August 9 – Book Lovers Day

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About the Holiday

Simply stated this is a day when those who love to read can indulge their passion. With so many amazing books available—both new and old—no one could fault you if you call in sick and spend the day reading!

Ralph Tells a Story

By Abby Hanlon

 

“‘Stories are everywhere!’” Ralph’s teacher sang to her class, but Ralph wasn’t so sure. He didn’t see stories anywhere. It seemed the other kids could make up stories from everything that happened to them, and Ralph’s teacher loved these stories. But when it came time to write, Ralph just stared at his paper or at the ceiling; he could never think of anything. He tried distractions like going to the bathroom or the water fountain, but it didn’t work.

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Copyright Abby Hanlon, 2012. Courtesy of abbyhanlon.com.

One day Ralph asked his friend Daisy for help. She was surprised that Ralph couldn’t write a story because she had written a bunch about him. One was about the time she combed his hair and another was about when he painted his fingernails black with a marker. In fact she was just stapling all these stories together into a book. Ralph wanted to use the stapler too, but Daisy said he needed a story first.

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Copyright Abby Hanlon, 2012. Courtesy of Two Lions.

So Ralph “looked for stories out the window, in the aquarium, in [his] desk…and even on the floor.” Lying on the floor reminded Ralph of a time at the park when an inchworm crawled on his knee. Just then his teacher saw him and asked what his story was about. Ralph said the first thing he thought: “Um…um…I saw an inchworm.” His teacher thought that sounded marvelous. But really, Ralph thought, there was no story to tell.

And when Ralph sat down to write it, he immediately got stuck. He asked Daisy to help, but she was too busy writing her own story. Suddenly, the teacher called everyone up to the rug, and she picked Ralph to read his story first. Ralph got up and, clutching his paper to his chest, said, “‘I was at the park and an inchworm crawled on my knee.’” He looked out at the quiet faces gazing up at him.

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Copyright Abby Hanlon, 2012. Courtesy of abbyhanlon.com.

Ralph looked at Daisy. She said, “‘Wow! Really? Did it feel squishy, Ralphie? Did you take it home?’” Then everyone started asking questions, and Ralph remembered that something had happened with the inchworm. He began to tell about the day. He had picked up the inchworm and named him Nick. He had “built Nick a house but he just inched away.” Ralph followed Nick and never noticed the baby following him until the baby picked up Nick and put him in his diaper.

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Copyright Abby Hanlon, 2012. Courtesy of Two Lions.

Ralph asked the baby to give Nick back, but he didn’t. Then Ralph saw Nick escaping from the diaper by crawling up the baby’s belly. He grabbed Nick and ran, and they spent the day playing together. At the end “everybody clapped and cheered” and they wanted to see Ralph’s picture.

Now Ralph is a great writer. He’s written one hundred funny stories and has even drawn covers for some of his favorites. Do you need help writing? Take a few tips from Ralph! 

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Copyright Abby Hanlon, 2012. Courtesy of abbyhanlon.com.

Abby Hanlon’s story of a would-be storyteller with writer’s block is as cute as they come. Ralph’s angst at not finding the stories that his classmates seem to pop out so easily will be recognized by anyone who is a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to their endeavors. With gentle humor, Hanlon shows readers that putting oneself out there often turns out okay. Ralph’s inchworm story will keep kids riveted to and giggling over Nick’s fate. Through Daisy, Hanlon also reveals how a good friend can help encourage the kinds of self-confidence that lead to success. Ralph’s writing tips are lighthearted and helpful in getting kids to relax, appreciate their own real-life stories, and open their imaginations.

Hanlon’s soft-hued illustrations of a group of adorable, rakish kids draw readers in to Ralph’s creative classroom. Once there, children will want to linger over all the details included. Comics-style dialog bubbles hold humorous asides as well as Ralph’s developing inchworm story. The titles of Ralph’s many stories many inspire kids to make up tales to go with them.

Ralph Tells a Story would be a fantastic classroom book to share during a story-writing unit and a fun addition to home bookshelves for anyone who needs a little encouragement or who loves a funny story.

Ages 5 – 8

Two Lions, 2012 | ISBN 978-0761461807

Book Lovers Day Activity

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Bookworm Bookmark

 

If you love books then you will love this printable Bookworm Bookmark! Just print it out and cut a slit at the mouth. This little worm will happily save your page for you.

Picture Book Review

July 30 – Paperback Book Day

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About the Holiday

Today celebrates the revolution in book binding that changed the way people interact with books. Prior to the 19th century book covers were made of wood and wrapped in leather. Then something came along that demanded a lighter, more convenient type of book—the train! While traveling by train was faster than going by horse-drawn carriage, it could still take a week or more to cross the country. What better way to spend the time than with a good book? No one wanted to lug around those heavy wooden copies, though, and thus the paperback book was born! Today, tuck a paperback in your bag and travel to another realm!

Bunny’s Book Club

Written by Annie Silvestro | Illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss

 

Bunny would do just about anything to hear a story. “He’d loved them ever since he first heard the lady with the red glasses reading aloud outside the library.” All summer long he listened to stories that took him to thrilling and magical places. But when the weather turned cooler and story time moved indoors, Bunny knew he had to do something—“he couldn’t live without books.”

Bunny was afraid that animals weren’t allowed in the library. Finally, after several sleepless nights Bunny “tiptoed through the dark” to the library. But when he got there the door was locked, the windows were bolted, and there were no holes in the building to be found—“until finally he noticed…the book return!” Bunny hopped as high as he could, grabbed the handle, and slipped inside. “Bunny’s eyes sparkled at the sight of the shelves bursting with books.”

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Image copyright Tatjana Mai-Wyss, 2017. Courtesy of tatjanamaiwyss.com

Bunny hopped here and there through the adventure section, where he found books about “swashbucklers, sharks, and superheroes.” He grabbed as many as he could carry and pushed them through the slot. Back home he read and read, and every night he returned to the library for more books. Pretty soon his house was filled top to bottom with books.

One night while reading, Bunny heard a knock on the door. It was Porcupine, wondering where Bunny has been. When Porcupine found out, he couldn’t believe it. What was so special about reading? The next night Bunny took Porcupine to the library. “‘Whoa,’ said Porcupine.” He immediately wondered if there was a book about balloons. He also found stories “on deserts and dunes, on caterpillars and cocoons” and even one on hedgehogs that made him so happy he hugged it with all his might. Back at Bunny’s and cuddled up with tea and carrot muffins, the two friends read into the night.

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Image copyright Tatjana Mai-Wyss, 2017. Courtesy of tatjanamaiwyss.com

It wasn’t too long before Bear showed up at Bunny’s wondering about why the light burned so late so often. Bunny handed him a book, and Bear squeezed onto the couch and began reading. Soon, all of Bunny’s friends began dropping by asking for books about space, volcanoes, and mysteries. One night Bunny took them all on a trek to the library. They were so engrossed in their books that they didn’t hear a key turn in the lock, “the clack, clacking of footsteps,” or the light flick on.

It was the librarian! All the animals gasped—they’d been caught! “‘All libraries have rules,’ said the librarian sternly” as she asked the animals to follow her. At the desk, the librarian in the red glasses crouched down and gave each animal their own library card. Bunny was thrilled to know they were welcome at the library. He found the perfect book and “proudly checked out the very first official selection for Bunny’s Book Club.”

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Image copyright Tatjana Mai-Wyss, 2017. Courtesy of tatjanamaiwyss.com

Annie Silvestro’s sweet story about the lure of stories and the lengths to which a true book lover will go to hear or read one, will enchant young children. The gentle suspense will keep little ones riveted to the story as clever Bunny finds a way into the library, Porcupine and Bear have a few sticky moments, and the librarian catches the crew unawares. Little ones will recognize their own delight in books as Bunny shares his discovery with his friends and they form a most cozy book club.

Tatjana Mai-Wyss’s adorable Bunny, Porcupine, Bear and other animals make perfect book club friends for little readers. Mai-Wyss’s soft-hued watercolor illustrations of the tidy library and Bunny’s book-filled home invite children in to poke around and become one of the group. They’ll love following Bunny’s footprints through the library stacks and discovering the cozy comforts of Bunny’s home. The final two-page illustration of the friends snuggled together in the warmth of a roaring fire and surrounded by snacks and books is definitely “awwww” inspiring.

Bunny’s Book Club may inspire families to take a special nighttime trip to the library and young readers to create a book club of their own. The book would be welcome on any child’s bookshelf.

Learn more about Annie Silvestro and her books on her website!

Discover more about Tatjana Mai-Wyss and review a portfolio of her illustration work on her website!

Ages 3 – 7

Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISNB 978-0553537581

Paperback Book Day Activity

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Book Club Buddy Puppet

 

Hop to it! Have fun reading and telling your favorite stories with this bunny puppet!

Supplies

  • Printable Bunny Template
  • Paper sandwich bag
  • Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Directions

  1. Print out the Bunny Template
  2. Color the Bunny Template
  3. Cut out the bunny’s features
  4. Glue the bunny’s features to the sandwich bag
  5. Then use your puppet while you read a book together or tell your own stories!

Picture Book Review

May 26 – It’s Get Caught Reading Month

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About the Holiday

Get caught reading? Heck yeah! There may be no greater holiday for readers than one that encourages you to read whenever and wherever the opportunity hits. So all you readers out there, grab your favorite book, find a spot to kick back, and get caught reading!

Roger Is Reading a Book

By Koen Van Biesen | Translated by Laura Watkinson

 

Roger is a minimalist. His room consists of a black padded stool, a hook holding an orange coat, scarf, and umbrella, an extendable lamp jutting from the wall, and a basset hound pining for its leash which is crumpled on the floor. And—oh yes—there is Roger. Roger is sitting on the stool, reading. The little volume is engrossing, and Roger, in his tweed cap, plaid bowtie, green sweater vest, white shirt, orange outlined pants, and blue striped socks tucked into white shoes, is pondering a page.

Suddenly from the other side of the wall/left-hand page comes a resounding BOING BOING. It’s Emily bouncing a basketball! Roger flips his lid and one of the dog’s ears springs to attention. Emily and her room are a sight to behold. Emily’s thick unruly hair sports an enormous butterfly, she wears a number 2 on her pink dress, and her room is cluttered with the trappings of her hobbies. Roger rises, sets his book on the stool, and knocks on the wall while his dog offers his leash with hope. Emily stops her bouncing to listen.

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Image copyright Koen Van Biesen, courtesy of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Ah! Silence reigns once more and Roger goes back to his book. But what’s this?! Emily is singing. The song is “LALALA” loud! Once again Roger knocks—“KNOCKITY KNOCK.” His dog wags his tail at the door. Okay, order has been restored and Roger, a little distracted, goes back to reading. What on Earth??!! “BOOM BOOM BOOM”—Emily is playing the drum. The noise shakes Roger to his core. A shoe flies off, the lamp leaps upward, the book bounds away, Roger whips his head around. “KNOCK KNOCK KNOCKITY KNOCK.” Ugh! Thinks Emily. Not this too!

“POK POK POK”—Emily juggles colorful clubs while poor Roger rubs his eyes, his book languishing in his hand. Even the basset hound has a paw over his snout. “TRIP TRIP TRAP”—Emily is now practicing ballet. Despondent Roger has turned his back on the whole thing—as has his dog and his lamp. The book lies abandoned in the corner. “BAF BAF BAF”—Emily is boxing! Something must be done! Roger paces. “Is Roger reading? No, Roger is not reading now.”

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Image copyright Koen Van Biesen, courtesy of Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

“Book down. Coat on. Scarf on. Light off. Roger has made up his mind.” “KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.” Roger knocks on Emily’s door. With a package. Emily tears it open. “OH…A book.” Roger returns to his room and hangs his coat and scarf on the hook. He turns on the lamp and sits down on the stool. “Shhhh! Quiet. Emily is reading. Emily is reading a book.” It’s about juggling and basketball and other things. She holds her stuffed giraffe for company. “Shhhh! Quiet. Roger is reading. Roger is reading a book.” His faithful dog lies nearby for company.

Late into the night they read, their rooms each illuminated only by a single lamp. “WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF….” Both Roger and Emily jump, startled out of their reverie. There’s only one thing to do. Roger and Emily take the dog for a walk.

With just a glance at the cover of Koen Van Biesen’s Roger Is Reading a Book, readers know they are in for a treat. The distinctive artwork defies simple explanation. Part outline, part optical illusion, the illustrations combine the immediacy of an art installation with the humor of a New Yorker cartoon. You feel for Roger, who just wants to sit quietly and read his book. But sympathy flows also to Emily, who, alone, is trying to fill the empty hours. And of course you can’t forget Roger’s basset hound, who has a very real need to go out.

The trio’s circumstances come together on a rainy afternoon to create escalating hilarity and finally the perfect solution. The minimal text, displayed in various sizes and colors of type, enhances the droll nature of Roger and Emily’s contest of wills and allows for the illustrations to depict Roger’s growing discontent and Emily’s dedication to her activities. Roger’s basset hound and lamp are funny foils who empathize with Roger’s pain.

The unique art and fun animated read-aloud opportunities presented in this picture book make Roger Is Reading a Book a must for kids’ (or adults’) libraries.

Ages 4 – 8 (and up)

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2015 | ISBN 978-0802854421

Get Caught Reading Month Activity

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Read aLOUD Bookmark

 

Make some noise for your favorite book with this bell-tastic bookmark! It’s easy to make, and everywhere you go you’ll give your book a ringing endorsement!

Supplies

  • 3 novelty shoe laces or three strands of thin ribbon in different designs
  • 6 small jingle bells

Directions

  1. Cut the shoelaces or ribbon to the length you want for your books
  2. Knot the three shoelaces or strands of ribbon together at one end
  3. Braid the three shoelaces or strands of ribbon together
  4. Knot the strands together at the top, leaving about two inches of unbraided shoelace or ribbon hanging
  5. Thread the bells on a piece of string or cord
  6. At the knot tie the bells around the shoelaces or ribbon

Picture Book Review

May 11 – It’s Get Caught Reading Month

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About the Holiday

When you love to read, you want to share the excitement that books hold. Get Caught Reading Month encourages people to pass along their love of all things written by asking folks to take pictures of themselves reading their favorite book and uploading those images to social media. Movie and TV celebrities, sports figures, authors, illustrators, teachers, mom, dads, grandmas and grandpas, and kids of all ages take part in this favorite annual event. Why don’t you?!

The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read

Written by Curtis Manley | Illustrated by Kate Berube

 

One summer Nick, Verne, and Stevenson did everything together. Nick is a little boy and Verne and Stevenson are two very different cats. Nick and Verne loved to spend time near the water—Stevenson tolerated it. Nick and Verne slept happily in a tent under the stars—Stevenson barely shut his eyes. While Nick rode his bike Verne eagerly sat in the front basket—Stevenson hunkered down in a box on the back. But when Nick sat down to read, both cats had similar ideas of fun—like lying on top of the book—and Nick could hardly read a sentence.

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Image copyright Kate Berube, text copyright Curtis Manley, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

“So Nick decided to teach them how to read. He made flash cards and started with easy words” like “ball,” but Verne and Stevenson just wanted to play with the ball. While the three had a picnic on the lawn, Nick brought out his flashcards and “pointed to the word food. The cats ignored him.” When the cats snoozed Nick woke them with a sign. “‘This is no time for an N-A-P!’” he said. Neither cat responded well, so Nick tried a new tactic. He made word-shaped flash cards. Verne took a nibble of “F-I-S-H,” but Stevenson hid under the bed.

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Image copyright Kate Berube, text copyright Curtis Manley, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Nick began to see that Verne liked stories about cats and fish. “Verne loved fish. He followed along as Nick read, learning the sounds of the letters.” He even read by himself, discovering new stories, especially 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea. But Stevenson? When Nick spelled words for him, he merely ran under the porch, hissing. By this time Verne was reading so many books that he got his own library card and Nick needed help carrying all of his books home. Nick and Verne had fun acting out their favorite stories, but they missed Stevenson.

One day “Verne discovered a treasure under the bed—a great stack of Stevenson’s pirate drawings. “‘Wow!’” Nick whispered. “‘Stevenson drew a story.’” Nick and Verne put the pages together and began to write words to go with them. When the story was finished, Nick, Verne, and Stevenson “squeezed under the porch, gave Stevenson an eye patch, and read The Tale of One-Eyed Stevenson and the Pirate Gold. Stevenson listened and followed along. He didn’t run away. Or hiss. Not even once.”

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Image copyright Kate Berube, text copyright Curtis Manley, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Suddenly, Stevenson couldn’t get enough of books.  Even before Nick woke up, Stevenson could be found with his nose in Treasure Island or another adventure book, and whenever Nick and Verne played pirates, Stevenson joined in. He helped bring down “scurvy mutineers” and found buried treasure. Now the three readers do everything together. They “hunt for dinosaurs in the lost world behind the garden…race around the yard in eighty seconds…and journey to the center of the basement.” And while they all like to read on their own, they also like it when someone reads to them. “Hmmm…,” Nick thinks, maybe next he could teach his cats to talk. “‘Meow,’ says Stevenson.”

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Image copyright Kate Berube, text copyright Curtis Manley, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Curtis Manley’s adorable tribute to reading and learning to read, using cats with very different personalities, is inspired. Just as some people respond more to the words while others are attracted by the pictures, Verne and Stevenson have their own relationships with books. The names of the cats and their preferred reading material are also reminders that books are personal, and disinterest in one type of story does not reflect disinterest in all stories. Manley’s text makes for a joyful read-aloud as his language and phrasing is evocative, lyrical, and imaginative.

In perfect accompaniment, Kate Berube brings this creative story to life, illustrating the tender relationship between Nick and his pets as well as emphasizing the humor and distinct personalities inherent in orange-striped Verne and smoky-gray Stevenson that influence their journeys to literacy. Depictions of the various books Verne and Stevenson are drawn to highlight the literary references in the trio’s further play. Readers will want to stop and peruse the page of library shelves, where such books as “Harry Picaroon and the Swashbuckler’s Stone”, “Harold and the Purple Canon”, “Millions of Rats”, and “Where the Wild Pirates Are” wait to be checked out in the Pirates section.

Kids will eagerly want to adopt The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read, and it will snuggle in nicely on children’s bookshelves.

Ages 4 – 8

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-1481435697

Discover “the facts, fictions, poems, and numbers” of Curtis Manley on his website!

View a gallery of Kate Berube‘s art on her website!

Get Caught Reading Month Activity

CPB - Cat Bookmark (2)

Feline Fine about Reading Bookmark

 

This want-to-be literary lion feels fine about reading! Let it hold your page while you’re away! Print your Feline Fine about Reading Bookmark and color it!

Picture Book Review

April 11 – National Library Workers Day

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About the Holiday

Held annually on the Tuesday of National Library Week, National Library Workers Day honors all of the staff across the country in libraries big and small. Librarians have a vast wealth of knowledge to help readers find just the right book, aid researchers in discovering the perfect resources, create engaging programs for children and adults, and keep up to date on publishing trends. Without libraries and librarians, our lives would be much less rich. Today, visit your library, check out a book or two, and thank your librarian!

Library Day

Written by Anne Rockwell | Illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell

 

On a particular Saturday a little boy makes his first trip to the library with his dad. Dad has a stack of books to return, and before the two go through the door, Don gets to drop the books in the return slot. First stop is the children’s room, where story hour is about to begin. While Don settles in, Dad heads for the grown-up shelves to look for a new book to borrow.

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Image copyright Lizzy Rockwell, text copyright Anne Rockwell, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

There are already four children sitting in a circle around the librarian, Mrs. Edmonds. Don recognizes one of the boys from the playground and sits next to him. Mrs. Edmonds has chosen to read The Three Sillies today. Next, Mr. Miguel “reads a story from his homeland of Puerto Rico.” The story is about a donkey, and Don and the other kids laugh “when Mr. Miguel goes, ‘Hee-haw! Hee-haw!’ as loud as he can.”

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Image copyright Lizzy Rockwell, text copyright Anne Rockwell, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

After story hour, the other little boy, Jack, introduces himself and shows Don around the children’s room. There are shelves with movies and a rack full of magazines. Don especially likes the magazine about dogs and one about farm animals. Mr. Miguel notices that Don likes reading about nature and shows him a book about snakes. Don shows Mr. Miguel a book he also likes about a truck. “‘You can take them all home,’ Mr. Miguel says.”

Next to the picture book shelves, Don sees a baby “sitting on the floor with lots of books to read. Except the baby is reading her book upside down.” She burbles as she looks at and turns the pages, “but her book is still upside down.” By this time Jack has gone home, but Don continues to explore. Two bigger kids are playing chess, two girls are making bookmarks, and an older boy is working on the computer.

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Image copyright Lizzy Rockwell, text copyright Anne Rockwell, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

Don finds a comfortable chair and begins paging through the book on snakes. Just then a librarian sets a new book on the shelf next to him. It’s about apples and pumpkins—two things Don likes—so he grabs that one to take home too. When Dad comes back, Don shows him the four books he wants to check out. Sure! Dad says. “And then he says, ‘But you will need your own library card.’” Don is thrilled. “My own library card!” he thinks.

At the front desk, Don hands Mrs. Edmonds his books. To get his library card, Don tells her his name and address then waits “a few minutes while lights on her machine go on and off as it rumbles.” In a minute, Mrs. Edmonds hands him a card with his “own name written on the back.” Then Mrs. Edmonds scans his card and the books and tells Don the books are due in two weeks.

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Image copyright Lizzy Rockwell, text copyright Anne Rockwell, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com

As Don and his dad are leaving the library, they notice a poster for The Gingerbread Man Puppet Show. “‘Would you like to go see that puppet show next Saturday?’” Don’s dad asks. “‘I sure would!’” Don exclaims before taking his dad’s hand as they cross the street toward home.

Anne Rockwell’s gentle and engaging introduction to the library is full of the joy and wonder little ones have when visiting this favorite place. Her straightforward storytelling is both inviting and comforting as readers learn about the various spaces in a children’s room and the programs offered. Rockwell captures the excitement children feel in finding books that reflect their interests as well as the thrill of getting their own library card.

Lizzy Rockwell’s bright, colorful illustrations provide charming snapshots of a library children’s room that will delight readers. All the pleasures of a trip to the library are here, from making new friends to giggling during story time to discovering the wealth of fun things to do. After reading Library Day, kids will be eager to visit their local library!

Ages 3 – 8

Aladdin, Simon & Schuster, 2017 | ISBN 978-1481427326

Discover more about Anne Rockwell and her many books on her website!

View galleries of artwork and learn more about Lizzy Rockwell and her books on her website!

National Library Workers Day Activitycelebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mouse-with-books-coloring-page

Library Mouse Coloring Page

 

This mouse likes to read almost as much as you do! Print this Library Mouse Coloring Page and have fun!

Picture Book Review

March 21 – World Poetry Day

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About the Holiday

Sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Poetry Day celebrates one of the world’s oldest and most treasured forms of linguistic expression. On this day we honor the poets who translate physical beauty into words, expose social injustice in heartrending verse, and make us laugh with quirky juxtapositions. To celebrate the holiday, attend a poetry reading, revisit poems from your favorite author or discover a new writer, or pen a poem yourself!

enormous SMALLNESS: A Story of E. E. Cummings

Written by Matthew Burgess | Illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

 

Hello! Welcome to 4 Patchin Place, the home of poet E. E. Cummings! This is where he wrote his poetry on a clackety typewriter, stopping only for tea poured out by the love of his life, Marion Moorehouse. How did he become a poet? That is an interesting story! E. E. was born Edward Estlin Cummings on October 14, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His house was full of extended family, a handyman, a maid, and several pets. From an early age he loved to translate the things he saw into words. “His first poem flew out of his mouth when he was only three: “‘Oh, my little / birdie, Oh / with his little / toe, toe, toe!’”

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Image copyright Kris Di Giacomo, text copyright Matthew Burgess. Courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

Estlin’s mother wrote down all the poems he told her and made a little book of them, titled “‘Estlin’s Original Poems.’” When he was six, he expressed his love of nature in a poem about trees, and when his mother asked him what else he saw, he “looked around as if his eyes were on tiptoes and when his heart jumped he said another poem: “‘On the chair is sitting / Daddy with his book. / Took it from the bookcase / Beaming in his look.’”

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Image copyright Kris Di Giacomo, text copyright Matthew Burgess. Courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

As he grew, Estlin was fascinated by the animals he saw at the circus and in the zoo. He drew pictures of them and wrote about them, using the words he loved so well—and even making up his own words. Estlin had a zest for life and for making life fun for himself and his little sister. During the summers, the family traveled to Joy Farm in New Hampshire, where Estlin swam, milked the cow, rode a donkey, and wandered through the fields and forest. His father had built him a little log cabin in the woods, and in the afternoons Estlin went there to draw and write. At home he also had a special place all his own. In an enormous tree his father built a tree house, complete with stove to keep him warm on cold days.

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Image copyright Kris Di Giacomo, text copyright Matthew Burgess. Courtesy of matthewjohnburgess.com

Estlin had support for his writing at school too. His favorite teacher encouraged him saying, “anything is possible, / as long as you are true to yourself / and never give up, even when the world / seems to say, stop!” From his Uncle George, Estlin received a guide to writing poems. Estlin followed the rules in the book, penning poems nearly every day. When Estlin was 17 he attended Harvard College and began publishing his poems in the school’s magazines. While at Harvard, Estlin realized he had to follow his heart to be happy. He wanted to be like the new artists who were shaping the world—people like Gertrude Stein, Paul Cezanne, and Igor Stravinsky, “artists who were,” he once said, “challenging the way we think and see.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-enormous-smallness-paris

Image copyright Kris Di Giacomo, text copyright Matthew Burgess. Courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books

After he graduated, Estlin returned home, but when he had saved enough money he moved to New York and fell in love with the city immediately. He and his friends took in everything new the city had to offer. Soon, however, the United States entered World War II. On April 17, 1917 Estlin volunteered to be an ambulance driver in France. Before he received his assignment, though, he had time to explore Paris. He was “bowled over by the museums, the ballet, and the colorful, crowded streets.” He enjoyed the city so much he returned often during his lifetime.

During the war, Estlin was mistaken for a spy and sent to prison for several months. After the war he wrote a book about his experiences titled The Enormous Room by E. E. Cummings. “The book was published and praised! Estlin was becoming E. E.!” A year later he published his first book of poetry—Tulips & Chimneys. In his poems he experimented with punctuation and using lower case letters instead of capitals.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-enormous-smallness-yes

Image copyright Kris Di Giacomo, text copyright Matthew Burgess. Courtesy of matthewjohnburgess.com

Through his fanciful typography, E. E. “wanted his reader’s eyes to be on tiptoes too, seeing and reading poetry (inaway) that was new.” But some people didn’t understand or like his poetry; it was too strange and too small, they said. But E. E. knew he had to stay true to himself. He believed that “his poems were new and true” and “were his way of saying YES” to everything he loved. As time went on more and more people began to “see the beauty of E. E.’s poetry, and he became one of the most beloved poets in America.”

E. E. Cummings lived and worked at 4 Patchin Place for almost 40 years, but in his mind he would often return to his childhood home. He “could still see himself as a boy gazing out at the sunset”—a memory that he put into words: who are you,little i / (five or six years old) / peering from some high / window;at the gold / of November sunset / (and feeling:that if day has to become night / this is a beautiful way)”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-enormous-smallness-patchin-place

Image copyright Kris Di Giacomo, text copyright Matthew Burgess. Courtesy of matthewjohnburgess.com

Simply put, Matthew Burgess’s enormous SMALLNESS: A Story of E. E. Cummings is a biography that will make you smile. Upbeat and full of the wonder and whimsy that influenced Estlin Cummings’ prodigious talent, the story encourages readers to always follow their heart. Burgess’s easy-going, conversational style invites kids along on the journey of Cumming’s life, stopping off at points that resonate with kids—early imaginary play, school, family vacations, home life, college, travel, and ultimate success. Seeing the support Cummings received throughout his life will inspire young readers just starting out on their own roads of discovery.

Kris Di Giacomo’s enchanting illustrations will immediately capture the imagination of readers. The playful quality of Cummings’ personality and poems is mirrored in each spread as a variety of children’s drawings and typography are sprinkled throughout. As six-year-old Estlin composes poems for his mother, he stands on tiptoe in his nightshirt surrounded by toys; he experiences life from rooftop and treetop and gazes into the night from his tree house; New York lights up with fireworks and the lights of Broadway; and his poems spring from the pages in their own inimitable way.

For children interested in writing, biographies, history, the arts, and the life of the imagination, enormous SMALLNESS: A Story of E. E. Cummings is a perfect choice for their home bookshelves.

A chronology of E. E. Cummings’ life, five poems, and an Author’s Note follow the text.

Ages 4 – 9

Enchanted Lion Publishing, 2015 | ISBN 978-1592701711

To learn more about Matthew Burgess, his books, and his poetry, visit his website!

View a gallery of illustration by Kris Di Giacomo on her website!

World Poetry Day Activity

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Grow a Poem

 

A poem often grows in your imagination like a beautiful plant—starting from the seed of an idea, breaking through your consciousness, and growing and blooming into full form. With this craft you can create a unique poem that is also an art piece!

Supplies

  • Printable Leaves Template
  • Printable Flower Template
  • Wooden dowel, 36-inch-long, ½-inch diameter, available in craft or hardware stores
  • Green ribbon, 48 inches long
  • Green craft paint
  • Green paper for printing leaves (white paper if children would like to color the leaves)
  • Colored paper for printing flowers (white paper if children would like to color the flowers)
  • Flower pot or box
  • Oasis, clay, or dirt
  • Hole punch
  • Glue
  • Markers or pens for writing words
  • Crayons or colored pencils if children are to color leaves and flowers

Directions

  1. Paint the dowel green, let dry
  2. Print the leaves and flower templates
  3. Cut out the leaves and flowers
  4. Punch a hole in the bottom of the leaves or flowers
  5. Write words, phrases, or full sentences of your poem on the leaf and flower templates
  6. String the leaves and flowers onto the green ribbon (if you want the poem to read from top to bottom string the words onto the ribbon in order from first to last)
  7. Attach the ribbon to the bottom of the pole with glue or tape
  8. Wrap the ribbon around the pole, leaving spaces between the ribbon
  9. Move the leaves and flowers so they stick out from the pole or look the way you want them to.
  10. Put oasis or clay in the flower pot or box
  11. Stick your poem pole in the pot
  12. Display your poem!

Picture Book Review

March 20 – World Storytelling Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday was first held in Sweden in 1991. Established to celebrate the art of oral storytelling, the day invites people around the globe to tell and listen to stories both old and new. To participate attend a special storytelling event in your area or relate some family stories at home. Of course reading terrific books out loud is also a fun way to honor the day!

Bunny’s Book Club

Written by Annie Silvestro | Illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss

 

Bunny would do just about anything to hear a story. “He’d loved them ever since he first heard the lady with the red glasses reading aloud outside the library.” All summer long he listened to stories that took him to thrilling and magical places. But when the weather turned cooler and story time moved indoors, bunny knew he had to do something—“he couldn’t live without books.”

Bunny was afraid that animals weren’t allowed in the library. Finally, after several sleepless nights Bunny “tiptoed through the dark” to the library. But when he got there the door was locked, the windows were bolted, and there were no holes in the building to be found—“until finally he noticed…the book return!” Bunny hopped as high as he could, grabbed the handle, and slipped inside. “Bunny’s eyes sparkled at the sight of the shelves bursting with books.”

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Image copyright Tatjana Mai-Wyss, courtesy of tatjanamaiwyss.com

Bunny hopped here and there through the adventure section, where he found books about “swashbucklers, sharks, and superheroes.” He grabbed as many as he could carry and pushed them through the slot. Back home he read and read, and every night he returned to the library for more books. Pretty soon his house was filled top to bottom with books.

One night while reading, Bunny heard a knock on the door. It was Porcupine, wondering where Bunny has been. When Porcupine found out, he couldn’t believe it. What was so special about reading? The next night Bunny took Porcupine to the library. “‘Whoa,’ said Porcupine.” He immediately wondered if there was a book about balloons. He also found stories “on deserts and dunes, on caterpillars and cocoons” and even one on hedgehogs that made him so happy he hugged it with all his might. Back at Bunny’s and cuddled up with tea and carrot muffins, the two friends read into the night.

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Image copyright Tatjana Mai-Wyss, courtesy of tatjanamaiwyss.com

It wasn’t too long before Bear showed up at Bunny’s wondering about why the light burned so late so often. Bunny handed him a book, and Bear squeezed onto the couch and began reading. Soon, all of Bunny’s friends began dropping by asking for books about space, volcanoes, and mysteries. One night Bunny took them all on a trek to the library. They were so engrossed in their books that they didn’t hear a key turn in the lock, “the clack, clacking of footsteps,” or the light flick on.

It was the librarian! All the animals gasped—they’d been caught! “‘All libraries have rules,’ said the librarian sternly” as she asked the animals to follow her. At the desk, the librarian in the red glasses crouched down and gave each animal their own library card. Bunny was thrilled to know they were welcome at the library. He found the perfect book and “proudly checked out the very first official selection for Bunny’s Book Club.”

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Image copyright Tatjana Mai-Wyss, courtesy of tatjanamaiwyss.com

Annie Silvestro’s sweet story about the lure of stories and the lengths to which a true book lover will go to hear or read one, will enchant young children. The gentle suspense will keep little ones riveted to the story as clever Bunny finds a way into the library, Porcupine and Bear have a few sticky moments, and the librarian catches the crew unawares. Little ones will recognize their own delight in books as Bunny shares his discover with his friends and they form a most cozy book club.

Tatjana Mai-Wyss’s adorable Bunny, Porcupine, Bear and other animals make perfect book club friends for little readers. Mai-Wyss’s soft-hued watercolor illustrations of the tidy library and Bunny’s book-filled home invite children in to poke around and become one of the group. They’ll love following Bunny’s footprints through the library stacks and discovering the cozy comforts of Bunny’s home. The final tw0-page illustration of the friends snuggled together in the warmth of a roaring fire and surrounded by snacks and books is definitely “awwww” inspiring.

Bunny’s Book Club may inspire families to take a special nighttime trip to the library and young readers to create a book club of their own. It would be welcome on any child’s bookshelf.

Learn more about Annie Silvestro and her books on her website!

Discover more about Tatjana Mai-Wyss and review a portfolio of her illustration on her website!

Ages 3 – 7

Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISNB 978-0553537581

World Storytelling Day Activity

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Story Buddy Puppet

 

Hop to it! Have fun telling your favorite stories with this bunny puppet!

Supplies

  • Printable Bunny Template
  • Paper sandwich bag
  • Colored pencils, crayons, or markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Directions

  1. Print out the Bunny Template
  2. Color the Bunny Template
  3. Cut out the bunny’s features
  4. Clue the bunny’s features to the sandwich bag

Picture Book Review