July 1 – It’s National Culinary Arts Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-we-love-pizza-cover

About the Holiday

There’s a true art in putting together a delicious meal from seemingly disparate parts, and this month’s holiday honors those with a talent for combining tastes, flavors, and textures. With fresh ingredients available at farm stores, farmers markets, grocery stores, and maybe even your own garden, July is a great month for celebrating the culinary arts. This month spend time with your kids in the kitchen. It’s a terrific way to learn new cooking skills and practice practical math while creating experimental or favorite recipes. And, of course, be sure to remember to make a few treats! Today’s book should get you off to a great start!

Thanks to Little Gestalten for sending me a copy of We Love Pizza for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own. I’m happy to be teaming with Gestalten in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

We Love Pizza: Everything you want to know about your number one food

By Elenia Beretta

 

A spritely poem opens this compendium of all things pizza and invites readers to learn about this world-favorite dish, from its origins in Italy to a trip into outer space. First up, though, you’ll learn that “pizzas can be round or square, / In different shapes and sizes, / And sometimes what is in or on them / Is full of big surprises.” For instance, if you (or you and your friends) are super hungry, you might want to try a pizza al metro from Sorrento, Italy. “‘Metro’ means ‘meter’ (39 inches)—not the subway!—and that’s how long it is.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-we-love-pizza-margherita

Copyright Elenia Beretta, 2021, courtesy of Little Gestalten.

Or you might like a slice of New York pizza, which is so big “you’ll need to fold it before you can hold it.” If you like your pizza ingredients inside the pizza, try a calzone or a lahmacun from Turkey and Armenia, which is “rolled up like a sleeping hedgehog, with minced meat on top and some super spicy vegetables inside, like onions, peppers, and garlic.”

So we know that people all over the world love pizza, but who invented it? That honor would go to some creative chef (or chefs) in Naples, Italy, who began selling pizza in 1738. At first, pizza was considered “a simple food for the poor,” but when Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba opened its doors in 1830 “as a proper restaurant,” pizza went upscale. Pizza became so popular that kings and queens even began enjoying it. One particular style of pizza was even created for a queen and was named after her. Can you guess which one? You may have even eaten one yourself!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-we-love-pizza-baking

Copyright Elenia Beretta, 2021, courtesy of Little Gestalten.

Since you like to eat pizza so much, maybe you’d like to learn how to make it—from scratch, of course. Including the crust. When the pizza is bubbly, cheesy, and HOT, there’s only one thing left to do—eat it! But how you eat it is up to you. Is your way described in the next pages?

You may wonder when pizza came to America. When Italian immigrants moved to the US in the late 19th century, they brought their love of pizza with them. “When the first pizzerias in the USA were opened, more and more toppings were introduced, and more and more people became pizza fans.” In fact some of today’s best loved pizza places once housed much different businesses.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-we-love-pizza-america

Copyright Elenia Beretta, 2021, courtesy of Little Gestalten.

By now, you’re probably pretty hungry, so you’ll want to check out the fifteen very different types of pizza from around the world. One costs $2,000; one comes in a box made of pizza; and another is probably the sweetest pizza you’ve ever heard of. Of course, no book can celebrate pizza without mentioning all the people who have a hand in growing the ingredients, baking it, and serving it. You’ll be impressed with how much care goes into just one pizza!

Along the way, you’ll also learn fascinating facts about where in the world the most pizza is eaten, the video game character inspired by pizza, some incredible pizza records, and delivery options for every pizza lover.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-we-love-pizza-around-the-world

Copyright Elenia Beretta, 2021, courtesy of Little Gestalten.

Elenia Beretta pairs her engaging and educational text about pizza with bright, whimsical images that introduce kids to a plethora of pizza styles and flavors as well as the people who created them long ago and those who gobble them down today. A highlight for any would-be pizza baker is the step-by-step illustrated tutorial on making a pizza starting with flour and yeast and ending with “Yum!” Depictions of pizzas enjoyed by readers’ peers around the world may inspire some kids to try something other than their usual order.

For kids who love pizza, history, cooking, and learning more about the world’s cultures, We Love Pizza is a smart and fun addition to any book collection.

Ages 5 – 9

Little Gestalten, 2021 | ISBN 978-3967047059

To learn more about Elenia Beretta, her books, and her art, visit her website.

We Love Pizza Giveaway

I’m happy to be teaming with Little Gestalten in a giveaway. There will be two (2) lucky winners – One entrant and a friend they have tagged. Each winner will receive: 

  • One (1) copy of We Love Pizza by Elenia Beretta

To enter:

This giveaway is open from July 1 to July 5 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on July 6. 

Prizing provided by Little Gestalten

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only | No Giveaway Accounts 

National Culinary Arts Month Activity

CPB - Pizza Day Toppings

 

Create Your Pizza! Game

 

Play this fun game to build your pizza ingredient by ingredient before the others! For 2 – 8 players.

Supplies

Object of the Game: to be the first player to fill a pizza slice with 5 delicious ingredients

Directions

  1. Print a Pizza Crust Game Board and Ingredients Cards on regular paper or heavy stock
  2. Each player picks a slice on the board to fill
  3. Roll the dice to choose who goes first 
  4. The first player rolls the dice and places the facing ingredient on their slice according to the numbers below
  5. Play then passes to the right
  6. After the first round of play, when players roll an ingredient they already have, the die is passed to the next player
  7. The player who fills their slice with all 5 ingredients first, wins

Alternative for older kids: Print a game board and ingredients cards for each player. The first player to fill all the slices on the pizza is the winner

Each number on the playing die corresponds to one ingredient or other instruction, as noted below:

1: add sauce (red x)

2: add cheese

3: add green peppers (green squares)

4: add garlic (white half moons)

5: add pepperoni

6: remove one ingredient and pass the playing die to the next player

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-we-love-pizza-cover

You can find We Love Pizza at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

May 11 – It’s Reading Is Fun Week

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-bruce-swap-cover

About the Holiday

What’s your definition of fun? Is it going new places? Meeting new people? Laughing with friends? Getting in on the latest trend – or setting one of your own? If it’s one – or all – of these, you’ve just described reading! This week is dedicated to discovering the enjoyment that delving into a great book can bring at any age! To celebrate, stock up on books old and new – like today’s book that’s all about FUN – and have fun reading!

Thanks go to Disney-Hyperion and Big Honcho Media for sharing a copy of The Bruce Swap with me for review consideration. All opinions on on the book are my own.

The Bruce Swap

By Ryan T. Higgins

 

To say that Bruce doesn’t like fun may be an understatement—a big understatement. Just look at the yard surrounding his log cabin at “13 Go Away Lane” in the woods. It’s littered with signs: No Diving, No Fishing, No Skating, No Standing, No Picnicking, No Loitering, No Talking, No Running, No Bird Watching, No Hiking, No Climbing, No Whistling, No Camping, No Trespassing…and the one Bruce is just installing: No Playing. So when a letter comes for Bruce from his cousin Kevin promising a very FUN visit, you can imagine what Bruce would say. Unfortunately, Bruce never read this letter because the goose who retrieved it from the mailbox ate it all up.

Around this same time, Bruce got a little fed up with all the requests for fun his “kids” peppered him with—things like “Can we make a Roman sculpture with Greek yogurt?” and “Can we fly this hang glider made out of your sheets?” After Bruce said “No” and “No” as well as “No” to an all-sweets menu, Thistle, Rupert, and Nibbs wished for a Bruce who was “more cheerful,” “more adventurous,” and “had more pizzazz” before they went to sleep.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-bruce-swap-wishes

Copyright Ryan T. Higgins, 2021, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

Early the next morning before anyone was up, Bruce decided to go fishing by himself. He left a note, hopped on his motorbike, and was off. The note made a delicious breakfast for one of the geese, and so no one knew that Bruce was gone…or that “Kevin was coming.” Later that morning, as everyone sat around the table hoping they were going to do something fun that day, Kevin arrived.

With just one look, the mice and the geese could see that their nighttime wishes had come true. Even though they didn’t know quite what had happened, they were ready for fun. “And Kevin was VERY fun.” There was the candy, and the order for twenty-six pizzas, and the pogo stick jumping in the living room. Kevin was loud—REALLY LOUD. He also turned the cabin into a swimming pool. The outdoor fun was no less chaotic.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-bruce-swap-Kevin

Copyright Ryan T. Higgins, 2021, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

Then “Kevin’s fun friends” arrived. This was just too much “fun Bruce” to take. Rupert, Nibbs, Thistle, and the geese sat on the lawn and cried. “They all wished for regular Bruce to come back.” And Kevin? He and his friends were still looking for more fun. Besides, there was all that mess to contend with – and Kevin and his friends thought “messes are not fun.” They clamored back into their van and drove away just as Bruce was coming back from his fishing trip.

When he got home and saw his wailing family, his heart softened and he decided that “maybe…just maybe…he should try having FUN.” But when Bruce told the mice and geese, they were shocked, they screamed, and they backed away. “Do you want to have fun or not?” Bruce asked, perplexed. “No! No! No! No! No!” his family shouted. So Bruce gathered them all up and went inside to find “what FUN had done to his house.” Bruce’s unibrow rose. Bruce’s unibrow lowered and settled into its usual grumpy position above his sad eyes and deep frown. The Bruce the mice and geese loved was back. They hugged Bruce until there was a knock on the door…. Pizza delivery!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-bruce-swap-Kevin's-friends

Copyright Ryan T. Higgins, 2021, courtesy of Disney-Hyperion.

Ryan T. Higgins’ latest “Mother Bruce” adventure answers the question the mice and geese have been asking since they met Bruce: “What’s wrong with a little fun?” Here, Higgins exposes the truth about too much fun in hilarious scenes – from the ravenous geese gobbling up letters, to the activities Thistle, Nibbs, and Rupert wish Bruce would sanction, to Kevin and his friends’ wild romp.

On the way to learning the wisdom of that old adage, “Be careful what you wish for,” readers will soak up the snappy dialog, wry narration, and Bruce’s brief and surprising change of heart. There are lots of places for kids to join in on reading, especially when Kevin invites everyone to use a shouting voice, when the mice and geese are wailing, and when Bruce adds another yard sign at the beginning of the book and Kevin cleverly changes them at the end.

Higgins’ dynamic illustrations are loaded with humor and action, and lingering over the pages reveals details that expand on the rich environment Higgins has created for his beloved characters. And don’t forget to peek under the book’s jacket for a delicious surprise!

Funny, smart, and a joy to read aloud, The Bruce Swap is a must for all fans of the “Mother Bruce” series – old and new – at home and in the classroom as well as for public library collections.

Ages 3 – 8

Disney-Hyperion, 20201 | ISBN 978-1368028561

You can connect with Ryan T. Higgins on Twitter.

Reading Is Fun Month Activity

CPB - Pizza Day Toppings

Create Your Pizza Game

 

Play this fun game to build your pizza ingredient by ingredient before the others! For 2 – 8 players.

Supplies

Directions

Object of the Game: to fill a pizza slice with 5 delicious ingredients

  1. Print a Pizza Crust Game Board and Ingredients Cards
  2. Each player picks a slice on the board to fill
  3. Roll the dice to choose who goes first. Play
  4. The first player rolls the dice and places an ingredient on their slice according to the numbers below
  5. Play passes to the right
  6. The player who fills their slice with all 5 ingredients first, wins

Alternative for older kids: Print a game board for each player. The first player to complete the whole pizza is the winner

Each number on the playing die corresponds to one ingredient or other instruction, as noted below:

1: Sauce (red x)

2: Cheese

3: Green peppers (green squares)

4: Garlic (white half moons)

5: Pepperoni

6: Remove one ingredient from your pizza and pass the playing die to the next player

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-bruce-swap-cover

You can find The Bruce Swap at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

September 5 – National Cheese Pizza Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lorenzo-the-pizza-loving-lobster-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 National 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!

Lorenzo the Pizza-Loving Lobster

By Claire Lordon

 

Lorenzo is one adventurous lobster! Not only does he like exploring new places, he loves getting his claws on new foods. One day while at the beach, Lorenzo meets a seagull who has found a tasty slice of pizza to nosh on. “‘What’s that?’” Lorenzo asks, “‘It smells amazing!’” The seagull tells him and invites him to try it. Lorenzo takes a nibble…and then a bigger bite. He loves this pizza thing so much that he eats it all up.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lorenzo-the-pizza-loving-lobster-riding-introduced-to-pizza

Image and text copyright Claire Lordon, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

On his way home to tell his friends about his discovery, Lorenzo runs into Kalena, his turtle friend, and tells her all about the triangular food that is “‘crispy and chewy at the same time; salty, tangy, and full of flavor, too!’” Kalena is intrigued and suggests they try to make one themselves. At Lorenzo’s house they begin gathering the ingredients, but when Kalena asks what was in the pizza, Lorenzo can’t remember. Kalena looks in the cupboard and pulls out seaweed cake and kelp paste. “‘Perfect!’” agrees Lorenzo. For the “stringy” part, Kalena suggests eelgrass, which also has the benefit of being extra salty. And the “round things on top”? Sand dollars sound delicious!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lorenzo-the-pizza-loving-lobster-bicycle

Image and text copyright Claire Lorden, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

So the pair bake up their green concoction, and when the timer rings they dig in only to find that it “‘isn’t quite right.’” Not one to give up, Kalena offers a new set of ingredients: “‘kelp dough, squid ink, algae, and coral rings.’” This pizza isn’t right either—in fact, Kalena says, “‘This tastes icky! And the algae is stuck in my teeth!’” Suddenly, Lorenzo has a brainstorm. He remembers that the pizza was made of “‘sponge patties, jellyfish jelly, seaweed noodles, and seashells.’”

Listening to that recipe, Kalena isn’t so sure, but they make it anyway. When this creation comes out of the oven, one small nip convinces Kalena that this one is “‘gross.’” Poor Lorenzo—he so badly wanted to make a delicious pizza with his friend. Kalena leaves Lorenzo’s house with the distinct impression that pizza is terrible. But as she heads up the beach toward home, she smells a delicious aroma. Coming closer she spies a “round food,” and buys one.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lorenzo-the-pizza-loving-lobster-making-pizza

Image and text copyright Claire Lordon, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

With one bite, she’s smitten! This round food is “‘so chewy, and salty, and…wait a minute.’” It dawns on Kalena that this might be the very pizza Lorenzo was talking about. There’s just one thing—why is it a circle? Even though Kalena wants to devour the whole thing, she thinks about how sad Lorenzo was and hurries back to his house with the steaming box. Sure enough, Lorenzo is moping about the afternoon’s debacle.

“‘Hey Lorenzo, look what I found!’” Kalena calls. “‘Holy anchovy!’” Lorenzo exclaims when he tastes it, “‘This is exactly like the pizza I had earlier, but this time it’s big and round!’” They are excited to dig into their treat, but they carefully study the pizza’s ingredients before eating it all up. One pizza just isn’t enough, so Lorenzo and Kalena make another…and another…and another—and share them with all their friends at a huge pizza party.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lorenzo-the-pizza-loving-lobster-telling-kalena

Image and text copyright Claire Lordon, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Who knew pizza and the ocean had so much in common—the same salty tang, the same appealing aromas, the same recognizable shapes? Claire Lordon, that’s who! In her funny culinary adventure, Lordon captures the enthusiasm children have to share and replicate a new discovery  but also presents the moments of disappointment when reality and memory don’t match. Kids will “ewww…ohhh…yuck…and yuck it up at the alternative pizza ingredients Lorenzo and Kalena combine in their attempts at a “normal” pizza. These two friends are sweetly supportive of each other through kelp paste and pepperoni and know how to share life’s ups and downs.

Lordon’s adorable sea creatures populate vibrant underwater and beach environments that will be as familiar to kids as their own homes and playgrounds, but with an oceanic twist. Images of the alternate ingredients are clever adaptations of the elements of a normal pizza as Lorenzo remembers the shapes but not the names of the fixings.

Lorenzo, the Pizza-Loving Lobster is a delicious ingredient to add to any child’s bookshelf, and kids will no doubt want to build their own pizzas just like Lorenzo—a crustacean who really knows his crust!

Ages 3 – 8

little bee books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1499802283

Learn more about Claire Lordon and her work on her website!

To read my interview with Claire, click here!

Cheese Pizza Day Activity

CPB - Pizza Day Toppings

Create Your Pizza Game

 

Play this fun game to build your pizza ingredient by ingredient before the others! For 2 – 8 players.

Supplies

Directions

Object of the Game: to fill a pizza slice with 5 delicious ingredients

  1. Print a Pizza Crust Game Board and Ingredients Cards
  2. Each player picks a slice on the board to fill
  3. Roll the dice to choose who goes first. Play
  4. The first player rolls the dice and places an ingredient on their slice according to the numbers below
  5. Play passes to the right
  6. The player who fills their slice with all 5 ingredients first, wins

Alternative for older kids: Print a game board for each player. The first player to complete the whole pizza is the winner

Each number on the playing die corresponds to one ingredient or other instruction, as noted below:

1: Sauce (red x)

2: Cheese

3: Green peppers (green squares)

4: Garlic (white half moons)

5: Pepperoni

6: Remove one ingredient and pass the playing die to the next player

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-lorenzo-the-pizza-loving-lobster-cover

You can find Lorenzo the Pizza-Loving Lobster at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookseller, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

 

Picture Book Review

 

June 18 – National Go Fishing Day

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-review-go-fish!-cover

About the Holiday

Is fishing your thing? Do you like nothing better than heading down to the lake or stream and spending a relaxing day with a fishing pole, some bait, and the possibility of reeling in a “big one?” Perhaps you like fly fishing better, challenging yourself to flick that hook in just the right place. Then again, maybe taking a boat out to deep water and pitting yourself against the truly big fish is more your style. However you like to fish, make some time to enjoy your hobby today

Go Fish!

Written by Tammi Sauer | Illustrated by Zoe Waring

 

Goose has packed his tackle box, backpack, and umbrella, and with his fishing pole slung over his shoulder he heads down the road to meet his friends at the pond. It’s time to “go fish!” While Raccoon, Bunny, Cat, Beaver, and Mouse have all cast their lines from the dock, Goose has gotten tangled in his. It’s okay, though, really, because when the others pull up their lines, they sadly see “No fish.”

celebrte-picture-books-picture-book-review-go-fish-piercelebrte-picture-books-picture-book-review-go-fish-pier

Image copyright Zoe Waring, 2018, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2018. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

Goose has managed to straighten things out and is trying to bait his hook as his friends enthusiastically try once again. But, alas, there are still “no fish.” Oh dear! Goose has dropped the jar of worms, and they’re all wriggling away. By this time the others doubtfully “go fish,” and their suspicions are confirmed when they pull up “no fish” but lots of other intriguing items.

Suddenly, though, the crew sees a shadowy fish swimming near the dock. Goose is finally ready, so his friends let him try his luck. His hook and bobber sail over the water right to where the shadow is. Did he catch it? The line gets tight, and everyone helps Goose reel it in while chanting “Fish! Fish! Fish!” Their catch breaks the surface of the water, and…”Whoa.”

celebrte-picture-books-picture-book-review-go-fish-lake

Image copyright Zoe Waring, 2018, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2018. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

This is no ordinary fish! It’s ENORMOUS! The friends scramble down the dock as fast as they can to the safety of the grassy hill. They sit dejectedly, their stomachs rumbling. Goose is reading the newspaper that Beaver caught earlier when something catches his eye. It’s an ad for pizza! He calls. He orders. They have a pizza party! Peering over the dock is the enormous fish. The friends notice his sad expression. “Oh! Fish?” They wonder what to do. Goose knows! Like a fishing expert, he hooks a slice of pizza and sends it sailing toward their new friend Fish. A few bites later, it’s time for everyone to splash in the cool, blue pond.

celebrte-picture-books-picture-book-review-go-fish-no-fish

Image copyright Zoe Waring, 2018, text copyright Tammi Sauer, 2018. Courtesy of HarperCollins.

With only ten words and a pondful of charm, Tammi Sauer and Zoe Waring have created a book that will have kids laughing and happily shouting along “Go fish!” “No fish!” with a minimum of prompting on the first read through and no help necessary on subsequent go ‘rounds—of which there will be many, many. Goose, with his tangled line and lost worms, makes an endearing comic foil to Waring’s sweet, more experienced Beaver, Cat, Bunny, Raccoon, and Mouse.

Strategic placement of the words “go” and “fish carry the story through the excitement of a day of fishing, the disappointment of empty hooks, renewed and dashed hopes, a passel of silly catches, and one distinctive fish. An unexpected “whoa” ushers in a rhyme scheme that little ones will love as well as a pizza-perfect ending for all. Waring’s bright backgrounds showcase her adorable characters and their easy-to-read expressions. Readers will have fun following the fates of the “catches of the day” to see how they play into this fabulous fish story.

Fans of Tammi Sauer and Zoe Waring’s Truck, Truck, Goose! as well as readers new to Goose’s adventures will be hooked on Go Fish! from the first page, making this book a definite catch for home and classroom libraries.

Ages Preschool and up

HarperCollins, 2018 | ISBN 978-0062421555    

Discover more about Tammi Sauer and her books on her website.

To learn more about Zoe Waring, her books, and her art, visit her website.

National Go Fishing Day Activity

 celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-go-fishing-game-4

Go Fishing Game

 

Kids can go fishing right at home with this easy-to-make game! With a paper plate pond, a few printable fish, and a few other supplies, kids will be catching a whole lot of fun!

Supplies

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-go-fishing-game-1

Directions

  1. Color the paper plate blue
  2. Print the Go Fishing! Game Playing Die (optional)

To Make the Fish

  1. Print the fish templates, color fish, and cut out
  2. Tape a paper clip to the back of the fish
  3. If using back-to-back templates, cut fish out, put a paper clip between the sides and glue or tape the two sides together

To Make the Fishing Pole

  1. Tie a length of string to the straw, pencil, or dowel
  2. Sandwich the other end of the string between the two circular magnets
  3. Lay the fish on the plate
  4. Go fishing!

Optional Game: Kids can roll the die to determine which fish to catch

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-review-go-fish!-cover

You can find Go Fish! at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

September 5 – National Cheese Pizza Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-secret-pizza-party-cover

About the Holiday

Pizza is one of those foods that just puts a smile on your face. It’s associated with parties, good times with friends, and relaxing weekends. It’s also one of the few foods that is so varied that you can have it made your way with your own favorite ingredients. Of course, today we celebrate that favorite of kids, the star of many a birthday party, and the perfect base to any pizza—the cheese pizza. Even this “basic” pizza can have pizzazz, though, if you fancy it up with multiple types of cheese and some delectable herbs and spices! So celebrate today by calling up your fav pizza place or making a pie of your own.

Secret Pizza Party

Written by Adam Rubin | Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

 

Raccoon, plastered against the Pizza Shop window, drools over cheesy slices others are eating inside. He so wants a piece and would even be happy with the leftovers in the back alley trash. But when he tries to paw one out of the can, he gets swept away with a broom. Maybe  if he knew how to ask politely things would be different.

Raccoon loves pizza so much that he thinks it should hang in art museums and that people should eat it in the bathtub. “Of course the best part about pizza is the gooey cheesiness, salty pepperoni-ness, sweet tomato-ness, and crispity, crunchity crust. Yum!” Maybe a pizza party will cheer Raccoon up—a secret pizza party. Why should it be secret? Because secret is special— like an intricate secret handshake only you and one other person know, or a secret stair case that leads…who knows where, but somewhere amazing!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-secret-pizza-party-good-pizza-party-for-raccoon

Image copyright Daniel Salmieri, text copyright Adam Rubin, courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Besides, you know what a regular raccoon pizza party would be like—there would be brooms and horrified faces and panicked shouts of “Get that raccoon off the table!!!” But here’s how a secret pizza party would sound: “Get that raccoon another slice of pizza, he’s the guest of honor.”

So the first order of business for this secret pizza party is…ordering! Before the call is placed, though, you’ve got to think: if you call and order the pizza, you’ll have to give your address. And if you give your address, the pizza guy will know where you live. And if the pizza guy knows where you live he “might recognize you from the posters and chase you off with a broom.” So what are you to do? A disguise will do the trick. “Okay now, play it cool. You’re just an honest pizza-buying citizen who left his wallet in the car,” and as soon as the pizza is in your hands you make a run for it back to your tree.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-secret-pizza-party-disguised-at-pizza-shop

Image copyright Daniel Salmieri, text copyright Adam Rubin, courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Ok, phew, great job! Now you can enjoy…but not too loud or with too much light. You don’t want anyone to see. Wait a minute! What’s that right outside your home? Another secret pizza party where everyone is wearing masks?

Perfect! Ok, you’ve infiltrated the party…you’re reaching for a slice of pizza…and no one suspects a thing. NO! NO! NO! You’re rolling in the pizza on top of the table!! You blew your cover. Grab as many pieces as you can and run because here they come with the brooms…!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-secret-pizza-party-party-outside-raccoon's-tree

Image copyright Daniel Salmieri, text copyright Adam Rubin, courtesy of Penguin Random House.

Adam Rubin’s madcap read-a-loud about a pizza-obsessed raccoon and his quest for a broom-free night of pizza indulging will have kids laughing from Raccoon’s first wistful look to his final triumphant dash. Rubin’s conspiratorial tone makes readers active participants in Raccoon’s covert operation to secure a pizza without a sweeping disaster, ramping up their level of involvement and enjoyment. The text—from the secret handshakes to the broom-bots to words such as “bonk,” “booyah,” “crispity crunchity,” and “happy screams”—is silly, kid-friendliness at its best and is as enticing as the aroma of hot-out-of-the-oven pizza.

Daniel Salmieri’s noodle-armed, broom-wielding humans and animated, fanatical raccoon amplify the humor that infuses every scene in Rubin’s tale. A slice of pizza hanging between two masterpieces in a museum or being devoured in a bubble bath, an intertwining handshake, a ridiculous disguise, and two types of raccoon-sniffing broom-bots are just a few of the images that make Secret Pizza Party a kid’s dream come true. In addition there are plenty of sly details, such as a pizza-shaped lampshade, projectile brooms, and Raccoon’s fairy-tale imagination. My favorite laugh-out-loud moment shows Raccoon blending into the secret pizza party outside his tree house by simply holding up a twig as a handle to his natural “mask.”

Full of pizza, playfulness, and a persevering raccoon, Secret Pizza Party is a book that kids will want to hear again and again. It would make a delicious addition to home and classroom bookshelves.

Ages 3 – 9

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2013 | ISBN 978-0803739475

Find out more about books by Adam Rubin on his website!

Daniel Salmieri has a gallery of his work and books on his website for you to see!

 National Cheese Pizza Day Activity

CPB - Pizza Day Toppings

Create Your Pizza Game

 

Play this fun game to build your pizza ingredient by ingredient before the others! For 2 – 8 players.

Supplies

Directions

Object of the Game: to fill a pizza slice with 5 delicious ingredients

  1. Print a Pizza Crust Game Board and Ingredients Cards
  2. Each player picks a slice on the board to fill
  3. Roll the dice to choose who goes first. Play
  4. The first player rolls the dice and places an ingredient on their slice according to the numbers below
  5. Play passes to the right
  6. The player who fills their slice with all 5 ingredients first, wins

Alternative for older kids: Print a game board for each player. The first player to complete the whole pizza is the winner

Each number on the playing die corresponds to one ingredient or other instruction, as noted below:

1: add sauce (red x)

2: add cheese

3: add green peppers (green squares)

4: add garlic (white half moons)

5: add pepperoni

6: remove one ingredient and pass the playing die to the next player

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-secret-pizza-party-cover

You can find Secret Pizza Party at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

 

June 28 – It’s Great Outdoors Month

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-review-go-fish!-cover

About the Holiday

Little ones and kids of all ages benefit from being outdoors whether they’re playing, helping around the house, gardening, or traveling. Simple pleasures and even time to be “bored” spark the imagination and creativity and can help kids learn patience and self-sufficiency. To celebrate Great Outdoors Month, plan an outing with your kids. It may turn into an adventure you never expected—just as in today’s book!

Go Fish!

Written by Tammi Sauer | Illustrated by Zoe Waring

 

Goose has packed his tackle box, backpack, and umbrella, and with his fishing pole slung over his shoulder he heads down the road to meet his friends at the pond. It’s time to “go fish!” While Raccoon, Bunny, Cat, Beaver, and Mouse have all cast their lines from the dock, Goose has gotten tangled in his. It’s okay, though, really, because when the others pull up their lines, they sadly see “No fish.”

Goose has managed to straighten things out and is trying to bait his hook as his friends enthusiastically try once again. But, alas, there are still “no fish.” Oh dear! Goose has dropped the jar of worms, and they’re all wriggling away. By this time the others doubtfully “go fish,” and their suspicions are confirmed when they pull up “no fish” but lots of other intriguing items.

Suddenly, though, the crew sees a shadowy fish swimming near the dock. Goose is finally ready, so his friends let him try his luck. His hook and bobber sail over the water right to where the shadow is. Did he catch it? The line gets tight, and everyone helps Goose reel it in while chanting “Fish! Fish! Fish!” Their catch breaks the surface of the water, and…”Whoa.”

This is no ordinary fish! The friends scramble down the dock as fast as they can to the safety of the grassy hill. They sit dejectedly, their stomachs rumbling. Goose is reading the newspaper Beaver caught earlier when something catches his eye. It’s an ad for pizza! He calls. He orders. They have a pizza party! Peering over the dock is the enormous fish. The friends notice his sad expression. “Oh! Fish?” They wonder what to do. Goose knows! Like a fishing expert, he hooks a slice of pizza and sends it sailing toward Fish. A few bites later, it’s time to splash in the cool, blue pond.

With only ten words and a pond-ful of charm, Tammi Sauer and Zoe Waring have created a book that will have kids laughing and happily shouting along “Go fish!” “No fish!” with a minimum of prompting on the first read through and no help necessary on subsequent go ‘rounds—of which there will be many, many. Goose, with his tangled line and lost worms, makes an endearing comic foil to Waring’s sweet, more experienced Beaver, Cat, Bunny, Raccoon, and Mouse.

Strategic placement of the words “go” and “fish carry the story through the excitement of a day of fishing, the disappointment of empty hooks, renewed and dashed hopes, a passel of silly catches, and one distinctive fish. An unexpected “whoa” ushers in a rhyme scheme that little ones will love as well as a pizza-perfect ending for all. Waring’s bright backgrounds showcase her adorable characters and their easy-to-read expressions. Readers will have fun following the fates of the “catches of the day” to see how they play into this fabulous fish story.

Fans of Tammi Sauer and Zoe Waring’s Truck, Truck, Goose! as well as readers new to Goose’s adventures will be hooked on Go Fish! from the first page, making this book a definite catch for home and classroom libraries.

Ages Preschool and up

HarperCollins, 2018 | ISBN 978-0062421555    

Discover more about Tammi Sauer and her books on her website.

To learn more about Zoe Waring, her books, and her art, visit her website.

Great Outdoors Month Activity

 celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-go-fishing-game-4

Go Fishing Game

 

Kids can go fishing right at home with this easy-to-make game! With a paper plate pond, a few printable fish, and a few other supplies, kids will be catching a whole lot of fun!

Supplies

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-go-fishing-game-1

Directions

  1. Color the paper plate blue
  2. Print the Go Fishing! Game Playing Die (optional)

To Make the Fish

  1. Print the fish templates, color fish, and cut out
  2. Tape a paper clip to the back of the fish
  3. If using back-to-back templates, cut fish out, put a paper clip between the sides and glue or tape the two sides together

To Make the Fishing Pole

  1. Tie a length of string to the straw, pencil, or dowel
  2. Sandwich the other end of the string between the two circular magnets
  3. Lay the fish on the plate
  4. Go fishing!

Optional Game: Kids can roll the die to determine which fish to catch

celebrate-picture-book-picture-book-review-go-fish!-cover

You can find Go Fish! at these booksellers

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

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