October 2 – It’s National Chili Month

Armadilly Chili picture book review

About the Holiday

What could be more satisfying during a cool autumn month than a spicy bowl of chili?  Whether made with meat or veggies, combined with macaroni, or served in potato skins, the simmered flavors make for a scrumptious meal. Although the origins of chili are lost to history, it’s believed that the dish is a southwestern, specifically Texan, concoction. It began to attract attention in the early 1800s, and by the 1880s”Chili Queens” were selling “bowls o’red” at chili stands throughout San Antonio. In 1893 the San Antonio Chili Stand made an appearance at the Chicago World’s Fair. It’s popularity took off across Texas and throughout the west by the 1920s. When the Great Depression hit, chili became one of the only affordable meals for the hungry population. Today chili is a favorite dish of people all over the world. To celebrate this month’s observation why not whip up a batch of your favorite chili or discover some new recipes!

Armadilly Chili

Written by Helen Ketteman | Illustrated by Will Terry

What a hoot! The knee-slappin’, root-a-tootin’ phrasing in Hellen Ketteman’s Armadilly Chili is shor ‘nuf gonna make this a favorite on any child’s bookshelf. While the plot may be familiar, the southwest setting and Miss Billie Armadilly put a fresh, funny twist on it.

“Miss Billie Armadilly skit-skat-skittered down the lane. A blue-norther’s a-blowin’ and my old, cold bones are rattling for a pot of hot armadilly chili,” she says. She’s gathering ingredients when her friend Tex, a many eyed tarantula, tip taps by. Hey, Tex, she calls, how about tapping your toes this way and helping me gather a boxful of beetles?” But Tex just “wiggles his long jiggly legs and says, ‘Shucks, Miss Billie, I’m going dancing today.’” Miss Billie harrumphs and collects the beetles herself.

Next Miss Billie is picking peppers, and when Mackie the bluebird flies in she thinks she has an assistant. “‘How ‘bout whistlin’ up a tune and helping me pick a peck o’ peppers for my armadilly chili?’” Once again, though, she’s left on her own since Mackie says he is “‘shakin’ my tail feathers to the movies.’” When Miss Billie “scurries to the prickly pear cactus and begins chippity-chop-chopin,’” her friend Taffy, the horned toad, complains about the noise and then begs off from helping, saying she’s got plans to go skating.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-armadilly-chili

Image copyright Will Terry, courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company

At home, Miss Billie stirs her chili to a scrumptious bubble. The aroma entices first Tex, then Mackie, and finally Taffy to come a’knockin’ at her door looking for a bowlful, but Billie has something to say about that—specifically, “no workin’ with Billie, no sharin’ the chili!”

Billie’s friends hurry away sorry that she feels that way, and Billie sits down to her feast. But after all that work, the chili tastes as “flat as a Texas prairie.” What’s wrong? She realizes what the missing ingredient is just as the doorbell rings. She opens the door to find her friends standing there with bags in their hands. What’s in those sacks? Apologies! As well as hot apple cider, jalapeno biscuits, and homemade chocolate fudge. Now that the friends are all together, the chili tastes just right, and “they talked and laughed into the cold, blustery night.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-armadilly-chili-mackie-visits

Image copyright Will Terry, text copyright Helen Ketteman, courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company

What a hoot! Helen Ketteman’s fast-paced Armadilly Chili is a spicy take on the little red hen story  and what it means to be a good friend. Miss Billie is a sassy, no-nonsense heroine who values her work and talents and makes sure others do too. When anger and frustration bubble over, however, the four friends find a way to apologize and make up. The lesson, humorously conveyed as well as Ketteman’s knee-slappin’, root-a-tootin’ phrasing is shor ‘nuf gonna make this a favorite on any child’s bookshelf. 

Will Terry’s vivid illustrations washed with a palette of deep reds, oranges, greens, and yellows bring the Southwest setting to life. Miss Billie and her friends are enchanting versions of their natural counterparts, and kids will love the environmental and homey details on each page, where even the cacti display personalities. Billie’s facial expressions as each of her friends abandon her to her chores are priceless, and their final camaraderie is highly satisfying.

Ages 4 – 8

Albert Whitman & Company, Illinois, 2008 | ISBN 978-0807504581

Discover more about Helen Kellerman and her books plus fun accompanying activities on her website!

View a portfolio of Will Terry‘s books and artwork on his website!

While I take a few personal days, I am reposting earlier reviews updated with new links and interior art.

National Chili Month Activity

CPB - Chili Pepper Game

Hot, Hot, Hot! Chili Pepper Chili Game

Chili just isn’t chili without a little heat! But can you take 15 chili peppers in your bowl? If you want to win the Hot, Hot, Hot! Chili Pepper Chili Game you’ll have to!

Object of the Game

The object of the game is to collect 15 chili peppers in your bowl before any other player.

Supplies

Rules

  1. Any number of players can play at one time. Print 1 Chili Bowl game board and 1 set of 15 Chili Pepper cards for each player
  2. Give 1 Chili Bowl Game Board to each player
  3. Place the Chili Pepper Cards in a pile or in a bowl
  4. Roll the die to see who goes first. The person with the highest roll goes first
  5. To begin play, the first player must roll a 1, 2, or 3. They should roll until they get one of these numbers.
  6. Players roll the die and collect or lose chili pepper cards by the number of dots on the die. If you roll a:
  • 1 – Pick up 1 chili pepper card and place it on your chili bowl game board
  • 2 – Pick up 2 chili pepper cards and place them on your chili bowl game board
  • 3 – Pick up 3 chili pepper cards and place them on your chili bowl game board
  • 4 – Get a chili pepper card from the player on your left
  • 5 – Give a chili pepper card to the player on your left
  • 6 – Lose a turn

     7. If a player does not have chili pepper cards to give to another player or if the player on           their left has no cards to give, the player rolls again.

    8. Continue play until one player has filled their Chili Bowl with chili peppers!

Picture Book Review

September 5 – Cheese Pizza Day and Q&A with Author/Illustrator Claire Lordon

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About the Holiday

Once considered the food of Italy’s poorer classes who could not afford the prices of meat, cheese pizza has risen in stature to become a favorite of all. While perfect all on its own, cheese pizza is also a delicious beginning to any combination of ingredients—well, maybe not all, as the characters in today’s book discover!

Lorenzo the Pizza-Loving Lobster

By Claire Lordon

 

Lorenzo is one adventurous lobster! Not only does he like exploring new places, he loves getting his claws on new foods. One day while at the beach, Lorenzo meets a seagull who has found a tasty slice of pizza to nosh on. “‘What’s that?’” Lorenzo asks, “‘It smells amazing!’” The seagull tells him and invites him to try it. Lorenzo takes a nibble…and then a bigger bite. He loves this pizza thing so much that he eats it all up.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lorenzo-the-pizza-loving-lobster-riding-introduced-to-pizza

Image copyright Claire Lordon, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

On his way home to tell his friends about his discovery, Lorenzo runs into Kalena, his turtle friend, and tells her all about the triangular food that is “‘crispy and chewy at the same time; salty, tangy, and full of flavor, too!’” Kalena is intrigued and suggests they try to make one themselves. At Lorenzo’s house they begin gathering the ingredients, but when Kalena asks what was in the pizza Lorenzo can’t remember. Kalena looks in the cupboard and pulls out seaweed cake and kelp paste. “‘Perfect!’” agrees Lorenzo. For the “stringy” part, Kalena suggests eelgrass, which also has the benefit of being extra salty. And the “round things on top”? Sand dollars sound delicious!

So the pair bake up their green concoction, and when the timer rings they dig in only to find that it “‘isn’t quite right.’” Not one to give up, Kalena offers a new set of ingredients: “‘kelp dough, squid ink, algae, and coral rings.’” This pizza isn’t right either—in fact, Kalena says, “‘This tastes icky! And the algae is stuck in my teeth!’” Suddenly, Lorenzo has a brainstorm. He remembers that the pizza was made of “‘sponge patties, jellyfish jelly, seaweed noodles, and seashells.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lorenzo-the-pizza-loving-lobster-making-pizza

Image copyright Claire Lordon, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Listening to that recipe, Kalena isn’t so sure, but they make it anyway. When this creation comes out of the oven, one small nip convinces Kalena that this one is “‘gross.’” Poor Lorenzo—he so badly wanted to make a delicious pizza with his friend. Kalena leaves Lorenzo’s house with the distinct impression that pizza is terrible. But as she heads up the beach toward home, she smells a delicious aroma. Coming closer she spies a “round food,” and buys one.

With one bite, she’s smitten! This round food is “‘so chewy, and salty, and…wait a minute.’” It dawns on Kalena that this might be the very pizza Lorenzo was talking about. There’s just one thing—why is it a circle? Even though Kalena wants to devour the whole thing, she thinks about how sad Lorenzo was and hurries back to his house with the steaming box. Sure enough, Lorenzo is moping about the afternoon’s debacle.

“‘Hey Lorenzo, look what I found!’” Kalena calls. “‘Holy anchovy!’” Lorenzo exclaims when he tastes it, “‘This is exactly like the pizza I had earlier, but this time it’s big and round!’” They are so excited to dig into their treat, but they carefully study the pizza’s ingredients before eating it all up. One pizza just isn’t enough, so Lorenzo and Kalena make another…and another…and another—and share them with all their friends at a huge pizza party.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lorenzo-the-pizza-loving-lobster-telling-kalena

Image copyright Claire Lordon, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Who knew pizza and the ocean had so much in common—the same salty tang, the same appealing aromas, the same recognizable shapes? Claire Lordon, that’s who! In her funny culinary adventure, Lordon captures the enthusiasm children have to share and replicate a new discovery  but also presents the moments of disappointment when reality and memory don’t match. Kids will “ewww…ohhh…yuck…and yuck it up at the alternative pizza ingredients Lorenzo and Kalena combine in their attempts at a “normal” pizza. These two friends are sweetly supportive of each other through kelp paste and pepperoni and know how to share life’s ups and downs.

Lordon’s adorable sea creatures populate very vivid underwater and beach environments that will be as vibrantly familiar to kids as their own homes and playgrounds with an oceanic twist. Images of the alternate ingredients are clever adaptations of the elements of a normal pizza as Lorenzo remembers the shapes but not the names of the fixings.

Lorenzo, the Pizza-Loving Lobster is a delicious ingredient to add to any child’s bookshelf, and kids will no doubt want to build their own pizzas just like Lorenzo—a crustacean who really knows his crust!

Ages 3 – 8

little bee books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1499802283

Learn more about Claire Lordon and her work on her website!

Cheese Pizza Day Activity

CPB - Pizza Day Toppings

Create Your Pizza Game

 

Play this fun game to build your pizza ingredient by ingredient before the others! For 2 – 8 players.

Supplies

Directions

Q & A with Claire Lordon

professionalphoto4

 

Today I’m thrilled to feature a fun interview with the delightful Claire Lordon in which she discusses her influences, her work, and one special “Rhodie” who turned out to be a very lucky lobster!

What were some of the books you enjoyed most as a child and why?

I had many favorite books growing up!  One of my favorites was The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll. I think I liked this book so much because it had a competition in it and it was also about Halloween (two things I love!). I also enjoyed The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear; Corduroy; Tops and Bottoms; Madeline; Curious George; Clifford the Big Red Dog; the Dr. Seuss books; and SO many more.

Lorenzo the Pizza-Loving Lobster is your debut picture book. What influenced you to write it?

Many people have asked me how I got my inspiration for this unique idea – a pizza-loving lobster! The answer is a bit silly and has a story behind it.

It started when I was back in college and my boyfriend and I were at a gift shop that sells Rhode Island merchandise (we went to school in Rhode Island).  My boyfriend noticed a cute lobster stuffed animal and said how much he liked it because it reminded him of a pet crawfish he had growing up.

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When his birthday came around I decided to give him the stuffed animal lobster that he had admired months earlier.  We chose the name “Rhodie” for the lobster stuffed animal because his backstory is that he is from Rhode Island.  Somehow, one day when we were eating pizza we decided that Rhodie was Italian and loved pizza. It became a joke and I thought how ridiculous it was that a lobster loved pizza!

I thought this would make a great character in a children’s book.  After many revisions and many sketches later Lorenzo, the Pizza-Loving Lobster is now an actual book!

What have you found to be the best part of writing and illustrating a picture book?

The best part, at least recently, has been having others contact me about my book. It could be a simple tweet showing it on the shelves in California or an e-mail saying how much a grandchild loves ‘Lorenzo’. It makes me so happy to know that others love my work too!

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Your slogan is “Made with a Smile.” Can you talk about your philosophy and what influences your illustration work?

I strive to create art that makes me, and others, happy. My hope is that my art brings the viewer joy and even make them laugh. The influences for my work include traveling, being in nature, and reading many children’s books. I like to have my work be bold and fun.

Can you describe your work space a little?

My studio space is in my apartment in Brooklyn. It consists of a computer, a Cintiq monitor, and a desk for drawing and painting. I also have a giant printer and a scanner.

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Do you have any other books on the horizon?

At the moment I am ‘shopping’ around a book about a penguin named Bento who is apprehensive about school picture day. I also have two more manuscripts that I’m storyboarding.

Since Celebrate Picture Books is a holiday-themed blog, I can’t let you get away without asking you a few holiday-related questions.

What is your favorite holiday? 

My favorite holiday by far is Halloween. I love that it’s during the fall, with all the changing colors of leaves. My favorite parts are dressing up as a fun character as well as decorating and carving pumpkins. I also like to celebrate small holidays that I discover, such as grilled cheese sandwich day!

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

Growing up I never had a store-bought Halloween costume. I would design my own costume and my mom and I would go to the fabric store to see how we could create the design. Then my mom would work her magic and sew a unique costume for me. I’ve been a candy corn, a Beanie Baby, a fairy, and more!

Has a holiday ever influenced your work?

One of my new manuscripts I’m storyboarding now is about Christmas. My family always had a great collection of Christmas books when I was growing up, and I hope this one can make it into the collection someday!

Thanks, Claire! I wish you all the best with Lorenzo, the Pizza-Loving Lobster and your future books!

RhodieReading

You can find Lorenzo, the Pizza-Loving Lobster at:

little bee books | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-MillionIndieBound

Picture Book Review

August 31 – It’s Happiness Happens Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Double Happiness by Nancy Tupper Ling Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

Summer is coming to a close and school is starting again. It’s a great time to reflect on the fun you’ve had in the warmer weather and all the memories that are about to be made as another year of activities, education, new friendships, and excitement unfolds. Happiness really does happen if you let it!

Double Happiness

Written by Nancy Tupper Ling | Illustrated by Alina Chau

 

This quiet, thoughtful picture book tells the story of a family’s move from China to America in a series of unrhymed verses that reveal the experience honestly from alternating viewpoints of a brother, Jake, and his sister, Gracie. Each page is dedicated to one sibling or the other with the Jake’s poems written in blue and Gracie’s in purple. In several poems the children interact with each other, the blue and purple lines acting as dialog tags.

In the first poem, The Move, Gracie stands on her doorstep surrounded by boxes and suitcases and thinks, “I won’t go! / I won’t move / away / from our city house / by the trolley tracks….” But Jake is more adventurous and in the second poem, Train, is already imagining his new room. After considering different décor, he decides what he really wants is something familiar, something outside—“just one long train / that rocks and wobbles / my bed each night. / I can’t fall asleep until the train passes by.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-double-happiness-train

Image copyright Alina Chau, courtesy of Chronicle Books

In Grandmother, the siblings are each given a happiness box by their Nai Nai, who wisely challenges her grandchildren to “Find four treasures each, / leading from this home / to your new.” Gracie takes this to heart, and readers see in Panda that even before leaving Nai Nai’s Gracie has added a favorite keepsake to her box: “Nai Nai’s panda sits / by the window / like always. / “I’ll miss you,” I say. / Nai Nai leans over me. / She places Panda / inside my box. / “He has a new home / now.”

Too soon moving day comes, and in Goodbye Gracie and Jake give hugs and kisses to beloved relatives. The search for items to fill Nai Nai’s boxes is taken up in the next three poems. In Treasure, Jake becomes a dragon keeping his “dragon eyes / wide open for stuff / along the way.” He is rewarded in Lucky, in which he discovers an old penny on the bus ride to the airport. In Leaf Gracie receives a surprising gift for her happiness box: “One stray leaf / flutters down / onto my box— / Eucalyptus! / If I had a koala I’d feed / her this minty meal all / day long— / the perfect treasure / to remind me of home.” 

In keeping with the long hours of travel from China to the United States, the next six poems chronicle the brother and sister’s experiences in the airport, waiting for their plane, and during the flight. Airport sees the children running, hopping, waiting, and navigating their way through the crowds of people to their gate. Dad is already tuckered out in Quiet, but Jake is wrangling to look for treasure: “’Huff puff. Puff huff.’” / Dragon blows fire. / Dragon stomps his feet. / “’Ssshhh, you’ll wake Daddy. / I giggle. / Gracie giggles. / “’Daddy can sleep / anywhere.’” Jake finally discovers gum in his backpack and creates a treasure. “I stretch it / and roll it / and ooze it / into one slinky snake / Sssssee, his penny pillow. / Sssssee, he’s kai xin— / so happy—in his brown box. / I’m tied with Gracie now— / two treasures each.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-double-happiness-discovering-the-woods

Image copyright Alina Chau, courtesy of Chronicle Books

Adventures at the airport continue in Cat and Wings, and as the plane takes off Gracie draws pictures of the day’s events in Picture. In Here the children wake up to see their new city far below them and wonder, “can I find our house / from the sky?” Marble and Sadness juxtapose Jake’s happiness at finding another treasure for his box with the apprehension of Gracie as the plane lands and the family makes its way into their new country.

At last in Home the family reaches their new house by taxi. Gracie seems only to see the “piles of snow,” but Jake likes the “windy roads, lots of trees, and the curvy driveway.” In Explore Gracie and Jake walk around the countryside, and while Gracie still determines that she won’t like it, Jake hears a train and is happy. My Room and Dinner see the kids settling in, with a photograph of the family they’ve left behind accompanying them on the table while they eat. In A Surprise, Gracie finds that her grandmother is still with her through a special scarf, and in Paints Jake and Gracie accept the move as they paint their happiness boxes: Jake decorates his with a dragon and a train, while Gracie depicts herself and her brother walking in the snow and “they look very, / very / happy.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-double-happiness-coming-to-new-house

Image copyright Alina Chau, courtesy of Chronicle Books

While Double Happiness tells the story of a family’s distant move, Nancy Tupper Ling’s gentle verses are appropriate for any situation involving change or uncertainty. She reminds children that happiness can be found wherever they are and all around them if they look for it. The poems flow as freely as thoughts, fears, and unguarded moments. As Gracie and Jake resolve their feeling, readers or listeners will also see that feelings of apprehension are common, and that happiness is waiting for them.

Alina Chau’s soft, lovely watercolor illustrations are beautiful representations of Gracie and Jake’s move from the familiar surroundings of their home in China to a new home in a snowy countryside.  The children’s emotions resonate as they alternate between sadness and happiness and between the concrete places of Nai Nai’s house, the airport, and their new city and their own imaginations of dragons, drawings, and dreams.

Ages 5 – 8

Chronicle Books, 2015 | ISBN 978-1452129181

Discover more books for children and adults by Nancy Tupper Ling on her website!

View a gallery of artwork by Alina Chau and more on her website!

**Note: As I take some personal days in the next few weeks, I will rerun updated posts published earlier in the year, including new interior art and links.

Happiness Happens Activity

CPB - Happiness typography

Happiness Is…Game

 

Happiness is all around you! Grab one or more friends to play a game that reveals what things make you happy. Here are two ways to play:

  1. Like the “Geography” game: the first player names something that makes them happy, the next player must think of something that starts with the last letter of the word the previous player said. The game continues with each player continuing the pattern. Players drop out as they cannot think of a word. The last player left is
  2. Within a certain time limit (depending on age), players must think of something that makes them happy. Players drop out if they cannot think of a word within the time limit. The last player left is the winner.

Picture Book Review

August 8 – Happiness Happens Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-there's-a-giraffe-in-my-soup-cover

About the Holiday

The aim of today’s holiday is to give you a chance to “admit you’re happy.” A smile or laugh at some of the absurdities of life as well as a true appreciation for the good things all around us makes each day better. So find your “happy place” and giggle along with today’s book!

There’s a Giraffe in My Soup

By Ross Burach

 

It seems that in such a fine establishment ordering the Special of the Day—Sonia’s Tomato Soup—would be easy, but for one little boy it is anything but. “Excuse me, waiter?” The boy politely summons the red-tuxedoed attendant, who is polishing crystal to a diamond sheen. “There’s a giraffe in my soup!” Offended, the waiter pokes his verrrry long nose in the air and says, “That simply cannot be.” But when he comes nose to teeth with said errant ingredient, he speeds with the giraffe on his tray through the kitchen door.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-there's-a-giraffe-in-my-soup-waiter-and-giraffe

Image copyright Ross Burach, courtesy of rossburach.com

Ah, a new bowl of soup is delivered post haste! But as soon as the bowl is set on the table, a little frog pokes its bulging eyes over the rim. Only it’s not a frog, but an alligator with its chompers ready to reverse the dining experience. It’s even seasoning the poor boy with pepper! Once again the waiter comes to the rescue.

Before the waiter even lifts the cover from the next bowl of soup, a suspicious blue trunk emerges. The elephant flails in the small bowl of soup as the boy yells for help. “Save her! Save her! Please hurry!” Before the elephant drowns, the waiter is on the scene. The next bowl fares no better. “Yak! Yak! Yak!” the boy shouts. “Yuck? Yuck? Yuck?” the waiter thinks, insulted by the young food critic. But no, indeed a hairy, horned yak has invaded the soup.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-there's-a-giraffe-in-my-soup-waiter-feeding-giraffe

Image copyright Ross Burach, courtesy of rossburach.com

Bowl after bowl is delivered and with bowl after bowl the boy encounters a walrus (that balances the chair and the boy on his nose), an ostrich (with its head in the soup), a koala bear (shhh…it’s sleeping), a snake (burp…it swallowed the boy!), and a whale (well…you can imagine). The bruised and sweating waiter slumps on the table with his last offering. “Here, huff at last. Your soup, huff roaring with flavor.”  “Lying? Lying? Lying?” the waiter has had enough and loses his cool. “Sure, I made a minor gaffe with the giraffe. Maybe I overlooked a whale. But when it comes to taste, I am a professional. Do not dare accuse me of…LION!! Why didn’t you say something!”

Trying to tame the lion with his platter and a fork, the waiter runs for the kitchen. He returns to the boy bandaged and on crutches to reveal that there has been a mix up. It seems the zoo was sent the restaurant’s food and the restaurant was sent the zoo’s animals. The little boy is magnanimous and ready to let bygones be bygones. “Let’s skip the soup. Maybe dessert?” The waiter agrees.

He wheels out the dessert cart to present “one mousse…with a cherry on top!” And while the whipped cream and sprinkles look appetizing, the hooves and antlers? Not so much. “Never mind!” says the boy. “I’m eating somewhere else!” He quickly hops on his Big Wheel tricycle to follow the parade of animals on their way back to the zoo.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-there's-a-giraffe-in-my-soup-lion-and-alligator-eating

Image copyright Ross Burach, courtesy of rossburach.com

Just as it’s impossible not to laugh at the perennial favorite restaurant joke—“Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup!” / “What’s a fly doing in your soup?” / “The backstroke”—There’s a Giraffe in My Soup creates giggles on every page. Ross Burach creates a great comedy team in the little boy who only wants a bowl of soup and the snooty waiter who aims to please. Their dialogue crackles with puns, misunderstandings, and witty banter. Mixed in to the recipe are the creatures—some clueless, some dangerous, and some just out of their element—that act as the catalyst for the animated facial expressions and frenetic action that propel the story. Vivid colors, a variety of typography, and some of the cutest zoo animals ever complete the entertaining effect.

There’s a Giraffe in My Soup is sure to be asked for again and again and would be a very welcome addition to any child’s library.

Ages 4 – 8

HarperCollins, 2016 | ISBN 978-0062360144

Learn more about Ross Burach and view his illustrations on his website!

Reader! There’s a book trailer in this blog post!

Happiness Happens Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-animal-soup-game

In the Soup! Game

 

Play this fun and easy game to fill your bowl with a variety of animals!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print out the bowl and playing card templates, one of each for every player
  2. Color the cards and bowl if you would like to
  3. Roll the die to see who goes first
  4. Each player takes turn rolling the die to collect animals to fill their bowl:
  • 1 = Elephant
  • 2 = Giraffe
  • 3 = Seal
  • 4 = Lion
  • 5 = Alligator
  • 6 = Whale

The first player to fill their bowl with all six animals is the winner

June 7 – It’s National Fishing and Boating Week

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fish-liam-francis-walsh

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

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tackle-the-tackle-box-game-cards

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

May 26 – It’s Mystery Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-it's-only-stanley

About the Holiday

There’s nothing like a mystery to rivet your attention. Odd sounds, sudden darkness, unusual circumstances, eerie apparitions, and other unexplained phenomena have beguiled people since the beginning of time. We can’t help investigating to find out who, what, why, or how? Today read  great mystery—or solve one!

It’s Only Stanley

By Jon Agee

 

“The Wimbledons were sleeping / It was very, very late, / When Wilma heard a spooky sound, / Which made her sit up straight.” Walter goes out into the yard to investigate.  He finds their dog Stanley howling at the moon. A little later that night their daughter Wendy is wakened by a clanking sound below her floor. Walter goes down into the basement to investigate. There’s Stanley fixing the oil tank.

Next comes young Willie: “it was even later still, / When Willie smelled a funky smell / That made him kind of ill.” So Walter goes to the kitchen to investigate. He finds Stanley has constructed a homemade lab and is cooking up a bubbling catfish stew on the stove. At half past three Wanda hears a buzzing noise and Walter finds Stanley fixing the old TV.

Tiny Wylie comes in next, having heard a splashy sound, but Walter discovers it’s only Stanley clearing the bathtub drain. “Now Wilma wasn’t happy. / And the children threw a fit. / ‘We’ll never get to sleep tonight if Stanley doesn’t quit!’” So Walter says he’ll talk to Stanley but before he can leave the room a huge KAPOW! sends the family flying.

“‘I’ll go and look,’ said Walter, / ‘And I’ll be back very soon.’ / ‘It’s only Stanley.” Walter said. / ‘We’re going to the—’” Perhaps the biggest mystery isn’t how Stanley does all this…but why!

We know dogs are smart, but who can account for Stanley!? Jon Agee’s loveable, incredibly adept family pet is laugh-out-loud precocious as his nighttime exploits expand to out-of-this-world proportions. The clever word play, alliteration, and rhyming scheme of the text adds to the humor.

Kids will love Agee’s illustrations of the serious, self-assured Stanley as he goes about his tinkering all to the nonplused consternation of his family and the detriment of his nemesis—the household cat. As in many homes with pets, readers will rightly wonder—who’s in charge here? Kids will want to hear It’s Only Stanley over and over.

Ages 4 – 8

Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Group, 2015 | ISBN 978-0803739079

Mystery Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-what's-missing-game

What Went Missing In the Dark? Game

 

This fun and fabulous game combines memory building with just the right amount of suspense and spookiness. The game is best played at night or in a room that can become totally black when the lights are turned off. If you play in the daytime, just have the players leave the room while you take away objects.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-what's-missing-game

Rules

  1. Gather a number of small objects (the number will depend on the ages of the players. For younger players, gather 5 – 7 objects. For older players try 12 or more)
  2. Lay the objects on the ground or a blanket
  3. Tell the players to look at the objects for a certain amount of time. The time will depend on the ages of the players—a longer time for younger children, shorter for older kids (or to make the game more exciting)
  4. When the time is up, turn out the lights or send players out of the room.
  5. Remove 1 – 3 objects. To make the game more difficult rearrange the remaining objects
  6. Turn the lights back on.
  7. Let children guess which objects have been removed.
  8. Repeat until all the objects are gone
  9. For an alternate game, instead of removing objects, add one or two

Picture Book Review

May 23 – World Turtle Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-turtle-and-me

About the Holiday

American Tortoise Rescue founded World Turtle Day in 2000 to raise awareness and respect for turtles and tortoises and to promote conservation to help them survive. Celebrations take many forms, from fun activities where participants dress as turtles to educational programs that teach about this fascinating creature and how people can help turtles in danger.

Turtle and Me

Written by Robie H. Harris | Illustrated by Tor Freeman

 

The little boy narrator of this story tells readers he met Turtle on the day he was born. Turtle was “way bigger” than he was. Now, the little boy is bigger than Turtle, but they are still best friends. When the boy was a baby he smiled and laughed every time he played with Turtle. As he grew he needed Turtle around to comfort him.

At naptime Turtle made him feel less sad and lonely and allowed him to sleep. Even now, when the boy is older, he still likes to play with Turtle even though his colors have faded, he’s ripped and raggedy, and some bad things have happened to him.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-turtle-and-me-sleeping

Image copyright Tor Freeman, 2015, text copyright Robie H. Harris, 2015. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

When bad things happened to Turtle the little boy felt terrible; sometimes he even cried and knew Turtle was sad too. But the boy always made sure that Turtle “gets sewn up, washed up, fixed up—and is okay again.” Once Turtle was left at the park. The little boy and his mom raced back and found Turtle covered in mud, sticky with gum, and with two new rips.  Even though Turtle felt gross the boy held him tight all the way home. At home Turtle received a very thorough wash and dry and an extra big hug. The little boy promised Turtle he would never let anything happen to him again.

But then last Friday “the worst thing of all happened.” The boy and his friend were sailing around the world in a cardboard box. Turtle was the Captain. But the boy’s friend wanted to be Captain and steer the ship. She grabbed Turtle away, and the boy grabbed Turtle back. In the ensuing tug-of-war, Turtle suffered “the biggest, baddest, most gigantic, horrible rip ever!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-turtle-and-me-playground

Image copyright Tor Freeman, 2015, text copyright Robie H. Harris, 2015. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

The boy shouted at his friend: “You ripped my Turtle!” Before leaving, the boy’s friend yelled back: “Having Turtle’s a BABY thing!” The little boy hugged Turtle tight and then looked at him. Turtle had lost almost all his stuffing. The boy quickly pushed the fluff back in and taped Turtle’s tummy back up.

But the boy had a change of heart. Suddenly Turtle looked ugly, and the little boy left him on the floor alone. At bedtime, when Daddy brought Turtle to his son, he said he didn’t want Turtle anymore, but sleep without Turtle was elusive. Finally, the boy shouted, “I can’t sleep!” and his dad asked, “Do you want Turtle?” “‘NO’”, the boy said. “‘Having Turtle’s a baby thing! And I’m BIG! And I’m getting bigger! So I don’t need Turtle ever again!’”

His dad thought about this and agreed. His son was getting bigger, but he’s not all big. Daddy picked up Turtle and played with him, making the little boy laugh. Then the boy copied his dad, making his dad laugh. The little boy realized that holding Turtle still felt good. He hugged him close and in no time was fast asleep.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-turtle-and-me-torn

Image copyright Tor Freeman, 2015, text copyright Robie H. Harris, 2015. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Robie Harris’s sweet story of a little boy and his best friend Turtle reminds kids that no matter how big they get, it’s okay to find comfort in a favorite toy. The story has a deeper meaning for kids as well: things happen; sometimes bad things. But with love mistakes can be cleaned up, scrapes will heal, and scary situations will turn out all right. And when you need them, those who love you are there to help and help make you feel better.

The mishaps Turtle experiences are instantly recognizable and related in a gentile, honest way that will draw kids in. Near the end of the book, kids will root for the little boy and Turtle to patch things up and be best friends again.

Everyone wants a best friend as cool as Turtle! Tor Freeman’s vivid illustrations of the little boy and his plucky stuffed companion are adorable and full of emotion. The close family bonds are well depicted, and the images of the boy hugging Turtle will melt your heart. The looks of anguish on the little boy’s face as Turtle suffers stains and rips elicit sympathy and understanding and are followed up by comforting smiles when Turtle is fixed up.

Turtle and Me would be a terrific addition to home and classroom bookshelves for sweet story times and  when reassurance and a little extra love and comfort are needed.

Ages 3 – 8

little bee books, 2015 | ISBN 978-1499800463

World Turtle Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-turtle-shell-game

Follow the Turtles! Game

 

You can make this fun game from recycled materials and a little creativity! When you’re finished making the turtle shells, have fun guessing where the marble, bead or bean is hiding!

Supplies

  • Cardboard egg carton
  • Green tissue paper in different hues
  • Green construction or craft paper
  • A marble, bead, or bean
  • Glue
  • Scissors

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-turtle-game

Directions

  1. Cut the egg carton apart into individual cups. You will need 3 cups for each game made.
  2. Cut the rims of the cups so they sit flat on a table.
  3. If the cups have open sides, fit two cups inside one another to fill the gaps
  4. Cut the tissue paper into small shapes
  5. Brush glue on a cup (I used a paper towel to apply glue)
  6. Cover the egg cup with pieces of tissue paper. Repeat with other cups.
  7. Let dry
  8. Cut a head and feet from the green craft paper
  9. Tape or glue the edges of head and feet to the inside of the cups
  10. Add a face to the head

To play the game:

  1. Line up the cups on a table
  2. Put a bead, bean, or marble under one of the cups
  3. Show the other player which cup the object is under
  4. Quickly move the cups around each other several times
  5. Ask the other player which cup they think the object is under
  6. Take turns playing

Extra Game: Make three more and play turtle tic-tac-toe!