November 28 – It’s Gratitude Month

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About the Holiday

There are many things to be thankful for this month and all throughout the year. At the top of the list would be our friends—both old and new. Celebrate your friendships during the holidays and tell the people in your life how thankful you are for them! You can show them too with little acts of kindness—like the friends in today’s book! 

I’d like to thank Two Lions and Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media for sharing a copy of The Best Gift for Bear with me for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

The Best Gift for Bear

By Jennifer A. Bell

 

Hedgehog was baking gingerbread cookies for all of her friends. She carefully considered what shapes and decorations she would make for each recipient, making sure she created a replica of one of their favorite things or showed how special they were. She even made individual rabbit cookies “for each rabbit,” and “Hedgehog knows a LOT of rabbits.” But she still had to bake cookies for. Bear, and she couldn’t decide what to make.

Should she make ice skates? “Bear had taught her to twirl and glide” on the pond. Or maybe something from springtime. Bear loved watching butterflies. Or perhaps sunflowers like the ones Bear had shown her that summer. Thinking about all the fun times they had together, Hedgehog decided a batch of cookies was just not enough. “‘Bear should have a grand gift, a special gift, something wonderful . . . just like Bear,'” she thought. But what?

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Copyright Jennifer A. Bell, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

And then as she approached home after delivering all of her cookies, she “saw her frosted roof” and had an idea. She got to work right away “and happily baked her way into the night.” Then in the morning “Hedgehog began to build her gift.” With gingerbread bricks and sweet icing, she built and decorated a house for Bear. It had butterflies and sunflowers and even Bear, wearing a coat, scarf, and ice skates. Hedgehog put it on her sled and stood back to admire it. 

Hedgehog pulled her sled over the hills and through the snow to Bear’s house. But the calm afternoon turned windy and snowy. The squalls made it hard for Hedgehog to pull or push the sled, and then, when Hedgehog was nearly at Bear’s, one huge gust sent the gingerbread house flying and scattered it into pieces. Hedgehog looked at the broken house sadly and didn’t see Bear, in pajamas and carrying a lantern, approaching. 

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Copyright Jennifer A. Bell, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Bear knelt down then picked Hedgehog up and blew away the snow from her quills and coat. Hedgehog gave Bear’s cheek a big hug. “Grand, special, WONDERFUL Bear!” Bear brought Hedgehog inside, wrapped her in a soft, cozy blanket and made her a cup of tea. As they sipped their tea, they commiserated together over the gifts they had made each other—Hedgehog’s broken gift for Bear and the misshapen cookies Bear had made for Hedgehog. “‘… but I thought I’d try again tomorrow,'” Bear told her.  Hedgehog then had a wonderful idea to bake the cookies together. With Hedgehog snugged into a teacup with her blanket and Bear toasty under a warm quilt, the two friends couldn’t wait for tomorrow to spend the day together—”the best gift of all!”

Recipes for Hedgehog’s Gingerbread Cookies and Grandma’s Honey Icing are included with the story. Hedgehog’s clever designs for her gift cookies will give kids lots of ideas for decorating their own cookies too!

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Copyright Jennifer A. Bell, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Jennifer A. Bell’s sweet and charming story wraps readers in the warmth of a heartfelt hug as Hedgehog puts all of her love and thoughtfulness into the gingerbread cookies she carefully bakes for each of her friends and neighbors—and especially for Bear.  Bell’s gentle humor and charming phrasing that takes readers step-by-step through Hedgehog’s memories of Bear’s kindnesses, and her days spent baking and building Bear’s gingerbread house will delight kids. The windstorm and its aftermath provides suspense and an emotional tug as Hedgehog (and readers) experience disappointment but then, a moment later, the tender and supportive friendship between Hedgehog and Bear.

Bell’s enchanting illustrations are full of cheer and delicious-looking cookies. As Hedgehog tries to decide what to make for Bear, her memories of their times spent throughout the year depict the fun they’ve had and also the adorable size difference between them. Shades of red, pink, blue, green, and gingerbread brown create a graceful and well-paced cohesion from page to page while also bestowing a palpable sense of the chilly winter outside and the cozy warmth inside. The red ribbon that flows in a connecting pattern between some pages and frames vignettes in others highlights the heart at the center of this story.

A touching story about true friendship and the most important gifts of all, The Best Gift for Bear is a book children will enjoy all through the year and is sure to inspire cookie baking and decorating. The book would be a much-loved addition to home, school, and public library collections. It would make a terrific gift or read aloud for any cookie-decorating party. 

Ages 3 – 7

Two Lions, 2022 | ISBN 978-1542029223

About the Author and Illustrator

Jennifer A. Bell is the illustrator of more than forty children’s books, including the Sophie Mouse series. She studied fine art at the Columbus College of Art & Design, and her work can also be found on greeting cards and in magazines. This is the first picture book she’s written and illustrated. She lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Learn more about her at www.jenniferabell.com. You can connect with Jennifer on Instagram: @jbellstudio | Facebook: Jennifer A. Bell Illustration | Twitter: @JenniferABell_

Gratitude Month Activity

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Gingerbread Kids Decorations 

 

Gingerbread’s not only delicious to eat! Creatively iced gingerbread has long been used as decorations in homes and windows. With this easy craft, kids can make decorations for their rooms, to hang for the holidays, or to give to friends or family members.

Supplies

  • Printable Gingerbread Kids Template
  • 2 Brown foam sheets
  • White paint (or any color you like)
  • Glitter 
  • Paint brush
  • 2 Small heart buttons (optional)
  • Mounting squares (for mounting)
  • Thread  and needle (for optional hanging)

Directions

  1. Cut out gingerbread kids templates
  2. Trace gingerbread kids on brown foam sheets and cut out
  3. Paint around the edge of the gingerbread boy and girl with the white paint
  4. Add trim to the dress
  5. Add trim to make socks
  6. Add dots of paint for buttons
  7. Add faces
  8. Paint or add a bit of glue to the hands of each figure then sprinkle glitter on the paint to make mittens
  9. Glue heart buttons on (optional)
  10. To make a wall or gift box decoration: Attach mountable squares to back
  11. To make an ornament: With a threaded needle make a hole in the top of the figures and tie the thread to create a hanger.

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You can find The Best Gift for Bear at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 21 – It’s Picture Book Month

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About the Holiday

There’s still time to celebrate one of the best months of the year—Picture Book Month! If you’re in shopping mode, be sure to put plenty of picture books on your list for the kids in your life. You know what they say—and it’s really true: A book is a gift you can open again and again!

Penguin and Penelope

By Salina Yoon

 

One day while taking a walk, Penguin saw a baby elephant stuck in the mud. “Her name was Penelope.” Penguin helped her out of the mud then gave her food, water, and a much-needed bath. Penguin noticed elephant tracks on the ground, and he and Penelope followed them, hoping to find Penelope’s herd. But when they came to a break in the tracks, they found a wide ravine through which a river flowed. “‘Oh dear,’ said Penguin. ‘We’d better find another way.'”

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Copyright Salina Yoon, 2022. Courtesy of Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

They walked for days trying to find a way around the ravine, but couldn’t find one. “The world is so big!” Penelope said when they slept under the stars, blanketed with Penelope’s long scarf. The days of searching turned into weeks, and “over time, their friendship grew and grew, and so did Penelope.” One afternoon as they were lying on a beach watching the birds in the sky, Penelope said that she wished she could fly. This gave Penguin an idea.

They went down to the river’s edge. Penguin dived in, but Penelope only waded in carefully. “Penguin asked her to trust him. And she did.” To Penelope, swimming felt like flying. When they reached the other bank, they discovered elephant footprints. They followed them a long way until, finally, they found Penelope’s herd. Penelope and Penguin hugged goodbye with promises never to forget each other, and Penguin gave Penelope his scarf to remember him by. 

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Copyright Salina Yoon, 2022. Courtesy of Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

Penelope’s family was so happy to see her. “‘How we’ve missed you!’ they cried.” Penelope was happy to be back with her herd, but she also missed Penguin. One day, Penelope went back to the riverbank where she and Penguin had come ashore. She found him there, and once again they “flew like the birds” together.

A panel on the back of the cover jacket holds images of Penguin and Penelope for children to cut out and play with. The front and back endpapers offer a river backdrop, where kids can play with Penguin and Penelope while engaging their imagination.

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Copyright Salina Yoon, 2022. Courtesy of Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

Salina Yoon’s latest Penguin adventure begins with a surprise discovery that leads to a fast and forever friendship as Penguin helps Penelope find her way home. Penguin’s kindness and pluck are unwavering as the search extends over time, during which Penelope grows in size and experience while following her new friend. After being welcomed home with excitement and much love, Penelope is happy to be back with her family. Her longing to see Penguin again, however, spurs her to set out on her own adventure, one that demonstrates her growing independence while still guided by her family’s footsteps. This development as well as a beautiful fold-out page that shows Penelope’s family lovingly watching over her from a distance as she swims with Penguin will cheer and reassure young children.

Yoon’s storytelling is gentle and sprinkled with dialogue that conveys the characters’ emotions in ways that even the youngest child will appreciate and understand. Penguin is as adorable as ever, and Penelope is sweet and expressive as Penguin feeds her, makes her giggle while giving her a tickle-y bath, and discovers how big the world is. Yoon’s imagery, drawn with vibrant colors and boldly outlined dynamic shapes highlights adorable Penguin and Penelope, and little ones will laugh when Penguin—with just an “Oof!”—lifts Penelope out of the mud. Penelope’s homecoming is poignant, and the panoramic fold-out will thrill readers.

A sweet story of friendship found and never forgotten on life’s journey, Penguin and Penelope will enchant fans of the series as well as those just discovering it. The book is a must addition for school and library collections and for anyone looking for a charming and tender story their child will want to hear again and again.

Ages 3 – 6 

Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2022 | ISBN 978-1681193441

Discover more about Salina Yoon, her books, and her art on her website.

Picture Book Month Activity

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Penguin and Penelope Activity Kit

 

You can join Penguin and Penelope in some fun with the coloring page, maze, and connect-the-dots page  you’ll find on Salina Yoon’s website!

Penguin and Penelope Activity Kitcelebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-penguin-and-penelope-cover

You can find Penguin and Penelope at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 15 – Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day

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About the Holiday

The holidays are coming, and today’s holiday offers the perfect opportunity to really look deep into your fridge and toss any of those leftovers or nearly empty jars to make way for the special dinners and treats to come. This season of favorite foods won’t be complete, though, without the newest book in the beloved Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series to share!

Thanks to Josh Funk for sharing a digital copy of The Great Caper Caper with me for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

The Great Caper Caper (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast #5)

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Brendan Kearney

 

It was still nighttime “deep in the fridge” when Sir French Toast woke Lady Pancake with a scream. When she sleepily meets him in the living room, Toast tells her that the Great Light has disappeared. She doesn’t believe him at first. “‘Nonsense,’ said Pancake. ‘Crack open the drapes.’ / But as she gazed out, she exclaimed, ‘Oh, my crêpes!’” It was true. “All of the fridge was consumed by the dark. / From Lentil Soup Springs up to Passionfruit Park.”

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Image copyright Brendan Kearney, 2022, text copyright Josh Funk, 2022. Courtesy of Union Square Kids.

Then Pancake noticed a light shining in the distance. They hurried toward it and found themselves in Las Veggies, where a gleaming Tower dominated the landscape. As soon as Sir French Toast and Lady Pancake entered the door, they demanded to know who was in charge. “A salty green bud with an odor of brine, / Answered the question: ‘This tower is mine!’” He introduced himself as Count Caper, “the richest, most powerful food” and mocked Pancake’s idea that he had stolen the Great Light. Then he threw them out of Las Veggies Tower. On the way home, French Toast seemed distressed, but Pancake told him she had a plan all figured out.

Back in their rooms, Pancake and Toast assembled a team of eight friends they’d made through their many adventures together, and Pancake explained the scheme she had in mind. The crew set right to work, infiltrating Count Caper’s inner sanctum for reconnaissance, gathering the supplies they’d need, and devising a creative diversion. At last the time came to put their plan into motion, and the team descended surreptitiously on a Las Veggies Tower showroom. Disguised as audience members, Croissant, Tofu, Pancake, and Toast took their places close to Count Caper’s table as the Beets took the stage. In a moment they had unboxed a commotion of animal crackers that sent Count Caper’s guards running, and Pancake’s plan progressed without a hitch.

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Image copyright Brendan Kearney, 2022, text copyright Josh Funk, 2022. Courtesy of Union Square Kids.

They had just gained access to Count Caper’s office and discovered the hidden Great Light when Count Caper appeared. When confronted with his crime he caved, relating that he’d been scorned all his life and left in the shadows. He’d decided he’d had enough and wanted to bask in the star-making glow of the Great Light. Having confessed, he then ordered his guards to capture Pancake, Toast, and their friends.

But before they could, one of Pancake’s team member from Caper’s own inside circle stepped forward and gave his boss with an alternate scenario—and future. Count Caper looked around at the ten he had captured. They were smiling and hopeful, true friends all together. Again Caper relented and told them to just take the light. He “…then let out a moan. ‘Leave me to sulk in the dark all alone.’” This time, it was Lady Pancake who had an offer to make, and she invited Count Caper to help them reinstall the Great Light to its proper place. Now with the light safe and secure, it was time to go on with the show.

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Image copyright Brendan Kearney, 2022, text copyright Josh Funk, 2022. Courtesy of Union Square Kids.

Returning to Josh Funk’s imaginative world with this fifth book in the Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast series is just like peering into your own refrigerator with a bad case of the munchies and finding your favorite dessert waiting just for you. The first glimpse into Funk’s fridge immediately welcomes readers back to the clever food-inspired landscape and the promise of a surprising adventure to come. This time, Pancake and Toast team up in a buddy heist escapade that spools out with the same charm, humor, and camaraderie that makes this genre a favorite.

Funk’s nimble wordplay and smart rhymes give the story a brisk energy that will keep kids guessing at how Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast will resolve their dilemma while staying true to the series’ focus on friendship and welcoming new pals to the fold. And all wrapped up with the eagerly anticipated group party at the end.

Speaking of that party, Brendan Kearney once again gets everyone out on the dance floor with a twinkling disco ball, shining spotlights, and VIP tables sprinkled near the stage where a very special guest gets ready to sing. Leading up to this celebration, Kearney takes kids back to this one-of-a-kind fridge, with its rolling hills, wide lakes, deep valleys, and—who knew?—the glitz, glamour, and Great Light of Las Veggies! Count Caper’s office is, appropriately, furnished with others of his ilk, including jarred pickles, peppers, and pearl onions. And his desk? A tin of “extra briney” anchovies.

Kids will have fun joining in on the subterfuge as disguised (but still recognizable to young readers) Croissant, Fruitcake, Brie, and the others spy on Count Caper. When he’s caught, the cheerful group dynamics extends companionship not only to Count Caper but to readers—who will enthusiastically accept—as well.

Shining a light on friendship and second chances, The Great Caper Caper provides lively, high-style hijinks entertainment and will be a favorite read aloud on home bookshelves, whether you’re adding to the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series or discovering it for the first time. For school and public library collections, this book and the others in the series are a must.

Ages 4 – 8

Union Square Kids. 2022 | ISBN 978-1454943631

About the Author

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Josh Funk Headshot-Credit Carter Hasegawa

Josh Funk is the co-creator of the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, including Lady Pancake and Sir French ToastThe Case of the Stinky StenchMission DefrostableShort & Sweet, and The Great Caper Caper. His other works include, How to Code a Sandcastle, Lost in the LibraryAlbie Newton, and more. Josh lives in Massachusetts and invites you to learn more about him by visiting joshfunkbooks.com.

About the Illustrator

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Brendan Kearney is the co-creator of the Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, including Lady Pancake and Sir French ToastThe Case of the Stinky StenchMission DefrostableShort & Sweet, and The Great Caper Caper. Brendan also is the author-illustrator of ForestThe Night the Moon Went Missing, and Fish. He currently lives in the UK with his family and invites you to learn more about him by visiting brendandraws.com.

Snack on this book trailer for The Great Caper Caper

There’s no expiration date on all the fun in these fantastic blogs! See what’s inside!

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Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day Activity

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Friendship is Illuminating! Maze

 

You can solve almost any dilemma with friends! In this maze these two friends want to shine together! Can you help the lightbulb at the top find a way through the maze, while picking up some pals along the way in this printable puzzle?

Friendship is Illuminating! Maze and Solution

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You can find The Great Caper Caper at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 10 – Get Ready for Thanksgiving

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About the Holiday

 November has been designated as a time for reflecting on our lives and being grateful for our family, friends, opportunities, and the things we have. To celebrate Gratitude Month, take time to count your blessings every day and thank those who are important in your life.

Thankful Thanksgiving

Written by Deb Adamson | Illustrated by Benedetta Capriotti

 

A little mouse is excited to share what they love best about Thanksgiving Day, starting with “Hooray for our time together and those who’ve come to play!” As the house fills up with family and friends, they counts all of their blessings, from the music the group sings and dances along with to the parade and game they watch together to that favorite adult who still acts like a kid.

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Image copyright Bendetta Capriotti, 2022, text copyright Deb Adamson, 2022. Courtesy of Cottage Door Press.

The little mouse doesn’t forget those who are preparing today’s feast, and as he helps too he says, “I’m thankful for those in the kitchen creating the meal we will share… / like apple chews and pumpkin stew and nut pies baked with care.” At last, they sit down to eat, but first they “bow our heads to pray…” and “…share a thought from our thankful hearts for our blessings every day.”

After dinner, it’s time to bundle up and go outside to catch falling leaves, toss the football around, and, for the littlest ones, be treated to piggyback rides. When it’s time for everyone to leave, the little mouse is thankful for the memories they’ve made again this year.

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Image copyright Bendetta Capriotti, 2022, text copyright Deb Adamson, 2022. Courtesy of Cottage Door Press.

Deb Adamson’s adorable and heartwarming story introduces little readers to the true meaning of the Thanksgiving holiday as a young mouse shares their excitement in getting together with family and friends—some of whom they may not see often. Her sweet rhyming verses burst with love and include a range of activities that allow kids to see their own celebrations within the pages (or talk about what other families also enjoy about the day). Adamson also reminds little ones that while Thanksgiving Day comes to an end, their memories of special times spent together will always be with them.

Little ones will be delighted with Benedetta Capriotti’s cozy illustrations of the mouse family’s tree-trunk home with its whimsical and rustic décor. Her rich color palette envelopes readers in the warmth and feelings of the holiday that swell children’s hearts. Capriotti gave the small narrator of the story a distinctive outfit, making it easy for young readers to find him on every page. Each room of the house is also filled with familiar holiday sights that little ones will be excited to recognize and talk about.

A sweet and cozy story that will charm little ones for Thanksgiving and the holiday season, Thankful Thanksgiving will also be a welcome addition to home and library collections for families to share all they have to be thankful for throughout the year.

Ages 2 – 4

Cottage Door Press, 2022 | ISBN 978-1646386499 (Board Book)

Discover more about Deb Adamson and her books on her website.

You can connect with Benedetta Capriotti on Instagram.

National Gratitude Month Activity

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Alphabet I Spy Gratitude Game

 

Things to be thankful for are all around you! What do you see? Kids can have fun naming people, toys, food, and other favorites that start with each letter in the alphabet with this printable game! Makes a fun activity for Thanksgiving Day too to keep kids happily busy while preps are going on—or at the kids’ table!

Alphabet I Spy Gratitude Game

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You can find Thankful Thanksgiving at these booksellers 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

November 9 – It’s Picture Book Month

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About the Holiday

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

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

Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles

Written by Mike Allegra | Illustrated by Jaimie Whitbread

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ages 4 – 8

Page Street Kids, 2022 | ISBN 978-1645675594

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

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

Picture Book Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-take-a-bookworm-trek-maze

Take a Bookworm Trek! Maze

 

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

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

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sleepy-happy-capy-cuddles-cover

You can find Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 8 – Young Readers Day

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About the Holiday

Falling each year on the first Tuesday in November, Young Readers Day highlights all of the benefits that babies, kids, tweens, and teenagers reap by reading and being read to. The holiday celebrates parents, teachers, and other caregivers who make sure that children are connected with books that capture their minds and hearts and lead to a lifetime love of reading. People are also encouraged to stop by their local bookstore and let their kids pick out a new book to enjoy.  Today is also National STEM/STEAM Day, which aims to get kids exploring the fields of science technology, engineering, art, and math – subjects that are the backbone of discovery and the type of innovation needed to design a better future for us all. Today’s book incorporates both of these holidays! 

Count on Us! Climate Activists from One to a Billion

Written by Gabi Snyder | Illustrated by Sarah Walsh

 

In her book aimed at inspiring children to discover what they can do to help protect and care for the environment, Gabi Snyder invites them to count the ways they can help and travel through the alphabet, beginning with “1 Action. One small person taking one small step towards Big changes.” But that one action and one person don’t need to stand alone. Snyder shows kids how a single expression of caring for the environment can influence a growing number of people to engage with conservation in diverse ways.

Counting from one to ten, Snyder demonstrates how small groups of people of varying generations can start to come together to “grow a movement” and come up with “inspiring ideas” while also introducing “5 Environmentalists” who are working around the world “to protect nature from being harmed by human’s waste and pollution” and “8 Healthy Habitats” from mountains to jungles to the ocean, and more.

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Image copyright Sarah Walsh, 2022, text copyright Gabi Snyder, 2022. Courtesy of Barefoot Books.

After the number 10 is reached, Snyder begins counting by tens, and readers see how quickly the environmental movement can grow. Now “20 Kids for conservation” are planting gardens, picking up litter, riding bikes, and rescuing animals harmed by pollution, while 30 light bulbs have been replaced by energy-saving LED bulbs. And remember those 20 kids? They’re now part of “40 Mighty Marchers” carrying the banners made at number 2.

The “5 environmentalists” and “8 habitats” have spawned dozens of places and species that are being protected as well as products that can be recycled or repurposed and ways science can help. From 100, the number of those involved explodes exponentially to 1,000… 10,000…100,000… all the way to one billion with all those people doing what they can, described from T through Z, to make the world a cleaner, safer, and healthier place for all.

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Image copyright Sarah Walsh, 2022, text copyright Gabi Snyder, 2022. Courtesy of Barefoot Books.

Four pages of back matter discuss in more depth the definition of Activism and why it’s so important for people to come together to voice their opinions on climate change and protecting our planet. Snyder provides two examples of young activists who are making a difference in different ways that are most meaningful to them. She then invites readers to do some thinking about what issues they care most about.

Snyder also provides short bios of the five environmentalists she introduced earlier in the story. At number 9 Snyder mentions “Inspiring Ideas,” and here she goes into more depth on each one that is pictured on the page. She finishes up by giving kids and adults a week’s worth of thoughtful ideas on how they can make an impact in their own home and community.

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Image copyright Sarah Walsh, 2022, text copyright Gabi Snyder, 2022. Courtesy of Barefoot Books.

Gabi Snyder’s eye-opening book gives kids an idea of how important individual as well as group actions are in the movement to protect the earth from climate change while empowering them with specific examples of good ideas for combating the dangers our planet faces. Sharing Count On Us! with kids offers teachers, homeschoolers, clubs, and other organizations many opportunities for discussion, research, and the type of activism required to make a difference.

Sarah Walsh’s striking illustrations will capture children’s attention with depictions of friendship, cooperation, and the kind of growing enthusiasm that fuels real change. As the pages become more and more crowded with activists, readers will understand that not only are increasing numbers of people needed, but also more ideas and more helping hands. Adults can use Walsh’s images as jumping off points to get children talking about and/or drawing the various habitats, native plants and animals, and threats to the environment in their area and even devising solutions or inventions to help.

Count on Us! Climate Activism from One to a Billion would be a welcome addition to home, school, and public libraries to inspire and energize environmental involvement and change.

Ages 4 – 9 

Barefoot Books, 2022 | ISBN 978-1646866243

Discover more about Gabi Snyder, her books, and where to   on her website.

To learn more about Sarah Walsh, her books, and her art on her website.

Young Reader’s Day Activity

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We Love to Read! Maze

 

Help the kids pick up books and find their way through the library in this printable maze.

We Love to Read! Maze Puzzle | We Love to Read! Maze Solution

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You can find Count on Us! Climate Activists from One to a Billion at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support you local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 7 – Tell the Truth, Dragon Book Tour Stop

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About the Holiday

I’m thrilled to be celebrating with Bianca Schulze, Samara Hardy, and Clever Publishing as they add a new book to the beloved Dragon series. They couldn’t have chosen a better time as November is not only Picture Book Month and Family Stories Month but also offers Family Literacy Day (Nov. 1), Book Lovers Day (Nov. 5), Young Readers Day (Nov. 8), and National Young Readers Week (Nov. 14 – 18). To make the most of all these special days, both kids and adults are encouraged to stock up on new books as gifts and for the snuggly fall and winter reading seasons! Today’s book is a great place to start!

I’d like to thank The Children’s Book Review and Bianca Schulze for sharing a digital copy of Tell the Truth, Dragon! with me and offering a small stipend to write a review. All opinions on the book are my own. As part of the tour I’m also excited to be participating in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Written by Bianca Schulze | Illustrated by Samara Hardy

 

From the Publisher

Acknowledging and owning up to a mistake is a very difficult task for children—and it’s not always easy for adults, either! In this most recent installment of the popular Dragon series from Clever, Tell the Truth, Dragon! introduces a situation in which Dragon blames someone else for the mistake she makes. Gentle text prompts readers to encourage Dragon to tell the truth and apologize for her mistake, even though it’s a tough thing to do. Dragon realizes her mistake and offers an apology—and then more than makes up for it!

Designed to be a read-aloud, parents will take pleasure in the playful text as much as children will enjoy following the prompts to interact with Dragon. The whimsical and colorful illustrations enable the dragon to jump off the page and will delight readers with her personality on every page.

My Review

Dragon has discovered “a scrump-diddly-icious-smelling cake” in the kitchen. Her snout gets closer…and closer. Cat and the mice tell her “paws off!” but it’s just sooo…. And now the cooks are mixing the frosting (Dragon’s favorite part!) and spreading that pink sweet yumminess on all three layers! There are sprinkles too! 

While the cooks, Cat, and mice “sweep-etty-sweep-sweep!” the crumbs and sprinkles from the floor, Dragon gets to lick the extra frosting from the bowl and spoon. She loves it “soooooooo much! Lick your lips if you do, too.” The cooks decide they better hide the cake, because you-know-who might just not be able to control herself, but they can’t find the perfect spot and need readers’ help. Of course, you found a terrific hiding place. Now they need your help to distract Dragon. Hey! That stuff you’re doing? It’s working! You’re good at this!

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Image copyright Samara Hardy, 2022, text copyright Bianca Schulze, 2022. Courtesy of Clever Publishing.

Well, it didn’t take long for Dragon to discovered the cake is missing, and just as we all feared, she’s searching everywhere for it. Everywhere. (You know what that means!) Oh no! When the cooks bring the cake out of the fridge to give to the “very special” person it was made for, they see that someone has taken a bite out of the top layer! “Dragon, was that YOU who tasted the cake?” they ask. 

Dragon looks ashamed, but she says, “No?” And then she points at Cat! The cooks stare angrily at Cat, while the mice stare perplexedly at Dragon. Then readers are asked, “Do you think Dragon should tell the truth? If you agree, say… Tell the Truth, Dragon!” With your help, Dragon apologizes and gives Cat a big “I’m sorry” hug. 

But “Oh, no!” Now Dragon is creating a huge mess in the kitchen! What is she making? All I can tell you is that it’s going to be “scrump-diddly-icious” and the first slice is for someone very special. Can you guess who that is?

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Image copyright Samara Hardy, 2022, text copyright Bianca Schulze, 2022. Courtesy of Clever Publishing.

The newest book in Bianca Schulze’s Dragon series is a cause for celebration, and she’s given us just the cake to do it with! As in her previous Dragon books, Schulze’s conversational, smoothly flowing storytelling engages kids to interact with the story in fun and meaningful ways. In Tell the Truth, Dragon, Schulze’s vivid writing is infused with feelings and motivations we all share, allowing kids to recognize and understand the complex emotions surrounding the events in the story.

Here, it’s easy for children to empathize with Dragon’s excitement and impatience to try this cake that has all her favorite elements. But when she’s caught and blames Cat, it’s up to readers to convince her to tell the truth. Schulze’s directly addressing young readers in this way provides an opportunity to get them thinking and talking about why Dragon should be honest, what’s holding her back, and why she lied in the first place. From there, adults can add more personal examples to the conversation to get children making their own connections.

And the icing on the cake is that this story is also just plain fun, with plenty of giggles, the return of much-loved characters, and lots of chances for kids to join in the action.

In Samara Hardy’s fresh and vibrant illustrations, kids will love seeing these beloved characters having a new adventure with Dragon. As the batter and frosting are mixed and the sprinkles fly in the cooks’ cozy kitchen, children will be as excited as Dragon, and when they’re asked to help hide the cake, the cooks’ first attempts will generate lots of laughs and reasons why certain hiding places just won’t do. The cooks’, cat’s, and Dragon’s facial expressions give kids clear evidence of their feelings while providing opportunities for them to talk about how they know a character is excited, sneaking, surprised, upset, sorry, or forgiving and why. Dynamic typefaces prompt kids to join in on fun-to-say phrases as well as the interactive elements of the story.

Humorous, fun, and sure to inspire thoughtful conversations, Tell the Truth, Dragon! is a must for all home, classroom, school, and public libraries. 

Ages 3 – 7

Clever Publishing, 2022 | ISBN 978-1954738034

Meet Bianca Schulze

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Bianca Schulze is the founder and editor of The Children’s Books Review – a resource devoted to children’s literature and literacy. Bianca is also the bestselling author of 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up, an Amazon “Book of the Month” in 2016. She is a reader, reviewer, mother, and children’s book lover. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Bianca now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

Discover more about Bianca Schulze and her books at biancaschulze.com. You can connect with Bianca on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Meet Samara Hardy

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Samara Hardy is an illustrator and designer who has created artwork for clients across the globe for greetings cards, stationery, homewares, children’s books, and much more.

To learn more about Samara Hardy, her books, and her art, visit her at samarahardy.com  You can connect with Samara on Instagram | tumbler

Tell the Truth, Dragon Giveaway

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Click the image below (or click here and scroll down) for a chance to win a 4-book set of the Dragon series—including a copy of Tell the Truth, Dragon! autographed by Bianca Schulze—a framed ‘Growing Readers’ print illustrated by Samara Hardy, and a $50 Bookshop.org gift card!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

  • An autographed 4-Book Set of the Dragon series, including:
  1. Don’t Wake the Dragon, signed by Bianca Schulze
  2. Just Be Yourself, Dragon!, signed by Bianca Schulze
  3. Who Loves the Dragon?, signed by Bianca Schulze
  4. Tell the Truth, Dragon!, signed by Bianca Schulze
  • A framed ‘Growing Readers’ illustration by Samara Hardy (Art Size: 7″ x 7″; Final Frame Size: 12.88″ × 12.88″)
  • A $50 Bookshop.org gift card

Two (2) winners receive:

  • A copy of Tell the Truth, Dragon!, signed by Bianca Schulze

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

Tell the Truth, Dragon! by Bianca Schulze | Awareness Tour

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This Tell the Truth, Dragon! Book Tour is sprinkled with lots of treats and surprises! Don’t miss a day!

Book Reviews of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Upcoming Reviews

Interviews with Bianca Schulze

A Tell the Truth, Dragon! Book Activity

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You can find Tell the Truth, Dragon! at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop 

Picture Book Review