July 6 – National Fried Chicken Day

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About the Holiday

Fried chicken with its crispy outside and tender, juicy inside is the star of American Southern home style cooking. The tradition, brought to America by Scottish immigrants, is a favorite for summer picnics and has spawned many an on-the-go restaurant. There’s only one way to celebrate this holiday…well, maybe two—sink your teeth into some delicious fried chicken and devour today’s book!

Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks

Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez | Illustrated by Dan Santat

 

The times, they are a’menacing. A fox is prowling and has already chicken napped Hensel and Gretel’s ma, shaking up their pa. Hensel and Gretel know just what to do—they enroll at the 3 Pigs Dojo and “they trained in the art of ninjutsu / and practiced their wing throws and blocks. / They learned how to creep / without making a peep / so they wouldn’t fall prey to that fox.” Their training proves advantageous as the day soon comes when Hensel and Gretel have to put their training into practice.

One day they return home to find that their pa has also been nabbed by the fox. While they may be chickens the sisters definitely aren’t chicken so they go in search of their pop. They drop crumbs on their trail to lead them back home, but the forest grows “twisted and tangled” and they soon discover that the breadcrumbs are gone. Bravely, they trek through the woods until they see a light. “It came from a cottage of corn bread! / ‘Let’s eat!’ Hensel clucked with delight. / She nibbled away till she heard someone say, / ‘My dear, come on in for a bite.’”

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Image copyright Dan Santat, 2016, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2016. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Caught off guard, Hensel enters the house but quickly realizes her mistake when she sees a pan in the oven. In the corner she finds her pa locked away in a crate. The fox grabs her and adds her to the crate with her dad. While she is fattening up, the fox tells her, he’ll eat another hen from his stock. That hen turns out to be Hensel and Gretel’s mom! Meanwhile, Gretel has squeezed her way through the chimney “with ninja-like silence and speed.” She frees her ma and with “one feathered sweep” blocks the fox’s advance.

The fox fights back, but Mama comes to Gretel’s rescue with a well-aimed wok just as Hensel and Papa break free. But the crate doesn’t stay empty for long: “With one wicked spin, / Hensel kicked the fox in! / ‘You’re done with your chick-frying spree!’” Back home Hensel and Gretel are congratulated, and “from then on they made it their mission / to rescue, protect and defend. / They’d work night and day / to liberate prey / till bird-napping came to an end.”

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Image copyright Dan Santat, 2016, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2016. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Ninja pandemonium is back! This time the martial arts are served up chicken style in Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez’s take on Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel story. All the intrigue and suspense of the original is here, but blazingly spiced and fried up with delicious puns, sizzling verbs, and some of the most riotous rhymes you’ll ever read.

Dan Santat again lends his agile artwork to the springs, spins, and stealth of the world of the dojo. Feathers fly; the fox leaps, chops, and winces; and Hensel and Gretel perform some serious Kiya! Santat’s forest is gloomy and forbidding, the air shimmers with the force of well-placed kicks, and the large close-up images put readers in the middle of the action.

Everyone from small-fries to hens and roosters will flip over Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks. It’s a must addition to any child’s library.

Ages 4 – 9

G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0399176265 | ISBN 978-1338203868 (Paperback, 2017)

Watch Hensel and Gretel kick some tail feathers in the trailer for their book!

To discover more books by Corey Rosen Schwartz as well as fun activities and how to be a Book Ninja, visit her website.

Activities, tips, books, and more by Rebecca J. Gomez can be found on her website.

A gallery of art, list of books, and more information about Dan Santat is available on his website.

National Fried Chicken Day Activity

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Turn Over a New Chicken

 

A long-handled wooden turner makes a plucky decoration for your room or kitchen! With a few simple additions, you’ll have a cute companion you’ll want to crow about!

Supplies

  • Printable Comb and Scarf Template
  • Long-handled wooded turner, available in kitchen supply stores
  • Red felt
  • Yellow bakable clay
  • Fabric, 12 inches square
  • A small piece of white felt or fleece (optional)
  • White paint (or any color you would like)
  • Black marker
  • Fabric glue
  • Glue gun
  • Paint brush

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Directions

  1. Paint the wooden turner, let dry
  2. Cut the scarf from the piece of fabric
  3. Make a beak from the yellow clay and bake it according to package directions

To make the comb

  1. Cut out the comb from the red felt
  2. Fold the felt in half and glue the end together with the fabric glue
  3. Cut short strips from the folded top of the felt, about ½-inch to ¾ -inch in length
  4. Round the corners of the strips slightly

To make the scarf

  1. Fold the fabric in half
  2. With the long, straight edge of the scarf template along the fold, cut out the scarf
  3. With the fabric glue, glue the two sides of the scarf together so that you have two “right” sides
  4. Let dry

To assemble the chicken

  1. Pinch the bottom of the comb together so that the strips open and the felt pleats a little
  2. With the glue gun attach the comb to the back of the painted turner, keeping the bottom pinched together
  3. Attach the beak to the front of the turner
  4. Draw eyes on the chicken with the black marker
  5. Tie the scarf around the neck of the handle, hold in place with a drop of glue in the back if necessary
  6. To make tail feathers in a turner with a hole in the handle, pinch together a small folded piece of white felt or fleece and push it through the hole in the handle of the turner.
  7. Cut or arrange to look like feathers

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You can find Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

 

June 3 – Repeat Day

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About the Holiday

Remember how your brother or sister or friend used to repeat everything you said? Everything you said? Well, that has been made into a holiday! Today gives you the perfect excuse to do your favorite things twice! Go ahead, have two lattes, watch your favorite show twice, listen to an album over again! Whatever you do, just remember to double up on it!

Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems

Written by Marilyn Singer | Illustrated by Josée Masse

 

When you ask someone, “Can you repeat that?” they often use the exact same words so you understand what they want to tell you. But what if the exact same words could have completely different meanings? That’s the brilliant concept behind Follow Follow. In this ingenious book, 17 classic fairy tales are told in verse (and reverse) from two opposing points of view that will forever change the way you think about exchanges of ideas and dialogue.

In Your Wish Is My Command, Aladdin and the Jinni trade wishes and their view of what freedom means. Six lines from this clever poem read from Aladdin’s perspective: “I no longer wish to be a slave / to lords, magicians, merchants, other urchins. / Jinni of the Lamp, / I am just a poor / young knave. / Give me all I crave.”

And then from the Jinni’s perspective: “Give me all I crave, / young knave. / I am just a poor / Jinni of the Lamp. / To lords, magicians, merchants, other urchins, / I no longer wish to be a slave.”

The Emperor’s New Clothes loses none of its impact in Birthday Suit, a humorous abbreviated telling from the King’s ego-centric thoughts and the little boy’s stunning revelation.

Just as the original tale of The Golden Goose presents a princess who can’t help but laugh at the ridiculous parade going by her window, Silly Goose reveals both sides of the princess’s personality.

Ready, Steady, Go! gets into the heads of both the too-clever-for-his-own-good rabbit and his persevering competitor of The Tortoise and the Hare. The lounging hare thinks: “That ridiculous loser! / I am not / a slowpoke. / Though I may be / the smallest bit distracted, / I can’t be / beat. / I’ve got rabbit feet to / take me to the finish line.” While the tortoise urges himself: “Take me to the finish line! / I’ve got rabbit feet to / beat. / I can’t be / the smallest bit distracted. / Though I may be / a slowpoke, / I am not / that ridiculous loser.”

Will the Real Princess Please Stand Up? peeks into two bedrooms where would-be brides to the prince slumber. One exclaims, “This bed rocks! / I feel like I’m sleeping on feathery flocks,…” but the other complains, “feathery flocks? / I feel like I’m sleeping on / rocks.” Who will win the heart of the prince?

The Little Mermaid, Puss in Boots, The Pied Piper of Hameln, Thumbelina, The Three Little Pigs, The Nightingale, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses are also touched with Marilyn Singer’s magic wand of poetry. Under her spell the perfect choice and placement of words combined with a simple change of punctuation can send the verse swirling in the opposite direction with surprising results. As readers encounter each fairy tale, they’ll wonder, “How does she do it?” But there’s no time to ponder—another terrific tale follow follows!

Like being on the cusp of competing realities, Josée Masse’s vibrant illustrations deftly represent the viewpoints of the mirrored verses. On either side of a subtly split page, the opposing characters tell their side of the story amid contrasting color schemes and flowing lines that bridge the divide. In Your Wish Is My Command, Aladdin dreams in his rooftop window of riches and freedom while the Jinni floats away from his lamp over golden rooftops. On with the Dance makes clever use of the half-page design as the king ponders the condition of his daughters’ shoes while they are pictured dancing in a regal hall that doubles as the king’s crown.

Follow Follow would be a welcome addition to any fairy tale or poetry lover’s bookshelf. And since Marilyn Singer and Josée Masse really know what Repeat Day is all about, you’ll want to check out their other books: Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems and their newest, Echo Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths.

English and language arts teachers will also find these volumes to be a wonderful way to teach point of view.

Ages 5 – 11 and up (anyone who loves fairy tales will want to read this book)

Dial Books, Penguin Group, 2013 | ISBN 978-0803737693                                                         

Repeat Day Activity

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Book Jacket Bookmark

 

When a book is long, you can’t always finish it in one sitting. If you forget where you left off, you can often find yourself reading the same section twice. That’s okay—especially on Repeat Day!—but this bookmark will help you remember your place and get you reading again in style!

Supplies

  • Printable Book Jacket bookmark 
  • Colored pencils or markers
  • Poster board
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Directions

  1. Color your bookmark in your own unique style
  2. Cut the bookmark out
  3. Glue it to poster board if you’d like to make it more durable