April 19 – Banana Day

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About the Holiday

It seems people are somewhat split on this most appealing holiday—is it a day for enjoying the tasty tropical fruit or a day for goofing off? Why not do both?! Bananas offer plenty of nutrition and flavor in their own tidy, take-along package, and they’ve been the subject of humorous skits as long as people have been tossing the peels to the ground. Today, grab a bunch and head out to have some fun at a park, playground, shoreline, or even back deck near you!  

Bananas in My Ears: A Collection of Nonsense Stories, Poems, Riddles, and Rhymes

Written by Michael Rosen | Illustrated by Quentin Blake

 

Things may go from the ridiculous to the sublime or from the sublime to the ridiculous, but the rhymes, stories, poems, and jokes in this collection are both ridiculous and sublime. Divided into four sections—The Breakfast Book, The Seaside Book, The Doctor Book, and The Bedtime Book—these bite-sized tales will nibble at your funny bone.

Each book includes six to seven short pieces that humorously reveal the inner workings of familial and community relationships. Recurring titles “What if…,” “Things We Say,” and “Nat and Anna” sibling stories tie the books together. The tone for Bananas in My Ears is set with aplomb in the very first offering, “Breakfast Time,” which reveals the chaos of early morning with its spilled milk, banging trash cans, pets on the table, school clothes ruined, and “I think I’m going crazy!” shenanigans. 

“What If…” (Breakfast Book) combines kids’ natural penchant for rhyming with their unbounded imagination and a bit of stream-of-consciousness to boot. Just as a little boy is to bite into a piece of toast, he has this thought: “What if / a piece of toast turned into a piece of ghost / just as you were eating it / and you thought you were going to sink your / teeth into a lovely crunchy piece of hot toast / and butter and instead this cold wet feeling / jumps into your mouth / going, / ‘Whoooooooooooooooooooo!’ / right down into your stomach…”

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Image copyright Quentin Blake, text copyright Michael Rosen, 2012. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Adding speech bubbles and expressive art to commonly used phrases in “Things We Say” transforms throw-off lines like “My hair’s a mess,” “Look what I found,” “You can’t lie there all morning,” and “Now what seems to be the trouble?” into self-deprecating humor all can relate to.

Four stories of Nat and his older sister Anna zero in on particular moments that illuminate the sibling relationship, At once opposed and in sync, Nat and Anna negotiate moments in which Anna is put in charge of watching Nat at breakfast with topsy-turvy results; a frightening story that Anna tells Nat about jellyfish somehow backfires; a trip to the doctor turns into a competition about future professions; and a “who’s-on-first” type banter allows Anna to enjoy some alone time.

“Three Girls” is a clever take on outwitting-an-ogre tales. Three girls walking on the beach come across a cave. One girl goes in and “sees a pile of gold sitting on the rocks, so she thinks, ‘Yippee, gold, all for me!’ And she steps forward to pick it up and a great big voice booms out ‘I’m the ghost of Captain Cox. All that gold stays on the rocks.’” Afraid, she runs out of the cave. The second girl is braver. She enters the cave, sees the gold, hears the same booming voice and is also chased away. Undeterred, the third girl walks into the cave, sees the gold, and hears the booming voice of Captain Cox. Instead of running away, however, she says, “‘I don’t care. I’m the ghost of Davy Crocket, and all that gold goes in my pocket.’” With her treasure secured she hightails it out to join her friends.

Among other fun stories in this volume are: “These Two Children,” with a lively recitation of familiar bedtime routines; “Fooling Around,” that offers light rhymes on children’s names; and another “What If” (the Breakfast Book) that will have kids cracking up —“What if / hard-boiled eggs turned into hard-boiled legs / just when your dad was eating his egg / and he says, / ‘Hey, what’s this?’…”

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Image copyright Quentin Blake, text copyright Michael Rosen, 2012. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Michael Rosen understands, as kids do, that sometimes nonsense makes perfect sense and that even the commonplace is quite absurd when you think about it. This collection of witticisms is sure to resonate with children. Just hand a child this book and get ready for giggles—and, oh yes, adults will chuckle too.

In his colorful pen and ink drawings the inimitable Quentin Blake enlivens each piece with rakish kids, wide-eyed parents, sloppy messes, bouncing, jumping joy, and all the silliness that contributes to having a great day. “An accident waiting to happen” doesn’t begin to describe the bedlam ensuing in “What Happens Next?” as each character and object is set up to play their part in an oh-so-human game of dominoes. Kids will love seeing themselves and the world around them so candidly drawn, and adults will appreciate the whimsical sophistication of the same.

Ages 5 and up

Candlewick Press, 2012 | ISBN 978-0763662486

Banana Day Activity

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Banana Banana Bread recipe, courtesy of allrecipes.com.

Banana Banana Bread

 

How can you go wrong with a recipe that includes so many bananas they have to be listed twice in the name? You can’t! This simple, yet delicious banana bread from Allrecipes satisfies the munchies at breakfast or snack time! Try it toasted—you’ll be sure to cheer B-A-N-A-N-A-S! Click here to begin enjoying Allrecipes Banana Banana Bread.

Picture Book Review

April 16 – Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day

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About the Holiday

Forget about Casual Friday, Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day offers much more in the way of comfort and coziness—as those who work from home well know! A little research on pajamas finds that the word derives from a Persian term for “leg garment.” Draw string pants were popular in Southwest Asia and were brought to the attention of other areas of the world by British colonials. The Western world adopted these comfy pants in the 1800s, and since then bed wear has become softer, more flexible, and more colorful. To celebrate today, wear your favorite jammies to work—and don’t forget your teddy bear!

Piggies in Pajamas

Written by Michelle Meadows | Illustrated by Ard Hoyt

It’s bedtime for the little piggies, but Papa isn’t home yet and Mama’s on the phone. So the five rambunctious kids find ways to spend the time. A peek into their room finds “Piggies in pajamas / jumping in the air / tossing up the pillows / popcorn in their hair.” The quadruple bunk beds make tall mountains to climb and perfect platforms for jumping into the ocean, but as the piggies dive onto the soft, pillow “water,” they hear Mama’s footsteps in the hall.

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Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The piggies “hurry to the tunnel. / Everybody, hide. / Underneath the covers, snuggle deep inside.” Soon all seems quiet, so they tiptoe from their beds to spy on Mama. They’re happy to see that she’s still occupied, leaving the tracks clear for the piggie train to toot, toot across the floor. But Mama, in her curlers, hears a suspicious sound and stomp, stomp, stomps upstairs.

Once more the five siblings rush to their beds and pull up the covers, their ears trained on any sound from downstairs. A familiar “crick, creak” tells them that Mama is now sitting down and chatting with Mrs. Cat. “Piggies in pajamas, / whirl around the room. / Cartwheels and somersaults— / Boom, Boom, Boom!” All that noise brings Mama stomp, stomp, stomping, but when she opens the piggies’ door, they’re all snuggled in and quiet as mice.

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Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

One sneaky eye watches Mama as she descends the stairs on her way to the kitchen for an evening snack. In moments, the little ones are up again and searching through the trunk for toys and cars and dress-up clothes. Just then at the window they hear a “scratch, scratch, tap, tap” and although it’s only a tree branch waving in the wind, the imagined wolf or fox or bear has left them shivering.

One by one, all in a line they grab their blankets and crawl down the hall to a new cozy bed. While Mama’s washing up her face, they cuddle in and start to snooze. Soon, “Mama sees their pink ears. / Tails are sticking out. / Mama climbs into bed and / kisses every snout. / ‘Good night, piggies!’”

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Image copyright Ard Hoyt, text copyright Michelle Meadows, 2013. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

The little piggies in Michelle Meadow’s sweet story want to do the right thing, but it’s just so exciting to stay up late! Readers know how they feel and will giggle along as the piggies romp when Mama’s gone but fly into bed when they hear her stomps. Meadow’s jouncy rhyme captures the freewheeling antics of unsupervised kids, the delicious suspense of getting caught, and the endearing appeal for comfort when kids are scared or truly ready to drift into dreams.

Ard Hoyt’s energetic piggies know how to make the most of Mama’s inattention! Bouncing on the bed with their popcorn snack, climbing a rope made of sheets to the top of the bedpost “mountain,” and strutting down the hall in a piggie train, these five siblings are as cute as can be. Hoyt’s split pages show both the expressive siblings and Mama as they go about their nightly routines, acting and interacting on the sounds they hear. The soft colors, humorous details, and final spreads of the piglets in Mama’s bed, tell readers that despite all the shenanigans, this is a house full of love.

Piggies in Pajamas would quickly become a bedtime favorite and a welcome addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 5

Simon & Schuster, 2013 | ISBN 978-1416949824

Discover more about Michelle Meadows and her books as well as teachers activities on her website!

You can learn more about Ard Hoyt and view a gallery of his books on his website!

Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day Activity

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Design Your Own Pajamas

Are pajama sleepers or tops and pants your favorites for bedtime? With this printable Design Your Own Pajamas coloring sheet, you can create jammies just the way you like them!

Picture Book Review

April 12 – It’s National Humor Month

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About the Holiday

Perhaps these days we should consider making every month Humor Month, but until that happens, enjoy as many laughs as you can during April. No matter what you find funny or how you express your sense of humor, this month’s holiday allows you to indulge the more ridiculous aspects of life!

Meet the McKaws

By Ged Adamson

 

Captain Stan and Tiny McKaw, Stan’s parrot first mate, love everything about being pirates—“Sailing the seven seas, fighting battles, and searching for treasure! What could be better? Yes, life is pretty perfect for Stan and Tiny” until…Tiny’s parents come to visit. Mr. and Mrs. McKaw aren’t on board 5 minutes before the squawking begins. Mrs. McKaw takes exception to Stan: “‘He doesn’t’ look like much of a captain to me. He’s just a boy!’” And while Mr. McKaw is trying to apologize for his wife’s behavior, he lets out “a huge, disgusting BURP!”

Tiny’s mom is appalled at the state of the ship, calling it “a messy old wreck,” and Tiny’s dad starts in with a long, meandering story of his days as a pirate, complete with a treasure map, a deserted island, the Kraken, sword fights, canon fire, a treasure chest, and even a commendation. I think you get the picture. Problem is…Mr. McKaw never was a pirate.

Maybe a nice sit-down dinner will clear the air and get things started off on the right pegleg again. With a big grin the cook presents the special meal he has prepared in the McKaw’s honor, but after “just one mouthful, both the McKaws were violently sick. ‘Horrible! Horrible!’” cries Mrs. McKaw. The poor cook bursts into tears and runs back to the galley. Perhaps nighttime will bring a little relief. But no, Mr. McKaw snores and Mrs. McKaw nags in her sleep.

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Image copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy of gedadamson.com

The next morning Captain Stan wakes up to the worst insult of all—guano dots his royal blue pirate coat. Even this offense, though, pales in comparison to what Stan sees next. Perched between his parents sits Tiny in a crisp white shirt and tie with his feathers slicked back. This is the last straw. “GET OFF MY SHIP!!” yells Captain Stan. Mr. and Mrs. McKaw waste no time in flying the coop, but there’s no respite for Captain Stan and Tiny for dead ahead is a colossal storm.

The ship is no match for the lightning, crashing waves, and fierce winds. The cook, the cabin boy, Captain Stan, and the remains of the broken brigand are washed into the roiling sea. “Just when all seems lost, however, Tiny gives a great SQUAWK! ‘It’s Mr. and Mrs. McKaw!’” cries Stan. “‘And my aunts, uncles, cousins…everyone!’” says Tiny. The parrots rescue everyone and fly them safely to nearby Blue Feather Island, which just happens to be Tiny’s home.

All the members of the parrot family help Stan build a new ship, and in the process he gains a new perspective on Mrs. and Mr. McKaw’s personalities. “Mrs. McKaw’s bossiness turned out to be very useful” as she delegates jobs, and Mr. McKaw keeps the crew entertained while they work “just by being Mr. McKaw.” The two are even hungry enough to eat up everything the cook prepares, much to his delight.

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Image copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy of gedadamson.com

With a new ship finally complete, it’s time for the McKaws to take wing. Stan thanks them for all their help and apologizes for throwing them off his ship. On her part, Mrs. McKaw apologizes for being rude and thanks Stan for taking care of Tiny. And what about the new ship? It might be even better than the original with a bold parrot-emblazoned sail and a parrot figurehead pointing the way. As the crew sets sail, Captain Stan acknowledges, “‘You know, Tiny, I’m really glad I met the McKaws.’”

With the dash of a swashbuckler and the true aim of a compass, Ged Adamson depicts the high and low tides of family life in this high seas adventure. His humorous portrayals of personality traits that can drive family members crazy will resonate with kids and adults alike as they laugh through the travails Captain Stan and Tiny suffer during a visit by Tiny’s parents. In a sweet turn of events, though, Adamson reminds us that when storms come—in whatever form—the momentary squalls are forgotten, the anchor of family relationships is dropped, and everyone battens the hatches together.

Adamson’s vivid illustrations of Captain Stan in his sharp pirate garb, colorful (in more ways than one) Mr. and Mrs. McKaw, and the well-fitted wooden ship will delight pirate fans of all ages. Mr. McKaw’s imaginary stories are cleverly portrayed as chalk drawings on a black background, and the sea swirls with cool hues of blue and turquoise. Like Captain Stan, readers will be glad they have a chance to Meet the McKaws and will want them to visit again and again.

Ages 4 – 8

Sky Pony Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-1629146188

Discover more of Ged Adamson’s work on his website!

Meet Ged Adamson and learn about his inspirations, his writing life, and his other books in this funny and insightful Q & A!

National Humor Month Activity

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Original Avast! Pirate Treasure Map Board Game design by Conor Carroll copyright 2016

Avast! Pirate Treasure Map Board Game

 

Playing board games together can lead to some pretty funny times. Enjoy this printable Avast! Pirate Treasure Board Game! It’s Arrgh-uably the best game on the seven seas!   

Supplies

Printable Avast! Game Board and Game Pieces

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Original artwork copyright Conor Carroll and Celebrate Picture Books, 2016

Directions

  1. Print the Avast! Board Game pages (Options: print on white paper, parchment-colored paper, or on card stock. To make white paper appear old – as in the picture – paint with a tea wash before taping together. See directions for tea wash below)
  2. Tape together the 4 pieces of the map. (Option: map pages printed on regular paper can be  glued to a piece of poster board to make the game board more sturdy.) 
  3. Print the Avast! Pirate Loot Tokens
  4. Cut out the Avast! Pirate Loot Tokens
  5. Print the Avast! Game Cards
  6. Cut out the Avast! Game Cards

To use a tea bag to make the map look old:

  1. Steep a black tea tea bag in 1/4 cup boiling water for 3 minutes
  2. Squeeze the tea bag dry over the cup and discard
  3. With the paint brush, paint the 4 pages of the map with the tea before taping them together
  4. Let dry or dry with a hair drier set on Low.

To Play the Game

  1. Each player chooses a Pirate Loot Token as their playing piece to move along the board
  2. Shuffle and stack the Game Cards
  3. Choose which player will go first
  4. Players choose the top card from the pile and follow the directions to move spaces on the game board.
  5. After moving, players should put their game card in a discard pile
  6. If Game Cards run out before the end of the game, flip over the discard pile and use the cards again
  7. The first player to arrive at the X on the map finds the treasure and is the winner!

Picture Book Review

March 26 – It’s Umbrella Month

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About the Holiday

This month we celebrate umbrellas, those perky protective accessories that have been around since earliest times. Ancient civilizations used palmetto fronds for shade and during inclemet weather. The first waterproof umbrellas were created by the Chinese, who waxed or lacquered their paper parasols. Umbrellas were strictly women’s accessories until Jonas Hanway, a Persian travel writer, used one in public in England in the 1700s. English men then took up the practice, calling their version a “Hanway.” The first collapsible umbrella was designed in 1710, and in 1928 the folding pocket umbrella appeared. Since then, umbrellas have become fashionable and necessary accessories for all.

The Umbrella Queen

Written by Shirin Yim Bridges | Illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

 

The residents of a small village in Thailand are well known for the beautiful paper umbrellas they make and sell in the local shops. The umbrellas are colorful, but always decorated with flowers and butterflies. Every New Year’s Day the villagers hold an Umbrella Parade, and the woman who has painted the most beautiful umbrella is chosen as the Umbrella Queen.

Noot is a little girl who longs to paint her own umbrellas and partake in the parade. One day her mother gives her an umbrella to paint and shows her how to copy her design. Noot is a natural artist, and her finished umbrella is nearly indistinguishable from her mother’s. She is given her own painting spot in the garden and five umbrellas to decorate.

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Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, courtesy of taeeunyoo.com

Noot paints the familiar butterflies and is about to start on the flowers when she is inspired to draw elephants instead. She covers all five umbrellas with elephants doing handstands, playing and squirting water, walking trunk-to-tail, and just being silly. When her mother sees these umbrellas, she is unhappy. Flowers and butterflies sell in the local shops, not elephants. Noot understands the importance of the money made from the umbrellas to her family. For the next year she paints the large umbrellas with the traditional design. At night, however, using bits and pieces, she fashions tiny umbrellas. These she paints with elephants, and displays them on her windowsill.

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Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, courtesy of taeeunyoo.com

As New Year approaches there is much excitement in the village. It is rumored that the king will be visiting and will choose the Umbrella Queen himself. One day the villagers receive the message that the king will indeed arrive. The villagers spruce up their town and each woman displays her umbrellas in front of her home.

The king walks the length of the street, considering each umbrella until he comes to Noot’s house. He is very impressed with the umbrellas painted by Noot’s mother, but his gaze wanders to Noot’s windowsill, and he asks who painted the “strange” umbrellas.

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Image copyright Taeeun Yoo, courtesy of taeeunyoo.com

A bit embarrassed by the attention, Noot shyly answers the king’s questions about the size of the small umbrellas and the unusual designs. In trying to explain herself, she forgets to look at the ground when talking to the king, and when her eyes meet his she realizes that, instead of judging her, he is charmed. “I like elephants,” she tells him, and he laughs. The king then takes Noot’s hand and names her the Umbrella Queen because “she paints from her heart.”

Shirin Yim Bridges has written a unique story that effectively and engagingly presents the often conflicting dilemma of responsibility to others while staying true to yourself. Noot’s journey from an observer in her family’s business to a valued artist is told straightforwardly, and the familial love and support are clearly emphasized. The king’s recognition of Noot’s talent and heart will be highly satisfying for young readers or listeners.

Taeeun Yoo’s delicate illustrations in gold, red, black, and green set the story firmly in Thailand and perfectly demonstrate the close-knit village and relationships as well as the intricate beauty of the umbrellas and the pride the villagers take in them.

The Umbrella Queen is a wonderful story about family, discovering your talents, and self-expression that would find a welcome spot on any child’s bookshelf.

Ages 4 – 8

Greenwillow Books, Harper Collins, New York, 2008 | ISBN 978-0060750404

Learn more about Taeeun Yoo, her books, and her art on her website!

Umbrella Month Activity

CPB - Umbrella Matching Game

Rainy Day Mix Up Matching Game

 

A sudden storm scattered all the umbrellas and raincoats! Can you put the pairs together again? Draw a line to connect the umbrella and the raincoat that have the same pattern. Print the Rainy Day Mix Up Game here!

Picture Book Review

March 17 – World Sleep Day

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About the Holiday

Losing out on sleep can really put a crimp in your life. Not only does lack of sleep leave you feeling lethargic and bleary-eyed during the day, it can be detrimental to your overall health. For children sleep deprivation can affect how well they do in school and their behavior. World Sleep Day was established to bring awareness to the importance of sleep and to promote ways of improving sleep for all.

How to Put Your Parents to Bed

Written by Mylisa Larsen | Illustrated by Babette Cole

 

So here you are—night time. Bedtime, really, but you’re not tired. You still have enough energy to “scale a tall tower,” “sail savage seas,” or “paint a masterpiece,” but think about your poor parents. Look at them! They really need to go to bed! You know parents, though—“Parents are not good at going to bed. “‘I have to put in a load of laundry,’” they say. ‘I need to do the dishes.’ ‘Just one more email.’”

Someone needs to take charge, and the family feline—who has been a keen observer of the bedtime dynamics—thinks its pint-sized owner is just that “someone.” So the little girl, living in the midst of a chaotic night with her overscheduled, overworked parents, follows the cat’s pointed paw directions. She takes food out of her parents’ hands, closes the computer, and tells them “‘It’s time for bed.’” The first task is getting them to brush their teeth. The girl squeezes the toothpaste onto the brush and even helps her dad reach his molars.

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Image copyright Babette Cole, courtesy of babette-cole.com

Next, it’s time to make sure her parents dress in their pajamas. But Dad’s on the phone and Mom’s still watching TV. Ugh! First Mom and Dad wouldn’t go to bed, and now they’re falling asleep on the couch and floor! Their daughter keeps them moving in the right direction, though. Once they hit the bedroom, however, they get a second wind and become “unruly when faced with actually getting in bed. Tiny things upset them. They can work themselves into a state.” What to do? The girl remains calm and does not negotiate. Once Mom and Dad are tucked in, it’s story time. A tricky bit—do they only want their favorite story? How many?

At this point, the girl thinks she’s almost finished. But suddenly something unexpected comes up. Mom is missing her favorite pillow. Dad’s socks itch. And they both want to check on the dog. Oh brother! While the girl is handling these crises, her parents are starting a pillow fight! Phew! She gets them all tucked in, gives them each a kiss good night, and takes away their cell phones.

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Image copyright Babette Cole, courtesy of babette-cole.com

Finally, they are off to dream land, and the girl has some time for herself! But wait a minute…. The cat suggests she’s not exactly looking her best. In fact, she looks exhausted. Maybe, the frisky feline thinks, she needs to go to bed.

Mylisa Larsen’s funny role-reversal primer will have kids giggling and adults nodding appreciatively from Page 1 until The End. Speaking directly at readers, How to Put Your Parents to Bed offers sly winks at the many bedtime distractions of today’s families. The witty conspiratorial tone to the cat’s instructions gives kids a secret feeling of clout even while they may recognize their own behavior. And parents will wish they could still act this way at bedtime.

Rebecca Cole’s dynamic illustrations of the recalcitrant parents doing last-minute chores, stubbornly refusing to brush their teeth, jumping on the bed, and fooling with delaying tactics ramps up the hilarity of this bedtime how-to. Kids will want to linger over the pages to catch all the humorous details.

Ages 4 – 8

Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollins, 2016 | ISBN 978-0062320643

Visit Mylisa Larsen’s website to learn more about How to Put Your Parents to Bed and read her blog.

You can learn more about Babette Cole and the worlds she created on her website.

Get ready to laugh with the How to Put Your Parents to Bed book trailer!

World Sleep Day Activity

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Sleepy Time Word Search

 

Can you find the 15 sleep-related words in this printable, star-shaped Sleepy Time Word Search? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

 

Picture Book Review

March 13 – National Napping Day

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About the Holiday

If there’s one day a year when you should be easy on yourself and take a nap when the feeling strikes, today is it! Held annually on the Monday after the spring time change, National Napping Day allows us to recapture that lost hour of sleep and reset our body clocks. So if you start feeling that can’t-keep-my-eyes-open  weariness, go ahead and kick off your shoes, get comfy, and….

Twenty Yawns

Written by Jane Smiley | Illustrated by Lauren Castillo

 

A little girl and her mom and dad are out for a day at the beach. Along the curving coastline they found the perfect spot to plant their umbrella and unfold their chairs. While Lucy dug a hole near the foaming waves, her mom and dad read in the shade of the umbrella. When the hole was big enough to hold her dad, Lucy “covered him up and they laughed and laughed.” Later, Lucy’s dad took her hand and swung “her into the sky” just as a wave crashed onto the shore.

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Image copyright Lauren Castillo, text copyright Jane Smiley. Courtesy of laurencastillo.com

In the afternoon Lucy, Mom, and Dad walked “all the way to the end of the beach,” stopping here and there to chase seagulls, fly a kite, and play. Coming back, Lucy rolled “down the soft warm dunes,” never wanting the day to end. Returning to their umbrella, the three built a sandcastle and headed for home only when the sun began to set. “Lucy yawned. Mom yawned. Dad yawned.” Everyone was ready to go to bed early.

When they reached home, “Lucy put on her pajamas inside out, climbed into bed, and yawned a big YAWN.” Lucy’s mom began to read her a story about a little boy named Fred. Lucy yawned and began to doze, but soon she no longer heard her mom’s voice. She peeked at her mom. “She was asleep!” Lucy stared out into her room. “The moon shone through the window, a silver veil that fell across the floor. Everything looked mysterious, even Lucy’s own hands on the bedspread.”

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Image copyright Lauren Castillo, text copyright Jane Smiley. Courtesy of laurencastillo.com

Suddenly, all the people in her pictures—Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Elizabeth, Mom, Dad, and even Fred in the book on the floor—seemed to be looking at her. Lucy wanted her teddy bear, Molasses. She crept out of her room, past her dad sleeping in a living room chair, and over to the bookcase, where Molasses hid under a pile of toys. As Lucy pulled at Molasses, Hornet the giraffe, Juno the horse, Mathilda the alligator, Frank the kangaroo, and his baby, Leonard all tumbled to the floor.

As Lucy started back to her room, she saw her toys watching her. They looked so lonely. One by one she carried them to her bed and “dropped them in a patch of moonlight.” She tucked them in and gave each a kiss. She thought they all “looked sleepy and happy.” Lucy cuddled up next to her toys and yawned. They in turn yawned too. So did Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Elizabeth, Mom, Dad, and even Fred. Lucy hugged Molasses tight, “gave one last YAWN…and fell asleep.”

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Image copyright Lauren Castillo, text copyright Jane Smiley. Courtesy of laurencastillo.com

Jane Smiley’s Twenty Yawns perfectly captures the deep-down happy tiredness after a day in the sun. While Mom and Dad surrender to sleep, Lucy’s awareness is heightened in the strangely quiet house and can only be alleviated by sharing her bedtime routine with her stuffed animal friends. Beautiful lyrical passages paint word pictures of the tropical setting and Lucy’s imagination, while Lucy’s tender care for her toys replicates the love her parents show her.

Lauren Castillo’s blue sea and golden beach glows with the warmth of the sun and a family’s togetherness. Lucy and her dad play in the surf, Lucy’s parents walk hand-in-hand as Lucy runs after seagulls on their walk, and they all help build a sandcastle. Back home in their cozy house, Lucy and her mom gaze out a window as their house is cast in shadow by the setting sun. Tall palm trees wave against a blue, purple, pink, peach, and yellow sky. Little Lucy is adorable as she plays in the dunes, creeps through her sleeping house, and kisses her toys goodnight. Young readers will contentedly join Lucy and her family in their fun day as well as their yawny snoozing. 

Little ones who wonder if there are indeed 20 yawns in the book will be rewarded by counting each sigh.

Twenty Yawns is a sweet, quiet book for naptimes, bedtimes, indoor days, and any time when a little relaxation is just what’s needed.

Ages 2 – 7

Two Lions, 2016 | ISBN 978-1477826355

You can connect with Jane Smiley on Facebook.

Learn more about Lauren Castillo, her books, and her art on her website.

Napping Day Activity

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Sleepy Buddy Craft

 

It’s easy to make a one-of-a-kind sleepy buddy for naptime or any time. With just a few materials and your own creativity, you’ll soon have a new friend to snuggle with!

Supplies

  • 1 8-inch by 11-inch piece of fleece in the color or your choice for the body (or scraps if you have some from an earlier project). A larger piece of fleece can be used to make a larger buddy
  • 1 5-inch by 8-inch piece of fleece in the color or your choice for the hair (or scraps if you have some from an earlier project)
  • 1 small piece of fleece or other material for a pocket, clothes, or blanket
  • Small scraps of fleece or other material for the face
  • Fiber Fill
  • Thread and sewing needle OR fabric glue
  • Scissors

Directions

To Make the Body

  1. Fold the large piece of fleece in half lengthwise and sew along the open side and along the bottom. Alternatively, if using a larger size piece of fleece, fold upward and sew or glue the two sides closed.
  2. Turn the form inside out

To Make the Hair

  1. Cut a piece of fleece as wide as your buddy and about 7 – 8 inches long
  2. Fold the fleece lengthwise
  3. Insert both ends of the fleece into the opening at the top of the body
  4. Sew or glue the opening shut, securing the hair
  5. Cut strips about ¼-inch wide from the top of the hair to close to where the hair is sown into the body

To Make a Pocket or Clothes

  1. Cut a piece of fleece in the shape of a pocket, shirt, pants, diaper, or blanket
  2. Sew or glue the pocket or clothes to the buddy

To Make the Face

  1. Cut eyes, a nose, and a mouth in whatever way you would like your buddy to look. (My buddy is sleeping.)
  2. Sew or glue the face to the buddy
  3. Snuggle up!

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.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-i-want-that-love-playing-with-triceratops

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.

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

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