April 13 – National Make Lunch Count Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was established to encourage American workers to get away from their desk and eat lunch out with friends and coworkers. Taking a break from the office and spending lunchtime having a little fun or over a stimulating conversation can rejuvenate you for the rest of the day. Many people have also embraced the holiday as a way to remind themselves and others to eat healthy and make what they make (or order) nutritious and beneficial. To celebrate, make lunch an adventure today. You might even decide to try something new—like the little girls in today’s book!

The Sandwich Swap

Written by Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and Kelly DiPucchio | Illustrated by Tricia Tusa 

 

Salma and Lily were best friends. At school they did everything together in the classroom and on the playground. They also ate lunch together every day. They loved all the same things—until it came to what was packed in their lunchboxes. Lily always had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and Salma always had a hummus and pita sandwich.

While Lily never said so, she thought Salma’s sandwich looked yucky, and Salma kept quiet about her opinion that Lily’s sandwich seemed gross. But one day, Lily did say what she’d been thinking. Salma couldn’t believe her ears. She frowned and “looked down at the thin, soft bread. She thought of her beautiful smiling mother as she carefully cut Salma’s sandwich into two neat halves that morning.” First she felt hurt; then she felt mad.

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Image copyright Tricia Tusa, 2010, text copyright Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and Kelly DiPucchio. Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

Salma let Lily know just how gross and icky-smelling she thought Lily’s sandwich was. “Lily looked surprised. She sniffed the thick, squishy bread, and she thought of her dad in his silly apron whistling” as he cut her sandwich into triangles. After that the two girls did not play or draw together. And the next day, they ate at separate tables. The story of Salma and Lily’s argument had spread, and the other kids chose sides. In the cafeteria, they lobbed insults, calling each other “jelly heads” and “chick pea brains.”

Pretty soon there were shouts of “you’re weird” and “you dress dumb.” It wasn’t long before someone yelled “Food Fight!” and peanut butter, hummus, and all types of sandwiches flew through the air. “They stuck to the walls. They stuck to the ceiling. They stuck to the lunch lady.” Before anyone knew it, pudding cups and applesauce and carrot sticks were soaring through the air.

Lily and Salma gazed at each other across the mess and “felt ashamed by what they saw.” After they helped clean it all up and were sent to the principal’s office, they felt even worse. The next day, Lily and Salma once again sat across from each other during lunch. At last Lily said, “‘Would you like to try a bite of my peanut butter and jelly?” Salma said that she would and offered Lily a nibble of her hummus sandwich. Lily agreed.

On the count of three, Lily and Salma tried each other’s sandwiches. “Yummy! Mmmmm!” they both said, and then they traded sandwiches. After lunch they met with the principal again to tell her an idea they’d had. And on a sunny day, the school held a picnic where everyone shared their favorite lunch from their native country.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-sandwich-swap-picnic

Image copyright Tricia Tusa, 2010, text copyright Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and Kelly DiPucchio. Courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

The school lunchroom with its unique dynamics is a perfect setting for Queen Rania Al Abdullah and Kelly DiPuccio’s story that highlights the kinds of prejudice children can encounter whether for food choices or other differences. The inclusion of Salma’s and Lily’s thoughts about their parents is a poignant reminder of how profound and complex children’s emotions are. The humor and honesty in the girls’ relationship, thoughts, and argument as well as the food fight will resonate with readers. Salma’s and Lily’s decision to renew their friendship and try each other’s lunches and to share their revelation with their classmates leads to the kind of growth we all want for our kids.

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Tricia Tusa’s delicate and soft-hued mixed-media illustrations portray the joys of being best friends as Lily and Salma draw, swing, jump rope, and eat lunch together in beautiful two-page spreads. When their true feelings about each other’s sandwiches comes out, the girls are clearly reflective and then hurt and angry as they scowl nose to nose. The food fight is a double-spread free-for-all that will make kids laugh as the lunch lady seems to take the brunt of the flying food. The final gate-fold scene of the multicultural picnic is heartwarming.

The Sandwich Swap is a terrific read at home and in the classroom, especially near the beginning of the school year. The book is also a wonderful prelude to a classroom or school-wide multicultural day or food fair.

Ages 3 – 7

Disney-Hyperion, 2010 | ISBN 978-1423124849

Learn more about Queen Rania Al Abdulla of Jordan and her global advocacy on her website.

Discover more about Kelly DiPucchio and her books on her website.

Get to know Tricia Tusa and view a portfolio of her books and art on her website.

Make Lunch Count Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lunch-container

Personalized Lunch Container

 

Take your lunch to school or work in style with this quick and easy craft! All you need is a plastic sandwich or food container, some permanent markers, and your creativity!

Picture Book Review

April 9 – International Unicorn Day

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About the Holiday

If you ask a child—maybe even an adult—to name a magical creature, chances are they’ll say, “a unicorn!” Unicorns have been part of legend since ancient times, undergoing changes from an image of fierceness and power to a representation of strength and true love to today’s more glittery superstar. To celebrate, learn more about the history of these mystical animals and check out your favorite unicorns of book, TV, and toy fame!

Thelma the Unicorn

By Aaron Blabey

 

“Thelma felt a little sad. / In fact, she felt forlorn. / You see, she wished with all her heart / to be a unicorn.” Thelma was a little pony—brown and short and overlooked. Her best friend Otis told her, “‘You’re perfect as you are,’” but when Thelma compared herself to the sleek white mare on the farm, she said, “‘I’m not.’” Then she saw a carrot left over from dinner and had an idea.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-thelma-the-unicorn-wishing

Copyright Aaron Babey, 2017, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

She tied the carrot to her forehead and told Otis, “‘I’ll say that I’m a unicorn! / It might just work… / who knows?’” At this very moment a truck driver passing by caught sight of Thelma and careened off the side of the road. “As Thelma watched the swerving truck, / it very nearly hit her. / Would you believe that truck was filled / with nice pink paint and glitter?”

In the blink of an eye Thelma was doused in sparkles and had become what she always dreamed of. She was a unicorn and “special now!” Crowds lined up at the farm gate to see the pink unicorn. The media descended with their cameras and video recorders, and Thelma quickly became a world-wide phenomenon. Everywhere she went fans screamed her name, took pictures, waved signs, and wanted to be near her. She even got her hoofprint on the Walk of Fame.

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Copyright Aaron Blabey, 2017, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Thelma sailed to foreign ports on a ship named The Fairy Princess, attended by stewards who fulfilled her every wish. “But soon she found that so much fame / was kind of tricky, too….” Her fans mobbed her with crushing zeal; chased after her wherever she went, screamed, cried, laughed, and pointed whenever they saw her; and hounded her day and night for her autograph. “It NEVER EVER stopped.”

When Thelma asked “the screaming crowd” not to chase her anymore, they said “‘We’ll chase you all we want….We’re fans, so it’s allowed.’” Then there were  the people who “were not her fans at all. / No, some were really mean. / And some just did the meanest things / she’d really ever seen.” Some threw eggs while she roller skated for charity and others held up signs reading “I don’t like unicorns” where she was sure to see them.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-thelma-the-unicorn-adoring-crowds

Copyright Aaron Blabey, 2017, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Back in her fancy hotel room, all alone and bedraggled, soaked in egg, and with her “horn” losing its luster, Thelma looked at a photo of Otis. “…she felt quite sad, / this famous little pony. / She said, ‘I thought that I’d feel great… / but all I feel is lonely.’” Right then, she decided to make a change. She washed off all the pink paint and sparkles and removed her horn.

She left and “walked right past the crowd. / They didn’t even notice / She thought how nice that it would be…to see her lovely Otis.” Back at the farm, Thelma happily stood underneath a tree with Otis, When he asked her about her trip, she simply said, “‘Oh, it was fun, but I’d rather be just me.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-thelma-the-unicorn-being-chased

Copyright Aaron Blabey, 2017, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Aaron Blabey’s cautionary tale of a pony who is granted her wish to be “more” than she is, deftly reveals the pitfalls of abandoning your true nature for what appears to be the perks of celebrity with a splash of humor and some no-nonsense honesty. Through Blabey’s smoothly flowing rhymes, readers see that being special is not based on a sparkly appearance that pleases false friends. Instead, each person is remarkable for their unique personalities and talents that true friends will appreciate.

Today’s social media-savvy children will recognize Blabey’s screaming crowds and overzealous fans and will come to understand, with Thelma, that being “in the pink” can be short-lived and that glitter soon fades.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-thelma-the-unicorn-carrot-horn

Copyright Aaron Blabey, 2017, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Blabey’s distinctive illustrations portray Thelma’s transformation from “regular pony” to celebrity unicorn and back again with flair and all the bling that goes along with superstardom. The crowds are giddy, awed, obsessive, and adoring until the backlash starts, which Blabey portrays with candid examples. His final spreads in which Thelma goes unrecognized by her fans and is then lovingly welcomed back by Otis beautifully sum up the theme of the story.

Aaron Blabey’s light touch coupled with his encouragement to be true to yourself makes Thelma the Unicorn a great choice for  home and classroom libraries.

Ages  3 – 7

Scholastic Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1338158427

Scholastic Press sent me a free copy of Thelma the Unicorn to check out. All opinions are my own.

Discover more about Aaron Blabey, his books, and his art on his website

International Unicorn Day Activity

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Magical Unicorn Coloring Page

 

Grab your crayons—and your glitter—and make this printable Magical Unicorn Coloring Page sparkle!

Picture Book Review

April 6 – It’s National Pet Month

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About the Holiday

We always appreciate our pets, but April is a month dedicated to showing them a little extra love and care while making sure they have everything they need to live a long, healthy, and happy life. The founders of National Pet Month wanted to promote responsible pet ownership whether you share your life with a fish, a cat or dog, a horse, or any of the other animals that make good companions. To celebrate this month’s holiday, spend a little extra time playing with your pet and check that they’re up-to-date on their veterinary visits. This month is also a great time to enjoy some books about animals!

Pippa & Percival, Pancake & Poppy: Four Peppy Puppies

Written by Deborah Diesen | illustrated by Grace Zong

 

Come and meet Poppy, a puppy “out for a run, / Tumbling, rumbling, / Looking for fun.” When Poppy came to a fence, she heard something on the other side and just had to explore. She dug underneath and “found… / Another puppy!” Pancake was shaggy and eating apples that had dropped from a tree, but he followed Poppy until they came to a stump behind which “they found… Another puppy!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pippa-and-percival-pancake-and-poppy-parade

Image copyright Grace Zone, 2018, text copyright Deborah Diesen, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

This dachshund named Percival was smelling the flowers, but he joined Poppy and Percival, and they “rollicked and frolicked” until they came to a big pile of leaves. As they nosed around, sniffing, they happened to find… “Another puppy!” With a fancy fur-do and a little black bow, Pippa was ready to join in the fun. So “Poppy and Percival, / Pancake and Pippa, / Galloped and gamboled, / Their ears flippy-floppy.”

An alley looked intriguing, so the four “squeezed their way in.” It was dark and silent as they warily padded along until “they found… A cat!!!!” Then the four friends had to “scoot and skedaddle! / Hotfoot and hurry! / Scramble and scuttle! / Scamper and scurry!” They soon found a sidewalk with four separate branches that took Poppy and Pancake and Percival and Pippa…”Home!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pippa-and-percival-pancake-and-poppy-three-puppies

Image copyright Grace Zone, 2018, text copyright Deborah Diesen, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Deborah Diesen’s bouncy, alliterative rhymes are as infectious as the exuberance of a puppy at play. This engaging friendship story reveals the thrill of bonding with new friends over good times and even a shared spot of trouble. Kids will love joining in on the repeated phrase that leads to finding another puppy and will gasp and giggle at the interloper that sends all of the puppies scampering for the comfort and welcome of home. Diesen’s evocative vocabulary will have readers repeating and using such fun words as scuttle, gamboled, rollicked, and clambered.

Grace Zong’s four peppy puppies are adorable and bursting with energy as they joyfully play on a sunny afternoon. Her colorful, wide-open vistas give the puppies plenty of room to play in and cleverly lead into a close up of each new puppy that joins the group. The alley is more unknown to the puppies than actually scary, which lets their surprise find an exciting twist to the pattern. The four panels showing each puppy returning home are filled with delight as each owner welcomes their puppy home with open arms and extra love.

Ages 3 – 7

Sleeping Bear Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1585363865

Discover more about Deborah Diesen and her books on her website.

National Pet Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-cat-with-butterfly-coloring-page

Happy Pets Coloring Pages

 

Puppies and kittens are so much fun to play with! Here are two sweet printable pets to color!

Adorable Puppy Coloring Page | Cute Kitten Coloring Page

Picture Book Review

April 3 – National Find a Rainbow Day

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About the Holiday

April brings plenty of showers and downright downpours that give rainbow lovers lots of opportunities to see this colorful phenomenon. Legend has it that at the end of every rainbow waits a pot of gold—but if you aim to find it, watch out! It’s guarded by a tricky Leprechaun. Rainbows result when light from the sun reflects and refracts through water droplets in the sky, creating a spectrum of colors. Whether people ooh and ahh over the luck, the science, or the beauty of rainbows, there’s no denying that they always attract attention and create smiles.

I’m happy to be partnering with HarperCollins in a giveaway of a copy of Ava and the Rainbow (Who Stayed)! You’ll find the details below.

Ava and the Rainbow (Who Stayed)

By Ged Adamson

 

After the rain was over and the sun began to peek out from behind the clouds, Ava was excited because she knew she’d get to see a rainbow. When she reached the perfect rainbow-viewing spot, she was amazed. Up in the sky was “the most beautiful rainbow Ava had ever seen.” She wished it could stay forever. That wish even carried over into her dreams that night, and when she woke up Ava thought she might actually still be asleep. Why? Because when she looked out the window, “the rainbow was still there!”

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Copyright Ged Adamson, 2018, courtesy of HarperCollins.

It was even still glowing over the town that night. It didn’t take long for people to start coming from all over to see the famous “rainbow who had decided to stay.” The townspeople loved all the attention—and the customers. Shopkeepers held rainbow-inspired sales, rainbow souvenirs like T-shirts, snow globes, and toys flew off the shelves, rainbow science became one of the most popular lectures by university professors, and a rainbow even became the new town mascot. For weeks there were special events and festivities all centered around the rainbow.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ava-and-the-rainbow-who-stayed-ava-wakes-up

Copyright Ged Adamson, 2018, courtesy of HarperCollins.

Ava loved to talk to the rainbow. “She introduced him to her friends…sang to him…and showed him all her favorite books and toys.” The rainbow even stayed throughout the winter, shivering in the cold. When spring rolled around, people seemed to have forgotten all about the rainbow. They didn’t look at him like they used to. In fact, they didn’t look at him at all.

As Ava walked around town, she saw rainbow souvenirs in the trash and graffiti covering signs advertising the rainbow. When she saw the rainbow, Ava was shocked to see him plastered with ads and sporting antennae of all kinds. The rainbow was sad. “‘How could they do this to something so special?’ Ava said in despair.” She cheered up when she saw a crowd of people with cameras rushing toward her and the rainbow, but they were only interested in a little bird in a nearby tree.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ava-and-the-rainbow-who-stayed-rainbow-stayed

Copyright Ged Adamson, 2018, courtesy of HarperCollins.

It seemed that the bird was a Russian water sparrow and would only be there for a few hours before continuing its flight. “We’re so lucky!’” someone said. “‘Such a rare and precious sight!’” The rainbow overheard this exclamation and thought about it. The next morning when Ava went to visit the rainbow again, he was gone. Ava hoped that someday he’d return, and every time it rained she looked for him. One day he did come back, and was “a rare and precious sight indeed.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-ava-and-the-rainbow-who-stayed-sweet-rainbow

Copyright Ged Adamson, 2018, courtesy of HarperCollins.

Like a rainbow itself, Ged Adamson’s story is multi-layered and reveals a spectrum of ideas about the often-fleeting moments in life—from wishes and dreams to the unusual or funny even to fads and fame. Learning how to truly appreciate these ephemeral experiences as they happen, to let go of what can’t or shouldn’t be controlled, and to stay true to your own nature goes a long way towards living a happy life. Children will be captivated by Adamson’s charming tale and his lush, whimsical art, which is always expressive of a child’s joy and empathy and which sweetly depicts the better understanding they gain as they grow through life’s experiences.

An enchanting story in itself and a wonderful way to engage children in discussions of true value and happiness, Ava and the Rainbow (Who Stayed) would make a terrific addition to home and classroom bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

HarperCollins, 2018 | ISBN 978-0062670809

Discover more about Ged Adamson, his books, and his art on his website.

National Find a Rainbow Day Activity

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Mini Rainbow Magnet

 

If you’re stuck on rainbows, you can make this mini rainbow to stick on your fridge or locker!

Supplies

  • 7 mini popsicle sticks
  • Paint in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, Indigo, violet (ROYGBIV)
  • Adhesive magnet
  • A little bit of polyfill
  • Paint brush
  • Glue or hot glue gun

Directions

  1. Paint one popsicle stick in each color, let dry
  2. Glue the popsicle sticks together side by side in the ROYGBIV order, let dry
  3. Roll a bit of polyfill into a cloud shape and glue to the top of the row of popsicle sticks
  4. Attach the magnet to the back of the rainbow

It’s an Ava and the Rainbow (Who Stayed) Giveaway!

I’m happy to partner with HarperCollins in this giveaway of

  • one copy of Ava and the Rainbow (Who Stayed)!

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet a giveaway tweet during this week, April 4 – April 10. Already a follower? Thanks! Just retweet for a chance to win.

A winner will be chosen on April 11.

Giveaways open to US addresses only. | Prizing provided by HarperCollins

Picture Book Review

April 2 – National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day

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About the Holiday

PB & J is a perennial favorite! These tasty sandwiches are so popular that the average American will eat more than 2,000 by the time they graduate from high school! In the early 1900s, peanut butter was a rare treat, served only in the most upscale New York City tea rooms. When, in 1896, an article in Good Housekeeping offered instructions on grinding your own peanuts, and Table Talk magazine published a recipe for making a peanut butter sandwich, peanut butter began to enter the mainstream. The first mention of combining jelly with peanut butter may have been by Julia Davis Chandler in 1901. Peanut butter became an inexpensive lunchtime favorite of children in the 1920s and was a staple of WWII ration lists for soldiers. Today, peanut butter and jelly feature prominently in both sweet and savory dishes of all kinds. To celebrate, you know what to do!

I’m thrilled to partner with Tundra Books in a giveaway of one copy of Peanut Butter and Jelly! See details below.

Peanut Butter and Jelly: A Narwhal and Jelly Book

By Ben Clanton

 

A Sweet and Salty Story!

When Narwhal comes upon Jelly eating what looks like a delicious waffle, he wants in! But it’s not a waffle, Jelly tells him; it’s a peanut butter cookie! Narwhal thinks this sounds ridiculous, and Jelly is shocked to find out that Narwhal has never heard of peanut butter. Narwhal tries to imagine what it tastes like. “Like strawberries? Pickles? Stir-fried licorice?” Jelly feels a little sick – especially when Narwhal suggests it tastes like all three combined.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jelly-ahoy-jelly

Copyright Ben Clanton, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

It turns out that Narwhal only eats waffles and has pretty much missed out on all the best food groups: pizza, spaghetti, even guacamole. Jelly offers Narwhal a taste of his cookie, saying “maybe you’ll like this cookie even more than waffles!” Well, Narwhal thinks this is even more ridiculous than the cookie itself. But after Jelly offers to make him a Narwhal-sized waffle if he just takes a nibble, Narwhal relents. He takes the smallest of bites, and… his eyes fly open and he proclaims it “fintastic! He loves the sweetness, the saltiness, the yumminess…. In fact, it’s so “yumptious” that it’s… “all gone! Whoops!”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jelly-sounds-funny

Copyright Ben Clanton, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Ahoy! Peanut Butter

Jelly just can’t get Narwhal’s attention. Why? Because he’s changed his name from Narwhal to… Peanut Butter! Jelly is incensed. He doesn’t think it’s normal to just up and change your name like that, but Narwhal assures him that it’s fine. After all, he used to be called Fred, and before that his name was Bob. Yes, he’s had a whole string of names that even includes Sir Duckworth.

Jelly is getting so confused. He’s worried that Narwhal is taking the whole peanut butter thing way too far—especially when he finds out that Narwhal hasn’t eaten anything but peanut butter since he had that cookie. And now his jar is empty! There’s only one thing for Narwhal to do—swim off to get another jar. Right, Floyd? “Floyd?” Jelly thinks. Hmmm… “Floyd…”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jelly-ick

Copyright Ben Clanton, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Super Waffle and Strawberry Sidekick vs. PB & J, by Peanut Butter and Floyd

A monstrous pickle is on a rampage! It’s time for Super Waffle and Strawberry Sidekick! “But before they can take a slice out of that pickle…,” Peanut Butter Bread and Jelly Bread are on the scene. They make a pickle sandwich and vanquish him in no time, declaring that pickle “no big dill.” Just then, though, “a jealous gelatinous jam” picks up Jelly Bread and is about to munch. Now, it’s “Super Waffle and Strawberry Sidekick to the rescue!” They tame that glob of jam a with an even better dance jam!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jelly-mashed-potatoes

Copyright Ben Clanton, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Peanut a.k.a. Mini Narwhal

Something is all kerflooey in the ocean. Narwhal is suddenly much smaller than Jelly, and he’s turned the color of peanut butter. Jelly wants to know what happened. Narwhal has a theory on why he’s suddenly so tiny. He tells Jelly, “When I woke up this morning I was the size of a peanut. I think it might have something to do with all the peanut butter I’ve been eating.” Jelly advises Narwhal to cool it on the peanut butter, and Narwhal agrees—not because he doesn’t want to eat it anymore, but because he’s eaten “all the peanut butter in the whole world wide waters!”

What’s Narwhal going to do about it, Jelly wonders. The answer is: Nothing! Narwhal’s fine with being so petite. But what about doing cannonballs, and his tutu and cape? Jelly asks. Jelly conjures up all kinds of disasters: Narwhal could get eaten or washed away on a wave or sucked into an elephant’s trunk. Narwhal tells Jelly to chillax. There’s a good side too. Regular waffles will seem gigantic and he’ll be able to eat as many as he wants.

A few of those huge waffles later Narwhal is enormous. Narwhal thinks this is just as great as being tiny because now he “can eat oodles of waffles” and “break the world record for waffle eating!” Which Jelly thinks is pretty ingenious—until he’s left to make thousands of waffles!

Narwhal and Jelly even tell kids about what some other sea creatures eat in section called Delicious Facts.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jelly-cookie

Copyright Ben Clanton, 2018, courtesy of Tundra Books.

Ben Clanton’s Narwhal—excuse me, Peanut Butter—and Jelly make the most adorable odd couple in the early readers’ sea. In this third graphic-novel adventure, the dynamic duo give kids a taste of funny repartee between friends as Narwhal discovers a new fav food and tries on a new name and two new sizes. Clanton knows how to make readers giggle and laugh out loud as Narwhal guffaws at the idea foods other than waffles, Jelly grows more and more flabbergasted at Narwhal’s antics, and a rogue pickle with mismatched goggly eyes flails its spindly arms.

Sweet, zany, supportive, and charming, the combination of Narwhal and Jelly is always a delectable and eagerly anticipated treat for kids. Peanut Butter and Jelly is a must for all fans and a terrific addition to any home or classroom library.

Ages 5 – 9

Tundra Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-0735262454

Discover more about Ben Clanton, his books, and lots of other fun stuff on his website.

It’s a Peanut Butter and Jelly Giveaway!

I’m excited to partner with Tundra Books in this giveaway of

  • one copy of Peanut Butter and Jelly: A Narwhal and Jelly Book!

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet a giveaway tweet during this week, April 2 – April 8. Already a follower? Thanks! Just retweet for a chance to win.

A winner will be chosen on April 9.

Giveaways open to US addresses only. | Prizing provided by Tundra Books

National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-peanut-butter-and-jelly-game

Make a PB & J Lunch! Game

 

With just a few ingredients, you can make yourself a delicious lunch! Turns out PB & J and a glass of milk also makes a pretty fun game! Play this printable game for some peanuty perfect fun!

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print one playing die
  2. Print enough game cards for each player to have a set
  3. Cut out the playing die and game cards
  4. Game cards can be stacked near the players
  5. Tape the playing die together

To Play the Game

  1. Choose a player to go first
  2. The first player rolls the die
  3. The player takes a game card matching the picture on the side of the die facing up and places it on their paper plate
  4. Play passes to the left
  5. If a player rolls an item they already have, they pass the die to the player on their left without taking a new card
  6. The first player to get all six parts of the peanut butter and jelly lunch is the winner

For a More Difficult Game

To make the game a little harder, roll the die to fill your plate in this order:

  1. Plain bread
  2. Peanut Butter
  3. Jelly Jar
  4. Jelly Bread
  5. Peanut Butter Bread
  6. Milk

Picture Book Review

April 1 – Reading is Funny Day

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About the Holiday

On April 1 there’s a lot of funny stuff going on, so why shouldn’t reading be funny too? With so many books that can make you laugh out loud and see the world in a new, positive, or even quirky way, there’s no time like the present to get reading! To celebrate today, buy a new funny book at your local bookstore or check some out from your library. Parents and grandparents may enjoy sharing the funny books that were their favorites too! 

I Have a Balloon

Written by Ariel Bernstein | Illustrated by Scott Magoon

 

An owl warily hangs onto his balloon as a monkey swings into the picture pointing at the owl’s prized possession. “I have a balloon,” the owl states. “That is a big balloon,” says the monkey. The owl proudly concurs as he repeats the monkey’s praise. But the monkey is not finished with his compliments. “That is a shiny red balloon,” he says. Yes, the owl agrees.

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Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Ariel Bernstein, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Perhaps, though, the monkey’s compliments are not entirely gratuitous. He adds that the shiny, red balloon would look swell with his shiny, red bowtie and imagines walking into school with such a perfectly matched outfit. In fact, he says, “The only thing I’ve ever wanted, since right now, is a shiny, big red balloon.” The monkey’s not without some sense of fairness, though, and offers to trade his teddy bear for the balloon. But the owl isn’t feeling it.

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Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Ariel Bernstein, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

If teddy bears aren’t the owl’s thing, what about a sunflower? The monkey has one of those too, and it’s enormous—even bigger than the balloon! Is the owl interested in trading? No. Would he like “a robot? No.” “A picture of ten balloons? No.” How about a bowling ball and pin? No and No. Finally, the monkey pulls out a sock. Hmmm…the owl seems a bit intrigued. He can see the merits of this sock: it “has a star on it” and “a perfectly shaped hole.” The monkey has to acknowledge these fine qualities.

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Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Ariel Bernstein, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Is the owl wavering? The balloon doesn’t do anything—but the sock? There are so many things to do with a sock like that. “You can wear a sock on your tail or your foot or your hand or your ear,” and it makes a perfect puppet. Feeling victory in his grasp, the monkey offers the sock in exchange for the balloon, and the owl agrees. The monkey is surprised. You mean the “sock with a star and a perfectly shaped hole?” That’s the one.

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Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Ariel Bernstein, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

But wait! The monkey now seems to have had a change of heart: “All I’ve ever wanted, since right now, is a sock with a star and a perfectly shaped hole. It makes me SO HAPPY!” So, the owl and the monkey seem to be back to square one: “I have a sock. You have a balloon,” the monkey states. “I have a balloon,” the owl concurs. Phew! Well, that’s settled! Or is it…?

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Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Ariel Bernstein, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Ariel Bernstein’s quick-witted owl and monkey may not end up trading objects, but they sure trade banter—much to the benefit of little readers. In the dynamic dynamics between the capricious monkey and the astute owl, there is much for children to talk and think about. While the monkey lives in the moment, bouncing from one desire to another, the owl plays a longer game, considering each of his options.

When the monkey hits upon the sock after and the owl accepts, kids may well wonder if the owl is using a little reverse psychology to redirect the monkey away from his balloon or whether he really wants that sock. Children might also think about an object’s value when seen through another’s eyes. In the end, both the monkey and the owl seem happy with their objects, raising another talking point on being satisfied with what you have. Bernstein’s funny, mirrored dialog is a joy to read out loud and also allows for various interpretations in tone that could lead to multiple readings and meanings.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-I-have-a-balloon-falls

Image copyright Scott Magoon, 2017, text copyright Ariel Bernstein, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Scott Magoon sets the stage and the characters’ personalities on the first page as the adorable, coconut-shaped monkey swings in on a vine much to the wariness of the tolerant, blue owl. Humorous touches will keep kids giggling (the monkey attends Monkey C. Do elementary school) and provide an arc for this clever story. Children will notice that the branch that breaks in the first pages is bandaged together with the very useful sock later on. Magoon deftly handles the change in fortunes with wry looks, imagination bubbles, and plenty of action.  A little foot that appears on the second-to-last spread provides a bit of foreshadowing to the story’s final laugh.

I Have a Balloon is a terrific read aloud and would be a much-asked-for addition to classroom or public libraries and for any child’s home bookshelf.

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-1481472500

You’ll discover more about Ariel Bernstein and her books as well as a Teacher’s Guide on her website!

Check out the gallery of illustration work by Scott Magoon on his website

Reading is Funny Day Activity

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Reading Is Funny Bookmarks

 

As you mark your place—or your favorite part—in your books, you’ll get a laugh out of these punny bookmarks!

Reading Is Funny Bookmarks

 

Picture Book Review

March 30 – Passover

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About the Holiday

Passover is a Jewish spring festival that celebrates the Jews liberation from slavery in Egypt and their freedom of a nation under Moses. The holiday begins on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month Nisan, which is the first ecclesiastical month and occurs in March or April and continues for seven or eight days. The holiday begins with a seder meal, for which family and friends gather to remember their history, have symbolic dishes, and celebrate the joy of freedom.

Kar-Ben Publishing sent me a copy of Paulie’s Passover Predicament to check out. All opinions are my own. I’m also excited to be giving away one copy of the book! See details below.

Paulie’s Passover Predicament

Written by Jane Sutton | Illustrated by Barbara Vagnozzi

 

Paulie was a moos-ician who loved practicing his guitar in his basement studio, but today he had to cut it short because there was so much to do. Passover was starting that night, “and Paulie wanted his Passover seder to be perfect!” He headed to the grocery store to buy everything he needed for the meal. At the store he ran into two friends, Sally and Irving. They were excited about coming to Paulie’s house later that day.

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Image copyright Barbara Vagnozzi, 2018, text copyright Jane Sutton, 2018. Courtesy of Kar-Ben Publishing.

With his cart loaded with boxes of matzah, grape juice, two moose shaped candles, and other supplies, Paulie was ready. As soon as he got home, Paulie began cooking. Each dish was delicious. He set the table and “hummed happily as he placed the matzah cover over the matzah.” He smiled at the attractive picture of a moose printed on it. “‘Perfect!’ he thought.”

There was much excitement as Paulie’s friends arrived. They complimented Paulie on the yummy-smells from the kitchen and his decorated table. “‘The candles are very ‘you,’ Paulie, said Evelyn,” while Sally commented on the unusual matzah cover. When they sat down to eat, Moe noticed the extremely large egg on the seder plate. “‘Yes,’ said Paulie, beaming. ‘An egg is a sign of new life. I used an ostrich egg to make sure everyone could see it.’” Sally pointed out that the salt water representing the tears of their ancestors looked different too. As Paulie explained, he thought he heard a few giggles.

When Evelyn tasted the charoset that reminded them of the bricks and mortar their “ancestors used to build the pyramids,” she questioned the recipe. Paulie admitted that he liked it with apples and pinecones instead of walnuts. In place of the usual parsley, Paulie had used his “favorite green thing”: grass. This was met with some chuckles. Paulie had taken the horseradish maror rather literally and carved a horse from a radish. Hearing this, Horace couldn’t help but laugh out loud. And the lamb’s wool in place of the lamb bone set everyone else “roaring with laughter.”

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Image copyright Barbara Vagnozzi, 2018, text copyright Jane Sutton, 2018. Courtesy of Kar-Ben Publishing.

“Big tears formed in Paulie’s eyes,” but his friends hugged him and told him that although his seder plate was a bit different, each element reminded them “‘of the meaning of Passover—in a Paulie way.’” Cheered, Paulie and his friends continued with the blessings, the Four Questions, and telling the Passover story. They ate and recited the Ten Plagues. Then it was time for Sally to hide the afikomen.

Paulie felt better, but he really wanted to find the afikomen. He looked under the table and behind the couch then Paulie went to look in the basement. The afikomen wasn’t under his drum set or in the laundry basket. Paulie finally found it in the dryer, but when he tried to go upstairs, the door was locked! No one heard Paulie calling for help. He sat down on the stairs and considered his Passover seder. It “was not perfect at all…. And now he was stuck in the basement. ‘What a predicament!’ he thought.”

Just then he had an idea. He slipped the afikomen under the door, alerting his friends. They swung the door open, and Paulie was free! Paulie’s friends were excited to see that he had found the afikomen and would get the reward. But Paulie told them that being free like their ancestors was enough for him. Then everyone sang the song Dayeinu, happy to be together and free.

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Image copyright Barbara Vagnozzi, 2018, text copyright Jane Sutton, 2018. Courtesy of Kar-Ben Publishing.

A short description of Passover follows the story.

Young readers will empathize with and cheer for Paulie in Jane Sutton’s sweetly emotional Passover story. In his excitement to host the perfect Passover seder, Paulie can’t help but include his favorite things instead of the traditional offerings. Even though his friends chuckle at Paulie’s missteps, they show their love for him with understanding and hugs. When he is freed from the basement, Paulie demonstrates the true spirit of Passover in his happiness to be with his friends again. Kids will giggle along at each unique seder dish while they also learn their symbolic importance.

Barbara Vagnozzi’s bright, joyful lllustrations reflect the excitement children feel as they prepare for Passover—shopping, cooking, and setting the table with special foods and decorations. The camaraderie of the friends is infectious as they explain the various parts of the seder, enjoying Paulie’s unique, moose-centric spin on it. These good friends, smiling, talking, happily hunting for the afikomen, and singing together are adorable companions for this special holiday.

A fun and meaningful introduction to Passover for children and adults of all faiths, Paulie’s Passover Predicament would be a delightful addition to home and classroom bookshelves for any time of year.

Ages 3 – 8

Kar-Ben Publishing, 2018 | ISBN 978-1512420975

Discover more about Jane Sutton and her books on her website.

To learn more about Barbara Vagnozzi and view a portfolio of her books and artwork, visit her website.

It’s a Paulie’s Passover Predicament Giveaway!

I’m excited to partner with Kar-Ben Publishing in this giveaway of:

  • one copy of Paulie’s Passover Predicament!

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet a giveaway tweet during this week, March 30 – April 5. Already a follower? Thanks! Just retweet for a chance to win.

A winner will be chosen on April 6.

Giveaways open to US addresses only. | Prizing provided by Kar-Ben Publishing

Passover Activity

Celebrate Passover! Word Search

Celebrating Passover means honoring history, eating special foods, and having fun! Can you find the twenty words related to Passover in this Celebrate Passover! Word Search?

Celebrate Passover! Word Search Puzzle | Celebrate Passover! Word Search Solution

Picture Book Review