December 1 – Eat a Red Apple Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday is steeped in the history of the apple industry in America, beginning with the work of John Chapman, known as Johnny Appleseed, who planted apple trees on his travels across the country in the early 1800s. Due to the popularity of apples and their ease of transportation, a variety of apples were being developed during the mid-to-late 1800s. While the “Ben Davis” apple was at the top of the list in 1880 for its resilience in tough growing climates and long shelf life, it wasn’t the tastiest of apples. As transportation from farm to store became easier and shorter, the Red Delicious emerged as the favorite. It held that position into the 1980s, comprising 75% of all apples grown in Washington state—one of the largest apple producers in the world. While other apple varieties have taken a bite out of the popularity of the Red Delicious, it is still the iconic apple—and the star of today’s holiday!

Little Elliot, Fall Friends

By Mike Curato

 

Little Elliot the elephant and his best friend Mouse loved the lights, action, and feel of the big city. Sometimes though “the city was too dirty, too loud, and too busy.” Mouse decided they needed a vacation, so they took a bus ride to the country. As they left the buildings and traffic of the city behind for the autumn leaves, rolling hills, and fresh air of the countryside, Elliot and Mouse felt refreshed.

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Copyright Mike Curato, 2017, courtesy of mikecurato.com.

When the bus dropped them off, Elliot exclaimed, “‘Wow…the country is even bigger than the city!’” They ran up a hill and relaxed under a tree feeling “the breeze and the sunshine and the soft grass.” Soon, they began to get hungry. Down in an orchard below, they found some juicy red apples to eat. Taking a bite, Elliot thought, “‘The country is delicious!’” Mouse thought the piles of fallen leaves were pretty fun too.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-elliot-fall-friends-eating-apples

Copyright Mike Curato, 2017, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

The two played hide-and-seek in the woods, in a pumpkin patch, and in a corn field, where tall brown stalks still stood. Elliot thought the corn field was the perfect hiding spot, but as the sun began to go down and no Mouse appeared to find him, he wondered where Mouse was. “Suddenly, Elliot smelled something delicious.” He followed the aroma out of the corn stalks and to a farm house, where he found a an apple pie cooling on a windowsill.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-elliot-fall-friends-playing-hide-and-seek

Copyright Mike Curato, 2017, courtesy of us.macmillan.com.

Elliot came closer, close enough to peek in the window. Just then Mouse jumped out from behind the pie. “‘I found you!’” he said. Elliot was excited to see his friend. It seemed that Mouse had been busy. When he couldn’t find Elliot, he knew just what to do. He made friends with the farm animals, and then they made a pie because Mouse knew that Elliot would follow his nose and come out of his hiding place. “‘Nobody knows me better,’ said Elliot.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-elliot-fall-friends-in-the-corn-field

Copyright Mike Curato, 2017, courtesy of mikecurato.com.

Later, the pig, cow, horse, dog, and chicken gathered with Elliot and Mouse around the big picnic table “for a fall feast.” With apple cider served in mason jars, Mouse gave a toast: “‘To new friends!’” and Elliot added “‘And to new treats!’” They fell asleep on the soft hay in the barn, naming the stars that twinkled in the dark sky.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-elliot-fall-friends-fall-feast

Copyright Mike Curato, 2017, courtesy of mikecurato.com.

Mike Curato’s Little Elliot books enchant little ones, and it’s easy to see why as Elliot and Mouse’s adventure into the countryside offers young readers all the comfort and camaraderie that best friends provide each other. The quietly simple and tender story is highlighted by Curato’s spectacular illustrations that combine the clear precision and details of photography with the playful softness of a favorite stuffed toy. Here and there clever designs in the images reflect the sunny tone and foreshadow the special treat Mouse uses to reunite with his best friend. The final nighttime spreads will fill children with wonder.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-little-elliot-fall-friends-pie

Copyright Mike Curato, 2017, courtesy of mikecurato.com.

Little Elliot, Fall Friends is a sweet, sophisticated book that fans of the series will want to add to their collection and new readers will embrace, while also eager to discover the other Little Elliot books: Big City, Big Family, and Big Fun. It’s a “can’t miss” for any child’s bookshelf.

Ages 4 – 8

Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-1627796408

Discover more about Mike Curato and his books plus downloadable Little Elliot activity sheets on his website.

Eat a Red Apple Day Activity

CPB - Cinnamon Apples (2)

Cinnamon Apples Recipe

 

Cinnamon apples are a delicious side dish to any meal! This tasty recipe is fun for kids and adults to make together.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of apples, Macintosh or Granny Smith apples are good choices
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

CPB - Cinnamon Apples ingredients (2)

Directions

  1. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon
  2. Peel and core 2 large apples
  3. Thinly slice apples
  4. Combine apples and cinnamon sugar/brown sugar mixture
  5. Stir until well combined
  6. Drizzle with lemon juice and stir again
  7. Cook apples on the stove at medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until desired texture

Picture Book Review

October 23 – Mole Day

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About the Holiday

Today’s holiday has a very strict time structure. From 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m. we celebrate Avogadro’s Number (6.02 x  10 to the 23rd), a basic measuring unit in chemistry. This measurement states that for a given molecule one mole is a mass (measured in grams) that is equal to the molar mass of the molecule. Take the water molecule: since its molar mass is 18, one mole of water weighs 18 grams. How many molecules are in that mole? Ah! This is where Avogadro’s Number comes in. One mole of any substance contains Avogadro’s Number of molecules. The association of the chemistry mole and the animal mole came about as a fun way to get kids interested in this area of discovery.  For more information on Mole Day and this year’s theme: MOLEvengers visit Moleday.orgMoleday.org. Today’s book also surprises with a little mole making her own discoveries.

Eeny, Meeny, Miney Mole

Written by Jane Yolen | Illustrated by Kathryn Brown

 

Down at the bottom of a deep hole in the ground, three sisters—Eeny, Meeny, and Miney Mole kept house. “In that hole, dark was light, day was night, and summer and winter seemed the same.” Sometimes the sisters went to bed during the day and got up at sunset, or they played all day and night and never slept at all. Even the seasons seemed the same down in their cozy home. Eeny, the youngest sister, liked to explore, burrowing here and there away from their house. Once, “she met a worm who told her the most astonishing thing.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-eeny-meeny-miney-mole-sister-sweeping

Image copyright Kathryn Brown, 1992, text copyright Jane Yolen, 1992. Courtesy of themarlowebookshelf.blogspot.com.

Eeny hurried back to tell her sisters what she had learned about the “Up Above—which is what they called the world on top of the ground.” The worm had told her that up there “‘things are both dark and light.” Meeny didn’t believe it. Miney laughed it off. And both told Eeny that worms were unreliable. They went to bed early and covered up their heads “because they didn’t want to even think about light.”

But Eeny did want to think about it. She wondered about light’s size and shape. She thought about whether light “spread from corner to corner Up Above like a blanket or if it just touched in and out like the thread in the hem of a dress. She thought about light all that night until her sisters woke up. Another day, Eeny burrowed to the right of her home and met a centipede who told her another astonishing thing.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-eeny-meeny-miney-mole-astonishing-thing

Image copyright Kathryn Brown, 1992, text copyright Jane Yolen, 1992. Courtesy of themarlowebookshelf.blogspot.com.

When Meeny and Miney heard that Up Above had both day and night, they told Eeny that centipedes were just “addlepated” and to pay no attention. Then they went off to have dinner and “dipped their noses into their soup bowls and snuffled up tubers so they didn’t have to think about day.” But Eeny wasn’t hungry. Instead, she wondered about day’s length and sound and whether it was “sharp like hunger or soft like sleep.”

One day Eeny burrowed underneath her hole and came upon a snake, who served her tea and related “the most astonishing thing.” Meeny and Miney were aghast to hear that Up Above there was both winter and summer and told Eeny never to talk to snakes. But while Meeny and Miney went off to play checkers, Eeny thought and thought about whether summer and winter were “low or high…young or old.” She wondered if they were damp or dry, clumpy or crumbly.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-eeny-meeny-miney-mole-snake

Image copyright Kathryn Brown, 1992, text copyright Jane Yolen, 1992. Courtesy of themarlowebookshelf.blogspot.com.

The next time Eeny went exploring, she decided to find out about the Up Above for herself. When she got there she discovered that all of her thoughts had been right in some way. Light was like a blanket, but it was also like the hem of a dress. While the sun was sharp, shadows were soft. There was moisture in the air that was “sometimes warm and sometimes cold.” All around her Eeny heard the “murmur…of bees and trees, of showers and flowers, of tadpoles and tidepools and crinkly grass”—the sounds of Spring. Eeny was happy to have visited the Up Above and promised herself that she would go back someday to meet Summer and Winter. But for now, as she carried a bright yellow flower back home, she couldn’t wait to tell Meeny and Miney about Sprng.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-eeny-meeny-miney-mole-spring

Image copyright Kathryn Brown, 1992, text copyright Jane Yolen, 1992. Courtesy of themarlowebookshelf.blogspot.com.

Jane Yolen’s stirring story of opening oneself to new possibilities, people, and experiences is gentle and sweet and full of wonder. As Eeny ponders the astonishing things she hears, her sisters prefer to remain in the dark, offering their advice in shocked expressions and reverting to diversions that little ones will find humorous. Yolan’s tale is rich in words that are wonderful to hear and read. The sisters snuffle up tubers, the centipede is addlepated, seasons are clumpy and crumbly, and grass is crinkly. The repeated words, astonishing, complicated, burrowing are lyrical and invite imaginative thinking. And, of course, Yolen’s metaphors are precise and novel. The moving ending is uplifting in its reassurance of the family unit while still promising an astonishing future.

The beauty and detail of Kathryn Brown’s watercolor illustrations are awe-inspiring and create a luxuriant underground world where a pink-wrapped and -capped worm reads by following the words with the tip of his tail while a green-coated cricket turns pages; a colorfully socked centipede watches the outside world through a daffodil bulb periscope hanging like a chandelier in her den; a snake wears a seashell cap and smokes a pipe near his crackling fireplace; and the Up Above is sunny and breezy, expansive and inviting. Tiny Eeny is adorably thoughtful as she wanders through the tunnels of her cozy hole and reports her findings to her older sisters. Readers may notice that Eeny carries with her a lantern that lights her way even as she becomes enlightened and will be delighted with Eeny’s favorite toy—an acorn carriage and itty-bitty doll.

Eeny, Meeny, Miney Mole is sweetly superb and perfect to snuggle up with for quiet story times. Look for this classic story in your local library or used bookstore.

Ages 3 and up

Harcourt Children’s Books, 1992 | ISBN 978-0152253509

There is so much to discover about Jane Yolen and her books on her website.

View a portfolio of books and illustration work by Kathryn Brown on her website.

Mole Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-mole-maze

Mole Tunnels Maze

 

Can you find your way through the underground pathways to visit Mole in this printable Mole Tunnel Maze?

Picture Book Review

September 19 – It’s Self-Care Awareness Month

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About the Holiday

We hear a lot about caring for and taking care of others, but caring for yourself is important too. Making sure you are happy and healthy physically and emotionally goes a long way in determining your quality of life and how you can relate to others. Taking care of yourself comes in many forms. Eating well, getting enough exercise, finding time to relax and have fun, and even saying “no” instead of always “yes” are just a few of the ways that you can ensure you’re looking out for yourself. Today, take a pledge to be good to yourself—not just one day a year, but every day.

The Curious Cares of Bears

Written by Douglas Florian | Illustrated by Sonia Sánchez

 

If you’re out in the woods and you come upon bears, you might find that they have some “curious cares.” During spring, bears are careful when “climbing up trees and stealing the honey from beehives of bees.” After being well fed, bears like to run and play and stop along the way to smell the flowers. For cub brothers and sisters some teasing and wrestling fill out the day.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-curious-cares-of-bears-honey

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Summer brings new cares, such as “swimming inside of a creek, playing jump rope or perhaps hide-and-seek.” Vacation time means visits from family far and near, including bear hugs, delicious feasts, and dancing till dawn. Bears are also fond of exploring the mountains by hiking and biking, and on hot, hazy days they relax in the lake, drying off later with “great big bear shakes.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-curious-cares-of-bears-swimming

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

In autumn, bear cares become cozy and warm as they play in leaf piles and sing campfire songs. When the winter chill comes, they hibernate in their dens, “where deeply they sleep till the springtime and then…they slowly emerge as the frozen grounds thaw and start to explore the wide world with awe.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-curious-cares-of-bears-smelling flowers

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Douglas Florian guides little ones through a year of shenanigans and contentment with a group of bears that are more carefree than careful. These adorable bears know how to take care of themselves and enjoy being together—just like children do. Florian’s gentle rhymes will charm readers and remind them of the good times they have throughout the year.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-curious-cares-of-bears-cares

Image copyright Sonia Sánchez, 2017, text copyright, 2017. Courtesy of simonandschuster.com.

Sonia Sánchez’s sweet bear families know how to spend a year, taking care to appreciate every moment. From the precarious maneuvers to reach honey on a thin, bendy sapling to tumbling and splashing in a creek, to dancing in a conga line, these bears understand how to have a good time. Little readers will giggle at the shower of water droplets (and a few ants) that spray from a bear drying off and snuggle closer as the bears gather around a glowing campfire. As the bears emerge from their winter sleep, children will also be ready to look at their world with awe.

Ages 4 – 8

little bee books, 2017 | ISBN 978-1499804621

Self-Care Awareness Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-kinetic-sand-craft

Relaxation Sand

 

Sometimes you just need to zone out and relax, but it’s hard to ignore all the sights and sounds around you and the thoughts that swirl through your mind. Playing with this kinetic sand can help you take it easy and let the world slip away like the sand slipping through your fingers.

Supplies

  • 1 cup of play sand
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon dish soap
  • About ¾ cup of water—or as much as needed
  • Bin or large bowl
  • Small bowl

Directions

The amount of water you use will depend on the consistency of the sand

  1. In a bin or bowl, combine the sand and cornstarch and mix well
  2. In the small bowl combine the dish soap and water and stir until the water is bubbly
  3. Slowly pour some of the water/dish soap mixture into the sand/cornstarch mixture and mix well.
  4. Continue mixing, adding a little water at a time until the desired consistency is reached

Picture Book Review

April 17 – International Haiku Poetry Day

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About the Holiday

We all know about the 5-7-5 rule of haiku poetry: the first line contains 5 syllables, the second line consists of 7 syllables, and the third line follows with 5 syllables. It seems easy as we count off the sounds on our fingers while we compose and say them. But haiku poems are so much more than the sum of their syllables. In those tiny nuggets of language are poignant emotions, unique observations of nature, and life’s wisdom. To celebrate today, read some haiku from the masters—or try your hand at this beautiful form of poetry.

Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons

By Jon J Muth

 

Jon J Muth’s beloved Zen panda, Koo, tumbles into a year of poignant, funny, and surprising kid-inspired moments in this lighthearted and spirited collections of haiku. As Hi, Koo opens, the gentle panda reaches for a golden, falling leaf that seems to be racing others as they softly plummet to earth. With his paw stretched into the air, Koo wonders, “Autumn, / are you dreaming / of new clothes?”

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Image and text copyright Jon J Muth, 2014, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

As autumn turns blustery and rainy, Koo strolls outside with his umbrella, taking time to spin and twirl and recreate an iconic pose of joy on a lamp post before returning home. Koo licks his lips remembering his day: “Dance through cold rain / then go home / to hot soup.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hi-koo-eating-cookies

Image and text copyright Jon J Muth, 2014, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

With winter come snow and mysteries and irresistible impishness. Rising from the piles of white fluff, a traffic sign is a tempting target: “snowball hits the stop sign / Heart beats faster / are we in trouble?” The storm leaves snowbanks hip-high on Koo—but smaller creatures? “In the snow / this cat vanishes / Just ears…and twitching tail.”

Winter’s early nightfalls and dusting snow showers invite quiet play and contemplation as “shadows getting Long / snowfall flutters around / the outside lamps.”

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Image and text copyright Jon J Muth, 2014, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Finally, warm weather soothes the sky, bringing “New leaves / new grass new sky! / spring.” The reawaking world inspires long walks in the lush forest, complete with food for the mind and little friends: “Reading aloud / a favorite book / an audience of sparrows.” But sometimes a step goes wrong, triggering a twinge of remorse that sensitive readers will recognize: “killing a bug / afterward / feeling alone and Sad.”

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Image and text copyright Jon J Muth, 2014, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

Summer ousts all remnants of the coolness of spring, offering gleeful freedom both day and night. The deep,  inky skies provide a backdrop to “Tiny lights / garden full of blinking stars / fireflies.” On a trip to the shore, even the sea becomes a playmate: “Water catches / every thrown stone / skip-skip splash!”

As autumn promises to roll around again, it is time to ponder another year. Just you “becoming so quiet / Zero sound / only breath.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-hi-koo-quiet

Image and text copyright Jon J Muth, 2014, courtesy of Scholastic Press.

In his introductory Author’s Note, Jon J Muth discusses the haiku form, which originated in Japan and “was made up of seventeen sound parts called on—divided into three lines with five, then seven, then five on. He reveals that English syllables and on are not equal and that haiku directly translated into English are often shorter than the 5-7-5 lines we are used to. In Hi, Koo! Muth employs this looser structure, capturing an instant in time “using sensory images.”

Muth’s verses will delight readers with their wisdom, wit, and winks to fleeting childhood ideas and actions that tend to be remembered long afterward—even into adulthood. Muth’s lovely watercolors—snapshots in various perspectives—tenderly depict the magical moments that make up a child’s year.

Ages 4 – 8

Scholastic Press, 2014 | ISBN 978-0545166683

International Haiku Poetry Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-bookworm-bookmark

Friendly Bookworm Bookmark

 

If you love to read and write, you might think of yourself as a bookworm! Here’s a printable Friendly Bookworm Bookmark to keep you company while you read and mark your page when you have to be away.

Picture Book Review

March 22 – World Water Day

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About the Holiday

March 22 was designated as World Water Day by the United Nations to bring awareness to the important issue of fresh water for the world’s citizens. Today, 1.8 billion people use sources of water that are contaminated, posing a constant risk of deadly diseases. The Sustainable Development Goals, instituted in 2015, have targeted a deadline of 2030 to provide access to clean water for everyone. This year’s theme is “Wastewater,” and revolves around the development of science and engineering solutions that would allow wastewater to be recycled and used in gardens, green spaces, cooling systems, and irrigation. Now more than ever, we all have a responsibility to keep the environment clean and safe. To celebrate today’s holiday find out how you can help!

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle

Written by Miranda Paul | Illustrated by Jason Chin

 

On a soaking rainy day a sister and brother run up to the house with a turtle they’ve caught in the pond out back. They drink glasses of water and offer a bowlful for the turtle too. “Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup.” Out on the porch Dad is ready with warm mugs of hot chocolate. The ghostly steam tickles their noses. “Whirl. Swirl. Watch it curl by. Steam is steam unless…it cools high.” As the kids return the turtle to the pond they watch a dragon and an eagle play across the sky. “Clouds are clouds unless…they form low.”

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Image copyright Jason Chin, text copyright Miranda Paul. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Through the misty fog the school bus rumbles up the hill as a little garter snake wriggles in the fallen leaves at the end of the children’s driveway. By the time the bus drops the kids off at school the fog has turned to rain. It plinks on the sidewalks and pounds the earth, creating puddles just in time for recess. “Slosh in galoshes. Splash to your knees! Puddles are puddles unless…puddles freeze.”

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Image copyright Jason Chin, text copyright Miranda Paul. Courtesy of us.macmillan.com

The turtle is hiding now that winter’s come, and a group of friends slip and speed across the pond, some playing hockey, some figure skating, and a couple just learning the ropes. Then suddenly it’s snowing! A brilliant red cardinal watches from the birdfeeder as three sneaky kids with snowballs spy on their friends who are building a snowman. With a “smack!” the snowball fight begins. Soon, however, spring is back with rushing streams and “Creep. Seep. Squish in your boots” mud. And that “mud is mud unless…there are roots.”

The apple trees in the backyard soak up the spring rains that feed the red, plump apples that are apples “unless…they get pressed. Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup. Cider is cider…until we drink it up!”

More information about water, including illustrated definitions of water-related terms, percentages of water in a variety of plants and creatures, and its importance to the world as well as suggestions for further reading, follow the text.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-water-is-water-making cider

Image copyright Jason Chin, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Miranda Paul’s lyrical journey through a year of our interactions with water is a beautiful reminder of all the forms water takes. From life-filled ponds to pouring rains to glasses of refreshment, water sustains every creature and plant on earth. Paul’s transitional “unless…” elegantly introduces each transformation in the natural water cycle in a way that children recognize and appreciate. Her rich rhyming and rhythmical language is a joy to read and makes Water an active character in the story.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-water-is-water-drinking-cider

Image copyright Jason Chin, courtesy of us.macmillan.com

Jason Chin’s superb artwork is as lush and dynamic as the world around us. Each two-page spread is a masterpiece of atmosphere and details that bring not only water’s cycle to life but also that of the children, growing and playing in and around water throughout the year. As the children shelter from the rain at the beginning of the book, a bushel of apples sits snug against the cider press in the corner of the porch foreshadowing the final pages where fresh cider fuels summer fun. Chin’s children are real kids—joyful and playful, enthusiastically and humorously interacting with nature and each other with the kind of abandon that makes hearts sing. Young readers and adults will love lingering over each page.

Water is Water: A Story of the Water Cycle is the kind of book that can get kids excited about one of the quieter aspects of science—but one that is so important to our daily lives. It would make a wonderful accompaniment to elementary school lesson plans and a gorgeous addition to library and home bookshelves.

Ages 5 – 10

Roaring Brook Press, 2015 | ISBN 978-1596439849

Discover more about Miranda Paul and her books plus resources for teachers and writers on her website!

View a portfolio of artwork by Jason Chin and learn more about him and his books on his website!

World Water Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-water-words-word-search

A Sprinkling of Water Words Word Search

 

This tree grew tall and strong by soaking up water through its roots. Can you find the 20 water-related words that are hidden inside this printable tree-shaped A Sprinkling of Water Word Word Search Puzzle? Here’s the Solution.

Picture Book Review

October 7 – Random Acts of Poetry Day

When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano and Julie Morstad

About the Holiday

Today is the day to unleash your inner poet – without thinking twice about it. What are the words in your heart or in your imagination? Write them down! You don’t have to be Shakespeare for your words, lines, thoughts, jottings – your poems – to have meaning and value. Then share them with family, friends, or even strangers. To celebrate today’s holiday you can also attend a poetry reading or enjoy a volume of verse – like today’s book!

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons

Written by Julie Fogliano | Illustrated by Julie Morstad

 

Sometimes you wish for just the right words to express a moment in time, a skip of the heart, or a glimpse of color that truly captures the elation, sadness, or awe you feel. Those words live on every page of When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons. Each month of the year is represented by three to five dated poems that expose a nugget of inspiration or a spark of recognition about the natural world and our place in it.

Spring begins its reawakening in the poem dated march 20, on which “from a snow covered tree / one bird singing / each tweet poking / a tiny hole / through the edge of winter / and landing carefully / balancing gently / on the tip of spring.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-when-green-becomes-tomatoes-spring

Image copyright Julie Morstad, text copyright Julie Fogliano. Courtesy of us.mcmillan.com

Spring is slow in shaking off its winter coat, however, and march 22 finds “just like a tiny, blue hello / a crocus / blooming in the snow” Even though the days continue to dawn chilly and rainy, early flowers long to see the sun. On march 26: “shivering and huddled close / the forever rushing daffodils / wished they had waited.”

With the onset of April and no reprieve from the weather, everyone it seems is tired of the persistence of winter, which sticks around like a party guest who doesn’t know when to go home. On april 3 “today / the sky was too busy sulking to rain / and the sun was exhausted from trying / and everyone / it seemed / had decided / to wear their sadness / on the outside / and even the birds / and all their singing / sounded brokenhearted / inside of all that gray.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-when-green-becomes-tomatoes-summer

Image copyright Julie Morstad, text copyright Julie Fogliano. Courtesy of us.mcmillan.com

At last summer comes and on june 15 “you can taste the sunshine / and the buzzing / and the breeze / while eating berries off the bush / on berry hands / and berry knees.” The warm days also bring swimming holes and fireflies, and by july 10 “when green becomes tomatoes / there will be sky / and sun / and possibly a cloud or two…” and summer bursts with all the wonder that makes it such a yearned for season. 

Then as summer wanes and the nights grow dark, september 10 makes you look into that deep vast space and think “a star is someone else’s sun / more flicker glow than blinding / a speck of light too far for bright / and too small to make a morning”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-when-green-becomes-tomatoes-fall

Image copyright Julie Morstad, text copyright Julie Fogliano. Courtesy of us.mcmillan.com

A nip in the air means Fall has come around again. It’s time for sweaters and pumpkins, and for the trees to rest. If you listen carefully, you may hear on november 2 “more silent than something / much noisier than nothing / the last leaf / when it landed / made a sort of sound / that no one knew they heard.”

Then on december 21 “as if one day, the mountain decides / to put on its white furry hat / and call it winter” the season has changed, bringing with it crackling, cozy fires and snow, snow, snow. But this too offers its own enchantment on december 29: “and i woke / to a morning / that was quiet / and white / the first snow / (just like magic) came / on tiptoes / overnight.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-when-green-becomes-tomatoes-winter

Image copyright Julie Morstad, text copyright Julie Fogliano. Courtesy of us.mcmillan.com

When Green Becomes Tomatoes begins and ends with a poem dated the same day—March 20, the vernal equinox—giving this book a cyclical form that echoes the passing of time. Julie Fogliano’s delicate and gentle poems are a perfect tonic for the busy, non-stop days the year becomes. Instead of letting the surprising, profound, or beautiful moments pass us by Fogliano gives readers a reason and a way to stop and fully enjoy them.  

In Julie Morstad’s gorgeous watercolors of nature and the changing seasons, readers can almost feel the warm sunshine that feeds the vivid spring and summer blooms, the icy breeze that loosens the last leaf of autumn, and the fluffy blanket winter tucks around the earth. The multiethnic children in Morstad’s paintings are thoughtful, charming, and enchanted with the world around them, actively experiencing the marvels of each changing day. 

When Green Becomes Tomatoes contains such lovely verses that readers will want to revisit them over and over – the way the seasons recur and we are always glad to welcome each one back. This volume of poetry would make a wonderful gift and a terrific addition to anyone’s bookshelf.

Ages 6 and up (adults will enjoy these poems too)

Roaring Brook Press, 2016 | ISBN 978-1596438521

You can connect with Julie Fogliano on Facebook!

You’ll find a gallery of picture books, prints, and other illustrations on Julie Morstad‘s website!

Random Acts of Poetry Day Activity

CPB - Plant Poem

 

Grow a Poem Craft

 

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, available here and on the blog post
  • Printable Flower Template, available here and on the blog post
  • Wooden dowel, ½-inch diameter, available in craft or hardware stores
  • Green ribbon
  • Green craft paint
  • Green paper if leaves will be preprinted
  • Colored paper if flowers will be preprinted
  • 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 leaves and flowers (you can also write the poem after you have strung the leaves and flowers)
  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. Gently arrange 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

September 25 – World Dream Day

MIss Maple's Seeds by Eliza Wheeler Picture Book Review

About the Holiday

Dreamed up by a professor at Columbia University in 2012, today’s holiday is not for the sleepy  but for those wide awake to all the possibilities in life. It’s a time for adults and kids to really think about their hopes and dreams and plan how to achieve them. So sit down with a group of friends or by yourself and let your imagination soar – don’t let the day or opportunities pass you by! 

Miss Maple’s Seeds 

By Eliza Wheeler

 

Late in the summer, Miss Maple hurries to prepare for some very special guests. She has searched all summer for “orphan seeds that got lost during the spring planting,” and now bluebirds are carrying baskets full of these little pods so full of potential to her home. Once they arrive she “learns each seed by heart.” There are poppy, wild rice, maple, water lily, pine, impatiens, apple raspberry, sunflower, acorn, pea, fern seeds, and as many more as make up our world.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-miss-maple's-washing-the-seeds

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of Nancy Paulson Books, Penguin Books

As she lovingly tends to each one, she whispers to them, “Take care, my little ones, for the world is big and you are small.” Miss Maple takes her little charges on field trips and shows them the world they will inhabit—muddy soil along riverbanks, grassy fields, and thickly populated forests. She cautions them about “weedy characters” who can show up even in a “bustling garden.”

At night Miss Maple snuggles each seed into a comfortable bed and reads to them by the light of fireflies. During the winter Miss Maple entertains other guests—woodland creatures who gather in her maple tree home to share food, stories, and songs. With the spring come rains and new lessons that teach the seeds how to burrow into the ground.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-miss-maple's-seeds-bedtime-story

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of Nancy Paulson Books, Penguin Books

In May Miss Maple knows it’s time for her little ones to “find roots of their own.” She sends them out into the world, knowing that she has prepared them well for what they will become. Her seeds say goodbye and sail off to begin their futures, leaving Miss Maple alone. But soon another summer day comes, and Miss Maple sets off to gather more orphan seeds, because “the world is big and they are small.”

Eliza Wheeler’s Miss Maple’s Seeds is a lovely metaphor for the nurturing relationship between children and their parents or caregivers. At once comforting and liberating, Wheeler’s sweet tribute reveals the hopes and dreams adults have for each child they raise and finally let go to bloom into what they are meant to be.  

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-miss-maple's-lantern-boats

Image copyright Eliza Wheeler, courtesy of Nancy Paulson Books, Penguin Books

Wheeler’s beautiful language floats as quietly and unhurried as a leaf on a gentle breeze, and her luminous artwork is breathtaking in its fully realized details of the greater world Miss Maple’s seeds and all of us inhabit. Each season is gorgeously rendered in soft blues, roses, browns, and yellows, and Wheeler imbues each little seed with personality without anthropomorphism. The reader may well wish they could be friends with these future beauties and with Miss Maple as well.

Miss Maple’s Seeds would be a wonderful gift for high school graduates, teachers, and anyone who loves taking care of children. It’s timeless message also makes it a perfect choice for quiet reading times or bedtime and a welcome addition to anyone’s bookshelf.

Ages 3 – 7, all ages

Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group, 2013 | ISBN 978-0399257926

Discover the world of Eliza Wheeler‘s books and art on her website! Download an activity sheet for Miss Maple’s Seeds here!

While I take a few personal days this month, I am reposting earlier reviews updated with new links and interior art.

World Dream Day Activity

CPB - Flower Pot

Hopes and Dreams Flower Pot

 

Ideas, hopes, and dreams are like seeds, sprouting and growing into fruition with a bit of attention and care. With today’s craft you can create a flower pot of your own design. Then fill it with “dream seeds” of your favorite flower or plant. As you tend to the plant and it grows, tend to your own dreams and watch them grow as you achieve your desires.

Supplies

  • Terra cotta pot in any size
  • Acrylic multi-surface paint in various colors
  • Flower seeds
  • Soil

Directions

  1. Paint your terra cotta pot—be creative!
  2. Let paint dry
  3. Fill pot with soil
  4. Plant flower seeds

Picture Book Review