November 18 – It’s Family Stories Month

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About the Holiday

Children benefit so much from close relationships to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other extended family members. This month and next, as family gathers together for special holiday events, it’s fun for adults to share family history and their own funny or moving stories of growing up with the younger generation. Letting kids know how much they’re loved by everyone in the family is important too. It helps them develop a sense of belonging, a good self-image, and confidence. Reading together is a perfect way to spend time together and get conversations started.

Thanks to Amazon Crossing Kids and Barbara Fisch of Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy of My GrandMom for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

My GrandMom

By Gee-eun Lee | Translated by Sophie Bowman

Gee-eun’s Grandma sits on the floor, holding her sobbing granddaughter in her lap. Breakfast is on the table and toys are strewn about. A gray cat comes to see what’s going on. “‘Dear me, your mom will have to take a boat to work to get across all these tears,'” she says. Grandma, who Gee-eun calls Halmoni in Korean, distracts her by letting her help make kalguksu. She gives Gee-eun a bit of the noodle dough, and while Halmoni rolls out the dough and slices the noodles, Gee-eun fashions little figures of her, her mom, dad, grandma, and their cat, Mari. When it comes time to make the kalguksu, Gee-eun’s dough family goes into the boiling pot along with the other ingredients. “‘…You tell them to hang on tight to the noodles so they stay afloat,'” Halmoni says.

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Copyright Gee-eun Lee, 2022, translation by Sophie Bowman, 2022. Courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids.

Gee-eun has been waiting and waiting for Family Sports Day to arrive, but when it does, her mom has to work and can’t go along as she had promised. Gee-eun was looking forward to doing the cheer dance, the tug-of-war, and the running race with her. Now who can she go with? Halmoni tells her granddaughter that she will go. She then relates tales from her own childhood, when she was so strong at tug-of-war that she “could pull all the other kids over with only one arm,” she was such a fast racer that they called her “Speedy Horse,” and was such a good dancer that it “goes without saying.” Then she shows Gee-eun some of her moves.

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Copyright Gee-eun Lee, 2022, translation by Sophie Bowman, 2022. Courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids.

At Family Sports Day, Gee-eun feels confident in her and her grandma’s chances. But things don’t pan out exactly as she’d hoped, and Halmoni even trips and falls during the race.  Gee-eun is so disappointed that her tears flow freely. Walking home, Halmoni and Gee-eun get a curry bun—and then a second one that is their secret. “No matter how you may be feeling, curry buns are always delicious, especially when shared with Grandma,” Gee-eun says.

They then buy mackerel, bean sprouts, and eggs for dinner, while Gee-eun’s grandma assures her that her father would easily beat a mackerel in a swimming race, that she once bought a bean sprout as big as Gee-eun to season just for her mom, and that a hen always misses her eggs. “‘Halmoni,'” Gee-eun then asks, “‘when will Mom get home?'” The food is on the table when her parents get home, and she runs to the door to greet them so they can eat dinner together…because “nothing beats a mean made by Grandma.”

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Copyright Gee-eun Lee, 2022, translation by Sophie Bowman, 2022. Courtesy of Amazon Crossing Kids.

Gee-eun Lee’s story is infused with those types of events in life, both inconsequential and significant, that are filled with emotional power that make them memorable. From Gee-eun’s meltdown at her mother’s leaving to her grandma’s quick thinking that leads to bonding over food and creativity to the bravado and disappointment of the Family Sports Day, Lee invites readers into the touching and humorous relationship between Gee-eun and her grandmother. Wily, proud, comforting, and understanding, Gee-eun’s grandmother is the heart of the family, bridging the generations with her wisdom and constant love. Lee’s storytelling draws readers in with her warm and familiar dialogue that ingeniously pivots back and forth in time, tying together moments in Gee-eun’s mother’s life, her grandmother’s life, and Gee-eun’s experiences. 

Gee-eun Lee’s soft colored pencil and paint illustrations are delightfully childlike, as if the character Gee-eun had drawn them. In that vein the expressive depictions of Gee-eun’s adult grandma fiercely besting a dozen children at tug of war, her smooth dance and nimble dance moves, and her and Gee-eun’s “set and ready” stance at the track while other mother/child pairs stretch, play, and tie laces are comical joy. The theme of bridging generations also appears cleverly in the image of Gee-eun’s dough family floating together in the soup and the portrait of Gee-eun brushing her doll’s hair while her grandmother brushes and braids Gee-eun’s, among others.

 Written with a unique voice that echoes universal truths about family relationships, My GrandMom is a humorous, poignant, and heartening read aloud that will quickly become a favorite for parents, grandparents, other caregivers, and children to share. The book is highly recommended for home and classroom libraries and a must for school and public library collections.  

Ages 3 – 7

Amazon Crossing Kids, 2022 | ISBN 978-1662508257

About the Author

Gee-eun Lee is an award-winning Korean author/illustrator. She recently won the prestigious BolognaRagazzi Award in the comics category for her book, The Story of How the Korean Shaved Ice Dessert Was Born, and is also a top winner of the Korean Young Illustrator Award. She studied design and illustration in Korea and the UK. Her first picture book, Paper Dad, was made into a children’s musical in Korea. My GrandMom is the second book she both wrote and illustrated and is based on her own grandmother.  You can connect with Gee-eun on Instagram: @studio_geeeun

About the Translator

Sophie Bowman is a PhD student at the University of Toronto, studying Korean literature. She was awarded the ICF Literature Translation Fellowship at Ewha Womans University. In 2015, she won the Korea Times Modern Korean Literature Translation Award grand prize for poetry with her translations of Jin Eun-young and co-translated Kim Bo-Young’s I’m Waiting for You and Other Stories. She recently translated the picture book Magic Candies by Heena Baek, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Follow her on Twitter @SophieOrbital.

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You can find My GrandMom at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 15 – Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day

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About the Holiday

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

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

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

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Brendan Kearney

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ages 4 – 8

Union Square Kids. 2022 | ISBN 978-1454943631

About the Author

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

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

About the Illustrator

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

Snack on this book trailer for The Great Caper Caper

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

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Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day Activity

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Friendship is Illuminating! Maze

 

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

Friendship is Illuminating! Maze and Solution

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You can find The Great Caper Caper at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 9 – It’s Picture Book Month

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About the Holiday

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

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

Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles

Written by Mike Allegra | Illustrated by Jaimie Whitbread

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ages 4 – 8

Page Street Kids, 2022 | ISBN 978-1645675594

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

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

Picture Book Month Activity

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Take a Bookworm Trek! Maze

 

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

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

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You can find Sleepy Happy Capy Cuddles at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 7 – Tell the Truth, Dragon Book Tour Stop

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About the Holiday

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

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

Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Written by Bianca Schulze | Illustrated by Samara Hardy

 

From the Publisher

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

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

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ages 3 – 7

Clever Publishing, 2022 | ISBN 978-1954738034

Meet Bianca Schulze

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

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

Meet Samara Hardy

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

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

Tell the Truth, Dragon Giveaway

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

One (1) grand prize winner receives:

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

Two (2) winners receive:

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

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

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

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

Book Reviews of Tell the Truth, Dragon!

Upcoming Reviews

Interviews with Bianca Schulze

A Tell the Truth, Dragon! Book Activity

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

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop 

Picture Book Review

November 2 – It’s Picture Book Month

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About the Holiday

Today’s picture books are amazing! Offering inspiration, characters that really speak to kids, moments to laugh out loud or reflect, glimpses into history, revelations in science, and much of the best art currently being produced, picture books defy their slim appearance with content that can change young lives. Reading a wide variety of books to children from birth on up is one of the most rewarding activities you can do. Make choosing the books to read a family affair! Kids love picking out their own books and sharing cozy and fun story times with you!

I’d like to thank Hippo Park and Astra Publishing House along with Deborah Sloan for sharing a copy of A Bear, a Bee, and a Honey Tree with me for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own.

A Bear, a Bee, and a Honey Tree

Written by Daniel Bernstrom | Illustrated by Brandon James Scott

 

A bear in his den and a bee in his hive are waking up on a sunny morning. The bee is a “busy bee, a honey bee,” darting back and forth from a flower to the honey tree. The bear is “a hungry bear, a honey bear,” and he knows just where to find some breakfast. The bear’s rummaging through the branches does not go unnoticed by the bee, so the hungry bear becomes “a sneaky busy honey bear.” And when his paw breaks into the golden hive, the “fretful bee” becomes “a very angry fuzzy bee.”

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Image copyright Brandon James Scott, 2022, text copyright Daniel Bernstrom, 2022. Courtesy of Hippo Park Books.

The bear and bee face off, but what is that new rumbling sound? He should know bees never live alone, and soon the bear is on the run from “a million fuzzy buzzing bees.” The swarming bees search everywhere, but they cannot find the “hiding bear.” As the sun goes down, the bees return to their hive, while “a hungry grumbly honey bear” waits out the night in his den, already planning tomorrow morning’s breakfast run.

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Image copyright Brandon James Scott, 2022, text copyright Daniel Bernstrom, 2022. Courtesy of Hippo Park Books.

Like a twirling, whirling dance that starts with one measured step…and then another…and another until it bursts into a freewheeling, rollicking reel, Daniel Bernstrom’s story is an exhilarating romp. Suspense mounts page by page with wonderfully rhythmic rhymes that flow unencumbered by punctuation that would slow or stop the brilliantly escalating action. With just thirty-five words, Bernstrom has also created a story that pre-readers can chime in on as adults point to the bee, bear, tree, and other illustrations while beginning readers will find that the rhyming clues, repetition, alliteration, and sight words that carry the story give them confidence in their growing skills.

Brandon James Scott’s dynamic illustrations fling kids into the action as a happy bee makes its winding way from honey tree to flower to flower and back while a bear – tongue out, eyes glued to the prize – scrambles into the tree’s canopy to raid the hive. Who to root for will bring on plenty of giggles as the bee’s and the bear’s expressive faces tell kids all they need to know about these two rivals. The beehive glows like the gold it is to each of these characters, and the swarm is a densely packed storm cloud of protection. As the disappointed bear trudges back to his den, kids’ allegiance may shift, but his next-morning covert operations reveal he really hasn’t learned his lesson. Young readers will love ferreting out the bear among the tree branches and tall grasses and will laugh out loud as he tries to hurry away through a deep wildflower field.

A Bear, A Bee, and a Honey Tree will be all the buzz for home story times both for adults – who will have a rollicking good time reading aloud – and kids – who will want to hear it again and again. The book will be a hit for classroom reading and would make a terrific addition to public library preschool programs. A Bear, A Bee, and a Honey Tree is a must for any children’s book collection.

Ages 3 – 7

Hippo Park, 2022 | ISBN 978-1662640087

Want a laugh? Hippo Park has you covered with this cover animation!

About the Author

Daniel Bernstrom is a poet and the author of 6 picture books, including One Day in teh Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree and Big Papa and the Time Machine, a Minnesota Book Award winner. Daniel lives in Worthington, Minnesota, with his wife and 5 adorable children. You can learn more about him and his books at danielbernstrom.com.

About the Illustrator

By day Brandon is a Creative Director working in animation and by night he illustrates picture books. For over a decade Brandon has worked on a range of hit animated entertainment including his own creation, the award-winning series, Justin Time. He loves to make art that brings adventure, levity, heart, and curiosity for the fantastic and whimsical world around us and in our dreams. A born and raised Canadian, he currently lives with his family in Toronto. You can view a gallery of Brandon’s artwork, animation, books, and more on his website.

Picture Book Month Activity

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A Bear, A Bee, and A Honey Tree Activity Booklet

 

Hippo Park has designed a fantastic 4-page activity booklet that kids will have fun with while learning about letter sounds, adjectives, and nouns with a little drawing creativity thrown in. You can download it from the Hippo Park website and here:

A Bear, A Bee, and A Honey Tree Activity Booklet

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You can find A Bear, A Bee, and a Honey Tree at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

November 1 – Happy Book Birthday Celebration for It’s Not the Three Little Pigs

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I’m excited to be a stop on the book tour for Josh Funk and Edwardian Taylor’s latest, It’s Not the Three Little Pigs. November is the perfect time to celebrate this fourth book in the It’s Not a Fairy Tale series as this month we celebrate Picture Book Month, Family Stories Month, and Family Literacy Month. And today is National Author’s Day, a day that one character in today’s book will definitely be interested in! You’ll see!

Thanks to Two Lions and Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media for sharing a copy of It’s Not the Three Little Pigs with me for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own. 

It’s Not the Three Little Pigs

Written by Josh Funk | Illustrated by Edwardian Taylor

 

“Once upon a time, a little pig family lived in a little pig house.” You know how this story goes, right? And even though one of the pigs objects to being called “little,” it still has their mom sending her three sons “out into the world to seek their fortune.” Sure, the young pigs don’t know what this means, but the roving, and apparently insightful, narrator explains the realities of life – that they need to find their own place to live and get a job. It seems these three aren’t entirely clueless, though, as Alan wants to be a builder, Alfred has his sights set on winning an Oscar, and Alvin… well, two out of three isn’t bad… dreams of being a pumpkin.

Wait! Alan, Alfred, and Alvin have a sister?! (Who knew?) And she wants to be a storyteller. The narrator is surprised to meet this interloper, but offers to let her tag along. Alison is an enterprising pig and jumps at the chance to help tell the story. And so she begins: “It was a dark and stormy night. The three intrepid pigs began their quest to the magical land of—” 

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Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2022, text copyright Josh Funk, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

But the narrator, the real storyteller here, rejects this version of events and sets Alison straight: she can add bits here and there, but she can’t tell the whole story. So the pigs go their separate ways, and … finally … we’ve come to the part you know, where the first little pig builds a house of straw. But what do you think of these days when you hear the word “straw?’ Yeah, that’s what Alan thought too, so he designed a beautiful, sturdy cottage from plastic drinking straws he found littering the environment. 

The narrator wants to stick to the original story, though, and builds the haystack straw house himself—even, as Alan points out it “isn’t structurally sound at” and “there’s no bathroom.” He finishes it just a moment before the wolf comes knocking at his door with the familiar “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.” Unsuspecting Alan’s ready to invite him in until the narrator warns him about the wolf’s true intentions and tells him he’s supposed to say “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.” Alison finds this rejoinder completely ridiculous, and by the time she’s done schooling Alan on the reasons, the wolf has disappeared.

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Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2022, text copyright Josh Funk, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Hearing that the wolf is no doubt on his way to Alfred’s house, Alan and Alison hop into a hot-air balloon and take off. They find Alfred on a stage made of sticks, singing, dancing, and acting. Seems a stage is as far as his building inclinations will take him, so Alan gets to work again, and, before the wolf even appears on the road, he’s constructed a topnotch cabin. When the wolf does come nosing around, Alfred, the consummate professional actor, follows the script and says the “chinny chin chin” line, but he can’t figure out how the wolf is going to blow the house down without magic or fairies or anything this fairytale is supposed to have. In fact, Alison finds this whole story boring and repetitive and without any kind of coherent lesson.

But now it’s time to rush off again to save Alvin, who they find living next door to Cinderella’s castle in a pumpkin house, magicked into existence by Cindy’s fairy godmother. At last, the wolf catches up to them. But who wins out in the end: the retro-loving narrator? Alison and her quest for magic and fairies? Or readers who get to ham it up with some very familiar friends?

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Image copyright Edwardian Taylor, 2022, text copyright Josh Funk, 2022. Courtesy of Two Lions.

In a welcome return to fairytale land, Josh Funk brings mayhem and a modern touch to the traditional The Three Little Pigs by adding a welcome fourth little pig who updates the story while pointing out the nonsensical silliness of the original with opinionated asides and giddy improvements that will have kids huffing and puffing with laughter. Funk’s freewheeling imagination conjures up an alternative countryside universe full of fun gadgets that move he story along at jetpack speed. Snappy dialogue full of wit and personality make It’s Not the Three Little Pigs a rollicking read aloud, and older kids may enjoy taking Alfred’s lead and turning the whole tale into a play. As with the other stories in the series, Funk ends his fable embracing friendship, cooperation, and just plain magical fun.

Edwardian Taylor imbues Alan, Alfred, and Alvin with just the right mix of cluelessness and competency to bring out all the comedy in Funk’s writing, while Alison exhibits enough confidence for all of them. Kids will love giggling and poring over Alan’s blueprints for his house designs, which Taylor has loaded with puns, hilarious comments on the materials used, and references to other fairytales. Small details add even more humor and interest to the vibrant, action-packed pages, and dialogue color-coded to each character’s outfit makes it easy for readers to follow who’s saying what. Fans of the It’s Not a Fairy Tale series know that a true showstopper awaits them on the final spread, and here, as the stars twinkle, kids will be hooked on picking out old friends who have come to celebrate these four little pigs.

Whether your child is a fan of the It’s Not a Fairy Tale series or just discovering it, It’s Not the Three Little Pigs is a hilarious fractured fairy and parody that both kids and adults will want on their home bookshelves and is a must addition to school and public library collections. The book would also be a hit for writing workshops as well as lessons on fairytales and analyzing and comparing literature. 

Ages 4 – 8

Two Lions, 2022 | ISBN 978-1542032438

About the Author

Like the characters in his books, Josh Funk doesn’t like being told how stories should go―so he writes his own. He is the author of a bunch of picture books, including My Pet Feet, illustrated by Billy Yong; the popular Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, illustrated by Brendan Kearney; How to Code a Sandcastle, illustrated by Sara Palacios; and Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience & Fortitude, illustrated by Stevie Lewis. He lives in New England with his wife and children. Learn more about him at www.joshfunkbooks.com and follow him on Facebook:  Josh Funk Books | Instagram: @joshfunkbooks | Twitter: @joshfunkbooks.

About the Illustrator

Edwardian Taylor is the illustrator of multiple children’s books, including Hey, You’re Not Santa!, written by Ethan T. Berlin; Goldibooks and the Wee Bear, written by Troy Wilson; the Toy Academy chapter books, written by Brian Lynch; and the It’s Not a Fairy Tale books, written by Josh Funk, among other titles. He lives in Texas with his partner and their three dogs. Learn more about him at www.edwardiantaylor.com and follow him on TumblrInstagram, and Twitter @edwardiantaylor.

It’s Not the Three Little Pigs Book Birthday Activity

CPB - Pig Day pigs

Spool Pig and Piglets

 

Ham it up with your own pig and piglets that are easy to make with this fun craft! 

Supplies

  • Printable Pigs Ears Template
  • 2 ½-inch wooden spoon, available from craft stores
  • 1-inch wooden spool, available from craft stores
  • Pink yarn, I used a wide-strand yarn
  • Pink fleece or felt
  • Pink craft paint
  • Pink 5/8-inch or 1-inch flat button with two holes
  • Pink 3/8-inch flat button with two holes
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Black marker

CPB - Pig Day with spools (2)

Directions

  1. Print Pigs Ears Template
  2. Trace the ears onto the fleece or felt and cut them out
  3. Paint the spool with the pink paint
  4. Let spool dry
  5. Glue the ears to the spool, letting them stick up over the rim of the spool
  6. Wrap yarn in straight layers around spool until the body of the pig is a little bigger than the end of the spool, which will be the face
  7. Cut yarn off skein and glue the end to the body
  8. To make the nose, glue the button over the hole in the middle of the spool
  9. Mark the eyes and mouth with a marker
  10. To make the tail for the large pig, cut a 4-inch long piece of yarn. Tie a triple knot in the yarn (or a knot big enough to fill the hole in the spool). Then tie a single knot about 1/2 inch below the first knot. Insert the large knot into the spool’s hole at the back of the pig. Trim the yarn behind the second knot as needed.
  11. To make the tail for the piglets, tie a single knot in the yarn and another single knot about 1/4 inch below the first. Insert one of the single knots into the hole. Trim yarn behind the second knot as needed.

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You can find It’s Not the Three Little Pigs at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

October 28 – It’s National Eat Better, Eat Together Month

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About the Holiday

National Eat Better, Eat Together Month encourages families to gather around the table for at least one meal a day. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics the benefits of eating together are wide ranging and can include better grades, better health, and fewer behavioral problems. Studies also show that when families get together for a meal, they tend to make more balanced food choices. This important uninterrupted time together allows each member of the family to share stories about their day or talk about issues that concern them, building stronger bonds.

Tiny Spoon Vs. Little Fork

Written by Constance Lombardo | Illustrated by Dan Abdo & Jason Patterson

 

The alarm clock on the kitchen wall “Bringgg! Bringgg! Bringggs” waking the baby’s spoon and fork, who pop out of their respective drawers, each raring to start the day. But it seems that these two have never met. “Wait a minute! Who are you?” they say in unison. Turns out Tiny Spoon and Little Fork both have the same job – to feed the baby. Tiny Spoon and Little Fork start to get into it—how Spoon has been there from the beginning and how much Baby loves to slurp, but now Fork reveals, Baby “wants to BITE! And CHOMP!” But time’s ticking away and Spoon and Fork have to get to the table.

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Image copyright Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson, 2022, text copyright Constance Lombardo, 2022. Courtesy of Hippo Park Books.

They make the daring leap only to continue their brew-ha-ha. Tiny Spoon has lots of great attributes and comes from sturdy stock, as proven by the photo album of “prominent spoons” like Aunt Soup Spoon, Daddy Serving Spoon, Cousin Teaspoon, and Grandpa Scoop. But Little Fork’s not impressed and opens up a photo app to demonstrate some bonafides in Uncle Salad Fork, Mama Carving Fork, Cousin Dinner Fork, and Great Grandma Tuning Fork, who had quite a voice. Tiny Spoon counters with an indisputable fact—”I was there FIRST time Baby ate solid food.”—and regales Little Fork with the fond memory of that day, Vroom, Vroom airplane noises and all.

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Image copyright Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson, 2022, text copyright Constance Lombardo, 2022. Courtesy of Hippo Park Books.

“BORING!” Little Fork says. “I’d like to see you try and twirl spaghetti.” Tiny Spoon volleys, but their pointed (and well-rounded) one-upmanship is interrupted by the “Thump! Thump! Thump! of Baby, who squeals “SPOOD!” and “FROK” as soon as she sees them. And, as she reaches out towards them, the promise of an answer is at hand. Instead, though, both Tiny Spoon and Little Fork are in hand, while Stuffed Bunny is in the other! 

Baby raises her arms! This is not eating posture… this is… “WHEEEEEEEEEEE!… NOT fun” to Spoon while “it’s a little fun” for Fork. Through the air Spoon, Fork, and Stuffed Bunny fly, landing with a bump on the floor just as the alarmed Clock warns that Baby’s hungry. This is dire. How will Tiny Spoon and Little Fork get where they are so needed? They try shimmying, climbing, even having Bunny toss them. up, but they clatter back to earth every time.

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Image copyright Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson, 2022, text copyright Constance Lombardo, 2022. Courtesy of Hippo Park Books.

But Baby’s needs are more important than ranking themselves, and Spoon and Fork find a clever way to work together and propel them to the table top, where Baby reacts with glee and surprise and immediately snatches them—one in each tiny fist—so that Tiny Spoon can scoop up oatmeal and Little Fork can grab the scrambled eggs. And Baby? She can “nom nom nom nom nom…” 

Happily food-encrusted and content with a good meal satisfactorily relayed, Tiny Spoon and Little Fork congratulate each other. They don’t have much time to relax, though, as Baby snatches them up again and they take another airborne trip across the kitchen to…could it be?…the dishwasher!

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Image copyright Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson, 2022, text copyright Constance Lombardo, 2022. Courtesy of Hippo Park Books.

Constance Lombardo’s madcap romp will have kids laughing out loud as Tiny Spoon and Little Fork try to outdo each other and claim the title of Baby’s favorite utensil. The comical repartee between Spoon and Fork lends itself to dramatic readings that kids will love chiming in on. As Tiny Spoon and Little Fork realize that their responsibility to feed Baby transcends their competition, they work together to ensure Baby’s needs are met, providing a humorous lesson on teamwork and friendship.

Dan and Jason know just what kids think is funny, and they bring all their talent for visual silliness to this rollicking story. Tiny Spoon and Little Fork’s expressive faces that accentuate the competition between them, Clock’s frantic Bringggg-ing, hand waving and alert that “BABY WANTS BREAKFAST NOW!” and baby’s boisterous actions will make any child or older sibling laugh out loud. The vivid, comics-style illustrations, dramatic text, and non-stop action will have kids shouting “again, Again, AGAIN!” for these two tiny superheroes.

A rollicking story that’s pure fun for lively story times, Tiny Spoon vs. Little Fork is highly recommended. The book would be an often-asked-for favorite on home bookshelves and is sure to be in constant rotation at school and public libraries. If you’re looking for a gift for any child and especially an older sibling, you can’t go wrong with this book!

Ages 4 – 8

Hippo Park Books, 2022 | ISBN 978-1662640063

About the Author

Constance Lombardo is the author/illustrator of four books, including the three books in the Mr. Puffball series and the picture book, Everybody Says Meow, which was a 2020 Anna Dewdney Read Together Award Honor Book. Her passion for classic movies and classic comedy shines through in her work. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina. You can learn more about her books on her website and connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.

About the Illustrators

For the past 10 years, award-winning duo Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson have developed numerous animated campaigns, network TV and web series, and critically acclaimed commercial work. Their extensive portfolio has garnered them industry-wide recognition, while their humorous sensibility and diverse skill set has landed them jobs for top global brands. Dan and Jason have set up properties at Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, and Nickelodeon as well as a feature animated film through Paramount Pictures. The well-versed storytellers have developed original content for a wide variety of platforms, including print (Nickelodeon Comics, The New Yorker), theater (Pilobolus), and digital. Learn more about their work on their website. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

National Eat Better, Eat Together Month Activity

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Tiny Spoon vs. Little Fork Printable Placemat

 

What’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner – or a snack – without a placemat? Messy! And what’s a placemat without fun puzzles to do? Boring! With this printable placemat from Hippo Park, you can spend mealtime with Tiny Spoon, Little Fork, and all their friends! Choose from full-color and black-and-white placemats here:

Tiny Spoon vs. Little Fork Super Fun Printable Placemat

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You can find Tiny Spoon vs. Little Fork at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million 

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review