May 16 – National Biographers Day

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About the Holiday

National Biographers Day commemorates a very special meeting that led to one of the most celebrated biographies in English literature. On May 16, 1763, James Boswell met with Samuel Johnson for the first time in a Covent Garden, London bookshop. Thirty years later, Boswell, who was also a poet, essayist, editor, literary critic, and lexicographer, published his biography of Samuel Johnson. Today’s holiday honors all those who delve into the life of others to bring their often fascinating and inspiring stories to readers. To celebrate today, read up on one of your favorite people and introduce your kids to biographies—like today’s book—that can encourage them to follow their dreams.

Write On, Irving Berlin!

Written by Leslie Kimmelman | Illustrated by David C. Gardner

 

In September of 1893 Moses and Lena Baline and their six children, including 5-year-old Israel, sailed into New York Harbor hoping “to start a new life in a new country.” They came from Russia, where their home had been burned down by “gangs of angry men” who “rode from village to village in pogroms, destroying Jewish homes and hurting the people who lived in them.” In America, the Balines had a small apartment, little money, and little food. But they did have freedom.

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Image copyright David C. Gardner, 2018, text copyright Leslie Kimmelman, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

At school, Izzy—as Israel was nicknamed—paid less attention to his schoolwork than to the music in his head. When Izzy was only thirteen, his father died. Izzy knew that money was tight, so he moved out and made his own living singing in saloons, in the chorus line of New York shows, and even as he waited tables.  Irving as Izzy now called himself, became a professional song writer when he was paid 37 cents for his first song.

Irving continued to write the tunes that filled his head. When Ragtime was all the rage during the early 1900s, Irving tried this new, jazzy kind of music, and his “‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ was a smash.”  Irving married, but his wife died only a few months after their wedding. Irving consoled himself by writing. He became an American citizen, and when he was drafted into the US Army during WWI, he wrote songs to encourage his fellow soldiers. When he married again, he was inspired to write a song called “Always” about a love that lasts forever.

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Image copyright David C. Gardner, 2018, text copyright Leslie Kimmelman, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Irving never seemed to be without a tune in his head. He “wrote music for plays, for movies, for friends, for strangers. He scribbled ideas on napkins and on the sleeves of his shirt. He wrote songs in elevators and in taxicabs. He wrote songs in the bathtub.” During World War II, one of his older songs—“‘God Bless America’ became a HUGE hit.” In the winter of 1942, Irving wrote “White Christmas.” It’s sentimental words and catchy tune inspired the “American soldiers fighting fierce battles all around the world.”

Since Irving was too old to fight in the war, he developed a show called “This is the Army” that he took around the world to entertain the troops. His “cast was completely integrated—black and white soldiers lived, ate, and traveled together, which was rare in those days.” Even after the war ended, Irving continued to write songs that people still love today.

An Author’s Note about Irving Berlin and his songs as well as books for further reading follow the text.

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Image copyright David C. Gardner, 2018, text copyright Leslie Kimmelman, 2018. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Leslie Kimmelman brings to life the story of one of America’s most prolific and beloved song writers with enthusiasm and wit and the kinds of details that capture kids’ attention and inspire them to learn more. Timely for this year’s 100th anniversary of the writing of “God Bless America” and the 80th anniversary of its public appearance, Write On, Irving Berlin would make an excellent centerpiece of school music units when paired with Berlin’s songs, many of which kids will recognize. Berlin’s success, as revealed in Kimmelman’s well-paced, upbeat, and converstional storytelling is a powerful motivator for any child with big dreams.

David C. Gardner’s beautiful, softly-washed and detailed paintings take readers from the New York neighborhoods, restaurants, and dance halls of the early 1900s to the battlefields of World Wars I and II to the bright lights of Broadway, where his last musical, “Annie Get Your Gun” is advertised on the marquee. Along the way, kids see Irving as a child, a young man, and an older professional, always with a pencil and paper in hand. Images of the Statue of Liberty seen throughout the book tie together the theme of the immigrant’s experience, Berlin’s love of America, and one of his most famous works, “God Bless America.”

Write On, Irving Berlin! is an excellent biography that should find a home in classroom, school, and public libraries as well as on home bookshelves for children who love history, music, and biographies and who have big ideas of their own.

Ages 6 – 9

Sleeping Bear Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1585363803

Discover more about Leslie Kimmelman and her books on her website.

To learn more about David C. Gardner, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Write On, Irving Berlin! Giveaway

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

  • One (1) copy of Write On, Irving Berlin!

To be entered to win, just Follow me on Twitter @CelebratePicBks and Retweet a giveaway tweet during this week, May 16 – 22. Already a follower? Thanks! Just retweet for a chance to win.

A winner will be chosen on May 23.

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

National Biographer’s Day Activity

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I Am…  Biography Page

 

How well do you know yourself – or your friends? This printable I Am… Biography Page can be fun to fill out and share with friends. Make a game of it and see if you can answer the questions for someone else in your family or among your friends!

 

Picture Book Review

April 18 – It’s Celebrate Diversity Month

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About the Holiday

Established in 2004, Celebrate Diversity Month encourages people to learn more about the world’s cultures and religions. Learning more about our global family and celebrating our differences and our similarities can lead to better relationships between people, more inclusion, and a happier future for the world’s children.

W is for Welcome: A Celebration of America’s Diversity

Written by Brad Herzog | Illustrated by nationally acclaimed artists

 

A journey around America impresses with its natural grandeur of rocky shores, majestic mountains, quilts of fertile fields, and wide-open prairies. More inspiring than these, however, is our diverse population that lends a wealth of knowledge, traditions, language, celebrations, food, music, and experiences to our country, making it a vibrant place to live and work.

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Image copyright Michael Glenn Monroe, 2018, text copyright Brad Herzog. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Brad Herzog has collected twenty-six words to describe the United States and has used them to create lyrical verses and a full compendium of information about the immigrants and their experiences that have molded America from her earliest days and continue to do so today. Starting off, A is for America—that “dreamer’s destination,” and readers learn a bit about the millions of people who have come to our shores.

At C for Culture and D for Diversity, children learn about food, clothing, musical instruments, and even sports that have come to be favorites and were brought here or invented by people from other countries as well as “‘the most diverse square mile’” in America. Because of our country’s innovative spirit, “K is for Knowledge. “From all over the globe, / in a quest to know much more, / brilliant thinkers come here / and continue to explore.” Want to know more? Just check out Y for how immigrants continue to advance our knowledge.

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Image copyright Laura Knorr, 2018, text copyright Brad Herzog. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

When immigrants want to make the United States their new home, they learn about N, Naturalization, and O, the Oath they take. And P is for the Poem by Emma Lazarus that has “come to define America’s long tradition of welcoming immigrants”: “A ‘world-wide welcome’ states, / ‘Give me your tired, your poor.’ / And then it adds, ‘I lift my lamp / beside the golden door!’”

All those who have taken comfort from that poem make up the narrative of our land, which is why V is for Voices: “Each immigrant has a tale to tell / about how and why they came / to live in the United States. / No two stories are the same.”

Along the way from A to Z young readers learn more about the people, ideas, and places that define America in verses and fascinating information that expands on the history and future of the United States in letter-perfect fashion.

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Image copyright Pam Carroll, 2018, text copyright Brad Herzog. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Brad Herzog has created a compelling look at immigration, its history, and all the ways America has benefited from her philosophy of welcome. His fascinating informative passages and inspiring verses enlighten readers about past and present contributions by immigrants and also educate children about the law and processes involved in adopting America as a new home.

Thirteen illustrators lend their talents to interpreting Herzog’s verses with images full of color and vitality that are as diverse as America itself. Beautiful scenery from around the country reminds readers of the beauty of this vast land. It is the happy, hopeful, and expressive faces of those who have come and continue to journey here looking for a better life that most inspire and reveal that we are all neighbors.

W is for Welcome is an excellent book to use for leading discussions about American history and immigration at home or in the classroom.

Ages 6 – 9

Sleeping Bear Press, 2018 | ISBN 978-1585364022

Discover more about Brad Herzog and his books on his website.

You can learn about these illustrators of W is for Welcome on their websites:

Doug BowlesMaureen K. BrookfieldPat CarrollDavid C. Gardner | Barbara Gibson  | Renée GraefSusan GuyVictor JuhaszLaura KnorrMichael Glenn MonroeGijsbert van Frankenhuyzen | Ross B. Young 

Celebrate Diversity Month Activity 

friendwordsearch

A World of Friends! Word Search

 

There are people all over the world just waiting to be friends! Learn how to say “friend” in twenty-one languages with this printable word search.

A World of Friends! Word Search Puzzle | A World of Friends! Word Search Solution

Picture Book Review

July 4 – Independence Day

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About the Holiday

On July 2, 1776 the Continental Congress voted for Independence from Great Britain. Two days later delegates from the 13 American colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a document penned by Thomas Jefferson asserting the equal rights of all and establishing a democratic government. It went on to name the America’s grievances against Great Britain and to create from the colonies the United States of America. Independence Day was made a federal holiday in 1941. The day is celebrated with official ceremonies, parades, picnics, and fireworks displays.

The Night Before the Fourth of July

Written by Natasha Wing | Illustrated by Amy Wummer

 

The Fourth of July is tomorrow, and one family is getting ready! While Dad hangs the American Flag on the front porch, Mom is decorating the fence with red, white, and blue bunting. While they sleep, the brother and sister dream about fireworks. The next day every one dresses up in patriotic stripes and stars to attend the town parade, complete with “marching bands and 4-H club goats.” Even the Mayor joined in the fun, tossing candy to the crowds from a convertible car, while “an Uncle Sam walking on stilts brought up the rear.”

After the parade friends and family came to the house for a barbeque, but as Dad flipped burgers and the table was laid with summer treats, gray clouds threatened overhead. Just as everyone “sat down it started to pour. ‘Grab the food!’ shouted Mom and [they] raced through the door. In hot dogs! In salads! In blueberry pie! In melon and corn! Keep those potato chips dry!”

Everyone piled into the kitchen and continued to munch. But what about the fireworks? They watched out the window at the rain pouring down. A Fourth of July without rockets and sparkle and light just wouldn’t be the same. But there was no need to worry. After the storm burst, the clouds went away and the sky turned blue.

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Image copyright Amy Wummer, text copyright Natasha Wing. Courtesy of Grosset & Dunlap

As dusk approached they all drove to the park. Dad lit the sparklers and set the glow sticks alight. Soon, “the first firework was launched high into the night. It bloomed like a flower exploding with light.” People oohed and ahhhed, but for some little ears the booms were too loud. Then the band played the national anthem and Dad sang along, even if he was “way out of key.”

As the last notes faded into the air, it was time for the finale – a spectacular display of color and wonder. “When the last firework fizzled like fairy dust in the sky, [they] all cheered and shouted, “Happy Fourth of July!”

Part of Natasha Wing’s “The Night Before” series, this summer holiday book offers young readers all the excitement and fun of the Fourth of July from community events to family picnics to, of course, the fireworks that wrap up this patriotic celebration with flair. While maintaining some of the cadence of its Christmas cousin, The Night Before the Fourth of July is jauntily unique. Young readers will be captivated by the story’s joyous preparations and “Uh-oh! What now?” moment and will enthusiastically look forward to their own family traditions.

Amy Wummer’s engaging illustrations invite kids into a big family Fourth of July celebration with all the red, white, and blue decorations and glitzy fireworks. All young readers’ favorite parts of the holiday are here and warmly depicted as the family raises their flag, enjoys the flavor of summer delights, and joins the rest of the town at the annual fireworks show.

The Night Before the Fourth of July is a great book to keep on the shelf for the holiday itself (it makes a great take along to that wait for the sky to turn dark) and for other family story times.

Ages 3 – 5

Grosset & Dunlop, 2015 | ISBN 978-0448487120

Independence Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fourth-of-july-coloring-page-2017

Glittery Fireworks Coloring Page

 

The fireworks display is one of the best parts of the Fourth of July. You can make this printable Glittery Fireworks Coloring Page as sparkly as the real thing by outlining the bursts with a sprinkling of red, white, and blue glitter! Just grab your colored pencils, crayons, or markers plus some glue and glitter and have fun!

Picture Book Review

November 9 – National Aviation History Month

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About the Holiday

If you look back in history you see that people have always been fascinated with flight. The first kite was invented in 1000 BCE in China; around 400 BCE Archytas of Tarentum developed a steam-powered pigeon; and most people are familiar with the designs of flying machines that Leonardo de Vinci created in the late 1400s. An important discovery that led inventors in the right direction came in 1680 when an Italian mathematician determined that human muscles were incompatible with flight.

Zip ahead about 100 years and the first hot-air balloon flight was undertaken, which led to more and more complex technology, resulting in Wilbur and Orville Wright’s flight in 1903. From there, it seemed, the sky was the limit. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to complete a trans-Atlantic Ocean solo flight in 1932, and in 1947 Charles Yeager broke the sound barrier. But it’s astounding to think that from that modest 12-second first flight by the Wright Brothers to the first man in space—Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin—it took only 58 years! Today astronauts from countries around the world live and work in the International Space Station, and spacecraft are traversing deep space.

Wind Flyers

Written by Angela Johnson | Illustrated by Loren Long

 

With pride a young African-American boy tells the story of his great-great-uncle who was a Tuskegee Airman in World War II. His uncle was “a smooth wind flyer. A Tuskegee wind flyer…,” the boy says. He knows well his uncle’s history—how like a bird, his uncle believed he was born to fly. “With his arms flapping, he jumped off a chicken coop at the age of five,” and when he was only seven he soared from a lofty barn into a pile of hay. His first real flight came at the age of eleven, when he paid 75 cents to be a passenger with a barnstormer.

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Image copyright Loren Long, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Flying over lakes and fields, his uncle felt as if he were in Heaven, among clouds “like soft blankets, saying, ‘Come on in, get warm. Stay awhile and be a wind flyer too.’” The experience changed him forever. In fact he “cried when they landed because then he knew what it was like to go into the wind, against the wind, beyond the wind.” As a young adult his uncle contributed his dream and his skills to the World War II effort, becoming a Tuskegee Airman, one of the first black pilots in the United States military.

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Image copyright Loren Long, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

As the pair sit in the uncle’s barn, surrounded by his military uniform, leather jacket, and other memories of his flying career—after the war to continue flying he became a crop duster—the pair look through old photographs, seeing once more those young and brave pilots—the Tuskegee wind flyers. Planes are different now, Uncle says, but the clouds remain the same. The boy and his uncle climb to the highest point of the uncle’s barn to watch the jets—and in those moments they once more become the smooth wind flyers, flying into the wind and beyond.

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Image copyright Loren Long, courtesy of Simon & Schuster

In her soaring, rhythmic language, Angela Johnson captures the dreams and yearning of a young boy whose greatest desire is to fly among the clouds. Her combination of straight narration with lyrical lines as he joins the Tuskegee Airman in World War II enhances the sense of achievement and pride the young pilots felt. The structure of the story is well chosen, as relating the uncle’s life from childhood through old age through the eyes of his nephew strengthens the themes of strong familial relationships as well as shared dreams across generations.

Loren Long gives Wind Flyers additional power with his strong, vibrant paintings. Two-page spreads provide a sense of the vastness of the skies that so enticed the young would-be pilot. Even the clouds echo the emotion of the page—fluffy, floating, and alive in the flight scenes while linear, flat, and stationary when the plane and the uncle are earthbound. Realistic portrayals of the boy, his uncle, and the other Tuskegee Airmen are reminiscent of the WPA murals of the 1940s while still setting this book firmly in today for a new generation.

Wind Flyers is a wonderful book to share with aviation buffsm budding historians, and dreamers of all types and would make a welcome thoughtful book for quiet story times.

Ages 4 – 9

Simon & Schuster Books for Young People, 2007 | ISBN 978-0689848797

To learn more about Angela Johnson‘s books for all ages, visit her website!

View a gallery of artwork for picture books and other media by Loren Long, visit his website!

National Aviation History Month Activity

CPB - Biplane side

Head in the Clouds Box Biplane

 

If you love airplanes and flying, you’ll have fun making your own plane from recycled materials! Use your creativity to decorate your plane while you imagine yourself flying through the clouds on a beautiful day. Younger children will have fun sharing this activity with an adult or older sibling too!

Supplies

  • Travel-size toothpaste box
  • 3 6-inch x 1/2-inch craft sticks
  • 2  2 1/2-inch x 7/8-inch mini craft sticks
  • 5 Round toothpicks, with points cut off
  • Paint in whatever colors you like for your design
  • 4 small buttons 
  • 2 mini buttons
  • Paint brushes
  • Strong glue or glue gun

CPB - Biplane front

Directions

  1. Empty toothpaste box
  2. Paint toothpaste box and decorate it
  3. Paint the craft sticks and 5 toothpicks
  4. Paint one small craft stick to be the propeller
  5. Let all objects dry

To assemble the biplane

  1. For the Bottom Wing – Glue one 6-inch-long craft stick to the bottom of the plane about 1 inch from the end of the box that is the front of the plane
  2. For the Top Wing – Glue the other 6-inch-long craft stick to the top of the plane about 1 inch from the front of the plane
  3. For the Tail – Glue one mini craft stick to the bottom of the box about ¾ inches from the end that is the back of the plane
  4. For the Vertical Rudder – Cut the end from one of the painted 6-inch-long craft sticks, glue this to the back of the box, placing it perpendicular against the edge and half-way between each side

CPB - Biplane bottom

To assemble the front wheels

  1. Cut 4 painted toothpicks to a length of ¾-inches long
  2. Cut one painted toothpick to a length of 1-inch long
  3. Glue 2 of the 3/4-inch toothpicks to the back of 1 button, the ends of the toothpicks on the button should be touching and the other end apart so the toothpicks form a V
  4. Repeat the above step for the other wheel
  5. Let the glue dry
  6. Glue the 1-inch long toothpick between the wheels at the center of each wheel to keep them together and give them stability. Let dry

To make the back wheel

  1. Cut two ¼-inch lengths of painted toothpick and glue them together. Let dry
  2. Glue two mini buttons together to form the back wheel. Let dry
  3. Glue the ¼-inch toothpicks to the mini buttons. Let dry
  4. Glue these to the bottom of the plane in the center of the box directly in front of and touching the tail

Display your biplane!

Picture Book Review

Picture Book Review

August 16 – National Airborne Day

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About the Holiday

National Airborne Day was established in 1997 as a time to remember and thank the airborne members of the Armed Forces for their service and sacrifices. August 16 was chosen for this observance because it marks the first official United States Army parachute jump that took place in Georgia in 1940 by 48 volunteer members of the Parachute Test Platoon. The successful jump led the way for hundreds of thousands of paratroopers to follow in their footsteps. The day is commemorated by a ceremony at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, home to the 82nd Airborne Division. Other services are held around the country.

Brave Like Me

By Barbara Kerley

 

“When someone is serving their country, far from home, they have to be brave. Their families have to be brave. Even their kids have to be brave. Like me.” These lines from a child who has a parent serving their country opens this tribute to military families and the relatives, friends, and neighbors who support them. The child narrator reveals that parents about to be deployed spend a lot of time with their kids “until the day we have to say goodbye.” On that day the family shares kisses and hugs “big enough to last the whole time” parents are away.

Once parents are gone, the house seems empty and children wonder who will take care of them. They look at maps to discover where their parents are and what their day is like. The narrator describes children’s honest emotions, such as sadness and anger at the events parents miss or fear for their safety. But the kids understand that their parents are trained to stay safe.

The children are able to communicate with their parents on the phone and on the computer, where they share the details of their days. They also write letters and draw pictures that they send through the mail. Just as parents have responsibilities, the children know they have jobs to do too. They go to school, do their homework, and help around the house. The family bands together to cook meals, clean, read bedtime stories and tuck younger children into bed.

Friends and neighbors show they care by taking the kids on outings to the park, the movies, the pool, and to special events. Even though parents are far away from home, the child says, they think about their family all the time and want them to be happy playing with friends and pets and even when they are alone. The kids stay busy and enjoy their time with friends and family waiting for the day when they come home. On that day, the narrator says, “I’ll have lots of things to talk about and a million hugs and kisses to share.”

Through full-color photographic spreads and pages alternating between mothers and fathers serving in the military, Barbara Kerley presents an honest and uplifting account of what life is like for children of military families. The photographs of children playing with their parents and kissing and hugging them goodbye as well as pictures of both adults and kids doing their jobs while apart demonstrate the shared love and commitment military families have to their country and their relationships. Brave Like Me is a stirring nonfiction title for school and local libraries to help children understand the sacrifices some families make for their country. It would also be a comforting book for children facing a separation from a service member parent, other relative, or friend or for anyone who wants to better understand the life of service members.

A world map showing the location of each photograph in the book, a variety of children’s definitions of the meaning of “brave” and a discussion on the various branches of foreign service follow the text. There are also pages on how to deal with separation as well as advice and resources for caregivers.

Ages 4 – 8

National Geographic Children’s Books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1426323607

To learn more about Barbara Kerley and her wide range of books, visit her website!

National Airborne Day Activity

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Military Plane Coloring Page

 

The Airforce uses many different types of planes in their missions. Here’s a printable Military Plane Coloring Page for you to enjoy!

July 4 – Independence Day

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About the Holiday

On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies that then made up America claimed their independence from England. After much debate and with a majority—but not unanimous—vote, delegates to the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. While the vote may not have been unanimous, delegates from all 13 colonies signed the document penned by Thomas Jefferson. John Hancock, who was President of the Continental Congress, signed his name “‘with a great flourish’ so England’s ‘King George can read that without spectacles!’” The action led to the Revolutionary War and ultimately to a break with England.

On this United States national holiday most cities host parades, fireworks displays, and other special events.

Lady Liberty’s Holiday

Written by Jen Arena | Illustrated by Matt Hunt

 

Shortly before the Fourth of July Lady Liberty is feeling down. Year after year she has stood in the same place holding aloft a torch in one hand and cradling a tablet in the other. She turns to her friend Moe, the pigeon on her shoulder, and expresses her dissatisfaction. Moe has a suggestion: “‘Lady, you need a getaway!’” Lady Liberty thinks about it and about the vastness of America. She has only seen a small corner of it. That night Lady Liberty pries herself from her pedestal and sneaks away.

She walks the wide beaches of New Jersey, builds a huge sandcastle on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, and dips her feet in Niagara Falls. With her long strides it doesn’t take her long to reach the Mississippi River. She finds a seat atop the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri and watches the Ol’ Man river slip past. In Kansas she plays in wheat fields that “tickle her feet” and are as good for making angels as snow. In South Dakota she photo bombs at Mount Rushmore, and she takes a quick hike over the Rocky Mountains. After all this fun Lady Liberty needs a rest, so she takes a nap on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

But the people in New York have noticed the Lady’s absence. The Fourth of July is only three days away and no one is in the mood to celebrate without her. “Tourists were gloomy. Cops were cross. Even the stock market was down.” The mayor is even considering cancelling the holiday! Moe is worried Liberty might not come back.

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Image copyright Matt Hunt, courtesy of Jen Arena (jenarenabooks.com)

And Moe is right! Lady Liberty is enjoying herself too much to think about returning. The grandeur of the Grand Canyon makes her feel small—it’s a nice change, she thinks. She drinks water from a geyser in Yellowstone Park and sleeps under the stars in Texas. With a hop and a skip she’s dancing in New Orleans, and the Florida Keys make excellent “stepping stones” to her next adventure. She doesn’t even mind schlepping through swamps in the deep south, and an alligator that latches onto her toe is dispatched with a shake.

Lady Liberty suddenly hears the familiar flap of Moe’s wings. Moe tells Liberty how things are in New York. When she hears that they are thinking of cancelling the Fourth of July, she “bolts up as if she’d been struck by lightning.” Yes, says, Moe. “‘Nobody feels like celebrating without you.’” But after her cross-country tour, Lady Liberty knows that “‘the Fourth of July isn’t about me. It’s about America!’” Without another thought Liberty is racing north.

As New Yorkers wake at dawn, they see Lady Liberty happy to be back overlooking the Harbor, “where she had stood for over a hundred years.” Her copper dress shines in the early morning sun. Later that night she glows again in the colors of fireworks and enjoys a very Happy Fourth of July!

The final two pages tell the story of Lady Liberty’s creation, installation, and meaning. Tantalizing tidbits about the statue of Liberty are also revealed.

Jen Arena’s Lady Liberty’s Holiday is an engaging introduction to the story of the Statue of Liberty and American geography. A road trip across America was once a staple of childhood, and Arena replicates the excitement and wonder of viewing the country’s monuments and splendor through Lady Liberty’s walking tour. As each page brings readers to another awe-inspiring landmark, kids will want to learn more about the parks, states, and history of America.

Matt Hunt’s vibrant, full-bleed spreads are as expansive as the American landscape. The blue waters of Niagara Falls roar over the edge, creating white mist; the rock-hewn faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln gaze out from the peak of Mount Rushmore; and the spume of water from a Yellowstone geyser dwarfs the tourists below. As Liberty towers over cruise boats and trees, lounges across the Golden Gate Bridge, and flicks away a pesky alligator, kids gain an excellent perspective on the size of the Statue of Liberty as well as the monuments and natural landmarks she visits.

Like the postcards that Liberty sends to her friend Moe from stops on her journey, Lady Liberty’s Holiday is a welcome snapshot of America any time of year.

Ages 4 – 8

Knopf Books for Young People, Random House Kids, 2016 | ISBN 978-0553520675

To learn more about Jen Arena and view the books she’s written , visit her website!

A gallery of Matt Hunt‘s work can be seen on his website!

Independence Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-fourth-of-july-coloring-page

Fourth of July Coloring Page

 

The 4th of July celebrations mean flags, fireworks, and fun! Here’s a printable Fourth of July Coloring Page for you to make your own holiday festivities. You can even make it sparkle with a dash of glitter!

June 20 – American Eagle Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-is-a-bald-eagle-really-bald

About the Holiday

The first American Eagle Day was proclaimed by President Bill Clinton and Tennessee Governor Don Sundquist in 1995 to commemorate and bring awareness to this most enduring American symbol. Chosen as the United States’ National Emblem by our Founding Fathers on June 20, 1782, the Bald Eagle represents the best of America: freedom, courage, strength, spirit, and excellence. Once threatened with extinction—only 400 nesting pairs existed in the early 1960s—the American Eagle has made a comeback, with 15,000 nesting pairs living in the lower 48 states. Besides celebrating what the American Eagle symbolizes, today’s holiday is used to raise awareness of conservation efforts for this most majestic bird.

Is a Bald Eagle Really Bald?

Written by Martha E. H. Rustad  | Illustrated by Holli Conger

 

“Our class is having a visitor today,” Ms. Patel tells her class. “Guess who it is,” she urges after giving the kids a hint that the visitor eats fish. Anabelle thinks it might be her dad, but Ms. Patel adds that the visitor has a sharp beak and feathers. Joshua guesses that it’s a duck. The kids are getting closer, and with one more hint—Ms. Patel holds up a one-dollar bill—Rose correctly shouts, “‘a bald eagle!’”

Natalie wants to know why there’s a bald eagle on the dollar, and Ms. Patel tells her that the eagle is a symbol of our country. When John asks what a symbol is, she compares the eagle to the school’s bear mascot and goes on to say that the eagle can also be found on the Great Seal. Luke is momentarily excited about the prospect of a seal also visiting the class, but Ms. Patel shows the class that the Great Seal is actually an image. This image demonstrates that something is officially American and appears on stamps, government buildings, important papers, and even the buttons on military uniforms.

The class takes a closer look at the Great Seal, with its eagle in the center. In one foot the eagle is holding a plant, says Karen. Right, Ms. Patel says. “‘It’s an olive branch. It stands for peace.’” Noah notices that in the other foot the eagle carries arrows. The arrows represent strength, Ms. Patel explains. The banner in the eagle’s beak reads E. Pluribus Unum, which is Latin for “one from many” and describes how the single country of America is made of many states. The thirteen stars above the eagle’s head reminds us of the 13 original colonies and states.

Dr. Kelly from the raptor center soon arrives with a bald eagle named Sam. Dr. Kelly puts on a protective glove and carefully takes Sam out of his carrier. Sam is huge! Kyra exclaims, and Jackson wants to know why he’s called “bald.” Dr. Kelly explains that the word bald actually comes from piebald, which means “‘having white marks.’” The class learns many facts about bald eagles, including that they have keen eyesight, can see their prey from high overhead, and can swallow a meal in mid-air.

Then the class talks about how the bald eagle became America’s mascot. Lily raises her hand and suggests it’s because eagles fly free and Americans are free. “‘Good answer,’” Ms. Patel says. She adds that bald eagles are native to North America, and shows the class a map of their summer and winter habitats.

All too soon class is over and it’s time for lunch. “Fish is on today’s menu,” Ms. Patel tells the kids, and they feel just like bald eagles. The children say “thank you” and “goodbye” to Dr. Kelly and Sam, and after lunch they draw their own mascots. You can do that too with the activity at the back of the book!

Scattered throughout the pages, sidebars expand on the facts delivered in the story. Readers learn that the Great Seal has been used since 1782, what raptors and raptor centers are, the weight and wingspan of an adult bald eagle, incredible statistics on eagle’s nests, and about conservation efforts to protect bald eagles.

A Draw-Your-Own Mascot activity follows the text along with a glossary and resources for further study, including free downloadable educational resources.

In her Our American Symbols books Martha E. H. Rustad does a wonderful job of explaining the importance of America’s emblems to children. Through classroom discussions between a teacher and her students, Is a Bald Eagle Really Bald? answers readers’ questions about how and why the bald eagle became a United States symbol. The natural give-and-take will resonated with kids, and Rustad’s clear and kid-friendly definitions of concepts will make an impact. The inclusion of a representative from a raptor center will also feel familiar to children experienced with these types of classroom visitors as well as similar field trips. Sidebars provide more scientific and historical facts.

Holli Conger’s bright, bold illustrations distinctly depict the concepts in the text through large, colorful, and easily understood images. A bulletin board holds pictures of a bald eagle and the American flag, while the teacher holds up a school mascot t-shirt to help relay the idea of a symbol; the Great Seal is shown with well-defined details as the teacher uses a pointer to indicate its various parts; and pages portraying the visit by the raptor center representative give kids a good idea of the size and grandeur of the bald eagle. The children portrayed in the classroom are enthusiastic and welcoming, and readers will feel right at home in their midst.

Ages 5 – 9

Millbrook Press, 2014 | ISBN 978-1467744669

American Eagle Day Activity

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American Eagle and Flag Coloring Page

 

The majestic American Bald Eagle is a perfect symbol to represent the courage, freedom, and spirit of the USA. Here’s a printable American Eagle and Flag Coloring Page for you to enjoy!