November 14 – It’s Peanut Butter Lovers Month

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About the Holiday

The peanut has been domesticated for more than 7,000 years, but there’s nothing tame about its flavor or following. Enjoyed around the world by itself, with jelly, or in a variety of sweet and savory recipes, peanut butter is a favorite food of young and old alike. The creamy substance we know and love today can be attributed to three inventors: Marcellus Gilmore Edson was given a patent for peanut paste in 1884; Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (of Kellogg’s cereal fame) developed a process for using raw peanuts to create peanut butter in 1885 as a nutritious option for people who couldn’t chew hard food; and Dr. Ambrose Straub patented a peanut-butter machine.  Through the work of George Washington Carver, peanuts became an ingredient in more than 300 products and peanut butter was embraced as a dietary staple.

Peanut Butter & Brains: A Zombie Culinary Tale

Written by Joe McGee | Illustrated by Charles Santoso

 

Reginald was surrounded by culinary boredom. All “the other zombies wanted brains for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” but Reginald really dug peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In that way, he was more like the regular citizens of Quirkville, who weren’t too keen on the zombies’ preferred meal either. Whenever the zombies lumbered through town groaning “BRAINSSSSS,” everyone ran away screaming.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-brains-reginald-hungry

Image copyright Charles Santoso, 2015, text copyright Joe McGee, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams

Poor Reginald just couldn’t bring himself to join the horde. His stomach was too rumbly and grumbly, “and all he could do was dream about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. ‘Sweet jelly…,’ moaned Reginald. ‘Sticky peanut butter….’” When the other zombies looked at Reginald, they couldn’t understand the problem. “‘No BRAINSSSSS?’” they asked. Reginald tried to explain how delicious peanut butter and jelly was, but the other zombies wouldn’t listen.

Reginald tried to satisfy his craving at the local café, but the man behind the counter just pointed to a sign that said “No Zombies Allowed.” In the school cafeteria, the lunch lady automatically loaded his plate with “a hunk of meatloaf” that looked disturbingly like brains. Reginald even went to the store to buy the ingredients himself, but when he got to the cash register, he had no money. No money meant no peanut butter, no jelly, and no bread.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-brains-no-brains

Image copyright Charles Santoso, 2015, text copyright Joe McGee, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams

Then Reginald spied Abigail Zink with a lunch bag in her grasp. He “recognized the familiar jelly stain that was seeping through the paper bag” and made his move. At the same time, the “zombie horde shuffled and shambled around the corner” straight for Abigail, who had her nose in a book and took no notice of the danger. The other townspeople froze, and in that moment Reginald dashed forward and grabbed Abigail’s sack. He could practically taste the deliciousness inside.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-brains-reginald-grabs-bag

Image copyright Charles Santoso, 2015, text copyright Joe McGee, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams

“Little Abigail Zink let out a shriek, the mayor’s poodle yipped and yapped, and the townspeople all screamed, ‘AHHHHH!’” Reginald knew that if the other zombies had just one taste of peanut butter and jelly, they would change their minds about brains. Reginald held Abigail’s sandwich aloft and yelled, “‘BRAINS!’” The zombies crowded around as Reginald tossed the sandwich in the air.

Reginald had been right. With one taste, the zombies declared peanut butter and jelly “‘better than brains.’” Suddenly, the townspeople realized that the zombies were just hungry. With peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in their tummies, the zombies became valued members of Quirkville. The townspeople were happy, the zombies were happy, and Reginald? Well, he was still a little different. While the zombies now enjoyed PB and J, he “had moved on to…PIZZA.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-brains-zombie-horde

Image copyright Charles Santoso, 2015, text copyright Joe McGee, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams

Joe McGee’s tradition-bucking zombie, Reginald, offers a sweet wake-up call to anyone sleepwalking through life doing and liking the same things over and over while they follow the herd (or horde). McGee’s humorous descriptions of the marauding zombies and the townspeople’s reactions will have kids giggling from start to finish. The resolution to Quirkville’s predicament is deliciously “brainy,” and Reginald’s continued individuality makes for a surprising and satisfying ending.

Charles Santoso knows that most families have one or two zombies of their own who latch onto a favorite food and won’t let go. His stitched up, shaggy haired, raggedy clothed child zombies are adorable, and kids will love finding their favorite among the horde. Clever touches, such as a pirate zombie and a zombie cat, as well as the screaming townspeople will make readers laugh.

For the walking hungry, Peanut Butter & Brains: A Zombie Culinary Tale is sure to be ordered from the book cupboard again and again for fun story times.

Ages 4 – 8

Harry N. Abrams, 2015 | ISBN 978-1419712470

Discover more about Joe McGee and his books on his website!

View a gallery of work by Charles Santoso on his website!

Peanut Butter Lovers Month Activity

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins, recipe from Erica’s Sweet Tooth, ericasweettooth.com.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins from Erica’s Sweet Tooth

 

Searching for a delicious alternative to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich—one that’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, or as an in between sweet? Look no further than this scrumptious recipe from Erica’s Sweet Tooth! Made with creamy peanut butter, your favorite berry preserves, and a luscious crumble, these muffins will satisfy your PB & J cravings.

Click here for Erica’s Sweet Tooth Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

Picture Book Review

November 8 – Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day

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

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

 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-spice-bottle-penguins

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!

 

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

October 1 – World Vegetarian Day

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About the Holiday

World Vegetarian Day was established in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society to promote the vegetarian way of life and educate people on the health benefits of eliminating meat products from their diets. To celebrate, why not try being a vegetarian for a day or even all week? To help you along, visit a Farmers’ Market and view all of the vibrant, fresh produce on display!

Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market

Written by Michelle Schaub | Illustrated by Amy Huntington

 

Come spend a day mingling with the farmers, crafters, musicians, kids, dogs, and customers who make shopping local a fun community event—after all, “It’s market day. / Hooray, hooray! / Spy the wonders / on display: / rainbow carrots, / herb bouquets, / heaps of berries, / sample trays.” So “join the party; / don’t delay! / Come celebrate; / it’s market day!”

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Image copyright Amy Huntington, 2017, text copyright Michelle Schaub, 2017. Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.

For the growers, the day starts before you are even awake. They are Early Risers who “toil by silver light. / Harvest, sort, / wash, and load. / Hop in trucks, / Hit the road. / Just as dawn / pinks the sky, / they arrive, stretch and sigh.” The farmers put up their booths and Pile Up their displays with meticulous care. Take Farmer Rick whose “cauliflower towers / take him eons to align. / His pyramids of peppers / show impeccable design….But when Miss Malory arrives, / Rick sports a wary smile— / she always picks her produce from / the bottom of the pile!”

In addition to fruit and vegetables, there is often a booth that entices with homemade bread and Delightful Bites. “Alluring aromas float over tent tops—a whiff of vanilla, a whisper of spice. / A hint of some cinnamon dusted on cupcakes, a sniff of plump blackberries tucked into pies.” There are loaves and croissants and muffins and more all waiting for you to try.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fresh-picked-poetry-delightful-bites

Image copyright Amy Huntington, 2017, text copyright Michelle Schaub, 2017. Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.

Part of the fun of a farmers’ market is the Necessary Mess. “It clings to boots / and radish roots / and smudges mushroom caps. / It likes to hide / tucked deep inside / all crannies, grooves, and gaps….This film of dust, / a thin brown crust— / a mess you can’t avert. / But don’t you know? / No crops would grow / without a lot of dirt.”

Sometimes it’s just too hard to wait to eat the goodies at the market. One nibble…well…maybe two or three—no one will ever know. Except perhaps for those telltale Clues in Blue: “Blue splatters on our T-shirts. / Blue speckles on our shoes. / Blue splotches on our baskets. / Our footprints? They’re blue too…. ‘Who gobbled up the berries?’ / We both were reprimanded. / We tried to hide the evidence— / but we were caught… / BLUE-handed.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fresh-picked-poetry-local-loot

Image copyright Amy Huntington,  2017, text copyright Michelle Schaub, 2017. Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.

With twilight the market closes. The farmers pack their trucks, the honey sellers say good-bye, and “the musician’s notes have hushed.” The shoppers have gone home where their “cupboards brim with bounty, / while families dream away, / imagining the wonders / to come / next market day.”

An Author’s Note on “Fresh-picked reasons to spend a day at the market” follows the text.

In eighteen humorous, insightful, and evocative poems, Michelle Schaub takes readers to a farmers’ market to experience the sights, sounds, aromas, and fun of a day spent with a community of people in the open air. From the transformation of a vacant lot to checking off the traits of summer to an imagined conversation between a Green Zebra Tomato and Dinosaur Kale, Straub’s light touch and jaunty rhythms will make readers smile from the first page to the last. Kids and adults alike will be inspired to visit their local market again and again—in person and through these delicious poems.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fresh-picked-poetry-early-risers

Image copyright Amy Huntington, 2017, text copyright Michelle Schaub, 2017. Courtesy of Charlesbridge Publishing.

As envisioned by Amy Huntington, this farmers’ market is alive with gorgeous vibrant and subtle colors that invite readers to explore the crates of vegetables and fruit, drool over the home-baked pastries, dance along to the banjo and fiddle players, and follow the dogs who enjoy a day out as much as their humans. A diverse community of adults and children enjoy the fun in each illustration that will have readers lingering over every page.

A perfect take-along on a day’s outing to a farmers’ market, picnic, playground, or other jaunt, Fresh-Picket Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market should find a welcome spot on any classroom, public library, and home bookshelf.

Ages 4 – 9

Charlesbridge Publishing, 2017 | ISBN 978-1580895477

Learn more about Michelle Schaub, her books, and her poetry on her website!

Discover more about Amy Huntington and her books on her website!

You’re going to dig this Fresh-Picked Poetry book trailer!

World Vegetarian Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-vegetable-garden-word-search

Plant a Vegetable Garden Word Search

 

There are so many kinds of vegetables to plant in your garden and add to your diet! Can you pick out the names of twenty veggies in this printable Plant a Vegetable Garden Word Search? Here’s the Solution.

Picture Book Review

 

Picture Book Review

September 17 – It’s Better Breakfast Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-cover

About the Holiday

What makes a better breakfast than a tall stack of pancakes? With so many varieties—from buttermilk to buckwheat to chocolate chip—and so many toppings, such as syrup, fruit, and jam, you could have a different breakfast nearly every day of the year!

Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book

Illustrated by Lotta Nieminen

 

Sometimes a novelty book comes along that transcends the “kid” category and provides fun and “Ooooh!’ moments for readers of all ages. Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book offers just this kind of delicious excitement. Opening the cover is like walking into a cozy kitchen, finding your favorite recipe and gathering all the necessary ingredients. The first two-page spread presents in visuals and words the recipe and the utensils and other cooking items needed to make pancakes.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-an-interactive-recipe-book-ingredients

Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

With the second two-page spread, cooking begins! A scoop of baking powder, two tablespoons of sugar, and half a teaspoon of salt are added to the bowl. But what about the cup of flour? Readers get to add that themselves with a pull tab that simulates the flour joining the other ingredients in the green mixing bowl. The clever cut of the opening and the mottled and powdery appearance of the illustrated flour gives the sensation of actual pouring.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-an-interactive-recipe-book-measuring-milk

Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

Next, readers get to measure out the cup of milk with the help of a pull tab that gives kids control over the amount being served. Four marks on the side of the measuring cup provide an opportunity to talk about fractions and the ¼, ½, and ¾ lines that are also incorporated into real glass measuring cups or the separate cups that come as part of a set. Once the milk is ready, it goes into the mixing bowl with the melted butter and the egg.

Grab your whisk and get stirring! A wheel on the side of the page lets kids “combine” these wet ingredients from their individual parts into a cohesive yellow batter. Now that the batter is ready, it’s time for “STEP 4: Ladle the batter into separate circles in the hot, buttered frying pan.” Readers will love pulling the tab that releases the batter into the pan—leaving just a drop of batter to sizzle on its own (and you know how good those crispy drops can be!)

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-an-interactive-recipe-book-flipping-pancakes

Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

The batter is bubbling—which means it’s time to flip the flap jacks! As the spatula appears from the top of the page, kids can lift one of the little round yellow pancakes from the fry pan and turn it over. Ingeniously, the reverse side is delectably browned. A turn of the page invites by-now-hungry readers to follow “STEP 6: When both sides are browned, stack the finished pancakes on a plate.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-an-interactive-recipe-book-on-plate

Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

A pancake-sized round indentation on the plate just begs to be filled with the browned pancake from the previous page. Adding the pancake to the sunny plate, kids will feel as if they are holding the spatula and carefully slipping it atop a stack ready to be eaten.  The last page encourages readers to “add butter, syrup, fruit, jam, lemon juice, honey, or whipped cream and taste what you’ve made! Delicious!”

Lotta Nieminen’s Pancakes! is so wonderfully conceived in its bold vibrant images and simple recitation of a pancake recipe. The crisp lines and absence of labels on the ingredients’ packages, puts the focus on the shapes, providing a chance for discussion of concepts such as rectangle, circle, half-circle, cylinder, oval, and triangle; flat and round; and bigger and smaller. Ideas such as hot and cold, measuring, pouring, mixing, stacking and others can also be introduced. The brilliant interactive elements invite kids and adults alike to play with this book over and over.

The sturdy board pages and convenient size make this a perfect take-along for trips to the market, picnics, appointments, sibilings’ activities, or other outings where waiting is required. For kids and adults who like to help out in the kitchen, love to cook, or are attracted by all things culinary, Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book makes a terrific gift and must have for home bookshelves. 

Ages 2 and up

Phaidon Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-0714872834

To view a gallery of graphic design and illustration work by Lotta Nieminen, visit her website!

Better Breakfast Month 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:

To Play Pancake Toss

  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!

To Play With Dice

  1. Choose a number of pancakes that each player must add to their plate—say, maybe, a baker’s dozen.
  2. Take turns rolling the dice and adding the number of pancakes rolled to the plate. The first player to reach the agreed-upon number is the winner.

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print enough copies of the Pancakes and Breakfast Plates for the game you choose and cut them out. Playing pieces can be printed on card stock or on paper. 
  2. If printing on paper, you can glue the pancakes and plate to poster board, or cardboard 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

September 9 – National Bake and Decorate Day

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About the Holiday

Sometimes when you bake something, it looks a little…well…naked. A plain cake? A monochrome cookie? They just cry out for some color—and maybe a rose or two, or a superhero, or some words, or candies, or…you get the picture. Today’s holiday understands! So, get out your baking utensils, gather some ingredients, and design a beautiful or funny decoration! 

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake

Written by Michael B. Kaplan | Illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch

 

Betty Bunny knows she’s a “handful” because her parents often tell her so. Betty Bunny also knew her parents love her, so she figures that “being a handful must be very, very good.” One day when her mom offered her a piece of chocolate cake after dinner, Betty Bunny declined. She didn’t like trying new things, and “announced: ‘I hate chocolate cake. Chocolate cake is yucky.” But then added “‘What’s chocolate cake?’”

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Image copyright Stéphane Jorisch, text copyright Michael B. Kaplan. Courtesy of Penguin Books

With her first bite, Betty Bunny was in love. She was so in love, in fact, that she decided that when she grew up she was “going to marry chocolate cake.” Her siblings were supportive—kind of—but her older brother Bill thought “‘you’re going to have really weird-looking kids.’” The next day at school, Betty Bunny had chocolate on the brain. When her teacher went over the A B C’s Betty said, “‘A is for chocolate cake, B is for chocolate cake, C is for chocolate cake.’”

On the playground when Betty Bunny mixed together dirt and water, it looked like chocolate cake, but sure didn’t taste like it. At dinner Betty Bunny was ready for her dessert before her healthy dinner, but her mom said no; and her dad agreed with her mom. Her siblings tried to help—kind of. Henry suggested she eat some peas. Kate told her to eat her carrots, and Bill taunted, “‘Why don’t you have some chocolate cake? That’s what you really want. Oh, no, wait. You can’t. Ha-Ha.’”

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Image copyright Stéphane Jorisch, text copyright Michael B. Kaplan. Courtesy of Penguin Books

Betty Bunny exploded. She threw peas at Henry, tossed carrots at Kate, and lobbed mashed potatoes at Bill. Betty Bunny’s mother was not pleased and sent her little daughter to bed without chocolate cake. “Betty Bunny screamed, ‘This family is yucky!’” and stomped up the stairs. Later, her mom came up to kiss her goodnight, and she had a plan. She would put a piece of cake in the fridge and the next day after a good dinner, Betty Bunny could have it. “‘Maybe if you know it’s there waiting for you, it will be easier to be patient,’” her mom said. Betty Bunny thought this was a great idea and “wanted to say something especially nice to her mother. ‘Mommy,’ she said, ‘you are a handful.’”  

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Image copyright Stéphane Jorisch, text copyright Michael B. Kaplan. Courtesy of Penguin Books

The next morning Betty Bunny couldn’t leave the house without first checking on her piece of cake. It looked so alone sitting on the plate all by itself, so Betty Bunny decided to put it in her pocket and take it to school with her. All day the secret knowledge of what was in her pocket made Betty Bunny happy. At dinner, after she had cleaned her plate, she reached into her pocket for her chocolate cake, but all she found was “a brown, goopy mess” that made her cry.

After her mom explained to her that putting the cake in her pocket was not the same as being patient, she prepared another piece for the next day. In the morning, Betty Bunny remembered her lesson in patience—and that’s why she put the cake…in her sock.

Michael B. Kaplan’s adorable Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake is a delight from its beginning to its smashing ending. He hits all the right notes in this humorous family drama, from the “helpful” siblings to the hair-trigger tantrums to the Ramona Quimby-esque misunderstanding of phrase. Along with the giggle-inducing fun kids learn a bit about patience, and adults discover insight into what goes on in their little bunny’s mind when obsession meets disappointment.

Stéphane Jorisch’s Bunny family is as cute as…well…a bunny.  His watercolor, pen and ink, and gouche paintings employ brilliant color and crisp lines to depict the loving relationship among the siblings and parents as well as the realistic home and school environments. The perfectly drawn body language—including folded arms, sly looks, emotional meltdowns, and understanding smiles—will resonate with kids and adults alike. And once the piece of chocolate cake appears, it’s easy to see how little Betty Bunny could become such a fan.

Ages 3 – 7

Puffin Books, 2016 (paperback) | ISBN 978-1101998632

National Bake and Decorate Day

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Delicious Dot-to-Dot

 

Everything is better with chocolate—even this printable Delicious Dot-to-Dot! Get your pencils, follow the dots, and then color this delectable page!

Picture Book Review

September 8 – It’s All-American Breakfast Month

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About the Holiday

Bacon has been around since ancient times. In early French it was known as Bako, in German as Bakko, and in Teutonic as Backe. In Middle English it was called Bacoun, but all these words simply meant “back,” as in the back meat of pigs. Preserved and flavored, bacon is a favorite the world over and has seen an explosion of uses in the past few years, from enhancing cupcakes, apple pie, and chocolate chip cookies to spicing up peanut butter sandwiches, lasagna, and French toast. But there’s nothing quite as enticing as two or three crispy slices sitting on the edge of a plate of eggs or pancakes as part of an all-American breakfast!

Everyone Loves Bacon

Written by Kelly Dipucchio | Illustrated by Eric Wight

 

From Egg to Waffle to Pancake, there was no one who didn’t love Bacon—even Bacon himself. Well…maybe French Toast was an exception, but he “doesn’t like anyone.” Bacon loved all the attention the other foods gave him. Jalapeño wanted to sit next to him, and Garlic thought he smelled so good! He made the fruit and vegetables laugh with his “charming stories and funny jokes,” and, boy, could he play the ukulele!

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Image copyright Eric Wight, 2015, text copyright Kelly Dipucchio, 2015. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Ham, sausage link, and sausage patty were jealous, “but Bacon didn’t care about them. Not one bit.” After all, “He was becoming a real celebrity. His picture appeared on t-shirts. And billboards. And buses.” Bacon was so enthralled with himself that he began to forget his friends. Sometimes he even “pretended not to know some of his old friends.” Bacon had fans, and that was enough for him.

Bacon began to live the high life of sports cars, designer clothes, and the latest fads. He was even the star of the breakfast pastry parade. “Indeed Bacon was the toast of the town. Until….” Well…we did warn you that “everyone loves Bacon.”

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Image copyright Eric Wight, 2015, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Kelly Dipucchio’s witty cautionary tale about a piece of bacon that gets too big for his broiler sizzles with snappy sentences and the perils of celebrity. She chooses words and experiences that are recognizable to any child navigating the world of school, siblings, and friends, and with sly winks to popular culture shows that mistaking fans for friends ends badly and that there is always someone “bigger” than you.

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Image copyright Eric Wight, 2015, text copyright Kelly Dipucchio, 2015. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Even if readers don’t like the taste of bacon, they won’t be able to resist Eric Wight’s adorable slice who becomes the star of a 1950s-era diner. From the first page where Bacon admires himself in the back of a spoon, kids will giggle as Bacon takes pictures with equally cute Hotdog, Chicken Leg, Pickle, Garlic, and Jalapeño, leads a citrus parade complete with paper cocktail umbrellas, and plays the ukulele for swooning tater tots, French fries, and curly fries. But as the other foods grow sad and disgruntled with Bacon’s attitude—even brandishing fancy toothpicks—kids will understand and empathize with these forgotten friends. When Bacon meets his fate on the last page, readers are sure to fork over a howl of surprise.

Ages 3 – 6

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015 | ISBN 978-0374300524

To learn more about Kelly Dipucchio and her books, visit her website!

All-American Breakfast Month Activity

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Amazin’ Bacon Maze

 

There’s some tasty bacon sizzling in the center of this frying pan-shaped maze. Can you find your way through this printable Amazin’ Bacon Maze to eat it up? Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review