August 14 – It’s Family Fun Month

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About the Holiday

So, summer vacation is winding down, but there’s still lots of time to enjoy Family Fun Month. Whether you plan a quick trip to a new destination or organize a fun stay-cation, spending time with family is what’s important. Of course, no matter if you’re away or at home don’t forget the books!

Orchard Books sent me a copy of Jack B. Ninja to check out. All opinions are my own. I’m excited to be partnering with Orchard Books in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

Jack B. Ninja

Written by Tim McCanna | Illustrated by Stephen Savage

 

We’ve all heard of nimble Jack who can jump over a candlestick, but Jack B. Ninja? Well, he’s hopping over a bamboo stick? Why? Well… “Secret mission starts tonight. / Hide in shadow, out of sight.” He creeps along high up on the roof and waits until the guards are gone. Then he dives into the garden pond, where he spies a tunnel that leads him to a bandit cave.

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Image copyright Stephen Savage, 2018, text copyright Tim McCanna, 2018. Courtesy of Orchard Books.

He “tiptoes, searching through the dark. / Makes no sound and leaves no mark.” What does he find? A treasure chest! But in his hurry to get away he doesn’t see the trip wire that “springs a trap.” How will Jack evade “the bandit crew? / Grappling hook and rope will do.” He secures his hook on the wall then—one, two, three—on each bandits’ head Jack leaps to grab ahold and escape.

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Image copyright Stephen Savage, 2018, text copyright Tim McCanna, 2018. Courtesy of Orchard Books.

He shimmies up the rope with the treasure on his back and delivers it to the Ninja Master, who thinks he “could have been a little faster.” Still, the Master thinks his son did well, but when Jack looks around, he sees the bandits ready to fight. But that’s not what they have in mind. In fact, beneath their dark disguise, Jack finds his family with a surprise.

Out of the treasure chest comes a cake. It’s time to light the candles and blow them out. “Jack B. Ninja flips and kicks. / Cartwheels over the candlesticks.” In no time at all the cake is gone, and the Ninja birthday fun is done.

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Image copyright Stephen Savage, 2018, text copyright Tim McCanna, 2018. Courtesy of Orchard Books.

Young Ninja fans will jump at this take on the traditional nursery rhyme. As Jack’s family creates a very special birthday treat for their Ninja lover, readers will enjoy the twists and turns leading up to cake time. Tim McCanna’s sprightly rhythm is a joy to read aloud and offers plenty of opportunity for dramatic reading. The idea of a special, personalized event as a present to celebrate a birthday is the kind of family fun that makes memories and closer bonds.

Stephen Savage’s deep, saturated purples, blues, reds, and greens set off the shadowy Ninja figures to perfect, kid-pleasing effect as Jack follows the clues to the treasure chest and delivers it to his Ninja Master. Little Jack’s eyes express cunning, surprise, and happiness as he goes through his paces and finally holds out his arms to receive birthday hugs.

A sweet gift for Ninja-loving and adventurous kids, Jack B. Ninja would be a welcome addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 3 – 5

Orchard Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-0545917285

Discover more about Tim McCanna and his books on his website.

To learn more about Stephen Savage, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Jack B. Ninja Giveaway

I’m thrilled to be partnering with Orchard Books to offer a giveaway of:

  • One (1) copy of Jack B. Ninja, written by Tim McCanna | illustrated by Stephen Savage

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet one of my giveaway tweets during this week, August 14 – 20. 

A winner will be chosen on August 21.

Giveaways open to US addresses only | Prizing provided by Orchard Books

Back to School Month Activity

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Stealthy Ninja Maze

One little Ninja has gotten separated from her group. Can you help her find her way back in this printable maze?

Stealthy Ninja Maze | Stealthy Ninja Maze Solution

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You can find Jack B. Ninja at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

August 11 – Play in the Sand Day

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About the Holiday

Is there any better way to spend a summer day than playing on a sandy beach? That wet, compact surface is perfect for running on, digging in, and of course building sandcastles with. And the soft, dry areas? Their great for setting up chairs or blankets and wiggling toes in. Whether you head out to the ocean, a lake, or even a secluded river bank, don’t forget to pack a pail and shovel for some family fun!

How to Code a Sandcastle

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Sara Palacios

 

It’s the last day of Pearl’s summer vacation, and she’s hit the beach with her parents. Her goal is to build a sandcastle. It’s not like she hasn’t tried on other beach days, but there was always something that destroyed it. There was the frisbee that landed on top of it, then a surfer glided right into it, and another girl’s dog, Ada Puglace, thought it needed a moat. But today, Pearl brought her robot, Pascal, to build her sandcastle.

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Image copyright Sara Palacios, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

As Pearl explains, “He’ll do whatever I tell him—as long as I tell him in code. It’s not a secret code—it’s special instructions that computers understand.” Pearl points out the perfect spot on the beach for her sandcastle and tells Pascal to build it. But Pascal doesn’t move. Pearl realizes that she must break down the one big request into smaller problems for Pascal to solve. Easy-Peasy, Pearl thinks.

The first problem Pearl gives Pascal is: “find a place to build.” First Pascal travels out to sea, but Pearl tells him they must build on land. So Pascal rolls out into the parking lot. Hmmm…that’s not right either. Pearl decides she must be “very specific with my instructions.” When she tells Pascal to “find a flat spot on sand that isn’t too close to the water,” he marks an X on a perfect sandy spot. Great!

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Image copyright Sara Palacios, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

The second problem Pearl gives Pascal is to “gather up sand.” She’s learned to be very particular in her instructions, so she gives her robot a three-step process: “Fill the pail with sand, dump the sand on our spot, pat the sand down.” This works just right, so Pearl continues telling Pascal the directions, until she grows tired of speaking.

There must be a better way, Pearl thinks. How about a loop? Pearl directs Pascal to “loop through this sequence,” and just like that Pascal is off and rolling and Pearl gets to relax. A while later, Pearl discovers that Pascal had built a pyramid-high pile of sand, so Pearl tells him to stop. Next, they will “shape and decorate the castle.” Pearl comes back with pretty seashells to add to the castle, while Pascal brings back the lifeguard—in his chair. Pearl orders Pascal to bring back something smaller. When he comes back with a crab, she tells him it must be something that doesn’t move, and when he shows up with a baby’s pacifier, Pearl knows she must do a better job of explaining.

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Image copyright Sara Palacios, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

She decides to give him “if—then—else” instructions. With these detailed directions, Pascal returns with a shell and some seaweed. Finally, it’s time to shape the castle. They use their buckets and hands to build a beautiful castle that even has a turret. The shells, rocks, and seaweed are the perfect finishing touches. With the castle finally finished, Pearl runs off to get her toys.

But when she gets back, Pearl discovers that the rising tide has washed their sandcastle out to sea. And to make matters worse, Ada Puglace is back to add another moat. Hmmm… a moat? Pearl thinks. That’s what she needed the first time. Pearl really wants to rebuild, but it took her half a day to make the first one. Then she realizes that the code is already written. All she has to do is use it again. In no time a new sandcastle stands gleaming on the beach.

There’s just one more problem to solve. Quickly, Pearl gives Pascal a new looped sequence to dig the moat. Now it’s time to play—or “code an entire kingdom!”

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Image copyright Sara Palacios, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

A Foreward written by Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, introduces readers to this organization that is “working to close the gender gap in technology” and get girls of all ages excited about coding and future opportunities in science and technology. 

Pearl and Pascal’s Guide to Coding with brief discussions of Code, Sequence, Loops, and If-Then-Else follows the text.

With his infectious enthusiasm and talent to reach kids in new and innovative ways, Josh Funk, a computer programmer by day and super writer by night, is a perfect guide to the joys of coding for young learners. Taking kids out to the beach for a bit of sandcastle building—an endeavor that is often fraught with dangers—is a terrific way to show the procedures and power of coding. Pearl’s initial missteps in programming Pascal provide laugh-out-loud moments while also demonstrating that computer programs work with precise instructions. Her inexperience but quick learning will give readers confidence in their own abilities to code and where to look for problems if their program does not run as smoothly as they’d like. When high tide washes Pearl and Pascal’s sandcastle out to sea, readers may groan in empathy, but the opportunity to do it all again—only bigger and better—will make them cheer.

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Image copyright Sara Palacios, 2018, text copyright Josh Funk, 2018. Courtesy of Viking Books for Young Readers.

Sara Palacios’s golden beach is a wide-open and inviting platform to introduce the world of computer programming to young readers. Sunny and enthusiastic, Pearl, in her heart-shaped sunglasses, is persistent and smart in figuring out just how to make Pascal do what she wants. Pascal is a round, rolling cutie, perpetually happy to perform its duties. Series of panels and speech bubbles depict each instruction Pearl gives Pascal, clearly showing readers how coding and a computer’s response to its instructions work. Sequence loops are cleverly portrayed with typeface that creates a circle around Pearl’s floating ring and later around the trench that will surround the castle and become the moat. The final image of Pearl and Pascal celebrating their successful day together is powerful encouragement that a new day of girls and women in technology and science is on the horizon.

Coding a Sandcastle is a motivating combination of lighthearted fun and accessible education that will encourage girls—and boys—to get involved with computer coding just for their own enjoyment or as a future profession. It’s a must for school media and computer class libraries, and with this book on home bookshelves, kids won’t want to just play on the computer—they’ll be asking to program too.

Ages 4 – 8

Viking Books for Young Readers, 2018 | ISBN 978-0425291986

Discover more about Josh Funk and his books and find lots of fun activities to do too on his website.

To learn more about Sara Palacios, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Play in the Sand Day Activity

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Personalized Painted Pail

 

A trip to the beach or park isn’t complete without a pail to collect shells, seaweed, sea glass, pebbles, sticks, nuts, or other things in. But why should all the cool stuff be on the inside? With this craft you can decorate your pail to show your unique personality!

Supplies

  • Plastic or metal pail
  • Craft paint in various colors
  • Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating, for multi-surface use
  • Paint brush

Directions

  1. Paint designs on the pail
  2. When paint is dry spray with acrylic coating to set paint
  3. Let dry

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You can find How to Code a Sandcastle at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

August 10 – National Eye Exam Month

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About the Holiday

Founded in 1989 by Sears Optical, National Eye Exam Month encourages people to think about their eye health. As kids get ready to go back to school, an eye exam is an important thing to add to the list of preparations. Seeing clearly is crucial to success in class and extracurricular activities. If you and your children have not had an eye exam this year, consider calling your ophthalmologist this month.

Douglas, You Need Glasses!

By Ged Adamson

 

Something may be amiss with Douglas. When Nancy and her playful pooch go out to chase squirrels, Douglas takes after a falling leaf while the squirrel escapes up a tree. It’s not the first time this has happened, either. You see, Douglas is a bit nearsighted. Sometimes he mistakes the stair post for Nancy, and his difficulty gets in the way of things (well, mostly Douglas gets in the way of things).

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Image and text copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

He also misses important signs—like the one that would have prevented him from tracking wet cement all over the skate park, where there are NO DOGS allowed—and he’s always causing something of a ruckus. Sometimes he even enters the wrong house! But when a game of fetch nearly creates a buuzzzz of disaster, Nancy decides something must be done.

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Image and text copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

She takes Douglas to the eye doctor where he reads a most dog-friendly eye chart and discovers that he needs glasses. He peruses the shelves of Dog Glasses and puts some on. Each one makes him feel different. In one pair he’s a rock star; in another a scholar; and in yet another a hippy. He tries them all until he finds the perfect pair!

On the way home he sees the world in a whole new way. “‘Wow! Everything looks amazing!’” Douglas says. And it is!

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Image and text copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

Ged Adamson’s funny look at a dog with an all-too-human malady will make kids laugh from the first page to the last. Earnest Douglas, going about his doggy days under a bit of a skewed perspective, is so endearing that readers will immediately take him to heart even as they giggle at his exploits.

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Image and text copyright Ged Adamson, courtesy of Schwartz & Wade.

Adamson’s vibrant multi-hued trees, colorfully clothed kids, and vivid backgrounds with stylish, sketched-in details give the book a fresh, jaunty appeal for a lively, fun story time. Kids facing the prospect of wearing glasses will also find much to give them reassurance and confidence in this book. Douglas, You Need Glasses! is a great addition to any child’s bookshelf!

Ages 3 – 8

Schwartz & Wade, Random House Kids, 2016 | ISBN 978-0553522433

Visit Ged Adamson’s Website to learn more about him and his books!

National Eye Exam Month Activity

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Spool Puppy

 

No matter where you go and whether you have a real dog or not, you can take this little guy along with you. And just as you would pick out your favorite from an animal shelter, you can make this puppy look any way you’d like!

Supplies

  • Printable Ears and Nose Template
  • 2-inch round wooden spool, available at craft stores
  • 1 skein of yarn in the color you choose. Yardage needed will depend on the thickness of the yarn.
  • Felt
  • Thin gauge wire
  • Craft paint
  • Paint brush
  • Fabric or strong glue
  • Dowel or pencil to wrap wire around to make glasses

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Directions

  1. Paint the dowel the color you want your dog to be, let dry
  2. Trace the ears on the felt and cut out (or draw your own ears)
  3. Trace the nose on the felt and cut out
  4. When the spool is dry glue the ears to the body of the spool, allowing the ears to stick up from the top of the spool
  5. Wind the yarn around the spool back and forth until the dog’s body is the size you’d like
  6. Glue the yarn in place with fabric or strong glue

To make the face

  1. Glue the nose over the hole on one end of the spool
  2. Draw the mouth and tongue under the nose with a marker
  3. You will draw the eyes on after the glasses are in place

To make the glasses

  1. Wind the wire around a ½-inch dowel, thick pencil, or rounded handle to make two circles.
  2. Leave about two inches on either side of the circles for the ear pieces of the glasses.
  3. Adjust the size of the circles to fit the spool as glasses.
  4. Put the glasses on the face of the spool, tucking the ear pieces into the yarn on each side
  5. Draw eyes in the center of the glasses

To make the tail

  1. Cut a small square of felt and stuff the edges into the hole on the other end of the spool
  2. You can make the tail as long as you like

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You can find Douglas, You Need Glasses! at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

Picture Book Review

August 9 – It’s National Sandwich Month

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About the Holiday

Did you know there are regulations to determine just what is and is not a sandwich? I didn’t either! It seems that the US Department of Agriculture has determined that for a… thing… to be considered a sandwich, it must contain at least 35% cooked meat and no more than 50% bread. So what about peanut butter? Or grilled cheese? Have we been playing fast and loose with the word “sandwich?” Oh well…. This month is dedicated to those delicious meals between bread that kids and adults take to school and the office, to picnics, and for quick noshes any time. To celebrate, there’s only one thing to do: build yourself the perfect sandwich—just like the little girl in today’s book!

Sleeping Bear Press sent me a copy of Hannah’s Tall Order: An A to Z Sandwich to check out. All opinions are my own. I’m also excited to be partnering with Sleeping Bear Press in a giveaway of one copy of the book. See details below.

Hannah’s Tall Order: An A to Z Sandwich

Written by Linda Vander Heyden | Illustrated by Kayla Harren

 

“When Hannah was hungry and wanted to munch, / She’d stop at McDougal’s to order some lunch. / Now Hannah was tiny (in fact, quite petite), / But don’t let that fool you. Oh boy—could she eat!” When McDougal saw Hannah come through the door and order an “A to Z sandwich,” he wondered. And then, as Hannah recited the ingredients for her sandwich, he started to chop, mince, peel, and grate.

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Image copyright Kalya Harren, 2018, text copyright Linda Vander Heyden, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

The first six ingredients were prepared and laid on the bread, then Hannah inspected it closely. “‘Green peppers,’ said Hannah. ‘Sliced thin, if you please. / And drizzle on lots of sweet honey from bees. / “‘Add ice cream and jelly—then ketchup (two plops), / A freshly squeezed lemon—just ten tiny drops.’” The sandwich grew taller and wider as Hannah looked around McDougal’s for more ingredients. She wanted a dollop of this, and “lots of nuts, too,” but she wasn’t too hungry, so she told him “one olive will do.”

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Image copyright Kalya Harren, 2018, text copyright Linda Vander Heyden, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

She directed more layers be added on top that included “‘a ride red tomato picked fresh off the vine. / And ugli fruit chopped up especially fine.’” Poor McDougal was working up such a sweat that he ended up with food in his hair. Was it done? the chef wondered, but Hannah wanted more. Just three little more additions for X, Y, and Z. Could McDougal do it? Could he finish that treat and give Hannah a sandwich she’d love to sit down and eat? You’ll see!

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Image copyright Kalya Harren, 2018, text copyright Linda Vander Heyden, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Linda Vander Heyden’s hilarious tribute to the sandwich—and the alphabet—will delight kids who love to experiment with food, kids who will eat anything, and even kids who are a little more discriminating in their diet choices. Heyden’s bouncy rhyme is a joy to read aloud, and kids will giggle and laugh out loud as each of the 26 ingredients are added to the towering sandwich. The combination of ingredients will produce plenty of fun “ewwws” as well as cheers as favorite foods are mentioned. A few foods that fill out the alphabetic order and are perhaps unfamiliar to readers will have kids doing a little research. The surprise ending will have kids and adults laughing, and you can bet that post-reading activities will include building a unique sandwich of their own.

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Kayla Harren’s red-haired, freckled Hannah is a mischievous cutie who knows exactly what she likes. As Hannah points out ingredients on the chef’s well-stocked shelves or “helps out” in the kitchen, McDougal’s skills are put to the test as he chops, minces, and grates with intensity surrounded by flying ingredients. As he adds just the perfect dollops of condiments to his masterpiece or gingerly places one olive on the slippery slope the sandwich has become, his eyes grow wide. Taking center stage, of course, is Hannah’s sandwich—an abstract work of art of various colors and textures. Watching this most unusual order come together is a full house of diverse customers, including a girl in a wheelchair. Various perspectives, the use of motion, and the exaggerated-but-spot-on facial expressions add to the exuberant fun.

Hannah’s Tall Order: An A to Z Sandwich will be happily devoured by young readers. The book makes a terrific addition to home and classroom bookshelves and would be a rib-tickling back-to-school gift for kids or teachers.

Ages 5 – 8

Sleeping Bear Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1585363827

Discover more about Linda Vander Heyden and her books on her website.

To learn more about Kayla Harren, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Hannah’s Tall Order: An A to Z Sandwich Giveaway

I’m thrilled to partner with Sleeping Bear Press in this giveaway of:

  • One (1) copy of Hannah’s Tall Order: An A to Z Sandwich written by Linda Vander Heyden | illustrated by Kayla Harren

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet a giveaway tweet during this week, August 9 – 17. Already a follower? Thanks! Just retweet for a chance to win.

A winner will be chosen on August 18.

Giveaways open to US addresses only. | Prizing provided by Sleeping Bear Press.

National Sandwich Month Activity

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Scrumptious Sandwiches Word Scramble 

 

Sandwiches are fun to build and delicious to eat! The only hard part is trying to figure out which kind to have. Maybe this list will help! Print this Scrumptious Sandwiches Puzzle and unscramble the names to pick your favorite. Here’s the Solution!

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You can find Hannah’s Tall Order: An A to Z Sandwich at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

August 3 – It’s National Back to School Month

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About the Holiday

It may seem like summer vacation just began, but it’s already time to start thinking about the new school year. The stores are stocked with clothes, supplies, and plenty of gear to make the new school year the best ever. But the stuff of going to school is just part of getting ready. Kids are looking forward—eagerly or maybe with a little trepidation—to meeting new friends, having new teachers, and exploring new subjects and ideas. Making the transition to a different grade easier and exciting is what National Back to School Month is all about.

Simon & Schuster sent me a copy of Idea Jar to check out. All opinions are my own. I’m also thrilled to be partnering with Simon & Schuster in a giveaway of a copy of Idea Jar. See details below.

Idea Jar

Written by Adam Lehrhaupt | Illustrated by Deb Pilutti

 

On the teacher’s desk sits an Idea Jar that holds her student’s story ideas. The teacher “says a story can be about anything” the kids want it to be. Like maybe “a space robot” or a “horseless cowgirl” or, yes, even that Viking who is trying to hoist himself over the edge of the jar to freedom. See, “there’s no such thing as a bad story idea,” and there are so many ways to tell your story.

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Image copyright Deb Pilutti, 2018, text copyright Adam Lehrhaupt, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

You can even combine your own ideas or make up a story with a friend. And maybe even that Viking in the back of your mind would make a good character too. He certainly thinks so. His motto is “Everything is better with a Viking”—even a giant badger who has lost her pink dress.

There is one thing about the Idea Jar, though. “It’s important to create stories for your ideas, or else your ideas get rowdy.” Just look at that Viking, who’s poking…at…the…jar! “Oh no! The ideas!”  They’re all loose! Now the robot is shooting his laser eyes and the dragon is swishing its enormous tail and the ideas are running amok!

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Image copyright Deb Pilutti, 2018, text copyright Adam Lehrhaupt, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

“These ideas need a story. Will you help?” Great! Should we? Should we start with the Viking? What if he gets into a battle with the space robot? Then gets rescued by the dragon? Who’s ridden by the horseless cowgirl! What? You’d like to change some ideas around? Go for it! This is your story, after all! “Wow! You were awesome!” You made all of those story ideas very, very happy. But it’s time that they went back in the jar to meet some other ideas for next time.

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Image copyright Deb Pilutti, 2018, text copyright Adam Lehrhaupt, 2018. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

As the award-winning author of Warning: Do Not Open this Book, Please Open this Book, This is a Good Story, and many others, Adam Lehrhaupt knows a thing or two—or three—about corralling ideas into a story. By appealing directly to students and any story creator, the narrator of the madcap Idea Jar will excite kids to pay attention to the ideas rattling around and flashing through their minds and inspire them to write, draw, or tell their own stories. The persistent Viking, who gives story suggestions throughout the book and nudges the story along, will delight kids and can serve two purposes for teachers or other writing coaches.

With his infectious enthusiasm, the Viking is that great idea that knocks at your consciousness until it is used. His whispered recommendations may also remind writers and artists of that little self-editor who so often can keep great ideas from running free. Learning to manage both of these is what great storytelling is all about. As the Viking sails into the classroom portrayed in the book, kids will jump at the chance to turn on their imaginations and give him—and their own characters—a story full of suspense, humor, and unexpected twists and turns.

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Image copyright Deb Pilutti, courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

As a space robot rockets from the Idea Jar, a horseless cowgirl lifts herself over the edge, and a big, scaly arm reaches from within to pull out the words “dragon” and “giant,” kids will be instantly invested in these characters without a story…yet. Deb Pilutti’s vibrant and dynamic illustrations show the creative process in action, whether a child’s talent lies in writing, drawing, or even reciting ideas aloud. The crafty Viking makes a frequent appearance—just like any good idea does—to prod the ideas in the jar (including the horseless cowgirl, the space robot, and the dragon as well as a pirate, a unicorn, a giraffe, a monster, and various animals) to unleash their inventive power. As the story comes together, the students and teacher cheer as they see their creation come to life. 

Kids will love answering the call to create a story and interacting with the ideas in Idea Jar. Idea Jar is infused with the natural spontaneity and inventiveness of children’s imaginations, making it a winner for jump-starting writing or art lessons in classrooms and inspiring creativity at home for kids and adults.

Ages 4 – 8 (and up)

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1481451666

Discover more about Adam Lehrhaupt and his books on his website.

To learn more about Deb Pilutti, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Meet Deb Pilutti

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Today I’m excited to talk with author/illustrator Deb Pilutti about her new book Idea Jar with Adam Lehrhaupt, her branding work inspired by vintage signs, and the old Creepy Crawlies Thingmaker, a toy which I was surprised and delighted to discover we both loved as children.

Readers will love the way the characters interact with each other and with the kids writing and drawing stories in Idea Jar. Can you describe your journey from when you first received Adam Lehrhaupt’s manuscript for Idea Jar to the finished book?

I am a fan of Adam’s Warning: Do Not Open this Book! so I was quite excited when Paula Wiseman at Simon & Schuster asked me if I would like to illustrate IDEA JAR. Who wouldn’t want to illustrate a book with a Space Robot, a Viking, a cowgirl and a Dragon as the main characters? Adam left a lot of room for me to play. He did not specify what the other ideas in the jar would be, only the characters he had written into the text. It was fun to develop additional characters and their relationships and mini-side stories, like the developing friendship between the Yeti and the small dog, and the mouse driving a race car.

Kids’ imaginations are always so full of possibilities, and they can make such funny and amazing leaps of character and plot. What are some steps you’d give young writers and illustrators for capturing those snatches of imagination and developing an idea into their own story?

Keep a journal. I have several that I write or doodle in. If there is something I find interesting, like an idea or a character, I go back to it and try to work out a story. I start by asking questions of the character or situation. What would happen if… type of questions.

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Your branding work for Sea World, Warner Brothers, artists, food trucks, and more are infused with such a fun vintage vibe. Do you have a favorite decade to draw design ideas from, and why?

I absolutely love vintage signage and type from the 50s and 60s. Some of it is so campy while others can be evocative or elegant. The colors used were bold and saturated.

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Before you began illustrating and writing for children, you designed toys, and in your recent release The Secrets of Ninja School, the main character makes dragon stuffies for all of her classmates. Why do you think playing with traditional toys is so important for children? What was your favorite toy when you were a child?

Mostly because it’s fun. I also think it’s a way to navigate the world, but that isn’t something I thought about as a child. When I was young, I loved making Creepy Crawlers, which was an incredibly dangerous toy at that time. You pored possibly toxic goop into a metal mold and cooked it in a blisteringly hot ThingmakerTM oven, which resulted in many scorched fingers. But totally worth it, because once the plate cooled, you would have an army of colorful and stretchy bugs.

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My cousin is a graphic designer and whenever I visited her as a child I loved seeing her special corner of the house. It was so full of color and knick-knacks (inspiration, really, I guess) and works in progress, that I developed a fascination with artists’ studios. Do you mind describing your work space a little? What is your favorite thing in it?

My studio is in a small bedroom. I have a long table with a computer and extra monitor set up on it, and I sometimes sketch here as well. A painting easel is in the corner of the room. It’s a very messy place, with papers everywhere and knick-knacks and toys and bits of shiny things on every surface. I like all of my toys, but my favorite one is a realistic toy model of a T-rex with a moveable jaw.

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What’s the best part of being a children’s illustrator and author?

I have always loved books. To be involved with the art of bookmaking is a wondrous thing. My favorite part of the process is making the final illustrations.

Do you have any anecdotes from a reading or event that you’d like to share?

I was visiting a school last April and had a blast creating stories with the students using an Idea Jar. We made some pretty silly stories together. One student came up with a zombie tomato for a character, which was brilliant!

What’s up next for you?

I’m currently working on final illustrations for two books. The first is Old Rock (is not boring). A story about a rock sounds like it could be boring, right? At least Old Rock’s friends think so. Old Rock reveals her own surprising story, slowly and languidly, as rocks do. I’m also illustrating a sequel to Ten Rules of Being a Superhero. It’s called Ten Steps to Flying Like a Superhero. I had so much fun with the characters from the first book that they are back for another adventure. Lava Boy’s superhero toy, Captain Magma, wants to fly more than anything. They devise a plan, which does not go as anticipated.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Summer Solstice. I live in Michigan, which is quite lovely, but the cold and dark of winter can get a bit old. I miss the light. Our summer nights are very long. On Summer Solstice, I try to stay outside until the last vestiges of daylight disappear at around 9:45.

Has a holiday ever influenced your work?

Yes, I illustrated The Twelve Days of Christmas in Michigan, illustrated by Susan Collins Thoms.

Thanks so much for chatting, Deb! I wish you all the best with Idea Jar and all of your books!

National Back to School Month Activities

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Make Your Own Idea Jar

 

If you have lots of ideas looking for a place to hang out, discover how to make your own Idea Jar and find some cool starter ideas from Adam Lehrhaupt! Make your own IDEA JAR!

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Dream up Story Ideas

 

Do your kids (or maybe you!) want to think up awesome story ideas? Check out Deb Pilutti’s 5 Methods of Generating Story Ideas

Idea Jar Giveaway

I’m thrilled to be partnering with Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books to offer a giveaway of:

  • One (1) copy of Idea Jar by Adam Lehrhaupt and Deb Pilutti

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet one of my giveaway tweets during this week, August 3 – 10. 

A winner will be chosen on August 11.

Giveaways open to US addresses only | Prizing provided by Simon & Schuster

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You can find Idea Jar at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

August 2 – It’s National Crayon Collection Month

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About the Holiday

Kids love going to restaurants that provide a fun placemat and crayons to color with while they wait. But what happens to those crayons when the meal is over? Most times they’re thrown in the trash with the napkins and straws and other items left behind. Wouldn’t it be great if those gently used crayons could go on to be used by other kids at schools that can’t afford such supplies? They can! Begun by Crayon Collection, National Crayon Collection Month encourages restaurants, hotels, and other organizations that provide free crayons to collect the ones left behind and donate them to under-serviced schools. As school arts programs are threatened with budget cuts, these important supplies can make a big difference in the lives of students. The ability of children to express their creativity is a crucial part of their education and growth.  You can get involved too! To learn how you can make an impact, visit CrayonCollection.org. Or look into donating crayons (and other supplies) to a school in your area.

The Day the Crayons Came Home

Written by Drew Daywalt | Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

 

One day, as Duncan and his crayons were creating something together, Duncan received a mysterious package of postcards. The first postcard Duncan read was from Maroon Crayon, who, it turned out had been marooned in the couch, broken in half when Duncan’s dad sat on him, and then “nursed back to health” by paperclip. Now ready to rejoin the pack, Maroon Crayon was asking to be rescued.

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Image copyright Oliver Jeffers, 2015, text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2015. Courtesy of Philomel Books.

The next postcard brought distressing news from Pea Green Crayon, who feeling unloved, had changed his name to Esteban the Magnificent and was “running away to see the world.” Neon Red Crayon was feeling similarly dismissed and was writing—with a bit of well-earned pique—from the side of the pool at the Ritz Motel. “REMEMBER that great vacation we had with your family? Remember how we laughed when we drew a picture of your dad’s sunburn? Remember dropping me by the hotel pool when you left? Clearly you do NOT, BECAUSE I’M STILL HERE!” Still, Neon Red Crayon was taking it upon herself to walk home.

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Image copyright Oliver Jeffers, 2015, text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2015. Courtesy of Philomel Books.

Yellow and Orange crayons wrote to let Duncan know they’ve put their argument “over which of us was the color of the sun” aside now that the sun has fused them together forever in the backyard. They don’t care what color the sun is anymore—they just want to come home. But perhaps “Tan (or possibly Burnt Sienna?) Crayon” has the saddest tale to tell. He’s had a hard time of it since being eaten by the dog and is now “more carpet fuzz than crayon.”

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Image copyright Oliver Jeffers, 2015, text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2015. Courtesy of Philomel Books.

Up from the basement comes a postcard from Glow in the Dark Crayon, who was abandoned there last Halloween after Duncan used him to draw scary stuff on the wall. He just wants to be brought into the light because he’s “kind of … terribly … horrified ….” Meanwhile, Esteban has reached the front door, seen that the world is rainy, and has decided to return.

A dryer mishap has left Turquoise Crayon with one of Duncan’s socks stuck to his head, one compelling question, and one big desire to be reunited with the other crayons. But it’s not just Duncan’s crayons who are begging to be brought back into the fold. Duncan’s baby brother’s “Chunky Toddler Crayon” wants to be saved from another week like the last one in which the little tyke had “bitten the top of my head, put me in the cat’s nose, drawn on the wall and tried to color GARBAGE with me!”

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Image copyright Oliver Jeffers, 2015, text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2015. Courtesy of Philomel Books.

Brown Crayon admits that he’s embarrassed by what Duncan used him for, but still wants to come back, and Neon Red Crayon has sent postcards from all over the world as she’s made her way back, at last sending a card picturing herself skiing in the Amazon Rain Forest. After reading all of these missives, Duncan felt bad and ran around the house collecting them. But where would he put them? They “were all so damaged and differently shaped than they used to be that they no longer fit in the crayon box.”

But why did the crayons have to fit the box? Duncan had a better idea. He built a box to fit the crayons—“a place where each crayon would always feel at home.”

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Image copyright Oliver Jeffers, 2015, text copyright Drew Daywalt, 2015. Courtesy of Philomel Books.

An instant classic, Drew Daywalt ‘s and Oliver Jeffers’ sequel to the equally loved The Day the Crayons Quit, The Day the Crayons Came Home is a laugh-out-loud look at life as a forgotten crayon. As given voice by Drew Daywalt, these crayons, with personality, attitude, and some legitimate gripes, make hilarious champions for any story time. Daywalt’s selection of colors and mishaps is inspired, and his recurring characters, Esteban and Neon Red Crayon, add just the right touch of silly cluelessness as they wax poetic.

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From the first glimpse of Maroon Crayon facing the indignity of being sat upon and emerging from the wreckage with a full beard, tattered paper, and paperclip bandage, kids will be hooked on the lives of these misplaced, misused crayons. Each crayon’s expression reveals the personality and predicament of these little heroes. Vintage postcards and crayon-drawn backdrops add to the distinctive look of this very original story in letters. A page of glow-in-the-dark drawings and text will have kids running for the nearest closet or dark corner to check it out, and the final reveal of the crayons’ new home will inspire readers to create one of their own.

A colorful, creative addition to any home or classroom library, The Day the Crayons Came Home (and its companion The Day the Crayons Quit) will be asked for again and again…and again.

Discover more about Drew Daywalt and his books on his website.

To learn more about Oliver Jeffers, his books, and his art, visit his website.

National Crayon Collection Month Activity

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Crayon Rainbow Art

 

With this cool project you can create an art piece that’s as colorful as a rainbow and as unique as you are! Adult help is needed for children.

Supplies

  • Box of 24 crayons
  • White foam board or thick poster board, 8 inches by 17 inches
  • A small piece of corrugated cardboard, about 5 inches by 5 inches (a piece of the foam board can also be used for this step)
  • A small piece of poster board, about 5 inches by 5 inches
  • Scissors
  • X-acto knife (optional)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Hair dryer
  • Old sheets or towels, newspapers, a large box, or a trifold display board

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CPB - Rainbow Crayon Art 1 (2)

Directions

  1. Remove the various red, orange, yellow, blue, indigo, and violet hued crayons from the box of crayons
  2. Strip the paper from the crayons by slicing the paper with the x-acto knife, or removing it by hand
  3. Line them up in order at the top of the white foam board
  4. Glue the crayons with their tips facing down to the board with the hot glue gun
  5. Cut an umbrella or other shape of your choice from the poster board
  6. Trace the umbrella or other shape onto the corrugated cardboard or a piece of the foam board and cut out
  7. Glue the poster board shape onto the corrugated cardboard, let dry
  8. Glue the umbrella or other shape to the foam board, about 4 ½ inches below the crayons
  9. Set up a space to melt the crayons. The wax will fly, so protect the floor and walls by placing the art piece in a large box or hanging newspapers, old sheets or towels on the walls and placing newspapers on the floor. A trifold display board and newspapers works well.
  10. Stand the art piece upright with the crayons at the top
  11. With the hot setting of the hair dryer, blow air at the crayons until they start to melt
  12. Move the hair dryer gently back and forth across the line of crayons from a distance of about 6 to 12 inches away. The closer you are to the crayons, the more they will splatter
  13. The crayons will begin to melt and drip downward
  14. You can experiment with aiming the hair dryer straight on or at an angle to mix colors
  15. Wax that drips onto the umbrella or other shape can be chipped off after it dries or wiped off to create a “watercolor” effect on the shape
  16. Once the hair dryer is turned off, the wax cools and dries quickly
  17. Hang or display your art!

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You can find The Day the Crayons Came Home at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

July 31 – National Avocado Day

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About the Holiday

A fresh delight during the summer and quickly becoming a staple of diets and skin care, the avocado is something of a super fruit. Used by the Aztecs as facial masks to beautify their skin, the avocado was rediscovered in the early 1900s by the cosmetics industry, who began using its oils in creams, lotions, and facial cleansers and continue to do so today. The avocado provides essential Omega-3 fatty acids—which researchers are using in the fight against Alzheimer’s—as well as vitamins E, C, and K that prevent damage to cells and help restore those that are damaged. Of course, avocados are also delicious—by themselves, as guacamole, or in recipes for dishes from breakfast to dessert. To celebrate today, enjoy avocados your favorite way—or try a new recipe!

Avocado Baby

By John Burningham

 

“Mr. and Mrs. Hargraves and their two children were not very strong.” They were about to add another child to the family, and they all hoped the baby would be not be a weakling too. But when the baby was born, he didn’t like any of the food he was fed, and Mrs. Hargraves cried at how scrawny he looked. Her older children suggested she try giving him the avocado in the fruit bowl. Even though Mrs. Hargraves didn’t know how the avocado had gotten there—they never even bought avocados—she cut it open, mashed it up, and fed it to the baby. He ate it all up!

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Copyright John Burningham, 2000, courtesy of Red Fox.

“From that day on an amazing thing happened. The baby became very strong.” Every day, Mrs. Hargrave fed the baby avocado. Soon, the baby could get free from the highchair, pull a cart full of children, and rip off the side of the crib. One night when a burglar entered the house, the baby heard him and jumped out of his crib. The baby chased the burglar with a broom. “The burglar was so frightened at being chased by a baby that he dropped his bag and ran out of the house.”

 

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Copyright John Burningham, 2000, courtesy of Red Fox.

The next morning Mr. Hargraves put a “Beware of the Baby” sign on the front gate to keep other burglars away. The baby was helpful in other ways too. He carried full bags of groceries, helped move the piano and other furniture, and even pushed the car when it broke down. One day when two bullies began bothering his brother and sister at the park, the baby jumped out of his stroller, “picked up the bullies, and threw them into the pond.”

You will be glad to know that the baby is still getting stronger every day, and, of course, he’s still eating plenty of avocados.

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Copyright John Burningham, 2000, courtesy of Red Fox.

With his wry humor John Burningham is a master at making children laugh. Avocado Baby is a delightfully silly quick read with plenty of kid appeal in the story’s pint-sized superbaby. The gentle nudge to eat healthy makes the book a fun way to introduce new foods to picky eaters. Burningham’s well-known line drawings of the woe-begone Mrs. Hargrave and the baby pushing the car, chasing the burglar, and especially tossing two bullies into the pond at once will have young readers giggling and cheering.

Ages 3 – 7

Red Fox, 2000 | ISBN 978-0099200611

Discover more about John Burningham and his books on his website.

National Avocado Day Activity

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Avocado Bagel

 

A creamy avocado makes a delicious spread for bagels or toast to have with breakfast, lunch, or dinner! The mild flavor will please little ones while the essential vitamins and oils will please health-conscious parents.

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper, or to taste

Directions

  1. Cut the avocado open, remove pit, and scoop out the meat
  2. In a bowl mash the avocado until it is smooth
  3. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper
  4. Mix well
  5. Spread on a toasted bagel or bread

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Check out this classic story at your local library or find it on Amazon

Picture Book Review