April 25 – National DNA Day

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About the Holiday

National DNA Day commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003 and the discovery of the double helix of DNA in 1953 that have led to advanced research in the medical, science, and other fields. As part of the observance, students in grades 9 through 12 can compete in an essay contest for monetary prizes and grants.

When I Grow Up

By Anita Bijsterbosch

 

In Anita Bijsterbosch’s adorable and eye-catching animal kingdom book, little ones will identify with their counterparts in the wild who are also just starting out on their journey through life. Opening to the first page, children enter the jungle, where a lion cub romps among the foliage. He looks directly at the reader as he tells them, “Now I’m just a little lion and I can only growl softly. But someday….” This lead-in to the future invites kids to turn the half-cut page and discover the cub all grown up and able to “roar so loudly that all the animals can hear me!”

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When I Grow Up is available in Dutch and English versions. Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, courtesy of anitabijsterbosch.nl

Next, children visit the bayou, where a young crocodile can now only wade through puddles. On the next page, though he’s big enough to “jump into the deep water to swim with my friends!” Little Toucan is just learning how to fly. With a monkey, a lemur, and a bird looking on, he tells readers a secret: “I pretend to fly when I jump. But someday…I’ll be a big toucan and I’ll spread my winds. Then I’ll fly high in the sky!”

In the savanna, a baby giraffe lifts her head toward the treetops. She says, “Now I’m just a little giraffe and I can barely touch the leaves with my nose.” When she gets older, however, young readers can see that meals and snacks of tasty leaves will be within easy reach.

Curled around a thin branch, a little snake dreams of the day when he will be long enough to wrap around the whole tree—many times. Turning to the last page, Little Elephant happily splashes in the water and sprinkles her friends, but someday she knows that she will be big enough to use her trunk “to spray everything and everyone!”

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When I Grow Up is available in Dutch and English versions. Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, courtesy of anitabijsterbosch.nl

Toddlers and older youngsters beginning to learn about the vast world around them will delight in this early science book that combines the sturdiness of a board book and the sensory-stimulating interactivity of a lift-the-flap book. Anita Bijsterbosch’s vibrant illustrations engage little ones’ visual senses with bold images of the animals as well as smaller pictures of birds, insects, and flowers for them to discover. A tiny red bird with rakish green head feathers seems to be friends with all of the animals, and readers will love pointing him out on every page.

Little ones will recognize the animal traits spotlighted through Bijsterbosch’s straightforward and easy-to-understand language and will be reassured that they too will soon grow big enough and old enough to do what the “big kids” do.

With sweet illustrations and opportunities for multiple types of learning, When I Grow Up would make a great baby shower or new baby gift as well as a nice addition to a toddler’s growing home library.

Ages 2 – 5

Clavis Publishing, 2017 | ISBN 978-1605373348

You’ll find more books and artwork by Anita Bijsterbosch on her website!

National DNA Day Activity

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Mom and Baby Elephant Coloring Page

 

This mommy elephant and her baby are out for a walk. Give their world a little color with your crayons or pencils and this printable Mom and Baby Elephant Coloring Page!

Picture Book Review

April 14 – It’s National Garden Month and Q & A with Author/Illustrator Wendy Wahman

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About the Holiday

One of the wonderful activities of spring and summer is gardening. As the sun warms, farmers and gardeners till their land and plant seeds with eager anticipation of the harvest to come.  April is Gardening Month, and the second week is designated especially for vegetable gardening. Our meals would not be as tasty and nutritious without carrots, squash, peas, beans, peppers, potatoes, and all the rest of these colorful foods. Today’s container gardens give even reluctant gardeners great ways to grow their own—without the work of a large plot. Whether you enjoy gardening on a large or small scale, take the opportunity of this month to start planting the seeds of a rewarding hobby!

Rabbit Stew

By Wendy Wahman

 

“Rusty and Rojo toiled and tilled in their vegetable garden all summer long.” But now the crops have ripened, and the two foxes are ready to enjoy the bounty of their hard work—so are their neighbors, the Rabbits. As Mommy Rabbit and the bunnies nibble away in a corner of the garden, Rusty gently squeezes the tomatoes and finds them “plump, yet firm.” “Perfectly so,” Rojo agrees as he lifts Daddy Rabbit from the carrot patch. “At last,” Rusty and Rojo exclaim, “the time is ripe for our prizewinning Rabbit Stew!”

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

While Rojo picks “lean, green runner beans,” the Rabbits look on worriedly. Daddy tries to hide, but Rusty spies him in the wheelbarrow full of purple kale. Then, when the family dives back into their cozy “hole sweet hole,” they find that their convenient carrot snacks are being abruptly snatched away—only to be added to the pot of “splendid Rabbit Stew.”

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

Next come raisins and celery “and roly-poly blueberries.” But what about those white and gray bits of fluff? Will they end up in the foxes’ buckets too? Of course “juicy red tomatoes, fresh sprigs of parsley, and sweet yellow peppers” are also musts for the foxes’ “finest-ever Rabbit Stew.” With the pot overflowing with colorful veggies, only one more thing is needed—“one…big…round…white…bowl…for our favorite Rabbit, Stew—and his family too!”

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017. Courtesy of wendywahman.com.

With her fertile imagination and a clever play on words, Wendy Wahman offers up a delightful story that will have readers guessing until the very end. Along with the mystery and the yummy descriptions of each ingredient, Wahman presents a counting game for readers. As Rusty and Rojo pick their vegetables, children can count the ten runner beans on the trellis, nine purple kale leaves in the wheelbarrow, eight carrots from the burrow, and all of the other ingredients on down to one. But do Rusty and Rojo need one big white rabbit or something else? Kids will love the twist at the end and cheer to see Daddy Stew, Mommy Strudel, and their little bunnies—Dumpling, Biscuit, and Ragu—dining on the special meal grown and created just for them.

Everyone’s garden should look as deliciously vibrant as Wahman’s riotous patch of vegetables! The vivid colors jump off the page while providing texture and nuance to the illustrations. They also give kids another concept to learn and talk about. Little details, such as the tiny caterpillar and the yellow butterfly that follow the bunnies from page to page, as well as the fancy burrow lined with photos of friends and family will enchant readers. 

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman, 2017, courtesy o f Wendy Wahman.

Welcome themes of friendship, diversity, and inclusiveness can also be found within the illustrations and the story.

Rabbit Stew is a bright, humorously sly story that would be a wonderful addition to any child’s library. The book also makes a perfect companion for trips to the farmers market, on picnics, or to spur interest in home gardening. The attention to the details of what rabbits can safely eat, as well as the number and color concepts provided in the illustrations, makes Rabbit Stew a great choice for school story times and spring lessons.

Ages 3 – 7

Boyds Mills Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1629795836

You can download a fun Rabbit Stew Activity Sheets from Boyds Mills Press!

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

You’ll dig this Rabbit Stew book trailer!

National Garden Month Activity

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Grow a Vegetable Garden Board Game, copyright Celebrate Picture Books, 2017

Grow a Vegetable Garden Board Game

 

With this fun game you and your family and friends can grow gardens inside! Roll the dice to see whose garden will fully ripen first!

Supplies

Directions

Object: The object of the game is for each player to fill their garden rows with vegetables. Depending on the ages of the players, the required winning number of rows to fill and the number of vegetables to “plant” in each row can be adjusted.

  1. Print one Game Board for each player
  2. Print one set of Playing Cards for each player (for sturdier playing items, print on card stock)
  3. Print one Vegetable Playing Die and assemble it (for a sturdier die, print on card stock)
  4. Cut the vegetables into their individual playing cards
  5. Color the “dirt” on the Garden Plot with the crayon (optional)
  6. Choose a player to go first
  7. The player rolls the die and then “plants” the facing vegetable in a row on the game board
  8. Play moves to the person on the right
  9. Players continue rolling the die and “planting” vegetables until each of the number of determined rows have been filled with the determined number of vegetables.
  10. The first person to “grow” all of their veggies wins!

Meet Author/Illustrator Wendy Wahman

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Today, I’m really happy to be chatting with Wendy Wahman about her art, her books, her inspirations, and a really sweet school visit she had recently.

Your bio mentions that you worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer until 2009. Can you describe your work there?

I worked in the art department doing maps, graphics, info-graphics and illustrations for every section of the newspaper. Ninety percent of the work was on deadline, so I learned to think and draw fast.

Our poor beloved P-I. It was 146 years old when Hearst closed it down. About 150 of us went down with the ship. Best job I ever had. I miss the variety and culture and importance — and honesty — of journalism. I miss my P-I family, very much.

How did you get started illustrating and writing books for children?

I was really just snooping around for illustration work. I had an idea for a book on dog body language I wanted to do, but imagined ‘a real writer’ should write it. I sent out some of the dog body-language art samples and heard back from four major publishers. Laura Godwin at Henry Holt called me, and was so passionate about dogs and kids—and my art. She asked to see a dummy. What dummy, right? I had no dummy, just an idea and some art samples. I took two weeks off from the P-I and put together a dummy. Laura helped me tremendously, as did my brilliant writer husband, Joe Wahman.    

Don’t Lick the Dog is a how-to primer on being safe with dogs. We followed with the companion book, A Cat Like That. We never did do my dog body-language book. It’s sitting here patient as can be. “Good dog, book.”

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman, Don’t Lick the Dog. Courtesy of Wendy Wahman.

 

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman, A Cat Like That. Courtesy of Wendy Wahman.

Your art is so varied—from humorous to infographics to striking, serious editorial work. You also work with crisp, clean lines and beautiful textures. Can you talk about your process and inspirations?

Thank you so much, Kathy. Well. I sit and think and read a lot. Mostly I just look and try to distract myself from thinking too hard. I like to thumb through my Thesaurus. When I’m stuck, I try to remember to move away. This can be physically—exercise or a walk; mentally—read or look through books; or emotionally—play with my dogs or call somebody. I say, try, because too often I sit rooted, thinking, thinking. Better to get up and move.

What was the inspiration for Rabbit Stew?

I feed my dogs a homemade stew of meat & veggies. Long ago, I was stirring up an enormous batch of dog food, when “rabbit stew” fluttered to mind. Rabbit Stew is also a counting book, counting down veggies from ten to one. It’s also a color book. It was a challenge to find ingredients safe for rabbits, in different colors and not give it away. Like, rabbits love dandelions and they’re very good for them, but I only know a couple of people who would knowingly toss dandelions into the pot. No potatoes; they are toxic to bunnies, and cabbage isn’t good for them either. 

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A happy fan enjoys reading “Rabbit Stew” with lunch! Photo courtesy of Wendy Wahman.

You give presentations at schools and libraries. Do you have an anecdote you’d like to share?

I did a school visit recently in southern California and got to take my mom to a presentation for 4th graders. I introduced her to the students, and they gave her a loud round of applause! Even more tender, when I was signing books (and the other stuff kids want signed), they asked if my mother would also give them an autograph. Is that the sweetest or what? Children can be so inspiring, healing, and wise. 

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Wendy reads “Don’t Lick the Dog” to enthusiastic kindergarteners in Kennewick, WA. Photograph courtesy of Wendy Wahman

You also teach bookmaking to kids. That sounds fun and fascinating! Can you tell me a little bit about these classes?

I’m so glad you asked about these little books, Kathy. I love making them and sharing the process. Anyone can make one. I’ve taught them to kindergarteners through seniors. I call them “Insight Books,” because what comes out can be surprising, revealing, and often cathartic. Random lines inspire images and ideas. Some people write, others write and draw. Sometimes we collage. Even if you do nothing at all put look, the lines may stimulate ideas. These book are fun to make with a partner too. 

What’s up next for you?

I’m very excited about my next book, Pony in the City (Sterling Publishers). Kevan Atteberry’s book, Swamp Gas, releases the same day, Sept. 9th, and we’re talking about having a co- launch party.

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Image copyright Wendy Wahman. Proofs of “Pony in the City” (Sterling, releasing Sept. 9 this year) courtesy of Wendy Wahman.

I’m working on Nanny Paws (Two Lions), a book inspired by my little white poodle, LaRoo, and the children next door. Here’s a picture of LaRoo and my other dog Jody with my friend Vikki Kaufman‘s poodles. Vikki is a breeder of beautiful silver and blue standard poodles. Vikki took the picture, can you tell?  Her dogs are staring straight at her. Poor LaRoo. She is a shy girl and just wants to get away from the masses.

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Wendy with LeRoo and Jody and Vikki’s TinTin, Nickel and Eureka.

I’m also working on a dummy for a beautiful story written by Joe, “One Bird” (www.joewahman.com). I’m doing the art for both Nanny Paws and Joe’s story in a new/old style for me: pencil and watercolor.

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Image from “One Bird,” written by Joe Wahman, illustrated by Wendy Wahman. Courtesy of Wendy Wahman

 Do you have a favorite holiday?

Thanksgiving.

Do you have an anecdote from a holiday you would like to share

If you come over for Thanksgiving, prepare yourself for a vegetarian feast. We don’t eat animals here — but we do make them big, round, splendid bowls of stew.

Thanks so much, Wendy! It’s been a lot of fun! I wish you all the best with all of your books!

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You can find Wendy’s books at these booksellers:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Boyds Mills Press

You can connect with Wendy on:

BēhanceFacebook | LinkedIn | PinterestTwitter

Visit Wendy’s shops:

Cafe Press: http://www.cafepress.com/profile/109591016

RedBubble:  http://www.redbubble.com/people/wendywahman/portfolio

Zazzle: http://www.zazzle.com/wendoodles/products

Wendoodles coloring book: http://www.amazon.ca/Wendoodles-Wendy-E-Wahman/dp/1517403456

Picture Book Review

April 8 – Draw a Picture of a Bird Day

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About the Holiday

With the onset of spring, our feathered friends are busy building nests and hatching little ones. The return of birds to backyards, parks, and beaches as well as the increased activity gives budding nature artists the perfect opportunity to try their hand at sketching these favorite colorful creatures. Whether you prefer to make detailed renderings or simple line drawings, today’s holiday should inspire you to grab your pencil or paints and create!

Birds & Other Animals with Pablo Picasso

First Concepts with Fine Artists | Illustrations by Pablo Picasso

 

Pablo Picasso, “one of the most famous artists who ever lived,” was a prodigy who loved to draw animals of all kinds. Perhaps best known for his abstract portraits and his colorful canvases, Picasso also created line drawings, many of which were “inspired by poems about animals written by his friend Guillaume Apollinaire, a famous French poet.” The illustrations in Birds & Other Animals with Pablo Picasso come from Picasso’s notebooks and, combined, make a wonderfully conceived concept book for little ones.

Opening to the first page, readers meet three birds, one perhaps a little more steady on its feet than the others. Four more birds follow on the next page, a few gamely trying to stand on one leg like the regal flamingos behind them. From the tropical home of the flamingo, readers next travel to a snowy clime, where “penguins are birds who waddle over snow.”

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All artworks by Pablo Picasso © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2017. © 2017 Phaidon Press

“Cock-a-doodle-doo!” Don’t snooze! The rooster wants you to know that he is a bird too! Of course, “some birds fly,” and many insects have wings too. Flies fly and wasps fly. How about grasshoppers? They prefer to hop! Who else likes to hop? “Bunnies hop…especially to get away from hungry foxes. Does [the] fox look hungry to you?”

Some animals seem to be hungry all the time—like the squirrel on the next page (you know how squirrels are!) and the camel, whose “humps are small. When she eats, her humps will grow!” Do you like dogs? “This little dog has no humps—he’s long like a hot dog!” His friend is a big dog who can do tricks. Horses can learn tricks too and perform for people. They can even rear up and stand on two legs! You know who can’t stand on two legs? Right! Fish! “They swim! Turtles swim too.”

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All artworks by Pablo Picasso © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2017. © 2017 Phaidon Press

But we were talking about birds, weren’t we? There are some birds that are like fish. The pelican is a bird who likes to swim—of course, it likes to eat fish too. The ostrich is too big for either flying or swimming, but it can run—really fast! There are so many kinds of birds, aren’t there? Peacocks have long, colorful tail feathers, and owls like the nighttime. Yes, there are so many birds, “beautiful birds.”

The First Concepts with Fine Artists series by Phaidon Press is one of my favorite new collections for babies, toddlers, and even older kids. As an art lover, I’m impressed with the variety of styles and artists introduced to young children who will be attracted to the colors, shapes, and movement in the chosen artwork. As someone who works with words, I love the way the art is tied together with engaging and conversational text.

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All artworks by Pablo Picasso © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2017. © 2017 Phaidon Press

Birds and Other Animals with Pablo Picasso will enchant little ones with whimsical line drawings of animals that embody charming poise and personality. Each page invites readers to create stories of their own about the characters they see, and both children and adults will enjoy running a finger along the line to discover that most of the animals in this sturdy board book are created from one smooth stroke. Along the way, kids learn facts about certain animals, discover how shapes work together, and find objects to count. 

Line it all up and Birds and Other Animals with Pablo Picasso rewards readers with sophisticated fun. The book would make a lovely new baby gift or a delightful addition to young children’s home libraries.

Ages 2 – 5

Phaidon Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714874180

Draw a Picture of a Bird Day Activity

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Flight of Fancy Bird Drawings

 

Birds come in all shapes and sizes—which kind of bird is your favorite? With these two printables you can learn how to draw a bird and color a pair of birds who are busy collecting flowers!

Learn to Draw a Bird | Birds Carrying Flowers

Picture Book Review

March 16 – National Panda Day

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About the Holiday

National Panda Day was established to raise awareness of the dangers faced by these favorite, adorable animals. Destruction of the vast bamboo forests on which pandas rely for food, coupled with their low birth rate has resulted in their being placed on the endangered list. Conservation groups as well as zoos and other animal sanctuaries are working to breed and protect these gentle black-and-white beauties. If you’d like to get involved, consider donating to a local zoo program or other environmental group.

I’ll Wait, Mr. Panda

By Steve Antony

 

Perhaps lured by the vision of Mr. Panda wearing an apron and chef’s hat and carrying a bowl and spoon, a very fancy, fluffy alpaca approaches him and inquires, “What are you making, Mr. Panda?” Mr. Panda eyes him skeptically and tells him to wait because “it’s a surprise.” With his nose in the air, the alpaca spins around, declares that he “will not wait,” and gives a terse “Good-bye.” Little penguin seems to appear out of nowhere and, while Mr. Panda adds flour to the bowl, pipes up that he will wait.

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Image and text copyright Steve Antony, courtesy of Scholastic Press

Next on the scene is an eager aardvark wondering if Mr. Panda is making cookies. “Wait and see. It’s a surprise,” Mr. Panda answers over his shoulder as he surreptitiously stirs his ingredients and little penguin stands by. But the aardvark isn’t into such a tough assignment and also says “Good-bye.” Keen to pick up the slack, the penguin calls out from the edge of the page, “I’ll wait, Mr. Panda.”

Suddenly, the floor erupts in rabbits! They are curious to find out if Mr. Panda is making pancakes. He gives them his standard line, but the rabbits are “done waiting” and dive back into their pancake-shaped holes and disappear. Only a moment later, a white crane dashes in all a-flutter. He doesn’t care what Mr. Panda is making as long as it’s ready. When he discovers that he will have to wait, he flaps his wings and soars off the page, leaving only a “Good-bye” in his wake.

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Image and text copyright Steve Antony, courtesy of Scholastic Press

The small penguin, tired of being ignored, shouts in her loudest voice, “I’ll wait, Mr. Panda!” She stands gazing out at the right edge of the page as Mr. Panda finally notices her from the edge of the left page. He peeks slyly at her, and as readers turn the page, the little penguin is rewarded. “Surprise!” sings Mr. Panda as he rolls out a chocolate-frosted-and-sprinkled doughnut that is bigger than he is. The penguin is in awe and offers Mr. Panda the ultimate compliment—“That was worth the wait”—and a very polite “Thank you.”

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Image and text copyright Steve Antony, courtesy of Scholastic Press

Young children just learning the virtues of patience and manners will identify with the little penguin who has the right attitude and is rewarded in the end while all of the bigger, in-a-hurry animals lose out. The spare text allows even very young readers to join in, especially on Mr. Panda’s repeated request and each animal’s “Good-bye.” Read with feeling, the story will induce giggles of delight. Steve Antony’s collection of black-and-white animals with their superior, confused, and frazzled expressions will also amuse kids while they cheer for the persistent penguin. Fans of Antony’s Please, Mr. Panda, will be happy to see the return of their favorite buddy and his favorite snack.

Ages 3 – 5

Scholastic Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1338028362

Discover more about Steve Antony, his books, and art as well as fun kids’ activities on his website!

National Panda Day Activity

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Pandas in the Park Find the Differences

 

These pandas are enjoying a day in the park! Can you spot all the differences in the second picture on this printable Pandas in the Park Find the Differences Puzzle?

Picture Book Review

March 14 – International Ask a Question Day

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About the Holiday

Admit it—you have a ton of questions. These days, don’t we all! Well, now’s the time to get them out there! Go on—even if you think it’s silly or it seems as if everyone else understands (believe me, they don’t!)—ask away! It’s only through questions that we learn the truth or make new discoveries. Little ones seem to come preloaded with questions, and each one is an opportunity for you to introduce them to our world!

Do You See My Tail?

By Anita Bijsterbosch

 

A bushy tailed animal hails readers from its place in the treetop—“Do you see my tail? Guess who I am!” A red-bellied bird, butterfly, cricket, spider, and ladybug are all standing by to find out too. Opening the flap, little ones are cheerfully greeted by a squirrel who is feeding its babies. “My babies live in a nest in a hollow tree. They like acorns,” the squirrel says. The young squirrels happily reach for the tasty nuts while their mom or dad says, “Hello, squirrel. Hello, sweet baby squirrels.’

On the next page, a small, brown tail trimmed in black and white peeks out from behind a bush. “Do you see my tail?” the owner asks. “I have a cute little tail. Guess who I am!” Two sleepy owls, a pair of mice and adorable insects can’t wait to find out either. The open flap reveals a mother deer and her fawn who is “lying in a little nest in the high grass.” As the two give kisses, Mom says, “Hello, deer. Hello, sweet baby deer.”

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Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, courtesy of anitabijsterbosch.nl. Image from the original Dutch-language edition.

Next, a long black feathered tail pokes out from behind a tree. This tail belongs to a bird, and it’s fluffy babies are getting a nutritious worm snack. “How loudly they chirp,” the bird tells readers. Along with their meal, the babies get a little love: “Hello bird. Hello, Hello, sweet baby birds.” Turning the page, young readers see a flat brown tail dipping into the water. Inside the flap a beaver cuddles three babies who “are playing in a nest made of tree trunks and branches.”

“Do you see my tail?” the next animal asks. Who could that ball of fluff belong to? Lift the flap to discover an adult rabbit and four scampering babies “hopping around in a hole under the ground.” You can tell the rabbits hello! “Hello, rabbit. Hello, sweet baby rabbits.” A flip of the page reveals another part of the woods where a fiery red tail sways to and fro in the hedges, a woodpecker makes a hole in a nearby tree trunk, and tiny insects enjoy the day. Baby foxes “love to frolic” in their underground nest.

Can readers spot the next animal’s “teeny tiny tail” and guess who it belongs to? Under the flap they will find a hedgehog and three babies “sleeping and eating in a nest made of branches and leaves.” The hedgehogs love the apples that fall from the nearby tree. Say hello to the little hedgehogs! “Hello, sweet baby hedgehogs.”

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Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, courtesy of anitabijsterbosch.nl. Image from the original Dutch-language edition.

Anita Bijsterbosch’s charming lift-the-flap book introduces toddlers and young children to a variety of animals and their babies through one easily identifiable feature. Each invitation to guess is followed up by a positive, upbeat answer that rewards a little one’s efforts. Two more complete sentences reveal information about the animal’s home as well as a behavioral trait that mirrors the kind of fun or snuggling that young children like to do themselves. The repeated greeting to each animal and their “sweet” babies not only emphasizes the love that families have for each other, but also provides a gentle lesson in the singular and plural forms of each animal’s name. The rich choices, such as frolic, bushy, and hollow used throughout the story promote early language development.

Bijsterbosch’s colorful pages will enchant young readers as cute birds, insects, mice, and other small creatures join in the fun. The fold-out flap is large enough for a detailed depiction of each animal and their home, and the bright eyes and friendly smiles of the adult and baby animals invite children in to learn and play. Little ones will love to name the other creatures and talk about their different habitats. The open art style offers opportunities to count and to discuss concepts such as in, out, inside, outside, on, near, and far, which are the building blocks of early math literacy. Readers will also love looking for the little ladybug on each spread.

Do You See My Tail? would be a wonderful early addition to any toddler’s or young child’s home bookshelf.

Ages 1 and up

Clavis, 2017 | ISBN 978-1605373201

International Ask a Question Day Activity

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Cute Dot-to-Dot Pages

 

Can you guess what animals you’ll find when you connect the dots in these two printable Cute Dot-to-Dot Pages?

Dot-to-Dot Page 1 | Dot-to-Dot Page 2

Picture Book Review

March 11 – It’s Youth Art Month

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About the Holiday

Youth Art Month was established in 1961 by the Crayon, Water Color, and Craft Institute in conjunction with the National Art Education Association to emphasize the value of participating in art for all children. Involvement in the visual arts improves problem solving, observation, creativity, and communications skills. The observance continued to grow, later including secondary school students in 1969 and the creation of the Council of Art Education to oversee the month’s events in 1984.

Art shows, special exhibits, school and community events, and fundraisers are all part of the celebration. The highlight of the month is the School Flags Across America…Flying High competition in which students design a flag around a particular state theme. The flags are judged and the winning flag from each state is made into an actual flag and flown with the others in Washington DC. A child’s love of art often begins early as they are exposed to a variety of beautiful images in picture books, such as today’s original concept book.

Opposite Surprise

By Agnese Baruzzi

 

Opposite Surprise poses a series of  questions that invite young children to ponder various opposites while also challenging their perceptions. For instance, is the blue truck on the opposite page small or big? Well, in comparison to what, you might ask. A flip of the half-fold flap answers this question and allows readers to say that the blue truck is small when compared to the big digger behind it.

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Image copyright Agnese Baruzzi, courtesy of Minedition

Is there one sheep on the next page or many? It seems that the gray sheep is standing alone, but pulling the flap reveals a whole flock of diverse sheep. Now, how about that fancy, blue box—is it empty or full? Empty you might reply quickly, but perhaps…. With a tug on the page, kids discover that this container is not a box but an aquarium teeming with fish of all sizes! Toot, toot! A little train is chugging along on the next page. Is it short or long? With just an engine and a caboose, the train appears short. In reality, though, there’s plenty of room for passengers in the train’s two long cars.

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Image copyright Agnese Baruzzi, courtesy of Minedition

Look at that cute orange caterpillar! Is it straight or curvy? Opening the flap will make kids giggle to see just what a wiggly guy this is! The next one is easy-peasy! Hot or Cold? Anyone can see that the sun is hot, hot, hot! But wait! A gentle pull exposes two delicious (and dripping) ice pops! There’s a little bit for both neatniks and messy-types on the next page as the crisp, clean red shirt suddenly becomes dirty with the flick of the flap.

Turning the page reveals a window. Are the shutters closed or open? It would appear they are closed, shutting out the view. But with a simple pull they open, letting in the sun for the plant and the bird on the windowsill. Now, seriously, must we debate slow or fast when a tiny turtle is the subject of the question? Apparently so, because readers discover that nothing is what it seems when they open the flap to find the turtle transformed into a jet plane soaring through the sky. And finally, readers come to a yellow pencil. Is it thin or wide? Standing straight and tall, it hardly takes up more room than a pinky finger. But with the page stretched out, that thin pencil becomes the sides of a bridge wide enough to span a river.

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Image copyright Agnese Baruzzi, courtesy of Minedition

Agnese Baruzzi’s unique concept books goes beyond the usual clear-cut definitions of opposites to present a new way of looking at and interacting with the world. Her smart, colorful illustrations invite little readers to answer not only the prompted question, but to explore further. The little blue truck is small, yes, but it is also smaller than the digger. This one page also invites adults to talk about the idea of “in front of” and “behind.” Throughout the book there are opportunities to count, talk about direction and spatial relationships; discuss why the ice-pops are melting; and explore many more topics that are the building blocks for reading, speech, and math literacy.

Opposite Surprise would be a fantastic baby shower or new baby gift; a wonderful take-along for car rides, outings, or wait times; and an excellent addition to toddler’s bookshelves as well as library and classroom collections.

Ages birth – 5

Minedition, 2017 | ISBN 978-9888341375

Youth Art Month Activity

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Fun Framed Drawing Page

 

Use this printable Fun Framed Drawing Page to make your own creation, family flag, or story!

Picture Book Review

March 4 – National Grammar Day

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About the Holiday

I must confess that today’s holiday is one of my favorites. Even as a kid I howled at the unintentional ridiculousness misplaced punctuation and poor editing created and absolutely loved diagramming sentences (I know, right?!). While the rules of grammar in any language may sometimes seem confusing and unnecessary, they help structure the language so what you write and say makes sense and exactly states your meaning. National Grammar Day was established in 2008 by author Martha Brockenbrough, the founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.

Little White Fish Is So Happy

By Guido Van Genechten

 

Little White Fish has been swimming on his own, but is so happy that his “mom is coming to get him.” Before he leaves, however, he wants to say “goodbye” to his many friends. “Bye-bye, snail in the shell,” he burbles. The “frog on the rock” also receives a happy “goodbye.” Little seahorse is playing under a leaf, but Little White Fish spies him.

Crab waves from behind a stone as Little White Fish swims by, and goldfish smiles at him from his spot “between the reeds.” As Little White Fish sends his friends a final farewell, they all stand “next to each other” to see him off. The best part of going home for Little White Fish, though, may be getting to swim “in front of” his mom!

In Little White Fish Is So Happy, young grammarians are introduced to a few of the most common prepositions, with clear visuals to reinforce their meaning. Bold type prompts adult readers to emphasize the prepositions and to expand on the idea by pointing out how the words apply to each particular sea creature. The endearing relationship among these friends will charm young children as the idea of being away from home is presented in an upbeat way that encourages independence while also reassuring little ones of parents’ love and attention.

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Well Done, Little White Fish

By Guido Van Genechten

 

Little White Fish is visiting his friends. First up is crab who is “can cut sea grass with his claws.” This is a pretty cool talent, and Little White Fish wonders what he can do. Turtle is strong enough to carry a rock on his shell, and “sea urchin easily does seven somersaults in a row. And Little White Fish? What can he do?”

Wow! Little jellyfish “can light up the dark.” Little White Fish is astonished; he knows he can’t do that. Starfish is like a ballet dancer when she stands on one leg. “Little White Fish doesn’t even have legs….” Little White Fish knows he must watch out for Octopus when he spits out ink, and he likes playing over and under with sea snake when he makes “a beautiful arch.

And Little White Fish? He “can swim really well, even backwards and upside down!” Now it’s time for his friends to be amazed, and as Little White Fish swims around his group of friends, they all cheer and applaud his special talent.

Well Done, Little White Fish explores individuality as the small fish watches each of his friends demonstrate their talents. At first everyone seems to be cleverer, stronger, and more agile than he is, but when Little White Fish displays his swimming skills, he learns that he too is unique. Bold text points out each creature’s special ability and can also serve as a gentle lesson about verbs. Van Genechten’s adorable sea creatures, with their ready smiles and buoyant enthusiasm, will delight young children as they learn facts about nature while embracing these characters.

Guido Van Genechten’s Little White Fish books, including Little White Fish, Little White Fish Has a Party, and Little White Fish Has Many Friends, make a sweet series for the youngest readers. The spare text is lively and cheerful and makes use of the type of repetition that little ones respond to. The bold, multicolored and multilayered illustrations set on a black background are eye-catching. Small children will love the smiling sea creatures and the playful relationship among the friends.

Ages 2 – 5

Clavis Publishing, 2017

Little White Fish Is So Happy | ISBN 978-1605373263

Well Done, Little White Fish | ISBN 978-1605373270

Grammar Day Activity

Active Words Playtime

 

It can be fun to teach grammar by playing! Prepositions such as up, down, under, in, on, through, over, and out can provide opportunities for active fun inside or outside. A playground is a perfect place to demonstrate prepositions to kids while they climb, slide, crawl, and swing on the equipment.

Inside, all you might need is a large box or a homemade pillow fort to build your child’s vocabulary. Kids will love jumping up, crouching down, getting in the box or fort, getting out of the box or fort. Pillows or an open-ended box make a great tunnel to crawl through. You and your child can even make up a story to go along with the actions.

That old perennial favorite Simon Says is another great way to play with grammar, so get creative…and enjoy grammar!

Picture Book Review