November 24 – Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day


About the Holiday

We all have unique talents and abilities. Today’s holiday was established for us to define our abilities and think about how we would like to use them for ourselves and others. Whether your talents lie in the arts; science, math, and technology; the humanities; teaching and leadership; or kindness, with courage, confidence, and practice you can accomplish amazing things. Today’s books feature two very different talents and are accompanied by videos that can teach you how to use your creativity to achieve success.

You Can Draw Comic Book Characters

By Spencer Brinkerhoff III


Do you have a comic book creator inside yearning to blast free? In this step-by-step guide, Spencer Brinkerhoff III shows you how to draw more than 25 original -comic book characters, draw with perspective and from different angles, and how to use simple shapes to create all of the characters running around in your imagination. To get started, Brinkerhoff introduces readers to the tools of the trade, especially one type of template that ensures that your characters are always in proportion whether they’re standing still, flying, climbing, running, or engaged in battle.

Whether you’re drawing a hero or a villain, Brinkerhoff presents illustrated steps for creating the head, complete with guidelines that tell you where to put the eyes, hair, and other facial features; how to add the body and sketch in arms and legs in active poses. Brinkerhoff then invites artists to make these prototype characters their own by showing how through hairstyles, clothing, and facial features you can add personality and individuality to your characters.


Copyright Spencer Brinkerhoff III, 2020, courtesy of Walter Foster, Jr.

But characters aren’t just created through their physical appearance—readers also want to know what makes them tick. Brinkerhoff adds specific and enlightening guidance on how to design a well-rounded character that readers will care about. He discusses general ideas on how heroes and villains come to be then gives specific examples of backstories, motivations, powers, and limitations for heroes, villains, and all the minions and sidekicks in between.

Once you’ve practiced drawing your character, it’s time to add some color, and Brinkerhoff has you covered there too with tips on choosing colors to make an effect, how to make it look as if a character is wearing a helmet with a face shield, and how to make Zaps and Zings really shine.

So, you have characters with histories—now what? They need a story to live in! Brinkerhoff reveals how to develop a strong story from beginning to end and create a script. Then he shows artists how to plan and draw panels that help tell the story, create good story flow, establish mood and location, include dialogue and sounds, and add the kind of suspense that keeps readers turning the pages. Finally, Brinkerhoff shows readers how to put it all together to make a complete comic book. He follows this up with larger templates for characters who are standing, flying, and fighting as well as a few in various action poses.


Copyright Spencer Brinkerhoff III, 2020, courtesy of Walter Foster, Jr.

Spencer Brinkerhoff presents an excellent guide for artists and would-be artists of all ages with specific help and plenty of opportunities to practice a variety of body styles, facial expressions, poses, and all accompanying accents. The diversity of examples and the emphasis on other aspects to creating successful characters and complete comics will spark children’s imagination and help them develop their talent for both drawing and writing, which are equally important in creating the kinds of comics that readers fall in love with and want to read again and again.

A superb drawing book for children, You Can Draw Comic Book Characters would make a much-appreciated gift for young artists and an often-used, go-to book as children or adults work on improving their drawing and visual storytelling abilities. The book is a must for home bookshelves for aspiring artists as well as for school and public library collections.

Ages 6 – 10 and up

Quarto Knows, Walter Foster Jr., 2020 | ISBN 978-1633228665

About Spencer Brinkerhoff

Spencer Brinkerhoff III started drawing and making art at an early age and has never stopped. Spencer’s professional work has included creating Star Wars art for Lucasfilm Ltd, animating an educational game for the World Health Organization, creating and starring in a video that won him Burt Reynolds’ Trans Am, and creating some of the horse sculptures for the PF Chang’s restaurants. In addition to working on these licensed projects, he has also created a glasses-less 3-D image platform called ShadowBox Comics, an in-camera special effect keychain called LightStickFX, and a drawing system called DrawingIsSimple. You can discover more about Spencer Brinkerhoff III, his art, and his work on his website.

Drawing Captain Jinx Tagget and Savage with Spencer Brinkerhoff III

In this video and two more videos from Quarto Classroom, children and adults can learn from Spencer Brinkerhoff III how to create two original characters from You Can Draw Comic Book Characters: Captain Jinx Tagget and Savage. In the first video Spencer Brinkerhoff demonstrates each step in drawing his hero Jinx, talking viewers through an easy method for creating the head and body, the whys and hows of facial-feature placement, and how to add accents to make each character distinctive. In his second video, Brinkerhoff uses a prop that gives new artists clear visual help in understanding how a face can be drawn when tilted and turned. He also demonstrates how to draw Jinx when flying.

In his third video Brinkerhoff shows kids how to draw the imposing Savage, a character that uses different proportions yet is still derived from basic shapes beginning with a circle. At the end of each twenty-five-minute session, he gives a lesson on adding color to the character. Brinkerhoff’s easy-going and encouraging delivery will instill confidence in artists and get them excited about designing their own characters.


You can find You Can Draw Comic Book Characters at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound


Corazon Aquino: Little People, BIG DREAMS

Written by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara | Illustrated by Ginnie Hsu


Maria Corazon—better known as Cory—was a little girl growing up in the Philippines, a country made up of thousands of islands. At school, she learned lessons on reading and writing and math and also “how to take a step forward.” For example, when one of her classmates was not able to make a speech in front of the school, Cory volunteered to give it.


Image copyright Ginnie Hsu, 2020, text copyright Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, 2020. Courtesy of Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

When Cory was still a child, her parents send her to America to study. When she returned home after graduating from college, she was determined to become a lawyer. While in law school, “she became close with a student as honest and as bold as her.” His name was Benigno, but those who loved him called him Ninoy. Ninoy went on to become a politician. He wanted to help his fellow Filipinos and became an ardent critic of the country’s dishonest president. Because of his opposition to the president, he was arrested. Then Cory wrote speeches and became her husband’s voice for nearly eight years while he was in prison.

Declaring more and more unfair laws, the president became a dictator and forced Ninoy, Cory, and their family to leave the country. They moved to Boston, Massachusetts and were happy there, but after three years “Cory knew that Ninoy had to go home and try to restore democracy, giving power back to the people.” They returned to the Philippines, but the president’s men were waiting for them and Ninoy was killed.


Image copyright Ginnie Hsu, 2020, text copyright Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, 2020. Courtesy of Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

Cory felt alone, but at Ninoy’s funeral millions of people showed that they were with her, giving “her their love and support.” Cory decided it was up to her to continue Ninoy’s work. She ran for president and won, but the defeated president “faked the results of the election” and sparked a revolution. For four days “millions of people armed with courage took to the streets and proclaimed Cory president of the Philippines. The dictatorship crumbled and Cory became the first female President of the Philippines. Through her lifelong courage and honesty, little Cory grew up to save democracy for her people and change their lives forever.

A timeline of Corazon Aquino’s life follows the text.


Image copyright Ginnie Hsu, 2020, text copyright Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, 2020. Courtesy of Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara’s excellent biography of Corazon Aquino for young readers introduces them to this amazing woman with well-chosen details about her life and the personality traits that made her singularly suited for her role in leading the Philippines out of the darkness of dictatorship. Vegara’s straightforward storytelling reveals her respect for the intelligence and social conscience of her readers as she relates hard facts about life in the Philippines at the time and its personal consequences for her family. Examples of Corazon’s courage, from giving a speech at school to giving voice to millions of people, will inspire readers to show bravery in their own pursuits, both big and small, and prompt them to look for ways that they can make a difference.

Through Ginnie Hsu’s captivating illustrations, readers are introduced to a brief view of the diversity of communities among the islands of the Philippines and the cities and schools that nurtured her while growing up. Children see the enthusiasm with which crowds met Cory and Ninoy on his political rise. In a clever two-page spread, a speech that Ninoy is writing spills from his typewriter, across the two pages and into Cory’s hands as she reads her husband’s words after his arrest. Images of people lining up to vote will be familiar from our own recent election and offer opportunities for adults to discuss the importance of voting. Adults may remember Corazon Aquino’s signature yellow outfits, which Hsu recreates here. Hsu’s vibrant illustrations, packed with the people that supported the Aquinos, demonstrate the change that, together, people of courage can affect.

An inspirational biography of an influential leader, Corazon Aquino is an excellent addition to the Little People, BIG DREAMS series and offers a meaningful way for adults to introduce young readers to political and social leaders and the ideas of responsibility and leadership. The book is highly recommended for home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 4 – 7

Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-0711246843

About Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, born in Barcelona, Spain, is a writer and creative director in constant search of new concepts for children’s books and the author of the multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series of picture books that explore the lives of outstanding people. Working for more than fifteen years for clients in top advertising agencies, her books combine creativity with learning, aiming to establish a new and fresh relationship between children and pop culture. You can connect with Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara on Instagram.

About Ginnie Hsu

Ginnie Hsu is an illustrator, designer, and educator living in upstate New York. Her work is often inspired by everyday life, nature, human living, and well-being. Ginnie also enjoys foraging, yoga, and herbalism. To learn more about Ginnie Hsu, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Corazon Aquino: Little People, BIG DREAMS video with Ginnie Hsu

In this video from Quarto Classroom you can listen to Ginnie Hsu read Corazon Aquino: Little People, BIG DREAMS and learn about the importance of the color yellow throughout the story as well as how color has become associated with other revolutions around the world. Hsu also introduces viewers to the meanings behind eight colors and how using these colors adds depth and meaning to a picture book and other illustrations. For example, yellow carries with it the ideas of positivity and happiness. After learning about colors and their meanings, Hsu invites kids to gather supplies in a color of their choice and to create a project meaningful to them. In keeping with the yellow in her book, Hsu chooses to make a sunflower from felt and a digital sunflower collage. She demonstrates how she puts together her felt sunflower and then shows children the variety of ways a sunflower can be drawn.


You can find Corazon Aquino: Little People, BIG DREAMS at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day Activity


Draw Captain Jinx Tagget


With this printable guide from Spencer Brinkerhoff III, you can learn to draw Captain Jinx Tagget standing and in action with detailed and specific steps from making your first circle for the head to completing her superhero suit. You’ll find another guide on how to draw Savage at Quarto Classroom

Captain Jinx Tagget Drawing Guide | Savage Drawing Guide




April 7 – International Beaver Day

The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Crazy Critter Race by Maxwell Eaton III

About the Holiday

Beavers are pretty amazing creatures. With their prominent teeth these largest members of the rodent family cut down large trees. They use the bark, buds, and small twigs for food then gnaw the trunk and branches into smaller parts and build dams that are just about as strong as anything people can construct. These dams can help prevent floods, clean the water supply, and restore wetlands. The largest beaver dam is in Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta, Canada.

Beaver Day is celebrated to bring awareness to the declining beaver population and to promote their protection.

The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Crazy Critter Race

By Maxwell Eaton III


The flying Beaver brothers are back in a vine-popping, lasso-swirling adventure! Bub is reading Penguin Giant to Bob and Bob when Ace comes home with an intriguing ad for The Crazy Critter Race. The winner will receive—not pancakes as the penguins hope—but a free houseboat. The house Bob and Bob built for the Beaver brothers is a little less than desirable, so Ace and Bub swim over to Critter Houseboat Sales and Service to sign up.

There they meet the yeehawin’ cowboy hat-wearin’ crazy critter who has organized this unusual event. They also encounter the rope-snapping Raccoon sisters, and the competition is on! Crazy Critter explains the rules of the race: It seems the islands’ trees have been destroyed by ornery baboons, so the object of the race is to replant trees from a jar of seeds Crazy Critter gives them. The first team to reach the top of each mountain must plant one seed. The team who completes the race and rings the bell at the finish line will win a houseboat.

The racers take off, but the Beaver brothers and Raccoon sisters soon leave the rest of the competition in their wake. They both run to the top of the first mountain and plant their seeds. With a Rugga Rugga and a loud Brorg! two enormous vines break the earth and thunder toward the sky! In all the mayhem Ace and Bub’s jar of seeds opens and spills its contents on the beach.

In the blink of an eye, vines are shooting out of the ground and grabbing everything in sight. In fact, “Everything Vine” is the name of this Kudzu cousin because it covers everything. Ace and Bub go to work with their gnawing teeth, but even they are no match for the vine. Unaware of the disastrous consequences, the Beaver sisters use some pretty impressive moves to get ahead even as they continue planting seeds.

Now vines are erupting willy-nilly, threatening every land mass and even Beaver Island. Crazy Critter denies all knowledge of the fatal seeds, but has a solution of his own—if the islands are uninhabitable, he will sell houseboats to all the ex-habitants. Crazy Critter finally fesses up to his evil plan, but what can anyone do now? The vines are taking over!

The Beaver brothers look at the Raccoon sisters and the Raccoon sisters look at the Beaver brothers. They know that by working together they can save the islands. The Raccoon sisters use their awesome roping skills to gather the vines while the Beaver brothers chomp them in half, destroying them. Beaver Island is saved!

But who wins the houseboat? Let’s just say Crazy Critter isn’t so crazy after all.

This graphic novel-style book—the 6th in the series—will appeal to reluctant readers as  well as kids who enjoy a wild, humorous adventure. The quick pace of the story, teamed with action-packed drawings, will keep fans of the series cheering for their familiar friends in this race that just doesn’t seem right. Kids will laugh out loud at the funny asides and sound effects. A light-hearted lesson on competition and cooperation ties the story together in a satisfying finish.

Ages 6 – 9

Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015 | ISBN 978-0385754699

International Beaver Day Activity

CPB - Beaver craft picture (2)

Make a Spool Beaver


Do you have a gnawing need to have a beaver of your own? Make one with this Spool Beaver craft!


  • Printable Ears and Nose Template
  • 2-inch wooden spool, available at craft stores
  • 1 6-inch long x ¾ inch wide craft stick
  • Small piece of foam board
  • Brown “chunky” yarn
  • Brown felt, small piece for ears and tail
  • Black felt, small piece for nose
  • Acorn top for hat (optional)
  • Brown craft paint
  • Black craft paint
  • Black marker
  • Strong glue
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors

CPB - Beaver craft picture with tail


  1. Print the Ears and Nose template
  2. Paint the spool with the brown paint, let dry
  3. Cut the ears from the brown felt
  4. Cut the nose from the black felt
  5. Cut a piece from the end of the craft stick
  6. Paint the craft stick brown or black, let dry
  7. Cut two small pieces from the foam board, ½-inch long x 3/8 inch wide
  8. When the spool is dry, glue the ears to the spool, leaving the ears sticking up over the rim of the spool
  9. Glue one end of the yarn to the spool
  10. Holding the spool horizontally, wind the rest of the yarn around the spool back and forth from front to back. Glue the end to the body of yarn. This will be the bottom of the beaver.
  11. Glue the nose over the hole in the spool
  12. Glue the teeth below the nose
  13. Glue the flat edge of the craft stick to the back of the spool to make the tail


April 2 – International Children’s Book Day

Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers

About the Holiday

Each year since 1967 Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday has served as the date for Children’s Book Day. The International Board on Books for Young People, a non-profit organization founded in Zurich, sponsors the day to promote a love of reading. Seventy-five National Sections around the world alternate in hosting the event. The host for 2016 is Brazil, and this year’s theme is “Once Upon a Time.” A prominent author and illustrator from the sponsoring country prepare materials used to raise awareness of books and reading. Luciana Sandroni wrote this year’s message and the poster was designed by Ziraldo.

Children’s Book Day is celebrated with special events in schools and libraries, writing competitions, book awards, and opportunities to meet authors and illustrators. 

Written and Drawn by Henrietta

By Liniers


Henrietta’s mom gives her a new box of colored pencils, which Henrietta says is “as close as you can get to owning a piece of the rainbow.” She sits down to draw her own book and titles it “The Monster with Three Heads and Two Hats.” She begins with an illustration of a little girl, Emily, in bed at night. “I’m scaring myself…,” she thinks. Her thought is played out in her next page which shows Emily asking her stuffed rabbit if it will sleep with her because she’s scared of an unexplained Creak, Creak.


Copyright Liniers, 2015, courtesy of TOON Books

“Hmm…What’s that noise?” ponders the young writer. Her fears make it to the page—Creeak…Creeak…Thump…Crash…Boom. What are those noises, my favorite? Emily asks, her eyes now wide. The Noises! They’re getting closer!!

Henrietta knows that in a good story something always happens “suddenly,” and so she draws a mysterious hand and a mysterious foot emerging from Emily’s wardrobe. The plot thickens and finally the full terrifying monster with three heads pops out of the wardrobe.


Copyright Liniers, 2015, courtesy of TOON Books

They acquire names from Henrietta’s imagination—Huey, Dewey, and Louie Bluie. . She is stuck for a bit as to how to go on, then gives Emily a question: What were you doing inside my wardrobe? The monster answers that it is looking for a hat. Emily joins them in their search, entering her wardrobe. She’s aghast to find that it is full of…clothes! (The wardrobe had been made in Narnia, the well-read Henrietta tells her cat, Fellini).

When the monster and Emily wonder which way to go, they meet a direction-giving mouse, and the story takes off—even Henrietta can’t wait to see what happens. She draws a huge pile of hats (she’s learned about “hat-o-logy” from the encyclopedia—the printed version!). The creature’s two heads with hats begs the third head to choose a hat before “the monster” shows up. Emily is terrified again—Another monster? What has Henrietta concocted this time? A monster with one head and three hats! This horrible beast suddenly appears and chases the crew through the wardrobe. Everyone is shouting Aaaaaaaaaaa—even the author.


Copyright Liniers, 2015, courtesy of TOON Books

Emily and the first monster lose the tremendous beast, ask the direction-giving mouse how to escape, and burst out of the wardrobe just in time. Henrietta thinks the story should have a happy ending, and before the monster with three heads and now three hats flies out the window, they give Emily a present. What could it be? Henrietta is so curious! It’s a wonderful hat, of course!

The End

“Now,” Henrietta says, “to find a publisher!”

This Toon Book by Liniers is a wonder as it reveals the inner-workings of children’s imaginations and the spontaneous nature of their brilliant creativity. Henrietta’s thought process as she conjures up her story is shown in neat comic-style panels with speech bubbles, while her story is depicted in colorful kid-like drawings and dialogue written in all capital letters. This interplay between the young artist/writer and her work enhances the fun, suspense, and surprise of this story-within-a-story. 

Ages 5 and up

TOON Books, and imprint of RAW Junior, LLC, 2015 | ISBN 978-1935179900

International Children’s Book Day Activity

Create Your Own Book

CPB - Comic Panel

It’s so much fun to let your imagination fly! Use this printable Comic Style Page to create a story as unique as you are!

Picture Book Review