September 25 – National Math Storytelling Day

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About the Holiday

National Math Storytelling Day was established on today’s date in 2009 by Maria Droujkova, founder of The Natural Math Community at Naturalmath.com, and her daughter to encourage people to share the joys of math with children through stories and games. Having fun with math is one of the best ways to get kids excited about learning and working with this most important subject. Celebrate today with math stories that involve patterns, spatial relations, quantities, logic, puzzles, and numbers. You can even sing math songs and tell math jokes!

Clean Up, Up, Up!

Written by Ellen Mayer | Illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu

 

It’s clean up time for Daddy and his toddler! As they put the books back on the shelf, Daddy says, “‘Let’s reach up high—your books go up on the top shelf.’” He then prompts, “‘What goes down below?’” With the blocks all stacked on the bottom shelf, the pair move on to putting away the train engine, which has its own special place next to the little station. “‘Choo-choo!’” says the child.

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Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2018, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2018. Courtesy of Star Bright Books.

Playing with Daddy makes cleaning up even more fun, and the little one pretends to take a nap with the teddy bears when they’re put inside the cardboard playhouse. The tot giggles and jumps up with a “‘Wake up-up-up!’” just in time to find the train’s caboose hiding behind the chair.

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Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2018, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2018. Courtesy of Star Bright Books.

With everything “put away up, down, inside, and under,” it’s time to get ready for dinner. The little one knows just what to do—“‘Wash up-up-up!’” Hands clean, the toddler sits at the table eager to help some more. “‘Would you like to help set the table too?’” Mommy asks. The child happily agrees and is excited to show some new understanding. “‘Spoon DOWN…,’” the little one says, and then with a big scoop of dinner. “‘…and spoon UP!’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-clean-up-up-up-dinner

Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2018, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2018. Courtesy of Star Bright Books.

A note for parents, grandparents, and caregivers from childhood education expert Susan C. Levine on how they can find opportunities to talk about spatial relations during everyday activities is included.  Gender neutral clothing and hairstyle as well as an absence of pronouns makes this a universal story.

Clean Up, Up, Up! is also available in a bilingual Spanish/English edition: ¡Arriba, arriba, arriba a limpiar!/Clean Up, Up, Up! translated byAudrey Martinez-Gudapakkam and Dr. Sabrina De Los Santos

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-clean-up-up-up-train-spanish/english-edition

Image copyright Ying-Hwa Hu, 2018, text copyright Ellen Mayer, 2018. Translation by Audrey Martinez-Gudapakkam and Dr. Sabrina De Los Santos. Courtesy of Star Bright Books.

Ellen Mayer continues to add to her sweet and joyful series of books for little ones and the adults in their lives that model ways parents, grandparents, and caregivers can talk with children to help them develop language and math literacy at the youngest ages. In Clean Up Up Up!, the concept of spatial relations is organically introduced to toddlers through the motions and words used while putting items in their proper place, stepping up on a stool to use something out of the child’s reach, and even when eating. Research shows that talking with children at all ages about math concepts such as positions and locations improves their understanding and leads to better success in school and beyond.

The loving relationship between father and child in Mayer’s early language development book A Fish to Feed, is expanded on here as the same interracial family enjoys clean-up and dinner time. The engaging dialogue between Daddy, Mommy, and their toddler will captivate young readers and inspire adults to continue the story in their own daily lives.

Ying-Hwa Hu’s adorable toddler giggles and plays while soaking up the rich language of positions and locations that the father clearly points to while cleaning up. Little readers will be charmed by the enthusiastic child and the little puppy that follows along. Images of books, toys, washing up, and dinnertime all demonstrate the positions and locations referred to in the story, while other details provide an opportunity for adults and children to expand on the text (the fish from A Fish to Feed swims inside its bowl and balls sit inside a bin, for example). Hu’s vivid colors as well as the smiles and enthusiasm with which Daddy, Mommy, and their child interact make Clean Up, Up, Up! a feel-great educational read.

Clean Up, Up, Up! would make a wonderful gift and would be an excellent addition to home, daycare and preschool classrooms to spark playful learning experiences.

Ages 1 – 3

Star Bright Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1595728012

Discover more about Ellen Mayer and her books on her website.

To learn more about Ying-Hwa Hu, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Storytelling Math Day Activity

CPB - Playhouse craft

Come Inside! Playhouse

 

Kids love pretending with their toys and little playhouses. With this craft you and your child can make a playhouse with recycled items and lots of imagination. While making the house, talk with your child about the building process using spatial relation words and ask for their ideas on what it should look like.

Once finished, you and your child can make up stories using words that use spatial relations as characters come in the house, go out of the house, peek in or out of a window, sit on the roof, wait under the window, sit next to a friend while having tea, and so much more!

Supplies

Cardboard box

Recycled items, such as:

  • Bottle caps for door knobs,
  • Small boxes for a chimney
  • Use the cardboard cut from the windows to make shutters
  • Scraps of cloth for curtains

Craft paint

Markers

Gluecelebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-clean-up-up-up-cover

You can find Clean Up, Up, Up! at these booksellers

English edition

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

Spanish/English edition

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

Picture Book Review

 

Picture Book Review

 

September 24 – National Punctuation Day

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About the Holiday

Founded in 2004 by Jeff Rubin, National Punctuation Day promotes the correct usage of all those little marks that make reading clearer and more meaningful. Do you ever wonder just how to use the ; and what’s the real difference between – and —? It can all get a little confusing. But misplaced or misused punctuation can result in some pretty funny mistakes—or some serious misinterpretations. Whether you love punctuation, would like to understand it better, or just use it to make emojis, today’s holiday will make you : – ). To find information on the day, resources for using punctuation correctly, and a fun contest to enter, visit Jeff Rubin’s National Punctuation Day website.

Boyds Mills Press sent me a copy of A Bunch of Punctuation to check out. All opinions are my own. I’m also excited to partner with Boyds Mills Press in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

A Bunch of Punctuation

Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins | Illustrated by Serge Bloch

 

In the world of writing and reading, the letters of the alphabet seem to get all the acclaim as they create cool words and form captivating sentences. But what about those little marks of punctuation that separate clauses, slow readers down, add mystery and excitement, and even tell readers when they should stop? They’d like a little attention too! In this enchanting collection of poetry, they get it as commas, apostrophes, quotation marks, and all the rest are put center stage—as you will see!

We all know about commas and the quandaries they pose: Is one needed here? Is one needed there? Should I use the Oxford comma? What is an Oxford comma, anyway? Lee Bennett Hopkins offers a lyrical example of a comma’s power in Comma:

“A comma / lets you stop, / pause, / enjoy the weather, / unlike a period, / which puts an end / to any / cloudy, / rainy, / snowy, / or sunny day, / at once, / immediately, / forever.”

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Image copyright Serge Bloch, 2018, Comma by Lee Bennett Hopkins, 2018. Courtesy of WordSong.

While a comma is a gentle reminder to take a break, in The Dash Charles Ghigna reveals that the little line is—among other things:

“A subdued dude / in tweet and text, / he signals what / is coming next. / The daring dash— / an interruption— / is cause for pause / a clear disruption.”

In Alice Schertle’s five-stanza Forgotten: A Colon’s Complaint, these two little stacked dots just want some respect:

“The comma, incredibly common / butts right into line after line. / Couldn’t there be a small place for me: / just one little sentence that’s mine?”

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Image copyright Serge Bloch, 2018, poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, 2018. From Apostrophe by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. Courtesy of WordSong.

Julie Larios counts up from 1 to 10 and down from 10 to 1 with the most dynamic of punctuation marks in !!!!!!!!—Superhero Kaboom—!!!!!!!!. Just a peek gives us:

“1 big boom! / 2 kapows!! / 3 in a row of wow, wow, wows!!! / 4 kahblooies!!!! / 5 bops and bams!!!!! / 6 gee whizzes!!!!!! / 7 whops and whams!!!!!!!” And what’s at the end of all this excitement? “1 more kaboom, then it’s off to bed!”

Twelve more rhyming and free-verse poems from Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Allan Wolf, J. Patrick Lewis, Michele Krueger, Jane Yolen, Prince Redcloud, Joan Bransfield Graham, and Betsy Franco will have kids looking at punctuation in new and creative ways. A final poem by Lee Bennett Hopkins invites children (and adults) to write their own poems based on four thought-provoking prompts, such as:

“Can you write poems posing questions / like who, what, where, / when, how, and why?” and “Can you write poems causing / words such as: / Whoopee! / Whee! / Wha-hoo! / to look as if they are / leaping off pages?”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-bunch-of-punctuation-a-punctuation-tale

Image copyright Serge Bloch, 2018, poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, 2018. From A Punctuation Tale by Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Courtesy of WordSong.

Lee Hopkins Bennett gathers a group of the most inventive and popular poets for children in this collection that turns learning about punctuation into a flight of fancy, a comical romp, and an all-around engaging way to learn how these tiny show-stoppers work on a page. Each poem will spark discussions and “Ah-ha” moments about the function of punctuation and will make a grammar lesson one of the most eagerly anticipated classes of the day.

With his signature line drawings and humorous flair, Serge Bloch gives each type of punctuation mark a unique personality and purpose whether it’s creating a contraction, crying a puddle of lonely tears, lassoing words, or linking clauses in a train of thought. Bloch’s bold colors and action-packed pages bring the punctuation to life and will delight readers.

For young and older grammarians and poetry lovers, A Bunch of Punctuation is a bunch of fun to add to home, school, and classroom libraries.

Ages 8 – 12

WordSong, 2018 | ISBN 978-1590789940

To learn more about Lee Bennet Hopkins, his books, and his poetry, visit his website.

To learn more about Serge Bloch, his books, and his art, visit his website.

A Bunch of Punctuation Giveaway

I’m excited to partner with Boyds Mills Press in this giveaway of:

  • One (1) copy of A Bunch of Punctuation with poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins  | illustrated by Serge Bloch

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet a giveaway tweet during this week, September 24 – 30. Already a follower? Thanks! Just retweet for a chance to win.

A winner will be chosen on October 1.

Giveaway open to US addresses only. | Prizing provided by Boyds Mills Press.

National Punctuation Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Punctuation-Word-Search

Pick Out the Punctuation! Word Search

 

Have fun finding the twelve types of punctuation in this printable puzzle!

Pick Out the Punctuation! Word Search Puzzle | Pick Out the Punctuation! Solution

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You can find A Bunch of Punctuation at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

September 23 – It’s Library Card Sign-Up Month

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About the Holiday

Don’t you wish there was somewhere that you could find all the books you’d love to read and then be able to take them home for free? Oh! You’re right! There is such a place—and what’s even more amazing is that there’s one in almost every town. Libraries are one of the most valuable community services, and this month people are encouraged to visit their local library and sign up for a library card. It’s easy and free and pays way more benefits than any of the store cards hanging from your keychain. Kids, especially, are excited to get their own library card that can start them off on a lifetime love of reading. So, if you or your child don’t have a library card, visit your library and make it a special event!

A Big Surprise for Little Card

Written by Charise Mericle Harper | Illustrated by Anna Raff

 

Little Card lived with a whole bunch of other cards who had important jobs and knew just what they were for. Only “Little Card and Long Card were still waiting for their special letters to arrive” telling them what they were. One day when Little Card and Long Card raced to bring the mail back inside, they slipped and the envelopes went flying. Little Card picked one up addressed to him and opened it. He jumped with joy to read, “‘Dear L.C., Congratulations! You are a birthday card. Your training starts tomorrow.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-big-surprise-for-little-card-card-condo

Image copyright Anna Raff, 2016, text copyright Charise Mericle Harper, 2016. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Little Card excelled at birthday card school and loved everything about parties—the decorating, the games, and especially the singing. Little Card “always sang the loudest.” But one day, Long Card met him at the door with some big news. Their letters had gotten mixed up and Long Card was the birthday card, not Little Card. Not only that, but it was delivery day and neither of them had time to go back to school. All Long Card could tell Little Card was that his job was “interesting and exciting,” and then she added, “‘Just remember, always use a quiet voice.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-big-surprise-for-little-card-school

Image copyright Anna Raff, 2016, text copyright Charise Mericle Harper, 2016. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

As Little Card waited to be delivered, he decided that his job sounded a lot like a party, so when he was dropped off, he ran in and “shouted…HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” He was immediately shushed and told that this was a library. Little Card thought that should be celebrated too, so he shouted, “HAPPY LIBRARY!” Miss Penny, the librarian came to see what all the fuss was about, and when she saw Little Card, she took him to meet Alex, who was getting her first library card.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-big-surprise-for-little-card-happy-library

Image copyright Anna Raff, 2016, text copyright Charise Mericle Harper, 2016. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

They spent the afternoon playing games, having a snack, and decorating with “a rainbow of books” that they couldn’t wait to read. All that was missing was a song, Little Card thought. So he sang as quietly as he could. When it was time to go, “Miss Penny smiled gave Little Card a gold star” as she checked out Alex’s books.

As they left Little Card was sad that Happy Library Day was only once a year. But when Alex showed him that Happy Library Day was six days a week, Little Card cheered. Not only that, but the next day was Miss Penny’s birthday. Little Card knew exactly how to celebrate—and he knew “just who to invite.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-big-surprise-for-little-card-book-covers

Image copyright Anna Raff, 2016, text copyright Charise Mericle Harper, 2016. Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

Charise Mericle Harper’s sweet story cleverly addresses so many themes of childhood from discovering one’s talents, to dealing with new and unexpected situations to obeying rules while still having fun. On top of this, Harper infuses her story with a love of books and an introduction to all the things a library has to offer. Comparing the library to a party will delight children and adults alike, and the combined Happy Library Day and Happy Birthday party to come brings two friends together and may inspire unique parties of all kinds.

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Anna Raff’s Little Card is as excited and enthusiastic as any child eager to learn and explore their world. As he impatiently waits to shout out “Happy Birthday,” he giggles and taps his toes, and when his fortunes turn, Little Card takes on the new challenge with a smile and boundless energy. Kids and adults will enjoy laughing together over the rainbow of book titles—and may even want to try making up their own stories to go with them.

Filled with humor, joy, and friendship, A Big Surprise for Little Card will be a favorite for home and classroom story times.

Ages 4 – 8

Candlewick, 2016 | ISBN 978-0763674854

Discover more about Charise Mericle Harper and her books on her website.

To learn more about Anna Raff, her books, and her art, visit her website.

It’s Library Card Sign-Up Month Activity

CPB - Bookmobile

Bookmobile Craft

 

Bookmobiles are love on wheels! If libraries are some of your favorite places, you’ll like making this bookmobile from a recycled box! You can even use it as a desk organizer!

Supplies

  • Printable Book Shelves and Sign Template
  • Cardboard box, 16-oz pasta or other recyclable boxes work well (I used a 5” x 7 ¼ -inch pasta box)
  • Small wooden spools or wheels
  • Paint
  • Scissors
  • X-acto knife
  • Strong glue
  • Paint brush

Directions

1.Gently pull the box apart at the seam and lie flat with the unprinted side facing up

2. To Make the Awning:

  • On one of the wide sides of the box, measure a rectangle 1 inch from the top of the box, leaving at least 1 ¼ inches at the bottom of the box and 1 ¼ inches on both sides
  • With the x-acto knife or scissors cut the sides and bottom of the rectable, leaving the top  uncut
  • Paint the top and underside of the awning (if you want to make stripes on the awning lay strips of tape side by side across the awning. Remove every other strip of tape. Paint the open stripes one color of paint. When the paint dries replace the tape over the paint and remove the tape from the unpainted stripes. Paint those stripes a different color.)

3. Paint the rest of the box on the unprinted side any way you like, let dry

4. Cut the Printable Book Shelf template to fit the size of your window opening, leaving at least a ½ inch margin all around

5. Tape the book shelf to the inside of the window

6. Reconstruct the box, making the original seam an inside flap

7. Glue the flap and sides together

8. If using small spools for wheels, paint them black. Let dry

9. Glue the wheels to the bottom of the box

10, Attach the Bookmobile sign, found on the printable template, above the awning

** To Make a Desk Organizer from the Bookmobile

  • Cut an opening in the top of the bookmobile with the x-acto knife or a scissor

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-a-big-surprise-for-little-card-cover

You can find A Big Surprise for Little Card at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

August 31 – National Trail Mix Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-adventures-with-barefoot-critters

About the Holiday

Going out for a hike or just a day of doing errand? Then you’ll want to take along a snack to keep you going. Trail mix is just the thing! With its combination of nutritional value—quick energy from dried fruit or granola and more long-lasting energy from nuts—and its ability to be carried easily, trail mix is a perfect take along! Little ones can also enjoy their own versions of trail mix made with their favorite cereal and nutritious finger foods. Why not plan an outing with your kids, some trail mix, and a great book—like today’s!

Adventures with Barefoot Critters: An ABC Book

By Teagan White

 

The barefoot critters—two foxes, a squirrel, a deer, and a triceratops—love to go on adventures! Adventures that will take them through the alphabet. First, little deer and Squirrel must build a bridge over the frozen stream to get to the Foxes’ house. Oh dear! It seems one little fox has a cold. Happily, he has a mouse friend to bring him hot chocolate with marshmallows.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-adventures-with-barefoot-critters-dress-up

Copyright Teagan White, 2017, courtesy of Tundra Books.

It’s fun to “play dress-up at home…or on Halloween!” And the stream is the perfect place to “float boats” in the fall. In spring lying on the grass is nice. Of course, the barefoot critters can always find places to jump, no matter what season it is. Making music to dance to with friends is a happy way to spend an afternoon and finding “treasure by the ocean” is always exciting.

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Copyright Teagan White, 2017, courtesy of Tundra Books.

The barefoot critters love camping—whether it’s indoors, where they “create a quilt fort” or outside, where they can “roast marshmallows!” In the old tree, Fox and Triceratops have built a treehouse! Perhaps the friend who has “come for a visit” will play in it too. Rainy days are wonderful for feeding the ducklings and fishing—as long as Fox and Triceratops don’t forget their umbrella. But what is mouse to do when even though one little fox is wearing his yellow rain jacket, he and his sister track mud all over the newly washed floor?

After all of these wonderful adventures, what will the barefoot creatures do next? “Catch some z’s! Zzzzzz”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-adventures-with-barefoot-critters-a-float-boats

Copyright Teagan White, 2017, courtesy of Tundra Books.

As snug as fuzzy socks on a cold day and as sweet as just-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies, Teagan White’s Adventures with Barefoot Critters is a heartwarming snuggle up book to share with little ones. The Fox brother and sister, Deer, Squirrel, and endearingly anachronistic Triceratops are adorable companions on the journey through the alphabet. Cozy colors and richly detailed illustrations are tiny treasures that young readers and adults alike will have fun exploring together. Careful observers will enjoy the amusing arc involving Triceratops and his own adventure to find the Middle Jurassic. A little mouse, a playful snowflake-eating frog, and other woodland creatures will delight little ones as the friends spend the seasons together.

Not only for learning letters and new words, but for sharing lots of smiles, Adventures with Barefoot Critters: An ABC Book would make a much-loved baby gift or addition to home and classroom libraries.

Ages Preschool and up

Tundra Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1101919132 (Board Book)

A Hardcover edition for ages 4 to 8 with rhyming verses is also available | ISBN 978-1770496248

Discover more about Teagan White, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Trail Mix Day Activity

young girl eating trailmix

Kids’ Trail Mix Recipe

 

Kids will love putting together and eating this healthy and easy-to-make trail mix from Fit WebMD Jr. that they can take along to school, after-school activities, and play dates. To learn more about this recipe visit Fit WebMD Jr.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups low-sugar, whole-grain cereal
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup dried fruit, like cranberries, apricots, apples, or papaya
  • 1 cup nuts, like walnuts, almonds, or pistachios
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • Big bowl
  • Small zip-top bags

How to Make Trail Mix

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Put all of the food in the bowl
  3. Mix it up with your hands
  4. Put 2 handfuls of your trail mix in a zip-top bag
  5. Keep putting trail mix in bags until the bowl is empty Trail Mix Is Healthy for You

Why Trail Mix is Healthy for You

  • Whole grains in the cereal give you energy to run and play.
  • Fruits have vitamins that help your eyes and skin.
  • Nuts have protein that helps make your muscles strong.
  • Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds give you fiber that helps you poop.
  • Dark chocolate may be good for your heart.

For Parents

Trail mix is a fun snack that offers satisfying crunch and sweetness with more nutrients than snacks like cookies or chips. You may even be able to introduce your child to a new food by mixing it in with others that she likes. This recipe is best for kids ages 4 and older, because some ingredients may be a choking hazard for younger children.

Although you could store your trail mix in a large air-tight container, making snack bags is fun and they are more convenient for kids (or parents on the go) to grab. Pre-packaged snack bags also make it harder for kids to eat too much. Remember to let your child’s handfuls determine the portion size. You should be able to make at least 2 dozen snack bags from this recipe.

Little kids can pour ingredients you have measured from cups or bowls into the big bowl. Older kids can measure the ingredients by themselves.

Cereals that are O-shaped or squares or clusters will stand up to handling better than flakes, which can easily turn into crumbs. For better nutrition, look for a cereal whose label says less than 8 grams of sugar and at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. While you’re checking labels, avoid dried fruits with a sugar coating, which adds empty calories and will cause an energy spike and crash.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-adventures-with-barefoot-critters

You can find Adventures with Barefoot Critters at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

August 17 – National Black Cat Appreciation Day

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About the Holiday

If you want a pet who’s always surprising, loves to play, and will make you laugh, you can’t go wrong with a cat. Frisky kittens and even older, more loafing cats display such varied personalities that each day brings new fun adventures. Today, we celebrate one particular type of cat—the black cat. While black cats are just as loving and cute as tabbies or their tiger-striped friends, they are much less likely to be adopted from shelters or find forever families due to the superstitions that surround them. If you are considering adding a kitten or cat to your family, think about adopting that cute black kitten that is sure to steal your heart.

Bloomsbury Books sent me a copy of Big Box Little Box to check out. All opinions are my own. 

Big Box Little Box

Written by Caryl Hart | Illustrated by Edward Underwood

 

In a house full of boxes, there lives one very happy cat! Do you see her peeking around the “Big box?” The orange and pink striped one that’s tied neatly in red string? Maybe she wonders what is in the “little box” nearby. Wow! Look at all those boxes to hide among on the next page! There’s a “huge box,” a “tiny box, a “thin box” and a “fat box.” The kitty has even found a box to sit on. Oh, no! Now it’s a “flat box.”

The cat has found six more boxes in every color to explore. She’s even found a red one that’s just perfect to nap in. No? Oh well. Two hands pick her up and place her into her own box—a comfy “snore box.” The cat wakes up to more boxes decorated with fancy designs and even some to play dress-up in. Four little boxes for four tiny paws and a pink box perfect to be a “hat box.” But walking? Whoa! “Slippy box. Slidey box” leads to a “Run away and hidey box.”

Here’s a box with a suspicious hole in the corner. Kitty peers inside and “mouse squeaks.” The chase is on: “scurry, pounce, chase, bounce!” Cat and mouse play and sleep, happily becoming “new friends.”

If you’ve ever seen a cat explore any box they find, you’ll know how purr-fectly spot-on Caryl Hart’s Big Box Little Box is! Little ones will be charmed by the cute kitty and the jaunty rhymes that introduce kids to sizes, colors, positions, and even friendship all through (mostly) two-word phrases. Young readers will eagerly read along as they follow the curious cat from page to page and box to box. Humorous asides, including when the kitten is moved from “my box” to “your box” and she and the mouse first spy each other, will delight kids.

Edward Underwood illustrates Hart’s highly entertaining book with verve and humor and gives the cat the kind of playful personality that makes them such endearing companions. The cat’s expressive green eyes peek from and around boxes; she wears boxes as hats, shoes, and hiding places; and, of course, she flops inside a chosen few for several catnaps. The game of cat and mouse is full of action and cheery fun. Bold colors and a dynamic design will keep children riveted to the pages as they have fun learning these early childhood concepts—as well as a bit about cats!

A joy to read aloud, Big Box Little Box would be a sweet and enchanting addition to home and classroom bookshelves. The minimal text offers many opportunities to discuss a wide range of early math and literacy concepts, and the book lends itself easily to learning extensions from drawing to stacking and filling to building. The book would make a fun gift for babies and teachers.

Ages 2 – 6

Bloomsbury Books, 2018 | ISBN 978-1681197869

Discover more about Caryl Hart and her books on her website.

National Black Cat Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-cat-match-puzzle

Match the Kittens Puzzle

 

All of these kittens have twins, but they’ve gotten separated while playing. Can you find the matching pairs in this puzzle? Click the link for a printable puzzle!

Match the Kittens Puzzle

celebrate-picture-books-big-box-little-box-cover

You can find Big Box Little Box 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

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You can find Idea Jar at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

June 3 – National Repeat Day

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About the Holiday

Does it ever feel like you’re just doing the same thing over and over again? Well, today we celebrate that feeling. While repetition can sometimes drive you a little crazy—like when that catchy tune loops endlessly through your head—it can also be very beneficial as any musician knows. Using repetition is also a terrific way to introduce learning and laughs for kids—like in today’s book!

Dirty Birdies

By Jennifer Sattler

 

In Jennifer Sattler’s funny counting book, little ones meet one long-legged blue bird with yellow spots who’s just loves dancing it up in a mud puddle. She’s having so much fun that she doesn’t even realize how dirty she’s getting until she stands still and the oozy mud begins to drip from her wings, head, and beak. Then “1 dirty birdie meets 1 painting birdie.”

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Copyright Jennifer Sattler, 2018, courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

This mini-Michelangelo is really splattering the purple paint until there are “2 dirty birdies.” What happens when they team up and discover an extremely tall yellow fellow with his head in a hole? I bet you guessed: there are now “3 dirty birdies.” These intrepid birds pick up another fluffy friend before encountering a very messy snacker and adding her to their group.

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Copyright Jennifer Sattler, 2018, courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

The five dirty birdies take stock and decide they need to clean up. With a sponge, a brush, a little green duckie, and a very looong tub, they rub-a-dub-dub in a bath. They dry their feathers, and… can’t resist getting dirty all over again!

Eight questions following the text will entice little ones into a repeat reading along with some fun observations, counting, and discussions of size.

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Copyright Jennifer Sattler, 2018, courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Jennifer Sattler’s Dirty Birdies is such a playful way for little learners to interact with counting, size, shapes, and observational skills. The repetition in the text invites little ones to joyfully read along, while her colorful illustrations of these slightly goofy birds, abashed at their messy appearances, will have little ones giggling with each turn of the page. The lead-up to the final page offers rib-tickling suspense, and the carefree final spread will have kids saying, “Again! Again!”

Ages Birth – 5

Sleeping Bear Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1-58536-389-6

Discover more about Jennifer Sattler, her books, and her art on her website.

National Repeat Day Activity

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Find the Differences Puzzles

 

The two pictures in these puzzles may look like exact repeats of each other, but if you look closely you’ll see some differences. Can you find the differences in both of these Find the Differences Puzzles?

Bee Find the Differences Puzzle | Kids Taking a Drive Find the Differences Puzzle

Picture Book Review