November 18 – It’s Picture Book Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-let's-go-bobby-cover-2

About the Holiday

Picture Book Month is a great time to introduce young readers to new books as well as those adult readers enjoyed as a child. One idea would be to  organize a Picture Book Party with family and friends where each person brought the book that was their childhood favorite to share. If you’re starting to think about holiday gifts, there’s no better present than a picture book. It really is a gift you open again and again! Today’s book offers little ones a fun and definitely hands-on way to interact with reading.

Let’s Go, Bobby! 

By Ruth Wielockx

 

Bobby loves to travel! And Bobby is pretty proficient with all kinds of vehicles, so he really gets around. The fantastic part is that little readers can follow along on each of Bobby’s trips! Look! Bobby is going to ride his bike up and down the mountains. He has his shiny red bike, his sturdy helmet, and a route all picked out. Are you ready to ride along? Bobby’s peddling and peddling and just about to climb the first mountain. Get your finger ready, you and Bobby are about to zip zig-zag-zig-zag over the tall peaks.

Next Bobby wants to take his scooter into town—right to the fountain in the central square. But why do they call it a square when it’s so fun to coast wheeee… round and round and round to the fountain? Get your finger out again, set it in the track and….wheeee! Round and round and round we go again!

You’re going to love the next one! Bobby has gotten out his Go-Kart! Okay! It’s time to weave in and out around the colored flags. Don’t let your finger go off-course! Wow! Great job! Bobby had fun too! Leaving land behind, Bobby is ready to set sail “on the waves of the wild sea. Will you sail along?” Oooh! Riding the waves is amazing! They’re so huge!

From the ocean to the train tracks! Bobby is now an engineer of tidy blue engine. All Aboard! Let’s chug down those tracks clickety-clack! Point and lead where you’d like Bobby to go! Enough of being on land! Bobby’s ready to fly! You too? Make puffy, white loop-de-loops in the bright blue sky—one…two…three! Feeling a little woozy? Maybe a helicopter ride is more your thing. Fortunately, “Bobby flies his helicopter over town.” There are “so many bright lights!” Come along!

Take off straight up then make a right over the tall apartment building. Take ‘er down to check out the smaller building next door, and up, up, up to trace the skyscrapers before descending again to land. Now, Bobby knows what you’ve been waiting for! Meet him at the race track and take some laps around the figure-eight track! How fast can your finger go?

Racing is fun, “but what Bobby likes best is to fly in a rocket to the moon. Three, two, one…. Will you travel along?” How many times can you circle the glowing full moon? After all this traveling, it’s time for sleeping. “Bobby dreams about exciting adventures all night. Will you dream along?”

Ruth Wielockx has created a unique hands-on board book for little travel enthusiasts that allows them to follow along an indented track. Every two-page spread introduces Bobby and his vehicle on the left side and his route on the right. The rectangular, oversized format gives plenty of room for the track, inviting kids to zig-zag, circle, weave, and chug along over and over. Wielockx’s bright, bold images, spare of extraneous detail, put the focus on the shapes and intricacies of the tracks, offering plenty to discuss about height, speed, up and down, forward and backward, alternate routes, and even upside down and right-side up. Children will love seeing each vehicle and Bobby dressed appropriately for every job he takes on. The final spread invites kids to wonder if it’s real or all a dream and start the trip again.

With its inviting interactivity, Let’s Go, Bobby! is a wonderful book for kids who love cars, trains, planes, and other modes of transportation. The indented tracks provide the kind of fun that will make the book a favorite. Let’s Go, Bobby! is also an excellent take-along book for outdoor activities and waiting times and would make a welcome gift.

Ages 2 and up

Clavis Publishing, 2017 | ISBN 978-1605373614

Discover more about Ruth Wielockz and her books on her website.

Picture Book Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-easy-zoo-vehicle-coloring-page

Let’s Go! Coloring Pages

 

Little ones love to go, go, go! Here are two printable easy coloring pages to enjoy on the way!

Helpful Ambulance Coloring Page | Giraffe on the Go Coloring Page

November 8 – Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tacos!-cover

About the Holiday

Hmm-mmm! Nothing satisfies quite as much as tangy, spicy dishes. Garlic, red pepper, ginger, mustard, cumin, and many other spices and flavors bring a tantalizing tingle to taste buds. Today’s holiday was established to encourage people to explore all the savory sensations of bold cuisine. You know how to celebrate! Visit your favorite restaurant or cook up your own zesty meal.

Tacos! An Interactive Recipe Book

Illustrated by Lotta Nieminen

 

Do you have all your ingredients? The tortillas, black beans, chicken, avocados, ears of corn, cabbage, radishes, lime, scallions, cilantro, cumin, ancho chili powder, and salt? How about mixing bowls, cutting boards, a pot, a skillet, and an array of utensils? Get ‘em! Got ‘em? Good! Now… “use the first cutting board and knife to cut the chicken into cubes and toss them in a bowl with the spices.” Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to one hour.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tacos!-ingredients

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon.

Next, cook the chicken in the skillet “until the pink color disappears.” While you’re waiting for the chicken to finish, grab the big knife and cut the vegetables. Now it’s time to use that avocado—plus the lime, salt, and a bit of cilantro—to make guacamole. Mash and stir all the ingredients until you’ve made a smooth, green paste.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tacos!-guacamole

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon.

You can set the guacamole aside while you heat up the black beans in a pot and slice the corn kernels off the cob—zip! zip! zip! Now comes the building part! Gather all of your ingredients, plus any others you may like to add, like sour cream, cotija cheese, or pico de gallo and set to work! Warm your tortillas by “wrapping them in a damp paper towel and then in foil, and placing them in the oven for 10 minutes.”

Ahhh! Lay the warm tortillas on a plate and add the chicken, beans, corn, guacamole, and your favorite toppings. All that’s left is to fold your tortilla in half and take a bite. Hmm-mmm!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tacos!-heating-tortilla

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon.

Lotta Nieminen’s Cook in a Book series of interactive cookbooks for kids (and fun-loving adults) are smart, refreshing, and addictively playful. Nieminen’s sophisticated art and color palette invite kids (and did I mention adults?) to play around with cooking through clever tabs flaps, wheels, and pull outs. In Tacos! readers sizzle up chicken through a pull tab that turns pink cubes to golden brown. On the next page, children can remove the cardboard knife and pretend to chop as the pull tab creates slices and dices of scallions, cabbage, and radishes.

Kids can put the knife back in its slot or use it on the next page to divide the avocado, which opens like a little book. By turning the wheel, children mix the guacamole ingredients from a light green to a rich green texture. The same wheel allows readers to stir the black beans on the stove when they turn the page. The mechanics at work between the thick board book pages make removing the corn kernels a joy. Slide the top of the ear down and kernels “fly” to each side accompanied by a rippling feel and sound.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tacos!-guacamole-mixing

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon.

With all the ingredients prepared, children come to Step 8, where a round of foil awaits. On the facing page a tortilla is ready. With just a pop of the finger hole, kids can lift the tortilla from its place, turn it to the plain side, and lay it on the foil. After a bit of waiting for it to “warm,” children (or adults!) can turn it over to where all the delicious toppings mingle, fold it in half, and…enjoy!

The text consists entirely of the recipe, with the directions described in easy-to-follow steps that are sprinkled across the pages, adding a jaunty energy to each spread.

Tacos!—as well as the other books in the series, Pancakes! and Pizza!—would make a fantastic gift for foodie kids and for children who love playing with toy kitchens or in the real thing. Tor the HGTV crowd, the book would be a happy surprise as a housewarming or holiday gift.

Ages 4 – 8 and up

To learn more about Lotta Nieminen and view a gallery of her graphic design and illustration work, visit her website.

Phaidon, 2017 | ISBN 978-0714875057

Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day Activity

 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-spice-bottle-penguins

Spice Bottle Penguins

 

After you’ve used all the spicy goodness, make some cold-weather friends from those little bottles with this fun craft!

Supplies

  • Empty glass or plastic spice bottle with cap
  • Black paint
  • White paint OR White fleece or felt
  • Black paper
  • Yellow foam or heavy paper
  • Googly eyes
  • Styrofoam ball (optional)
  • Glue
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Paint the inside of the glass or plastic bottle with the black paint, let dry
  2. From the white fleece, cut an oval for the penguin’s belly and glue it on. Alternatively, paint a white oval on the jar to make a belly. Fleece may be a better option for younger children, as the paint can scratch off glass and plastic surfaces.
  3. Glue googly eyes near the top of the jar, but below the cap
  4. Cut a triangle of yellow foam or paper for the beak and glue it on
  5. Cut two tear shapes for the wings from the black paper. Glue the top of the shape to the body of the penguin, overlapping the belly a little. Fold the tips up
  6. Give your penguins Styrofoam ball snowballs to play with!

 

Picture Book Review

September 17 – It’s Better Breakfast Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-cover

About the Holiday

What makes a better breakfast than a tall stack of pancakes? With so many varieties—from buttermilk to buckwheat to chocolate chip—and so many toppings, such as syrup, fruit, and jam, you could have a different breakfast nearly every day of the year!

Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book

Illustrated by Lotta Nieminen

 

Sometimes a novelty book comes along that transcends the “kid” category and provides fun and “Ooooh!’ moments for readers of all ages. Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book offers just this kind of delicious excitement. Opening the cover is like walking into a cozy kitchen, finding your favorite recipe and gathering all the necessary ingredients. The first two-page spread presents in visuals and words the recipe and the utensils and other cooking items needed to make pancakes.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-an-interactive-recipe-book-ingredients

Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

With the second two-page spread, cooking begins! A scoop of baking powder, two tablespoons of sugar, and half a teaspoon of salt are added to the bowl. But what about the cup of flour? Readers get to add that themselves with a pull tab that simulates the flour joining the other ingredients in the green mixing bowl. The clever cut of the opening and the mottled and powdery appearance of the illustrated flour gives the sensation of actual pouring.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-an-interactive-recipe-book-measuring-milk

Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

Next, readers get to measure out the cup of milk with the help of a pull tab that gives kids control over the amount being served. Four marks on the side of the measuring cup provide an opportunity to talk about fractions and the ¼, ½, and ¾ lines that are also incorporated into real glass measuring cups or the separate cups that come as part of a set. Once the milk is ready, it goes into the mixing bowl with the melted butter and the egg.

Grab your whisk and get stirring! A wheel on the side of the page lets kids “combine” these wet ingredients from their individual parts into a cohesive yellow batter. Now that the batter is ready, it’s time for “STEP 4: Ladle the batter into separate circles in the hot, buttered frying pan.” Readers will love pulling the tab that releases the batter into the pan—leaving just a drop of batter to sizzle on its own (and you know how good those crispy drops can be!)

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-an-interactive-recipe-book-flipping-pancakes

Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

The batter is bubbling—which means it’s time to flip the flap jacks! As the spatula appears from the top of the page, kids can lift one of the little round yellow pancakes from the fry pan and turn it over. Ingeniously, the reverse side is delectably browned. A turn of the page invites by-now-hungry readers to follow “STEP 6: When both sides are browned, stack the finished pancakes on a plate.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-an-interactive-recipe-book-on-plate

Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, 2016, courtesy of phaidon.com

A pancake-sized round indentation on the plate just begs to be filled with the browned pancake from the previous page. Adding the pancake to the sunny plate, kids will feel as if they are holding the spatula and carefully slipping it atop a stack ready to be eaten.  The last page encourages readers to “add butter, syrup, fruit, jam, lemon juice, honey, or whipped cream and taste what you’ve made! Delicious!”

Lotta Nieminen’s Pancakes! is so wonderfully conceived in its bold vibrant images and simple recitation of a pancake recipe. The crisp lines and absence of labels on the ingredients’ packages, puts the focus on the shapes, providing a chance for discussion of concepts such as rectangle, circle, half-circle, cylinder, oval, and triangle; flat and round; and bigger and smaller. Ideas such as hot and cold, measuring, pouring, mixing, stacking and others can also be introduced. The brilliant interactive elements invite kids and adults alike to play with this book over and over.

The sturdy board pages and convenient size make this a perfect take-along for trips to the market, picnics, appointments, sibilings’ activities, or other outings where waiting is required. For kids and adults who like to help out in the kitchen, love to cook, or are attracted by all things culinary, Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book makes a terrific gift and must have for home bookshelves. 

Ages 2 and up

Phaidon Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-0714872834

To view a gallery of graphic design and illustration work by Lotta Nieminen, visit her website!

Better Breakfast Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancake-game

Pancake Flip-Out

 

Pancakes are served in a stack because they’re so delicious each one doesn’t last long! This game gives you the chance to see how many pancakes you can flip onto a plate! You can play this game several ways:

To Play Pancake Toss

  1. Give each player the same number of pancakes and see how many they can toss onto the plate during their turn
  2. Make a target with the plate in the middle and draw 3 concentric circles around it. Hitting the target can earn you 20 points. Getting your pancake in the first circle around the plate earns you 15 point, the second circle is worth 10 points, and the third is worth 5 points. Rotate through the players as many times as you like and add up the points at the end. The player with the most points wins!
  3. Instead of tossing the pancakes with your hands, try throwing them with a spatula!
  4. Make up your own rules—and have fun!

To Play With Dice

  1. Choose a number of pancakes that each player must add to their plate—say, maybe, a baker’s dozen.
  2. Take turns rolling the dice and adding the number of pancakes rolled to the plate. The first player to reach the agreed-upon number is the winner.

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print enough copies of the Pancakes and Breakfast Plates for the game you choose and cut them out. Playing pieces can be printed on card stock or on paper. 
  2. If printing on paper, you can glue the pancakes and plate to poster board, or cardboard to give the pancakes more weight for throwing and the plate more support
  3. Once dry, the game pieces are ready for fun!

Picture Book Review

September 14 – Live Creative Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-cover

About the Holiday

Today, let your inner artist out! There are as many ways to be creative as there are people—that’s what makes today such a special event! Everyone sees, hears, and experiences the world in a different way. How do you? Grab the creative tool or instrument of your choice and let your friends, family, and even strangers see the creative genius inside you!

Crocodali

By Lucy Volpin

 

You open the book, expecting to be welcomed with open arms by the characters inside. Instead, who do you meet but a very busy crocodile. With not a little braggadocio he reveals that he is “Crocodali, the most talented painter in the whole wide world.” It seems you’ve stumbled into his studio, and he’s setting up to create a new masterpiece, leaving him no time to stop for a chat or even to give you an autograph.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-in-the-studio

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

But after he’s given you the brush off, so to speak, he suddenly needs your help. Crocodali just can’t get the canvas to sit straight on the easel. He asks if you wouldn’t mind tilting the book just a little to the right. Oh, no! Now it needs to go a little to the left. Can you tilt it back just a wee bit? Oh dear! Now the canvas and the easel have toppled over! Even the paint cans tipped on their sides, and some blue and yellow has splashed onto the clean, white canvas.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-tilt

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Well! Crocodali is a little miffed! He wants you to just go on reading and leave the cleaning up to him. Wait, wait, wait! Did you turn the page? (Isn’t that part of reading, though?) Now the canvas is completely on its side and there are some splotches of red on it too. Crocodali is in a huff because now he’ll have to start all over. But he takes a second look and in the next moment has had a change of heart. Now he thinks “that looks quite nice. Maybe you’re onto something.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-tilt-the-other-way

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

He even invites you to “give the book a shake and see what happens.” What happens is that the paints, brushes, canvas, and even Crocodali himself are now rattling around the pages all topsy-turvy. When things settle down, the room and the great artist are covered in paint. Crocodali sets the painting back on the easel and steps back to take a look. Hmmmm…. He likes it! But maybe it’s upside down? He’s going to turn it over and add a few more details.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-tipped-over

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

With a very dexterous tail and his right hand, he dabs on purple, brushes on yellow and red, and is then ready to “mix it all up.” Here’s where you come in again. Can you give the canvas a good rub? Wow! The painting looks amazing! Crocodali exclaims, “It’s a masterpiece! I really am the greatest painter in the world.” He’s the greatest painter in the world? Who did all the work? Whatever…. The painting now needs to dry, and Crocodali wants you to blow on it to speed up the process.

One…two…three…Blow! Huh! You have some power! You blew all the paint off the canvas and onto the wall! It looks incredible, through—and leaves the canvas blank to start all over again!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-crocodali-on-its-side

Copyright Lucy Volpin, 2017, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Kids will love Lucy Volpin’s feisty, boastful crocodile who comes to see that even mishaps can spark creativity. The giggles will begin on the first page as Crocodali (an inspired character and name) strolls into the studio sporting a Salvador Dali mustache and dismissing readers away with a wave of his hand. As children begin interacting with the pages, they’ll look forward to what comes next. Large images of the canvas allow children to really see the effects of their actions, and the two-page “shaken” spread is a delight of mayhem and color.

Kids will also enjoy turning the book around to see the various perspectives of the painting they’re creating throughout the story. Volpin gives readers lots of opportunities to discuss art, color, painting, and even teamwork, making Crocodali a joyful and inviting introduction to the creative process.

Crocodali would be a lively, playful opening to arts and crafts sessions in schools, libraries, and at home. For art lovers or energetic kids who like interaction with their reading, Crocodali is a wonderful choice.

Ages 3 – 8

little bee books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1499806335

Live Creative Day Activity

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

Make Your Own Creative Supply Jars

 

When inspiration hits, you want to have all of your supplies close at hand! With this easy craft you can use your creativity to make a one-of-a-kind jar to keep all of your favorite things neat, tidy, and within reach! These make great gifts for friends too!

Supplies

  • A wide-mouth plastic jar, such as a peanut butter jar
  • Paint or markers for plastic
  • Multi-surface chalkboard paint (optional)
  • Paint brush
  • Chalk (optional)

Directions

  1. Design your jar
  2. If you are planning to use chalkboard paint, paint that section first
  3. Paint or decorate with markers
  4. Let dry
  5. Fill with your art of other creative supplies

Picture Book Review

September 5 – Cheese Pizza Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pizza!-an-interactive-recipe-book-cover

About the Holiday

If you’re wondering what you should have for dinner or lunch…or…heck—even breakfast!—ponder no longer. It’s Cheese Pizza Day, which gives you carte blanche to indulge in this hot, bubbly favorite any time today. And even though the official holiday only mentions cheese, I don’t think anyone will mind if you add a few toppings!

Pizza! An Interactive Recipe Book

Illistrated by Lotta Nieminen

 

Out of the frying pan and into the oven, Lotta Nieminen cooks up another delicious “cook in a book” offering. This time kids are making pizza! The first two pages lay out all the ingredients and utensils they will need to create a scrumptious cheese pizza. Once the flour, yeast, sea salt, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, olive oil, sugar, and water are assembled, it’s time to get out the bowls, spoons, measuring cup, knife, and damp dishtowel.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pizza!-an-interactive-recipe-book-ingredients

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

In Steps 1 and 2, little chefs combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a small bowl. As they “let it sit for a few minutes until bubbly,” they grab the large bowl. With the magic of a pull tab, the dusty flour and tiny salt crystals flow into the bowl. Next it’s time to “drizzle in the olive oil” and add the yeast mixture. The pull tab makes sure nothing spills! Now, push the spoon back and forth to mix it up into one “big clump of dough!”

Step 4 is even more fun! Kids get to knead the squishy dough before putting it in the bowl and covering it with the cloth. One to two hours later—or with the turn of the page!—the dough is ready to be placed on cooking sheets. Now, preheat the oven to 500 degrees! Just roll the wheel and watch the numbers rise. When you get to 500, you can stop! Open the oven door and pop those pans right inside.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pizza!-an-interactive-recipe-book-adding-flour

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

When the crusts are ready, take them out of the oven and use the wooden spoon to swirl on the tomato sauce—Ooo! It’s kind of mesmerizing! Step 9 is where the toppings come in. Would you choose peppers, ham, pepperoni, mushrooms, garlic, basil, olives? Or maybe a bit of everything!? Now that all the toppings are…on top, it’s time for “Step 10: Bake for another 10 minutes, or until the crusts are golden brown.”

Hmmmm! The pizzas look sooo delicious! Quick, get the pizza cutter and cut a slice! Lift it out with your fingers…and eat! (Well, pretend to anyway!)

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pizza!-an-interactive-recipe-book-slice

Copyright Lotta Nieminen, 2017, courtesy of Phaidon Press.

Lotta Nieminen’s Cook in a Book board books for kids (and anyone who enjoys cooking and playing) are fun from yummy beginning to delectable end. The text of Pizza! is a recipe that young and adult readers will be tempted to try themselves, but the true joy resides in Nieminen’s smart, sophisticated illustrations. Each page entices readers to interact with the directions with delightfully sequenced actions that invite repeat play. The yellow kneadable “dough” is an ingenious inclusion, and is as much of a stress reliever as it is fun.

Throughout, Pizza! offers plenty of opportunities for children and adults to talk about cooking, utensils, ingredients, and even memories of times spent together. The wheel on the oven is a great way to teach kids about rising temperature and counting by twenty-five. The final page fulfills the promise of the book with a sturdy slice of pizza that can be removed and enjoyed.

Pizza! makes a wonderful gift for children and a unique hostess, new home, bridal shower or other gift for adults. It would be a welcome addition to home bookshelves.

Ages 2 – 6 and up

Phaidon Press, 2017 |ISBN 978-0714874098

Discover a gallery of graphic design and illustration work by Lotta Nieminen on her website!

Cheese Pizza Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pizza-toppings-word-search

 What’s Your Favorite Topping? Word Search

 

Cheese pizza is great on its own! It also makes the perfect canvas for lots of toppings! Can you find eighteen delicious ingredients in this printable What’s Your Favorite Topping? Word Search? 

 

Picture Book Review

March 14 – International Ask a Question Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-do-you-see-my-tail-cover

About the Holiday

Admit it—you have a ton of questions. These days, don’t we all! Well, now’s the time to get them out there! Go on—even if you think it’s silly or it seems as if everyone else understands (believe me, they don’t!)—ask away! It’s only through questions that we learn the truth or make new discoveries. Little ones seem to come preloaded with questions, and each one is an opportunity for you to introduce them to our world!

Do You See My Tail?

By Anita Bijsterbosch

 

A bushy tailed animal hails readers from its place in the treetop—“Do you see my tail? Guess who I am!” A red-bellied bird, butterfly, cricket, spider, and ladybug are all standing by to find out too. Opening the flap, little ones are cheerfully greeted by a squirrel who is feeding its babies. “My babies live in a nest in a hollow tree. They like acorns,” the squirrel says. The young squirrels happily reach for the tasty nuts while their mom or dad says, “Hello, squirrel. Hello, sweet baby squirrels.’

On the next page, a small, brown tail trimmed in black and white peeks out from behind a bush. “Do you see my tail?” the owner asks. “I have a cute little tail. Guess who I am!” Two sleepy owls, a pair of mice and adorable insects can’t wait to find out either. The open flap reveals a mother deer and her fawn who is “lying in a little nest in the high grass.” As the two give kisses, Mom says, “Hello, deer. Hello, sweet baby deer.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-do-you-see-my-tail-deer-closed-flap

Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, courtesy of anitabijsterbosch.nl. Image from the original Dutch-language edition.

Next, a long black feathered tail pokes out from behind a tree. This tail belongs to a bird, and it’s fluffy babies are getting a nutritious worm snack. “How loudly they chirp,” the bird tells readers. Along with their meal, the babies get a little love: “Hello bird. Hello, Hello, sweet baby birds.” Turning the page, young readers see a flat brown tail dipping into the water. Inside the flap a beaver cuddles three babies who “are playing in a nest made of tree trunks and branches.”

“Do you see my tail?” the next animal asks. Who could that ball of fluff belong to? Lift the flap to discover an adult rabbit and four scampering babies “hopping around in a hole under the ground.” You can tell the rabbits hello! “Hello, rabbit. Hello, sweet baby rabbits.” A flip of the page reveals another part of the woods where a fiery red tail sways to and fro in the hedges, a woodpecker makes a hole in a nearby tree trunk, and tiny insects enjoy the day. Baby foxes “love to frolic” in their underground nest.

Can readers spot the next animal’s “teeny tiny tail” and guess who it belongs to? Under the flap they will find a hedgehog and three babies “sleeping and eating in a nest made of branches and leaves.” The hedgehogs love the apples that fall from the nearby tree. Say hello to the little hedgehogs! “Hello, sweet baby hedgehogs.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-do-you-see-my-tail-deer-open-flap

Copyright Anita Bijsterbosch, courtesy of anitabijsterbosch.nl. Image from the original Dutch-language edition.

Anita Bijsterbosch’s charming lift-the-flap book introduces toddlers and young children to a variety of animals and their babies through one easily identifiable feature. Each invitation to guess is followed up by a positive, upbeat answer that rewards a little one’s efforts. Two more complete sentences reveal information about the animal’s home as well as a behavioral trait that mirrors the kind of fun or snuggling that young children like to do themselves. The repeated greeting to each animal and their “sweet” babies not only emphasizes the love that families have for each other, but also provides a gentle lesson in the singular and plural forms of each animal’s name. The rich choices, such as frolic, bushy, and hollow used throughout the story promote early language development.

Bijsterbosch’s colorful pages will enchant young readers as cute birds, insects, mice, and other small creatures join in the fun. The fold-out flap is large enough for a detailed depiction of each animal and their home, and the bright eyes and friendly smiles of the adult and baby animals invite children in to learn and play. Little ones will love to name the other creatures and talk about their different habitats. The open art style offers opportunities to count and to discuss concepts such as in, out, inside, outside, on, near, and far, which are the building blocks of early math literacy. Readers will also love looking for the little ladybug on each spread.

Do You See My Tail? would be a wonderful early addition to any toddler’s or young child’s home bookshelf.

Ages 1 and up

Clavis, 2017 | ISBN 978-1605373201

International Ask a Question Day Activity

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Cute Dot-to-Dot Pages

 

Can you guess what animals you’ll find when you connect the dots in these two printable Cute Dot-to-Dot Pages?

Dot-to-Dot Page 1 | Dot-to-Dot Page 2

Picture Book Review

December 17 – Maple Syrup Day

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About the Holiday

Pancakes and waffles are great, but they’re even more delicious with maple syrup! That sweet, golden slooow-pouring topping that makes for a perfect breakfast (and breakfast-for-dinner meal) deserves its own holiday! Before you get out into the hustle and bustle of the weekend, why not celebrate a little with a tall stack and lots of maple syrup?!

Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book

Illustrated by Lotta Nieminen

 

Sometimes a novelty book comes along that transcends the “kid” category and provides fun and “Ooooh!’ moments for readers of all ages. Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book offers just this kind of delicious excitement. Opening the cover is like walking into a cozy kitchen, finding your favorite recipe and gathering all the necessary ingredients. The first two-page spread presents in visuals and words the recipe and the utensils and other cooking items needed to make pancakes.

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Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, courtesy of phaidon.com

With the second two-page spread, cooking begins! A scoop of baking powder, two tablespoons of sugar, and half a teaspoon of salt are added to the bowl. But what about the cup of flour? Readers get to add that themselves with a pull tab that simulates the flour joining the other ingredients in the green mixing bowl. The clever cut of the opening and the mottled and powdery appearance of the illustrated flour gives the sensation of actual pouring.

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Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, courtesy of phaidon.com

Next readers get to measure out the cup of milk with the help of a pull tab that gives kids control over the amount being served. Four marks on the side of the measuring cup provide an opportunity to talk about fractions and the ¼, ½, and ¾ lines that are also incorporated into real glass measuring cups or the separate cups that come as part of a set. Once the milk is ready, it goes into the mixing bowl with the melted butter and the egg.

Grab your whisk and get stirring! A wheel on the side of the page lets kids “combine” these wet ingredients from their individual parts into a cohesive yellow batter. Now that the batter is ready, it’s time for “STEP 4: Ladle the batter into separate circles in the hot, buttered frying pan.” Readers will love pulling the tab that releases the batter into the pan—leaving just a drop of batter to sizzle on its own (and you know how good those crispy drops can be!)

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Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, courtesy of phaidon.com

The batter is bubbling—which means it’s time to flip the flap jacks! As the spatula appears from the top of the page, kids can lift one of the little round yellow pancakes from the fry pan and turn it over. Ingeniously, the reverse side is delectably browned. A turn of the page invites by-now-hungry readers to follow “STEP 6: When both sides are browned, stack the finished pancakes on a plate.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-pancakes-an-interactive-recipe-book-on-plate

Image copyright Lotta Neiminen, courtesy of phaidon.com

A pancake-sized round indentation on the plate just begs to be filled with the browned pancake from the previous page. Adding the pancake to the sunny plate, kids will feel as if they are holding the spatula and carefully slipping it atop a stack ready to be eaten. The last page encourages readers to “add butter, syrup, fruit, jam, lemon juice, honey, or whipped cream and taste what you’ve made! Delicious!”

Lotta Nieminen’s Pancakes! is so wonderfully conceived in its bold vibrant images and simple recitation of a pancake recipe. The crisp lines and absence of labels on the ingredients packages, puts the focus on the shapes, providing a chance for discussion of concepts such as rectangle, circle, half-circle, cylinder, oval, and triangle; flat and round; and bigger and smaller. Ideas such as hot and cold, measuring, pouring, mixing, stacking and others can also be introduced. The brilliant interactive elements invite kids and adults alike to play with this book over and over.

The sturdy board pages and convenient size make this a perfect take-along for trips to the market, picnics, appointments, sibilings’ activities, or other outings where waiting is required. For kids and adults who like to help out in the kitchen, love to cook, or are attracted by all things culinary, Pancakes! An Interactive Recipe Book makes a terrific gift and must have for home bookshelves. 

Ages 2 and up

Phaidon Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-0714872834

To view a gallery of graphic design and illustration work by Lotta Nieminen, visit her website!

Maple Syrup Day Activity

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Pancake Flip-Out

 

Pancakes are served in a stack because they’re so delicious each one doesn’t last long! This game gives you the chance to see how many pancakes you can flip onto a plate! You can play this game several ways:

To Play Pancake Toss

  1. Give each player the same number of pancakes and see how many they can toss onto the plate during their turn
  2. Make a target with the plate in the middle and draw 3 concentric circles around it. Hitting the target can earn you 20 points. Getting your pancake in the first circle around the plate earns you 15 point, the second circle is worth 10 points, and the third is worth 5 points. Rotate through the players as many times as you like and add up the points at the end. The player with the most points wins!
  3. Instead of tossing the pancakes with your hands, try throwing them with a spatula!
  4. Make up your own rules—and have fun!

To Play With Dice

  1. Choose a number of pancakes that each player must add to their plate—say, maybe, a baker’s dozen.
  2. Take turns rolling the dice and adding the number of pancakes rolled to the plate. The first player to reach the agreed-upon number is the winner.

Supplies

Directions

  1. Print enough copies of the Pancakes and Breakfast Plates for the game you choose and cut them out. Playing pieces can be printed on card stock or on paper. 
  2. If printing on paper, you can glue the pancakes and plate to poster board, cardboard, or foam to give the pancakes more weight for throwing and the plate more support
  3. Once dry, the game pieces are ready for fun!

Picture Book Review