and her inspiring message

Ages 5 – 9

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2014 | ISBN 978-0803740822

Keep up with what Brad Meltzer is writing and doing next by visiting his website!

Discover the cartoon world of Christopher Eliopoulos on his website!

Amelia Earhart Day Activity

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Soar Toward Your Dreams Box Biplane

 

If you love airplanes and flying—or if you just have sky-high aspirations—you’ll have fun making your own plane from recycled materials! You can use your own creativity to decorate it or make Amelia Earhart’s Canary while you imagine yourself flying through the clouds on a beautiful day. This is a fun activity to share with an adult or older sibling too!

Supplies

  • Travel-size toothpaste box
  • 3 Long, wide craft sticks
  • 2 Short “popsicle” sticks
  • 5 Round toothpicks, with points cut off
  • Paint in whatever colors you like for your design
  • 4 small buttons or flat beads
  • Paint brushes
  • Strong glue or glue gun

Directions

  1. Empty toothpaste box
  2. Paint toothpaste box and decorate it
  3. Paint the craft sticks and 5 toothpicks
  4. Paint one small craft stick to be the propeller
  5. Let all objects dry

To assemble the biplane

  1. For the Bottom Wing – Glue one long, wide craft stick to the bottom of the plane about 1 inch from the end of the box that will be the front of the plane
  2. For the Top Wing – Glue the other long, wide craft stick to the top of the plane about 1 inch from the front of the plane
  3. For the Tail – Glue one short craft stick to the bottom of the box about ¾ inches from the end that is the back of the plane
  4. For the Vertical Rudder – Cut the end from one of the painted wide craft sticks, glue this to the back of the box, placing it half-way between each side

To assemble the wheels

  1. Cut 4 painted toothpicks ¾-inches long
  2. Cut one painted toothpick 1-inch long
  3. Glue 2 of the short toothpicks to the back of 1 button, the ends of the toothpicks on the button should be touching and the other end apart so the toothpicks form a V
  4. Repeat the above step for the other wheel
  5. Let the glue dry
  6. Glue the 1-inch long toothpick to the center of each wheel to keep them together and give them stability. Let dry

To make the back wheel

  1. Cut two ¼-inch lengths of painted toothpick and glue them together. Let dry
  2. Glue two mini buttons together to form the back wheel. Let dry
  3. Glue the ¼-inch toothpicks to the mini buttons. Let dry
  4. Glue these to the bottom of the plane in the center of the box directly in front of and touching the tail

July 21 – It’s National Culinary Arts Month

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About the Holiday

Culinary arts from entrees to desserts and everything in between are celebrated during July. Whether you like going out to restaurants or staying in for a home-cooked meal remember to thank the chef for their time and talents!

Kitchen Dance

By Maurie J. Manning

 

A little girl wakens to sounds coming from the kitchen—“Glasses clinking. Water swishing. Forks clattering.” Then more personal sounds—humming, laughing, and “hush!” The girl slips out of her blankets and climbs to the top bunk to wake her brother, Tito. Together they tiptoe downstairs and peek through the kitchen door. “A bright skirt flashes by! Four feet fly!”

With a wooden spoon microphone the kids’ father sings, “Cómo te quiero! Oh, how I love you. Umm, hmm.” Juggling stacked plates in one hand while using the other to dance hand-in-hand, the kids’ parents glide, slide, and twirl around the kitchen floor. Laughing, their mom closes cabinet doors with a bump of her hips as she spins into her husband’s arms “then out again, like a yo-yo on a string.”

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Image copyright Maurie J. Manning

Pots and pans find their storage space with a swirl and a dip while another is dried with the swish of a towel. Around the kitchen the couple dances, “feet tapping, water dripping, sponge wiping, towel snapping.” While singing, “they tango across the room with the leftover tamales.” As they turn toward the door, Mama glimpses her little ones. The kids squeal and start to run, but Papa swings open the door—“Hola!” He pulls Tito into his arms, while Mama catches her tiny daughter.

As the four whirl around the kitchen, Tito and his sister sing into wooden spoons, “Cómo te quiero! Oh, how I love you!” They “twirl around and around in a circle of family.” The dance slows to a gentle swaying as Tito and his sister grow sleepy. Mama and Papa carry their drowsing children upstairs and cover them once more under their cozy blankets. “Cómo te quiero,” Papa whispers. “Besitos, mi’ja,” Mama says “Sweet dreams.”

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Image copyright Maurie J. Manning

Maurie J. Manning’s sweet story of a private moment between parents that becomes a celebration of family love offers a fresh, fun, and lively glimpse of the small events that contribute to real connectedness. Telling the story from one of the children’s point of view adds a deeper level of understanding and recognition that of the strong bond between the parents. The repeated phrase, “Cómo te quiero! How I love you!” is reassuring and allows kids to read along with the book’s most important theme.

Manning’s vivacious and vibrant illustrations bring to life the swirling energy of the text. Tito and his sister creep downstairs in a house bathed in shadow only to open the door to flashing yellow, green, purple, and orange brilliance. The scenes of Mama and Papa dancing together, using a wooden spoon as a microphone and pot lids as cymbals as well as twirling hand in hand while balancing stacks of dishes are filled with happiness, and the  picture of the two tangoing with tamales will make kids giggle. Tito and his sister are adorable as they spy on their parents with astonished looks on their faces and then join the dance.

Kitchen Dance is a joy for story time or bedtime, and in these always busy days would be a welcome reminder that carefree moments carry their own special meaning.  Kitchen Dance is a great addition to a child’s bookshelf.

Ages 3 – 8

Clarion Books, 2008 | ISBN 978-0618991105

To learn more about Maurie J. Manning, her books, and her art, check out her website!

Take a look at the Kitchen Dance book trailer!

 

National Culinary Arts Month Activity

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Wooden Spoon Microphone

 

With this easy craft you can turn a wooden cooking spoon into a fun microphone for playtime or in case you ever have to sing for your supper!

Supplies

  • Long-handled wooden spoon
  • Black craft paint
  • Silver craft paint
  • Black permanent marker

Directions

  1. Paint the handle of the spoon black, let dry
  2. Paint the head of the spoon silver, let dry
  3. After the paint is dry, make rows of small dots on the head of the spoon

July 18 – Get Out of the Doghouse Day

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About the Holiday

Being “in the dog house” means that somehow you’ve upset someone, made them mad or in some other way fallen out of favor with them. Maybe you owe them an apology or at least an explanation. Today’s holiday gives people a chance to say “I’m sorry” and patch up any hurt feelings. Like the bear in today’s book, you may find yourself out of the doghouse and on the path to better friendships!

The Bear Who Stared

By Duncan Beedie

 

Bear loves to stare…and stare…and stare. One morning he emerges from his den to find a family of ladybugs having a picnic breakfast. He can’t help but gaze at them intently. “‘What are you staring at?’” the daddy ladybug demands before he and his family pack up to find a more private leaf. Bear continues on his way. In a bit he climbs a tree and stares at a bird feeding her chicks. “‘Can I help you?’” the mother bird asks, but Bear remains silent. The chicks don’t like Bear interfering with their meal, so the mother bird angrily tells him to “‘sshhhooooo!’”

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Image copyright Duncan Beedie, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

At the bottom of the tree Bear spies a badger hole and sticks his head inside. The badger, particularly irritated at Bear’s badgering stare while he is shaving, bites poor bear on the nose. Sore and dejected, Bear wanders through the forest to a large pond. He sits down on a log to ponder his situation. He doesn’t mean to be annoying, he’s “just curious but too shy to say anything.”

A little frog floating on a lily pad in the middle of the pond pipes up, “‘I’ve seen that look before.’” Bear stares at the frog and the frog stares back. “‘Not much fun being stared at, is it?’” he says. Bear confesses that he just doesn’t know what to say to anyone. Just then Bear catches a glimpse of another bear staring back at him from the mossy water of the pond. This bear looks exactly like Bear, except that he is green and wavy. Suddenly, the green bear smiles. “‘You see?’” says the frog. “‘Sometimes a smile is all you need.’” The frog dives off his lily pad into the pond, and the green bear disappears too.

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Image copyright Duncan Beedie, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The next day Bear leaves his den and discovers the ladybug family breakfasting again. As soon as they spot Bear, they begin to gather their things. “‘Hello!’” Bear says with a big smile on his face. The ladybugs are surprised and happy. “‘Oh, hello!’” replies the dad, smiling back. With renewed confidence Bear wanders into the forest. He smiles at the birds and smiles at the badger, and they smile at him in return. Bear makes a lot of new friends that day. And there’s even that friend down at the pond who likes to stare as much as he does!

Duncan Beedie highlights the awkward feeling many kids—and even adults—often feel in social situations. Nothing pops immediately to mind to say and yet there’s a desire for connection. As Bear discovers, staring is not the answer—so what is? In The Bear Who Stared Beedie offers a simple, but universal solution through an engaging and humorous story. Bear, sporting a bemused expression that aptly depicts his predicament, is such an endearing character that readers will wish they could give him a hug as he suffers slights from the woodland creatures.

The full-bleed, oversized pages put readers at eye level with bear and his subjects, and the very up-close look into Bear’s staring eyes will make kids laugh. The green, rust, and blue palette on matte paper is bold, but muted, giving the pages an organic, environmental feel that is perfect to carry the story.

The Bear Who Stared is a funny story time read with a heart that kids will ask for again and again.

Ages 4 – 8

little bee books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1499802856

Check out more of Duncan Beedie’s illustration and animation work on his website!

Get Out of the Doghouse Day Activity

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Expressive Bear Craft

 

Sometimes it’s hard to manage or even recognize various emotions that land you in the doghouse. With this easy-to-make felt (or paper) set, you can try out different emotions and talk about them, make up stories to go with each facial expression, or play a fun game. Below, you’ll find a couple of ideas!

Supplies

  • Printable Bear Head Template
  • Printable Eyes and Noses Template
  • Printable Eyebrows Template
  • Light brown felt or fleece, 8 ½ x 11 inch piece
  • Dark brown felt or fleece, 8 ½ x 11 inch piece
  • White felt or fleece, 8 ½ x 11 inch piece
  • Black felt or fleece, for pupils
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • 1 playing die (optional)

Directions

  1. Print templates
  2. Cut bear head from light felt or fleece
  3. Cut eyes from white felt or fleece
  4. Cut nose and inner ears from dark brown felt or fleece
  5. Cut pupils from black felt or fleece
  6. Glue pupils onto white eyes

Or: Color and play with the paper set

To Play a Game

Roll the die to collect parts of the bear’s face. The first player to create a full face is the winner.

  • Die dots correspond to:
  • 1—one eyebrow
  • 2—second eyebrow
  • 3—one eye
  • 4—second eye
  • 5—nose
  • 6—inner ears

For a Fun Story Time

Give the bear different faces and make up stories of why he looks that way!

Picture Book Review