January 30 – It’s International Quality of Life Month

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About the Holiday

How one achieves their definition of a good quality of life may differ for every person, but in general it encompasses being happy and satisfied with one’s relationships, work, living conditions, and self. Whether you find happiness and quality of life in outdoor or indoor pursuits, with others or alone, at work or at home, this month’s holiday gives you time to get in touch with your inner quiet place and reflect on changes or improvements to bring you more peace and happiness in life.

Charlotte and the Quiet Place

Written by Deborah Sosin | Illustrated by Sara Woolley

 

Charlotte is a girl who likes quiet who lives in a noisy world. Everywhere she goes, it seems, it’s impossible to escape from sounds that disturb her peace. At home the hallway creaks where “the floorboards groan,” the living room is like an arcade where the “TV bellows and blares,” and the kitchen is filled with Otto’s barks for his dinner. Even in Charlotte’s bedroom, “which is supposed to be a quiet place, the old steam radiator hisses, whistles, and whines. Where can Charlotte find a quiet place?”

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Image copyright Sara Woolley, 2015, text copyright Deborah Sosin, 2015. Courtesy of sarawoolley.com

When Charlotte goes to school, things are no better. In the classroom kids are boisterous and bells ring; the lunchroom echoes with clattering trays and scuffing chairs; and the playground blares with big voices and stomping feet but also with the little squeaks and rattle of the swings. “Even in the library, which is supposed to be a quiet place, the children giggle, yammer, and yell. Where can Charlotte find a quiet place?”

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Image copyright Sara Woolley, 2015, text copyright Deborah Sosin, 2015. Courtesy of sarawoolley.com

The outside world resounds with the din of jackhammers, horns, sirens, shouts, cars, music, and the “screeches, rumbles, and roars” of the subway. “Even in the park, which is supposed to be a quiet place, the leaf blower buzzes, blusters, and hums.” Charlotte puts her hands to her ears. “‘Nooo!’” she cries, “‘I have to find a quiet place!’”

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Image copyright Sara Woolley 2015, text copyright Deborah Sosin, 2015. Courtesy of sarawoolley.com

On Saturday Charlotte takes her dog for a walk in the park. Suddenly, Otto spies a squirrel and takes off running, wrenching his leash out of Charlotte’s hand. She chases after him down a hill, over a bridge, into the middle of a grove of trees. Out of breath, Charlotte and Otto sit beneath a tree. Gasping, Charlotte’s “belly rises up and down, up and down. Her breath goes in and out, in and out. Hooooo ahhhhh. Hooo ahhh.”

Slowly, Charlotte’s breath comes easier and “her mind slows down.” In this state, she discovers another, even quieter place. It is a place deep inside where her breath is soft and her “thoughts are hushed and low.” It is “a place as quiet as the small silence on the very last page of her favorite book, the silence right after ‘The End.’”

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Image copyright Sara Woolley, 2015, text copyright Deborah Sosin, 2015. Courtesy of sarawoolley.com

In a little while, Charlotte and Otto leave the grove, but now whenever home or school or the neighborhood is too loud, Charlotte remembers where she can find a quiet place. She simply closes her eyes and pays attention to that place deep in her belly and deep in her mind—“that quiet place inside.”

For so many children the world is a blaring, clattering place where their thoughts are drowned out by the noises around them. Deborah Sosin’s award-winning Charlotte and the Quiet Place validates these feelings and offers children a way to discover inner peace wherever they are. As a tonic to today’s hyper-stimulated environment, kids and adults alike will benefit from the method of mindful reflection Sosin presents. Sosin’s combination of evocative verbs and repetition makes the story fresh and an excellent read-aloud while also mirroring the sounds that are a part of our everyday life.

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Image copyright Sara Woolley, 2015, text copyright Deborah Sosin, 2015. Courtesy of sarawoolley.com

Sara Woolley’s beautiful watercolor illustrations vividly depict not only Charlotte’s world but the sounds that disturb her peace. Amid the fully realized home, school, and neighborhood environments, complete with realistic details kids will recognize, sharp cracks of equipment, blaring bells and whistles, high-pitched voices, and other noises spark the page. Portrayals of Charlotte, her hands over her ears and her eyes sad, express her distress in a way kids will understand. When Charlotte finds the grove of trees in which she first experiences inner peace, Woolley’s color palette turns softer, with peaceful tones of green, blue, and yellow where, previously, “louder” purples, reds, and golds predominated.

Charlotte and the Quiet Place is a very welcomed book for those times when peace seems elusive and will give comfort to children who prefer quiet places and have more introverted natures. The book would make a wonderful addition to all children’s book shelves as well as to school and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 8

Parallax Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-1941529027

Visit Charlotte and the Quiet Place on her own website! You’ll find resources, images and videos, and more!

View a gallery of artwork for books, comics, and other illustration work by Sara Woolley on her website!

Meet Deborah Sosin

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-interview-with-author-deborah-sosinDeborah Sosin is a writer, editor, and clinical social worker specializing in mindfulness-based psychotherapy. She holds an MSW from Smith College School for Social Work and an MFA from Lesley University. Debbie’s picture book, Charlotte and the Quiet Place, illustrated by Sara Woolley, was published by Parallax Press in 2015 and has won multiple awards including the 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Gold Award, the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards Silver Medal, and the 2015 National Parenting Publications Bronze Award. Debbie’s essays and op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe Magazine, Salon, CognoscentiBrevity Blog, The Writer’s Chronicle, Journal News, Writer’s Digest, Zone 3 Literary Journal, JMWW Journal, The Manifest-Station, and elsewhere. Her essays also appear in the anthologies Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What? and The Apollo 11 Moon Landing (Perspectives on Modern World History). (Photo by Kevin Day Photography)

You can connect with Deborah Sosin on: Her Website | Facebook | Twitter

Hi Debbie! I’m really thrilled to have you join me today to talk about your work. In your career you write for adults and children, work within the publishing industry, provide publicity services, and teach. How did you get started? Did you always want to write?

I kept a diary starting at around age ten and always loved writing for school or for fun. I started getting more serious about writing for publication in the past ten years, studied at GrubStreet, attended the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and eventually went back to school to get an MFA in Creative Writing. I wish I had started earlier, but it’s been rewarding to finally follow my true passion.

What influenced you to write Charlotte and the Quiet Place?

I wrote the book as an independent project as part of my MFA studies at Lesley University. They say “write what you know,” so I thought about my childhood growing up in kind of a noisy house, where my brother played the piano, my father had a radio and TV on simultaneously, and my mother was on the phone a lot. And then I thought about my longtime meditation practice and how tuning in to my breathing has helped me find a quiet place inside. So I wanted to write a story about children finding their own quiet place inside themselves.

You give school presentations on mindfulness and your picture book Charlotte and the Quiet Place for various ages. Is there an experience from any of these that you would like to share?

School visits are my favorite part of being an author! No matter what age the students are, they love to help me tell the story by repeating the “noisy” sounds and the “hoo ahh” breathing sounds. We usually do a few calming/breathing exercises together and, without fail, even the squirmiest group will settle into a beautiful, shared, often profound silence. Once, when asked where Charlotte finds her quiet place, one kindergarten girl said, “In her belly and in her brain, where it’s calm.” Many kids get that idea. What could be better? I also love showing them my early scribbles and illustrator Sara Woolley’s wonderful sketches and storyboards, and sharing the step-by-step process of publishing the book, from concept to completion.

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Deborah Sosin reads Charlotte and the Quiet Place to students at Newton Montessori School. Photo courtesy of Newton Montessori School.

Can you talk a little about mindfulness and how it can benefit children?

Mindfulness has become a catchword these days, but my favorite definition is from Dr. Amy Saltzman: “Noticing what’s happening right here and now, with a friendly, curious attitude, then choosing what to do next.” Many top-notch scientific studies show that mindfulness can help kids with concentration, attention, self-soothing, anxiety, depression, sleep, mood, compassion, confidence…I could go on. Compared with adults, most kids are naturally mindful, that is “in the moment,” but kids do get stressed out and worried about the past or the future, so mindfulness helps. I sometimes worry that parents and teachers might use it for disciplinary reasons (“Enough! Go be mindful in the corner!”), which is not the point. It’s a whole-life practice, not a technique or intervention. And, as the book shows, mindfulness can lead us to a quiet place inside that we can access whenever we want.

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Students at the Cottage Montessori School in Arlington, Massachusetts play the Silence Game with director Karen Wagner, watching the sand in the hourglass. Photo courtesy of Stacey Moriarty.

Can you tell me a little about your work with Grub Street, a creative writing center in Boston?

I started taking classes at GrubStreet in 2008; my first class was “Six Weeks, Six Essays,” and from that class, I helped form a longtime regular writing group. I started blogging soon after and then submitted personal essays for publication, with some good luck. GrubStreet is a fantastic, inclusive community, with excellent faculty and a huge range of motivated, smart, and enthusiastic students, from beginners to veterans. After a few years, I applied to teach classes there and am proud to be on their instructor and consultant rosters now.

You are an accomplished choral singer, having performed at Lincoln Center, the United Nations, Boston’s Symphony Hall, and on an international tour. When did you begin choral singing? Do you have an anecdote you’d like to share from any of your experiences?

I’ve been singing my whole life and have been in choruses since elementary school. Singing with other people is extremely gratifying and, after all the “verbal”-type things I do, including my work as a psychotherapist, it’s a lovely change of pace. I spent about 15 years in the Zamir Chorale of Boston, which specializes in Jewish choral music. Our tours to Eastern Europe, Italy, and Israel were extraordinary. In 1999, when we sang at Auschwitz and Terezin, the sites of former concentration camps, it was hard to keep our emotions in check, but it felt important to revive the voices of the Jewish people that the Nazis had attempted to quell. A PBS documentary film, “Zamir: Jewish Voices Return to Poland,” chronicled our tour that summer. I think it’s still available through the Zamir Chorale website.

What’s the best part about writing for children?

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Children enjoy drawing their noisy and quiet places at an Oblong Bookstore event in NY. Photo courtesy of AM Media Group

After having focused almost exclusively on nonfiction for most of my writing career, it’s been wonderful to work in the very precise and rich world of picture-book writing with so many lovely, funny, imaginative, and supportive fellow writers I’ve met through SCBWI and the amazing Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, Mass.

Thanks, Debbie, for stopping by and chatting! I wish you all the best with Charlotte and the Quiet Place and all of your future endeavors!

International Quality of Life Activity

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Share a Smile Cards

 

Life is better when you share smiles with those you know—and those you don’t! Try it! When you’re out today at school or other places, look someone in the eye and smile. You’ll probably get a smile back—and you can be sure that you will have made the other person’s and your day better!

Here are some Smile Cards that you can share. Why not slip one into your dad’s pocket or your mom’s purse, put one in your friend’s backpack, or sneak one onto your teacher’s desk? You can even leave one somewhere for a stranger to find! Have fun sharing your smiles, and see how much better you and the others around you feel!

Click here to print your Share a Smile Cards.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-charlotte-and-the-quiet-place-noisy-neighborhood

You can find Charlotte and the Quiet Place at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & NobleIndieBound | Parallax Press 

Picture Book Review

 

January 27 – It’s Celebration of Life Month

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was established by Food for Health International to encourage people to take a holistic approach to taking care of themselves, not only their physical health but their emotional health as well. Celebrating all that life has to offer while taking time to enjoy family and friends and be mindful of others through mutual respect, inclusion, empathy, and gratitude goes a long way towards greater happiness and health. Sharing today’s book with your kids is a wonderful way to celebrate this month-long holiday all year around.

A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human

Written by Matt Forrest Esenwine | Illustrated by André Ceolin

 

“Welcome to Humanity! You’re really going to enjoy it.” With this expansive greeting, Matt Forrest Esenwine invites kids in to learn what they need to know “… to get the most out of [their] human experience….” First up is family—that group of people who spend so much time with you and “care about you the most.” But what does a family do? “Families love each other, disappoint each other, support each other, and get angry with each other, over and over—sometimes all in the same day. Weird, right?” But you can be sure that the “…whole ‘caring about you’ part never stops.

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Image copyright André Ceolin, 2022, text copyright Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2022. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

So what do you do with all of that caring that comes your way? You can share it! How? Well, by being kind. Sure, we hear that word all the time, but what does “being kind” really look like? Esenwine and André Ceolin give some easy-to-emulate examples that don’t take any money or super strength or extra time. In fact, everybody carries one of the easiest—maybe even the most meaningful—way to show kindness right on their face: their smile.

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Image copyright André Ceolin, 2022, text copyright Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2022. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Once kids have kindness down, Esenwine moves on to empathy and urges kids to imagine why others may act the way they do, to think about what else may be going on with someone at home, in school, or elsewhere. Using empathy leads to compassion. What does compassion mean and how does it work? Esenwine and Ceolin show readers a few examples as well as reminding them that “we humans are quite good at ending up in the same situations again and again. Whatever another person is feeling, chances are, you’ll feel the same way at some point too” with a gallery of portraits of kids depicting emotions we all experience from time to time—and, often, every day.

One way of thinking about and reacting to situations that “has produced excellent results for over two thousand years,” Esenwine reveals, is the Golden Rule. He then shows kids how to apply this thoughtful idea to a range of situations to create better communication and understanding than getting angry or pushy or impatient.

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Image copyright André Ceolin, 2022, text copyright Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2022. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Esenwine acknowledges that there will be bad days among the good, but these too can be handled with honesty, apologies, and forgiveness. Yes, “being human can sometimes be messy,” but that’s where family and friends can help. And, of course, they’re there to celebrate the good times too. So what does all of this kindness and compassion and empathy come down to? The thing that connects us all: Love. “So, welcome to Humanity!” Esenwine emphasizes, “We hope you enjoy your humanness. And we love that you’re here.”

Sprinkled throughout the text are brief “Pro Tips” that in one sentence expand on an idea and give kids confidence in understanding and/or applying the values in their own life.

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Image copyright André Ceolin, 2022, text copyright Matt Forrest Esenwine, 2022. Courtesy of Beaming Books.

Matt Forrest Esenwine has created a book about treating others according to the Golden Rule that goes to the heart not only of how to do that but, so importantly, when and why. Sometimes the need for kindness and empathy can be apparent, as when a child or adult is sad, alone, or has a disappointment or obvious mishap. But what about when someone’s behavior seems to be a personal slight, disrespectful, or just going against the rules?

That’s were Esenwine’s gentle, straightforward, and honest storytelling invites readers to stop and really consider every person and situation individually, to dig deep into one’s own memory and experiences for better understanding and supportive responses. He also addresses the importance of apologizing and forgiveness. And he does all of this with humor and examples that will resonate with kids. Moreover, these elements provide a spark for further conversations among children and adults about specific incidents in a child’s life, possible reasons behind them, and how the child can respond in a kind, empathetic, and compassionate way.

From the first spread, which shows a sidewalk busy with people all thinking their own thoughts (some of whom reappear elsewhere), André Ceolin engages readers in looking closely and thinking about how the people may be feeling, what they are doing, and why they might be behaving in a certain way. He depicts the characters in detailed places and situations familiar to kids that will spark recognition and lead to meaningful discussions and understanding. Ceolin’s images on each page, as well as a portrait gallery of universal emotions, provide excellent social emotional learning tools for adults to share with children when talking about recognizing and reading others’ feelings through facial expressions. Bookending the text, Ceolin emphasizes the support and enduring love of family and good friends.

A well-conceived, heartfelt, and impactful book you’ll want to share again and again, A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human reminds readers that we’re all in this—school, work, sports, clubs: life—together and is a timely must-have addition to home, school, classroom, and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 8

Beaming Books, 2022 | ISBN 978-1506481739

About the Author

Matt Forrest Esenwine is an author and poet from Warner, New Hampshire. His debut picture book, Flashlight Night (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the Best Picture Books for Kids of 2017. His poetry can be found in numerous anthologies, including The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2015), I Am Someone Else (Charlesbridge, 2019), and Highlights for Children. You can visit him at mattforrest.com and connect with him on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube.

About the Illustrator

André Ceolin studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He has illustrated over twenty books for children. André lives in Brazil with his family. You can visit him at andreceolin.com and on Instagram.

Celebration of Life Month Activity

CPB - Random Acts of Kindness cards

Kindness Cards

 

Here are some cheery cards that are sure to make the recipient’s day happier! Give them to a friend, a family member, your teacher, or your bus driver to show them that you care and that they mean a lot to you!

Random Acts of Kindness Cards Sheet 1 |  Sheet 2 | Sheet 3

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You can find A Beginner’s Guide to Being Human at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

January 17 – It’s National Skating Month

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About the Holiday

National Skating Month was established by U.S. Figure Skating as a week-long celebration in March 2002 following the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. The holiday gives ice-skating rinks, clubs, and programs an opportunity to invite new families to the ice by offering free lessons and skating demonstrations. If figure skating isn’t your thing, you might like to take your skills to the hockey rink or just to a local pond for some free-style skating. However you choose to enjoy the ice, skating is fun and for everyone! To learn more about the holiday and find resources for bigger groups, visit the US Figure Skating website. To download and print fun skating-inspired puzzles and coloring pages from US Figure Skating, click here

The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story

Written by Jocelyn Watkinson | Illustrated by Marcus Cutler

 

Three pigs were just finishing their hockey scrimmage when a wolf sprang from behind some bushes, fangs sharp and claws at the ready to satisfy his hunger since they looked so delicious. But as they quickly took off their skates and packed up their gear, they said, “‘I’m soorry there, Wolf, you are soorely mistaken—'” To which the wolf replied, “‘Oh no! But I’m not! You’re Canadian bacon!'” The pigs jumped on their snowmobile and hurried home to their snow fort in town. 

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022, text copyright Jocelyn Watkinson, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

It didn’t take long for the wolf to catch up with them, and from outside their door, he shouted, “‘Little pigs! Little pigs! Let me come in!'” But they just replied, “‘Not by the pads on our shinny-shin-shins!'” The wolf threatened to blow the fort down, but this was no flimsy home built of sticks or straw. In fact, they told him, “‘there’s not one single flaw!'” The wolf wasn’t going to give up easily and he collected Moose and Bear to help him break in.

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022, text copyright Jocelyn Watkinson, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

When the three pigs had just enough of the wolf’s team’s attack, they came out and challenged them to “‘settle this fight the Canadian way'” with “‘a hockey game showdown.'” With a Canada goose as a ref, they took to the ice, attracting a crowd of spectators. The wolf and his team thought they’d win with ease, but the pigs “deked and they cut: / the pigs couldn’t be caught,” and when they scored, the wolf took to underhanded measures to stop them. 

But the pigs were too quick and too nimble, and they ran up the score. When the ref blew her whistle ending the game, the pigs celebrated saving their home, but the wolf “… full of frustration and hunger and spite, / … threw down his gloves and dove in for a bite.” It looked like the pigs were goners for sure, but Bear and Moose called him out on his poor sportsmanship. Wolf dropped the three pigs, feeling ashamed but still hungry. 

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022, text copyright Jocelyn Watkinson, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Dragging his stick and hanging his head, the wolf trudged off the ice, but one pig called out to him, inviting him to join them in a feast back at the fort. When the wolf saw their spread of poutine, tourtière, beaver tails, butter tarts, and so many other mouthwatering delicacies, he apologized: “‘Pigs, I’m so sorry that I was a brute.'” / “‘There’s nothing for you to be soorry a-boot.'” a pig graciously told him. The pigs, Wolf, Bear, and Moose all made amends and piled up their plates. Then they settled in to watch a game on TV. And as “they put up their feet,” the wolf had to agree that “‘being friends with Canadian bacon is sweet!'”

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022, text copyright Jocelyn Watkinson, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Full of clever rhymes, puns, valuable lessons, and dialogue that winks at Canadian pronunciations, Jocelyn Watkinson’s story flows as smoothly as a hockey puck on ice. Her regional take on the traditional Three Little Pigs story is fast-paced and suspenseful while touching on themes of sportsmanship, remorse and forgiveness, and friendship all framed with high-energy hockey action and plenty of humor. Especially welcome is Watkinson’s depiction of Bear and Moose confronting Wolf when he reneges on his agreement to let the pigs go if they win the game. Standing up to a friend or for what’s right can be hard, but Watkinson shows readers that having the courage of your convictions is honorable, honest, and can often turn a negative situation into a positive experience.

Marcus Cutler scores with his funny, emotion-packed illustrations that will have kids laughing and cheering for the pigs from page to page. Winter sports fans will love all the hockey action and will want to linger over the pigs’ hard-won trophy, on which Cutler had fun hamming it up with the names of some of hockey’s greats, The spread of favorite Canadian foods is sure to inspire game-night treat feasts. Cutler also highlights the important role of Bear and Moose, who ultimately appeal to Wolf’s better nature.

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Image copyright Marcus Cutler, 2022. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

In a humorous and foreshadowing scene, Bear halfheartedly scratches at the pigs’ snow fort with one paw while holding a steaming mug in the other as Wolf exhorts his friends to “ram and claw and maul” their way inside. When Bear and Moose finally challenge Wolf to live up to his deal, their disapproval is clearly visible to readers. Wolf’s resulting feelings, as well as their cause, are also evident, giving kids and adults openings for meaningful discussions on behavior.

Whether your kids wait all year for hockey season, are fans of fractured fairy tales, or simply love a great story, The Three Canadian Pigs is a funny and impactful read aloud that’s sure to become a story time favorite all year long and a book you’ll be glad you added to your home, classroom, school, or public library.

Ages 4 – 7

Sleeping Bear Press, 2022  ISBN 978-1534111608

Discover more about Jocelyn Watkinson and her books on her website.

To learn more about Marcus Cutler, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Skating Month Activity

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The Three Canadian Pigs Activity Kit

 

The game’s on with the two puzzles and two coloring pages inspired by today’s book! Just download and print them from the Sleeping Bear Press site here:

The Three Canadian Pigs Activity Kit

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You can find The Three Canadian Pigs: A Hockey Story at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

January 11 – International Thank-You Day

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About the Holiday

Every January 11 International Thank-You Day encourages people around the world to express their gratitude to those who have made their lives better in some way. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to think about how we might thank all those who show kindnesses, provide services, teach us new skills, and share our lives. Teaching children how to express gratitude is a valuable lesson, and sharing today’s book with little ones is a wonderful way to get started. You’ll even find two creative activities that will help kids think about and share thankfulness all year through.

The Thank You Book

Written by Danna Smith | Illustrated by Juliana Perdomo

 

For little ones, “Thank you” may be one of the first phrases they learn when they begin getting out into the world. Thanking grandparents and other relatives, friends, teachers, librarians, store employees, and others becomes a part of every day. But for kids just learning manners and communication skills, prompts to say “thank you” may seem kind of random, confusing, and maybe even a bit intimidating.

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Image copyright Juliana Perdomo, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith. Courtesy of Little Simon.

This is where Danna Smith’s delightfully cheery story about sharing your appreciation comes in. With charming rhymes, Smith answers the questions of why, when, and to whom thanks are appropriate while infusing her story with the positive feelings that thanking someone for their kindness instills in the thanker and the one being thanked.

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Image copyright Juliana Perdomo, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith. Courtesy of Little Simon.

Smith begins with an inviting and easy-to-understand definition of thankfulness that will resonate with young children: “When someone is thoughtful or kind in some way, ‘thank you’ are two very nice words to say.” She then goes on to provide specific examples of times that gratitude is warranted as well as language to help kids express their feelings for specific acts of kindness. As illustrations show children engaged in various activities, readers discover they can say, “‘Thank you for helping.’ ‘Thank you for sharing.’ / ‘Thank you for teaching.’ ‘Thank you for caring.’”

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Image copyright Juliana Perdomo, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith. Courtesy of Little Simon.

But is saying those types of words the only way to show your gratitude? Children (and especially those who are reluctant to talk with people they don’t know well or feel shy about speaking up) learn that there are other ways to show gratitude, including giving hugs, drawings, and tasty treats.

Smith then reveals a well-known secret about saying thank you that will make today’s inclusive kids happy to be part of an appreciative community: “If you start with one thank-you, you’ll find it will grow.” And, indeed, Smith finishes her story by assuring readers that kids all over the world are thanking others for their friendship and kindness.

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Image copyright Juliana Perdomo, 2022, text copyright Danna Smith. Courtesy of Little Simon.

Danna Smith’s sweet board book, with its jaunty rhymes and enthusiasm for sharing gratitude is just the kind of story parents, teachers, and other adults will want to read with their little ones and little ones will want to hear again and again. Her open-ended phrasing allows adults and kids to discuss the types of people who are helpers, sharers, teachers, and care-ers, as well as those within their family and friends who are deserving of thanks and on which occasions. Smith also gives kids ideas for a wide range of ways to say thank you that may use their talents and mean more to them than words. These examples can also spark talks between parents, teachers, and other caregivers on other ways to show thanks. And what if you have a child who just feels appreciation deep inside? They are represented in these pages too.

Juliana Perdomo’s vibrant illustrations of kind acts by friends, parents, teachers, veterinarians, bus drivers, activity instructors, and others will enchant little ones and get them talking about all the times someone has done something nice for them. Readers of all ages can’t help but be filled with gratitude and good feelings when they’re greeted by Perdomo’s smiling and enthusiastic characters. Perdomo mirrors Smith’s text to give kids a concrete understanding of the concepts while filling her pages with cheer and heartfelt gratitude. The idea that saying thank-you can bring people together in a community and around the world is one that will excite kids and encourage them to show their appreciation.

Joyful and inspiring, The Thank You Book would be a favorite read aloud in any young child’s home library and is a must for all daycare, school, and public library board book collections.

Ages 3 and up

Little Simon, 2022 | ISBN 978-1665902922

Discover more about Danna Smith, her books, poetry, and paintings on her website.

You can connect with Juliana Perdomo on Instagram and Twitter.

International Thank-You Day Activities

 

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Thank You! Postcard

 

Do your kids have someone they’d like to thank for a kind act, a gift, or just for being a loved family member or friend? This cheery Thank You postcard makes it easy for kids to show their gratitude and share their love to people close by or far away. This card is also perfect to share for the upcoming holidays!

Thank You! Postcard

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Thankfulness Jar

 

It’s good to remind yourself periodically – or even every day – of all the things you have to be thankful for and all the acts of kindness you’ve received. This activity sheet gives children (and adults who want to participate with their kids) a place to collect all these “thank-you”–worthy experiences. Just write a word or short description inside the jar each time you feel thankful. You might even want to share your appreciation with the people whose names appear in your jar with a note, a picture, a hug, or a homemade craft to show how much they mean to you. 

This Thankfulness Jar also makes a meaningful activity for Thanksgiving Day! Why not print a copy for each guest at your table, provide a pencil, and get everyone sharing what they’re thankful for this year!

Thankfulness Jar Activity Sheet

 

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You can find The Thank You Book at these booksellers

Amazon  | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review 

January 3 – Book Tour Launch for Love Made Me More

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I’d like to thank Two Lions and Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy of Love Made Me More for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

Love Made Me More

Written by Colleen Rowan Kosinski | Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

 

An origami crane reveals how it came to be after its origins as “just a piece of paper—orange with white and blue spots” and the day when “a boy folds me many times, giving me a head, tail, and wings” under the watchful eye of his grandmother. The crane becomes an instant favorite, and for the crane, the boy is “My Boy.” The young child places the crane on his nightstand, so that he sees it right before going to sleep and again as soon as he wakes up.

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2022, text copyright Colleen Rowan Kosinski, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Over the years, the origami crane shares in his play, his dreams, and his wishes and it comforts him in his grief of losing a loved one and when shadows scare him. But as the boy grows older, finds new friends and interests, and becomes braver, he talks less and less to the origami crane. And while the crane still sits on his nightstand, the paper has grown dusty.

Then “one day,” the origami crane says,”My Boy places a photograph in front of me. I peek around and see a picture of a girl with an orange, white, and blue shirt. My colors. I fume.” The crane is jealous that “now she is the last thing he sees” at night and the first in the morning. But more years pass, and a day comes when the boy reaches for the origami crane once more. The crane is hopeful that they will play together again as in the past, but instead the boy unfolds it and “scrawls tickling words” on the paper before refolding it.

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2022, text copyright Colleen Rowan Kosinski, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

The origami crane has not been forgotten during all of these years. In fact, the crane’s stature has only grown, now offered to the girl with a love-affirming question hidden inside. “‘Yes, I will marry you,’ she says.” The crane embraces her as “My Girl too” as the boy refolds it. Soon, the origami crane finds itself in the center of a flock floating above a crib where a baby, wrapped in an orange, white, and blue blanket sleeps. “My colors,” the crane thinks happily.

The crane is proud that his flock is “the last thing Our Baby sees each night and the first thing he sees each morning” and that “he loves us.” As the baby grows into boyhood and learns how to make an origami crane himself—with his father’s crane close by—the origami crane realizes that what has made it so much more than “just a piece of paper” is all the love it has been shown and has been a part of.

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2022, text copyright Colleen Rowan Kosinski, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Colleen Rowan Kosinski’s unique story, told from the perspective of an origami crane that has been molded by a boy from a simple piece of paper to become a beloved keepsake, reveals the endurance and transformative power of love. Infused with feelings of belonging and purpose, the story flows through the changes a lifetime brings not only for the boy but for the origami crane. Just as the boy finds friends, meets a girlfriend, gets married, and has a baby, the crane slowly learns to integrate other people and, finally, a flock of origami cranes into its sphere, changes often told with honest emotions and a sense of the years passing by.

When the boy proposes to the girl with the help of the crane and it now accepts his fiancé as “My Girl too,” the crane seems to gain a sense of new life and autonomy when the boy refolds the paper. Instead of defining itself as “his Origami Crane” it now asserts itself as “Origami Crane.” The idea of the importance of being seen, embraced, and given love over an entire lifetime is woven throughout the story and becomes the central theme as the crane realizes that the baby loves it too. Readers take away the knowledge that it is love freely given—and accepted—that makes all the difference in a person’s self-esteem and the way their life evolves.

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Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2022, courtesy of Two Lions.

Sonja Sánchez’s vibrant and lively illustrations glow with the magic and comfort that the origami crane brings to the boy’s life as a child. Using angled images, strong lines that suggest the creasing that defines the origami crane, and warm earth tones, Sánchez centers her illustrations on the crane. Pages full of movement and color paint a picture of the boy’s childhood spent playing, wishing, and dreaming with the crane always by his side give way to a spread shrouded in brown, where the boy and his friends appear only as silhouettes and the orange crane, pushed to the side of the desk and dwarfed by the boy’s new interests in a computer, guitar, and other objects, is the only bright spot in the brown and darkened room.

Time passes and within two page turns, the boy, grown into a young man, once again has the crane in hand. Its former glow of magic is back as the boy unfolds, writes on, and refolds the paper. A baby comes along and, like his father, sails into imagination and play with the crane, finally learning how to fold his own crane as he grows into boyhood.

Love Made Me More is a singular story to share with children to reaffirm their special bond with a favorite toy or memento, but more: to remind and reassure them of the power of enduring love, expressed in so many ways, to transform people, experiences, and life itself. The book would be a unique, uplifting, and affecting addition to home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 8

Two Lions, 2022 | ISBN 978-1542006200

About the Author

Colleen Rowan Kosinski is the author of A Home Again and the author-illustrator of Lilla’s Sunflowers and A Promise Stitched in Time. She received her BA from Rutgers University in visual art, is an alumna of Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art and Design, and spent many years as a successful freelance fine artist. Colleen calls New Jersey her home and resides there with her family. To learn more, and to watch a tutorial on making an origami paper crane, visit www.colleenrowankosinski.com. You can connect with Colleen on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

About the Illustrator

Sonia Sánchez is the illustrator of a number of picture books, including Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina, A Crazy-Much Love by Joy Jordan-Lake, and The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier. Her books have been nominated for the Eisner Award and named a CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People and a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year. She lives with her husband, her kids, and a sleepyhead cat in Barcelona, Spain. You can connect with Sonia on Instagram.

Love Made Me More Tour Launch Activity

Make an Origami Crane

 

Follow along with this tutorial from Origami Tsunami to make your own Origami Crane to love!

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You can find Love Made Me More at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 9 – It’s Picture Book Month

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About the Holiday

If you love picture books, you know the thrill of holding a new or a new-to-you book in your hands and opening up to that very first page. The children’s sections of bookstores and libraries draw you in with humor, fairy tales, poetry, biographies, science, and so much more—a whole universe of creativity, thought, knowledge, and imagination—that enlightens and entertains. This month take time to indulge your passion for picture books!

I’d like to thank Page Street Kids for sending me a copy of Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles

Written by Mike Allegra | Illustrated by Jaimie Whitbread

 

The air in the rainforest rang with “squeaks, squawks, grunts, growls, hisses, harrumphs, and frenetic feather-and-fur-flying fury. It was quite the rumpus.” But all of these sounds didn’t make the animals happy, in fact, they were miserable and, even worse, all the noise “made them feel very alone—even though they weren’t alone.” But then one day, a visitor emerged from the river with sounds of her own—sounds the other animals had never heard before, like a “fwippa fwip of flickering ears” and a “shookita shimmy of a shaking booty bottom.” 

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Image copyright Jaimie Whitbread, 2022, text copyright Mike Allegra, 2022. Courtesy of Page Street Books.

Suddenly, the rainforest was silent as the animals stared at this unusual interloper as she yawned and stretched. A river turtle was the first to approach and ask what, exactly, she was. The answer came quickly (a capybara)—and with an invitation to “join my Sleepy Happy Copy Cuddle.” The turtle rebuffed this invite, thinking it would in some way soften his shell. When the capy reassured the turtle that he would stay as tough as ever, he relented. 

So they cuddled next to each other, and the river turtle had to agree that he felt better. “‘That makes me happy,’ said the capy. So she floofed. Floof!” Hearing this FLOOF, an iguana came by to see what was happening. The iguana did not want to get so close, and the capy let the iguana know this was perfectly all right. So she had another happy cuddler and enjoed another happy FLOOF. All this FLOOFing started to attract more and more animals, each wanting to cuddle in their own way. The capy agreed that all these ways of cuddling were valid and just perfect.

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Image copyright Jaimie Whitbread, 2022, text copyright Mike Allegra, 2022. Courtesy of Page Street Books.

At last, all the rainforest animals were content. Then a dark shape came slowly moving into view just below the surface of the river, and in a moment a crocodile splashed onto shore with a “ROOOOOOAR!” Undaunted, the capy asked if the crocodile would like a cuddle. The crocodile was baffled, bewildered, and even a bit alarmed. But then he was touched, if a little confused. “‘No one ever wants to cuddle me,’ the crocodile sniffled.” The capy assured the crocodile that she did. Now everyone was capy cuddle happy. 

But what was this? More dark shapes and burbling bubbles were swimming their way. Was it? It was! “‘More Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddlers!'” Lots of them! Now there were plenty of cuddles—and FLOOFS—to go around for everyone!

In a short note Mike Allegra tells a little more about capybaras and includes a photo of the adorable cuddlers.

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Image copyright Jaimie Whitbread, 2022, text copyright Mike Allegra, 2022. Courtesy of Page Street Books.

Mike Allegra, a very funny writer well versed in the magical gymnastics of language, dazzles with sentences energized with alliteration, assonance, and delightfully gleeful onomatopoeia. Add to that his recurring “sleepy happy capy cuddles” and infectious “Floofs,” and this is one story that will have kids and adults smiling from page one and long after the story is over. (Of course, adults should be ready to close the cover just to open it again immediately for at least one “one more time!”) What’s even more ingenious, perhaps, is that along with this giddiness comes some thought-provoking truths about feeling alone among a crowd, the diversity of ways to feel comforted, comfortable, and happy, how the most prickly of personalities may need love the most, as well as an education on capybaras and their behaviors.

Jaimie Whitbread brings this transformed rainforest to life with her realistic depictions of a wide variety of animals in all their glorious color and raucous, curmudgeonly, chill, or playful personalities. Her bold imagery clearly shows the difference in the stressed-out tension that existed pre-floof and the relaxed contentedness bestowed by the capy cuddles. Animal lovers and kids eager to do more research on the rainforest will find Whitbread’s illustrations particularly fascinating while the final floof-a-rama super cuddle is sure to inspire group snuggles at home.

A masterful combination of comical and educational that’s sure to be a favorite for kids and adults alike, Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles is a joyful read aloud and a must for any home, classroom, school, and public library collection. If you’re looking for a gift for any child, this book is a superb choice.

Ages 4 – 8

Page Street Kids, 2022 | ISBN 978-1645675594

Discover more about Mike Allegra and his books on his website.

To learn more about Jaimie Whitbread, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Picture Book Month Activity

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Take a Bookworm Trek! Maze

 

These two friends love reading! Can you help them through the maze to meet the bookworm? 

Take a Bookworm Trek! Maze Puzzle | Take a Bookworm Trek! Maze Solution

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You can find Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

October 21 – My Name Is Not Ed Tug Book Tour Stop

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I’d like to thank The Children’s Book Review and Amy Nielander for sharing a digital copy of My Name Is Not Ed Tug with me and offering a small stipend to write a review. All opinions on the book are my own. As part of the tour I’m also excited to be participating in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

My Name Is Not Ed Tug

By Amy Nielander

 

From the Publisher

A sweet, whimsical story about the meaningfulness behind a person’s name and the power of accepting people just as they are.

Edimorwhitimormiligimmus Tug has a very special name that is all his own. But his teacher thinks it’s too long and hard to say. One day she shortens it to. . . Ed.

But he loves his name just the way it is. So he comes up with a plan—if he can teach everyone his name, maybe they’ll love it too!

Sweet and whimsical, My Name Is Not Ed Tug empowers readers to own their identities and proudly celebrate who they are.

My Review

Edimorwhitimormiligimmus Tug knew where he came from and just where he fit into his family. After all, “he was named after his Grandpa Edimor,” who helped him learn how to spell his name with a tall tower of blocks; “his Great Uncle Whitimor,” who taught him how to play the accordion; his Aunt Mili,” who ran a butterfly farm; “and his Granny Gimmus,” who filled his tummy with warm, homemade soup.” Anyone hearing his name might think it was gibberish, but Edimorwhitimormiligimmus thought “it was perfect.”

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Copyright Amy Nielander, 2022, courtesy of West Margin Press.

School, of course, was a challenge since the other kids had a hard time spelling or even remembering his name. And his teacher, Ms. Mell, found that her mouth grew “quite tired” just trying to pronounce it. But one Monday, Ms. Mell announced that a new student, Ty, would be joining their class. Mrs. Mell had made name tags for each student to make it easier for Ty to remember their names, and she slapped one on Edimorwhitimormiligimmus’s shirt. When he looked, Edimorwhitimormiligimmus saw that the tag simply read “Ed.” He gazed at the tag with sadness. “Edimorwhitimormiligimmus Tug was shocked. He was perplexed. He felt like his heart had been stung by a giant bee. Twice.”

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Copyright Amy Nielander, 2022, courtesy of West Margin Press.

After school, Edimorwhitimormiligimmus went straight to his room and stayed there, thinking. When he emerged, he had a plan (and a very perfectly sized name tag taped to his sweater). The next day, he approached Ty, who was playing with puzzle blocks. He stood proudly, displaying his sweater, and introduced himself—his whole self. He slowly said each part of his name and, miraculously, Ty repeated it. Edimorwhitimormiligimmus “was so happy his curls bounced.” Then as he and Ty constructed a tall bridge with the blocks, he explained how he and his Grandpa Edimor “love to build things together”—and had even invented those blocks.

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Copyright Amy Nielander, 2022, courtesy of West Margin Press.

At lunch he did the same thing with the kids at his table, and they also repeated his name. To explain how important his Uncle Whitimor was to him, Edimorwhitimormiligimmus, he played his uncle’s favorite song on the accordion. When the class went out for recess, he told more kids about his Aunt Mili and pointed out, and they too learned his name.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Mell was out sick, and Edimorwhitimormiligimmus saw an opportunity to be kind and explain about his name. He and Ty delivered a steaming pot of Granny Gimmus’s soup to her doorstep and told her all about cooking with his granny. “The delicious soup warmed her heart.” Edimorwhitimormiligimmus’s plan worked. Now everyone, including Ms. Mell, knew—and used—Edimorwhitimormiligimmus’s full name.

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Copyright Amy Nielander, 2022, courtesy of West Margin Press.

The experience prompted Edimorwhitimormiligimmus to come up with a new plan, a project to ensure all of his friends knew their names were just as perfect for them as Edimorwhitimormiligimmus was for him. And he and his classmates got started with the gift they made for Tyvantennyson to give him at his birthday party.

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Copyright Amy Nielander, 2022, courtesy of West Margin Press.

Amy Nielander’s heartwarming and affirming story will captivate kids from the first recitation of “Edimorwhitimormiligimmus Tug”—a name that initially elicits giggles but soon rolls smoothly off the tongue. As they learn how each piece of Edimorwhitimormiligimmus’s name reflects not only the family member he’s named for but also the special things they do together, readers will empathize with the pride he feels in his name and his disappointment when they can’t get it right.

While Nielander’s clever story revolves around one child’s name, there are many other important lessons for both kids and adults woven throughout. Children will understand that their names, personalities, heritage, talents, and dreams are perfect for them just the way they are. For adults, Ms. Mell’s dismissive mangling and shortening of Edimorwhitimormiligimmus’s name to “make it easier for all of us” reminds us that every child deserves to be really seen and accepted for who and everything they are.

Nielander’s illustrations are full of warmth and love, charm and humor as she introduces the unique talents of each member of Edimorwhitimormiligimmus’s inclusive and close-knit family. As Edimorwhitimormiligimmus puts his plan to teach each classmate and Ms. Mell his name into action, the children’s sweet faces and palpable excitement are infectious and will draw readers into this universal hug of a story. The surprise reveal of Ty’s full name and the collective gift the class makes him—with the promise of the same for each child—will delight readers and is sure to spur them to create name signs for themselves.

An engaging, multi-layered story about acceptance, self-esteem, family, and friendship, My Name is Not Ed Tug is a story kids will want to hear again and again. The book is highly recommended for home bookshelves and is a must for classroom, school, and public libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

West Margin Press, 2022 | ISBN 978-1513134871

Discover more about Amy Nielander, her books, and her art on her website.

Take a peek at the book trailer for My Name Is Not Ed Tug!

About Amy Nielander

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Amy Nielander is a designer and award-winning children’s book author and illustrator who loves to create playful stories for kids. Growing up, she had her name frequently misspelled by others. My Name Is Not Ed Tug is inspired by this experience and by her time volunteering in her children’s classrooms. Amy lives near Detroit, Michigan. You can connect with Amy on: her Website | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn | Pinterest

My Name Is Not Ed Tug Book Giveaway

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Click the image below (or click here and scroll down) for a chance to win a signed copy of My Name Is Not Ed Tug, the Potato-Noodle-Feel-Better Soup recipe featured in the story, and a Name Journal! Three winners will be chosen:

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

  • A signed copy of My Name Is Not Ed Tug
  • A Potato-Noodle-Feel-Better Soup recipe (soup is featured in the story). The digital download includes an “Ingredient Checklist coloring page” for kids.
  • A Name Journal: A 3.5″ x 5″ pocket-sized journal with 32 blank pages (100% recycled paper).

Two (2) winners receive:

  • A signed copy of My Name Is Not Ed Tug

To Enter just click the image below, scroll down, and follow the directions!

My Name Is Not Ed Tug, by Amy Nielander | Awareness Tour

And there’s so much more! Don’t miss any of the excitement  of the…

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Read an Interview with Amy Nielander at Crafty Moms Share

You can read other reviews of My Name is Not Ed Tug at these wonderful sites

Check out these upcoming posts too!

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You can find My Name Is Not Ed Tug at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & NobleBookshop 

 

 

Picture Book Review