April 26 – It’s Humor Month

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About the Holiday

As we near the end of April and wind down National Humor Month, let’s take one more opportunity to laugh at the ridiculous and the silly and to find joy in every day. Not only does laughter bring people closer together, it’s therapeutic both for body and soul.

Quit Calling Me a Monster!

Written by Jory John | Illustrated by Bob Shea

 

A purple, hairy guy with long stick legs and arms and long bent toes and fingers rides his bike along the street, catching a butterfly on his finger and carefully transporting a basket full of flowers and bread. But all the kids on the school bus see as he passes is the purple, the legs, the arms, the fingers, and the toes – a monste. And all the guy sees is the wide eyes and fearful expressions of the kids in the windows.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-quit-calling-me-a-monster-interior-art-bus      Image copyright Bob Shea, text copyright Jory John. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

So he stands his ground, craggy hands on hips and says, “Quit calling me a monster! Just…stop it, right this minute!” He’s serious! In fact he throws a bit of a fit, rolling on the ground and spouting, “It really hurts my feelings. I’m no monster!” Just because he may have a few monster-ish qualities like horns and fangs and wild eyes and crazy hair. And yes, he knows he has “a huge toothy smile that glows in the dark.” And, yeah, ok, so he’s not exactly a wallflower and can “roar, holler, scream, whoop, and cackle,” and likes to hide where his discovery will frighten someone most…he still says, “It really bothers me when you call me a monster without even thinking about it.”

Kids are always yelling, “‘Mommy, save me from that monster!” when he’s just trying to shop or complaining that there’s a monster under the bed when he’s just trying to sleep. Can he help it that his claws reach upward or that he growls when he dreams? Does he ever call kids names? Does he ever taunt someone as a “meat snack?” No! And that’s because he’s “a monster with excellent manners!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-quit-calling-me-a-monster-floyd-shopping-escalator

Image copyright Bob Shea, text copyright Jory John. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers.

Umm…Well, I mean…he doesn’t “mean monster, exactly….” Oh, all right, if you’re going to get persnickety about it, he does have all those monster-ish traits and his parents are monsters, but he really doesn’t “like being called a monster one little bit.” If you want to call him, you can use his name, which is a very respectable Floyd Peterson. Now that that is settled, our purple friend is going to bed…in your closet. So if you hear him snoring in the middle of the night, you can rest assured that there is no monster in your closet, it’s just Floyd Peterson.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-quit-calling-me-a-monster-floyd-shopping

Image copyright Bob Shea, text copyright Jory John. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers.

Jory John gives hilarious voice to the frustrations of being labeled as someone or something you’re not while also affirming that it’s okay to be who you really are. Snap judgements based on preconceived notions or stereotypes limits a person’s world view and the friends they can make. And what’s wrong with being a “monster” or “Floyd Peterson” or (insert word here) anyway? Kids and adults will laugh as Floyd lists page after page of his monster-ish qualities while also denying that he is, indeed, a monster. The ending is sweet and kid-like and puts to bed fear of the unknown.

Bob Shea’s monster, aka Floyd Peterson, is a frighteningly endearing character that kids will whole-heartedly embrace. Floyd’s coarse purple hair, scrawny legs and arms, and big grin along with his range of personas, from alarming to loveable, will make kids giggle. The bright solid backgrounds put the focus on Floyd and all of his roaring, flailing, and leaping—just as Floyd (and all little monsters) sometimes want and need.

Ages 3 – 7

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0385389907

Jory John has a whole gallery of books for you to discover on his website!

Discover Bob Shea‘s “Books for Really Smart Kids” on  his website!

Quit what you’re doing and watch this Quit Calling me a Monster! book trailer!

National Humor Month Activity 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-shark-mask

Silly Animal Masks

 

Sometimes it’s fun to pretend to be something or someone else. With these two printable Silly Animal Masks, you can play as a shark or a porcupine. Just give them some color, cut eye holes, tie on a string, and have fun!

Shark Mask | Porcupine Mask

Picture Book Review

April 21 – It’s Celebrate Diversity Month

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About the Holiday

The month of April is set aside for people to recognize and appreciate the varied cultures and beliefs around the world. Instead of finding division and differences, we should celebrate the beauty and wonder of our multifaceted planet. This month offers a great opportunity to discover ways to incorporate acceptance and inclusiveness throughout your life.

The Ugly Dumpling

Written by Stephani Campisi | Illustrated by Shahar Kober

 

“Once upon a time, perhaps last week, or even last night, at your local dim sum restaurant…there was an ugly dumpling.” Sure, you might think all dumplings are ugly, but we’re talking about one particular ugly dumpling. It tried all sorts of tricks to make itself more attractive, but it still remained lonely and uneaten. It sat dejected until a cockroach traversing the kitchen caught sight of it and immediately fell in love.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-ugly-dumpling-interior-art-dim-sum-restaurant

Image copyright Shahar Kober, text copyright Stephani Campisi. Courtesy of Mighty Media Press.

The cockroach “reached out an arm. (Or a leg)” toward the dumpling and offered to show it the beauty of the world. Together they traveled to cities near and far, experiencing them through culinary lenses—stacked-plate skyscrapers, piled-dishes skylines, and chopstick bridges that took them over flour mountains and folded-napkin peaks. Then, in a certain restaurant, the dumpling saw something astonishing! Not only one, but two, three, four, and more dumplings just like itself!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-ugly-dumpling-trying-to-fit-in

Image copyright Shahar Kober, text copyright Stephani Campisi. Courtesy of Mighty Media Press.

Suddenly the ugly dumpling realized that it was not a dumpling at all, but a “steamed bun—a golden-hearted, smooth-skinned steamed bun, exactly like all the other steamed buns in the world.” The ugly dumpling puffed with meaning, importance, and…yeast! The restaurant patrons and staff and even the other steamed buns took notice. The cockroach by the ugly dumpling’s side cheered to see its friend receiving so much attention.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-ugly-dumpling-roach

Image copyright Shahar Kober, text copyright Stephani Campisi. Courtesy of Mighty Media Press.

The people’s wide eyes and astonished expressions were not for the dumpling, however. Instead, they registered horror at the insect in their midst. The ugly dumpling was familiar with that look and did “something quite beautiful. It reached out an arm. (Or a leg.) And it led the cockroach out into the world, The beautiful, beautiful world.” And in that moment the ugly dumpling realized that it “was not like all the other steamed buns after all” and that “perhaps that was a good thing.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-ugly-dumpling-leaving-together

Image copyright Shahar Kober, text copyright Stephani Campisi. Courtesy of Mighty Media Press.

Stephani Campisi’s The Ugly Dumpling is a fresh and delectable dish-up of the classic Ugly Duckling story for a new audience. Stuffed with charm and off-beat humor, this tale of friendship and diversity embraces all who feel at odds with their environment—with or without the recognition of why. Its sweet and insightful ending emphasizes the idea that finding your niche does not always mean fitting in with a certain crowd, and that having the courage to strike out on your own path leads to beautiful relationships and personal happiness.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-ugly-dumpling-different-dumplings

Image copyright Shahar Kober, text copyright Stephani Campisi. Courtesy of Mighty Media Press.

Shahar Kober’s dumpling is anything but “ugly.” His adorable puffed dough, lonely and ignored for not adhering to the mold, will melt readers’ hearts as he tries anything and everything—including green pleated pants—to fit in. Kobar’s stylish drawings are the perfect underscore to Stephani Campisi’s quick, dry wit—as in his rendition of three uglier-than-the-next dumplings—and if cockroaches were really as cute as Kober’s, we’d all set out a different kind of Roach Motel. A clever bit of typography transforms steam coming from a wok into the word HISS, and the restaurant scenes will make readers hungry for their favorite Asian eatery.

As readers turn to the last pages and watch the steamed bun and the cockroach leave the restaurant hand in hand (foot in foot?) under the shade of a paper umbrella, they will want to turn back to the beginning and start over again. The Ugly Dumpling is a must read and a wonderful addition to children’s bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 9

Mighty Media, 2016 | ISBN 978-1938063671

Get to know more about Stephanie Campisi and her work on her website!

To view a gallery of art by Shahar Kober for books, magazines, animation, and more, visit his website!

Check out the Mighty Media Press website for more about The Ugly Dumpling and a-dough-able coloring pages!

Take a look at the trailer for The Ugly Dumpling!

Celebrate Diversity Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-dumpling plush craft

Embrace Your Inner Dumpling Plush

 

We are all beautiful “dumplings” in one way or another! With this easy craft you can create a huggable friend and show others what you’re made of!

Supplies

  • Square piece of cloth in any fabric and color. Size of plush depends on size of cloth (the plushes shown are made from 18”-square cotton fabric)
  • Poly fill (the plushes shown use about 1 1/8 ounces of fill)
  • White cloth for eyes and mouth
  • Twine or string
  • Fabric glue

Directions

  1. Cut the corners from the square cloth to make a circular piece of cloth
  2. Fill the middle with poly fill
  3. Pull the edges of the cloth up and around the fill
  4. Tie the top closed with the twine or string
  5. To make the face, cut small circles and a mouth from the white cloth
  6. Smooth out a section of the dumpling body
  7. Glue the face to the body with fabric glue

Picture Book Review

April 18 – World Heritage Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was established in 1982 by the International Council of Monuments and Sites to celebrate the joint history and heritage of the human race. World Heritage Day invites us to honor all of the world’s cultures and promotes awareness of important cultural monuments and sites in order to preserve these valuable historical places. Nearly 10,000 members from more than 150 countries, including architects, engineers, artists, geologists, civil engineers, and architects, work tirelessly to protect the world’s cultural achievements.

School Days Around the World

Written by Margriet Ruurs | Illustrated by Alice Feagan

 

Every day millions of children around the world go to school, but schools can vary from place to place. Some classes are held in large buildings with libraries, science labs, and computer rooms while others gather in small buildings or even outside. “Schools around the world may be very different, but children everywhere like to have friends and learn new things.” In School Days Around the World, readers meet children from thirteen countries to learn what their educational day is like.

First, children meet Tamatoa, who attends school on Rarotonga, one of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. Tamatoa arrives to school on a scooter just as the “thang-Thong-thang! of the wooden slit drum calls students inside. Tamatoa’s teacher is wearing flowers in her hair as she does every day. She teaches the children their Ura language, and in the afternoon they dance the hupa, the island’s traditional dance. In Singapore Raphael goes to an international school where the students speak many languages. Raphael knows Dutch, English, and Spanish. His best friend Aamon speaks Hindi, Chinese, and English. Raphael likes to read and write stories on the computer. Sometimes they “have a craft fair to raise money to help children in other parts of the world.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-schools-around-the-world-map

Image copyright Margriet Ruurs, text copyright Alice Feagan. Courtesy of alicefeagan.com

Marta walks to her school in Azezo, Ethiopi, even though she is blind. Her friend Ayana holds her hand tightly to help “her around potholes and cow patties.” There are so many students that there are two different sessions. Marta goes in the morning with 500 other children. There are 70 students in her class. They learn Amharic and about Ethiopia. At noon Ayana and Marta “hurry home to help feed the ox and cow and to fetch water from the village well.”

Camilla is from Germany. Her older brother Johannes lives at a boarding school during the school year. He shares his room in an old stone house with three boys. Everyone eats together and cleans up afterward—just like in a family. In class he learns “about nature and science. They also learn how to sail.” Camilla can’t wait until it’s her turn to go to school.

If you visited Annika at school in Copenhagan, Denmark, you would probably spend most of the day outside. Some days the students take a bus to their forest school. There the “run and climb on an old boat.” They “play on swings and with a ball.” Outside they also listen to birds and learn about plants and insects and other parts of nature. While Annika enjoys spending cold days outside, Ana’s days are usually warm. She lives in San Luis, Honduras and walks an hour from her home in the hills to her new school. Inside, two teachers show the children how to read and write. Sometimes, Ana says, “a nurse visits our school. She teaches us how to brush our teeth and stay healthy.” One day a van delivers backpacks full of school supplies, books, and even running shoes.

In Alberta Canada, Shanika goes to a First Nations school where she learns her traditional Cree language along with math and language arts. After lunch, they hear stories, and elders teach them “powwow dances, drumming and how to raise a teepee. They also hold feasts where there are prayers, and the whole community shares tea, soup, bannock loaded with beans and cheese, and berries.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-school-days-around-the-world-turkey

Image copyright Margriet Ruurs, text copyright Alice Feagan. Courtesy of alicefeagan.com

You can also spend school days with Lu in China, Alina in Kazakhstan, Mathii in Kenya, Bilge in Turkey, Luciano in Venezuela, and Amy and Gwen in Alaska, USA.

 In her short, engaging stories based on the lives of real families, Margriet Ruurs takes readers globe-trotting with new friends to show readers a typical school day in cities big and small. The details of each child’s experience—both familiar and unique—help readers learn more about their peers, promoting greater empathy and understanding now and for a better future.

Alice Feagan’s cut paper collages are full of joy and personality as kids dance, play, read, and study together. While the students’ clothing, lunches, and school buildings may differ from country to country, readers will see that the enthusiasm to learn is universal. A world map at the beginning of the book points out where each featured child lives.

A discussion following the text gives teachers, homeschoolers, and individuals tips on using the book to expand on the stories told. A glossary provides definitions and a pronunciation key for the native words found throughout the book. School Days Around the World offers a wonderful opportunity to jumpstart lessons on world customs and geography.

Ages  3 – 8

Kids Can Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-1771380478

Discover more about Margriet Ruurs and her books as well as activities for teachers and readers on her website!

You’ll find more about Alice Feagan and a portfolio of her illustration work on her website!

World Heritage Day Activity

Monumental Word Scramble

Monumental Word Scramble

 

You’ll travel the world as you unscramble the names of 15 world monuments in this printable Monumental Word Scramble Puzzle.

Picture Book Review

April 10 – National Siblings Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-harry-and-clare's-amazing-staycation-coverAbout the Holiday

National Siblings Day gives people a chance to honor the special bond they have with their brothers and/or sisters. Whether you come from a big family or small, are the oldest, youngest, or somewhere in between, your siblings have had a big influence on your life. Today, take a little time to text or call if you live far apart or get together if the miles aren’t so many.

Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation

Written by Ted Staunton | Illustrated by Mika Song

 

Vacation began on Monday. So did the rain. Harry and Clare decided to go to Mars. After all it was only as far away as the family room and looked quite the same—“except for the volcanoes” that spouted lava all over the rug. Harry found traversing the alien landscape harder than Clare. He had to carry all the luggage while she carried the snacks; and while Clare ate the snacks, Harry was busy drowning in quicksand.

Tuesday dawned gray and rainy. Fortunately, Harry and Clare “could ride a Pasta Linguini racer around an indoor course in the supermarket.” The field was fierce, and Harry told Clare to turn left, but Clare didn’t listen. “‘I’m driving,’” she said. “Following a dizzying skid through the frozen food, Clare let Harry park them in the checkout line.” And while Harry was hanging on tight with both hands as Clare directed, she ate both of their granola bars.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-harry-and-clare's-amazing-staycation-lava

Excerpted from Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation by Ted Staunton. Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Mika Song. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

The downpour continued on Wednesday. The pool seemed the perfect respite, but just as Harry was about to transform into a dolphin doing spectacular dives, “he was captured by a pirate queen who made him walk the plank instead.” Harry’s fortunes only turned bleaker when later that day Teacher Clare caught Harry eating his snack during lessons and sent him to the principal’s office.

Unfortunately, the principal looked a lot like Clare, and she passed a stiff sentence: “‘People who eat during arithmetic are not allowed to eat at all.’” Suddenly, Harry had an idea, but the principal—who mumbled through a mouthful—told him not to speak. Harry was not to be so easily dismissed, however.

As soon as the principal released him, he grabbed a snack and headed up High Staircase Mountain. When he heard the Abdominal Snowman close at his heels, he quickly hid the cookies in his pocket. At dinner, Harry was able to sneak more provisions into his pocket and keep them safe as he performed a high-wire trapeze trampoline act on the couch and jumped through hoops for Clare the Lion Tamer.  

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-harry-and-clare's-amazing-staycation-hippo

Excerpted from Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation by Ted Staunton. Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Mika Song. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

 On Thursday the sun finally came out, and Harry and Clare took a jungle tour. The jungle “looked a lot like the park, except for the vines and wild animals.” As they ran through the thick vegetation, Clare and Harry avoided umpire bats and leaped over sandbox hippos on their search for a “‘sunken ship guarded by a monster octopus.’” All this time Harry held on to the idea he’d had.

Then, just as they were being threatened by elephant hummingbirds, Clare realized they’d forgotten to bring snacks and said they’d have to turn their dragons around and go back. Harry, however, simply climbed off his bike dragon and pulled a baby carrot from his pocket. Clare was nonplussed. “‘Where did you get that?’” she wanted to know, but Harry just took a something else from his stash and continued munching.

“‘Is that a cookie?’ Clare asked. Harry swallowed. ‘Asteroid burger,’ he said….‘I have asteroid burgers and volcano sticks.’” Clare listened to her grumbling stomach and accepted some of both. She even accepted Harry’s idea that the treasure was in a cave under a mountain as long as an octopus monster still guarded it.

Harry and Clare played for hours. Harry discovered “prehistoric park-bench dinosaur skeletons,” and Clare dispersed a group of squirrel sharks. On the way home Harry and Clare split the “last of the volcano sticks and asteroid burgers. They made a nice combination.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-harry-and-clare's-amazing-staycation-playground

Excerpted from Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation by Ted Staunton. Illustrations Copyright © 2017 Mika Song. Published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

In his imaginative tale of a rainy school staycation, Ted Staunton captures the sibling power structure with wit and wisdom. Readers will appreciate Harry and Clare’s daily—almost moment-to-moment—inventiveness that mirrors children’s supple imaginations. As a younger brother, Harry bears the brunt of Clare’s bossiness, but in the process begins to grasp where the real clout lies. By biding his time, he quietly advocates for himself and changes the dynamics to both of the children’s benefit. Staunton’s funny dialogue and situations ring true, as do the clever uses of everyday items and places to spur the siblings’ creativity. The final line offers a sweet future for this loveable brother and sister.

Mika Song ingeniously transcribes Harry and Clare’s imaginings into action-packed illustrations full of personality. The sibling relationship unfolds through humorous scenes and animated facial expressions. Harry sinks in bubbling lava while Clare eats snacks at a safe distance; Harry and Clare get caught behind an elderly “racecar” driver in the grocery store: Harry is pulled up short by his changing fortunes on the diving board; and Teacher Clare teeters in her mother’s shoes. Song’s fresh color palette lends an open, airy feeling to the story, and her adorable siblings make for exciting companions for readers any day.

Harry and Clare’s Amazing Staycation would be a cute addition to any child’s bookshelf for story times and to spur imaginative play. The book could also be a great jumping off point for discussions of empathy and understanding between siblings and/or friends.

Ages 4 – 8

Tundra Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1770498273

Discover more about Ted Staunton and his books on his website!

You’ll find a portfolio of artwork, comics, and books by Mika Song on her website!

National Siblings Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-printable-snakes-and-ladders-game

Snakes and Ladders Game

 

It can be fun to play a board game with your sibling! Here’s a printable Snakes and Ladders game for you to enjoy! Just watch out for that green snake!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print the board game template
  2. Determine which player goes first by rolling the die. The player with the highest roll goes first.
  3. The first player rolls the die and moves along the game board, starting at square 1, the number of spaces indicated on the die.
  4. Other players take turns rolling the die and moving along the board.
  5. The first player to reach square 100 is the winner

Ladders: When a player lands on a space with the bottom of a ladder in it, the player moves up to the space at the top of the ladder and continues to play from there.

Snakes: When a player lands on a space with the head of a snake in it, the player slides down to the space with the snake’s tail in it and continues to play from there.

Picture Book Review

March 19 – National Poultry Day

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About the Holiday

National Poultry Day, held annually between St. Patrick’s Day and the first day of spring, celebrates the importance of poultry to the diets of people around the world. From breakfast to special holidays, poultry is a valuable source of protein and nutrition that’s also delicious! 

What’s Up with This Chicken?

Written by Jane Sutton | Illustrated by Peter J. Welling

 

When Sylvia went out to the barn to collect the chickens’ eggs, something was up with Trudy. She squawked and screeched when Sylvia tried to reach under her, but Sylvia took it in stride and with humor: “‘Don’t get so egg-cited!’” she said. “‘I’ll get your egg tomorrow.’” But the next day Sylvia was met with the same reaction. Trudy wasn’t acting like the other chickens in Grandma’s backyard; if fact, she wasn’t even acting like Trudy! “‘What’s up with this chicken?’” Sylvia wondered.

While she and Grandma enjoyed “omelets with eggs from Sue, Clara, Doris, and Olga,” Sylvia talked about “stubborn Trudy.” Grandma didn’t know what was wrong either. The next morning Trudy was even more obstinate. Not only did she make a racket, she tried to peck Sylvia, and she puffed “herself up to twice her size.” Sylvia also noticed “that Trudy left her roost just once a day to eat, drink, and poop. She was getting skinny.”

Sylvia decided that Trudy must be hungry. She tried to lure her off her nest by offering chicken feed, but while all the other hens “wolfed it down like chocolate,” Trudy remained firmly on her roost. Sylvia tried everything she could think of to move Trudy, but nothing worked. That night she and Grandma consulted The Big Book About Chickens. Here they discovered that “‘Trudy is broody!’” Grandma read on: “‘Broody hens stay on their eggs so they will hatch into chicks.’” But Sylvia and Grandma know that Trudy’s eggs are not the kind that hatch.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-what's-up-with-this-chicken-switching-eggs

Image copyright Peter J. Welling, courtesy of Pelican Publishing

 

Sylvia realized that Trudy just wanted to be a mother, and she wished there were some way to help her. She thought and thought and finally came up with an idea. She ran to Grandma who agreed that Sylvia’s plan was “an egg-cellent idea.” A few days later a box arrived holding four eggs that would hatch. With thick rubber gloves, a dose of determination, and two tries, Grandma was able to lift Trudy off her nest. Sylvia made a quick switch of the eggs, and “Broody Trudy settled down on the new eggs.”

Trudy grew thinner every day but she stayed on her roost, rolling the eggs to keep them uniformly warm and even blanketing them with her own feathers. One day Sylvia heard peeping! She and Grandma rushed out to the coop and were even in time to watch the fourth little chick peck its way out of its shell. They named the new “little yellow fluff balls Sophie, Danielle, Mildred, and Judy.”

Trudy was a proud and protective mother, shielding her chicks with her wings like a “feathery beach umbrella” and teaching them how to find food and water. Trudy went back to her regular routine and began gaining weight. As the chicks grew they got their own nests in Grandma’s coop. But one day Judy squawked and screeched. This time “Sylvia laughed so hard that she almost dropped her egg basket. ‘Broody Judy,’ she said, ‘I know what’s up with you!’”

An Author’s Note about the real-life “Broody Trudy” that inspired the story follows the text.

With a deft and delightful understanding of the puns and humor that set kids to giggling, Jane Sutton has written a fun—and informative—story for animal lovers and anyone who loves a good, natural mystery. Through the well-paced plot and action-packed description, readers learn about a particular behavioral aspect of some chickens and the clever and sensitive way that Sylvia solves the problem. The close relationship between Sylvia and her grandmother adds charm and depth to the story, and their dialogue is spontaneous and playful.

Peter J. Welling’s bright, homey illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the story. Animated Trudy shoos Sylvia away while the other chickens take dust baths, scratch for bugs, and look just as perplexed as Sylvia and Grandma. Humorous touches abound in Grandma’s choice of home décor and Sylvia’s printed T-shirts as well as in the facial expressions of the human and feathered characters. Trudy’s chicks are adorable, and readers will cheer to see Trudy fulfill her heart’s desire.

What’s Up with This Chicken is a wonderful read-aloud for younger kids’ story times and a fun romp that will keep older, independent readers guessing and wondering how it all comes out right up to the end. The likeable characters—both human and chicken—make this a book kids will like to hear again and again!

Ages 3 – 8

Pelican Publishing, 2015 | ISBN 978-1455620852

Discover more about Jane Sutton and her books on her website!

To read an interview with Jane, click here!

To learn more about Peter J. Welling, his books for kids and adults as well as the original lunch bags he made for his children, visit his website!

National Poultry Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-egg-carton-chicken-double-chickens

Egg Carton Chickens and a Basket Full of Games

 

With twelve little chickens you can come up with lots of games to play! This fun craft and game activity is eggs-actly what you need to start hatching some real fun!

Supplies

  • Cardboard egg carton
  • White craft paint
  • Markers: red, yellow, black for the face; any colors you’d like for wings and eggs
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Construction or craft paper in white and a color of your choice

Directions

  1. Cut the notched flap off the egg carton and set aside
  2. Cut the top off the egg carton
  3. Cut apart all the egg cups and trim slightly so they sit flat
  4. Paint the egg cups with the white paint, let dry
  5. Add the face, comb and wings to the chicken with the markers. Make six chickens with one color wings and six chickens with another color wings.
  6. From the egg carton flap cut thirteen small egg-shaped playing pieces
  7. With the markers, decorate twelve of the eggs in pairs—each egg in the pair with the same design
  8. Color one egg yellow and add a beak, eyes, and wings to make it a chick

Games to Play

Tic-Tac-Toe (2 players)

  1. On a 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper draw a regular tic-tac-toe board or make it fancy – like the picket fence-inspired board in the picture
  2. To make the fence-inspired board on a colored background, cut 2 9-inch-long x 3/4-inch wide strips of white paper, cutting a pointed tip at one or both ends. Cut 2 white  8-inch x 3/4-inch strips of paper with a pointed tip at one or both ends. Glue the strips to the background.
  3. Each player chooses a set of chickens with the same colored wings
  4. Play the game as you usually do

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-egg-carton-chicken-tic-tac-toe

Find the Matching Eggs (2 or more players)

  1. Have one player hide one egg under each chicken
  2. Shuffle the eggs around and form them into three lines of 4 chickens each
  3. Another player lifts one chicken at a time to find matching eggs. If the eggs don’t match, put both chickens back and start again

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-egg-carton-chicken-matching

Where’s the Chick?

  1. Use as many chickens and eggs as you want (fewer for younger children, more for older)
  2. One player hides the chick under one of the chickens and eggs under the others.
  3. Another player has three chances to find the chick

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You can also design your own games for your adorable chickens to play! With more chickens you can even make a checkers set or replicate another of your favorite board games!

Picture Book Review

March 10 – International Day of Awesomeness

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About the Holiday

Okay, so it’s Friday and the end of a long work and school week. Maybe everything didn’t go as planned this week—maybe not even close. But who cares. Why? Because you are still awesome! Begun as a kind of inside joke among coworkers, International Day of Awesomeness continues to grow, attracting more and more awesome individuals around the world. To celebrate get creative and perform feats of awesomeness—whatever that might mean to you. Sometimes that just means having and showing an awesome amount of love—as you’ll soon see!

I Want That Love

By Tatsuya Miyanishi

 

Long ago Tyrannosaurus ruled the earth. His philosophy was “In this world, strength means everything. The strongest wins. The strongest rules. And I am the strongest!” Tyrannosaurus stomped across the landscape crushing and eating the “worthless weaklings” in his path. The other dinosaurs quaked whenever they heard him roar. They hid and were quiet, and never opposed him. Soon this led to some skewed thinking—they also began to believe that “Tyrannosaurus could do anything he wanted to because he was the strongest.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-i-want-that-love-sleeping

Text and image copyright Tatsuya Miyanishi, courtesy of museyon.com

As time passed, however, the Tyrannosaurus grew old and feeble. One day he happened upon a Masiakasaurus who mocked him for moving so slowly. The Tyrannosaurus threatened him, but could do little else. Another Masiakasaurus bit the Tyrannosaurus’s tail. “‘Ouch…stop,’ the Tyrannosaurus cried.” But it did no good; no one was afraid of him anymore.

The Tyrannosaurus just wanted to be alone. He traveled for days, and when he was exhausted he lay down and went to sleep. Now that he was no longer strong, he felt he was worthless and wondered how he was “going to live from now on.” He was awakened by a voice. “He opened his eyes and saw a yummy-looking baby Triceratops right in front of him.” He had every intention of eating this little snack, but his tail was so sore he couldn’t move.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-i-want-that-love-hugging-triceratops

Text and image copyright Tatsuya Miyanishi, courtesy of museyon.com

The little Triceratops noticed his swollen tail and stroked the injury to help it feel better. He also warned the Tyrannosaurus that sleeping in the open was dangerous because the “strong, scary Tarbosaurus” would eat him. The Tyrannosaurus scoffed, saying that there was someone much stronger than the Tarbosaurus. The Triceratops suggested the Gorgosaurus, but Tyrannosaurus disagreed. “‘I’m thinking of someone who is much, much stronger,’” he said. Oh, yes! The Triceratops remembered. “‘The Tyrannosaurus!’” Tyrannosaurus was so happy to hear his name that “he picked up the baby Triceratops and hugged him.” The baby warned the dinosaur to run away if he saw Tyrannosaurus because he would surely be eaten.

The giant dinosaur was surprised that the baby had never seen Tyrannosaurus before, and was just about to gobble him up when the little one asked if he would meet his friends and hug them too. The Tyrannosaurus eagerly followed the Triceratops, imagining the feast he was about to have. When they reached the woods all the little Triceratops came out to play and begged to be picked up and hugged.  “‘No, no, guys!’ said one little Triceratops. ‘Even a mighty man like Mr. Rhabdodon can get tired.’”

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Text and image copyright Tatsuya Miyanishi, courtesy of museyon.com

The Tyrannosaurus was insulted. Rhabdodon was stupid, a weakling, and an herbivore. But before he could protest, the other little Triceratops discovered his wound. They all began tending carefully to his injury and gathered red berries to help him heal even though it hurt their horns to ram the tree and dislodge the berries. Suddenly, Tyrannosaurus understood their sacrifice on his behalf. Tears sprang to his eyes, and he grabbed a trunk in his teeth and shook it. The youngsters were amazed as red berries rained down on them.

They cheered and said they wanted to be just like Mr. Rhabdodon. They bet that he could even beat mean Tyrannosaurus. The Tyrannosaurus mumbled his old slogan, and began to tell the little ones that strength wasn’t so important when they were interrupted by two Giganotosauruses who wanted a Triceratops snack. The Tyrannosaurus growled at the newcomers. But the Giganotosauruses attacked, biting the Tyrannosaurus to get at the babies in his arms. The Tyrannosaurus curled his body around them and promised to protect them.

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Text and image copyright Tatsuya Miyanishi, courtesy of museyon.com

As the Giganotosauruses continued to bite him, the Tyrannosaurus “murmured, ‘I finally understand…Remember this, kids. It’s not being strong that is important. What’s most important is…’” At last, unsuccessful in their quest, the Giganotosaurus went away, and the Tyrannosaurus fell over. The little Triceratops crawled safely away and headed home when the Tyrannosaurus told them  he was tired. Before he left, the first Triceratops asked what the most important thing was, but the Tyrannosaurus didn’t reply.

Many years later a father Triceratops and his babies were spotted by two Giganotosauruses looking for food in the woods. They jumped on the family, but the father hid his children under his body and endured the attack. “He remembered how the Tyrannosaurus had protected him and his friends.” Finally, the Giganotosauruses gave up and went away. His little ones were impressed but asked why he hadn’t beaten up the Giganotosauruses.

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Text and image copyright Tatsuya Miyanishi, courtesy of museyon.com

With tears in his eyes, the father said, “‘Violence isn’t the answer. There is something more powerful than strength, and more precious too. That is love…A truly strong guy who broke this tree once gave me that love….’ One baby looked at his father and said, “‘Will you give me that love? I want that love.’”

Originally published in Japan, Tatsuya Miyanishi’s story of what constitutes true strength and how love can transform even the most hardened heart will resonate with kids and adults on many levels. Children’s familiarity with and love of dinosaurs allows them to easily understand the complexities of the actions and emotions revealed in the story. Ambiguity in the wording after the Tyrannosaurus defeats the Giganotosauruses allows for various interpretations of his fate depending on the age and sensitivity of the child, and a bit of humor when the Triceratops does not recognize Tyrannosaurus adds levity to the plot. The innocence and generosity of the Triceratops babies as an agent of change within the Tyrannosaurus is poignant and realistic. Likewise, the long-term effects of experiencing awesome love when young is well demonstrated as the father Triceratops later gives back to his own family.

The harsh dinosaur-eat-dinosaur landscape is effectively portrayed in Miyanishi’s bold green, gold, and orange illustrations in which the stylized Tyrannosaurus towers over trees, angular rock formations, and especially the tiny, unsuspecting Triceratops. Images of the Tryannosaurus and Triceratops father guarding the babies are touching and demonstrate a parent’s or caregivers love.

I Want That Love is the third book in the Tyrannosaurus series, along with You Look Yummy and You Are My Best Friend, and will reward readers who love dinosaurs as well as those looking for books on kindness and acceptance.

Ages 5 – 7

Museyon, 2016 | ISBN 978-1940842141

Day of Awesomeness Activity

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Awesomeness Cards

 

Do you have some awesome people in your life? Give them one of these printable Awesomeness Cards and watch them smile!

Picture Book Review

March 7 – Unique Names Day

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

Established in 1997 as part of Celebrate Your Name Week, Unique Names Day celebrates uncommon or uncommonly spelled names and encourages those with unique names to always take pride in their name. One way to celebrate is to find out more about your name and how or why your parents chose it.

The Name Jar

By Yangsook Choi

 

Unhei has recently moved to the United States from Korea. Although Unhei is excited about the first day of school, on the bus ride she misses her former home and looks at the wooden name stamp her grandmother gave her. A boy sitting behind Unhei notices the unfamiliar object and asks about it. Then other kids notice Unhei. They ask what her name is and when she answers, they mispronounce it, laughing and making jokes.

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Image copyright Yangsook Choi, courtesy of Random House

Unhei is embarrassed and glad that when the bus drops them off that those kids head to a different classroom than hers. As Unhei enters her own room, her classmates smile and greet her—it is obvious that their teacher has prepared them for a new student, and they are excited.

Of course, they first question her about her name, and remembering the experience on the bus, Unhei is reluctant to answer. She quickly says that she hasn’t picked a name yet, but will tell them next week. When she gets home, Unhei tells her mother that she wants an American name, a name that is easy to pronounce.

Her mother is dismayed; Unhei’s name was chosen by a master so that it would describe her uniqueness. But Unhei doesn’t want to be different, she just wants to fit in. Later while she and her mother are at a Korean grocery store, she introduces herself to the owner, who exclaims that her name is beautiful and means “grace” in English. 

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Image copyright Yangsook Choi, courtesy of Random House

That evening Unhei tries out American names in front of the mirror—Amanda, Laura, Susie—but they don’t feel or sound right. The next day at school Unhei finds a jar on her desk with pieces of paper in it. On each piece of paper is a name—suggestions from each of her classmates. Her new friends have chosen these names thoughtfully. Daisy is the nickname of one girl’s baby sister; Tamela is a smart and brave heroine from a story; and Wensday is the day Unhei joined their class.

At the end of the school day, a classmate named Joey comes to her. He knows she actually does have a name, and Unhei, while not wanting to say it out loud, shows him the characters on her wooden stamp. Joey thinks it is beautiful and asks to keep the paper. Day by day the glass jar fills up with names. Unhei will have to choose soon.

One Saturday Unhei returns to the Korean grocery store. When Mr. Kim calls her by name, the one other customer turns around. It’s Joey! Carefully and slowly he says Unheis name until he gets it right. On Monday when Unhei enters the classroom, she discovers that the jar is missing. It’s all right, though, Unhei has chosen her name.

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Image copyright Yangsook Choi, courtesy of Random House

She walks to the chalkboard and writes her real name in English and Korean. She tells the class that her name means “grace.” Other kids reveal the meaning of their names, and they all practice saying Unhei’s name. That evening Joey comes to visit. He explains that he took the jar because he wanted Unhei to keep her original name. He suggests putting Korean nicknames into the jar for their classmates to pick. He has already chosen his Korean name with the help of Mr. Kim. It is the prefect nickname: Chinku, which means “friend.”

Ages 3 – 8

Random House, Dragonfly Books, 2003 | ISBN  978-0440417996

Discover more about Yangsook Choi, her books, and her art on her website!

Yangsook Choi’s The Name Jar is as timely now as when it was first written. Through compelling and detailed storytelling, Choi explores the themes of identity, empathy, family, friendship, and more  with sometimes heartbreaking honesty. Unhei’s varied experiences at school, at home, and at the market provide an opportunity for adults and children to discuss and embrace the diversity of our multicultural world. Choi’s warm-toned illustrations reveal the conflicts that Unhei encounters and her growing confidence as she makes friends with Mr. Kim and Joey who accepts her as she is. 

Unique Names Day Activity

CPB - Name Jars standing

Love Your Name Organizer Jar

 

Everyone needs a place to store their special stuff! Here’s a way to recycle a plastic jar and make a cool organizer jar with your name on it. This organizer jar also makes a great gift for your friends!

Supplies

  • A large plastic jar, such as a peanut butter jar or mayonnaise jar, cleaned out and with the label removed
  • Acrylic multi-surface paint or markers
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Paint brush
  • Chalk

CPB - Name Jars on sides

Directions

  1. Paint a rectangle on the front of the jar with chalkboard paint
  2. Decorate the rest of the jar with paint, markers, or paper just the way you want! My green jar sports a friendly dinosaur!

Picture Book Review