January 6 – Cuddle Up Day

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About the Holiday

Cuddling up is great any time of the year, but in the cold, snowy weather of winter it’s especially nice! Little ones love to cuddle! It makes them feel safe and warm and loved! To celebrate today’s holiday spend a little extra time cuddling with your child or children. Reading a sweet book together makes snuggle time even better!

Kisses and Cuddles

By little bee books

 

A little penguin sits at the table with a tall stack of pancakes watching Mom cook up some more on the pot-belly stove. “I love eating pancakes,” the little one says. “And playing with my toys.” After breakfast he loves drumming and making noise, even if Mama isn’t as keen on it. Later on, little penguin gets a steaming cup of hot chocolate, and is lucky enough to see a rainbow in the sky.

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Copyright little bee books, 2015

Back at home with soft pillows for landing and a green towel cape, little penguin loves “being a superhero. Come on—watch me fly!” After all that excitement, the penguin loves to snuggle in a comfy chair and read a book with lots of toys around. As nighttime comes, penguin settles into bed holding teddy tight. “But what I love the most,” says little penguin, “what ends the day just right…are kisses and cuddles from Mama when we say goodnight.”

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Copyright little bee books, 2015

The tiniest readers will be delighted with the adorable little penguin and the busy day that ends in the best way possible—with kisses and cuddles. The baby penguin loves all the same things they do, making this little gem an instant favorite. The smoothly flowing rhymes are spirited and straightforward—perfect for capturing a tot’s attention at nap time, bedtime, or story time.

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Copyright little bee books, 2015

The vivid illustrations have plenty of details for kids to look for and point out, and the joyful little penguin will make them smile and giggle. The final spread of Mama and chick cuddling as they say goodnight will inspire lots of real cuddles after the story ends. Written without pronouns, Kisses and Cuddles is just right for all children.

Ages 1 – 4

little bee books, 2015 | ISBN 978-1499801514

Cuddle Up Day Activity

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Cuddle Buddy

 

It’s easy to make a one-of-a-kind sleepy buddy for naptime or any time. With just a few materials and your own creativity, you’ll soon have a new friend to snuggle with!

Supplies

  • 1 8-inch by 11-inch piece of fleece in the color or your choice for the body (or scraps if you have some from an earlier project). A larger piece of fleece can be used to make a larger buddy
  • 1 5-inch by 8-inch piece of fleece in the color or your choice for the hair (or scraps if you have some from an earlier project)
  • 1 small piece of fleece or other material for a pocket, clothes, or blanket
  • Small scraps of fleece or other material for the face
  • Fiber Fill
  • Thread and sewing needle OR fabric glue
  • Scissors

Directions

To Make the Body

  1. Fold the large piece of fleece in half lengthwise and sew along the open side and along the bottom. Alternatively, if using a larger size piece of fleece, fold upward and sew or glue the two sides closed.
  2. Turn the form inside out

To Make the Hair

  1. Cut a piece of fleece as wide as your buddy and about 7 – 8 inches long
  2. Fold the fleece lengthwise
  3. Insert both ends of the fleece into the opening at the top of the body
  4. Sew or glue the opening shut, securing the hair
  5. Cut strips about ¼-inch wide from the top of the hair to close to where the hair is sown into the body

To Make a Pocket or Clothes

  1. Cut a piece of fleece in the shape of a pocket, shirt, pants, diaper, or blanket
  2. Sew or glue the pocket or clothes to the buddy

To Make the Face

  1. Cut eyes, a nose, and a mouth in whatever way you would like your buddy to look. (My buddy is sleeping.)
  2. Sew or glue the face to the buddy
  3. Snuggle up!

Picture Book Review

 

January 20 – Penguin Awareness Day

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About the Holiday

Who can resist those little black-and-white waddlers from a frozen realm? Today’s holiday gives us a chance to enjoy and learn more about one of the world’s favorite animals. To celebrate, research penguins or visit an aquarium, and, of course, read a great penguin book!

Little Penguins

Written by Cynthia Rylant | Illustrated by Christian Robinson

 

A tiny penguin stands at the window star-struck by the snowflakes floating gently down. Four more penguins join her to see this marvelous sight. There are so “many snowflakes.” Gathered around the window in their igloo home, the penguins are excited that “Winter is coming!” They rush to collect their cold-weather supplies. Out of the basket they pull mittens—a pair for each, red, blue, green, yellow, sage—“and matching scarves.”

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Image copyright Christian Robinson, text copyright Cynthia Rylant. Courtesy of Schwartz & Wade

With abandon the penguins raid the bureau, scattering socks like colorful confetti. Warm, dry boots get to leave their cubbies after a looong nap. Bundled up, the penguins tumble out into the winter wonderland. They sled and slide on the deep snow. In places they find the snow is top-of-their-boots deeper, and then suddenly waist-high, “very deep.”

Uh-Oh! Suddenly the landscape is blank-page white! Four of the little penguins look in all directions. “Where’s Mama?” No need to fret—Mama’s coming, skimming down the hill on her belly with the fifth tiny penguin. But the sky is darkening and it’s time to head for home. “In the door and off, off, off, off, off!”

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Image copyright Christian Robinson, courtesy of Schwartz & Wade

On go the jammies then warm cookies and filled “sippies” satisfy the tummy. Finally, it’s time to snuggle tight under colored blankets and watch the flurries fly because “Winter is here.”

Cynthia Rylant captures the exhilaration kids feel upon the first snow of winter in her delightful concept book. The flurry of activity to dig out the accoutrements of winter provide little readers the perfect opportunity to learn or—in the case of a bit older kids—to show their knowledge of cold-weather apparel, colors, counting skills, and other ideas. Rylant’s gifted way with even the simplest words turns the question-and-answer format of Little Penguins into a lyrical frolic little ones will love.

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Image copyright Christian Robinson, courtesy of Schwartz & Wade

In Christian Robinson’s cozy igloo, the eager brightness of the little penguins is highlighted against the mottled textures of sage walls and reflected in the gleaming gray-blue floor. The little home with its fish weather vane and tall chimney sits at the edge of an icy peninsula, perfectly placed for winter play. The five penguins joyfully don their mittens, wave their scarves and toss socks to and fro in their hurry to get dressed and get outside and enjoy the fat, fluffy snowflakes.

Once there, the penguins become tiny dots on the vast, white hill as they sink waist deep, glide on their bellies, and welcome Mama, who’s joined the fun. As the penguins remove their snow gear back home, Robinson cleverly stripes the two-page spread in the favorite colors of the individual penguins, creating a striking counterbalance to the snug kitchen to come. An old-fashioned stove, retro accents, and fish, whale, and boat décor wrap up the comfy charm of this superb book for young readers.

With its sweet characters and beautiful illustrations, Little Penguins would be a happy and often-asked-for addition to any child’s bookshelf.

Ages 2 – 7

Schwartz & Wade, 2016 | ISBN 978-0553507706

To learn more about Cynthia Rylant and her books, visit her website!

View a gallery of illustration art by Christian Robinson on his website!

Penguin Awareness Day Activity

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Copyright Celebrate Picture Books, 2017

Spicy Cool Penguins

Don’t throw away those empty spice bottles—instead make these cute penguins with their colorful hats who are just waiting to play!

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

December 1 – Antarctica Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday marks a milestone in the search for peaceful and productive cooperation among nations. Commemorating the 1959 signing of the Antarctic Treaty, which was signed by 12 countries and set aside nearly 10% of Earth “forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes….” Antarctica Day was established in 2010 and is now an annual event, with activities held within schools, science organizations, governmental organizations, and other institutions across more than 25 participating countries. According to the Foundation for the Good Governance of International Spaces, Antarctica Day is “an opportunity to demonstrate how diverse nations can work together peacefully, continuously using science as a global language of cooperation for decision making beyond national boundaries.”

Penguin Problems

Written by Jory John | Illustrated by Lane Smith

 

A little penguin lies flat out on a snow bank. It’s morning, which is “way too early.” To top it off his “beak is cold” and there’s a bunch of squawking coming from a hoard of other penguins nearby. As the penguin starts his day, he trudges through snow that’s deeper than it was yesterday, and the little guy doesn’t “even like the snow.” Ugh! The sun is too sunny, and the fish don’t even have the courtesy to jump out of the water into his beak! He has to wade into the freezing water where he just sinks like a stone.

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Image copyright Lane Smith, text copyright Jory John, Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

Down in the darkest depths he comes face to teeth with an orca. “Oh, great.” A leopard seal nips at his feet (“Oh, great.”), and a shark has his sharpened fangs ready to chomp (“Oh, great.”)! All that swimming around has left the poor penguin hungry and his flippers exhausted. He waddles up an iceberg to safety, but, ya know, that brings up something else—the penguin decides he waddles too much and thinks he looks “silly when he waddles.” What do you think? Look! He wobbles to the left; he wibbles to the right; he rocks back into place. “See?” Really, it would be so much better if he could fly—but those tiny wings just flap up and down ridiculously. Look! “See?”

And another thing: every other penguin looks exactly like him! And he looks just like every other penguin! Don’t think so? Watch—he thinks he sees someone he knows over there. “Mum?” Awww! That’s so sweet. I’ll bet he gets a big hug. Here it comes…: “I literally have no idea who you are.” Ouch! That does hurt! Wait! There’s his dad. Phew! This time he’ll get a chuck on the…umm…shoulder for sure. “I literally have no idea what you’re talking about. My name is Mortimer.” Yikes!

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Image copyright Lane Smith, text copyright Jory John, Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

The little penguin gives vent to his feelings: “I have so many problems! And nobody even cares!” The penguin stands dejectedly under the full weight of his loneliness when he feels a tap on the…umm…shoulder. He turns to see a walrus behind him. “Good afternoon,” the walrus greets him. It seems that he has been watching, and he has a message, “I sense today has been difficult, but lo! Look around you, Penguin. Have you noticed the way the mountains are reflected in the ocean like a painting? Have you gazed up on the blue of that cloudless winter sky, my friend?”

The wise walrus goes on to point out the warmth of the sun and his adoring penguin brothers, sisters, and elders. He admits that there are challenges, and that all creatures face difficult times. “But hear me now, my new friend: I wouldn’t trade my life for any other, and I am quite sure you wouldn’t, either.” In fact, he suggests “you are exactly where you need to be.” With an abrupt goodbye the walrus flops his way back home across the snow.

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Image copyright Lane Smith, text copyright Jory John, Courtesy of Random House Books for Young Readers

The penguin is flabbergasted by the audacity of a walrus trying to explain penguin problems. “Who the heck was that guy?! He exclaims to some nearby brothers, sisters, and elders. But he sighs and sits down in the shadow of the mountain and thinks. He does actually “love the mountains. And the ocean. And the sky.” He agrees that he has family and friends and has only one home. He sits on the top of a high snowbank and reflects on his life until night falls and the stars appear. But really…his “beak is cold.” And ya know? “It gets dark way too early.”

Jory John impeccably captures those days (weeks? months? …?) when the grumbles take over, and even the sun seems “too bright.” As one quibble builds on another, the wry grousing of the disgruntled penguin adds up to a sardonic comic routine that will make kids laugh out loud. The intervention of the walrus is likewise hilarious as he lectures the penguin at length like some old-age guru holding court. With perfect pitch John lets the penguin revel in life’s gifts for an hour or two before returning to his true nature.

Lane Smith’s penguin, at turns dumbfounded, resigned, self-conscious, rejected, flummoxed, and reflective, is so adorable readers cannot help but empathize. The small black-and-white figure of the penguin set against the pages of white snowdrifts highlights his singular dissatisfaction, while the softly mottled depictions of his underwater misadventure and escape, meeting with the garrulous walrus, and moment of contemplation enhance the humor.

Keeping Penguin Problems on any child’s bookshelf is the perfect remedy for days when the doldrums hit, a charm for days that are giggly, and a delight for any day in between.

Ages 3 – 8

Random House Books for Young People, 2016 | ISBN 978-0553513370

Discover more books by Jory John and what’s coming next on his website!

View a gallery of picture book illustration and other artwork by Lane Smith on his website!

Antarctica Day Activity

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Antarctic Animals Coloring Sheets

 

Antarctica is home to some of the world’s cutest and best-loved animals. Here are three printable coloring sheets for you to have fun with!

Emperor Penguin | Orca | Walrus and Pup

Picture Book Review