May 18 – International Museum Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-homer-henry-hudson

About the Holiday

International Museum day was created in 1977 by the International Council of Museums to raise awareness that “museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” The theme for this year is Museums and Cultural Landscapes. Both nature and history comprise the cultural landscape that links museums to their surrounding neighborhood, towns, and beyond. As museums become more involved in their communities, they acquire the responsibility to protect, conserve, and interpret the cultural heritage inside and outside their walls. International Museum Day is growing—in 2015 more than 35,000 museums in 145 countries participated. Today visit one of your favorite museums and learn more about your cultural landscape.

Homer Henry Hudson’s Curio Museum

By Zack Rock

 

Everything has a story, the narrator tells readers, especially the Homer Henry Hudson Curio Museum, which he says has been described as “a colossal collection of curios, discovered, described, and displayed by that eccentric explorer extraordinaire: Homer Henry Hudson.”

Come in and experience the wonders inside. A dignified bulldog dressed in a dapper tweed suit and leaning on a crooked cane will greet you. His job is to keep the place clean and dusted. Although the museum is stuffed floor to ceiling, he knows the placement of every object, knick-knack, and curiosity. As you explore the museum’s holdings—its portraits, musical instruments, ancient artifacts, taxidermy animals, and other treasures, the caretaker sits silently, hoping you will read the display cards that Homer Henry Hudson has lovingly written out with a description and personal note. He even has his favorite “bits and bobs” that he would like you to see.

One of these is Item #0001, the Conausaurus Skull of a small dinosaur from the late Jurassic Period that HHH found in the soil of his family’s farm. This bony discovery made Homer Henry wonder what else the world held and sparked his love of exploration. Another is Item #0023, a Radial Tide Diviner once used by Calypsonian seers to predict the future based on tidal patterns. It was the discovery of the lost Calypsonian civilization with its valuable artifacts that funded Homer’s further explorations.

Item #3412, a Temple Montepaz Choir Finch with a C sharp trill that chanted to accompany the parrot priest, was a most unusual gift, bestowed on HHH for convincing the Parrot Priest to release a piece of wood stripped from the temple wall. This shard turned out to lead Homer Henry Hudson into his future—for better or worse. With renewed fire, HHH charged toward the promise of riches only to fly his plane into a mammoth stone figurehead, which resulted in injury and his life-long limp.

Item #3415, The Manneken Mort of King Ingmar, is perhaps Homer Henry’s most treasured possession. Composed of fabric bands that represent the stories friends and family tell when someone dies, this Manneken Mort contains hundreds of bands relating the life of King Ingmar. This object HHH acquired for bravery and self-sacrifice when he was younger and still full of enthusiasm for life.

The old bulldog thinks of this curio most. He wonders what his Manneken will look like and whether all the bands of his life been woven. He likes to think his Menneken Mort “would be  hundreds—thousands—of feet tall. It’d tower over the Taj Mahal, shame the Sphinx!” But he knows “few memorable tales are told of rusty old codgers who spent their days…leaning upon fear like a crutch.”

Though blind in one eye and nagged by trepidation, the old bulldog packs his suitcase, dons his hat and throws away his cane. As he walks out the door, past pictures of himself on his early expeditions of discover, he knows he might “meet with catastrophe,” be “swallowed by quicksand,” or “gnawed on by piranhas.” But he also knows “there’s no success without failures,” and he has had many successes.

Homer Henry Hudson boards the cruise liner Phoenix and sets out for adventure once more. After all, he well knows that everything has a story. So if you come by the Homer Henry Hudson Museum today, you will see a sign hanging on the door: The Curio Museum is CLOSED Until Further Notice.

Zack Rock has written a compelling and unique picture book for adventurers of all types and ages. Part motivation and part cautionary tale, this story of the once intrepid explorer turned tremulous caretaker has a mysterious, treasure-around-every-corner quality that will appeal to kids. The life of Homer Henry Hudson is told through the display cards that accompany some of the museum’s curios. As the story develops through the cards’ personal notes, readers learn of the museum’s true owner and the life-altering decision he makes.

Rock’s illustrations in greens and parchment-paper golds and browns have a high “Oh, Cool!” factor, as the odd, ancient, and unusual objects of the museum invite kids to explore every nook and cranny of the pages. The exhibits serve not only to fill the museum, however, they remind us how easily the future can get overshadowed and crowded out by the past.

Ages 6 – 10

Creative Editions, 2014 | ISBN 978-1568462608

International Museum Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-cookies

Peanut Butter-M&M Cookies

 

A good cookie is like a museum—full of interesting flavors, colors, and taste. Here’s a cookie recipe adapted from Cookies & Cups that exhibits all these traits! 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 cups m&ms
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (for extra chocolate)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Combine butter and peanut butter in microwave safe bowl and melt together for 30 seconds. Remove and stir. Continue in 15-second increments until mixture is melted and smooth.
  3. In a separate large bowl whisk together flour and baking soda. Set aside.
  4. Combine eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and sugar. Mix on medium until combined and smooth. Turn mixer to low and slowly pour in your butter/peanut butter mixture. Continue stirring until combined.
  5. With mixer still on low, gradually add your flour mixture until just combined. Batter will be thick.
  6. Now add in your candies and stir until they are evenly distributed.
  7. Now form your batter into “golf ball” sized dough balls. You can also use a 3-Tablespoon scooper.
  8. Place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart
  9. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes
  10. Cookies will be puffy, but should be golden around the edges
  11. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 -3 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Cookies & Cups has lots of creative and delicious goodies for special occasions or for just those times when you want to be good to yourself!

Picture Book Review

March 31 – Eiffel Tower Day

A Walk in Paris by Salvatore Rubbino Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognized monuments in the world. Its iconic shape was designed by Gustav Eiffel, for whom the tower is named. It was built for the International Exhibition of Paris and opened on March 31, 1889 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.

The Eiffel Tower stands 984 feet high and was at the time of its opening the world’s tallest building, an honor it held until the Chrysler Building was erected in New York in 1930. When the International Exhibition’s 20-year lease on the land expired, the Eiffel Tower was almost taken down, until people realized it could be used as a radio antennae.

Of course, all these facts don’t convey the magic of the tower itself. To celebrate this auspicious date, visit the Eiffel tower if you live close or take a vicarious walk in the fabled city of Paris with today’s book. You can also make and enjoy the French Butter cookie recipe found below.

A Walk in Paris

By Salvatore Rubbino

 

A girl and her grandpa visiting the city of Paris emerge from the metro at Place Maubert just in time to join the throng of shoppers perusing the colorful food stalls on Market Day and to buy some famous French cheese. They continue on their tour through old streets and new boulevards, avoiding the gushing water for the street cleaners, until they reach the fountain at Place Saint-Michel. Their meanderings take them to the River Seine and Notre-Dame. After a long wait in line, they climb to the Chimera Gallery, 151 feet above the ground. From there they look out on the city, all the way to the Eiffel Tower.

On the ground once more they pass salons and boutiques and settle into a cozy bistro for lunch. They visit the Marais, a fashionable area of shops and cafes built on what was once marshland. Up next is a structure that seems to have been built inside-out since all its pipes and escalators are on the outside! This is Pompidou Center, a famous gallery of modern art. The little girl proclaims it formidable!, which means “wonderful!”

Time for a snack! The grandpa-granddaughter duo find themselves in front of a pâtisserie window full of delectable cakes. It’s so hard to choose! Back on the boulevard, they make their way to the majestic building and glass pyramids of the Louvre Art Museum, where perhaps the world’s most famous painting—the Mona Lisa—hangs. A well-deserved rest comes in Tuileries Gardens, where the grandfather enjoys his favorite view and the girl makes a friend by the fountain pool.

It’s getting late and time to leave, but there is one more site to see. As the sun goes down and the night sky darkens, the grandfather treats his granddaughter to a magnificent event – the bright, twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower!

Through A Walk in Paris Salvatore Rubbino has created a beautiful armchair tour of one of the world’s great cities. The large format of this picture book allows for broad views of the landmarks and vistas, giving children a good idea of the vastness of the city. Each page is dotted with trivia and factual information, printed in small type that does not disturb the flow of the illustrations.

The illustrations in muted yet rich tones and with fine details aptly capture the culture and grandeur of the City of Lights. A fold-out page of the luminescent Eiffel Tower is sure to elicit some oohs and ahhs from children.

Ages 4 – 9 (the embedded facts and illustrations make this a good book for older children and research projects also)

Candlewick Press, 2014 | ISBN 978-0763669843

Eiffel Tower Day Activity

CPB - Eiffel Tower Cookies

French Butter Cookies – Lemon and Chocolate

 

Whip up a batch of these delicious cookies to eat while enjoying A Walk in Paris. There’s no better way to spend a day than to take a trip for a new place—even if you do it in the coziness of your own room!

Ingredients for Lemon Cookies

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (or to taste)

For Egg Wash

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

For Chocolate Cookies

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

  1. In a bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  2. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until blended
  3. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat just until incorporated. Do not over mix the dough. **For Chocolate Cookies use 1 ½ cups flour and add cocoa powder, cinnamon, and ground ginger before mixing**
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough a few times to bring it together, and then divide the dough in half.
  5. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or until firm
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven.
  7. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  8. Remove one portion of the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough until it is 1/4 inch (1 cm) thick.
  9. Using a lightly floured 2 inch (5 cm) round, fluted cookie cutter (or other cookie cutter of your choice), cut out the cookies and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
  10. Put the baking sheet of cut out cookies in the refrigerator for about 15 -20 minutes to chill the dough.
  11. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the egg with the water for the egg wash. Remove the cookies from the refrigerator and brush the tops with the egg wash.
  12. Then, with the tines of a fork or a toothpick, make a crisscross pattern on the top of each cookie.
  13. Bake cookies for about 12-14 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
  14. Cool cookies on wire rack.

March 11 – Johnny Appleseed Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-johnny-appleseed-cover

About the Holiday

If you love apples, apple pie, applesauce, and all things apple, you probably have John Chapman to thank. John Chapman was a remarkable man who lived his values of kindness and generosity as he journeyed across the newly opened American frontier in the early 1800s. He is most commonly known as Johnny Appleseed for the apple seeds he planted and nurseries he founded across the country. Apples were a welcome crop—easily grown and stored for consumption throughout the year. He was well loved by the people he met on his travels, respected by the Native Americans, and gentle with all animals. Today we remember his contributions to the growth of America and his inclusive beliefs.

Johnny Appleseed

Written by Reeve Lindbergh | Illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen

 

As the poem opens, John Chapman approaches the simple Goodwin cabin in the woods. “Young Hannah Goodwin saw him first, / A stranger lean and lorn, / His face was thin, his feet were bare, / His clothing old and worn.”

Hannah first meets Johnny Appleseed when she is a little girl and he accepts the family’s invitation to dinner. He is an engaging source of entertainment, news, and stories about the American frontier, but he cannot stay long as he must continue his mission to plant apple trees across the country. Although John Chapman’s work takes him far away, Young Hannah heard the tales of him / All through her growing years / As he brought apples, sharp and sweet, / To other pioneers.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-johnny-appleseed-kathy-jakobsen-across-the-wild-frontier

Image copyright Kathy Jakobsen, courtesy of kathyjakobsen.com

The stories are exciting and comforting. Johnny Appleseed walks through any weather, is trusted by Native Americans, and lives peacefully with all animals, all the while scattering seeds along his path.

As an old man John Chapman returns to the Goodwin house, now nestled among a mature apple orchard. “Old Hannah Goodwin saw him last / when many years had gone. / He came in by the orchard gate / A quiet hour past dawn.”

Again, he regales Hannah with stories of his adventures and how the trees he had planted helped families thrive and make America strong. “There was spicy apple cider now / Out on the western plain. / There was applesauce in Iowa / and apple pie in Maine.

Although Hannah never sees John Chapman again, she passes down his legacy to her children, just as we still do today.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-johnny-appleseed-kathy-jakobsen-in-an-apple-orchard

Image copyright Kathy Jakobsen, courtesy of kathyjakobsen.com

The format of Reeve Lindbergh’s rhythmic and rhyming poem is a fitting tribute to the life of Johnny Appleseed. The lyrical lines flow as smoothly as the reader might imagine John Chapman tread across the Midwest plains and rugged West. With evocative language and a straightforward delivery, Lindbergh echoes the philosophy of simplicity and steadfastness that guided John Chapman’s life.

Kathy Jakobsen, one of America’s premiere folk artists, has embraced the story of Johnny Appleseed in stunning paintings of an America at her beginning. Depictions of rolling hills dotted with farms and trees, stone mills, horse-drawn carts loaded with apples, families at home and on the move in Conestoga wagons, as well as lush scenes of John Chapman interacting with nature and Native Americans portray the grandeur of America and the singularity of Johnny Appleseed. A quilt of small paneled scenes surround the text on each left-hand page, while the right page is fully dedicated to Jakobsen’s work.

Ages 5 – 8

Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 1998 | ISBN 978-0316526340

Johnny Appleseed Day Activity

CPB - Cinnamon Apples (2)

Cinnamon Apples Recipe

 

Cinnamon apples are a delicious side dish to any meal! This tasty recipe is fun for kids and adults to make together.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of apples, Macintosh or Granny Smith apples are good choices
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

CPB - Cinnamon Apples ingredients (2)

Directions

  1. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon
  2. Peel and core 2 large apples
  3. Thinly slice apples
  4. Combine apples and cinnamon sugar/brown sugar mixture
  5. Stir until well combined
  6. Drizzle with lemon juice and stir again
  7. Cook apples on the stove at medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until desired texture