July 15 – I Love Horses Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tony-cover

About the Holiday

The dream pet of many children, a proud part of settling and farming early America, majestic free spirits of the West, and gentle therapy animals, horses are much-loved by kids and adults alike. Today’s holiday celebrates the special feeling people have for horses.  To honor today’s holiday, read a book or watch a movie about horses or consider donating to the cause of protecting horses. There are many homeless horses who need permanent homes, too. If you have the land and means, you may even think about adopting a horse in need.

Tony

Written by Ed Galing | Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

 

Tony “was such a wonderful horse.” Every morning, long before the sun came up, Tom would hitch him to the wagon and they would deliver milk, butter, and eggs to customers around town. “Tony was all white, large, sturdy, with wide gentle eyes and a ton of love….” While Tom jumped out of the wagon and carefully carried the products to waiting doorsteps, Tony stood silently by.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tony-going-to-barn

Image copyright Erin E. Stead, 2017, text copyright Ed Galing, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com

At one house the lights were always already burning even though it was only 3:00 a.m. The occupant of the house would come out and gently pat Tony, whose eyes shone as he bowed his head to receive the daily affection. Before moving on to the next house, Tom and the narrator always exchanged pleasantries. “Wouldn’t miss Tony for the world,” the customer would respond, adding compliments for Tony. 

These kind words made Tom smile as he seated himself once again in the wagon, and while the narrator watched them continue down the street, he “knew that Tony did a little dance.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tony-pulling-wagon

Image copyright Erin E. Stead, 2017, text copyright Ed Galing, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Ed Galing’s touching memoir to a special horse and a daily routine that brought camaraderie and comfort to the story’s narrator reminds readers that happiness can be found in the simplest of actions, and profound love in the connections between people and animals. Implicit in this minimalist snapshot of a short, early morning meeting are all the mornings—perhaps years-worth—carried out in exactly the same fashion that have forged the bond between Tony and the narrator.

Underlining the story is the basis for this bond—the affection and respect the narrator gives Tony and receives in return. It is perhaps not too much of a stretch to imagine a young child similarly encouraged by such compliments. The early morning setting (also prime time for many babies) lends a dreamy mystery to the tale—who is the narrator, why are they up so early, and how old are they? (certain illustrations give intriguing clues)—that children will enjoy imagining and discussing.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tony-houses

Image copyright Erin E. Stead, 2017, text copyright Ed Galing, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Erin E. Stead’s pencil-drawn illustrations, beautifully introduced by a page of vellum that sets the tone, are quiet, peaceful vignettes of Tony as he hitches up in the morning and takes Tom on his rounds. Bathed only in the glow of the light over the barn, a street light, or the light from the narrator’s open door, Tony makes his way through the dim streets with graceful dignity. Tony is gorgeously and expressively drawn.

As he waits outside the narrator’s house, Tony’s head is turned toward the doorway in expectation, and again as he pulls away from the curb, he gives one last look back. Children will love seeing the way milk and other farm products were once delivered and will respond to the gauzy sage and amber backdrop that makes Tony a perfect quiet time or bedtime book.

Tony is gentle, heartwarming triumph and a wonderful book to spur family-history stories. It would be a welcome addition to any child’s bookshelf.   

Ages 3 – 6

Roaring Brook Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1626723085

Learn more about Erin E. Stead and view a gallery of her illustration work on her website!

I Love Horses Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-horse-coloring-page

My Own Horse Coloring Page

 

Horses are such beautiful creatures! If you owned a horse, what kind and color would it be? Enjoy this printable My Own Horse Coloring Page!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tony-cover

You can find Tony at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

July 14 – Shark Awareness Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nugget-and-fang-coverAbout the Holiday

Today we take a moment to consider the benefits sharks provide to the marine ecosystem. Every year thousands of sharks die and their species threatened due to misconceptions and misuse. As a predator at the top of the food chain, sharks play a crucial role in maintaining balance within the ocean. Protecting this often-misunderstood species is an important goal.

Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever—or Snack Time?

Written by Tammi Sauer | Illustrated by Michael Slack

 

Deep in the ocean two friends do everything together and life is almost perfect as they swim over ship wrecks, under reefs, and all around. Nugget and Fang are as close as two friend can be—there’s just one thing: Nugget is a minnow while Fang is a shark. Neither of them consider their friendship unusual—until Nugget goes to school. There during Reading, Nugget hears the story of The Three Little Minnows and the Big, Bad Shark. “‘Ha!’” says Nugget. “‘Impossible!’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nugget-and-fang-jelly-new-year

Image copyright Michael Slack, 2013, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2013. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

During Math class the students solve a word problem: “What if there were ten minnows and a shark came along and ate four of them? How many minnows are left?” Nugget is scandalized. “‘A shark would never do that!’” he says. But Science period reveals the facts of the Marine Food Chain. Nugget protests that sharks aren’t scary. “‘My best friend is a shark!’” he announces. His classmates are shocked. “Have you lost your gills?” one asks. Another snarks, “Hello—sharks eat minnows!” Nugget can’t believe it.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nugget-and-fang

Image copyright Michael Slack, courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

Back home Nugget gives Fang the bad news. “‘Sounds fishy to me,’” says Fang. Nugget assures him it’s true before swimming far away. “Fang’s heart sank.” He can’t help if he’s “toothy,” he thinks, and he knows he doesn’t mean to be scary. He wants his best friend back. To prove it Fang tries different tactics. On Tuesday he dresses like a mermaid, but Nugget and the other fish see through his disguise. “‘Oh, my algae!’” exclaims Nugget. On Wednesday Fang sends a beautiful sea plant arrangement with a note—“Dear Nugget, I’d love to have you over for dinner.”—which is misinterpreted in the worst possible way. On Thursday Fang pulls out all the stops. He gets a “Nugget” tattoo, sends a special message and gift, and performs an original song and dance, but nothing works.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nugget-and-fang-jelly-fish

Image copyright Michael Slack, 2013, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2013. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

On Friday Fang is sadly resigned to being alone. While he mopes and cries, he doesn’t see that a fishing net has been lowered to the ocean floor, capturing Nugget and the other minnows. “Help!” shouts Nugget as the net is slowly lifted. Fang wrings his fins, uncertain of what to do. Suddenly, he has an idea. With his big sharp teeth he chomps and chews and tears the net to pieces. Nugget and the minnows swim to safety. They all stare at Fang wide-eyed.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nugget-and-fang

Image copyright Michael Slack, courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

Fang dejectedly begins to swim away. “‘I know, I know,’” he says, “‘I’m toothy. Too scary. Too…shark.’” “Wait!” calls Nugget and uses a little math of his own. “‘There were ten minnows, and a very special shark came along. How many friends are there altogether?’” Now eleven friends live happily deep in the ocean, and everyone—especially Fang—are all smiles.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nugget-and-fang-over-and-under

Image copyright Michael Slack, 2013, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2013. Courtesy of HMH Books for Young Readers.

Tammi Sauer’s tribute to true friendship reveals the danger when “facts” take precedence over what you know in your heart to be true. Her reminder to listen to your inner voice is approached with humor and the honest types of doubts that can niggle and cloud judgement. Throughout the story, her language is accessible and kid-conversational, including puns that will elicit giggles. Sauer’s use of a math word problem to both highlight contrary thinking and provide a solution underscores the influence of education. Nugget & Fang is a wonderful book for kids navigating the school and activities environment while making new—and keeping old—friendships.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nugget-and-fang-swimming-together

Michael Slack immediately sets kids in the right mindset with his bright, cartoon-inspired illustrations. Tiny, colorful Nugget and bold, blue Fang, his “toothiness” on display through his big grin, make a happy, nonchalant pair. They play together through vibrant green, yellow, and purple reefs unaware of marine stereotypes. When Nugget gets “schooled,” his astounded expressions and those of his classmates, humorously depict their predicament. The ocean environment gives Slack an opportunity for plenty of visual jokes and innovation. The Reading teacher holds a clamshell-shaped book, a piece of shipwrecked board serves as a Math blackboard, and the Science food chain poster is appropriately scary. Kids will laugh at Fang’s attempts at reconciliation, and cheer when he becomes a hero.

Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever—or Snack Time? is sure to be a favorite story time read and would be an often-asked-for addition to home and classroom bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 9

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013 ISBN 978-0544481718 | Lap Board Book, 2018 ISBN 978-1328768391

To learn more about Tammi Sauer and her books, visit her website!

View a gallery of work by Michael Slack on his website!

Visit the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Nugget & Fang page for more goodies!

Will everything go swimmingly for Nugget and Fang? Watch the trailer and see!

Shark Awareness Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-shark-jar-craft

Shark Organizer Jar

 

Are some of your favorite things scattered here and there? Would you like to be able to get a good clamp on them? Then here’s a craft you can really sink your teeth into! This shark organizer jar is easy and fun to make and a fin-tastic way to keep your stuff tidy!

Supplies

  • Wide-mouth plastic jar, like a peanut-butter jar
  • Gray craft paint
  • White craft paint
  • Black craft paint
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Find a point in the middle of the jar on opposite sides of the jar
  2. Mid-way between these points on the other sides of the jar, find a point about 1 1/2 inches above the first points
  3. From the first point draw an angled line up to the higher point and down again to the lower point to make the shark’s upper jaw
  4. Repeat Direction Number 3 to make the shark’s lower jaw
  5. With the gray paint fill in the jar below these lines to make the shark’s head
  6. Along the jawline, paint jagged teeth with the white paint
  7. Add black dots for eyes on either side of the shark’s head
  8. Let dry

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nugget-and-fang-cover

You can find Nugget & Fang: Friends Forever—or Snack Time? at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

 

July 11 – National Cheer Up the Lonely Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-lonely-mailman-cover

About the Holiday

There are many people who, due to age, health, lack of transportation, distance from family and friends, and other factors, feel lonely. Today’s holiday was established to bring awareness to this problem and to encourage people to reach out to those who are alone. There are many ways to cheer up someone who’s feeling lonely, including visiting, taking them for an outing, calling, and taking food, treats, or something else you know they would like.

The Lonely Mailman

Written by Susanna Isern | Illustrated by Daniel Montero Galán

 

The mailman sets off on his bicycle at the crack of dawn to deliver letters all around the forest. “The mailman goes to each door, rings the bell, and only says four words: ‘Squirrel! Letter for you!’” Squirrel’s letter is from Hedgehog, who accidentally pricked him while at the market. He’s inviting Squirrel for dinner to make up for it. Next the mailman delivers a letter from Squirrel to Hedgehog. “He whispers so quietly that even he can hardly hear the words. “‘Hedgehog! Letter for you!’” Squirrel says all will be forgotten if Hedgehog invites him to dinner.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-lonely-mailman-squirrel-letter

Image copyright Daniel Montero Galán, 2016, text copyright Susanna Isern, 2016. Courtesy of danielmonterogalan.com.

Sometimes the animals invite the mailman in for a cup of coffee, but he never accepts. In fact, “he never gets off his bicycle” as he makes his rounds. Today, that includes letters between Dormouse and Woodpecker, who are resolving a loud tapping issue. Even though the animals see the mailman every day, they don’t really know him or anything about him. It doesn’t occur to some of them to wonder about the mailman as he, say, tosses a letter to Turtle from the Butterflies, who want to visit “to flutter around and keep you cool, and sit awhile on your lovely shell, listening to your tales while we enjoy the sun” and delivers an invitation from Turtle to the Butterflies to “sunbathe in peace and quiet” on his shell and have a cup of tea inside if it rains.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-lonely-mailman-dormouse

Image copyright Daniel Montero Galán, 2016, text copyright Susanna Isern, 2016. Courtesy of danielmonterogalan.com.

Other animals, though, do think about the mailman. Some think he doesn’t say much because he’s sad. But as Bear reads his letter from Rabbit and Rabbit reads a letter from Bear, they don’t take time to ask the mailman how he’s feeling. At the end of the day, with “no more letters in his bag,” the mailman goes home feeling weary. But he still has much to do. In the flickering light of his candle, he sits down at an old typewriter and writes letters. “They are the letters he’ll be delivering the next day: invitations, apologies, plans, and messages full of love.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-lonely-mailman-going-home

Image copyright Daniel Montero Galán, 2016, text copyright Susanna Isern, 2016. Courtesy of danielmonterogalan.com.

One day, as the sun is going down and the mailman is heading home, he sees that the last letter in his bag is addressed to him. He rushes home excited by the letter—the first he’s ever gotten. At home, he puts the letter in his own mailbox, “whispers four words: ‘Mailman, letter for you!’” then retrieves it and goes inside. As he reads the letter, a lump forms in his throat. The forest animals have discovered his secret and want to thank him.

Just then the doorbell rings—for the very first time. When he opens the door, he sees all the forest animals waiting for him. They surround him with cheers and hugs, and as the “old mailman smiles and blushes” he’s already composing the letters he will write tonight.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-lonely-mailman-embraced

Image copyright Daniel Montero Galán, 2016, text copyright Susanna Isern, 2016. Courtesy of danielmonterogalan.com.

The Lonely Mailman is a mesmerizing book in every way. Susanna Isern’s storytelling is straightforward, honest, and lyrical as she follows the mailman on his rounds, whispering those four words everyone wants to hear. Peeking into the letters that the animals exchange shows a world where mistakes happen, fears niggle, and grievances are expressed. It is also a world full of kindness, consideration, generosity, and love. The discovery that the mailman himself is the sower of this network of friendship will tug at readers’ hearts as they wish the same for him. The forest animals’ final response to one sharp-eyed mouse’s suggestion is touching and satisfying

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-lonely-mailman-animals

Image copyright Daniel Montero Galán, 2016, text copyright Susanna Isern, 2016. Courtesy of danielmonterogalan.com.

Daniel Montero Galán washes the soft, velum-like pages with gorgeous earth tones from the warm, golden light of dawn to the soft blues and greens of a summer day to the fiery reds of sunset. The dens, knotholes, and burrows of the forest creatures are cozy with homey details, and the letters each animal receives are called out in parchment-colored rectangles that add to the vintage feel. Alert readers will be intrigued to follow the little mouse who chases here and there, spying on the rotund mailman—who is shaped like half an inverted heart just waiting to be completed—and will be cheered when the animals embrace him, filling out his life with love.

Captivating and moving, The Lonely Mailman is a beautiful story that touches on themes of friendship, empathy, loneliness, kindness, and the power of the individual to create change. The book would be a superb choice for home and classroom libraries.

Ages 5 – 8

Cuento de Luz, 2017 Hardcover: ISBN 978-8416147984 | Paperback, 2018: 978-8416147977

Discover more about Susanna Isern and her books on her website.

To learn more about Daniel Montero Galán, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Cheer Up the Lonely Day Activity

CPB - Paper Flowers

Paper Flower Bouquet

 

These paper flowers will brighten anyone’s day and come in a rainbow of colors. Make a bouquet to share them with a new friend.

Supplies

  • Tissue paper in many colors
  • Green paper
  • Green wire for stems
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue
  • Pliers

CPB - Paper Flowers II

Directions

To make the stem

  1. Bend a 1 ½ -inch loop in the top of the wire
  2. Squeeze the wire together so it will fit tightly over the tissue paper

To make a flower

  1. Cut 6 or more 7-inch squares from tissue paper, mixing colors (you can make various sizes of flowers by making the squares larger or smaller and adding more squares)
  2. Gather all the squares together and fold them together accordion-style in 1-inch folds
  3. Slide the folded tissue paper under the wire loop, and tighten the wire
  4. Gently fan the tissue paper out on each side
  5. Beginning on one side, gently pull each sheet of tissue paper up toward the center
  6. Repeat step 5 on the other side

To make leaves

  1. Cut leaves from green paper, leaving a stem to wrap around the wire flower stem
  2. Fold the leaf stem around the wire and tape or glue

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-lonely-mailman-cover

The Lonely Mailman can be found at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

July 10 – Cow Appreciation Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-cow-who-climbed-a-tree

About the Holiday

The brainstorm of the Chik-Fil-A Company as a clever advertising ploy to herd customers to the chicken side of things, Cow Appreciation Day, also gives us an opportunity to really think about the importance of cattle to the world as a food source and source of material from earliest times. Cows have also long been beloved characters in children’s books, inspiring laughs, empathy, and imagination – as in today’s book!

The Cow Who Climbed a Tree

By Gemma Merino

 

Tina is a very unique cow. Unlike her sisters who are only interested in “fresh and juicy grass,” Tina is very curious and always inventing new ideas. Her sisters proclaim her notions “‘Impossible! Ridiculous! And Nonsense!’” One day while exploring the woods, Tina decides to climb a tree. Branch by branch she swings herself to the top. Up there among the owls and squirrels Tina discovers a dragon—a friendly one, and a vegetarian to boot!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-cow-who-climbed-a-tree-tina

Copyright Gemma Merino, 2016, courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.

“All afternoon they talked about wonderful dreams and incredible stories.” Tina is excited to tell her sisters, but when she gets home they aren’t impressed. The whole idea of cows climbing trees and dragons is “‘Impossible! Ridiculous! And Nonsense!’” The next morning Tina never shows up for breakfast. Her sisters find a note that reads “Gone flying with the Dragon of the Woods.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-cow-who-climbed-a-tree-dragon

Copyright Gemma Merino, 2016, courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.

Her sisters decided this nonsense has to stop, so they head out to find her. As they leave behind their familiar farmland and enter the forest, they can’t believe how beautiful it is. Suddenly a pig wearing a backpack dashes past them and shimmies up a tree. Even though they consider this “impossible,” one sister follows the pig. The others join her. From a treetop branch the three find that “the world beyond the fields was extraordinary.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-cow-who-climbed-a-tree-something-strange

Copyright Gemma Merino, 2016, courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.

Still, Tina is nowhere to be found. The sisters look left, right, down, and up. Up! “It was impossible. It was ridiculous. It was nonsense. But it was true! Tina was flying!” She and other animals are taking flying lessons from the dragon, and while they don’t have wings, they soar just fine with a little help. From her lofty place, Tina asks her sisters to join her, and they say something she has never heard before: “Yes, why not?” They float, drift, and glide in the sunlit sky, and ever afterward find that nothing is “impossible, ridiculous, or nonsense.” Now all four sisters can’t wait to see what else is possible.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-cow-who-climbed-a-tree-interior-art-telescope

Copyright Gemma Merino, 2016, courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company.

Gemma Merino’s mooving tribute to people who live and dream large will inspire young children to reach for the treetops and beyond. The plucky heroine who doesn’t cower under her sisters’ reproach is a confident and likable role model, happy to include her sisters when they finally see the light. Merino’s sweet, soft-hued illustrations humorously depict the dichotomy between the sisters’ grass-focused existence and Tina’s vivid imagination. The cows’ home has sage green walls, furniture, and floors.

The pictures on the walls, the flowerpot on the windowsill, and the planter are all full of various types of vegetation, and the jars in the pantry contain such ingredients as Pickled Leaves, Meadow Mix, Dried Petals, and Herbal Tea. But Tina’s imagination and the forest she loves to visit are infused with reds, ambers, blues, and teals; even the greens are more brilliant. For anyone contemplating the unknown, The Cow Who Climbed a Tree is rousing fun!

Ages 4 – 7

Albert Whitman & Company, 2016 | ISBN 978-0807512982

To learn more about Gemma Merino and her books visit her website!

Cow Appreciation Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-cow-mug-craft

Moo Cow Mug

Milk—regular or chocolate!—will taste so much better in a Moo Cow Mug  you make yourself! 

Supplies

  • White ceramic mug, available at craft stores
  • Black permanent marker or paint for ceramics
  • Pink permanent marker or paint for ceramics
  • Brown permanent marker or paint for ceramics

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-cow-mug-craft-back

Directions

  1. With the pink marker or paint, draw an oval shape for the nose near the bottom of the mug. Let dry.
  2. With the brown marker or paint, draw two angled nostrils inside the pink oval and color them in. Let dry.
  3. Color in the nose with the pink marker or paint.
  4. With the black marker, color the top tip of the handle where it meets the mug to make the tail.
  5. With the black marker or paint, draw two wavy lines on either side of the face starting at the top, angling toward the middle and returning to the bottom of the mug. Leave white space between the lines.
  6. Draw circles for eyes within the black lines. Add black pupils at the bottom of the eyes.
  7. Color inside the black lines and around the eyes to make the face markings.
  8. With the black marker or paint, make two or three splotches on the back of the mug.
  9. Let the mug dry and follow the directions for the markers or paint to set the color.
  10. Pour yourself a mug of milk and enjoy!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-cow-who-climbed-a-tree

You can find The Cow Who Climbed a Tree at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

July 6 – It’s National Umbrella Cover Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-green-umbrella-cover

About the Holiday

Okay, so this is one of those holidays that just make you say, “Hmmm….” But, really, you know…why not? Made of the same material as the umbrella, and either slippery enough to slide right off or maddeningly tight enough to require superhuman peeling abilities, the umbrella cover is apparently the subject of controversy: Is it useful or just a waste of material? One woman who is firmly on Team Useful is Nancy 3. (formerly Arlene) Hoffman, who–in 1996–founded the Umbrella Cover Museum. First displayed in Hoffman’s kitchen, her collection has grown from “seven or so” covers to more than 700–enough to warrant mention in The Guinness Book of World Records. The museum is now housed in  two rooms on Peaks Island, Maine. Today’s holiday was officially recognized in 2014. To learn more about Nancy Hoffman and her collection, visit the Umbrella Cover Museum’s website.

The Green Umbrella

Written by Jackie Azúa Kramer | Illustrated by Maral Sassouni

 

On a gray and rainy day, Elephant went out walking with his green umbrella. He met a hedgehog who hailed him and said, “‘Excuse me. I believe you have my boat.’” Elephant was perplexed, so Hedgehog expounded on his theory. “‘I crossed deep oceans on my boat and faced the crash of icy waves. I saw dolphins leap two by two and tasted the salty spray of whales. The stars were my guide and my boat a faithful friend.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-green-umbrella-hedgehog

Copyright Maral Sassouni, 2017, text copyright Jackie Azúa Kramer, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

This poetic travelogue did not convince Elephant of the umbrella’s provenance, but he offered to let Hedgehog ride along and share in its protection. The two came upon a Cat, who took one look at the green umbrella and recognized it as her tent. Hmmm…said Elephant and Hedgehog. It was true replied Cat, and she related how when she visited the woods to study plants and flowers, she would rest in its shade and drink a cup of tea.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-green-umbrella-bear

Copyright Maral Sassouni, 2017, text copyright Jackie Azúa Kramer, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

This story seemed no more plausible than Hedgehog’s, but Elephant invited Cat to ride along and share in the umbrella’s protection. As they continued on, the Bear approached, sure that they had his flying machine. “‘Your what?’ asked the Elephant, the Hedgehog, and the Cat.” The Bear got a faraway look in his eyes as he said, “‘I soared through clouds high up in the air and saw Northern Lights glimmer above rolling hills. I floated on wings free and far from the noise of busy towns below.’”

Well, Elephant could play this game too. The umbrella was his and his alone. When he was a child, Elephant said, the umbrella was his pirate sword, his tightrope balance, and his baseball bat. By this time the rain had stopped. Elephant rolled up his umbrella and said good-bye to the Hedgehog, the Cat, and the Bear. The three couldn’t stand to see their boat/tent/flying machine taken away, so they clung to the Elephant.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-green-umbrella-tea-party

Copyright Maral Sassouni, 2017, text copyright Jackie Azúa Kramer, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

A moment later they met an old Rabbit. “‘I believe you have my cane,’” he said. The others thought he was wrong. But this handy stick, the Rabbit explained, had helped him climb pyramids, hike mountains to ancient ruins, and navigate dark caves full of treasure. Again the Elephant objected, but seeing the old Rabbit mopping his forehead, he opened it and shaded the Rabbit from the sun. The Cat offered to make a pot of tea, and the Bear and the Hedgehog helped lay out a picnic lunch.

Under the cool umbrella, the five “shared their stories, drank tea, planned adventures, and became fast friends.” From then on when it was sunny, they went “Sailing, Camping, Flying, and Hiking” together. “And when it rained they stayed dry under the green umbrella.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-green-umbrella-friends

Copyright Maral Sassouni, 2017, text copyright Jackie Azúa Kramer, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Jackie Azúa Kramer’s multi-layered story delves into the large points and small nuances of relationships old and new. The Elephant’s green umbrella is both a subject of envy and a uniting object. It also serves to demonstrate Elephant’s ability to stick up for himself as well as his willingness to share. As each animal presents an imaginative and compelling reason why the green umbrella belongs to them, the Elephant rejects the story while accepting the friend. In each animal’s lushly described imagination, Kramer does a beautiful job of showing readers how each of these friends are similar. She reveals that while friends can have different opinions, they can still find common ground.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-green-umbrella-followers

Copyright Maral Sassouni, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Maral Sassouni’s dream-like illustrations are both exotic and homey. Village houses give way to turreted and domed towers, and the imaginative stories the animals tell are accompanied by details as free, cozy, or eccentric as their tales. The Elephant’s account is cleverly rendered in sepia tones, showing the age of the memories and who the original owner of the coveted umbrella really is. The final images of the five new friends sharing adventures in the green umbrella are sure to delight little ones.

The Green Umbrella is a perfect book to share on rainy days or sunny days. With humor and creativity, the book provides an opportunity to talk about the nature of friendship and sharing with children. It would make an often-read addition to public, classroom, and home libraries.

Ages 4 – 8

NorthSouth Books, 2017 | ISBN 978-0735842182

Discover more about Jackie Azúa Kramer, her books, and a fun book-related activity on her website!

Learn more about Maral Sassouni and her artwork on her website!

Don’t wait for a rainy day to watch The Green Umbrella book trailer!

National Umbrella Cover Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-umbrella -friends-match-upUmbrella Friends Match Up Puzzle

 

These friends are all enjoying a day out! Can you find the matching pairs in this printable Umbrella Friends Match Up Puzzle?

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-green-umbrella-cover

You can find The Green Umbrella at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

June 30 – National Social Media Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nerdy-birdy-tweets-cover

About the Holiday

Established in 2010 by Mashable, today’s holiday commemorates all the changes in the way people talk, share, and interact that social media has made possible. Going back to 2002 and the introduction of Friendster, 2003’s MySpace, and 2004’s Facebook, the way in which people share news, photos, serious events, silly moments, and all types of life happenings has exploded. Amidst all the tweets, snapchats, and instagrams, though, it’s good to remember that the best way to spend time with friends is in person, making memories that will last forever.

Nerdy Birdy Tweets

Written by Aaron Reynolds | Illustrated by Matt Davies

 

Nerdy Birdy and Vulture are best friends even if they are a little…well, a lot…different. While Nerdy Birdy’s favorite thing to do is play video games, Vulture spends her time “snacking on dead things.” There are three things, though, that they have fun doing together. They love to “make fun of each other’s lunch, make silly faces, and take goofy pictures of each other.”

One day while Nerdy Birdy was on his phone, he found a new game called Tweetster. The game was fantastic because you could make lots of friends, play games with them, and “tweet messages and pictures for them all to see.” Vulture thought it all sounded pretty boring even though she tried to sound supportive. In an hour Nerdy Birdy already had fifty new friends. Over the next few days he gained hundreds of other friends and discovered that some of them were really neat—like a flamingo, an ostrich he played games with, and a puffin from Iceland.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nerdy-birdy-tweets-Nerdy-Birdy-and-Vulture

Image copyright Matt Davies, 2017, text copyright Aaron Reynolds, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Vulture tried to remind Nerdy Birdy that she was pretty cool herself and that she was “dying of boredom.” Nerdy Birdy took note—but only partially because he was too busy looking at all the new stuff on his phone. Eventually, Vulture gave up trying to lure Nerdy Birdy back and flew away. It was nighttime before Nerdy Birdy even noticed. The next day Vulture was back with a surprise: she was now on Tweetster too.

“They tweetstered—TOGETHER!—all morning.” Then at lunch they stopped playing and had fun like they used to. But after lunch when they went back to tweetstering, Vulture discovered a shocking picture. Nerdy Birdy had tweeted a pic of Vulture eating an old chicken leg with the caption from @NerdyBirdy that read: “@Vulturegirl is a messy eater. She eats dead things. EWWWWWWW!!” When Vulture showed him her phone, though, Nerdy Birdy was nonchalant. He thought it was funny, that’s all. But Vulture was embarrassed and upset that Nerdy Birdy hadn’t thought about her feelings.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nerdy-birdy-tweets-Tweetster

Image copyright Matt Davies, 2017, text copyright Aaron Reynolds, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Vulture flew off, and this time she hadn’t return even after a week had passed. Nerdy Birdy didn’t know what to do. He decided to ask all of his new friends for advice. He waited and waited, but no one tweeted back. It took a whole day before anyone answered, and even then he got only three responses. @Puffinstuff wondered what Nerdy Birdy expected him to do about it since he lived in Iceland; @Ostrich49 thought the situation was pretty funny and offered an LOL; and @Pinkflamingo7 suggested Nerdy Birdy was a bird brain.

While these replies were unhelpful in solving Nerdy Birdy’s problem, they were “super-duper helpful” in another way. Nerdy Birdy closed his game and took off. He flew everywhere looking for Vulture and finally found her in an oak tree. He landed on a nearby branch and began to apologize. Vulture listened and then asked, “‘What about your five hundred Tweetster friends?’ Nerdy Birdy shrugged. ‘One real live you is worth a thousand Tweetster friends,’” he said. So now Nerdy Birdy and Vulture are back to being best friends. Some days they do what Nerdy Birdy wants, and some days they do what Vulture wants. “And some days they even get together…and Tweet!” at the top of their lungs.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nerdy-birdy-tweets-embarrassing-picture

Image copyright Matt Davies, 2017, text copyright Aaron Reynolds, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Aaron Reynolds’ sweet Nerdy Birdy is back and just trying to fit in with the Internet crowd on Tweetster. There’s so much fun and so many friends to be had! But when Nerdy Birdy gets caught up in the impersonal world where someone’s joke is another one’s hurt, he learns the true meaning of friendship. Reynolds’ relationship and dialogue between two opposites who happen to be best friends rings true as Vulture finds her friend drifting away but tries to stay supportive and even join in. Reynold’s humor highlights Nerdy Birdy’s obliviousness to Vulture’s feelings, allowing readers to understand that their actions sometimes have far-reaching consequences. The two birds’ agreement to compromise is a wonderful example of true friendship, and children will cheer when Vulture and Nerdy Birdy go back to being besties.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nerdy-birdy-tweets-apology

Image copyright Matt Davies, 2017, text copyright Aaron Reynolds, 2017. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Matt Davies’ dry wit is on full display from the cover—where Nerdy Birdy’s phone has a persona of its own—through to the end where the body of a dead raccoon is discreetly covered up by a text box. In between, Davies’ squiggly lines and crosshatch style draw two of the cutest birds you’ll ever see. While Vulture may be a scavenger, she likes to eat her meals from a Hello Birdy lunchbox, and Nerdy Birdy’s oversized glasses reflect his owlish capacity for wisdom.

When Nerdy Birdy hides behind his phone as he plays game after game with his new friends, the camera and banana logo on the back are transformed into a mask that hints at the changes Nerdy Birdy is undergoing. As Nerdy Birdy collects friends, the pages become wallpapered in more and more Tweetster friend notification announcements to show his growing number of followers. Readers will giggle at the dead snacks here and there and recognize all the references to texting and game playing that make this story a modern cautionary tale.

Nerdy Birdy Tweets is a timely friendship story that entertains while it enlightens, which makes it a book kids will Like on their home bookshelves and in their classrooms.

Ages 4 – 8

Roaring Brook Press, 2017 | ISBN 978-1626721289

Discover more about Aaron Reynolds and his books on his website

To learn more about Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Matt Davies and his work, visit his website.

You’ll find a fun Nerdy Birdy Tweets Activity Package from Macmillan Publishers here.

National Social Media Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-internet word-based-word-search--puzzle

Trendy Trending Word Search Puzzle

 

The Internet has added many new words to our language as well as redefining old ones. Search for twenty-two Internet-based words in this printable Trendy Trending Word Search Puzzle. Here’s the Solution!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-nerdy-birdy-tweets-cover

You can find Nerdy Birdy Tweets at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

June 29 – It’s Adopt a Cat Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-vincent-comes-home-cover

About the Holiday

Adopt a Cat Month is all about bringing a kitten or older cat into your home to provide love and a forever family for these sweet animals who make terrific companions. If you’re considering sharing your life with a pet, check with your local animal shelter. There are many cats and kittens who would make the perfect addition to your family.

Vincent Comes Home

By Jessixa Bagley and Aaron Bagley

 

“Vincent lived on a cargo ship. His paws had never touched land.” He liked living onboard the ship—there was plenty of fish to eat, seagulls to chase, and freedom to roam. At night he loved to gaze at the twinkling stars. His home, the Domus sailed to ports all over the world picking up and delivering goods. The ship was “always coming and going. Never staying.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-vincent-comes-home-cargo-ship

Copyright Jessixa Bagley and Aaron Bagley, 2018. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Although Vincent loved seeing all of the new and exciting places, he could only experience them from afar. He also enjoyed looking at all of the souvenirs in the captain’s cabin. “They seemed to have visited every place imaginable. Every place except one.” Vincent heard the crew talking about a place called Home. It sounded amazing, and the little cat wanted to go there some day.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-vincent-comes-home-cargo-galley

Copyright Jessixa Bagley and Aaron Bagley, 2018. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

When the ship docked the next day, “Vincent heard the first mate shout, ‘We’re HOME!!!’” Vincent couldn’t wait to see this exciting place. When he looked over the ship’s rail, though, this city looked like many others. He couldn’t see why it was so special. Vincent decided to follow one of the crew to find out. As soon as the “crewman opened the door, a bunch of people yelled ‘WELCOME HOME!’” Everyone inside hugged and kissed the crewman.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-vincent-comes-home-cargo-crewman's-home

Copyright Jessixa Bagley and Aaron Bagley, 2018. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Vincent looked in other windows and saw the same things there. He decided that Home wasn’t really a place but where the people who loved you lived. “I guess I don’t have a Home,” he thought. He wandered around town and gazed at the familiar stars. Just then he heard a voice he knew. It was the captain. “‘I’ve been looking all over for you!’” he said. He picked Vincent up and scratched his chin and belly. “‘Let’s go home,’” he told Vincent.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-vincent-comes-home-cargo-captain-finds-vincent

Copyright Jessixa Bagley and Aaron Bagley, 2018. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Jessixa and Aaron Bagley’s endearing story about the meaning of Home will charm young readers who are beginning to navigate their own way in the world, leaving home for school and activities. Their lyrical storytelling offers tender comfort and heartwarming reassurance that Home is rich with those who love you and is always there waiting for your return. 

Beautiful watercolors bring to life the unique cargo ship setting, with its vibrant containers and world port-to-port schedule as well as the homey galley, staterooms, and common areas that make Domus a well-chosen name. Seen from afar, the European city, tropical island, and arctic vista—as well as the captain’s cabin filled with posters and souvenirs from the Domus’s trips—will entice young readers to do a bit of armchair traveling themselves. But, like Vincent, they will embrace their own home as the most wonderful place in the world.

A thoughtful book for children just entering school or other new situations or to share the warmth of home, Vincent Comes Home would be a welcome addition to personal or classroom libraries.

Ages 4 – 7

Roaring Brook Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1626727809

Discover more about Jessixa Bagley, her books, and her art on her website.

To learn more about Aaron Bagley, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Adopt a Cat Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-wooden-bead-cat-craft

A Little Ball of Love Craft

 

This sweet little kitten is easy to make and can keep you company on your desk or shelf! Since every kitten is different, you can make yours to look just the way you want. Here’s how I made mine:

Supplies

  • Wooden ball with a flat bottom, available in craft stores and in different sizes
  • Craft paint in any color kitten you’d like (I used red and yellow and mixed it to make a mottled orange)
  • Craft paint in pink or white for the inner ear
  • Scrap of fleece for the ears. Fleece is easily shaped to the rounded ball and when painted is stiff enough to stand up on its own.
  • Thin, colored wire in several colors for the tail (string or twine, wrapped wire, fleece, stiff paper, and other materials could also be used)
  • Paint brush
  • Permanent marker for making the face
  • Hot glue gun or strong glue

Directions

  1. Paint the wooden ball and let dry
  2. Paint the scrap of fleece to match the wooden ball, let dry
  3. Cut out small triangular shapes for the ears. Round the bottom of the ears slightly so they fit the shape of the ball
  4. If making a tail from several colors of thin wire, twist them together, leaving one end untwisted
  5. With the glue gun or strong glue attach the ears to the top of the head
  6. With the glue gun attach the tail to the back of the wooden ball in the center near the base
  7. With the marker, draw eyes, nose, and mouth for the face and semicircles near the bottom for the paws

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-vincent-comes-home-cover

You can find Vincent Comes Home at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review