November 8 – Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day

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About the Holiday

Hmm-mmm! Nothing satisfies quite as much as tangy, spicy dishes. Garlic, red pepper, ginger, mustard, cumin, and many other spices and flavors bring a tantalizing tingle to taste buds. Today’s holiday was established to encourage people to explore all the savory sensations of bold cuisine. You know how to celebrate! Visit your favorite restaurant or cook up your own zesty meal.

Tacos! An Interactive Recipe Book

Illustrated by Lotta Nieminen

 

Do you have all your ingredients? The tortillas, black beans, chicken, avocados, ears of corn, cabbage, radishes, lime, scallions, cilantro, cumin, ancho chili powder, and salt? How about mixing bowls, cutting boards, a pot, a skillet, and an array of utensils? Get ‘em! Got ‘em? Good! Now… “use the first cutting board and knife to cut the chicken into cubes and toss them in a bowl with the spices.” Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to one hour.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tacos!-ingredients

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon.

Next, cook the chicken in the skillet “until the pink color disappears.” While you’re waiting for the chicken to finish, grab the big knife and cut the vegetables. Now it’s time to use that avocado—plus the lime, salt, and a bit of cilantro—to make guacamole. Mash and stir all the ingredients until you’ve made a smooth, green paste.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tacos!-guacamole

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon.

You can set the guacamole aside while you heat up the black beans in a pot and slice the corn kernels off the cob—zip! zip! zip! Now comes the building part! Gather all of your ingredients, plus any others you may like to add, like sour cream, cotija cheese, or pico de gallo and set to work! Warm your tortillas by “wrapping them in a damp paper towel and then in foil, and placing them in the oven for 10 minutes.”

Ahhh! Lay the warm tortillas on a plate and add the chicken, beans, corn, guacamole, and your favorite toppings. All that’s left is to fold your tortilla in half and take a bite. Hmm-mmm!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tacos!-heating-tortilla

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon.

Lotta Nieminen’s Cook in a Book series of interactive cookbooks for kids (and fun-loving adults) are smart, refreshing, and addictively playful. Nieminen’s sophisticated art and color palette invite kids (and did I mention adults?) to play around with cooking through clever tabs flaps, wheels, and pull outs. In Tacos! readers sizzle up chicken through a pull tab that turns pink cubes to golden brown. On the next page, children can remove the cardboard knife and pretend to chop as the pull tab creates slices and dices of scallions, cabbage, and radishes.

Kids can put the knife back in its slot or use it on the next page to divide the avocado, which opens like a little book. By turning the wheel, children mix the guacamole ingredients from a light green to a rich green texture. The same wheel allows readers to stir the black beans on the stove when they turn the page. The mechanics at work between the thick board book pages make removing the corn kernels a joy. Slide the top of the ear down and kernels “fly” to each side accompanied by a rippling feel and sound.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tacos!-guacamole-mixing

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon.

With all the ingredients prepared, children come to Step 8, where a round of foil awaits. On the facing page a tortilla is ready. With just a pop of the finger hole, kids can lift the tortilla from its place, turn it to the plain side, and lay it on the foil. After a bit of waiting for it to “warm,” children (or adults!) can turn it over to where all the delicious toppings mingle, fold it in half, and…enjoy!

The text consists entirely of the recipe, with the directions described in easy-to-follow steps that are sprinkled across the pages, adding a jaunty energy to each spread.

Tacos!—as well as the other books in the series, Pancakes! and Pizza!—would make a fantastic gift for foodie kids and for children who love playing with toy kitchens or in the real thing. Tor the HGTV crowd, the book would be a happy surprise as a housewarming or holiday gift.

Ages 4 – 8 and up

To learn more about Lotta Nieminen and view a gallery of her graphic design and illustration work, visit her website.

Phaidon, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714875057

Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day Activity

 

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Spice Bottle Penguins

 

After you’ve used all the spicy goodness, make some cold-weather friends from those little bottles with this fun craft!

Supplies

  • Empty glass or plastic spice bottle with cap
  • Black paint
  • White paint OR White fleece or felt
  • Black paper
  • Yellow foam or heavy paper
  • Googly eyes
  • Styrofoam ball (optional)
  • Glue
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Paint the inside of the glass or plastic bottle with the black paint, let dry
  2. From the white fleece, cut an oval for the penguin’s belly and glue it on. Alternatively, paint a white oval on the jar to make a belly. Fleece may be a better option for younger children, as the paint can scratch off glass and plastic surfaces.
  3. Glue googly eyes near the top of the jar, but below the cap
  4. Cut a triangle of yellow foam or paper for the beak and glue it on
  5. Cut two tear shapes for the wings from the black paper. Glue the top of the shape to the body of the penguin, overlapping the belly a little. Fold the tips up
  6. Give your penguins Styrofoam ball snowballs to play with!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tacos!-cover

You can find Tacos! An Interactive Recipe Book at these booksellers

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

 

Picture Book Review

October 24 – National Food Day

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About the Holiday

National Food Day encourages people to “eat real,” which means skipping the processed, sugary, fatty, and factory-raised foods and enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and sustainably raised proteins. Eating better benefits not only your health but the environment as well. Today, check out any special events featuring locally grown foods in your area or look for the healthiest options at your grocery store!

On the Farm, At the Market

By G. Brian Karas

 

On the Farm

On the Monterosa Vegetable Farm Leo and his workers are preparing for tomorrow morning’s farmers market. “Some vegetables are packed up tonight, while others will be picked early tomorrow. The workers know that greens are best picked soon after the sun rises, when temperatures are still cool.” When the vegetables are picked, they’re washed, packed into crates, and loaded into trucks. After the sun has set and before going home, Leo ensures everything is ready for the morning. “He snaps a bean in half and tastes it. ‘Perfect,’ he says.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-on-the-farm-at-the-market-vegetable-farm

Copyright G. Brian Karas, 2016, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Meanwhile at the Amazing Cheese Dairy Farm, Isaac is teaching Rachael how to make their delicious cheese. First, milk must be converted into curds. Isaac shows Rachael just how to stir the warming milk with a special paddle. Once the curds are formed, Rachael scoops them out of the vat and puts them into molds and then onto shelves to age. Tomorrow, the Amazing Dairy Farm will be bringing mozzarella, queso blanco, and cheddar to the market.

Gary’s farm is all indoors. He is a mushroom farmer, and his crops grow in a special room, sprouting on ‘cakes’ placed on shelves as well as from plastic bags that hang from the ceiling and give the room a feeling of being in a forest. The cakes and bags are filled with “a mixture of hay, sawdust, and water” that give the mushrooms nutrients. The air in the room is misty and cool. To prepare the mushrooms for market, Gary trims them with scissors and snugs them into foam crates.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-on-the-farm-at-the-market-mushroom-farm

Copyright G. Brian Karas, 2016, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

At the Market

Early Sunday morning the farmers assemble in the parking lot that sponsors the farmers market. They each erect a tent and tables, struggling with the wind that fills their tents “like balloons.” The market manager, Sharon, offers cups of hot chocolate to all of the workers while “friends catch up with one another.” At 10:00 customers begin to arrive, perusing the tables of their favorite farmers.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-on-the-farm-at-the-market-setting-up-stands

Copyright G. Brian Karas, 2016, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Amy, owner of the Busy Bee Café, scouts ingredients for her delicious menu. From Leo, she chooses Swiss chard, leeks, and tomatoes. In no time the number of customers has grown, and long lines appear at each farmer’s table. Babies and children enjoy the relaxed atmosphere as well as “farm-fresh ice cream and cookies.” Friends chat, happy to see each other again. Food isn’t the only attraction at the farmers market. Soon, the Blackberry Fiddlers set up on stage to provide entertainment.

Next, Amy stops by the Amazing Cheese Farm stand and picks up a wheel of cheddar for that night’s special. “‘What’s for dinner at the Busy Bee tonight?’ Isaac asks. ‘One way to find out,’ Amy says, and winks.” Last, Amy visits Gary’s Mushrooms and buys some of each type. Peering into Amy’s basket, Gary can guess what Amy’s special of the day will be. “‘Should I save you a seat?’ Amy asks him. ‘You bet,’ Gary says.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-on-the-farm-at-the-market-customers

Copyright G. Brian Karas, 2016, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

At the end of the day, the crowd has thinned. The farmers begin packing up their leftovers and taking down their tents. The camaraderie of market day continues at the Busy Bee Café, however, where the Blackberry Hill Fiddlers have set up once again and the farmers, their families, and their customers have gathered to enjoy Amy’s special Market Pie.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-on-the-farm-at-the-market-busy-bee-cafe

Copyright G. Brian Karas, 2016, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Brian Karas’s charming visit to farms and the farmers market is both educational and heartwarming. With emphasis on the loving care both the farmers and the café owner display toward the crops and their use, On the Farm, At the Market is a wonderful introduction for young children to the farm-to-table movement. Karas’s descriptions of three distinct farming methods are clearly explained with engaging characters that kids will embrace. The structure of the book—divided into two sections and offering interconnecting stories—is well chosen to explain the relationships among the farmers, families, workers, and customers.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-on-the-farm-at-the-market-friends

Copyright G. Brian Karas, 2016, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Karas’s homey gouache, acrylic, and pencil illustrations are perfectly suited to his subject. Colorful two-page spreads of the farms and market, combined with smaller snapshots of particular processes and special moments, allow readers to fully understand the concepts as they enjoy the inclusiveness of this tight-knit, supportive community. There is a peaceful wistfulness to the muted image of Leo standing in the waning twilight, happy with a day well spent; a sense of wonder in the misty atmosphere of Gary’s mushroom farm; and a palpable excitement as customers gather at the farmers market. The final scene at Amy’s Busy Bee Café offers a glowing conclusion to this cyclical story.

Ages 4 – 9

Henry Holt and Co, 2016 | ISBN 978-0805093728

To learn more about G. Brian Karas and his work, visit his website!

National Food Day Activity

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

Grow a Vegetable Garden Board Game

 

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

Supplies

Directions

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

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

Picture Book Review

January 17 – Kid Inventors’ Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday celebrates all those ingenious kids who have improved the world with their inventions. This date was chosen to commemorate another child inventor—Benjamin Franklin—who designed the first swim fins when he was just 12 years old! (Seriously, is there nothing this man didn’t or couldn’t do?). With their supple minds and can-do attitudes, kids have changed the ways things are done in the fields of medicine, technology, communications, and even food—as today’s book shows! To learn more about the day and find resources for young inventors, visit the K.I.D website.

The Hole Story of the Doughnut

Written by Pat Miller | Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch

 

In 1844 at the tender age of 13, Hanson Gregory left the family farm and went to sea as a cabin boy on the schooner Isaac Achorn. He quickly became the cook’s assistant and also learned how to rig the sails and “steer a ship over trackless waves by sun and stars.” By the age of 19 Gregory had become the captain of the schooner Hardscrabble, and within a few more years was racing “his cargo from Maine to California as commander of a clipper, the fastest ship on any ocean.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hole-story-of-the-doughnut

Image copyright Vincent X. Kirsch, courtesy of vincentxkirsch.com

Hanson Gregory may have been one of the best captains to sail the seas—once awarded a medal for heroism for rescuing seven shipwrecked Spanish sailors even though his own ship and crew were endangered. But his greatest achievement was not attained because of his seafaring skills—it was his ingenuity in the galley that people remember.

On June 22, 1847 as a 16-year-old cook’s assistant, Hanson was rustling up the crew’s breakfast—coffee and fried cakes, the same as every morning. While the pot of lard bubbled on the stove, Gregory formed balls of sweetened dough and dropped them in. They sizzled and crisped—at least around the edges. The centers were raw, heavy with grease, and they dropped like cannonballs in the stomach. “Sailors called them Sinkers.” But this morning Gregory had an idea. He removed the lid from the pepper can and cut out the center of the balls. “Then he tossed the rings into the bubbling lard.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hole-story-of-the-doughnut

Image copyright Vincent X. Kirsch, courtesy of vincentxkirsch.com

The cook and the sailors took one look at this odd concoction and…ate them up! “The cakes were brown, and sweet, and fully cooked. Sighs of delight rose above the noisy sea. A new breakfast tradition was born.” Gregory told his mom about his invention, and she fried up large batches of these ‘holey cakes’ that became a sensation at a friend’s store and on the docks.

You might think this is a pretty interesting tale in itself, “but sailors like their stories bold” and so they “spun legends worthy of such a delicious treat.” One tale had Captain Gregory inventing the doughnut while he saved his ship from disaster. Another told how Gregory, distraught over the drowning of five sailors pulled to the ocean floor by their “sinker” breakfast, punched holes in every cake to make them look like life rings and vowed, “‘Never again!’”

Captain Gregory had a sense of humor about his accomplishment. During an interview he once stated that “he had invented ‘the first hole ever seen by mortal eyes.’” Gregory lived to be 89 and is buried “overlooking the sea where stormy weather can be spotted as readily as it once was from the quarterdeck of the Hardscrabble.”

An author’s note expanding on the story of Captain Gregory, the doughnut, doughnut shops, a timeline, and a selected bibliography follow the text.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hole-story-of-the-doughnut

Image copyright Vincent X. Kirsch, courtesy of vincentxkirsch.com

Doughnuts have never been so evocative! In Pat Miller’s humorous, informative history of this favorite pastry treat, readers can smell the salt air, feel the ocean swell and roll under their feet, and even ache a little for those poor sailors forced to eat “sinkers.” Seamlessly interwoven into this foodography is a fascinating look at the early days of sail. Miller’s language is immediately stirring: the Ivanhoe bucks and plunges, the sea becomes a monster, and Captain Gregory spears a sinker on the wheel spoke. Kids will marvel at a 13-year-old going off to sea and becoming an inventor at 16.

Vincent X. Kirsch provides just the right touch to this captivating true story with his cartoon-inspired watercolor and cut paper artwork. Ingeniously incorporating Hanson Gregory’s innovation of removing the center of the fried cakes, Kirsch’s illustrations are “cored” to allow for text, while the extracted section appears on the facing page as a glimpse through a porthole. The maritime atmosphere—from ship to shore—of the mid-1800s is beautifully represented in the folk-style sketches, and the humor that is so intrinsic to this story is wonderfully embraced.

The Hole Story of the Doughnut will delight foodies and history buffs alike and would make a fun gift and a delectable addition to personal libraries for all ages.

Ages 5 – 12

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016 | ISBN 978-0544319615

Vincent X. Kirsch’s website is full of illustrations from his books for children—take a look at his portfolio!

Spend some time with Pat Miller on her website that offers activities, tips, resources and many more books!

Kid Inventors’ Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-cd-doughnut-craft

CD (Compact Doughnuts) Decoration

 

Are some of  your CDs a little passé? Not if you can turn them into cute décor like this doughnut hanging.

Supplies

  • Unused CDs
  • Craft paint in tan, black, pink, yellow, white (or any colors you want for the doughnut and the icing)
  • Ribbon, any color and length you want
  • Fine-tip markers in bright colors
  • Glue
  • Glue dots (optional)
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Paint a wavy edge around the CD, let dry
  2. Paint the center of the CD, leaving the clear circle unpainted
  3. When the icing paint is dry, draw sprinkles on the icing with the markers
  4. With the ribbon make a loop hanger and attach it to the back of the CD with glue or glue dots
  5. Hang your decoration

Picture Book Review

December 15 – Lemon Cupcake Day

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About the Holiday

Seems particularly specific, doesn’t it? But I have to admit that lemon cupcakes—especially the ones my daughter makes—are my favorite too. Of course, today’s holiday gives you license to enjoy any kind of cupcake you like! Looking for a little cupcake history? Here it is! The first mention of cupcakes was in 1796 in Amelia Simmons’ first American cookbook titled American Cookery. She recommended using small cups to create a small, light cake. The first published mention of “cupcakes” came in 1828 in Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes and Sweetmeats by Eliza Leslie. We all know that cupcakes have long been a snack and party favorite and how they have exploded in popularity over the past few years. To celebrate, whip up a batch of your favorite cupcakes!

Peanut Butter & Cupcake

By Terry Border

 

Peanut Butter bread got a soccer ball for his birthday—there was just one problem. While he could balance the ball on his head, he was pretty bad at kicking it. Besides, it “wasn’t much fun playing with a ball all by himself.” Peanut Butter was new in town and hadn’t made friends yet, so he asked his mom if she’d play with him. But she was busy with the laundry and suggested he go outside and find someone to play with.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-cupcake-sprinkle-hamburger

Image and text copyright Terry Border, courtesy of Philomel Books

Off Peanut Butter went, and “it wasn’t long before he found a someone.” Peanut Butter enthusiastically went right up to this someone who was walking his Hot Dogs, and gave him a winning appeal. “‘Hello. I’m new here and I’d like to play. / Maybe now, maybe later—or even all day. / I’ll make you chuckle deep down in your belly. / And we’ll go together like Peanut Butter and…Hamburger.’” Hamburger was flattered but too busy with his dogs to play. Peanut Butter thanked him anyway, and kept on walking.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-cupcake-sprinkle-castles

Image and text copyright Terry Border, courtesy of Philomel Books

Soon Peanut Butter noticed Cupcake playing by herself with her pail and shovel in the nonpareil box. “He thought she looked sweet, and might make a good friend.” He launched into his spiel and finished up, “‘And we’ll go together like Peanut Butter and…Cupcake!’” Cupcake had some stern words for Peanut Butter. She was building sprinkle castles, she told him, and if he knocked them down with the ball, she’d be mad. Not wanting to upset Cupcake, Peanut Butter moved on.

Next Peanut Butter met Egg rolling along on his unicycle. He started his rhyme and finished with a flourish, “‘And we’ll go together like Peanut Butter and…Egg!’”  Egg thought this was funny. “‘You’re cracking me up!’ Egg laughed. And then he really did crack.” Peanut Butter was afraid to make Egg laugh anymore, so he went on his way.

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Image copyright Terry Border, courtesy of Philomel Books

Farther down the path Peanut Butter found Meatball jumping a strand of spaghetti. He got through his welcome only to be shushed by Meatball because he was interrupting his counting. Finding a friend was proving harder than Peanut Butter had thought. He was getting tired and wanted to sit down. Under a tree he found French Fries. After hearing Peanut Butter’s request, however, French Fries begged off, saying that he was late in helping “‘Hamburger with his Hot Dogs’” and now needed to “‘catch up.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-cupcake-sprinkle-meatball

Image and text copyright Terry Border, courtesy of Philomel Books

Ever persevering Peanut Butter saw Alphabet Soup standing nearby and approached, but before he could even get a word out, Soup dipped in his spoon and came out with “two letters, an ‘N’ and an ‘O.’” Feeling dejected Peanut Butter sat on a bench and thought about giving up. But then he saw a new kid coming his way. “‘Hello,’” the kid said. Peanut Butter brought out his poem one more time. “‘Um…Hello. I’m new here and I’d like to play. Maybe now, maybe later—or even all day. I’ll make you chuckle deep down in your belly. And we’ll go together like Peanut Butter and…Jelly!’”

Jelly thought this sounded great—there was just one thing. While she was good at kicking a ball, she wasn’t good at balancing it on her head. So the two new friends taught each other their special talents and “made each other chuckle deep down in their bellies.” All this laughter attracted the other kids, who came over to play together!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-cupcake-sprinkle-playing-together

Image copyright Terry Border, courtesy of Philomel Books

Terry Border has mixed the culinary and the cute to create this one-of-a-kind recipe for friendship. Peanut Butter’s endearing self-introduction establishes his sweet personality, and its rhyme scheme ensures that kids will be held in suspense waiting for Peanut Butter to meet Jelly. With visual wit and plenty of puns, Border serves up a unique picture book that offers surprises and laughs on every page. Kids will also empathize with Peanut Butter’s dilemma and cheer when he finally makes a friend.

Border’s vibrant photographic illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to his story. Peanut Butter, slathered on bread and sporting wire arms and legs, is an immediately loveable hero. The other kids he meets, especially hamburger walking his two Hot Dogs and Soup, are inspired characters, and the background props make playful use of kid-favorite items.

Peanut Butter & Cupcake is a wonderful addition to kids’ bookshelves for story time, playtime, or any time a laugh or the inspiration of creative art is needed.

Ages 3 – 7

Philomel Books, 2014 | ISBN 978-0399167737

Discover the very original world of Terry Border on his website!

Lemon Cupcake Day Activity

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Cupcake Wrapper Tree

 

Today’s paper cupcake cups are so pretty that it’s a shame they just get thrown away. Here’s a way to use cupcake liners to make an attractive winter decoration. You can use various sizes of cones to create a multi-tree decoration.

Supplies

  • Styrofoam or cardboard cone, available from craft stores
  • Cupcake wrappers with a winter or favorite design
  • Straight pins (for Styrofoam cones), glue dots, or small clear mounting squares (for either Styrofoam or cardboard cones)
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Directions

  1. Cut the bottoms out of the cupcake wrappers
  2. Using the ribbed sides of the cupcake wrappers, start from the bottom of the cone and attach the cup to the cone with the straight pins, glue dots, or mounting squares, putting them along the top rim of the wrapper
  3. You may need to use two or more wrappers to cover the cone. Fill in gaps by overlapping with smaller cuts from the cupcake wrappers
  4. Overlap the first row of cupcake papers a bit with the second row of cupcake papers. Attach at the top rim
  5. Continue moving up the cone, overlapping and attaching cupcake wrappers
  6. At the top, overlap the sides of the wrapper to cover the tip of the cone and make a sharp point. Glue seam together if needed
  7. Attach the top wrapper to the layer below near the bottom of the wrapper

Picture Book Review

October 28 – It’s Bat Appreciation Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-elsie-and-the-vampire-hairdresser-cover

About the Holiday

Bats are popular during the Halloween month of October for many reasons—they fly out of caves and nooks and crannies at night, they look kind of spooky, and they have that cool association with Dracula and other vampires. With over 1,300 species of bats around the world, however, these small fliers play a vital role in the welfare of our planet. Some bats are important for insect control, while others are pollinators and still others disperse seed. Unfortunately, bats have been in the news in the past few years for their declining numbers due to habitat destruction, disease, and hunting. Today’s holiday promotes awareness of the value of bats and urges people to help protect them.

Elsie Clarke and the Vampire Hairdresser

By Ged Adamson

 

“Elsie Clarke was a brave little girl”…until she had to get her hair cut. Whenever her tresses reached a certain point and it was time for that appointment, “she would scream in her horriblest, loudest voice ‘Hairdressers are scary!’ I’m never going again! EVER!’” But Elsie’s dad thinks she might like his barber. Boris Lazzario, Hairdresser of Quality reads the business card he hands her.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-elsie-and-the-vampire-hairdresser-elsie-never-going-to-hairdresser

Copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy gedadamson.com

The card piques Elsie’s curiosity, so she heads down to 110 Turning Lane. She enters the door to find a very unusual looking boy rushing toward her. He has a comb in one hand and a scissor in the other, and his delighted smile reveals two sharp fangs. “‘A customer! Come in! Come in!’ he exclaims. “Boris Lazzario at your service!’” Before Elsie knows it, Boris has taken her hand and is showing her to his chair, while his cat, a ghostly Jasper, leads the way.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-elsie-and-the-vampire-hairdresser-elsie-meets-boris

Copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy gedadamson.com

Before Boris can look at Elsie’s hair, however, she tells him that she is afraid of haircuts. Boris has heard it before. He shows Elsie a portrait of his father, Count Lazzario. “‘Everyone’s terrified of him,’” Boris explains, but “‘he’s scared of haircuts, just like you.’” He plays an old movie for Elsie, revealing that his dad wanted him to be a “proper vampire.” To escape this life, Boris tells Elsie, he ran away and is sure his dad is glad that he did.

Just then the door flies open and the house rings with a “blood-curdling HOWL!” It’s Count Lazzario—not looking very glad at all. The Count chases Elsie and Boris upstairs and downstairs, all the while shouting “‘My son a hairdresser! Oh, the shame of it! You’re a disgrace to vampire kind!’” Finally, Elsie has had enough. She stops and pointedly tells the Count in her “horriblest, loudest voice that he should be proud of his son. “‘He’s not a monster like you,’” she shouts.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-elsie-and-the-vampire-hairdresser-black-and-white-movie

Copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy gedadamson.com

The Count breaks down in tears. “‘I just wish Boris did something that wasn’t so scary,’” he wails. Suddenly Elsie sees how silly it is to be afraid of a haircut. She musters her courage, reassures the Count, and tells Boris he has two customers. Boris shampoos, rinses, and cuts. While Elsie and the Count sit under the hairdryer, they read magazines while enjoying tea and chocolate cookies.

When the two see their new ‘dos they can’t believe their eyes. The Count proclaims his a “triumph,” and Elsie thinks hers is “‘the coolest, most amazing hairstyle in the world!’” As Elsie turns to go, the Count thanks her. He realizes how ridiculous he’s been and even thinks he may “start a new career as a model.” Elsie gives a final wave before heading home to show her mom and dad not only her new haircut but how very brave she really is.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-elsie-and-the-vampire-hairdresser-saying-goodbye

Copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy gedadamson.com

There’s a wonderful free-range silliness to Ged Adamson’s books that brings a smile to your face as you read them. The great thing is that they are based on a kernel of truth, which anchors the story and gives it broader resonance. In the case of Elsie Clarke and the Vampire Hairdresser it’s a fear of haircuts—a scenario I know well from my own son who for a time received his cuts from a very understanding woman who sat with him on the salon’s play rug while she cut his hair. Adamson’s knack with humorous and believable dialogue paired with laugh-inducing action makes the story a page-turner with the kind of suspense that keeps kids giggling from the first page to the satisfying last.

Adamson’s lush illustrations, in a palette of purples, pinks, yellows, and greens, set on backgrounds of plaid tweed, herringbone, denim and other fabrics as well as ornate Victorian wallpapers, offer all the spooky details readers could want from a vampire’s hair salon. Kids will marvel at the old film projector, and the black-and-white home movie of Boris and his dad is a clever touch. Readers will root for cute Elsie and Boris, and have a change of heart when the tyrant Count tears up.

For those times when a fear needs to be overcome—or for any story time—Elsie Clark and the Vampire Hairdresser is monstrous fun and would be an amusing addition to home libraries that kids will really sink their teeth into.

Ages 4 – 8

Sky Pony Press, 2013 | ISBN 978-1620879832

Discover more about Ged Adamson and his books on his website!

This Elsie and the Vampire Hairdresser book trailer is shear fun!

Bat Appreciation Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-vampire-treat-box

I Vant to Eat These Treats! Vampire Goodie Box

 

Would you like your gift of homemade or store-bought cookies, candy, or other treats to have a little bite to it? Deliver them in this vampire box you can make yourself!

Supplies

  • Recycled pasta box (or any box with a cellophane window in it)
  • Black Paint
  • Silver Paint
  • Black felt, 8 ½ x 11 sheet or heavy stock paper
  • Red felt, 8 ½ x 11 sheet or heavy stock paper
  • Googly eyes
  • Black paper, heavy stock or construction paper
  • Fabric glue
  • Regular glue or double stick tape
  • Hot glue gun (optional)
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-vampire-treat-box-side-view (2)

Directions

  1. Paint the entire box silver, leaving the window unpainted, let dry
  2. With the black paint create the pointy hairstyle, with the point descending about 1 inch from the top of the box and the curves ending about 1 ½ – 1 ¾ inches from the side of the box (see picture).
  3. Paint around the sides and back of the box in line with the ends of the curves
  4. From the black paper make eyebrows—these can be pointy or rounded
  5. From the index card make the nose and teeth
  6. I painted the nose darker silver by combining silver and a little black paint
  7. With the glue or double stick tape, attach the eyebrows and nose to the box
  8. With the glue or double stick tape, attach the teeth to the window, fitting them slightly up into the rim of the window.
  9. Attach the googly eyes

To make the cape

  1. Holding the black felt or paper horizontally, cut a piece about 4/5 as tall as the box
  2. Holding the red felt or paper horizontally, cut a piece of red felt so that there will be a ½-inch border of black along the top and sides
  3. With the fabric glue attach the red felt to the black felt. Use craft glue on paper. Let dry
  4. With the hot glue gun, fabric glue, craft glue, or double stick tape, attach the felt or paper to the back of the box
  5. Fold the felt or paper around the sides of the box and attach along the bottom edge with tape or glue
  6. Fold the top of the felt or paper back to make the collar
  7. Attach the bottom portion of the collar to the box near the front edge with the tape or glue.

Fill with your favorite treat!

Picture Book Review

June 28 – Paul Bunyan Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-paul-bunyan-and-babe-the-blue-ox-the-great-pancake-adventure

About the Holiday

The tales of Paul Bunyan, a logger of superhuman size and strength, and his companion Babe the Blue Ox belong to some of the most popular folklore of early North America. Many think his name stemmed from the Quebec bon yenne!, which expresses surprise or astonishment. The phrase would be fitting as Paul Bunyan is said to have accomplished many feats, including creating the Grand Canyon when he walked through the area dragging his ax and forming the Great Lakes as a watering hole for Babe. In 1916 freelance writer and adman William B. Laughead took the figure of Paul Bunyan for an advertising campaign for the Red River Lumber Company, and the stories received new burnishing and popularity.

To celebrate today’s holiday research folklore about Paul Bunyan and Babe, take a walk in the woods Bunyan loved so well, and read today’s book!

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: The Great Pancake Adventure

By Matt Luckhurst

Everyone knows that Paul Bunyan and his best friend Babe the Blue Ox were “the greatest lumberjacks to every work the forests.” But not many people know just how that came to be. It all started because Paul was a very big boy in a very small town. He found it hard to concentrate on school because he was always thinking about his mom’s pancakes. “‘Math,” Paul said, “is just not very tasty.’”

Now, Paul and Babe were lucky enough to live in an area where lots of fresh fruit and vegetables were grown, but they only wanted pancakes. In fact when their mom tried to feed them broccoli, they spit it right out! So Paul’s mom baked stacks and stacks of pancakes until she was out of breath—plus she had fields to tend to. Paul and Babe tried to free up time for Mom by working in the fields, “but their big feet just squished and squashed everything in sight.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-paul-bunyan-and-babe-the-blue-ox-the-great-pancake-adventure

Finally there were just not enough pancakes at home, so Paul hugged his mom and set off into the deep dark forest to find his “pancake fortune” with Babe at his heels. With their heads in the clouds and their bellies empty, they happened upon a lumberman with a huge problem. The Syrup River was dammed up with pancakes and the logs couldn’t get through. It was just the job for Paul and Babe!!

Paul and Babe ate every last pancake until the river was clear. The lumberman was so impressed he offered them a job on the spot! And the best part was that they would be paid in pancakes! The trio tromped from Wisconsin to California logging the land and making their mark. In Minnesota it was “so cold that al Paul’s words froze before they could make a sound. They say you can still hear his voice in the forests there today as they thaw out.” Further west Paul and Babe had a little something to do with creating the Rocky Mountains, and the Grand Canyon would still be a flat plateau if it weren’t for Babe’s voracious appetite.

But one day Babe fell ill, and Paul was feeling a little under the weather himself. The doctor gave them a grave diagnosis. “‘You seem to have been eating too many pancakes!’” he announced. Paul was flabbergasted—how could there be such a thing as too many pancakes?! But the doctor explained that a balanced diet was best. Paul pondered where he could find good food. Then it hit him! Paul and Babe said goodbye and headed back home.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-paul-bunyan-and-babe-the-blue-ox-the-great-pancake-adventure

All images courtesy of Matt Luckhurst (mattluckhurst.com)

Mom was thrilled to see them and cooked plenty of nutritious meals to make them healthy. They stayed in town and grew “Bunyan sized veggies,” helped the townspeople and always listened to Mom. And they never ate another pancake ever again! Well….

As Matt Luckhurst so adroitly knows, there is no more fascinating figure of North American folklore than Paul Bunyan and no greater meal than a pancake breakfast! Combining the two is sweet genius and rollicking fun to boot! Tall tales capture the imagination, and Luckhurst has included plenty of fantastic events to keep kids enthralled from page to page. Luckhurst’s larger-than-life illustrations burst with color and dynamic 3-D typography that enhance the humor and heart of Paul and Babe’s predicament. The juxtaposition of sizes and folk-art influences create unique, eye-catching pages, and Paul and Babe’s endearing innocence make them loveable characters.

Perfect for folktale lovers, pancake aficionados, kids who follow a singular vision, and anyone who loves a good yarn, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: The Great Pancake Adventure is great fun and would be an often-read addition to a child’s bookshelf.

Ages 4 – 8

Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2012 | ISBN 978-1419704208

Take a peek at this awesome trailer for Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: The Great Pancake Adventure!

Copyright Matt Luckhurst

Paul Bunyan Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancake-game

Pancake Flip-Out

Pancakes are served in a stack because they’re so delicious each one doesn’t last long! This game gives you the chance to see how many pancakes you can flip onto a plate! You can play this game several ways:

  1. Give each player the same number of pancakes and see how many they can toss onto the plate during their turn
  2. Make a target with the plate in the middle and draw 3 concentric circles around it. Hitting the target can earn you 20 points. Getting your pancake in the first circle around the plate earns you 15 point, the second circle is worth 10 points, and the third is worth 5 points. Rotate through the players as many times as you like and add up the points at the end. The player with the most points wins!
  3. Instead of tossing the pancakes with your hands, try throwing them with a spatula!
  4. Make up your own rules—and have fun!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print the Pancakes and Breakfast Plates and cut them out
  2. Glue the pancakes and plate to poster board, cardboard, or foam to give the pancakes more weight for throwing and the plate more support
  3. Once dry, the game pieces are ready for fun!

Picture Book Review

February 11 – Make a Friend Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-stick-and-stone-cover

About the Holiday

Whether you spend today with an old friend or make a new one, it’s a perfect time to remember those people who know our secrets, make us laugh, lend an ear, do silly things with us, and generally make life better! Today give an old friend a hug, a thank-you, or tell them how much they mean to you. Look around and see if there’s someone new you’d like to meet. They may be wanting to meet you too! Walk up and say “hi”—it may be the beginning of a new friendship!

Stick and Stone

Written by Beth Ferry | Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

 

A stick and a stone live lonely lives until one day when they meet at the playground. As they playing on the swings together, a prickly pinecone comes along and makes fun of Stone for falling off the swing. Stone’s new friend “sticks” up for him, and Pinecone leaves them alone. Stick’s and Stone’s friendship grows as they explore new places, help each other complete fun activities, and relax together.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-stick-and-stone-at-the-beach

Image copyright Tom Lichtenheld, text copyright Beth Ferry, Courtesy of tomlichtenheld.com

When a windstorm strikes, Stick and Pinecone are blown away, leaving Stone alone again. Stone searches everywhere and finally finds Stick upside down in a puddle. With ingenious creativity, Stone rescues Stick, proving that together they are a perfect 10.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-stick-and-stone-hurricane

Image copyright Tom Lichtenheld, text copyright Beth Ferry, Courtesy of tomlichtenheld.com

Using rhyme, puns, and perfect pacing, Beth Ferry infuses her spare text with just the right emotional tone for her young readers. A little conflict, a little suspense, and a little cleverness, add up to a big-hearted story.  

Tom Lichtenheld’s Stick and Stone are simply adorable. Kids will immediately identify with this whimsical duo and wish they could join them on their adventures. Clever pairings of text and illustrations enhance the meaningful relationship of these new friends.

Ages 3 – 7

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 2015 | ISBN 978-0544032569

Discover more about Beth Ferry and her books – plus extra goodies – on her website!

You’ll love exploring the gallery of illustration and books on Tom Lichtenheld‘s website!

Stick around and watch this Stick and Stone book trailer!

Bake for Family Fun Month Activity

CPB - Hot Chocolate trio (2)

Special Friendship Hot Chocolate Jar 

 

There’s nothing better than sipping hot chocolate with a friend – either old or new! Snitching a couple of marshmallows when you load up your mug and wearing that stylish foamy mustache are all sure to make you and your friend giggle! And the rich chocolate flavor is guaranteed to make you happy!

Here’s an easy way to make a special gift to give to an old friend or to introduce you to a new one!

CPB - Hot Chocolate from above with whisk

Supplies

  • Mason jar, canning jar, or any recycled jar from home
  • Canister of your favorite hot chocolate mix
  • Bag of mini marshmallows
  • Bag of chocolate chips
  • Measuring cup
  • Spoon
  • Piece of cloth
  • Shoelace, string, elastic, or ribbon
  • Paper or card stock to make a Friendship Tag
  • Hole punch
  • Scissor

Directions for Filling the Jar

  1. Wash and completely dry the jar
  2. Drop a handful of mini marshmallows into the bottom of the jar. With the spoon push some of the marshmallows tight against the glass so they will show up when you add the hot chocolate mix.
  3. Measure 1/3 cup of hot chocolate mix and sprinkle it on top of the marshmallows. With the spoon gently spread the mix over the marshmallows.
  4. If you wish, add a layer of chocolate chips.
  5. Continue layering marshmallows and hot chocolate mix until you get to the top of the jar.
  6. At the top add another layer of chocolate chips and marshmallows.
  7. Put the lid on the jar and secure it tightly.

Directions for Decorating the Lid and Adding the Tag

  1. Cut a 6-inch circle from the cloth. To make the edges decorative, use a pinking sheers or other specialty scissor.
  2. Cover the lid of the jar with the cloth and secure with an elastic or rubber band.
  3. Tie the string, shoelace, or other tie around the rim of the lid.
  4. If using a Mason jar, place the cloth between the disk and the screw top
  5. Create a Friendship Tag and add your name and the name of your friend.
  6. Use a hole punch to make a hole in the Friendship Tag, slide it onto the tie, and knot it.

Directions for Making the Hot Chocolate

  1. With a spoon measure 1/2 cup of the hot chocolate, marshmallow, chocolate chip mix into a mug
  2. Fill the mug with boiling water, hot milk, or a combination of both
  3. Enjoy!

Picture Book Review