August 3 – National Twins Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday got its start in 1819 when identical twins Moses and Aaron Wilcox agreed to donate six acres of land to the town of Millsville, Ohio if they would change the name of the town to Twinsburg. They did! In 1976, Twinsburg established an annual festival for twins. Only thirty-six twins attended that first festival, but today the three-day event attracts more than 2,000 twins from all over the country. The weekend includes golf and volleyball tournaments, kids’ games, a parade, amusement rides, entertainment, fireworks, and, of course, twins contests and talent contests. For more information on this unique festival, visit the Twins Days Festival website.

Twinderella, A Fractioned Fairy Tale

Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz | Illustrated by Deborah Marcero

 

You, of course, know the story of Cinderella, but did you know that she had a twin named Tinderella? Here’s how the whole story goes…. When the two girls were given their long list of chores by their wicked stepmother, “Tinderella split each task / exactly down the middle. / Twelve to fix? / That’s six and six. / She’d solve it like a riddle.” And, thus, Cinderella and Tinderella went to work on fixing the household’s clocks.

The girls also split the mopping, shopping, baking, mending, and “the mean stepsister tending.” Left with only leftovers to eat at the end of the day, the two even shared half a piece of bread and half the scraps before collapsing into their half of the bed. In their  dreams, Cinderella kept her eye on marriage while Tinderella calculated what having twice the room would be.

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Image Copyright Deborah Marcero, 2017, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz, 2017. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Then one day, the sisters saw an open invitation by the prince to a ball where he hoped to find his princess. Cinderella was excited that her dream could come true, but her stepmother told them they had to stay home to clean. “So Cinderella grabbed a broom, / but as she started sweeping, / she felt her dreams all turn to dust / and couldn’t keep from weeping.” But suddenly their fairy godmother appeared, and with her magic wand she created two beautiful gowns, two pairs of slippers, and lots of other bling. Tinderella split all of this between them, and as they each climbed into their half of a fabulous car, they listened to the fairy godmother’s warning to be back by midnight.

As soon as the prince saw Cinderella and Tinderella, he was enchanted. “No other girl stood half a chance—he danced with them all night.” Taking turns with the Prince, the girls danced the night away until they heard the clock begin to chime. They ran away from the ball, leaving the saddened prince—and a shoe—behind. He tried the shoe on all the girls in the village until he found that it fit Cinderella and Tinderella.

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Image Copyright Deborah Marcero, 2017, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz, 2017. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

The prince didn’t know what to do and told the girls they had to choose. But Tinderella had a brilliant idea. She summoned their fairy godmother and asked if she could make the prince a twin. Before she did, though, Cinderella reminded the prince that he’d have to share his kingdom and all its wealth. “Prince Charming crossed his heart and swore / to split things even steven. / ‘I’d gladly give up all my stuff. / It’s love that I believe in.’”

With that the fairy godmother waved her wand and Whoosh! an exact double of the prince appeared. It turned out that he was just as much a whiz at math as Tinderella, and within moments he had neatly “divvied up the royal wealth” and won Tinderella’s heart. While Cinderella and Prince Charming ruled the kingdom, Tinderella and her prince ruled the math world. Later, Cinderella had a baby boy. And Tinderella? Well, “against all odds” she “delivered quads,” and everyone lived “happ’ly ever half-ter.”

An included poster allows kids and teachers to extend the math learning with entertaining activities on the back.

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Image Copyright Deborah Marcero, 2017, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz, 2017. Courtesy of G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

Fans of Corey Rosen Schwartz and her fractured fairy tales know all about her awesome storytelling and rhyming abilities. In Twinderella, A Fractioned Fairy Tale, she uses her multiple talents to give a favorite fairy tale a double dose of magic while engaging kids in a bit of math fun. Her always-clever verses shine with evocative vocabulary that gives the two girls distinct personalities while also ingeniously introducing the concept of one half and division. Schwartz doesn’t stop at a purely mathematical definition of these ideas, though. When Tinderella suggests making a double of the prince, Cinderella ensures Prince Charming is up to splitting his kingdom, in this way passing on her well-earned sense of empathy and sharing to readers. The sweet ending offers quadruple the delight of the original tale and prompts readers to dip into the story again to see how the girls’ fancy dress accessories and the princes’ kingdom along with other items in the story could be divided into fourths.

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Deborah Marcero’s mixed media illustrations are as charming as the prince himself. As red-haired Cinderella and Tinderella go about their copious chores, thumbnail portraits of the girls splitting the work demonstrate the idea of one half. A larger image of the girls baking reveals the opportunities for math learning in this everyday activity. A pie chart that Tinderella draws on a chalkboard is clearly labeled and corresponds to the clocks on the table, introducing kids to this graphing system and allowing them to make connections. Similarly, the concept of area is portrayed as Tinderella dreams of a bigger bed. A careful look on every page will reward readers with many chances for counting and dividing at various levels depending on the age of the reader. Marcero’s color palette is fresh and vibrant while infusing the pages with a royal ambience that hints at the girls’ enriched future.

A joy to read aloud, Twinderella, A Fractioned Fairy Tale is an enchanting story that doubles as inspired math learning. The book would be a favorite addition to any home, classroom, and public library collection.

Ages 4 – 8

P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017 | ISBN 978-0399176333

You’ll discover more about Corey Rosen Schwartz and her books plus Twinderella activities to download on her website.

To learn more about Deborah Marcero, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Twinderella Giveaway

I’m excited to be teaming with Corey Rosen Schwartz in a Twitter giveaway of 

  • One (1) signed copy of Twinderella, A Fractioned Fairy Tale 

To enter Follow me @CelebratePicBks on Twitter and Retweet a giveaway tweet.

This giveaway is open from August 3 through August 9 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on August 10.

Prizing provided by Corey Rosen Schwartz

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | No Giveaway Accounts.

National Twins Day Activity

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Reunite the Twins Match-Up Puzzle

 

Each of these kids has a twin, but they’ve gotten separated. Can you help them find each other again in this printable puzzle?

Reunite the Twins Match-Up Puzzle

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You can find Twinderella, A Fractioned Fairy Tale at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

January 10 -National Skating Month

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About the Holiday

National Skating Month was instituted 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. This month’s theme is Skate to Superheroes and encourages rinks to plan events that show the fun and empowering aspects of ice skating. To celebrate this month head out to a rink with your family and enjoy the day. Not a skater? Now’s the perfect time to learn!

 Little Red Gliding Hood

Written by Tara Lazar | Illustrated by Troy Cummings

 

The depths of winter had settled in and “the river winding through the enchanted forest was frozen solid.” For one little girl, these conditions were just right. She tied on her ice skates then “swizzled and twizzled across the ice,” doing figure eights, loops, jumps, and spins. Who was this girl? “Everyone called her Little Red Gliding Hood.”

Little Red was worried. Her skates were so old that she was afraid they would no longer carry her to Grandma’s house every Sunday. Then she saw a banner announcing a skating pairs competition. The prize was a new pair of skates! But who would be her partner, Little Red wondered. The Dish and the Spoon were already a team, and so were Hansel and Gretel. Little Boy Blue was too cold to skate, the Seven Dwarves were more into hockey, and Old MacDonald couldn’t stay upright on the ice.

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Image copyright Troy Cummings, 2015, text copyright Tara Lazar, 2015. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers.

Little Red decided to go talk it over with Grandma and skated quickly along the river to foil the Big Bad Wolf. Over cups of hot chocolate, Little Red and Grandma discussed the options: the Gingerbread Man? Too fast to catch. Baby Bear? Already matched with Goldilocks. How about one of the Three Little Pigs who had moved next door, Grandma suggested. So Little Red approached the brick house and said, “‘Little pigs, little pigs, let me in!’” Just then the Big Bad Wolf interrupted to tell Little Red she was using his line.

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Image copyright Troy Cummings, 2015, text copyright Tara Lazar, 2015. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers.

Turning around, Little Red found herself staring into the eyes of the wolf. She shrieked and rushed away, but her old laces became untied and “her boots were lopsided and loose.” The wolf was right behind her, but just then one of Little Red’s skates flew off. As Little Red tumbled into the air, the wolf caught her. Little Red trembled.

The Big Bad Wolf howled. “‘You’re wonnnnnderful!’ The wolf gently put Little Red down.” She couldn’t believe it. Then the wolf told her that he had been chasing her just to tell her that her laces were untied. He understood because his own skates were “‘older than Rip Van Winkle.’” Then Little Red had an idea.

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Image copyright Troy Cummings, 2015, text copyright Tara Lazar, 2015. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers.

On the day of the competition, Little Red took to the frozen pond in her old skates. As all the skaters warmed up, the wolf approached from the other side of the pond. When the skaters saw him, they were terrified, and chaos ensued. “The wolf frightened Miss Muffet away. She bumped Little Jack Horner into the corner. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. And Jack and Jill came tumbling after.” In the midst of it all, Little Red was slipping and sliding. Finally, she cried for help. The Big Bad Wolf hurried over and lifted Little Red high above the mayhem. Seeing Little Red in danger, the woodcutter ran to her rescue, his axe shining.

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Image copyright Troy Cummings, 2015, text copyright Tara Lazar, 2015. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers.

“‘Oh, slippery slush!’ said Little Red. ‘He’s my partner!’” Everyone was shocked. But then the music played and the competition began. Each pair performed their routine. At last it was Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf’s turn. They “swizzled and twizzled across the ice” and did figure eights, loops, jumps, and spins, surprising the crowd. After the judges conferred with each other, the scores for Little Red and the wolf went up. They received a perfect ten from each judge—and new skates! As they left the pond hand in paw, Little Red exclaimed, “‘Oh my, what big skates you have!’” And the wolf answered, “‘All the better to glide with you, my dear.’”

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Image copyright Troy Cummings, 2015, text copyright Tara Lazar, 2015. Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers.

Tara Lazar cleverly brings together an enchanted forest-full of fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters in her perfect 10 of a story. Little Red’s determination to win the skating competition and a new pair of skates to replace her old ones, gives Lazar plenty of opportunities to slide in sly puns and references to well-known fairy tales. Things heat up when the Big Bad Wolf follows Little Red to Grandma’s house, but it only serves to melt readers’ hearts when the wolf turns out to be a sweetie. Lazar’s seamless storytelling glides along like a gold medal-winning performance, each scene building on the previous move and culminating in a surprise pairing and, of course, a happy ending.

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To start things off, Troy Cummings offers up an enchanted forest as enticing as any ice-cream shop. As Little Red glides on the river that winds its way through violet mountains, around familiar homes, and past several castles, readers will love pointing out the characters from their favorite stories and nursery rhymes. Little Red, with her sweet face and big eyes set off by her signature hooded cape, is as plucky a heroine as ever as she hurries through the dark woods to Grandma’s cozy cottage. The Big Bad Wolf, with his long snout and steely glare seems as menacing as we all remember…until he begins to howl Little Red’s praises.

The collection of competitors warming up at the pond will delight kids with more match-ups for them to name. Comic gold ensues when the wolf shows up and sends the skaters into a spin then rescues Little Red—holding her aloft like an Olympic champion. The duo’s performance is charming, the winning skates appropriately shiny, and smiles abound as Little Red and the (not so) Big Bad Wolf skate off into the sunset.

A smart fractured fairy tale with lots of suspense, laughs, and heart, Little Red Gliding Hood would be a well-loved prize on any home, classroom, or library bookshelf.

Ages 2 – 10

Random House Books for Young Readers, 2015 | ISBN 978-0385370066

You can discover more about Tara Lazar and her books and find a wealth of resources on her website.

To learn more about Troy Cummings, his books, and his art, visit his website.

National Skating Month Activity

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Magnetic Skating Rink Craft

 

Kids can bring the ice skating indoors with this craft that’s easy to make and gives little characters their own turn to show off their moves.

Supplies

  • Cookie Tin top, or other metal surface
  • Small plastic figures or erasers
  • Paper clip
  • Paper
  • Magnet, ½-inch to 1-inch (the stronger the magnet, the better the skater will work
  • Large craft sticks
  • Tape
  • Small spools, blocks, or other items to raise up the skating surface
  • Poly-fill (optional)
  • Hot glue gun or strong glue

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Directions

  1. Glue the round magnet to one end of the craft stick
  2. Set the top of the cookie tin on the spools or blocks to raise the surface and provide room to maneuver the magnetic stick, glue in place if desired

To Make a Skater

  1. Cut a strip of paper twice as long as your paperclip
  2. Fold the strip of paper in half and tape the paperclip inside. Tape the ends of the paper closed.
  3. Glue the figure to the paper

To Play with the Skater

  1. Place the skater on the cookie tin lid
  2. Slide the magnetic stick under the cookie tin lid and match up with the skater
  3. As you move the magnetic stick, the skater will glide and turn

Make more and have a skating party with your friends!

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You can find Little Red Gliding Hood at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

March 20 – World Storytelling Day

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About the Holiday

Storytelling has been around as long as people have. We seem to have a natural desire to communicate our thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a factual way as well as creatively. Today’s holiday celebrates both the storytellers and their stories that enrich our lives. Sometimes, of course, there are two sides to a story—as you’ll see in today’s book!

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Edwardian Taylor

 

You know the drill—Once upon a time there was a poor boy named Jack…. One day this waif woke up to a moo-tivating kiss from his cow Bessie and… Wait, wait! Kids, cover your eyes! And, Jack, “put on some pants!” Phew! Disaster averted! Now where were we? Oh, right. So Jack (now well-dressed) was told that because Bessie had stopped making milk, he had to sell her. He protested, but the mysterious narrator protested right back: “I didn’t WRITE the story, Jack. I’m just telling it.”

Down at the market, Jack received five beans in exchange for Bessie. Of course, this is a fairy tale, and the beans are magic. Jack tried all the magical words he knew to get them to work, but they just sat in the bowl smiling up at him. Yeah, these beans have faces. Overcome by hunger, Jack determined to eat the beans, but there was that pesky narrator again ordering him to throw the beans out the window and then go to bed. As you can imagine—what with selling his best friend and hunger gnawing at his belly—Jack was a bit testy and complainy and countered, “Aww, but I’m not tired. This story keeps getting worse and worse.”

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Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2017, text copyright Josh Funk, 2017. Courtesy of Two Lions Publishing.

In the morning, Jack discovered that an enormous beanstalk had grown up overnight. It was so tall that Jack couldn’t even see the top. The narrator told him to start climbing. At first, Jack balked, then he tried to stall by offering to get his climbing gear, but the narrator had already determined that Jack “had no possessions.” Finally, Jack agreed to go, but only if the narrator changed the beanstalk’s size. In a classic “be careful what you wish for” maneuver, the beanstalk suddenly began to grow bigger. “Seriously?” Jack said.

Jack was actually enjoying his climb, especially when he spied Cinderella’s castle with Cindy waving from her balcony. Her voice rang across the distance, inviting Jack to a ball that very night. The narrator was not happy with this delay and urged Jack on. Finally, he reached the top, where “he found himself in front of a humongous house.” Jack pegged it right away as a giant’s abode, but he went inside anyway. As he was looking around at all the mammoth furnishings, he heard the giant’s voice: “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman.”

Heck, Jack knew about poetry and recognized immediately that “that doesn’t even rhyme” and offered an alternative: “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I can see the giant’s bum.” This bit of wordplay just enraged the giant—that, plus his fear that Jack was trying to steal all his best stuff. The giant grabbed Jack and was about to…well, listen for yourself: “Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.” Pretty chilling stuff, but even though Jack was facing imminent danger, he was pretty impressed with the giant’s new rhyme.

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Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2017, text copyright Josh Funk, 2017. Courtesy of Two Lions Publishing.

That made the giant happy, and Jack thought this moment of camaraderie was the perfect time to let slip to the giant that “there’s a good chance that you’re going to die at the end of this story.” The giant put on a frowny face, and his eyes began to tear up. It seemed the giant didn’t want to die, so he suddenly decided to become a vegan. Listening to this emotional roller coaster, the narrator started to get steamed because he was losing control of the story. “ENOUGH!!!” he shouted.

“GIANT!” he hollered and ordered him to chase Jack down the beanstalk. “JACK!” he yelled and told him to chop down the beanstalk. All this shouting only served to bond Jack and the Giant in an oversized friendship. They commiserated together and planned to make a taco salad from one of the giant’s recipes. After that they went to Cinderella’s party, where they told everyone about their adventure. And who’s complaining now? You got this—the narrator!

P.S. And, of course, they all lived happily ever after by splitting the giant’s fortune and opening a restaurant named Where Have You Bean? for a whole host of fairy tale customers!

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Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2017, text copyright Josh Funk, 2017. Courtesy of Two Lions Publishing.

In Josh Funk’s newest romp, Jack takes matters into his own hands as he revamps his famous story into one that turns out “happily ever after” for all the characters. Along the way readers will laugh at Jack’s feisty repartee with the unseen narrator as he’s swept up in a larger-than-life scenario and uses his wits—and wit—to finally tell his own story in his own way. Young readers will appreciate Jack’s independent spunk, and adults will respond to his sweet nature.

Edwardian Taylor’s noodle-limbed, big-eyed Jack knows how to tug at readers’ heartstrings. Soulfully saying good-bye to Bessie, gazing at his nearly empty plate in anguish, and warily approaching the giant’s castle, Jack will quickly have readers empathizing with his plight and cheering him on as he outwits the gigantic red-bearded giant and turns him into a friend and business partner. And while the giant may be big, kids will soon see that he’s really a softy. Children will love all the big and small details on every page, from the leafy beanstalk to cute Cindy-rella to the gold-coin-laying goose. And if you’ve never seen a purple cow…here’s your chance. The final spread of a packed Where Have You Bean? restaurant gives kids an opportunity to show their knowledge of fairy-tale characters.

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk makes for a spirited and funny read aloud, and would be super performed by a group in classrooms or by clubs, or even by friends or siblings.

Ages 4 – 8

Two Lions, 2017 | ISBN 978-1542045650

Enter the world of Josh Funk and discover more about him and his books as well as plenty of book-related activities on his website!

Learn more about Edwardian Taylor and view a portfolio of his artwork on his website!

World Storytelling Day Activity

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This is Not a Yardstick! Yardstick Craft

 

Need to measure something—like the height of your garden, the amount of rain that fell, or even the number of books you have? You can do it in style with your very own This is Not a Yardstick! yardstick craft.

Supplies

  • 50-inch wooden stake, available at craft stores
  • Small wooden leaves, 45 – 50, available at craft stores 

OR

  • Light green and dark green foam sheets 
  • Green paint, light and dark
  • Black marker
  • Paint brush
  • Strong glue
  • Flower pot
  • Oasis or clay
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

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Directions

  1. Paint the wooden stake with the green paint, let dry
  2. With the ruler mark the stake in 1-inch increments along the edge of the stake

How to Make the Leaves

  1. If using wooden leaves, paint half light green and half dark green
  2. If using foam, cut 1 3/4-inch tear-drop shaped leaves (half from light green foam, half from dark green foam), 45 – 50 or as needed
  3. Cut two larger leaves, one from each color to decorate the top of the stake
  4. Draw a line down the center of each leaf’
  5. Write the number of the inch marked on each leaf, from 1 to 45 or higher with the black marker, alternating colors

How to Attach the Leaves

  1. Glue the leaves to the stake, attaching the odd-numbered inch leaves to the left side of the stake and the even-numbered leaves to the right side of the stake.
  2. Attach half of the leaf to the stake, letting the tip stick out from the side
  3. Glue the two larger leaves to the top of the stake

How to Store Your Yardstick

  1. Put the oasis or clay in the flower pot
  2. Stick the stake into the flower pot to keep it handy

Picture Book Review

February 26 – National Tell a Fairy Tale Day

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About the Holiday

Today, we remember that fairy tales often have their origin in the oral stories, myths, and legends of long ago. In addition to entertainment, their purpose was to teach a lesson, change behavior, or warn of dangers. Over the years magical elements and mystical creatures were added to the stories. The Brothers Grimm published their collection of stories in 1812 under the title Household Tales. The plots were darker and meant for more of an adult audience. Hans Christian Andersen’s work was first published in 1829. Through him, readers were introduced to The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, and today’s story. Over the years, fairy tales have evolved to include “fractured” versions—tales told by another character or with a funny or quirky twist. To celebrate today, reread some of your and your child’s favorite fairy tales—and discover some new ones!

La Princesa and the Pea

Written by Susan Middleton Elya | Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

 

“There once was a prince who wanted a wife, / but not any niña would do in his life.” His madre demanded just the right sort of girl and said “No!” to all the princesses who wanted to catch the prince’s eye. But then along came a girl riding home to her castle who asked to stay “if it isn’t a hassle.” The girl winked at the prince and he was immediately smitten.

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Copyright Juana Martinez-Neal, 2017, courtesy of juanamartinezneal.com.

The prince invited her in, but his mother planned to test her to make sure she was “buena.” So “Mama crept away / to the royal jardín / and found a small pea / that was fit for a queen.” She went up to the guest room and called for twenty mattresses to be brought in. Then while she ate bon-bons, her workers carried the colchones in. The first mattress was soft, the second was small, the third was muy grande, and the fourth was un sueño—as comfy as a dream. Then came striped ones and dotted ones and ones that were fleece. There were red ones and blue ones and ones that were gris.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-la-princesa-and-the-pea-the-prince

Copyright Juana Martinez-Neal, 2017, courtesy of juanamartinezneal.com.

When the twenty mattresses were piled high on the bed, Mama showed the girl to her room. Seeing the soft bed, she said, “‘Thanks! I won’t even count sheep.’” But under the first mattress way down below sat the small pea. “Meanwhile el príncipe practiced ‘I do’s.’ / He knew that this maiden was the one he should choose.” But when he told his mama how much he liked the girl, she just said, “‘we’ll see.’”

In her room, “the girl stretched her brazos / and yawned with her boca. / But the bed felt so lumpy / like there was a roca.” That tiny pea—that little guisante—could that be the reason she just could not sleep? In the morning the maiden dragged herself down to breakfast, and when Mama asked how she’d slept, she answered, “‘Great…if you like hard and lumpy.’” But when she spied the prince, she cheered up and said, “‘it wasn’t that bad.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-la-princesa-and-the-pea-the-queen

Copyright Juana Martinez-Neal, 2017, courtesy of juanamartinezneal.com.

“‘¡Ay!’” Thought la reina. / How’d she detect it? / Is she a real princess? / I think I suspect it.” When the prince learned that the girl had passed the test, he gave her a golden anillo, and they married “that week in the royal castillo.” The wedding was huge and the girl’s dress most stylish. With “‘¡acepto!’” “‘¡acepto!’” they were quickly wed. And only the prince knows to this very day that he helped things along by adding “pitchforks and stones en la cama / to help his true love pass the test of Queen Momma.” The prince and the princess “had hijos galore. / One for each mattress and then had no more.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-la-princesa-and-the-pea-the-kids

Copyright Juana Martinez-Neal, 2017, courtesy of juanamartinezneal.com.

Susan Middleton Elya’s Latin-inspired take on The Princess and the Pea story is fresh and funny and puts control of the prince’s future in his own hands. Young readers will embrace this twist that shows when they know what is right for them, they can make it happen. The use of Spanish words throughout the story, and especially to create clever rhymes, make the verses as joyful to read aloud as they are to hear.

Juana Martinez-Neal’s warm colors and beautifully patterned clothing, inspired by Peruvian textiles, infuses this favorite story with a homey and family-centered, folk-tale feeling that sets it apart. Readers will be charmed by the llamas, guinea pigs, and even the grumpy cat that inhabit the castle and will want to linger over the softly colored illustrations to see every detail. The sweet looks between the prince and princess show their true love, and among their twenty children, readers may find la reina’s favorite(?) grandchild.

La Princesa and the Pea is a terrific addition to children’’s fairy tale book collection at home and in the classroom.

Ages 4 – 8

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-0399251566

Discover more about Susan Middleton Elya and her books on her website.

To learn more about Juana Martinez-Neal, her books, and her art and find lots of fun story-related activities visit her website.

National Tell a Fairy Tale Day Activity

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Fairy Tale Coloring Pages

 

What’s a fairy tale without a castle and maybe a dragon or two? Have fun coloring these pages, then make up your own story!

Fairy Tale CastleHappy Dragon

Picture Book Review

December 31 – No Interruptions Day

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About the Holiday

Have you had enough of all the extra goings on this month? Do you just hanker after a nice long respite where you can think your own thoughts? Or do you want to get organized at home or at the office for the new year? Then today is for you! So close the door or put in your earbuds and take some quiet time for yourself!

Interrupting Chicken

By David Ezra Stein

 

It’s time for a certain little red chicken to go to sleep, and Papa is about to nestle his chick into bed when the subject of a bedtime story comes up. Papa agrees to read one of his daughter’s favorites—after being reassured that she won’t interrupt the story tonight. “‘Oh no, Papa. I’ll be good,’” she says.

So Papa opens Hansel and Gretel and begins to read. He’s related that Hansel and Gretel were very hungry, that while out in the woods they found a house made of candy, and that they had begun to nibble away on the house when the old woman who lived there invited the children in. “They were just about to follow her when—,” Papa continued. But his little chicken can’t help herself and says: “Out jumped a little red chicken, and she said, ‘DON’T GO IN! SHE’S A WITCH!’ So Hansel and Gretel didn’t. THE END!”

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Image copyright David Ezra Stein, courtesy of Candlewick Press

Papa peers over the top of his story book, and he and his daughter give each other a long look. “‘Chicken.’” Papa says. “‘Yes, Papa?’” his daughter asks innocently. “‘You interrupted the story. Try not to get so involved.’” Papa tells her. “‘I’m sorry, Papa. But she really was a witch.’” Papa understands, but he also tells little chicken that she should relax and try to fall asleep. His daughter agrees to be good if he reads another story.

Papa turns the page to Little Red Riding Hood. He reads about how Little Red Riding Hood’s mother gave her a basket of goodies to take to Grandma and warns her about the dangers in the woods. “By and by she met a wolf who wished her ‘Good Morning.’ She was about to answer when—”…the little avid reader can’t help herself again! “Out jumped a little red chicken, and she said, ‘DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS!’ So little Red Riding Hood didn’t. THE END!”

Papa puts the story book down and gazes into his daughter’s wide-awake eyes. She apologizes for interrupting a second time and suggests “one more little story” and promises to behave. Papa picks a most appropriate story for the third go-around: Chicken Little. He starts off with the unfortunate event when Chicken Little is hit on the head by an acorn and mistakenly thinks that the sky is falling. “She was about to run off and warn Goosey Loosey, Ducky Lucky, Henny Penny, and everyone on the farm the sky was falling when—”…the little chicken loses control yet again. “Out jumped the little red chicken, and SHE said, ‘DON’T PANIC! IT WAS ONLY AN ACORN.’ So Chicken Little didn’t. THE END!”

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Image copyright David Ezra Stein, courtesy of Candlewick Press

Papa is now flat out tired and—even though his little chick hugs him and vows that with only one more story she’ll fall asleep—is out of stories. Little chicken exclaims, “‘Oh no, Papa. I can’t go to sleep without a story!’” Yawning, Papa suggests that his daughter tell him a story. She grabs her notebook and crayons and begins. “Bedtime for Papa by CHiKn Once there was a little red chicken who put her Papa to bed. She read him a hundred stories. She even gave him warm milk, but nothing worked: he stayed wide awake all—”

Suddenly, the sounds of snoring interrupt her storytelling. She looks up from her page to find her father fast asleep in her bed. She pats him on the head “‘Good night, Papa.’” she whispers before finally falling asleep herself.

David Ezra Stein’s Caldecott Honor book is a hilarious look at the nightly bedtime story scene in so many households. One story just isn’t enough, and familiar stories just beg to be finished by excited little voices. The father/daughter relationship in Interrupting Chicken is sweet and endearing, as the day-weary dad reads story after story and his daughter chimes in. Many a parent or caregiver has gazed at their little charge in just the way Papa does, and received the same knowingly innocent eyes back.

Kids will fall in love with Stein’s adorable little chicken and her patient Papa. The stories Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Chicken Little are cleverly depicted in vintage black, brown, and white hues that are brilliantly interrupted by the little chicken and her well-timed warnings.  Even the characters of these classic tales react to being so “rudely interrupted” and are left with dubious expressions as our little heroine saves the day.

Animated readings (there’s no way you’ll get away with just one!) will make Interrupting Chicken one of the favorite books on your child’s bookshelf.

Ages 4 – 8

Candlewick Press, 2010 | ISBN 978-0763641689

Don’t’ interrupt this funny book trailer!

 No Interruptions Day Activity

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Good Manners Matter! Word Search

 

No interruptions means good manners which means those around you will smile! Find the 20 manners-related word in this printable Good Manners Matter! smiley-faced-shaped puzzle! Here’s the Solution!

Picture Book Review

October 10 – National Face Your Fears Day

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About the Holiday

Going outside your comfort zone can be scary, but being afraid holds you back and affects your quality of life. Today’s holiday encourages people to face their fears and overcome trepidation or hesitance and say, “I’m going to do it!” Perhaps knowing that others are also trying the hard thing today will provide a little extra courage. You never know what you can achieve until you take that first step!

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)

By Dan Santat

 

If readers don’t quite remember what happened to Humpty Dumpty back in the day,  his unfortunate accident is captured on the title page. But this is not a story about falling (we all do that sometimes). Instead, as the subtitle reveals, it’s about the recovery. Here, Humpty Dumpty tells his story his way—what really happened on that fateful day and afterward.

Humpty takes readers back to the scene where it all happened: his “favorite spot high up on the wall.” He acknowledges that it’s a strange place for such a fragile being to be, but up there he felt closer to the birds. He goes on to say that he’s not really comfortable with all the fuss and the fancy “Great Fall” title. It was just a mistake; even if that mistake did change his life.

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Copyright Dan Santat, 2017, courtesy us.macmillan.com.

It turns out that despite what we’ve all learned, the king’s men were able to patch Humpty up. Well, at least partly. His shell was repaired, but inside? “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Where Humpty once loved his bunk bed above his desk, he now slept on a mat on the floor; he only bought items from the lowest grocery store shelves; and even though he passed the wall every day, he knew he could never climb the ladder to the top again.

Humpty resigned himself to watching the birds from the ground through a pair of binoculars. Then, one day, a paper airplane streaked across the sky and gave him an idea. Paper airplanes looked so easy to make, but Humpty found it hard. Day after day he struggled, suffering paper cuts and scratches. One day, though, he “got it just right.” In his hand was a beautiful paper bird.

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Copyright Dan Santat, 2017, courtesy us.macmillan.com.

Humpty took his bird plane outside and launched it into the air. “It flew like nothing could stop it.” Humpty felt happier than he had in ages, and even though watching his plane wasn’t the same as being on top of the wall among the birds, “it was close enough.” But then the unthinkable happened—the bird plane flew over the wall. Humpty was well aware that “unfortunately, accidents happen…they always do.”

For a minute Humpty Dumpty considered walking away. But then he remembered all the work he’d put into his plane, which led him to think about all the things he was missing out on. He looked up that tall, tall ladder and started to climb. The farther up he got, though, the more afraid he became. Without looking up or down, he continued climbing. “One step at a time.”

When he reached the top, he “was no longer afraid.” At that moment, as his shell began to crack and he felt lighter and more powerful. Humpty tells readers that he hopes they won’t remember him as “that egg who was famous for falling,” but as “the egg who got back up and learned how to fly.”

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Copyright Dan Santat, 2017, courtesy us.macmillan.com.

Dan Santat deftly works with preconceived notions and a well-known idiom to turn the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty into an inspirational “happily ever after” story. Just as fears can come to define a person, traditional interpretations of this tale classify Humpty as a chicken egg and specify his lack of repair as physical. But what if, as Santat envisions, Humpty is the egg of a bird that soars and that his hurts are more internal? Then readers can identify with this hero who doesn’t give in and who conquers his fear to come out of his shell and fly. Santat’s honest, straightforward storytelling will resonate with young readers and listeners. The gentle reassurance in After the Fall will encourage children to try again—one step at a time.

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Copyright Dan Santat, 2017, courtesy us.macmillan.com.

Santat’s luminous illustrations express wonder, humor, and touching moments in ways that not only enhance the story but make readers think about other issues as well.  Children will want to linger over the pages to catch all the references to Humpty’s bird watching hobby, take in the enormity of the wall that Humpty Dumpty confronts, and catch humorous takes on the original rhyme, including Santat’s King’s County Hospital. Adults and kids alike will enjoy poring over and discussing the wall of cereals, and as Humpty’s tiny hand reaches for the next rung on the ladder adults may feel a lump in their throats. When Humpty breaks free of his shell and emerges in the same form as the paper bird he created, readers may consider whether Humpty spent time only working on his toy or on himself as well.

After the Fall is a picture book that offers reassurance and invites deeper discussion. The book would be a welcome addition to home, classroom, and school libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

Roaring Brook Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1626726826

Learn more about Dan Santat and After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) on the book’s website.

Face your Fears Day Activity

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Calming Sensory Jar

 

You can capture the beauty of a glittering snowfall in this easy craft—that also makes a special gift for a friend!

Supplies

  • Small to medium mason jar or other decorative jar with a tight lid
  • White glitter glue,
  • Light blue glitter glue,
  • Fine white and/or blue glitter
  • Large white and/or blue glitter
  • Warm water

Directions

1. For every 1/2 cup of warm water add:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white glitter glue
  • 1/2 teaspoon blue glitter glue
  • 2 teaspoons fine glitter glue
  • 1/2 teaspoon large glitter

2. Close lid tight

3. Shake

4. As glue dissolves, the liquid will become clearer and the glitter will remain suspended in it

Picture Books Review

 

September 22 – It’s Read a New Book Month

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About the Holiday

Such a terrific month—so many terrific new books! If you haven’t taken the opportunity of this month’s holiday to visit your local bookstore and buy any of the books you’ve seen here or elsewhere, you still have time! Adding new inspirational, educational, encouraging, and just plain funny books—like today’s—to a child’s home bookshelf lets them know that reading is important and a fantastic way to spend downtime each day.

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Edwardian Taylor

 

You know the drill—Once upon a time there was a poor boy named Jack…. One day this waif woke up to a moo-tivating kiss from his cow Bessie and… Wait, wait! Kids, cover your eyes! And, Jack, “put on some pants!” Phew! Disaster averted! Now where were we? Oh, right. So Jack (now well-dressed) was told that because Bessie had stopped making milk, he had to sell her. He protested, but the mysterious narrator protested right back: “I didn’t WRITE the story, Jack. I’m just telling it.”

Down at the market, Jack received five beans in exchange for Bessie. Of course, this is a fairy tale, and the beans are magic. Jack tried all the magical words he knew to get them to work, but they just sat in the bowl smiling up at him. Yeah, these beans have faces. Overcome by hunger, Jack determined to eat the beans, but there was that pesky narrator again ordering him to throw the beans out the window and then go to bed. As you can imagine—what with selling his best friend and hunger gnawing at his belly—Jack was a bit testy and complainy and countered, “Aww, but I’m not tired. This story keeps getting worse and worse.”

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Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2017, text copyright Josh Funk, 2017. Courtesy of Two Lions Publishing.

In the morning, Jack discovered that an enormous beanstalk had grown up overnight. It was so tall that Jack couldn’t even see the top. The narrator told him to start climbing. At first, Jack balked, then he tried to stall by offering to get his climbing gear, but the narrator had already determined that Jack “had no possessions.” Finally, Jack agreed to go, but only if the narrator changed the beanstalk’s size. In a classic “be careful what you wish for” maneuver, the beanstalk suddenly began to grow bigger. “Seriously?” Jack said.

Jack was actually enjoying his climb when he spied Cinderella’s castle with Cindy waving from her balcony. Her voice rang across the distance, inviting Jack to a ball that very night. The narrator was not happy with this delay and urged Jack on. Finally, he reached the top, where “he found himself in front of a humongous house.” Jack pegged it right away as a giant’s abode, but he went inside anyway. As he was looking around at all the mammoth furnishings, he heard the giant’s voice: “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman.”

Heck, Jack knew about poetry and recognized immediately that “that doesn’t even rhyme” and offered an alternative: “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I can see the giant’s bum.” This bit of wordplay just enraged the giant—that, plus his fear that Jack was trying to steal all his best stuff. The giant grabbed Jack and was about to…well, listen for yourself: “Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.” Pretty chilling stuff, but even though Jack was facing imminent danger, he was pretty positive about the giant’s new rhyme.

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Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2017, text copyright Josh Funk, 2017. Courtesy of Two Lions Publishing.

That made the giant happy, and Jack thought this moment of camaraderie was the perfect time to let slip to the giant that “there’s a good chance that you’re going to die at the end of this story.” The giant put on a frowny face, and his eyes began to tear up. It seemed the giant didn’t want to die, so he suddenly decided to become a vegan. Listening to this emotional roller coaster, the narrator started to get steamed because he was losing control of the story. “ENOUGH!!!” he shouted.

“GIANT!” he hollered and ordered him to chase Jack down the beanstalk. “JACK!” he yelled and told him to chop down the beanstalk. All this shouting only served to bond Jack and the Giant in an oversized friendship. They commiserated together and planned to make a taco salad from one of the giant’s recipes. After that they went to Cinderella’s party, where they told everyone about their adventure. And who’s complaining now? You got this—the narrator!

P.S. And, of course, they all lived happily ever after by splitting the giant’s fortune and opening a restaurant named Where Have You Bean? for a whole host of fairy tale customers!

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Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2017, text copyright Josh Funk, 2017. Courtesy of Two Lions Publishing.

In Josh Funk’s newest romp, Jack takes matters into his own hands as he revamps his famous story into one that turns out “happily ever after” for all the characters. Along the way readers will laugh at Jack’s feisty repartee with the unseen narrator as he’s swept up in a larger-than-life scenario and uses his wits—and wit—to finally tell his own story in his own way. Young readers will appreciate Jack’s independent spunk, and adults will respond to his sweet nature.

Edwardian Taylor’s noodle-limbed, big-eyed Jack knows how to tug at readers’ heartstrings. Soulfully saying good-bye to Bessie, gazing at his nearly empty plate in anguish, and warily approaching the giant’s castle, Jack will quickly have readers empathizing with his plight and cheering him on as he outwits the gigantic red-bearded giant and turns him into a friend and business partner. And while the giant may be big, kids will soon see that he’s really a softy. Children will love all the big and small details on every page, from the leafy beanstalk to cute Cindy-rella to the gold-coin laying goose. And if you’ve never seen a purple cow…here’s your chance. The final spread of a packed Where Have You Bean? restaurant gives kids an opportunity to show their knowledge of fairy-tale characters.

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk makes for a spirited and funny read aloud, and would be super performed by a group in classrooms or by clubs, or even by friends or siblings.

Ages 4 – 8

Two Lions, 2017 | ISBN 978-1542045650

Enter the world of Josh Funk and discover more about him and his books as well as plenty of book-related activities on his website!

Learn more about Edwardian Taylor and view a portfolio of his artwork on his website!

Read a New Book Month Activity

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This is Not a Yardstick! Yardstick Craft

 

Need to measure something—like the height of your garden, the amount of rain or snow that fell, or even the number of books you have? You can do it in style with your very own This is Not a Yardstick! yardstick craft.

Supplies

  • 50-inch wooden stake, available at craft stores
  • Small wooden leaves, 45 – 50, available at craft stores 

OR

  • Light green and dark green foam sheets 
  • Green paint, light and dark
  • Black marker
  • Paint brush
  • Strong glue
  • Flower pot
  • Oasis or clay
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

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Directions

  1. Paint the wooden stake with the green paint, let dry
  2. With the ruler mark the stake in 1-inch increments along the edge of the stake

How to Make the Leaves

  1. If using wooden leaves, paint half light green and half dark green
  2. If using foam, cut 1 3/4-inch tear-drop shaped leaves (half from light green foam, half from dark green foam), 45 – 50 or as needed
  3. Cut two larger leaves, one from each color to decorate the top of the stake
  4. Draw a line down the center of each leaf’
  5. Write the number of the inch marked on each leaf, from 1 to 45 or higher with the black marker, alternating colors

How to Attach the Leaves

  1. Glue the leaves to the stake, attaching the odd-numbered inch leaves to the left side of the stake and the even-numbered leaves to the right side of the stake.
  2. Attach half of the leaf to the stake, letting the tip stick out from the side
  3. Glue the two larger leaves to the top of the stake

How to Store Your Yardstick

  1. Put the oasis or clay in the flower pot
  2. Stick the stake into the flower pot to keep it handy

Picture Book Review